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My first quantum physics intro

Updated: Apr 9

The first time I learned about quantum physics was on a beautiful spring afternoon. We sat at my favorite dock in Esplanade along the Charles River. Henry, with his first-generation Apple Pencil and some-generation iPad, started explaining the most basic experiment that led to the concept of quantum physics to me, after being surprised that I hadn’t studied quantum physics in high school. I couldn't recall if high school physics in Vietnam mentioned quantum physics, but certainly, I couldn't recall means I didn’t learn.

Henry, then a PhD candidate at MIT's Department of Chemistry, once boldly claimed that he lived in the real Cambridge. Oh yes, he did his master's at the University of Cambridge, UK – the real Cambridge, while we were in another Cambridge - Cambridge, MA, USA. Well, we never contested that this Cambridge wasn’t real, for the record. On another note, we had so much fun that night Henry took me dancing, somehow managing to get me to move with the music even though I didn’t dance.

It had been about 15 years since I finished high school when Henry started introducing the famous electron shooting experiment and more in such a way that I could follow without any difficulty, regardless of my – I assume – forgotten basic physics. And at the end of the section, the sun hadn’t set yet, cherry blossoms were having the time of their lives, and so was I – in retrospect. It was the first time I learned about quantum physics.

Henry was such a good teacher, and I don't think I ever told him that – or have I?

Henry has moved to NYC, settled at Columbia, and has been taking advantage of the world's most entertaining city with musicals and dancing. On a rainy day in beautiful NYC autumn, I finally visited the MOMA and texted Henry on the spur of the moment to see if he was in town to catch up. Later that day, I told him that I would wait for him at 9th Ave W36th, to which he responded, "You’re so New Yorker using NYC coordinates."

There I was, walking as if I owned the city (I did in some ways), and I saw Henry from the other side of the road.

Henry told me how great his trip to Japan was, still in his own humorous way. He showed me Columbia, and I still haven’t told him he was such a good teacher.

Henry wasn't good at taking photos though.


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