by Bruce A. Smith
The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, The New Physics – An Introduction to the Science of Consciousness. This is Chapter 4, and part of an onging series.
The Observer Effect, Superposition, Non-Locality and Quantum Entanglement, Time and Space, the Zero Point Energy Field, Superstrings, Wholeness and Implicate Orders – (Whew!)
To better comprehend the malleability of matter and the transformative qualities thought has upon physical reality, we need to jump into the world of quantum physics. Once we know the current understandings of that tiny realm – the land of atoms, electrons, quarks and electromagnetic fields, et al., we’ll have a platform from which to explore how consciousness interacts with physicality.
A historical approach to quantum physics is a useful way to begin this discussion and let’s examine its early beginnings by exploring the dual qualities of light, specifically, the ability of light to behave in two radically different forms – either as a wave or a particle.
In the early 19th Century, British physician and physicist Thomas Young sought to better understand the nature of light, and he developed a simple test that revealed the first glimpse of the phenomenon now called the Observer Effect.
The Observer Effect Theory, Young’s Double-Slit Experiment, and the dual nature of light (1)
Although Sir Isaac Newton had determined that light was composed of particles in the 17th Century, Young suspected more. In 1802, he cut a small hole in a window shutter, covered it with a thick piece of paper and punctured a tiny pinhole in it as well. Next, Young took a mirror and diverted the thin beam of light that came shining through the second hole. Lastly, he took “a slip of a card, about one-thirtieth of an inch in breath” (2) and held it edgewise in the path of the beam, dividing the stream of light in half.
Looking at the wall opposite his beam, Young noticed that the illuminations splayed upon the surface had alternating bands of light and shadow, which indicated a wave pattern. Young deduced that the bright bands appeared where the crests or troughs of waves overlapped, reinforcing each other, while the darkened areas marked the locations where a crest from one wave lined up in a trough from the other, neutralizing each other.
Young’s test showed that light is not only composed of particles as Newton had shown, but it also possessed wave behavior.
Subsequently, other scientists expanded Young’s experiment by passing light beams through a partition containing two slits, behind which was placed a photographically sensitive surface to record the effects. These experiments confirmed Young’s initial findings, and today this aggregate work is coined “Young’s Double-Slit Experiment.”
Through the years, though, more advanced double-slit studies revealed even greater mysteries.
The Observer Effect is observed
When double-slit experiments were expanded to test the full range of sub-atomic particles, scientists also found wave and particle behaviors. Amazingly, though, they also discovered that the tested particles were influenced by the act of being monitored.
In general, the experiments went like this:
Inside a closed container was placed an electron-emitting device aimed at a partition containing two slits, and behind the partition was a photographically-sensitive screen.
The emitter sent out a stream of electrons, which flew through the slits and landed upon the screen. As in Young’s experiments with light, the electrons displayed themselves upon the screen in a wave-like pattern, namely, they showed concentrations of lighter and darker shades indicating that the electrons formed a wave pattern and had been interrupted in some fashion, presumably by the slits.
Mike told me that the phenomenon is akin to having ocean waves roll onto the beach at Atlantic City, New Jersey. As the waves come in they are uniform, but when they hit the pilings of the piers that jut out into the Atlantic the waves are disrupted. Parts of the wave are weakened while other parts are untouched or even enhanced, and roll on with more energy. Thus, the wave crashes upon the shore in a variegated fashion, much like the waves of electrons do in the double-slit experiments.
However, when a viewing device is added to the experiment and an observer monitors the actions of the electrons, they behave as solid particles flowing in a straight line, landing upon the screen in two clumps directly behind the slits – much like a gang of children throwing snowballs through two openings in a fence would result in two plies of mushy snow on the opposite side.
Author John Gribbin, in his Q is for Quantum, which is my bible on quantum physics, gives a superb description of these experiments, from which I have parsed the following as a way to show the utter magnitude of this experiment:
“In tests with particles emitted one at a time, the particles behaved as if they knew the exact nature of the wave pattern being built. They appeared to have knowledge of past and future placements of other particles, and so the particles picked a spot for themselves that was in accordance with the wave pattern as a whole.
“But, wait- there’s even more mystery!
“When the electrons were emitted one at a time and a detector was hooked up to the slits to let the researcher know when and which hole the particle was going through, the wave behavior disappeared.
“Instead, concentrations of light appeared on the detector screen directly in line with the slits. The particles behaved as if they knew that they were being watched, and acted like little tiny rocks being thrown through a hole in a wall, and thereby piling up directly behind the openings.
“So, monitoring or observing the movement of electrons changed their behavior, and this phenomenon has been observed for many types of sub-atomic entities including neutrons, protons, and even whole atoms.” (3)
These findings are now known as the Observer Effect and have become the cornerstone of the New Physics. This means that all the electrons, neutrons and atomic-what-nots buzzing around in the universe are subject to our observation.
Wow! – what else can you say?
Adding to the wonder, author Lynne McTaggart writes in “The Intentional Experiment” that the double-slit experiments have been refined to show the duality of nature in not only sub-atomic particles but also in atoms, including molecular clusters composed of over 100 atoms! (4)
Again, wow – for now we are getting into macro-sized realities!
To further appreciate the magnitude of these findings, Gribbin offers the perspective of the great American physicist, Richard Feynman, who said the double-slit experiment:
“… encapsulates the ‘central mystery’ of quantum mechanics. It is ‘a phenomenon which is impossible, absolutely impossible, to explain in any classical way, and which has in it the heart of quantum mechanics. In reality, it contains the only mystery … the basic peculiarities of all quantum mechanics’ “ (5)
To me, there is even more wonder. Consider this: When the electron is in the emitter it is a formed and identified entity. It travels down the machine as an electron, and then once it exits – poof – it becomes an unknown. We don’t know what it is or where it is – only that it behaves as a wave. As Mike told me in conversation, “As far as we know, once an electron leaves the emitter, it could go to Detroit.”
