Let there be ROCK: science in the moshpit
This is an ABC podcast. No, it's not. Okay. Yes. And you are in the right place on science breaching, the Tesha Mitchell cranking up the volume for this edition. Dinah cheang. It's semi in June. It's Matt Lloyd we don't need to worry about. Philip mariachi is a metalhead. It'd be quite noisy. Lots of feedback. Can you hear that? No on the Ladda plays. He's also professor of physics at the university of Nottingham meaningless Midland's, which you might know as home to another rule breaker of night. Robinhood. The new I condemn year is just started here Notting amend. It always fills my heart with joy to see students wondering with a whole range of metal t shirts. You know, the suburbs. Thin Lizzy the metallica's the slayers. Metal never dies, and it just passes on from one generation to another those links between I think physicists on metal pretty strong. Drew, Ben diagram of the to the alarm might of overlooked. Phillips, new book is called win the uncertainty. Principle goes to eleven or how to explain quantum physics with heavy metal. So that's what we're going to try to beat all of in between the guttural guitar chugs and fills own story of finding a way to fully express. He's two biggest passions. Does a wonderful quote by guy called live nets who developed calculus in parallel with is Newton, and they really didn't like each other. They fought him about who actually had presidents in terms of their element of calculus, but lightness was a polymath so interest in a wide range of different things. And there's this wonderful, quote, which is news is the sound of the human mind counting. When it doesn't know that it's kind of thing. Isn't that is wonderful? Yeah. Under these incredible links between Matt's on music and physics in the UK, at least one thing that's a little bit irritating at high school. We have this level system and students typically do three subjects on the problem is the tend to go either down the arts and humanities route or the stem root in a will have lots of students who will have done maths and further maths and physics on student. That's done, for example, Matt's further maths and English is relatively rare happen, but it's relatively rare. A not we lose a little crazy because people who regret it maths are often fantastic music. There is something at the heart of both a certain kind of pulse. A certain kind of patent making. Absolutely. What really brought it home to me is my daughter was seven, and we were doing fractions. And it did not matter. How many pizzas I brought in many ways we slice them up. And I must put onto stone aware and pizza trying to put across fractions. What made the difference? She'd played piano since was about five as okay Nayef, think of it in terms of Crawford's and quivers and semi quivers. And think of how the bar is broken open to Bates and think about subdivide knows Bates. And then she suddenly got him say that in the start, and I would make sense. Those links very deep. I think I'm also thinking of the physicists set of soon when he's boatswain was discovered. They compose the one of them. Composed a heavy middle reef based on the darter that that extracted did. Did. What I really dislike idea that physicists are sort of cold hearted automatons. You know, you can have all the emotion, you can have those emotional reactions, even though you know, you understand how the the physics works. Big bloody bang theory is a lot to answer for in. That regard. Yeah. I like it my kids, really. The TV show, but it does play to the stereotypes very very badly. I think it can be a little bit frustrating because we're not all like, Sheldon. Not all of. When did you first pick up the Qatar fourteen? So I'm a teenager of the eighties. So got into Qatar around about the same time as something called a new wave of British heavy match Wadham so behinds like iron maiden. Saxon dot type thing. I was a huge fan of thin Lizzy. So that's really how I learned to play guitar was by learning rifts in solos, he'd better give thin Lizzy. Reef. Oh, let's say. That's something called don't believe a word just off the top of my. There was a little bit of Prague metal progressive mentally Mary onto the Canadian ban. Rush, a huge. That's my favorite band is Russia. I love Russia minute orbit of an acquired taste the vocals, go off in the stratosphere somewhere. No one. Let's say. Let's see. Okay. So classic. That's the men we're for something called Tom Sawyer, which is probably the most famous tune, and it's making me very happy date. It sounds like film laureate. He heavy metal not only Neelie ended you'll career in physics, but ultimately saved it. So yes. So I did my high school subjects and in Ireland. We actually do seven subjects it's quite broad compared to the year levels. I was talking about I was actually torn between do an English and doing physics. I ended up choosing physics and for the first two years. It wasn't so bad the third year. I was in a band. It's sort of ramped up a little bit. We were gigging a lot. And I got a lot more focused in the third year. My four year degree on the music side of things. Actually ended up failing my exams big time. Big time really to the point where I had to repeat that third year. Now at the time when I failed those exams the bottom dropped item, I world actually, it was the very best thing that could have happened to me because