Lesson 5 - Quantum Physics

The size of an atom


I f we want to have a building that can contain a picture of the atom, large enough for our eye unaided can see the nucleus, the outer limit of the electrons would force us to choose the biggest Cathedral in the world, the St Peter Cathedral. A model of the atom of this magnification will show a nucleus in the centre the size of one grain of salt. The electrons would still be invisible, whirling like dust in the space between the nucleus and the walls of the Cathedral.

Edited from F. Capra The Tao of Physics, Danish version p 68
On Quantum physics

The physicist J. J. Thomson received a Nobel Prize for discovering that the electron is a particle, while his son George received a Nobel Prize for proving that the electron is a wave.


Visible Light Spectra of sunlight and several elements

Light’s particle-like nature shows up in atomic spectra and the discrete and consistent patterns of the atomic spectra of different elements.

The problem of light was that you could do a number of experiments on light which showed that it had a wave-like or vibrational nature, and you could do a number of experiments which showed that light had a particulate nature. Light’s wave-like nature shows up in the interference of light waves passed through two narrow slits and then allowed to project onto a single screen.
These interference patterns are analogous to the ripples on the surface of a pond caused by a pair of stones being dropped into the pond. When the ripples mingle, some of them cancel each other out and some of them add together to make a bigger wave.

Max Planck had shown that an atom when heated to the point of incandescence or when in radioactive decay does not release its energy in a continuous stream, but in discrete bundles or particles such as electrons. It is these particular discrete energy values associated with the release of each electron that are what show up as the lines in atomic spectra and are what became known as quanta of energy.


The Choice is made

According to one interpretation of Quantum physics (there are several interpretations, and nobody knows which one, if any, is right), Every time a quantum object, such as an electron, is faced with a choice, the world divides to allow it to take every possibility on offer.
In the simplest example, the double-slit experiment, the electron is faced with a wall containing two holes, so that it must go through one hole or the other. The universe splits so that in one version of reality one set of relative dimensions- it goes through the hole on the left, while in the other it goes through the hole on the right.
According to one interpretation of quantum theory (and it has to be said that there are other interpretations), each of these parallel worlds is just as real as our own, and there is an alternative history for every possible outcome of every decision ever made. Alternative histories branch out from decision points, bifurcating endlessly like the branches and twigs of an infinite tree. Bizarre though it sounds, this idea is taken seriously by a handful of scientists (including David Deutsch, of the University of Oxford). And it certainly fixes all the time travel paradoxes.

Edited from John Gribbin: Time Travel for Beginners, here from http://epunix.biols.susx.ac.uk/home/John_Gribbin/Time_Travel.html

"If anybody says he can think about quantum problems without getting giddy,
that only shows he has not understood the first thing about them."

Niels Bohr (1885-1962)

For seventy years, physicists have worried about what quantum mechanics means. They can use Quantum physics , to be sure; witness the successful designs of lasers and computer microchips, and the understanding of molecules that makes genetic engineering possible. But the equations that are a routine part of this kind of work contain one embarrassing feature .

According to the standard interpretation ( The Copenhagen interpretation ):

Nothing is real unless you look at it

An electron (say) exists only as a wave of probability, called a wave function, which collapses into reality when it is measured, and promptly dissolves into unreality when you stop looking at it. We are no further advanced philosophically, on this picture, than the image of the tree in the quad which disappears when nobody is looking at it.

Edited from John Gribbin: Time Travel for Beginners, here from http://epunix.biols.susx.ac.uk/home/John_Gribbin/Time_Travel.html

The tree in the quad

There once was a man who said. God
Must think it exceedingly odd
If he finds that this tree
Continues to be
When there is no one about in the quad.
Dear Sir, your astonishment’s odd
I am always about in the quad
And that’s why the tree
Will continue to be
Since observed by, Yours faithfully, God

An omnipresent God collapsing the wave function does not resolve the measurement paradox, however, because we can ask, at what point is the measurement complete if God is always looking?
The answer is crucial: The measurement is not complete without the inclusion of the immanent awareness.