Then, at the slits and upon observation the electron becomes an identifiable particle, again. To move in and out of defined reality states via observation is something that I find utterly amazing. I feel like shouting “wow” over and over.
So, does the response of observed particles represent a tiny template for larger aspects of physical reality? Are our lives the grand conclusion of one really big, collapsed wave function?
Narrowed down, the fundamental question of this book is this: how does consciousness utilize the Observer Effect to shape our lives?
Many scientists have contemplated these questions since the 1920s, and that is where our discussion leads next – into the world of quantum physics and two landmark theories spawned in part by the discovery of the Observer Effect: The Copenhagen Interpretation and Heisenberg’s Uncertainly Principle.
The Copenhagen Interpretation and Heisenberg’s Uncertainly Principle
My friend and Cal Tech grad, Yuchi Chu, has helped me immeasurably understand the intricacies of quantum physics, particularly the mysterious dynamics of sub-atomic particles described in the Copenhagen Interpretation and the Uncertainty Principle.
From my conversations with Yuchi and Mike, I come to understand that the central tenet of the Copenhagen Interpretation holds that we can never know precisely where and what sub-atomic particles are doing. In this theory, when we measure or observe one aspect of a sub-atomic entity, we disallow any accurate reading of other characteristics of the subject.
Expanding upon this perspective, Gribbin says that the Copenhagen Interpretation contains the following elements:
1. It is meaningless to ask what atoms and other quantum entities are doing when we are not looking at them. All we can do…is to calculate the probability that a particular experiment will come up with a particular result.
2. Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle,” which says that a quantum entity does not have a precise momentum and a precise position at the same time, is an essential ingredient of the Copenhagen Interpretation.
3. Quantum entities have attributes of both particle and wave.
4. All possible probabilities, described by wave functions, are intermingled into what is called a superposition of states until a measurement is made (observation). (6)
Thus, in the Copenhagen Interpretation all realities are considered to be possibilities. Gribbin in the above passage calls them superposition of states, or wave functions. Whatever we call them, realities are thought to be in a state of potential until the observer collapses the wave function / superposition of states, etc. into physicality by the means of observation.
However, Hugh Everett in 1957, while a graduate student at Princeton University conceived a radical alternative theory, called the Many Worlds Theory, which has come to be accepted by the majority of physicists. (7)
Everett, who developed this theory with his thesis advisor John Wheeler, suggests that rather than one reality coming from a pool of potentials, all realities exist in a vast infinitude of realities in some kind of huge superpositional place, hence, “many worlds.”
As I understand the theory, each of these worlds is real, separate, and can be accessed via observation. To paraphrase a sublime commentary on the Many Worlds Theory by the eminent British physicists Stephen Hawkins (that I heard in a video or read somewhere that I can’t remember): “There is a potential that you are reading this book on Mars.”
Further investigations into the wild, hazy nature of the quantum world have expanded from these foundations, and have led to the theories of superposition, non-locality, and entanglement, and that is where we head next.
The Copenhagen Interpretation and the Many World theory have different perspectives about the quantum world, but they both share the basic concept of quantum superposition, which suggests that the existence of all sub-atomic particles – and by extension all events and even people – exist everywhere in a state of wave potential until they are observed into a specific reality state.
However, not all scientists in the early days of quantum physics were convinced of the superposition concept, and the iconoclastic Dr. Erwin Schrödinger grappled with the meaning of the double-slit experiments.
First, in the 1920s, Schrödinger developed the concept of “wave mechanics” by determining the different energy potentials for individual particles, utilizing the concept of a wave as a metaphor. This gave rise to the notion of “wave potential,” which in turn produced the concept of “collapsing the wave potential” into reality via the Observe Effect. As we have noted, particles and light are not waves per se, and we really don’t know what they are exactly, but since their behavior is wave-like the notion of “waves” and “wave potential” are used to describe their characteristics.
Schrödinger, however, was frustrated with the idea of Heisenberg’s theory suggesting a mathematically real quantity can exist in an actual physical state even if it contradicts the laws of classical physics. Thus, he created a thought experiment to challenge the superposition hypothesis, now famously known as Schrödinger’s Cat Paradox.
In this mental argument, which was never actually carried out, (thank gawd!), a cat and a lethal potion tied to a triggering mechanism were sealed inside a box, hence “unobserved.”
Schrödinger posited that the notion of all realities being held equally in a state of potential suggested there were wave states in which the cat was dead from the poison but also alive, and according to the Copenhagen Interpretation both realities existed simultaneously until someone opened the box and observed the kitty.
Schrödinger felt that such a condition was absurd – how could the cat be both alive and dead?
For Schrödinger, the idea that the cat was suspended between life and death only existed as a mathematical expression, but could not correspond to actual physical reality, which, to me, is in itself a quantum conundrum, i.e.: how can the mathematical world not truthfully reflect the physical one?.
Thankfully, after Schrödinger presented his Cat Paradox idea, numerous researchers leapt into the fray to determine the validity of superposition existing on the macroscopic level. According to authors Robert Nadeau and Menas Kafatos in their stellar The Non-Local Universe: The New Physics and Matters of the Mind, research teams at AT&T, IBM, UC-Berkeley and SUNY-Stony Brook have conducted experiments to finally resolve the dilemma of Schrödinger’s poor feline.
As I understand Nadeau and Kafatos, these researchers explored the phenomenon of a magnetic field within a superconducting ring, which should not have any electromagnetic polarity in it. Their magnetic field, which should have a flux between negative and positive, was found to have both, a dynamic state akin to the cat being alive and dead at the same time. Thus, superposition was proven. (8).