otherwise I would have drifted through. I would've probably ended up with a, you know, a past agree or what's called a third class degree. There is nowhere to appear to if I hadn't failed those exams wouldn't have given me the kick in the behind. I needed to actually go onto a PHD. So in that sense, filling exams was very best thing that happened. Thank you still got onto you Qatar all the way, dry get into as regularly as possible, intellectual. So. Yeah. Britney's fees beyond say, it's not happening. What triggered you to stop thinking about the relationship between heavy metal music and quantum physics? It was in the codes of rush. What is relationship quantum physics is a theory of waves? Ultimately, that's what it's all about. It's waves overlap and interfere and interact with each other. I'm what's music will music is if you excuse the over simplification is just signed waves, it's signed waves interact that you're a scientists the alternate reductionist. Yeah. Obviously triggers who wanna get even further reductionist triggers certain biochemistry inserts. Actions. Haven't said that it's I'm a physicist. So I'm contractually obliged to mention Richard Feynman in every particular talk and interview, I do so Feinman was talking with an artist about, you know, the beauty of a flower on the artist was saying, well, you physicist, just reduce it down to, you know, Whitey would use it down to this brass tacks of the light is interacting with the flower, and what colors out reflects in the wavelengths of that interact with the electrons cetera. And finally said that I agree totally as you might expect detract from the beauty odds to the beauty. So when you play a note, and I think about the Hamanaka's Monica make note, the resonances that make up the notify pick the Notre a certain place that's going to excite different amounts in different resonances that to me to the beauty. It doesn't attract to the beauty. So does that aspect, and then there's also I'm particularly with music, you can introduce the physics by the back doors at where so many who thinks what I'm interested in music. But actually this physics stuff. You know, it really isn't for me by making those links between the physics and the music you can show them. What actually an awful lot of the music does relates to physics tells me to mats. And if you like the music, well, actually, you might like some of this physics matzos wet, well, this relationship between heavy metal music and quantum physics starts with waves the movement of energy through space. I mean music's all about that sound waves. Quantum physics is all about that too. But quantum physics is happening at a tiny tiny scale so hell if he translated all your kind of heavy metal metaphors, Dan to the sky of the corner him the Nanos scale, which is where you spend your life working as a physicist it is indeed. And that's what we do. That's what the day job is imaging single atoms and single molecules and moving them around picking them and poking them, unplugging them and prodding them. We're now at the point let's say way, I mean, the scientific community not just Notting whereby we can build structures atom by atom. And that's that's really really exciting. The core aspect of quantum is that you once you get to that level, and it is bizarre. There were many things we understand by quantum physics one of the things we can do the Mottes for but still haven't quite got our heads around in terms of what it means physically is that you can describe matter with waves once you get to this level. So instead of it being the hard like little billiard ball idea that we have in our heads atoms these little bills, and sometimes when you do the experiment in certain where they look like other times, you do experiment. It's remarkable behave juice like waves on the interfere like webs and the patterns you get in terms of the arrangement of the atoms on the Richmond of electrons and fundamental particles like that these wave light characteristics. So. A wave is a wave as a weird though. It's. Exactly. Fictional heavy. Metal band mate allies, I made allies with the double L important distinction because there is actually a band apparently cold may Elisa VC's band, but you tight them into the world, what range of things have you managed to taste in terms of quantum physics. It's a bit like fantastic, boys. So what we do is shrink them down. And we think about things like toiling what would happen if they were. You know, if there was from all the way down to the atomic and molecular level quantum mechanical tunneling, we think about phase tour's would sound we think about overall in terms of the dynamics of the mosh pit imagining that are single molecules and how they bounce and interactive each other on how that links into quantum mechanics. We think about the signs of the oversleep we have them whistling at times Trump picking out the differences in the signal, and how that relates to a quantum physics and quantum physics, and I spent a chapter focusing on this really, which is the theme of the book the title of the book, the insert. He principal goes to eleven to draw those links between. In the. Guitarist played in heavy metal. And what that tells us about the certainty principle in quantum mechanics. Even consider Masha the Moshe the physics of Marsh pits is on believably fascinating. So that stems from a paper published by a guy called