A Question is a Measurement

by Alexandra Ionescu

Fig. 1 Woman and dense atomic cloud, J.P Wolff, 1950s

During the Fall 2019 semester, two of my liberal arts classes assigned 101 readings and over 1000 pages to read from September to December in precisely 101 days. I wondered what would happen if I attempt to understand the readings through the questions the different authors asked and what happens to a question when it is taken outside its context. At that time, I was enrolled in a physics class, and we have just been introduced to Heisenberg’s “Uncertainty Principle.” Heisenberg formulated in one of his thought experiments that the position and the momentum of a particle cannot be measured with absolute prcision, simultaneously. In the act of measurement, one value must be sacrificed. Besides, theoretical physicist Erwin Schrodinger argued that a system could be in multiple states at once. When the measurement is made, its wave function collapses, allowing one of the states to emerge.Werner Heisenberg stated that “what we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.”Therefore, I imagined a question as a measurement one makes into any given text, where all questions co-exist in simultaneity. Out of simultaneity, meaning emerges.

Our semester was divided into 11 modules:  
1. Land
2. Species
3. Air
4. Science
5. Wilderness
6. Animal
7. Food
8. Energy
9. Water
10. Waste
11. Climate

In total I have found over 200 questions and tried to find patterns among them. I became curious to understand if different authors are asking the same questions, I tried to see if there is any trace of a collective consciousness, and quest.

I made 36 measurements.
(a question = a measurement)
(some texts did not contain any questions)

Do not expect to make any sense. That is because the questions are isolated from their context.

[ ... ] 

I am ending with a quote from Michael Serres, “Birth of Physics.”


“So, the vers is the verse is vertex is vortex. As verus is “a preposition for questions of place,” the inclination to veer away from the non-position of disorder is the pre-position to aposition, or the stating of a (pro)-position. The vers, the turn-toward-verse, causes Sense to birth itself form the non-sense of noise.”