Nadeau and Kafatos offer an additional description of how mainstream science is grappling with the paradox of one thing being two or more things at the same time, and they use Schrödinger’s cat metaphor to explain the researchers’ findings:
“Physicist Christopher Monroe and his colleagues at the National Institute of Standards and Technology succeeded in creating a superpositional state in an experiment using a single beryllium atom. In this experiment, the beryllium atom was made to vibrate in such a way that a dual presence was created. The one atom, for a brief period, appeared to exist in two distinct states as if two atoms existed. Here again, one “cat” appeared to be in “two cat states” prior or observation or measurement.
“But while the superconducting rings and the beryllium superposition are macroscopic systems, the state of these systems cannot be determined until a measurement takes place, and the systems can not be said to have a definite value prior to the act of observation. The state of the system is dependent upon the act of observation, and its otherwise mathematically real possibilities, as given by the Schrödinger wave equation, “collapse” upon the act of observation.” (9)
Hence, we now know that superposition exists on the macroscopic level, albeit proven only in very tiny physical proportions, and that reality in the quantum world is quite fluid, with boundaries certainly not as clear cut as they appear to be in classical physics.
But, how and when does the superpositional state resolve itself into a particular physical reality? Yes, it is the observer that makes the direct observation, and thus collapses the wave function into a particular state. But who, exactly, is the observer, and how does the Observer Effect present itself in the macroscopic every-day world? Does every bit of matter in the universe need someone to look at it? Or can observation be something more ethereal than a directed focus? Could it be an expectation, or even some kind of encounter, such as bumping into superpositional realities via dreaming, meditation, or simple longing?
Or is there a natural flux in and out of superposition via some grand ocean of observation? Cosmic consciousness, anyone? And what of the consciousness of the many different interdimensional levels of realities posited by Ramtha, Goswami and others? What are those elements of reality observing?
Or even in the very small reality, for instance, do atoms observe? Can one atom collapse another atom out of superposition? Can molecules collapse the wave function of a peptide they want?
How about this for a Bottom Line Question: how is a drop of rain formed? Can it happen like this?
The guts of a hydrogen atom, its one electron and its one proton, exists anywhere and everywhere until you, or I, or some event in the world observes, encounters, or expects that hydrogen atom to behave in a certain way – let’s say by bumping into a hydrogen atom coming out of its superposition through its own process of observation, encounter or expectation. Then, together they attach to an oxygen atom coming out of its superposition via the same above process. Voila, welcome to the wonderful world of matter you little fellas – you’re now a molecule of water.
As iffy as all that may sound, though, there is even more to the nature of the quantum world that adds to the wackiness. If the fundamental nature of our reality is always in superposition, then what is the nature of space and time, and how does that affect our understanding of collapsing wave states?
At this point, the questions seem to be piling up faster than answers are forthcoming, and we may not find some resolution at all until we discuss the neuro-biology of consciousness in later chapters.
Nevertheless, by chipping away at the Big Enchilada of time, space and quantum mechanics we might find a path that leads towards a more complete understanding of the abovementioned perplexities.
Again, it’s useful to review the history of early 20th century physicists. Those great minds asked these questions, too, and it led to the well-known “EPR thought experiment,” and our next topic: non-locality and entanglement.
Non-Locality and Quantum Entanglement
For all his fame as a physicist, Albert Einstein was not big fan of quantum mechanics.
Paraphrasing his complaints, he regarded many of the quantum theories of his era to be mostly glorified hocus-pocus, and he never found absolute peace with the counter-intuitive nature of quantum theory.
Seeking to prove his point, Einstein teamed up with Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen (EPR) to show that quantum physics was founded upon impossible constructs, and therefore was incorrect, or at least incomplete.
They posed a thought experiment challenging Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, which says that it is impossible to know both the location and momentum of a particle simultaneously because the measurement of one affects the other. As I understand the EPR challenge, it goes like this:
In a two-particle system, EPR claimed is it possible to learn both the momentum and position of each particle by measuring one aspect of one particle, the other on the second, then subtracting the momentum of the first particle from the momentum of the whole system – thereby obtaining both the position and momentum of a particle. Thus, the fundamental theory of the Uncertainly Principal – that you can’t know both at the same time – is over-turned.
Further, an underlying feature of the experiment was the perspective held by EPR that you could directly measure momentum and position of particles at the same time unless the effect of measuring one aspect instantaneously affected the other particle, which meant that the effect had to be communicated to the other party faster than the speed of light. EPR declared that phenomenon was impossible; hence, quantum physics was based upon false conclusions.
However, subsequent lab experimentation has shown that activity upon one particle does instantly affect its companion particle – and faster than the speed of light – and thus the idea of non-locality was born.
Simply stated, the particles examined were companion electrons from one atom, carefully separated from the atom and each other, and placed a few meters apart. Then, one electron was subjected to an electromagnetic field and made to spin in one direction. Instantaneously, the companion particle also spun in the same direction. Since the two electrons were not in the same electromagnetic field, the effects were considered “non-local.” Over time, the experiments became more refined and the distances extended, so that presently researchers have recorded non-local effects as far away as 600 meters (and beneath the Danube River, too!), according to research reported by Lynne McTaggart in her book, “The Intention Experiment” (10).
Such distances are huge to the teeny-weenie fellows of the sub-atomic world, so the power of non-locality is considerable.
Dr. Amit Goswami presents a sharper spin on non-locality, and offers a connection to consciousness:
“The technical name for signal-less, instantaneous action at a distance is non-locality… Where, then, exists the instantaneous connection between correlated quantum objects that is responsible for their signal-less action at a distance? The succinct answer is: in the transcendent domain of reality…According to the physicist Henry Stapp, the message of quantum non-locality is that ‘the fundamental process of Nature lies outside space-time but generates events that can be located in space-time.’” (11)
So, consciousness exists outside of space-time, yet creates reality within space-time. Now, that’s non-local!
