Archive for August, 2008

Quantum Physics & God

August 15, 2008

I wish I could go back to college to get another degree, and if I could I’d study quantum physics.  Or acting. 

I want to pretend to be qualified for a moment and talk about the concept of God and how it applies to our physical world, and the nature of our reality and consciousness.  I’ve always felt like Science and God were conflicting ideals, until I come to infinity, at which point my brain reboots.

Right now there are scientists all across America and the rest of the world in their small labs, looking through their sophisticated machiness at particles that are popping in and out of existence, or existing in different places at the same time, existing in all places at the same time.  They can show you an object that you can see with your naked eye that looks like two small patches of light, but really are the SAME piece of matter existing in two different places at the SAME time!  How is this possible???  Where are these particles going in the instants they pop out of existence?  One of the speculations is that they are popping into other dimensions, where the 2 dimensional people on the other side are saying “where the hell did they go??” when they pop back into our dimension.  Seriously.

There is a famous experiment in the world of quantum physics called the Double Slit Experiment, that is a cornerstone of the whole science.  I’m no Bill Nye so if I explain this poorly or boringly, please be gentle.

Researchers took two metal plates, one with a single slit in it and one with two slits. They set up the plates one at a time in front of a screen, then they randomly fired Electrons, tiny particles of matter, through the plate and recorded the patterns on the screen.

Looks like this

 

 

Imagine you are at the fair playing that game that has the machine gun BB guns that fire a thousand BB’s in like 30 seconds, and they place a plate in front of you with a single slit in it for you to shoot through. Firing randomly, a lot of the BB’s will bounce back at you and shoot your eye out, but the ones that make it through will create a pattern on the wall behind the plate, in the shape of the slit. Set up the plate with 2 slits, and the pattern behind it will be in the shape of 2 slits.  Like This

Electrons, particles of matter, behave just like BB’s. 

Now, wave particles, like Photons of light, behave differently. Using water as an example, if you stand the single slit plate into water and splash a wave at it, the wave will come through the slit in a single, semi-circular wave pattern, where most of the intensity is at the tip of the wave, directly in line with the slit.

Like This

 

The image it creates on the screen is similar to the single slit outline of particles of matter, with one intense band at the center.

Like this

 

 

But place the double slit plate in the water now and splash a wave towards it, and the wave comes through the two slits as two waves. When the tip of a wave touches the bottom of another wave, they cancel each other out, creating a criss crossing pattern in the water where the waves are most intense at the points where they cross.

Like This

 

So rather than 2 distinct outlines of the slits appearing on the screen behind, like with particles of matter, you get a pattern of interference, several lines of decreasing intensity from the center that looks like this

 

 

This is the behaviour of waves

Bare with me, I know this is totally textbookish and if you are like me your ADD kicked in at hello, but I promise it has a big payoff.

In the experiment, when they fired electrons at the single slit plate, the pattern on the screen was consistent with the shape of the slit. The particles behaved the way they were supposed to. 

But when they fired electrons through the double slit plate, instead of a matter pattern of two outlines of the slits, like this

 they got an interferance wave pattern, like this

which meant the particles of matter were behaving like wave particles.  Matter was existing as itself AND a wave structure simultaneously.  How??  How can pieces of matter behave like a wave? 

Researchers thought, ok, all of those electrons must be bouncing off of each other to create this pattern, and so they reset, and this time fired one electron at a time through the slits, ruling out any possibility they could interfere with each other.  But after a couple of hours of this, the same interferance pattern emerged.

The conclusion?  The single particle leaves the electron gun, snaps out of existence, becomes a wave of potentials, travels through BOTH slits, criss-crosses itself and creates a wave pattern.  Reboot…………….  But mathematically things get even wierder, because the formulas show that the particle goes through both of the slits, neither of the slits, just one of the slits, just the other slit, and all of these possibilities are occuring simultaneously.

Baffled as the researchers were, they decided to see exactly which slit the electron could be travelling through, and so they set up a measuring device to watch one slit.

Hence the astounding discovery of the Double Slit Experiment.  When they set up the measuring device, THE ELECTRON WENT BACK TO BEHAVING LIKE MATTER.  It no longer created an interference pattern, and instead the pattern emerged in the shape of the two slits, as it should have all along.

This means that the mere act of OBSERVING the electron, meant it only went through one or the other slit. 

I’ll say that again.  THE ONLY CHANGE WAS THE ADDITION OF A CONSCIOUS OBSERVER.  Consciousness caused an observable, materialized change in the experiment.  In other words, the observer created matter out of thin air.

It’s not that the particle determined intelligently that it was being observed, but rather the observer brought it into existence in it’s current state, it did not have a 3 dimensional existence before it was observed. The wave patterns are caused by probabilities, and the particle is existing in all possible states at all possible positions at all times, until it is observed by a consciousness, at which point it snaps into our dimension, it’s wave structure collapses and it goes from a probability to an actuality.  Your perception causes this and it is measurable.  “All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force, the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”  ~ Max Planck

If that does not make your heart flutter then maybe you are not fully understanding.  It proves that your consciousness has a physical effect on your environment & reality.  It means that if a tree falls in the woods and there is noone around to hear it, no consciousness not even a squirrel, it does not make a sound.

