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Non-linear optics


Physics is a form of art.

Enter the world of theoretical physics. One blackboard at a time.

Ok, blackboards appear to be outdated. To be replaced by tablets, digital blackboards, the cloud,… you name it. Or at least: a whiteboard, please?? All this chalk, and then you get your hands wet when cleaning it, and anyhow, what are these SCRIBBLINGS? What do they MEAN??

This, I am afraid, only the initiated will know. Those who speak the language of signs and allusions to concepts that we physicists all learn during our studies. Signs and references loaded with centuries of cultural history. Just as artists keeps copying and modifying, incorporating in a new canvas a clin d´oeil here and another tickle there for those literate in the history of art, we physicists speak a common language, the same everywhere on Earth. When we scribble things on the blackboard, we talk to each other, we bond and link. The process of creation is often shared between several or even many of us. We teach each other things on the blackboard, we learn from our colleagues. It is a give and take, and together we find new insights into how Nature works deep inside – or what we think we should do next to figure out how She works.

Sometimes we are in awe in front of new insights on our blackboards. A new little spark of an idea, a little piece of a puzzle that somebody else might bring in. Other times we are in despair. Things just don´t work the way we thought. Often we just get it wrong. We wipe it out. Start over again. And again. Many times, if needed.

Every artist knows that struggle, of which nothing shall be visible anymore in the final beauty thus created. Natural it shall feel, effortless, amazing… And while a new canvas, or sculpture, or song might be the outcome of such artistic struggle in other disciplines, we theoretical physicists produce pictures of how Nature works and functions deep insight – or at least of how we think she works and functions deep inside, with centuries of insights accumulated, cross checked, questioned, refined, overthrown in parts sometimes to be built better, erecting one huge, coherent picture at which we keep working, mending, rediscovering. These are mental pictures, mathematical pictures, more often than not. Still, pictures that can be communicated to those initiated, explained on a blackboard or in a shiny presentation with color pictures and captions to our experimental colleagues who then try to figure out if those pictures do at least not contradict what they measure.

Our blackboards may witness little glimpses of that perpetual process for a while – till wiped out and replaced by another glimpse. Here you will find such glimpses now and then, giving you direct access to a theoretical physics lab and the process of working on a little piece of the biggest canvas of all, the shared human picture of Nature.

But is it really Art? Oder kann das weg?
Both of it 🙂 No need to eat the banana – we wipe out our blackboards when full and more space is needed, often after quickly taking a picture for later contemplation and reminding ourselves of what we found… Enjoy!