With these perspectives, it might be useful to review what Dr. Goswami said in our opening chapter: “It should be obvious, therefore, that consciousness must work from outside the material world; in other words, consciousness must be transcendent – nonlocal.” (12)
These non-local findings have given rise to another notion: the two particles can function non-locally because they are entangled, meaning they are separate but still connected somehow. As a result, non-locality and entanglement seem to be two sides of the same coin of what it means to be physical matter.
A closer look at entanglement
The idea of entanglement has at its roots the notion that something happens when physical entities are in close relationship to one another, such as two electrons being part of the same atom. After all, that is where the non-locality experiments began, by studying the effects on “buddy” pairs.
But exactly what happens in that atomic neighborhood that makes them entangled?
Further, aren’t we all entangled, since every bit of our physical make-up was schmooshed together inside one tiny ball of everything at the moment of the Big Bang?
Scientist Dean Radin is exploring those kinds of possibilities. On a personal level, Dean is a true gentleman and we’ve conversed by email several times. In addition, I had the good fortune to hear him speak at RSE in 2006 when his superb work “Entangled Minds” had just been published. (13)
Also, Radin may be a household name by the time you read this book given that his place of employment, the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), is a featured element in author Dan Brown’s smash novel of 2009, “The Lost Symbol,” which describes how preserving the findings of IONS’ research invokes the full gravitas of our national security apparatus. (14)
Nevertheless, what I recall from Radin’s presentation at RSE was that the study of the entanglement of human consciousness has been studied for about the past 20 years or so at places such as IONS, but also the Princeton (University) Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) and its associated Global Consciousness Project, which has a world-wide network of Random Event Generators that monitor a kind of global consciousness stasis.
Not too surprisingly, Radin has found that married couples can be mentally entangled, as most folks who have tied the knot would agree when their spouse finishes their sentences annoyingly.
But what is most astonishing, and has only been discovered with the advent of very sophisticated timing equipment, a spouse can know what their partner is going to say or think before their brains actually fire up the response. It is as if their marital entanglement exists out-of-time.
Similarly, flocks of birds have been observed turning in flight, enmass, before any visible signal was given by the lead bird.
As for the random event generators, affectionately known as “EGGs” as a short-hand term for “Electro-Gaia-Graphs,” dozens of these gizmos have been placed around the planet and register an endless series of random clicks – kind of a pattern of left or right, or a plus or minus – with the idea that high-energy events or psychologically-charged group experiences will trigger a wave of energetic effects that will drive the EGGs to one form of click or the other. In other words, they would register an effect that stands out from the total clicking pattern established by everyday living.
The EGGs seem to be recording something, for notable world events such as the death of Princess Di, and the Indonesian tsunami of December 26, 2004, have caused the hypothesized surge in monitoring, suggesting that there is some form of intermittent, wide-spread unification of consciousness which can produce physical effects.
Similarly, the EGGs have been placed in special places, like ancient temples or Yankee Stadium during a World Series game, and again, the local effects of consciousness can be registered.
However, the most surprisingly expression of this phenomenon came on September 11, 2001. The events of 9-11 in the Untied States caused the greatest surge in activity of the EGGs that have ever been recorded in the decades of their use, and the effects were felt world-wide.
However, the most extraordinary finding is that the peak of the 9-11 EGG phenomenon occurred nearly two hours before the first plane hit the World Trade Center, and its first glimmers appeared four hours prior! (15)
How can this be, and what does it say about consciousness?
Roger Nelson, coordinator of the Global Consciousness Project says this:
“Many of us (at GCP) are comfortable, to a degree, with the dramatic but essentially metaphoric interpretation that the GCP network is displaying nonlocal effects from a large-scale ‘global consciousness.’” (16)
Certainly the EGG readings show that consciousness exists out of time as we usually think of it, and that we can have some physical responses to future events and with significant lead time. In the experiments with spouses and birds the pre-event awareness occurred in milli-seconds, but the 9-11 effect was two-hundred minutes ahead of the actual occurrence.
What does all of this mean?
Well, to better understand the out-of-time phenomena, let’s take a side trip to discuss time and space.
Space and Time: What is now?
Author, teacher, and scientist Dr. Brian Greene, renown for his superb book The Elegant Universe, and a similarly titled PBS special, came to Seattle’s Town Hall in 2004 to discuss the nature of space and time. (17)
“What is now?” he asked. “Is it now, or is it now? And is my ‘now’ different than your ‘now’? Perhaps we can find an answer to ‘What is now?’ by looking at time.
The following is what I took home from Dr. Greene’s stellar presentation:
“Time is relative; it is not a constant kind of thing. If you and I were sitting on a couch watching TV and we both had atomic clocks calibrated exactly to the same time, if one of us got up from the couch to change the station, by the time that person returned to the couch their atomic clock would be telling a different time. The theory of why that happens is that the two couch potatoes moved through space differently.”
Easily walking the stage, Dr. Greene continued.
“We know this is true because of other, larger-scale experiments that have been done to study the relativity of time. Atomic clocks have been calibrated and placed on an airplane and flown around the world. When they get back to the originating airport the clocks on board the plane tell a different time than the control clocks that were left at the airport.
“In addition, we know this is correct because the clocks on the International Space Station have to be re-calibrated occasionally in order to coordinate with their base stations back here on Earth. That’s because the Space Station moves through space at a different rate of speed than the surface of the planet does, hence creating a different time and the need for re-calibration.”
So time is malleable, fluid, and not concrete.
Also, space and time are intimately connected, to such a degree it is probably better to call their phenomenon “space-time,” for time can not exist without space and vice-versa. Even though every Star Trek episode seems to have an encounter with a space-time continuum anomaly, we are all actually causing space-time distortions continuously.
