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Quantum Physics: What I Think I Think I Know So Far

Updated on September 8, 2016
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Adam Stier is an essayist and journalist who contributes to many mixed media websites. Adam is from Portland, Ore.

I Will See You In Time ...

…...Why do we keep recreating the same reality? Why do we keep having the same relationships? Why do we keep getting the same jobs over and over again? In this infinite sea of potential that exist around us, how come we keep recreating the same realities? Isn't it amazing that we have options and potentials that exist, but we're unaware of them?.....

...Is it possible that we're so conditioned to our daily lives, so conditioned to the way we create our lives, that we buy the idea that we have no control at all. …...

…..We've been conditioned to believe that the external world is more real than the internal world. This new model of science is just the opposite. It says what's happening within us will create what's happening outside of us…...

….What is reality? Is reality what we're seeing in our brain? Or is reality what we're seeing with our eyes? The truth is the brain does not know the difference between what it sees in its environment and what it remembers, because the same specific neurons fire. But then it begs the question: what is reality?....

... There literally are different worlds in which we live.

The macroscopic world that we see is the world of ourselves, is the world of our atoms, the world of our nuclei. These are each totally different worlds. They have their own language, they have their own mathematics. They're not just smaller. Each is totally different, but they're complimentary because I am my atoms, but I am also myself.

I am also my macroscopic physiology.

It's all true. They're just different levels of truth.

The deepest level of truth covered by science and by philosophy is the fundamental truth of unity. At that deepest sub-level of our reality you and I are literally one. ...

One. ..

Quantum Physics: What I Think I Think I Know So Far

The world of the infinitesimal is a fantastic, mind boggling, physics law defying place. Everything we thought we knew has changed. We have proven that things once thought only in science fiction like teleportation, alternate dimensions and entanglement, are indeed real.

We are discovering that we are much more than believed, on a quantum level, that we are all one. However, let's not get hasty, I don't want to overload you and a lot of it can be challenging to understand. But, you must! It's who you are, who we are and how everything ties together. Einstein called it ‘spooky action at a distance.’ and Richard Feynman said ‘if you think you understand quantum mechanics then you don't understand quantum mechanics.”

Indeed, it is that puzzling, bizarre and flat out WTF. That's why I love it. It proves that our universe, our existence is not so black and white. We are becoming enlightened.

We are going down the rabbit hole, are you ready?

Let's Begin At The .. Uh .. Beginning

Quantum mechanics or quantum theory or quantum physics or just QM is an aspect of physics regarding the subatomic and atomic world, the realm of the very, very small. The laws of physics holds no court here. Indeed normal is no longer present at all. Remember in high school you were taught that particles and protons were tiny balls of mass? That was only true sometimes. Not to insult your intellect, but, they taught it that way so your young mind could grasp the subatomic concept. The electron is not really matter as we know it anyway, it's just a cloud of energy.

OK, that's not so bad, somewhat believable so far, right?

Here is where you'll have to show some faith. Trust me.

Electrons, protons, neutrons are popping in and out of existence constantly. Until they are observed.Then they exist in one location. Scientists don't know why, they don't know where they go. They just know they do. New theories suggest parallel universes. But, we do not know for sure.

I know, it's hard to comprehend and we're still on the introduction. How can a particle exist in all possible locations? How does it know it's being observed in order to come into reality? Parallel Universes? Are you saying there's more than one reality?

Yes. There are infinite realities and the observation forces the particle to choose a location. A reality. A universe. A construct of mind, maybe?

You alright? Your head hurt? OK. Let's look at a famous experiment, hopefully that will clear things up. It won’t, but, E for Effort!

Double Slit Experiment

Double-Slit Experiment is a demonstration that light and matter can display characteristics of both classically defined waves and particles; also it displays the fundamentally probabilistic nature of quantum mechanical phenomena. It is the experiment. It's intriguing to note that a more primitive double slit was originally performed by Thomas Young in 1801! Long before we had even a notion of possibility of quantum physics. Sometimes referred to as Young's experiment or Young's slits. The experiment belongs to a general class of "double path" experiments, in which a wave is split into two separate waves that later combine into a single wave. However, we will look at the modern experiment here.

Firstly, we need to comprehend the difference of what a particle and a wave are.

A Particle is simply something we perceive as matter in some form, something with mass.

A Wave is what you think. A disturbance in some type of substance, like ripples in water.

There. That wasn't so bad. Makes sense right?

So, I told you a particle doesn't come into reality until it's observed, that it's everywhere simultaneously. So, what is it until it's observed? A wave. For reasons unknown that haunt scientists, everything we perceive as having mass is just a wave of information, or possibilities, until we observe it in some way. Forcing the wave to collapse and the mass to exist in one location. However, until we observe, it's a wave that's actually doing every possibility it could do at the same time. In every location.

I know. You're frustrated. Relax. In another universe your teaching QM and I'm swooning.

The Double-Slit Experiment actually can prove it, somewhat, it shows us that we create reality just by observing it. Yes, that's right, create reality. If you still don't believe me, watch the video, the text is hard, video good.

