Wednesday, April 30, 2008
A quick project to talk about today - last week I had a strange urge to knit an atomic orbital. The story goes that according to quantum mechanics, electrons live in atoms not as particular points, but as probability distributions. The standard way to represent these distributions is to draw surfaces enclosing 'most' of the probability. (I'm a little shaky on how this works exactly)
Surprisingly, the geometry of these surfaces can be quite interesting, particularly as the energy increases.
I decided to make the 3dz^2 orbital, which is my personal favourite - it's complicated enough to be very recognisable, while being simple enough to make some sense. I should say thanks too, to the Scientific Knitters group over at Ravelry for helping me figure out the shape.
I should say too that one of the components of this particular orbital is a ring, so this counts as another torus toy.
So here it is! I decided to knit the ring and the cones in different colours just to make it look colourful and nice, but apparently this has some physically relevance too - I'm told there is some kind of phase difference between the wave functions in the two parts. I don't really understand, but it's a nice coincidence.
I decided too to make the ring detachable, in the hope that this would make it more play-with-able, but this has the downside that the ring can't be tight enough around the waist to stay in place by itself. I guess I could make a second version in which the ring is smaller and sewn on to make it more realistic. But I kinda like it this way - it looks like it should be a child's toy, and I'd hope the detachable ring adds to this.
There's one slight problem, that I knit this on slightly too large a pair of needles, and the fabric on the ring part isn't quite as dense as I'd like. I should really have learnt by now that if you're knitting stuffed things you need to move down a needle size or two.
So yeah, it's all done, and I put the pattern up on Ravelry if anyone wants one of their own.