The quantum physics dilemma, a conflict between traditional Newtonian and more modern – but not new – quantum physics rests on a false dichotomy. Scientists and philosophers are looking for a sensible physical connection – continuity – between the very large and the indescribably small. No such connection exists.
by David Stone
Assorted Ideas, Large & Small
Newtonian physics describes the real world, the one we see as a whole. It’s a world of trees, skies, grass, birds, fish and the sea. Scientists measure it and create formulas that explain how it works. But something is missing. Something big.
The history of classic physics is a story of expanding horizons. It began with the realization that the earth is not flat. It continued with the discovery that the sun, not the earth, is at the center of our solar system. Then came the shocking news that we live in an infinite universe filled with stars like our sun.
Each new revelation led to a crisis in understanding, followed by a period of adjustment and accommodation. But each time, the crisis was resolved and our understanding of the physical world expanded.
The next great crisis came with the discovery of quantum mechanics in the early 1900s. For the first time, physicists were forced to confront the fact that there are things in the universe that we cannot see and that cannot be measured.
This was a shocking discovery. It violated everything we thought we knew about the physical world. But once again, physicists were able to resolve the crisis and expand our understanding of the universe.
The key to resolving the quantum mechanics crisis was to realize that there is no such thing as a physical object independent of observation. This may seem like a philosophical point, but it has very real consequences.
It means that the physical world is not made up of things that exist independently of us. Instead, it is made up of our interactions with things.
This may seem like a subtle distinction, but it makes all the difference in the world.
But Here’s Where It Gets Sticky
The quantum physics dilemma arises because the rules governing classic physics are utter nonsense when objects get very small and vice versa. The particles, waves and energies that underpin everything in the universe are as ridiculously unreliable as the buildings, roads and shoe sizes of the real world are predictable.
In other words, the quantum world is totally different from the world of everyday experience. It’s like living in two different universes.
The problem is that we can’t seem to let go of the idea that there is a physical connection between these two very different worlds. We want to believe that the rules governing the small-scale world must somehow be a reflection of the rules governing the large-scale world.
But they’re not.
And that’s where the trouble starts.
When we try to apply the rules of classical physics to the quantum world, we get nonsensical results. The only way to make sense of the quantum world is to abandon the idea that there is a physical connection between the two worlds.
In other words, we have to accept that the quantum world is completely different from the world of everyday experience. It’s like living in two different universes.
This may seem like a difficult pill to swallow, but it’s really not that hard to do. After all, we already live in two different universes. We live in the world of our everyday experiences and we live in the world of our dreams.
And just like the quantum world, the rules governing the dream world are completely different from the rules governing the waking world.
So, if we can accept that there are two separate universes, then it’s not so hard to accept that there are two separate sets of rules governing those universes.
But There’s An Easy Answer for the Quantum Physics Dilemma
The answer is simple, probably too simple. But the key is this: nothing happens in quantum reality. Quantum reality is a universe of jiggling, bubbling waving possibilities. It’s, after all, nothing more or less than the tools and recipes that Newtonian reality engages in making a universe where we work, play and create.
There is no physical connection because the only physical world is the one in which I’m typing this. I lean back on pillows while my legs stretch out, holding up my Mac Air. All this and everything in range – New York City humming grit all around – consists of physical objects and processes scooped up out of the quantum possibilities stockpile and made manifest.
What connects everything is the nonphysical master of everything: intelligence. We live in an aware universe that embraces everything. Physical connections between tiny potentials and giant realities are a fool’s pursuit. Only stuck materialists need something like that.
Look, we already know that single-celled bacteria and other life forms know how to act and react, singly or as a group. And we know they have nothing resembling what we would call a brain.
And it’s the same with some much larger forms. Trees know how to communicate and recognize dangers and how to maximize the potential for the nourishment of, not just themselves, but their children and siblings.
How could they ever do that if intelligence wasn’t present at all times and not in physical form?
Protests arise out of a fear that recognizing the prevalence of intelligence and awareness sets a path for religion. And it probably does, but that’s no reasonable cause for denying the obvious truths revealed in solving the quantum physics dilemma.
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