Many of the things that we take for granted in our daily lives would not be possible without the discoveries made over the past 100 years that are known as the “new” physics. Nuclear power, lasers, computers, satellites, mobile phones, MRI machines and just about all of modern technology are the result of the application of the principles of Quantum Physics. Understanding how this works can be a challenge, but the basic principles are easy to grasp if we avoid scientific jargon and don’t get bogged down describing the complex experiments, so let’s give it a go.
Traditional “old” physics was created by Isaac Newton and others in the late 1600’s, and they did a remarkable job of describing how our material world works according to fixed laws which explain everything from falling apples to the movements of gal-axies in space. Newtonian physics was so successful that it became a generally accepted fact that the world was a huge mechanical system that was completely governed by these laws of motion. The fundamental building blocks in this mechanistic universe were called atoms and they were perceived as dense balls of matter, but as measuring devices became more sophisticated it became clear that atoms were not solid objects, but were in fact tiny solar systems with electrons orbiting the nucleus, and that when you look really closely you find that… IT’S ALL EMPTY SPACE.
The atoms which make up everything in our universe actually have virtually no mass; they are 99.999999% empty space. To give you some idea of the scope of this, if an atom were the size of a gigantic cathedral, the nucleus, representing the mass, would be the size of one grain of sand! The electrons that “orbit” this tiny nucleus would be the equivalent of dust motes floating near the ceiling of the cathedral. All the rest would be empty space. So as science looked deeper into the nature of matter to find the building blocks of the Newtonian world, they found instead a strange and mysterious world with tiny specs of matter surrounded by vast empty spaces.
Thus was born the science of quantum mechanics, which seeks to explain the nature and behavior of matter and energy in the world of very small things and to solve the mysteries of how these affect our larger physical world. From the early 1900’s until the present day, numerous experiments have proven these four basic principles of quantum physics:
1) Everything is Energy
Going back to the fact that atoms are mostly empty space, how is it that things feel and act as if they are solid even though there is no real mass? It is because these vast empty spaces are filled with electromagnetic energy. Einstein’s famous E=Mc2 essentially means that energy (E) and matter (M) are interchangeable, and that there is an incredible amount of energy in the universe and very little matter. Thus a handful of uranium provides the power of an atom bomb.
2) Wave-Particle Duality
Light is pure energy that can express itself either as an electromagnetic wave or as a stream of particles called photons. Subatomic entities like electrons can also appear as either a particle or as a wave of energy. When something is in its wave form it has no definite existence; it merely represents an infinite amount of possibilities of how and where it can exist. It only has measurable existence when it chooses to be in particle form. Which leads us to…
3) The Uncertainty Principle
OK, this is where it really gets weird. We have established that the basis of all matter is intangible quantum energy that swirls around as wave-like possibilities with no definite material existence. But it only has this ghost-like quality when it is not being looked at. When it is observed, as when a scientist tries to measure it, the undetermined wave qualities disappear and it becomes a real particle with a definite location. In other words, at the subatomic level when you shine your consciousness on something you bring it into the material world.
4) Quantum Entanglement
This is very strange stuff that Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”. In the simplest terms it means that when subatomic particles are mingled together they become “entangled” with each other and a permanent bond is formed. Once this is done then whatever is experienced by one of these particles will be instantaneously felt by the other regardless of the distance between them. Entangled photons can be thousands of kilometers apart, but when you pinch one of them the other jumps at exactly same moment. Bell’s Theorem takes this one giant step farther by stating that this type of permanent connection occurs not only at the quantum level, but that it exists on the macro level of people, places and things.
This points to a scientific proof that we are all connected through our consciousness to a “Oneness” that flows from the smallest parts of our being to the farthest reaches of the cosmos…
We will look into this and other fascinating possibilities in my next article.
Text: Jerry Brownstein