Barry Lynn
Intersection of Science and Policy

Good Weather for Fighting a War

It’s fine weather for fighting a war no one but the Iranians and their proxy militias want.  Putting the war aside for a moment, I’d like to mention that it’s going to get pretty hot later this week as a Sharav blows by just to our west this Thursday.  And, there is a high probability that mid next week will be our hottest weather of the year. It will be good weather for being in the water whether in our plentiful streams or at the beach — assuming our skies are clear of both clouds and missiles.

As a scientist, I can tell you good ideas often come from someone else, or from persons who on the surface you might least expect.  For instance, it was President Ronald Reagan who called years ago (year 1983) to build a defense against ballistic missiles.    It was, however, criticized for being far fetched if not way too expensive.  Even not so long ago (year 2000),  Lars Erik-Nelson’s opinion piece proclaimed: “Stars Wars Didn’t Work Last Time and It Still Won’t.

After all, while Ronald Reagan may have made movies, we don’t’ live in a movie.

Yet, it was another person,  former Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz — of binocular-covered fame — who authorized “Iron Dome.”  The Iron Dome has been a resounding success, and its success led to the further development of David’s Sling, and the Arrow 2 and 3, designed to defend against missiles in the middle and upper layers, respectively.  Two nights ago, President Reagan’s vision and Amir Peretz’s perseverance brought the far-fetched into reality — and the interception of Iranian fired ballistic missiles.

Sometimes credit is due where it is due.

One area of science that underpins much of our technology including our amazing missile defense shield is Quantum Physics.  Quantum particles behave in unusual ways. As noted in the Scientific American summary, quantum particles can be “in two places at once, move through barriers, and share a connection no matter how far apart they are.”  Quantum physics is the foundation of many of our most useful technological advancements: lasers, fibre optics and LEDs, as well as modern electronics like our cell phones.

One mystery, though, is why small particles behave like quantum particles, while larger “particles” like us do not.  To better our understanding, there is a great race to find the largest particle or molecule  that still behaves like a quantum particle.  Indeed, Scientific American reported that an object 25,000 times the size of a hydrogen molecule has been shown to behave like smaller particles.  But, that’s still not very large!

Yet, surprises happen and it appears that a person far afield — someone whose raison d’etre is the study of weather has discovered the largest “thing” that exhibits quantum particle behavior,  my cat.  This is ironic because it was Schrödinger’s cat that first demonstrated just how weird quantum physics is.  Until we or someone else observes the cat, the cat is — at the same time — by deduction both dead and alive in a box with a lethal radioactive substance.

If you watch the video, you’ll notice that our cat, Jack, is bouncing around the box in our living room, only to appear outside the box without exiting the top of the box (the “energy” barrier).  I couldn’t believe my eyes, but the video doesn’t lie.  So, as I “earnestly” seek investment for my latest weather related venture, I may soon be famous for a most unusual reason — proving that cat’s can also undergo quantum “superposition,” or behave like quantum particles.  But anyone who has a cat and wondered how the sleeping cat could also have eaten their  roast beef already knows this.

Happy Passover!

About the Author
Dr. Barry Lynn has a PhD in Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences. He has an undergraduate degree in Biology. He is a researcher/lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is the CTO of Weather It Is, LTD, a weather forecasting and consulting company.
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