Music theory and quantum mechanics

In high school science class, you probably saw a picture of an atom that looked like this:

Stylized Bohr atom

The picture shows a stylized nucleus with red protons and blue neutrons, surrounded by three grey electrons. It’s an attractive and iconic image. It makes a nice logo. Unfortunately, it’s also totally wrong. There’s an extent to which subatomic particles are like little marbles, but it’s a limited extent. Electrons do move around the nucleus, but they don’t do it in elliptical paths as if they’re little moons orbiting a planet. The true nature of electrons in atoms is way weirder and cooler.

Pictures are a terrible way to understand the nature of quantum particles. Music theory is much better.

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Human technology is part of nature

Humans are animals. Our tools are extensions of our bodies into the environment, like beavers and beaver ponds, coral and coral reefs, plants and oxygen. We’re unusual in the extent of our bodies’ impact on our environment, but plenty of other organism shape their environment to suit their needs. Technology is part of our extended phenotype, as much a part of us as our social groups. We’re part of nature, and so is everything we make and use.

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