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A MEDITATION ON COLORED SURFACES

§ November 23rd, 2009 § Filed under Chapter 44: A Meditation on Colored Surfaces § Tagged , , , , , , , , , § No Comments

    

This is a tiny fleck of embryonic coral. The photo is just 1/8 inch across. Those are grains of sand on the surface. Every individual cell wall of its growing form built this spiral. A wonder of nature, but to the eye it appears on the beach as a blank white chip. A typical beach will hold perhaps billions.

This is a tiny fleck of embryonic coral. The photo is just 1/8 inch across. Those are grains of sand on its surface. Every individual cell wall of its growing form built this spiral. A wonder of nature, but to the eye it appears on the beach as a miniscule blank white chip. A typical beach may hold billions.

        [This chapter continues the “assignment” from my Spirit Guide, See Do, to examine the complexities of our mundane reality. The specific construct given me to examine is a hypothetical cube ¼ inch on a side, floating in the air about a foot in front of my face. These meditations on our temporal reality will be followed by an examination of “See Do reality.”]

            As light moves through the cube of air it completely ignores most of the material in the cube. Most of it. It doesn’t interact with the air molecules much at all. The air, which is mostly nitrogen and oxygen with a little water vapor, trace gases and some stuff we call dust, is mostly transparent to these photons. By transparent, I mean that they do not interact with the electrons around the nuclei of the oxygen and nitrogen atoms much at all.

            For something to be “seen” by us, the atoms it is made of go through this little dance. I’ll try to explain it here in simple terms, but please forgive me if I reach out too far into technical la-la land. But this is how it is.

           You see, first a photon enters or ‘hits” an outer electron’s cloud of probability in such a way as to bring the electron to a realized state. In this state, the electron absorbs the photon and jumps to a higher energy state. It’s important here to understand that it will only do this if the energy or “frequency” of the photon energy is in sync with the energy the electron would need to jump up to its next possible energy state. If the energies don’t match, the photon flies right by and nothing happens.

            But if they match, the electron jumps up to a higher energy. With this higher energy electron, the atom now exhibits a higher energy. This higher energy shows by making the atoms jostle or wiggle a little bit. Actually I should say a little bit more, because all atoms are always jiggling, unless they are frozen at absolute zero.

            This wiggling is what we think of as heat. And once the atom jiggles off a little, the electron falls back to its original lower energy state and sends out a new photon. This new photon is the same “frequency” as the wiggle. Which is just a little less than the energy of the original incoming photon. This new photon flies away at the usual speed of light in an entirely random direction. This photon, if we’re in the right place, hits our eye, and viola, we see something. And we see this something as having a color, because our eyes have little sensors that are tuned to detect photon energy of the very narrow band of energy we think of as visible light. How that tiny pulse in the back of our eye gets transformed into our coherent visual image of the world is a subject for another time.

            Of course, in reality, the whole thing a lot more complex. And there is a whole lot more going on. A whole lot more. For example, to see an object as having a color, all the photons of the energy of that color are the ones that go through the process I just described. The others are absorbed and not re-radiated. In that case, those other photons are absorbed by the electron, and the atom expresses all of that new energy in its jiggling. The material just gets a little warmer. But you really already knew that. You just didn’t know you knew it. Black clothes are warmer. White are cooler.

            All the original light plus a lot of new light, that’s right, these new photons were just created right there in front of you on the surfaces of everything in the room, all that light is now moving through the tiny cube in front of you.

            And some of the air molecules in our little cube do interact with the light streaming through. Not many, but a few. That’s partly why we see a diffuse haze in air at a distance. That diffusion, you’ll notice, has a blue cast, because that’s the frequency of the energy that gets turned into a new photon during those somewhat rare interactions. If you go outside on a nice day and look up you’ll see proof. The sky is blue.

            It gets better.

            — continued (Next: The narrow energies we can see.)

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