Dr. Quantum The Double Slit Experiment

Are you properly mind blown now? Want to go kick your high school science teacher in the shin and curse them?

Subatomic material will take every possible path at the same time as a wave when not observed. When observed, the wave collapses down to one point as a particle.

What can this mean about us? Do we all have powers that we are not aware of?

What it does seem to prove is that we create reality by observing it. Most scientists will tell you that we don't have any control of how we create reality and believe that. Some say we have nothing to do with creating reality but really do think that we do, but the backlash of the scientific community would come down on them for believing in "spooky actions" as Einstein would say.

However, some scientists, and myself, will say that we can create our own reality and we have our own theories to back it up.

Are you ready to create new realities?

A Dream Within A Dream? : Is Reality A Perception?

We actually only see a fraction of what our reality is. Our brains are objective, we process over 480 billion bits of data a second and our visual system takes in 1000 separate images a second. But, what are we seeing? What sees, the eyes or the brain? Brain of course interprets the data but it filters out a lot. Eyes have to denote shape, color, size, distance. There is much we do not see, besides electromagnetic radiation, because of streamlining, your efficient brain at work. However, if we think of a video camera it sees more than we do because it's not objective, it just “sees”. Our brains learn over time to filter out the unnecessary, or what we believe to be unnecessary, and keeps it simple. Rapid interpretation. I often think of an infant, staring at something you cannot see or focused on the ceiling looking at something. Perhaps, indeed most likely, their brain has yet to filter and they see what we learn to forget to see. However, that's conjecture. Let's stay with what we know. Theoretically.

“So there's more to reality than we see? How do you know?”

Long as it been known that the visible spectrum is only a small part of the spectrum of what is called Electromagnetic Radiation. Visible light, what we perceive, is a form, so are radio waves, gamma rays and x-rays, in waves, which one cannot see. An energy force that surrounds us. Watch TV, use a microwave even your mobile phone creates and emits electromagnetic radiation in waves. Curious to note as well, we produce electromagnetic fields, our hearts generate one, our brains as well. Indeed, our thoughts are energy. If one could watch a brain in action it would be like observing a massive lightning storm. The neurons sending information through the synapses using “little lightning bolts.”

Electromagnetic waves are produced by the motion of electrically charged particles. These waves are also called electromagnetic radiation because they, well, radiate from the electrically charged particles. They travel through empty space as well as through air and other substances, including us.

How Our Minds Perceive Reality

Scientists observed that electromagnetic radiation has a dual personality. Besides acting like waves, it acts like a stream of particles,or photons, that have no mass. No physical structure. In fact, if one was to look at an atom, with a very powerful microscope of course, one would see it is mostly empty space. There is no “cord” or tissues holding things in place. Thus, the atom has no physical structure, everything is made of atoms, so, one can conclude that there is no physical structure to anything! That's right, sunshine, you and I as well.

Everything is energy.

“Yeah. Sure, Adam. Get to how we can change it already!”

In time, first, let's call it by its new name…

Quantum Reality

Recently new theorem has pulled many QM scientists away from the notion of idealist reality. That it was only accepted because they had no other explanation. Simply they didn’t know how to cope with the issue of quantum indeterminacy.

I, and many scientists, however, still agree with the idea that quantum mechanics allows us to accept an idealist view of reality. Idealism says that the physical universe is made out of our perceptions, in other words, we alter our reality through thought and action.

I will cover several theories and let you “observe” which one is your reality. First, let's look at Quantum Indeterminacy.

Quantum Indeterminacy is that not all quantities can simultaneously have determinate values.

For example, if an electron has a location, then it simply has no speed, it is neither at rest, nor is it moving slowly, nor is it moving quickly. There simply is no fact about its state of motion. Similarly, if an electron is in a definite state of motion, then it’s not in any particular place – not here, nor there, nor anywhere.

I know. It's hard. Your brain hurts.

Good! No pain! No gain! (By the way your brain has no pain receptors, the brain cannot hurt)

Let me be completely clear about what I'm saying here. I am not just saying that if you know the position of the electron, then you don’t know whether or not it’s moving. I'm saying that if the electron has some position, then it does not have any state of motion. What could this possibly mean?

Er..well..nobody really knows.

I guess ‘completely clear’ was a poor choice of words.

It Gets More Interesting

Whenever a conscious observer tries to determine the position of the electron, she will always finds that it does indeed have a position. Similarly, whenever a conscious observer tries to determine the state of motion of an electron, she will always find that it does have some particular state of motion.

If these facts weren’t true, then we wouldn’t be able to test the predictions of quantum mechanics!

So how are we to reconcile the fact that sometimes the electron doesn’t have a position with the fact that, whenever we look, it does have a position?

Well?,,..Hey! Wake Up! It's science! Can't all be cats in boxes and lasers. We need basis!

Some quantum pioneers, such as Heisenberg and Wigner, theorised that the act of observation caused the electron to take on a definite state of motion, or a definite position. At that time, it wasn’t much of a further leap for them to suggest that, before anybody looks, there wasn’t any electron. If that were the case, then physical reality is brought into existence by our acts of perception. If we ain’t watchin’ it ain't existin’!

