Another Quantum

So were you, back in 2008, among the many wondering what a Quantum of Solace was, and probably coming up blank? Did you eventually give up and put it out of your mind? Well, there’s another quandary at large that might trouble you for a while, and for the same reasons as before. Royal Caribbean International have launched the new name for their new oceanliner(s).

It is… wait for it… “Quantum of the Seas”. (I learned this from an ad break during the Oscars last weekend.) Now, the “of the Seas” bit continues a tradition of names over the years that mostly all make sense. Here they are:

Adventure of the Seas
Allure of the Seas
Brilliance of the Seas
Enchantment of the Seas
Explorer of the Seas
Freedom of the Seas
Grandeur of the Seas
Independence of the Seas
Jewel of the Seas
Legend of the Seas
Liberty of the Seas
Majesty of the Seas
Mariner of the Seas
Monarch of the Seas
Navigator of the Seas
Oasis of the Seas
Radiance of the Seas
Rhapsody of the Seas
Serenade of the Seas
Splendour of the Seas
Vision of the Seas
Voyager of the Seas

(I say “mostly” since I’m not sure what “Independence of the Seas” means exactly, unless it is about maritime law, jurisdictions, and so forth, but you could imagine a context in which it would a phrase that makes sense.) But I’m really stuck when it comes to “Quantum of the Seas”. How do these names come about, I wonder? Did someone just think the word “Quantum” would look cool there, or was there some deeper thinking? (Examination of the video I linked to above did not help. There were just lots of people saying things to camera about how “powerful” a word it is and the usual misunderstandings about the phrase “quantum leap” that is so common – somehow it is used to mean a huge leap forward, whereas it is, ironically, perhaps better thought of as something incredibly small.)

Grasping for the Physics implication of what a Quantum of the Seas could be, I went for the idea that you might try to find the smallest basic particle giving rise to the phenomenon, in the sense of a photon being a quantum of light (and electromagentism in general), or the Higgs particle the quantum of the Higgs field, the phonon the basic particle of vibration in various contexts in describing materials, and so forth. For Quantum of the Seas then, I abandoned an H2O molecule as too obvious and frankly too reductive, and reached for… perhaps a soliton of some kind? Does that work? Maybe not. Or I could take the good people at RCI at face value and imagine that they are telling me that if I were to combine a large number of these “Quantum” ships in the right way I would in fact get a sea of some sort? That would be a most impressive example of an emergent phenomenon, wouldn’t you say?

The search for understanding continues…


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