And now for another consideration of space and time, I turn to Gribbin:
“In the context of relativity theory…space…is the stage on which material events take place. The properties of space, and in particular the way it is curved, determine the way objects move. In relativity theory, three-dimensional space is united with time to make a four-dimensional continuum.
“This picture breaks down, according to quantum physics, on the smallest scales, over distances comparable to the Planck length. There, both space and time lose their identity in ‘quantum foam.’” (18)
Ahh…as space and time melt into the quantum foam of potential let’s see what observation does to time.
Does a watched pot boil?
It is my belief that the very first experiment conducted in quantum mechanics was performed by cave men soon after they discovered fire. One night, I theorize, while sitting around waiting for dinner to cook, our ancestors realized that a watched dinner pot takes longer to cook. Also, that is probably when they invented beer as a way to pass the time until the soup started bubbling.
The wisdom of not watching a pot has been handed down through the millennia, mostly through our matriarchal lineage, which is how I heard about this aspect of physics one Saturday afternoon when I was ten and impatiently fretting over my slow-to-cook hot dogs.
“A watched pot never boils, Bruce,” my mother said. “Why don’t you pour yourself a glass of milk, and before you know it, your franks will be ready.”
“But, it’s taking forever!” I squealed.
My father chimed in with his own scientific analysis.
“You can’t speed things up by watching, chum,” he said. “It’s a psychological thing; it only seems like it takes forever when you really want something.”
The funny thing is, though, a team of researchers in 1989 proved the hairy guys in the caves were right; a watched pot never boils.
Researcher Wayne Itano and his colleagues at the National Institute of Standards and Technology put a batch of 5,000 beryllium atoms into a vial (pot) and exposed them to radio waves (heat, e.g. campfire). When the beryllium atoms absorbed the energy from the radio waves they moved into an excited atomic energy state (boiled).
According to Fred Alan Wolf in his workshop on the Yoga of Time Travel held at Bastyr University in Seattle during the Bleep era, and in his writings (19, 20), the beryllium “boiled” in about 250 milliseconds, or one-quarter of a second.
Then, the scientists decided to check on a second batch of beryllium atoms at the half-way point, specifically 125 milliseconds, by sending in a reflective laser beam. At the 250 millisecond mark they made another measurement and found that half the atoms had failed to reach the fully-excited state.
Wow. One observation had delayed half the beryllium atoms from boiling!
Next, they shone their laser at four intervals: 62.5 milliseconds, 125, 187.5 and at the full 250. On this round of three intrusive observations they found only one-third of the beryllium atoms attained the excited state.
The researchers continued and upped the frequency of their observation. When they sent a laser beam into the pot of beryllium sixty-four times in the 250 millisecond interval, they found that none of the atoms became excited!
So, sixty-four observations per half-second seemed to have kept the beryllium atoms frozen in their original, unexcited state despite being subjected to constant heat.
Hence, a watched pot never boils.
In addition, Dr. Wolf says that the observer effect can drive a system in the other direction, so that a watched pot can boil even if the pot is sitting on a block of ice, if that’s the intention of the observer!
So, as a denizen of the quantum foam, time is subject to observation. Now, let’s return to entanglement.
Zero Point Energy Field
As we saw in the non-locality experiments, entangled particles seem as if they are part of a fabric, so that when the thread touching one particle is pulled, the tug is felt all the way along the string and affects the other particle further down.
This notion of a woven connectivity gives rise to the concept that reality lays within a vast grid or field, or a “matrix,” to give a hat-tip to Hollywood movie makers and the popular science-fiction series of the same name.
But what does this grid look like? Further, how is it formed and what relationship does it have with consciousness?
Actually, the web of connection may have a very physical structure: the long-known but little understood Zero Point Energy Field.
The exact nature of Zero Point Energy is not fully understood and derives its name only because it is the only form of energy that still possesses energetic effects at the temperature of “zero point,” namely 0º Kelvin, which is 450º degrees below 0º Celsius – obviously, pretty cold stuff. So cold, in fact that other forms of energy “freeze,” such as light or sound.
Hence, Zero Point Energy is very unique.
It also seems to be everywhere, and was once called white noise, cosmic radiation, or background radiation.
Dr. John Cramer, noted physicist at the University of Washington, told me that the ZPE is highly energetic, and has a positive and negative flux constantly surging but always maintains an electromagnetic stasis. (21)
Cramer says that these fluctuations radiate extremely minute amounts of electromagnetic energy, but the fluctuations are so ubiquitous that they create a vast ocean of energy. Further, the Calphysics Institute reports that these electromagnetic fluctuations fill all of space. (22)
As a result, these emanations produce a universe-sized or bigger (!) field called the Zero Point Energy Field.
Lynne McTaggart in her masterpiece, The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe, presents many leading scientists who are researching the ZPE field and consider it to be a “heaving sea of energy – one vast quantum field…connected to everything else like some invisible web.” (23)
One of those scientists is Dr. Hal Puthoff, the founder of the Advanced Research Institute, and founder and former director of the CIA’s remote viewing squadron. (24) With his colleague Nobel Laureate Dr. T. D. Lee, Puthoff has studied the ZPE extensively and describes it thusly in his “Searching for the Universal Matrix in Metaphysics:”
“Throughout mankind’s cultural history there has existed the metaphysical concept that man and cosmos are interconnected by an ubiquitous, all pervasive sea of energy that undergirds, and is manifest in, all phenomena. This pre-scientific concept of a cosmic energy goes by many names in many traditions, such as ch’i, ki or qi (Taoism), prana (yoga), mana (Kahuna), barakah (Sufi), élan vital (Bergsonian metaphysics), and so forth.