Jessie Silverberg and his colleagues who was at Harvard at the time, and it's got the best ever title for a physics paper ever. And it was actually published in physical review letters, which is one of the most prestigious journals in physics, which is collective dynamics of humans at heavy metal concerts. They considered the motion of moshers at heavy metal concerts using exactly the same principles as physicists use to describe how molecules moving gases now molecules are not intelligent, the not Cenci, and they are very dome and a bounce randomly off each other on. What's incredible? Is that the dynamics and the motion of Marshall's at heavy metal concerts can be explained in exactly the same way as the motion of Molly. Cules in a gas. It's fascinating these saying about the collective IQ of a group of Moshe's in mosh pit the heavy. Metal gig nothing at all. I reserve judgment. My wife interacting with emotion at a gig. Is that I stand on the age and push everyone back into it. We usually boys. So they can have some spice today. It's if we took these old onto the quantum level. This is where things start to get very we'd as you explain. So I could actually I could actually just move through the crowd without expending. Amy. Ada g at all salute. Yeah. The incredibly walk in. This is is one of the weird Joaquin wonderful aspects of quantum physics that we you have this process called quantum Tonen quantum mechanical quantum tunneling. And it's not, unfortunately the picture when you hear tournament you, obviously think of shovels and digging through in fact, if you drink all the way down to the size of molecules and atoms we could literally pass through walls, we could literally just tunnel. Also were on one side we account over barrier and in the classical world in the real world, unless we expand an awful lot of energy and dig throughout wall or Trump Leinen jump over. It were stuck were never going to get through it in the quantum world. We can literally pass through that barrier with I've expanding energy. So electrons doing that all the time that's the norm actually in in the quantum world. And in fact, without process toning process disown wouldn't work protons in the sun. Wouldn't we need a process of fusion? So than nuclear reactions in the sun wouldn't work with this process of tunneling whereby the particles can get don't need to go over barrier. They can go through a barrier. An incredible process is all pitched as weird and wacky. And there are aspects of that I don't want to overplay that too much because a lot of what we do understand toiling is purely a quantum phenomenon. And the question remains, why can't use quantum tunneling at the human Schuyler to help me get through, you know, hellish traffic jam all the mosh pit at a heavy metal gig. You know, what can I do that? Okay. I'll give you the really short on. In fact, I probably can a very small probability. If we look at quantum physics that I could do that vanishingly small, you might you. You'd have to wait for I don't know few hundred times the edge of the universe. But if you're willing to wait that long, I know sometimes traffic jams, you you spend a long time in them. But the correct answer to that is actually very short and very pity your too. Own. No, no, no, no too big. I was about to say. And then I thought I need to word that slightly more delicately. All too big. Let's put it that. We're all too. And it's actually one of the choppers Burke, I spent a lot of time in dissecting the sort of quantum wound on since that's out there. There's a number of of gurvey's foremost among them, I hit to name names. But I will is a kaikal Deepak Chopra who I don't know. Some of your listeners have heard of who argues that actually with quantum physics tells us were all part of one big interconnected whole under stoli's Listrik links with eastern mysticism and cetera all which is complete nonsense. Dear of quantum tunneling in a saints and says then in the quantum realm. Everything is into woven inseparably one. You'll body is inseparably with the whole universe. So I mean, this idea that at the quantum level if we can kind of move through mata- as electrons do through quantum tunneling? We're kind of one with everything exactly as another beautiful way to think of the universe. And you can see why it appeals as rainy. Nice way to think we're all part of one interconnected whole fairly left of center my politics. So you know that collectivism nice. But unfortunately, that's not how it works. Even by the time. You get a relatively big molecule, let alone a human which has got ten to the gazillion atoms in the body. We are huge objects these quantum effects get washed out on the recounter's experiments that show that these these quantum effects. Get get washed. Yeah. Heavy metal is all about the head. Banging, and you imagine as sort of corn term kind of head banging, but taking Lamey for motor head and doing what we've him for some reason there were lots of metal characters on metal icons have been immortalized as little bobbing. Head figures this spring lambs one of them head field. I think all of Metallica and megadeath releasing lemme in particular by the Dan bobbing open happening at the atomic level. It's not happens all the time at the atomic level. In fact, this is the remarkable stretching all the way back dine Stein. And in fact, it was Einstein introduces idea is that