I Attended The World Science Festival. Here's What It Was All About.

"Anyone who thinks they can talk about quantum mechanics without getting dizzy has yet understand the first word of it."

What if I told you that if you shrunk down to a very tiny size, you can be in two places at once? And that if you were created alongside someone else and then separated, now billions of light years apart from each other, you nonetheless will forever be entangled and connected to that person. 

In the quantum world, these are possibilities. 

However, we are not the size of these teeny tiny things that are being studied and measured. These tiny things are particles smaller than the tiniest bug you can think of in our world. You see, we live as a species in something known as the macro world. But the quantum world is smaller than the micro world. Smaller than microscopes can even see. 

I attended a few talks during the World Science Festival in New York City the other week, and they fascinated me. Anytime I speak about quantum theories to my Instagram followers, I always end up with a headache. This is because my brain is working incredibly hard to make the connections. Anyone have that one subject you really enjoy indulging in? Where you love it so much you allow for it to overtake your mind for an hour or more? That is quantum mechanics for me. 



Anyone seen the movie Interstellar? What if we really are the aliens, but just in another dimension? What if we are the "others?" What if, here, in this dimension, when you finish reading this article you get up to get a cup of coffee, and in another, you get up to call a friend and walk the dog. In the quantum world, scientists are mathematically testing this out — and what's creepy is many experiments are proving it to be true (mathematically). 

After the first talk I attended, I wrote this for my followers on Instagram:

"We are the reflection of our universe and if you cut down every single interaction in every single way that is space and space is time and every particle is connected and if some helium atom has both electrons that are together and you split them they will always have that connection that entanglement and one will always be the balance to the other one and they will always be connected to each other." 

The discussion began with Columbia University physics and mathmatics professor Brian Greene repeating this quote by Neils Bohr: "Anyone who thinks they can talk about quantum mechanics without getting dizzy has yet understand the first word of it."

So it's OK if, while reading about quantum theories, you feel like you're in a fantasy novel — that's what's so intriguing and fascinating about it. 

Courtesy Athena Brensberger.
Courtesy Athena Brensberger.

The following day was filled with fun — a talk about the many possibilities of our universe. During the panel, Veronika Hubeny, a theoretical physicist, was being talked over by male participants. Moments before that audience member shouted, "let her speak" I too said it out loud for the moderator to hear. It was a wonderful talk but quite astonishing that this moderator felt he had to interrupt her many times to explain HER theories — that she had created — to her!

The festival concluded with a beautiful stargazing adventure in Brooklyn Bridge Park with over 10 telescopes, LED umbrellas, Bill Nye the Science Guy and lots of ice cream. The turnout was massive, so many space lovers (which is everyone at heart) gathered together to share in conversation and experience a beautiful starry night along the East River with the city skyline in the distance. If anyone is around next year I highly recommend this experience. 

Where else can you get the perfect photo op of you gazing at the rings of Saturn through a 100mm diameter telescope with the Brooklyn Bridge, downtown Manhattan and the river as a backdrop? Can someone say #magical?

Check out Athena's blog at astroathens.com. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram.  

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