Why think then that before a measurement occurs, no quantities possess values? While some quantities must lack values?

While some quantities must lack values, it was proven by Jeff Bub and Rob Clifton that many quantities can possess values even when nobody's looking. It exists.

So, how can we figure out which quantities have determinate values?

Several people have tried to solve this puzzle. For example, according to an idea of Louis de Broglie, which was later developed by David Bohm, reality is made out of small corpuscles that always have completely determinate positions.

But why treat particle configurations as special?

One reason for thinking that particle configurations are always determinate is our eyes seem to tell us that this is the case! Another good reason for thinking that particle configurations are determinate is that it’s possible to describe how they move in terms of Elegant Dynamical Laws.

Thus, the possibility of Bohmian mechanics shows that subjective idealism is by no means forced on us by quantum mechanics.

However, it's still a possibility. All of this is possibility. Theory. You observe and decide.

But, Wait! There's More!

There are, indeed, other interpretations of quantum mechanics that describe a deep reality that is hidden from our perception. Two of the most plausible, but also most exceedingly bizarre, suggestions are the Configuration Space Interpretation of quantum mechanics, and the Everett Interpretation.

According to the Configuration Space Interpretation;

the world of our perception is just a projection of an incredibly high dimensional configuration space.

Again, this interpretation of quantum mechanics is realist in that the space of all configurations has its existence and properties quite independently from our observations.

But once again, this configuration space is perceptually unaccessible to us, we can only see the effects it has within our much smaller three-dimensional space. The upshot, as before, is that if you really believe quantum mechanics, then you believe that the physical world outruns our perceptions of it.

Another popularized way to think of quantum mechanics is in terms of the Everett, or “many worlds,” interpretation of the theory.

In this case, the configuration space doesn’t cause any ontological headaches; however, the wave function of the universe must be taken to be a real thing. But now we have some real work to do in explaining why human experience portrays the world in a very different light, i.e. as something that looks to have determinate properties, when in fact it does not.

“Adam! What the hell are you talking about?!?”

Alright, alright. ….

As we are well aware, Determinate means; to have exact and established limits or form.Properties, in this context, means some quality or character something has, like colour, mass or material.


How could something without determinate properties explain the appearance of determinate properties?

Well, good Everettians would say that the wave function does have properties, just not those properties that appear in our observation.

But then what properties does the wave function have? According to a famous proponent of the Everett interpretation,

Every mathematical property of the wave function describes, or corresponds to, some property of the real, physical world.

OK, so what exactly are the mathematical properties of the wave function?

As a mathematical object, a wave function is, well, a function; and a function is a certain sort of set of ordered pairs. What kinds of properties can a set of ordered pairs have? Well,for instance, it might contain the pair consisting of the empty set, meaning a set containing no elements, see Measure Theory, and the number 17. But what physical property corresponds to that mathematical property?

What if it didn’t contain that pair, but instead contained the pair consisting of a singleton set, a set containing, you guessed it, one element, and the number 17. What would the corresponding difference be in the physical world?

As I'm sure you are beginning to see, these are fruitless questions. We could do this all bloody day!

Basically, it's open to speculation. Indeed, there are other theories.

Eight Theories Of Quantum Reality

The fact of the matter is modern physicists do not have a single picture of the way the world really is; instead there are eight ideas of quantum reality. These eight views of reality are quite different; yet all are considered by leading scientists to be valid, or a least successful in terms of explaining experiments.

  1. There is no Deep Reality
  2. Reality is created by observation
  3. Reality is a undivided wholeness
  4. Reality is made up from steadily rising number of parallel universes
  5. The world obeys a non-human reasoning
  6. The world is made of ordinary objects
  7. Conscience creates reality
  8. Reality is two-fold. Composed of potentials and actualities.

Reality is An Illusion

I know. Try thinking about it, doing independent research and, I don't know, maybe, FORMULATE YOUR OWN OPINION! There's much more to see and experience, this article merely a sampling to whet your appetite. So many roads to take you can spend a lifetime tying it all together.

It's endless possibility. Endless imagination. Endless questions. Endless madness.

Chin up. It's all coming together.

Are we far enough down the rabbit hole yet?

In Time - A Mantra

One conclusion that I can come to with confidence is we are energy. Our hearts and brains produce an electromagnetic field that emulates from us at a radius of fifteen feet. Our thoughts and our feelings produce energy. Indeed, energy courses through us, radiates from us and intertwines with the energy of others. We are powerhouses of energy, within us lies the power to explode with the force of over a hundred atomic bombs, if we knew how and wanted to make a really strong and final point.

We know that energy never dies. It goes on and finds new purpose in the universe. If energy never dies and that energy was a part of us then logical conclusion would tell us there is indeed an afterlife and our energy returns to the universe where it was created in the beginning. Our energy and everyone who has ever or will ever exist entangled once more.

Never say goodbye. Never think someone is gone for good. Never think you'll never see someone again. Your energy and theirs will entangle again in the universe. We all see one another again. In time.

That is why I no longer say goodbye. I say, I will see you in time.

© 2016 Adam Stier


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