often we can treat atoms as little balls, and we can treat the bonds between atoms as little springs, and so an awful lot of what's happening as Lenny's head is bobbing around. It's got a certain frequency which depends on the stiffness of the spring. And the wit of lemme head. And of course, then is lemme lemme lemme it's going gonna be quite heavy. So Bob's backing on fourth. Not type of idea of natural frequencies again will back to waves. We're back to psychos, and and on frequencies, and that's exactly what we have at the quantum level as well. We have these natural frequencies, obviously the much much much higher because as you make things. Smaller those frequencies, go up your description of the the constant rapid movement of chemical bones between atoms, you know, this is sort of vibrating universe and the Nanno. I mean, obviously, the anti G levels totally different to what using Kanter at a heavy middle gig. I mean, it's a tiny amount of energy. But it's constant and presents lewd. What's remarkable is even if we could get to up salute zero temperature, which we can't. But even if we could you would still have that motion. And that's a really nice linked back to the incertainty principle because we are all on certain at the quantum level. And if you could freeze out the motion of an atom, so it wasn't moving then you would be certain of its position on the uncertainty. Principle tells us we can't do that because of the insert he principal will still vibrate. It's always wobbly done there. It's squishy bind. Siham bumpy at the nano scale. That's great. You have pushed this analogy in every direction as far as it goes. It's a very, you know, you've given a good solid heavy middle f it surely there is only Sifi you can take heavy. Middle into the quantum physics, surely. No, I think I do believe I've mentioned it to my colleagues, and they think I'm mad. I honestly think not only could you get a module. So a course a single course on quantum physics. I think you could do a whole degree on the links between quantum physics heavy metal. I honestly, I do those lots more left to expire. Well, you actually have come up with a fantastic idea for one university subject, and it wouldn't just be about physics. It would be about and physics and psychology and says the G and Mets the hold on law. What we teach in that subject to sociology and the idea of soap cultures and cultural interactions iconography high dot works ultra in terms of the lyrical content, which okay to be fair. We are going to rock you tonight is not possibly the most sophisticated. You know, you turn to bonds. Like, oh like, oh path. For example, you turn to bands like dream theater and queen's Reich unthere, our interest brush ho-. How could I forget the incredib-? Able important teams. So there's that they also help us access the dock aside MSL's, which I think is very potent force. I agree. And if the fascinating about Matlins, despite this preoccupation with death with the dark side, it's so bloody life affirming does no experience like being at a met gig unfeeling immersed in the music, and it's almost like going to church for some it's almost a religious experience and cultural aspect of it in the connection is so great. So all of that time looking at that from a sociology perspective on one side. But then also thinking about what does the music mean in terms of the physics that will be a wonderful multidisciplinary degree and with teachers lot not just about physics. But about ourselves as well say just hearing you speak. I mean, physicists the cosmic and they deep thinkers, and there's a lovely. I've elect between philosophy and physics as well. But I wonder if heavy made whole has allowed you to kind of fund something of a spiritual. Self Philip Maury. Absolutely. I lost in music even slayer believe it or not relaxes me you go to a slayer gig. And I know it would probably be quite scary for so much slayer or whatever Bonder stick was walk onstage on this this role from the from the crowd in terrify into some to those of us in not subculture. It's like, you're back home. It's like, you're really is virtual in the sense that it's you got this emotional rush. And you get this connection with everybody else in the audience. So absolutely, absolutely. And in terms of those visual links, I can look at those pictures of atoms that we've discussed before that gives me a certain emotional rush. But so too does listening to my favorite rush song actually in. Combining those two things is the best of both worlds an incredibly high emotional from. That I reckon wish go out on slayer. Oh, that's a good one to go with let me a slayer if wonderful idea. Thanks. Let's. Well, outdo. Thanks for joining me. Physicist? Professor Philip Moriarty from the university of Nottingham Anonima think it's out of character with old as times I deliver on the radio in the podcast, but would be Dame happy at us leg. Can you? Tell Phillips book ease win the uncertainty. Principle goes to eleven or how to explain quantum physics with heavy middle talk to me on Twitter at Natasha Mitchell and don't forget science fiction live at the Melba museum. If you passing through good old Melvyn tan nicks one November the first on the future of six from six boats to winless births it's gonna get a little weed bookings free via the science fiction website. Join us thanks to co producer Maria Teagle cone until next say.