The quantum world is weird and illusive. Is it a trick of the light that scientists can’t determine if ours is a world of waves or particles?
When Ice melts in your hands and pools at your feet, do you question that it is water slipping, dripping through your fingers? Are you even surprised by its metamorphosis?
Just as water can be observed in more than one state, matter, in general, can apparently change states. The double-slit experiment shows that small matter is a wave until the wave becomes a particle; the wave changes to a particle, apparently, through participation with an observer.
Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner in their book, Quantum Enigma describe the puzzle this way:
“A small object is sent into a pair of well-separated boxes. Looking into the boxes, you always find the whole object in a single box, and the other box empty. According to quantum theory, however, before the object was observed, it was simultaneously in both boxes, not wholly in a single box. An interference experiment, which you could have chosen, would have established that. By your free choice, you could establish either of two contradictory prior realities.”
How can something be in two boxes at once? A wave can be in more than one place, but a particle is in one place only, right?
The is it a wave or is it a particle question still disturbs physicists in the 21st century, almost a century after the discovery of quantum mechanics. The main problem remains: does the wave collapse to a particle due to observation? What counts as an observer? Does the wave collapse at all? Could something else explain the quandary posed by the double-slit experiment? Continue reading Trompe L’oeil, A Trick Of The Light: Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics
Does matter exist? Scientists are not so sure.
Bizarre discoveries of quantum mechanics blow away the solid understanding on which our classical scientific thinking is based. It’s like the ground underneath of us is shifting.
Imagine looking down at the balcony you’re standing on high above the ground. As you look at the boards below your feet you recognize that the atoms that make up the structure—each and every one of them—is 99.999999999999% empty. You are standing on mostly nothing. What supports you?
A quantum physicist might propose that you’re suspended over the atoms that form the deck, hovering over them by the power of repulsion (like opposite magnetic pull, a repulsive force that gives the illusion of solidity). According to physicist and father of quantum theory Max Planck you’re not “standing” on anything “solid” at all.
“As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.” ~ Max Planck
Mind is the matrix of all matter? I think I saw that movie. So, if there’s no matter (no spoon), then wha???? Continue reading What’s the Matter? No Really, What is Matter? Did quantum mechanics make matter disappear?
What is consciousness? Can a computer be conscious? Is your pet cat or dog conscious?
I came to this question of consciousness as part of writing a book about setting intentions. I love to research and I love science. I planned to use current, scientific research to lend credibility to the concept of setting and accomplishing personal, family, and community intentions.
This approach, however, led me to a roadblock. I ran right smack into motionless, dogmatic Materialism. If the materialist conception of the world is correct, then humans have no free will, therefore intentionality, as I intended it to mean in my book, could not be possible. We are nothing but a bundle of neurons, according to the fated materialist view, and each and every thought, act, or emotion is predetermined.
Physicist Daniel Levy asserts that “whatever free will might be, it is a phenomenon of mind, and phenomena of mind must, in my physicalist conviction, be understood in relation to phenomena of the brain.” In his book Neural Holism and Free Will Levy asks: “Shouldn’t this make us despair—this realization that we are automatons with no powers of deliberation, no choices, relentlessly driven to perform mechanically, like a robot or computer? Not in the least. Under the proposed description, our responses (optimally) reflect all of our beliefs and desires, as represented in our neural states.” I don’t know about you, but his explanation doesn’t make me feel all that great; and how does consciousness fit in? Continue reading Consciousness: Materialism, Freewill, & Morphic Fields Forever
Where do our ideas about “race” come from? Did slavery create racism? Why can’t we all just get along?
Many people think “race” and racism have been around forever. When we look at historical records from earlier times and places we find our ideas about “race” are quite different than ideas held by people in the past.
In the ancient world, slavery was a way of life. Many slaves were owned by Egyptian, Greek, and Roman aristocracy. But these slaves did not necessarily have different skin color from their owners. Slave owners acquired their slaves through capture in warfare, punishment for crimes, colonialism, kidnapping and piracy, and other means. Even the inability to pay a debt might make someone a slave.
Slavery didn’t end with the fall of Rome. During the 15th through 19th centuries, many of the most powerful European countries engaged in colonialism. Much of the Americas, including the U.S., Cuba, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Atlantic Nicaragua were colonized and Africans were enslaved to work the conquered land.
In places where the European colonists brought slavery and settled, the mixing of populations between those of European descent and those of African descent created mulatto or Creole cultures. These cultures were typically “caste-stratified by skin tone and more broadly by the degree of ‘African-ness’… as opposed to ‘European-ness’ that an individual or family exhibits.” from Bad Subjects, “Colorless All-Color”: Notes on White Culture.
The U.S. is also a mulatto culture, but instead of becoming caste-stratified a color line was drawn dividing society into two exclusive groups: Whites and non-whites. Americans created a division between people that didn’t exist before and that we still feel the effects of today. Continue reading How does our thinking about “race” and ethnicity create conflict?
Why do we have racial and ethnic categories? Are these categories there to divide or protect us? What’s the difference between “race” and “ethnicity” anyway? When does someone become just plain “American?”
It appears to be very difficult for most of us, when put on the spot, to define “race” or to describe the difference between “race” and ethnicity.
Most people think that “race” is a biological category – something in our genes, and that ethnicity has to do with unusual foods or customs. But, “race” is a social, not a biological, category.
Beginning with the first Census Report in 1790, and every 10 years after, the U.S. government has asked us to identify ourselves. But the categories of “race” and ethnicity we’ve had to select from have been ever shifting! Since 1900 alone, over 26 different racial terms have been used to categorize the U.S. population. People once thought to be of separate “races”, for example, the Irish, Italians, and Jews, are now all considered Caucasian.
Continue reading Why Do We Have Racial & Ethnic Categories?
What is it that divides us?
How can we learn to understand those who are different from us? How can we help others to understand and appreciate who we are?
Our families, friends, schools and communities have a huge influence on who we become as adults. People who help form our perceptions of the world are usually those who are similar to us in ethnicity, socioeconomic class, education, background and lifestyle.
Our perceptions of the world are formed largely when we are children.
Continue reading Why is it always Us versus Them?
What makes us all the same?
Are we the same because we work for the same organization or go to the same school? Are we the same because we speak the same language or live in the same neighborhood? Are we the same because we listen to the same music or eat at the same restaurants?
These questions may seem trivial, but as our society becomes more diverse the ways we choose to divide ourselves from others and who we include and exclude from our groups become important issues.
Continue reading What makes us all the same?
What makes us all unique?
Have Americans created a melting pot, a mosaic, or a patchwork quilt? What kinds of barriers still keep people from attaining their goals? How can we all be productive and successful? These questions are of crucial importance now and in our future.
A simplistic, but true, answer comes from an old saying, often repeated, and used by patriots everywhere, “united we stand divided we fall.” In order for us to grow and prosper we need to be aware of how our thinking keeps us from seeing others in an inclusive way. Some people call this a “diversity” issue. Perhaps it’s really a “unity” issue, an issue that is important to the “community”.
The citizenry of our country are diverse and ever changing.
Continue reading What makes us all unique?
Haven’t we gotten beyond the “race” issue?
This crucial question has been asked for decades. When you ask it of white people most answer “yes”; but when you ask people of color, the answer is “no”. Why the different answers? Because most of us are ignorant — “lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated” from The Oxford Dictionary online. We don’t know our own history and we don’t understand biology.
“Our thoughts are unseen hands shaping the people we meet. Whatever we truly think them to be, that’s what they’ll become for us.” ~Richard Cowper
Continue reading Diversity & CommUnity: How We View Ourselves & Others