Sunday, March 21, 2010
QUANTUM PHYSICS AND ANCIENT WISDOM
Is science beginning to verify ancient mystical truths? Here are two events as reported in Scientific American that, to me, show that continued discoveries in quantum physics leave little doubt as to the answer.
“PORTLAND, Ore. — Researchers have demonstrated a device that can pick up single quanta of mechanical vibration similar to those that shake molecules during chemical reactions, and have shown that the device itself, which is the width of a hair, acts as if it exists in two places at once—a "quantum weirdness" feat that so far had only been observed at the scale of molecules.
"This is a milestone," says Wojciech Zurek, a theorist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. "It confirms what many of us believe, but some continue to resist—that our universe is 'quantum to the core'."
Physicists have long known that, following the laws of quantum mechanics, objects at the scale of atoms or smaller can exist in multiple simultaneous states. For example, a single electron can move along multiple different paths or an atom can be placed in two different places, simultaneously. This so-called superposition of states should in principle apply to larger objects, as well… As to how the day-to-day reality of objects that we observe, such as furniture and fruit, emerges from such a different and exotic quantum world, that remains a mystery.”
In another story written by Geoff Brumfiel we see that, “A team of scientists has succeeded in putting an object large enough to be visible to the naked eye into a mixed quantum state of moving and not moving.
Andrew Cleland at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his team cooled a tiny metal paddle until it reached its quantum mechanical "ground state"-- the lowest-energy state permitted by quantum mechanics. They then used the weird rules of quantum mechanics to simultaneously set the paddle moving while leaving it standing still. The experiment shows that the principles of quantum mechanics can apply to everyday objects as well as as atomic-scale particles.
The work is simultaneously being published online today in Nature and presented today at the American Physical Society's meeting in Portland, Oregon.
According to quantum theory, particles act as waves rather than point masses on very small scales. This has dozens of bizarre consequences: it is impossible to know a particle's exact position and velocity through space, yet it is possible for the same particle to be doing two contradictory things simultaneously. Through a phenomenon known as "superposition" a particle can be moving and stationary at the same time--at least until an outside force acts on it. Then it instantly chooses one of the two contradictory positions.
But although the rules of quantum mechanics seem to apply at small scales, nobody has seen evidence of them on a large scale, where outside influences can more easily destroy fragile quantum states. "No one has shown to date that if you take a big object, with trillions of atoms in it, that quantum mechanics applies to its motion," Cleland says.”
There is no obvious reason why the rules of quantum mechanics shouldn't apply to large objects. Erwin Schrödinger, one of the fathers of quantum mechanics, was so disturbed by the possibility of quantum weirdness on the large scale…
"It's wonderful," says Hailin Wang, a physicist at the University of Oregon in Eugene who has been working on a rival technique for putting an oscillator into the ground state. The work shows that the laws of quantum mechanics hold up as expected on a large scale. "It's good for physics for sure," Wang says.
So if trillions of atoms can be put into a quantum state, why don't we see double-decker buses simultaneously stopping and going? Cleland says he believes size does matter: the larger an object, the easier it is for outside forces to disrupt its quantum state.
So what’s the big deal? Mystics have long held to several fundamental maxims. The macrocosm, large, and the microcosm, infinitely small, are one: what applies to one, applies to the other. Mystics have said that we create our own reality; form follows thought; what we seek is what we find; like attracts like; our focus is our reality; reality is merely our thoughts made manifest and we can alter that reality with thought; and we are all one.
Until now, many scientists simply shunned much of what was happening on the quantum scale and felt that it just did not matter with regard to the larger world in which we live. The mentioned experiments would seem to point in the direction that they are wrong. What we hold as laws of the physical world are not immutable and only reflect our current state of awareness. Almost every day, some basic scientific law is found to be false. We have seen that if we seek to measure electrons as particles, we get particles. But, if we seek to measure electrons as waves, we get waves. Science is finding that things can be in different places at the same time and can be opposite and alike at the same time. They are have shown that what is done to one atom can affect an atom at an infinite distance at the same time. Words like quantum entanglement and superposition may not be just unusual phenomena at the sub-atomic level but can be observed at the larger scale. What may be happening is that as human awareness expands, granted at the moment through the use of new equipment, we are beginning to observe a closer version of reality–one that can change with a thought. When we are only aware of things at the gross level, then we only perceive what appears to be true at that level. But when we look closer at the detail, a whole new world and sets of laws emerge. These are the same laws that mystics intuited in ancient days when they were not under the mental restrictions of scientific, religious, political or even social dogma.
This is why I cannot accept some of the basic premises of author Sam Harris. While I applaud his fight against religious dogma, he is actually creating a new dogma based upon science and reason. But as we see, science and reason are also suspect as they are ever changing and never creating a true picture of the inner workings of the universe. They find what they seek. But if your search is based upon preconceived notions and false science, you have merely done what all movements do; collapse under their own biased philosophy. They create laws where there are none.
Many seers and prophets tell of two possible futures for humanity: one in which dogma leads to destruction and one where spiritual enlightenment leads to a world of balance and harmony. Nostradamus, the Mayans, the Hopi, biblical seers, Newton, DaVinci and others tried to tell us that we cannot rely upon our physical senses, science or religion to guide our thoughts and actions. They tell us that there is something deeper, something spiritual, that we must remember if we are to control the future of our evolution. Those working on the quantum physics scale are beginning to ‘get it.’ Given enough time, if there is enough time, they will lead us full circle back to ancient truths that were discovered without the microscope or the Bible. If there is to be a “Great Awakening” by 2012, it will be necessary to shed all of the old ways of thinking and embrace a new reality that we consciously create and founded on the ancient universal principles that include: what we due to the least of our brethren, including all species, we do to us and, what we do to others, we do to ourselves.
The articles references can be found at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=supersize-quantum-mechanics&sc=physics_20100319