LIBRARY:There are three other doors in the back of the movie theater I haven’t mentioned. One has a sign saying, “Men’s Room;” another says “Ladies Room;” and above the third door is a sign saying, “Library,” and that door is never closed. In between groups, or as I began to realize the particular group I belonged to at the time wasn’t going to produce what they were offering and my membership was coming to an end, I would go into this Library and read, looking for new inspiration and hope. I’ve mentioned in passing some of the titles and authors I spent time with, and I had the chance to study many of the texts written by the founders and leaders of various groups, saving me the trouble of actually joining that group in order to discover its inconsistencies and contradictions. Most of the books in the Library aren’t worth mentioning, at least in this discussion. But there is some very important information I discovered while reading you should know about, if you don’t already – information absolutely critical to anyone wishing to change their reality. So I’m going to make a big jump right now from philosophy and religion to science, from metaphors and analogies to cold, hard scientific experiments. The subject is quantum physics and what has become known (and widely misunderstood) as the “Holographic Universe” – monumental discoveries made in the last few decades which literally change everything we have believed about our physical universe. Don’t worry. I’m not going to get scientifically technical or say something any Human Adult couldn’t understand. But if you are still not satisfied with any of the groups you’ve joined – if you’re looking around trying to find out why none of the groups have produced anything close to what you want to experience and what you think is possible to experience – then you should spend the next few chapters in the Library with me; and bring your computer. I want to say at the outset I am not an expert in quantum physics, so I have invited the real experts – Ph.D.’s in physics, professors of quantum physics at major universities worldwide, authors of many books – to speak to you directly by using a lot of their written quotes and video interviews. Basically, I want to assure you that what you will be reading will not be my opinions, but those of the people who really know what they’re talking about. I’ve included a number of links to videos to watch, and I strongly suggest you visit those links and watch those videos as you read. Okay. Here we go… * * We’ve known for a long time – at least, I was taught in school more than fifty years ago – the physical world around us is not as “solid” as it looks and feels. In fact, the universe is made up of mostly empty space.
LIBRARY:This becomes very clear when we take a ride on a rocket into outer space and see so much “nothing” between a few particles of matter called stars and galaxies. As the technology has improved and we have gone deeper and deeper into “inner space” as well, we find the same thing in the atomic and sub-atomic worlds – mostly “nothing.” The very best and most fun way to experience this for yourself is to watch a nine- minute video called Powers of Ten, from the office of Charles and Ray Eames, which they produced for IBM in 1977. You can watch it here. There have been other videos made along the same lines: Cosmic Voyage (1996, produced for IMAX and narrated by Morgan Freeman), and Cosmic Zoom (1968, produced by the National Film Board of Canada.) The most important thing to see in these videos is that “outer space” and “inner space” look very much alike; there’s hardly anything there except empty space. For example, if you took the nucleus of a hydrogen atom and blew it up to the size of a basketball, the electron that defines the outermost “edge” of that atom would be twenty miles away from the nucleus. And in between? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Just empty space. “Within all the atoms and molecules – all the space within them – the particles take up an insignificant amount of the volume of an atom.”1 “In fact, the universe is mostly empty.”2 So… the first thing we have to understand is that matter is not “solid,” even though it looks and feels that way to us. “Matter is not what we have long thought it to be.”3 Matter is, in fact, full of LIBRARY:empty space. * * The Powers of Ten video ends at the limit of our understanding at that time (1977), looking at a single proton in the nucleus of a carbon atom. But as the technology improved over the years, and scientists were able to dive deeper and deeper into “inner space,” they discovered the very small particles they found did not behave as they were supposed to, at least not according to all the laws of physics we had believed for the last hundreds of years. The most famous experiment that caused a real commotion is called the Double Slit. It was actually first done with light in 1801 by an English scientist, LIBRARY: Thomas Young. Young demonstrated that light was not actually a particle, as had been believed forever, but acted like a wave instead. Then in 1961, this same experiment was performed with electrons rather than light 4, and finally in 1974 with just one electron at a time5. Since then it has been repeated and refined and repeated again, over and over, with the same result every time. In September 2002, this Double Slit experiment was voted “the most beautiful experiment”6 by readers of Physics World, and noted quantum physicist Richard Feynman has said “all of quantum mechanics can be gleaned from carefully thinking through the implications of this single experiment.”7 That’s how important this experiment is, and how much it has changed everyone’s thinking of how the world works. So let’s take a look at how this experiment is done and why its results are so startling….