“Complementary to the above metaphysical concept, contemporary physics similarly posits an all-pervasive energetic field called quantum vacuum energy, or zero-point energy, a random, ambient fluctuating energy that exists even in so-called empty space…. Thus, even in the absence of matter, in the modern view, empty space or vacuum is never truly particle free or field free, but rather is the seat of continuous virtual particle-pair creation and annihilation processes, as well as so-called zero-point fluctuations of such fields as the electromagnetic field.” (25)
So, it seems that this ZPE is so utterly vast that nothing is outside of the Zero Point Energy Field.
Next, let us consider E=mc2 and couple it to the ZPEF.
McTaggart also relates that many scientists are finding it more useful to consider that all forms of matter as coagulated energy fields, more condensed obviously than other forms of energy like sunlight or sound. After all, since E=mc², matter as in m mass, is energy E. Hence, in a fundamental way matter is energy.
Since all the particles, stuff, matter, or whatever you want to call physical reality at this point, are considered to be in the Zero Point Energy Field, so too, would be all the energy fields that would be condensing to form those entities.
Thus, the New Physics endeavors to go beyond the concept that matter is immutable, rock solid stuff, and that everything, all matter and all the energies we usually think of as energy such as radiation, electrical energy, sound and sun light – all of them are just different forms of energy interacting with each other within the vast Zero Point Energy Field.
Further, since they are all in this ZPE Field they are somehow connected to each other via the ZPE Field.
Also, consider that all particles have a relationship to the environment in which they exist.
Mike explained to me that the relationship of matter to its environment is a form of information exchange – the relationship is interactive and informative. Even an electromagnetic field is communicative and responsive with the entities within and surrounding it.
Simply put: sub-atomic particles can sense, initiate and respond, and they give and receive information.
In “What the Bleep Do We Know!?,” a panel of scientists including Drs. Fred Alan Wolf, Amit Goswami and John Hagelin, plus Drs. Jeffrey Satinover and Stuart Hammeroff describe some very illuminating aspects of the sub-atomic world:
First, the actual amount of material that makes up a particle is infinitesimally small. Most of what comprises an atom or any of its components is space.
Secondly, since these particles are so tiny the Bleep experts say they are best thought of as “packets of information” rather than teeny-weenie, rock-like chunks of condensed energy. (26)
Further, changing the behavior of a particle or a macroscopic biological entity like us humans doesn’t seem all that big a deal when we look at it as simply one energy form with lots of informational packets – i.e.: communicative relationships – affecting another energy form with its informational packets.
And if we view focused thought, such as meditation or prayer as even bigger packets of information, we can see how the Zero Point Energy Field is influenced by thought.
Along these lines, McTaggart in The Field describes many studies of the healing effects of prayer and shamanic ritual, including remote healing by a Christian prayer group upon a controlled study group of 400 cardiac patients in a New York hospital that reduced doctor visits and medication usage. (27)
The bottom line seems to be that intentionality has an impact on reality. The salient question for scientists these days is how to measure the strength of that focus, and perhaps more challenging, how to make the impact more robust.
But before we explore those questions, we need to dig a little deeper into quantum physics, and really get to the bottom of physical reality – superstrings.
Superstring theory says that the fundamental building blocks of physical reality are tiny bands of energy that shimmer in certain patterns and with specific frequencies. These bands, called superstrings, are thought to be fancy-dancey rubbery strands that wiggle in certain ways to form the its-iest, bits-iest stuff in the universe, namely the elemental particles known as quarks, leptons and bosons that in turn compose the larger, but still sub-atomic particulate matter, such as electrons, neutrons, and photons, etc.
A brief divergence is needed here for precision in terminology: Quarks are a type of elemental particle that form protons and neutrons, which comprise an atom’s nucleus. Another type of elementary particles are leptons, which includes electrons, the buzzy little guys that swirl around the nucleus of an atom in a cloud-like manner. Lastly, bosons are the elemental particles that carry the forces of nature such as photons and gravitons. That said, the families of quarks, leptons and bosons also include others sub-atomic particles, such as tau neutrinos and muons, but for our current discussion on the science of consciousness I don’t think we really don’t need to delve into the nitty –gritty of quantum minutiae. The real point I am making here is that the fundamental building blocks of nature – superstrings – are extremely small and quite energetic, and thus potentially affected by consciousness.
Truly, superstrings can dance a lot of different ways and from this pool of organized, quivering energy bands come all of physical matter.
Understand, however, this is all theory – no one has ever seen a superstring or conclusively proven the theory with empirical data because superstrings are simply too small for any of our current measuring devices to observe them. Even an electron microscope is too big, as superstrings are thought to be the stuff that creates the election.
By analogy, to examine a superstring with an electron microscope would like trying to hit a ping-pong ball using a paddle the size of Yankee Stadium.
Here is another way to understand the dimensionality of the sub-sub-atomic world: Consider each level of physical reality to be like a staircase, starting from the scale of our bodies dropping down to the atomic level, and then to the sub-atomic (protons), and then to the sub-sub atomic world (quarks), and then to a fourth level of the superstrings. As it turns out, amazingly, the proportions from one scale to the other are about the same. So, a human body is to an atom what an atom is to an electron; and then an electron to a superstring. Each stair step is smaller by a factor of 10-23 centimeters – that’s 0.0000000000000000000000010, making superstrings something like 10 x 10-69 centimeters. That’s 1 followed by sixty-nine zeroes worth of small. Tiny, eh?
Currently, the primary method science has to explore the world of the superstrings is mathematics, and fortunately, those equations underpinning superstring theory are solidifying. In fact, its current findings are taking us to even more remarkable possibilities.
The previously mentioned Dr. Brian Greene is a leading voice of superstring theory, and he says that the mathematics equations supporting the viability of superstring theory only work for a world composed of ten dimensions of space and one of time, for a grand total of eleven dimensions. (28)
But where are those seven dimensions beyond our three-dimensional reality of up-down, left-right, and in-out?