So what is Consciousness?  I don’t mean your thoughts and feelings and memories and loves and favorites, etc., but your core awareness, your “be”-ing.  We have lost much of our connection with this level of our being because it’s clouded by the conditioned thought processes we develop as a survival instinct, the Ego.  But make no mistake about it, your consciousness collapses energy into form, it holds reality together, and we are all plugged into the same one, filtering it through our own nervous system and senses.  Hence individual experience. 

You are a reality receptor, causing form wherever you look, smell, taste or hear.  You touch your skin and feel like it’s solid but it is not.  You are composed of tiny vibrating strings of energy and matter, infintitely small particles.  On Plank’s Scale you’re talking about one millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimeter.  But we are made up of atoms so powerful that they cannot penetrate each other, the same atoms that exist on the surface of the Sun and of Jupiter and the North Star.  And, since an atom is almost entirely a vaccuum, your body is literally a vaccuum. If you could see yourself from the 4th dimension, you might see giant bright beams of creation projecting from your body, from your eyes and ears, your toungue and your skin.  These particles that are floating freely through every dimension, are snapping into your dimension using your senses as a vehicle.  Carl Sagan said: “We are a way for the Universe to know itself.

If consciousness is the creator, is consciousness God?

Not any of the anthropomorphic, caring or vengeful Gods of tradition, but a completely different concept of God, more like “a metaphor for that which trancends all levels of intellectual thought” as Joseph Campbell once put it.  Basically the essence of everything, the next realm, the ultimate unintelligent intelligence that we are all plugged into like computers on a network.  Whatever you want to call it, we all feel the connection intuitively but can’t describe it, though everybody tries.  But that feeling of connection has a very real, and mostly provable reason.    

Quantum physics suggests extraordinarily precisely that everything, EVERYTHING, all matter, electricity, waves, life, empty space, planets, galaxies, nebulae, quarks, peptides, Scott Bakula, it’s all connected by a Unified Field, the core of everything.  Physicists also call this Super String Theory.

Consider Quantum Entanglement.  Two electrons that are created together are “entangled”.  Say you hang on to one of them, and put the other on the opposite side of the universe, a vast, infinite and incomprehensible distance.  Now, if you make a change to one of those particles, the same happens to the other one INSTANTANEOUSLY.  What this means is that either information is travelling infinitely fast across space & time, OR… they are still connected.  And since, theoretically, everything was created together, or entangled, in the instant of the Big Bang – EVERYTHING IS STILL CONNECTED.

You are connected at the core of your being with the smallest star in the smallest corner of our universe.  Space is only a construct, the matrix of our 3rd dimension that gives the illusion of seperation, and our experience is limited to this dimension.  I don’t mean “outer space”, I mean SPACE, like the percieved distance between you and me, or between your face and your computer screen. There is a very real, physical connection between your face and your computer screen right now, and between you and me for that matter.  Or as Bob Schneider would sing, “Seperation exists not in your love filled heart, but only in your mind…”

I feel like I should probably temper this blog with a little healthy skepticism.  I am of course not a quantum physicist, so I am relating to you information that I have learned second hand and without an ideal foundation for understanding it.  Unified Field Theory is still just a theory at this point (it is minutely possible it could be tested after they turn on the Super Hedron Collider this Fall), and Quantum Mathematics can describe only probabilities, not real events, though it can describe things and make these predictions extraordinarily accurately.  I have generally heard it called the most accurate science for describing the nature of the universe that we have ever developed.  I have also heard it called the Science of God.

Einstein hated Quantum theory, and spent a lot of time trying to debunk it.  Most people have heard his famous quote that “God does not play dice with the Universe”, he was referring to Quantum Mechanics.  It conflicts with his Theory of Relativity to a degree that they cannot both be true.   Yet, mathematically, both theories work and can make accurate predictions.

In the First or Second century, the Astronomer Ptolemy had an “Aha!” moment, and declared that the universe was governed by circles and that the Sun, planets & stars revolved around the Earth in uninterruptable circles.  Then star-gazers said “wait a minute, what about the retrograde motion of some planets, where they appear to go backwards in their orbits??” and Ptolemy said “uhhhmmm that’s because there are circles within the circles!” and then star gazers said “Wait a minute, what about the stationary position of the North star and this, that and the other thing” at which point Ptolemy shouted “I am above the law!!”

The thing is, under Ptolemy’s system of circles, the mathematics worked.  You could make accurate predictions about the motions of celestial objects using Ptolemy’s geocentric circular model of the universe.  And of course, his model was utterly wrong.

What does this mean about science?  I’m not really sure.  I am fairly certain that quantum physics is a much more sophisticated theory, and has been tested by much more sophisticated equipment than Ptolemy had access to (sticks, flatbreads, witches, etc.).  Sciences are created to describe the world around us, it must be a challenge to resist the tendency to square your results with your own narrow view.  But, regardless of the efforts of the likes of Einstein, Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Erwin Schrodinger and others to discredit quantum theory (Planck, who was actually the father of quantum theory!), it has only been further cemented by experimentation & research.  And you can just feel it in your bones… not that that proves anything.

Can’t you?  Maybe not.  Maybe not yet!  Any Quantum Physicists or amatuers out there who could chime in?