What Do You See In This Quantum Mechanics Class' Chalkboard?

Illustration for article titled What Do You See In This Quantum Mechanics Class Chalkboard?

According to artist Alejandro Guijarro and his Momentum project, what you end up doing is just seeing a graphic of line and color. But some people are definitely going to use what knowledge they have to try to figure out the subject of the lecture that day.

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Guijarro spent three years going into classrooms right after lectures at Cambridge, Stanford, Berkeley, Oxford, and others. Then, he'd take large-format photos of the blackboard. The idea was that removing the images from their quantum mechanics class context would transform their meaning from learning aid into art. From his artist's statement:

He begins by recording the blackboard with the minimum of interference. No detail of the lecture hall is included, the blackboard frame is removed and we are left with a surface charged with abstract equations. At this stage they are documents. However, once removed from their institutional beginnings the meaning evolves. The viewer begins to appreciate the equations for their line and form. Colour comes into play and the waves created by the blackboard eraser suggest a vast landscape or galactic setting. The formulas appear to illustrate the worlds of Quantum Mechanics. What began as a precise lecture, a description of the physicist's thought process, is transformed into a canvas open to any number of possibilities.

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So, is that what you see in the photos below? Or are you trying to make sense of it all?

Illustration for article titled What Do You See In This Quantum Mechanics Class Chalkboard?
Illustration for article titled What Do You See In This Quantum Mechanics Class Chalkboard?
Illustration for article titled What Do You See In This Quantum Mechanics Class Chalkboard?
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Illustration for article titled What Do You See In This Quantum Mechanics Class Chalkboard?

Alejandro Guijarro's website, via This Is Colossal.

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DISCUSSION

RemusShepherd
RemusShepherd

Is it cheating if my major was in quantum chromodynamics? Whatever; trying to decipher these was fun, I loved the opportunity to see how much I remember from college.

First image — Cosmology equations. They're trying to parse through alternate theories on the universe's expansion with references to Minkowski spacetime. I think there's a second subject on that board involving the design of a particle detector, but the two may be related.

Second image — Typical particle interaction/scatter equations, nothing very specific.

Third image — a lot of goofing going on, with 'HONK' scribbled on top of it. Underneath the equations may be looking at solid state excitation scenarios.

Fourth image — More particle scatter equations, I don't see anything too specific but the Fermi diagram is unmistakable.

Fifth image — Got me on this one. I see electron well graphs and very high energies, so I'm guessing these are state equations for a quantum plasma.