Greene says that these extra dimensions are enveloped into very tiny compartments of the dimensions that we do see.
As analogy, if we look out our window and see a telephone cable, it just looks like a long, thin line. From the window we can’t see the metal strands coiled together to form the cable, nor can we see the ants that might be crawling on the cable, or the bacteria, etc, or even the electrons flowing within the cable. It’s all too small for us to see from our vantage point, but all those dimensions are very much present and functioning. (29)
Hence, we can see that rock-solid matter is actually very complex, perhaps delicate and mutable, and it begs a powerful question.
Simply put, how does thought affect the dance of the superstrings?
Can the observer effect alter a superstring from a quark waltz to a boson jig? How about observing one’s way into one of those ten dimensions, the seven beyond our three physical dimensions of depth, breath and width?
Again, lots of questions and not many concrete answers. But David Bohm, a visionary quantum physicist, gives us a model that describes how tiny, virtually invisible realities can yet be very dynamic as they lay within a larger system.
Wholeness and the Implicate Order
Bohm had an extraordinary ability to see wholeness in the world around him, even in language. He described nouns as being “slow” verbs, much like matter is a slowed energy form.
Drawing upon that innate perspective, Bohm offered his theory of Wholeness – The Implicate and Explicate Orders, in 1980. (30), (31).
Bohm saw an explicate order of physical reality that contained multiple layers of hidden implicate orders, much like the obvious physical world has many subtle and seemingly intangible inner levels.
The key element of Bohm’s theory is that the entire enchilada of reality is one undivided whole. Will Keepin, author of The God Particle, describes Bohm’s theory in this manner:
“For Bohm,…all parts ‘merge and unite in one totality.’ This undivided whole is not static but rather in a constant state of flow and change, a kind of invisible ether from which all things arise and into which all things eventually dissolve. Indeed, even mind and matter are united: ‘In this flow, mind and matter are not separate substances. Rather, they are different aspects of one whole and unbroken movement.’ (in Haywood, 1987). Similarly, living and non-living entities are not separate. As Bohm puts it, ‘The ability of form to be active is the most characteristic feature of mind…’ …Matter does not exist independently from so-called empty space; matter and space are each part of the wholeness.” (32)
The best understanding of the explicate and implicate orders, and how one can be a seamless part of the other, is an analogy delivered by Mike and also elegantly described by Keepin in his treatise on Bohm. To whit, and I paraphrase:
“Picture a cylindrical jar with a smaller concentric cylinder of the same height inside it that has a crank attached to it in such a manner that the inner cylinder can be rotated while the outer container remains stationary.
“Next, fill the space between the two cylinders with a highly viscous fluid, like glycerin, and then place a drop of black ink into the glycerin.
“Turn the crank on the inner cylinder and it will begin to spin the mix, stretching out the ink blob into an ever-finer thread until the ink completely disappears. At this point, the ink blob could be said to be absorbed into the larger explicate order of the glycerin.
“A deeper level of this interplay is displayed when the crank is turned in the opposite direction and the ink blob is spun back into its original shape, color and density.” (33)
Thus, an implicate order can fold and unfold within a large reality. The ink blob was not destroyed by the initial cranking, and Bohm drew parallels to physical reality.
Keepin describes Bohm’s perspective, using the example of an electron:
“An electron is understood to be a set of enfolded ensembles, which are generally not localized in space. At any given moment, one of the ensembles may be unfolded and localized, and the next moment, this one enfolds and is replaced by another that unfolds. If this process continues in a rapid and regular fashion in which each unfoldment is localized adjacent to the previous one, it gives the appearance of continuous motion of a particle, to which we humans have given the name “electron.” Yet, there is no isolated particle, and its apparent continuous motion is an illusion generated by the rapid and regular sequence of unfoldings (much like a spinning airplane propeller gives the appearance of a solid disk). As Bohm puts it, ‘… fundamentally, the particle is only an abstraction that is manifest to our senses. What is, is always a totality of ensembles, all present together, in an orderly series of stages of enfoldment and unfoldment, which intermingle and inter-penetrate each other in principle throughout the whole of space (Bohm, 1980, p 183-184).” (34)
In addition, Bohm saw that the implicate order could have multiple orders of implicate-ness within it, all unfolding and enfolding with the other orders of the whole.
Further, Bohm theorized that there is a “Superimplicate Order’ which would be an order of superquantum potential.
Lastly, Bohm describes an “Eternal Order,” which is a superimplicate order that exists out of time.
Again, Keepin offers a useful analogy to understand these concepts:
He suggests we consider a video game, with the screen as the explicate order. The images on the screen then can be regarded as manifestations of the first implicate order, with the computer that generates the images as the second implicate order. Lastly, the player represents a third implicate order, and interacts with all of the above. Hence, there is a seamless interconnectivity, with endless possibilities emerging over time. (35)
By extension, I would like to add that there might be other implicate orders in the video game analogy, such as the player’s motivation – how about deeper emotional drives, such as the need for competition, or a near-primal need to prove oneself as competent? Or even further, how about the deep yearning in many young men for ritualized combat?
Speaking directly to the subject of consciousness, Keepin says this about Bohm:
“Bohm came to believe that material and informational processes are inextricably intertwined together in all things, and he used the term soma-significance to refer to this intrinsic interpretation. As he explains (in Bohm and Peat 1987, 185-186, and Weber, 1986, 215), “Consciousness is much more of the implicate order than is matter…Yet at the deeper level [matter and consciousness] are actually inseparable and interwoven, just as in the computer game the player and the screen are united by participation in common loops. In this view, mind and matter are two aspects of one while and no more separable than are form and content. ‘Deep down the consciousness of mankind is one. This is a virtual certainty because even in the vacuum matter is one; and if we don’t see this, it’s because we are blinding ourselves to it.” (36)
So, as I understand Bohm, consciousness and mind can be considered two implicate orders within the Wholeness, shaping and forming; reviewing and revamping, all the inputs from the enfoldments and unfoldments of all the other orders.
