Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Quantum Mirage

A Novices Experience

" Quantum physics is claimed to support the mystical notion that the mind creates reality. However, an objective reality, with no special role for consciousness, human or cosmic, is consistent with all observations"
Victor J Stenger
Prof. Em. of Physics and Astronomy
Adj. Prof. of Philosophy

I love physics.

Exploring the limits of the universe and touching the minds of the great men who travel such mysterious and bizarre places is a completely humbling experience. From the works of Einstein and Pauli, de Broglie and Wheeler to name but a few, the last century has been a place of wondrous discovery in the realm of physics; from the cosmic to the quantum.

There have been tremendous inroads toward comprehending many aspects of the universe among which the study of the very small; Quantum Mechanics has especially captured the imagination of many who would attribute this realm with mystical inferences and colorful metaphors.

Yet , as the late Richard Feynman, one of the most respected and prominent lecturers of physics would often remind his students "If you think you can explain Quantum Mechanics you definitely do not understand it!"

This is where so many have tended to jump the gun and make rather presumptuous and "intuitive" assumptions concerning the nature of Quantum Mechanics correlating this domain with a particular world view or philosophy. The elites of the mystical interpretations, of holistic oneness, cosmic consciousness, and quantum spirituality have inundated us with countless descriptions of a novel New Age quantum language.

Much of the credit for this relatively recent mystical approach to quantum physics can be attributed to the publication of Fritjof Capra's " The Tao of Physics" (Capra 1975). This fascinating incursion into the world of the mysterious quantum and Eastern philosophy captured my eager imagination as well as those of so many.

Others followed the beckon call of the mystic quantum. Authors such as Kafatos and Nadeau in their book "The Conscious Universe", Deepak chopra's many publications, and more recently, docudramas like "What the bl**p do They know?" expounded Capras and other related views. The New Age had a real and solid science base and its message spread throughout the western world like wildfire.

So, I fell in love with physics.

I had a powerful need to understand, to see for myself the source of this wonder. After a time delving into some of these questions, I slowly came to understand the immensity of physics. I found to my dismay that my rather romanticized notion of quantum mysticism was a paper tiger, an illusory and unreal conjunction of imaginary associations.

I discovered a profound misrepresentation and misunderstanding within quantum holism of fundamental principles including superposition, non locality, and quantum entanglement; the very pillars of quantum consciousness theory. My dismay however quickly turned into excitement and awe as this is where the fun truly began!

From the mathematical language of physics to the insights and thinking of many, the true mystery and beauty of the quantum was revealed. The majesty of the human endeavor reveals itself in the vivid tapestry of heartache and success that is the science of the quantum. A process that had led to the present genuine, broad, yet still limited grasp of this fascinating realm. There is much yet to be learned (and unlearned!).

The discovery that Quantum Mechanics actually blends with the cosmic majesty of the galaxies in unexpected ways is a truly enlightening experience. Quantum physics provides an incredibly consistent and precise way of describing everything including the classical universe as we know it. That the quantum wasn't so weird actually made the whole of existence stranger and far more mysterious than ever before.

This is another sort of strangeness. So, it seems to me that as we continue to ponder the universe and the mystic ether of a quantum consciousness melts away to nothingness, we find we are faced with an even more fantastic weirdness!

But perhaps this is a weirdness of the right sort.

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