family, Musings

Excited State


In atomic theory, an electron can be in one of several states. For this, I’m thinking about two… the ground state, and the excited state. When the electron is struck by a bit of light, it gets knocked out of it’s usual low-energy orbit, and goes as far from it’s center as it can without being lost (which is possible, but irrelevant here), into the excited state. 

Electrons do not stay in excited states for very long – they soon return to their ground states, emitting a photon with the same energy as the one that was absorbed.

I was talking to a friend, expressing frustration over this project I’m working on, which has my whole life in an excited state… we have reached apogee. I hope. I’m not sure we can be any more in suspense than we are. Nothing can be decided in this state. We are vibrating with anticipation, yet doing nothing while we wait. 
My friend reminded me that this state is impossible to sustain for long. We will – I will – plunge back toward my center, having emitted that bright spark of light that sent me spiraling outward in the first place. I’ve had my epiphany, my collision with a light that blew up my world like a flashbulb in the hours before dawn. I’m working hard, but I’ll hit a limit. One that I can’t pass, and I’ll fall back to the steady state of daily routine again. 
In the meantime, I wait, my family with me. I haven’t got the spare energy left to do anything else. 
We don’t think about this, but it’s happening constantly all around us. The mechanisms of the universe bounce like animated toys, at a scale we can only imagine. We can’t see it happening. Yet… it resonates with life on a scale we can understand. Not just the atom, but the transitions of the chemical reactions I manipulate in the laboratory to give me answers to those questions chemists ask. Reactions happen when you mix certain things together. Energy is released, or absorbed, and eventually you reach an equilibrium again, with equal amounts and a steady state. Over and over, life gives you this transition. Some days, you get in the car and go someplace. That’s a small one. Some days, you decide you’re going to move across the country and establish yourself anew. That’s a big one. In both cases, just like in a chemical reaction, we often need a catalyst to get us over that hump of needed energy in the transition state. In chemistry, we apply heat to add that energy, or we use another chemical that helps reduce the ramp-up slope to reaction. In life, catalysts can be external or internal. 
We get in the car to drive to work, even though we are sleepy and it would be less energy to drive to work. We do this based on an inner catalyst called responsibility. Short-term energy expenditure for long-term gain. Chemicals can’t have internal catalysts. Humans can. We can also have external ones… But now I’m pushing the hard deadline of my clock, and I am reacting to that with publishing this essay. 
*flash* a photon is emitted. 

2 thoughts on “Excited State

  1. Unstable condition
    A symptom of life
    In mental and enviromental change
    Atmospheric disturbance
    The feverish flux
    Of human interface and interchange

    Neil Peart ‘Vital Signs’ by Rush

  2. Hi Mrs. Sanderson. I was hoping to find this on your Road to Publication posts (ISTR they covered it) or just e-mail you, but since I’ve managed to fail my search-fu on both counts, I hope it’s okay to put it here.This is from Quizzer:

    We’ve started the process of making The Churchians into a book and we’re definitely hitting apogees & perigees in how we feel about the project. One of our starting places was your Inktail articles from MGC

    I had a few questions which we have attempted to find answers to, but wanted to get your opinion since you’ve done this more than we have. We think it might make a good post, too, so feel free to reformat these if you’d like.

    1) Images must be in the CYMK format for print books, but RGB8 (due to massively smaller file size) for eBooks. Does that mean you maintain separate Affinity Publisher files with the images in the different formats to convert to PDF before uploading said PDF to Kindle print? Our answer: That seems to be the only way.

    This implies the print book and eBook are two different entities as far as Kindle is concerned, since they come from different PDFs. Is that correct? Do we rely on Amazon magic to resolve that on the ‘sell’ page on Amazon? And does that mean we can have different gutter sizes so our comics are ‘centered’ in the eBook format but appear properly in print?

    2) Images can contain metadata. For print books, we can’t see that it is needed. For eBooks, it is much easier to cut/paste/share an image directly from the book. Should we include copyright information and/or sharing license info and/or contact or web page info in that metadata? It might not keep anyone from using our images in a way we don’t want them to, but it could help quite a bit with assorted internet miscreants.

    3) When you are drawing your original art, what size do you work at in pixels/inches vs the page size of the book you’ll eventually place them in? What dpi min/max would you recommend (we think we know print requires 300 dpi minimum)? Or do you work in vectors so you don’t have to worry about it at all?

    Thanks so much for your time.

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