Friday, November 13, 2009

Quantum Phyics

Chapter One Modern Science: A New View of Reality

I have included this chapter on modern science because the discoveries made by the New Physics scientists could help open our minds to the possibility that there are other ways of thinking about our world and our lives than the ones we were brought up to believe. More than one hundred years ago, Albert Einstein introduced a set of revolutionary ideas about the nature of reality. His theory of relativity and mass-energy equivalence, e=mc2 (the mass of an object is in reality a form of its energy), caused a profound change in thinking among twentieth-century scientists, who had to ask themselves: How much do we really know about our world?

Classical science as developed by Isaac Newton supplied us with a mechanistic model of the universe that served us well for the past three hundred years। Classical science contends that the universe is composed of two fundamental entities, material objects (matter) and three-dimensional space, and that space has an independent existence from the objects within it. In the classic model, we have solid bodies moving through empty space set in motion by the forces of gravity. Matter is built from fundamental building blocks (atoms), and the way to understand complex systems is by breaking them down into their constituent parts, for when you know enough about the parts, you can understand the whole. Furthermore, time is seen as an absolute quality flowing at a constant rate from the past to the present and into the future, independent of matter and space. These ideas of classical physics work well in what’s called the zone of middle dimensions, the realm where we all live. But these theories fail as we move into very large dimensions and very small dimensions. Scientists, using modern technology and advanced mathematics, looked out at the astrophysical world and into the subatomic world and realized that Newtonian physics didn’t work there.

The New Physics, as it is called, has linked matter, space, and time in a totally new way. Along with the three dimensions of space that define the location of an object, we now must include time as an integral fourth dimension. Space and time are no longer thought of as separate entities; they are considered a dimensional continuum known as the space-time continuum.

Einstein’s theory of relativity demolished the long-held concept that time progressed at a fixed rate. Einstein showed that time is a variable dependent on the speed of the frame of reference. He demonstrated with thought problems and complex mathematics that time is relative and can expand or contract depending on the situation of the observer. He liked to tell the story of a young man who sat with a beautiful girl for an hour and how for him it seemed like just a minute. Whereas if the young man sat on a hot stove for one minute it would seem like an hour. Time duration depends on the observer.

Time’s relativity has been proven by the experiment of observing two synchronized atomic clocks, one on board the space shuttle launched into space and one on Earth. At the end of the space trip, the space shuttle clock was slower than the Earth clock.

Furthermore, astronomers can actually look back in time a million years or more. If you look at our nearest star, you will see it as it existed four years ago, because that’s how long it takes the light from that star to reach your retinas here on Earth.

Quantum Theory and the Bootstrap Hypothesis
The “bootstrap hypothesis,” developed by the noted scientist Geoffrey Chew, built on the theories of the New Physics and introduced another set of revolutionary ideas about the nature of reality. The bootstrap hypothesis rejects the mechanistic view of the universe. It claims that matter and space are an inseparable whole and that there are no ultimate constituents of matter. It further contends that there are “no fundamental entities whatsoever—no fundamental laws, equations, or principles—and thus abandons another idea which had been an essential part of natural science for hundreds of years.” (Capra 1991, 286) Instead, it maintains that the universe is a dynamic web of interrelated events in which none are more fundamental than any other, and it is their interaction that determines the structure of the whole of the universe.

In the microworld of quantum physics we find matter and antimatter, matter coming into existence and going out of existence, time moving backwards, fields of instantaneous influence at a distance, and other phenomena that defy the very basic laws of classical physics. Scientists observing the activities of the microworld are finding that it is beyond their ability to create a theory that describes what’s going on.

That’s the subatomic world, the world that none of us can perceive. But what about the world of people, automobiles, pollution, and all the rest—the “zone of middle dimensions”? How does it really behave?

Bell’s theorem, developed by the late physicist John S. Bell, gives us some of the answer. Bell’s theorem is a mathematical proof that, in effect, says our common-sense ideas about how the world works are woefully inadequate. It contends that not only does the microworld behave in ways that are contrary to common sense, the macroworld, the “real” world, behaves in irrational ways. These ideas cannot be dismissed as fantasy, because they are based on proven quantum observations that have been shown to be correct in explaining things like subatomic particles, transistors, and the energy of the stars.

New Physics scientists posit that matter cannot be separated from the space surrounding it. Further, it speculates that matter is in reality a condensation of energy in a surrounding field and that particles of matter seemingly come into existence out of nothing, the void. What we used to think was empty space is in reality a continual dynamic of creation and destruction. It is thought that matter at the subatomic level is surrounded by interpenetrating fields and behaves very much as light does.

Quantum mathematical analysis also points to the possibility that superluminal connections (that is, faster than the speed of light) in the material world may exist. According to the classical laws of physics, to effect change over a distance there has to be a signal transmitted at the speed of light. It turns out this may not actually be the case. Quantum theory points to a universe that is of one substance that cannot be separated into parts, and it seems that anything done in one place has an instantaneous effect on the system many miles away. Now that’s a revolutionary idea, and if it is true, it could explain phenomena such as telekinesis, telepathy, extrasensory perception, premonition, and other psychic mysteries.

In view of these new observations about the nature of the universe, in 1927 a group of esteemed scientists met and formulated a set of theoretical principles known as the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics (CIQM). This was a defining moment in modern science, for CIQM refuted the idea that there could be a one-to-one correspondence between theory and reality, a hallmark of classical science. Classical science asserts that there is one world and it is just as we experience it; this is it and it is exactly as it appears. CIQM says that the world is quite different from the way we think it is. CIQM doesn’t explain specifically what the world is like, just that it is not as substantive as we perceive it. And so this eminent group of scientists had to acknowledge that it was impossible to construct a theoretical model of reality.

Considering what the New Physics is discovering about the universe, I think it wise to keep an open mind about what is possible and what is not. We should not cling too tightly to our notions of reality. As astonishing as these theories are, new theories about the nature of reality will quite likely be developed and present something even more fantastic to future generations.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Warren....this is such an interesting subject and I am glad to know our Native Elders seemed to have such good knowledge of this topic.