LIBRARY:We’re going to start by taking small pieces of matter, like little BB’s, and shooting a stream of them out of a gun against a barrier that has a single slit in it. Behind the barrier is a sensitive screen, so when a BB hits it, it makes a mark, like this…. Most of the BB’s hit the barrier, but the ones that go through the slit hit the screen and make a pattern just like the shape of the slit. All that makes perfect sense. So now we’ll add a second slit in the barrier… …and shoot the BB’s at it again; and we get what we’d expect to get: a pattern of two slits on the screen. Okay, so far so good. Now, what would happen if we sent waves of water toward the screen instead of firing BB’s at it? With just one slit in the barrier, part of the wave goes through the slit and forms a pattern on the screen that looks a lot like the BB pattern with only one slit. The most intensity on the screen is where the top of the wave hits, directly in line with the slit. But if we put a barrier with two slits in it between the waves and the screen, a completely different thing happens. When the water goes through both slits, the new waves created by the slits on the other side of the barrier hit each other on the way to the screen.
LIBRARY:When the top of one wave hits the bottom of another wave, they cancel each other out. This is called “destructive interference.” You can easily see this when you drop two pebbles in a pond some distance apart and watch what happens when the ripples meet. So when we send waves through a barrier with two slits, we get what is called an “interference pattern” on the screen, like this…. The bright lines on the screen are where the tops of the waves joined each other (constructive interference) and then made it to the screen. The dark spaces in between are where the top of one wave hit the bottom of another wave (destructive interference), canceling them both out and never making it to the screen. So, when we send “particles of matter,” like the BB’s, through two slits, we get two definite patterns on the screen that look like the slits they came through. When we send “waves” through two slits, we get an interference pattern on the screen. Simple enough. Now let’s try this experiment with electrons instead of BB’s…. We have always thought about an electron as a really, really small BB whirling around the nucleus of an atom – a very small “particle of matter,” and solid, like a BB. So we would expect to see the same pattern on the screen we got when we shot BB’s; and we do when there is one slit in the barrier…. …and when we shoot a beam of electrons through two slits in the barrier, we would expect to get a pattern of two slits on the screen just like the BB’s. BUT WE DON’T! Instead, we get the same interference pattern we got when we sent “waves” through two slits. WAVES ELECTRONS Originally, scientists thought this might be because they were firing a lot of electrons toward the screen at one time, and maybe some of the electrons were crashing into each other on the other side of the barrier, canceling each other out and not making it to the screen. By 1974 they were finally able to develop a way to fire one electron at a time at the screen, so there was no way possible for them to interfere with each other. But they still got an interference pattern. (To watch a short and well-done animated video of this Double Slit experiment from What the Bleep!? – Down the Rabbit Hole, click here.) How is that possible? How is it possible to send one tiny particle of “matter” at a time through two slits and have it form a wave interference pattern? LIBRARY:There was only one explanation that made any sense: An electron is a wave rather than a particle; it is not a solid piece of matter as we have always thought! More recent experiments have discovered the same thing holds true for the nucleus of an atom, not just the electrons. “Matter is not what we have long thought it to be. To the scientist, matter has always been thought of as sort of the ultimate in that which is static and predictable…. We like to think of space as empty and matter as solid. But in fact, there is essentially nothing to matter whatsoever; it’s completely insubstantial. Take a look at an atom. We think of it as a kind of hard ball. Then we say, ‘Oh, well no, not really…it’s this little tiny point of really dense matter right at the center….’ But then it turns out that that’s not even right. Even the nucleus, which we think of as so dense, pops in and out of existence just as readily as the electrons do.”8 So the very building blocks of what we call our “physical universe” – the nucleus and electrons of atoms – are not just particles of matter, but in fact exist as waves. In quantum physics this is called “wave-particle duality.” That blew everybody’s mind; but it’s not the end of the story….
FOOTNOTES 1. Tiller, William, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Stanford University. What the Bleep!? – Down the Rabbit Hole – Back to reading 2. Hameroff, Stuart, M.D., Associate Director of the Center for Consciousness, University of Arizona. Id. – Back to reading 3. Satinover, Jeffrey, M.D., Ph.D., Teaching Fellow in Physics, Yale University. Id. – Back to reading 4. Jönsson C., Electron diffraction at multiple slits, American Journal of Physics (1974) Volume 42, Issue 1, pp. 4-115 – Back to reading 5. The Merli-Missiroli-Pozzi Two-Slit Electron Interference Experiment – Back to reading 6. Physics World – Back to reading 7. Greene, Brian. The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory – Back to reading 8. Satinover, Jeffrey. Id. – Back to reading