If Dr. Bohm were still alive, however, I would love to ask him exactly how he would describe consciousness in terms of an implicate order. I sense he saw consciousness as a mega-observer, a transcendent and intimate force that is intertwined within everything. Would he consider consciousness the over-arching Ultimate Implicate Order?
So, in summation, these deep heart beats of the New Physics – the observer effect, entanglement and non-locality, quantum mechanics and implicate orders, et. al. – suggest that consciousness is everywhere and affecting everything.
Every prayer for peace counts.
Every kiss counts.
Every video game counts, the violent ones, too. (Ug.)
Every thought you have to make yourself greater than what you have been will take you closer to that reality.
Okay. So, we’re closer, but what blocks us from fully realizing those fantastic realities? Where the heck is my fabulous wealth and perfect health? How come I haven’t won the lottery? What gets in the way? Where are the double-slits in my life, and what do I need to do to collapses my quantum wave functions just the way I want to?
Yes, moving a few photons around in a laboratory is neat, but how about crafting a mega-quantum shift in the real world? To grapple with that dilemma calls for a larger understanding of who we are and how we operate, particularly our fears, attitudes and social conditioning, and that’s where Ramtha the Enlightened One comes in.
And now, my dear readers, you have to make a “quantum” decision. Do you want to read the next chapter, which is on Ramtha, or skip over it to other more mainstream discussions of the bio-physics of consciousness?
I like to think that you’re entering the World of the New Physics at this point, and as Mike suggested earlier, I welcome you to your New Physics moment.
Chapter 4 – The Heart of the New Physics:
The Observer Effect, Superposition, Non-Locality and Entanglement, Space and Time, the ZPEF, Superstrings, Wholeness and Implicate Orders
1. The story of Thomas Young’s experiments with light and his discovery of its wave-particle duality was first given to me by Mike Wright, c/o RSE, PO Box 1210, Yelm, WA, 98597, in a personal correspondence.
2. As best as I can recall, I heard this poetic description of Young’s experiment from Mike Wright during one of his broadcasts, Tuesday’s with Mike, on www.beyondtheordinary.net web stream radio.
3. Gribbin, John, Q is for Quantum, An Encyclopedia of Particle Physics, Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, New York. 2000. p. 110-113.
4 McTaggart, Lynne, The Intention Experiment, Free Press / Simon and Schuster, 2007, p. 15-16.
5. Gribbin, Q is For Quantum, p.109.
6. Ibid., p. 88-89
7. The notion that the majority of physicists accept the idea of the many worlds theory is one shared with me by Mike Wright in conversation. It is also confirmed during an interview with Dr. John Cramer at the University of Washington. However, Cramer also says that his own alternative theory, called the Transactional Interpretation, is considered by about 10% of American physicists to be the most accurate model of reality.
8. Nadeau, Robert; and Kafatos, Menas, The Non-Local Universe: The New Physics and Matters of the Mind. Oxford University Press, Inc. New York. 2001. p. 58-59.
9. Ibid., p.59.
10. McTaggart, Lynne; The Intention Experiment, p. 14.
11. Goswami, Amit; The Self-Aware Universe, p. 61
12. Ibid., p. 94.
13. Radin, Dean, Entangled Minds, Paraview Pocket Book / Simon and Schuster, 2006.
14. Brown, Dan, The Lost Symbol, Doubleday, 2009.
15. REDNOVA NEWS, from an Internet posting, “Can This Black Box See Into the Future?,” February 11, 2005. www.rednova.com/news/
16. Nelson, Roger; Golden Thread magazine, guest column, May 2002, p.12.
17. Greene, Brian; The Elegant Universe, Vintage Books / Random House; 2000.
18. Gribbin, Q is For Quantum, p.367.
19. Wolf, Fred Alan; The Yoga of Time Travel; Quest Books / Theosophical Publishing House, 2005.
20. Excerpts from Dr. Fred Alan Wolf, “The Meaning of Intent in Quantum Mechanics,” posted: www.qedcorp.com/pcr/pcr/wolfpot.html, based on a magazine article by David H Freedman, “Weird Science,” published in Discover Magazine, Vol. 11, No. 11, pp 62-68.
21. Personal interview with Dr. John Cramer; Department of Physics, University of Washington, Seattle campus, 2004.
22. Calphysics Institute, Internet posting: “Zero Point Energy and the Zero Point Field,” www.calphysics.org/zpe.html. 1/17/2006, p. 2.
23. McTaggart, Lynne; The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe,” HarperCollins, 2002, p. xvii.
24. Ibid., p. 147.
25. Dr. Hal Puthoff and Dr. TD Lee; “Searching for the Universal Matrix,” Research News and Opportunities in Science and Theology 2, No. 8, p 22. Templeton Foundation Press, April 2002.
26. “What the Bleep!? Further Down the Rabbit Hole,” the movie, Quantum Edition, Captured Light Industries, Lord of the Wind Production, directed by Mark Vicente, Betsy Chasse and William Arntz, www.whatthebleep.com.
27. McTaggart, Lynne; The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe,” p. 186.
28. Greene, Brian, The Elegant Universe, p. 202-204, and p. 287-288.
29. Ibid., p. 184-209.
30. Bohm, David, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, Routledge Classics, 1980.
31. Keepin, Will; “Lifework of David Bohm – River of Truth,” www.vision.net.au/~apaterson/science/david_bohm.htm. 12/4/2004.
32. Ibid., p5.
33. Ibid., p. 7
34. Ibid., p. 7
35. Ibid., p. 17
36. Ibid., p. 20
© 2014 Bruce A. Smith