Monday, February 20, 2012

I love when new concepts are explained by old ones

I just now learned that photon bunching has an entirely classical analog which corresponds to the fluctuations of the intensity of light with a finite bandwidth. I am well-versed with concepts dealing with the latter as they are tied to optical coherence theory, an important group of concepts in my research. However, I never properly learned what causes photon bunching and always regarded it as somewhat mysterious. Placing it in terms of something I know well is deeply satisfying to me.

I think this type of reaction is true for many scientifically-minded people. When a mysterious phenomenon can be explained by something familiar, we feel satisfied in placing the phenomenon within the logical, mental framework we've built for ourselves. It also explains why creating new concepts and shattering old ones can be so difficult.