Amit Goswami: The Self-Aware Universe P. 97

The cat in the box

The cat in the box! Have you ever heard of the cat in the box? Well, have you ever heard of Erwin Schroedinger? He is the man who first understood that the act of observing affected what was observed. He came up with this idea of putting a cat in a box. Along with the cat is a device with an atom that could decay (radioactive decay) and cause a poison to be released and kill the cat. Or, the same atom could decay and not cause the release of a poison and the cat would live. It all depends on the nature of the atom’s decay. Since the probability of the atom decay one way or the other is 50-50 we have no way of knowing which way the atom decayed until we opened the box and looked at the cat.

There is nothing unusual about this experiment until you ask about the cat before the box is opened. By the way, this experiment was never done! This is what is called a thought experiment. OK, do you want to ask the question? Before the box is opened, is the cat dead or alive?
In the answer to this question lies the whole key to quantum mechanics. The answer is …… are you ready? The answer is - both! Both! The cat is both dead and alive. It is only at the moment in time that we actually look at the cat that one or the other reality becomes the reality upon which the next question about the cat can be asked. From here we can go to two places: One, the act of observing determines what is observed.
[…¦] But, there is another universe in which the second option was observed and in that universe that is the reality that leads to the next set of questions. […]

Answered by: Tom Young, B.S. Science teacher, Whitehouse High School http://www.physlink.com

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle:

We cannot precisely know both the position of a particle and its momentum (mass times velocity).

It is easy to consider this example. Imagine a dark room with a particle in it. In order to find it, we have to turn on a flashlight. When the flashlight hits the particle, we will for an instant know the position but the photons in the light will hit the particle changing its velocity, so we can only know one aspect of a particle’s behaviour with certainty at a given time. This is why we always refer to electrons existing in a probability cloud, since we know where they are likely to be, but aren’t sure of an exact position.

Answered by: Mike Perkins, Physics/Astronomy Major, Penn State

Time Travel with a vengeance

Or How many grannies are there?

[…].Suppose someone did go back in time to murder their granny when she was a little girl. In an everyday understanding this would create a paradox

Someone goes back and kills their granny, which means that they were not born, thus they did not go back and kill their granny, and thus they were born, and went back and killed their granny!!!
[…¦] (In one Quantum physic-interpretation of this story, what happens is):
After killing granny, he moves forward in time, but up a different branch of the multiverse. In this branch of reality, he is never born; but there is no paradox, because in the universe next door granny is alive and well. So the murderer is born, and goes back in time to commit the foul deed!

Edited from John Gribbin: Time Travel for Beginners, here from

Is time an illusion?

JUST because we perceive time flowing in one direction, does that mean there "really is" a difference between the past and future? The old philosophical question has been re-examined by Huw Price, of the University of Sydney, in the context of quantum mechanics.

He concludes that the idea that the past is not influenced by the future is an anthropocentric illusion, a "projection of our own temporal asymmetry"
By allowing signals from the future to play a part in determining the outcome of quantum experiments, he can resolve all the puzzles and paradoxes of the quantum world. […¦] It is one of the curiosities of Maxwell’s equations, for example, that they allow two sets of solutions for the effect of a moving electric charge, one describing an electromagnetic wave moving out from the particle into the future at the speed of light (a retarded wave) and the other describing waves from the future converging on the particle at the speed of light (advanced waves). […]


Classical Physics cannot explain consciousness
because it cannot explain how
the whole can be more than the parts

Stapp’s thesis is that reality is created by consciousness,
as consciousness causes the collapse of the wave function that in turn causes reality to "occur".
Our own minds can influence things that have already happened.
[…¦] The world can include both forward and backward causation at a fundamental level, but appear to have a unique direction of time from a human perspective.

Theory of consciousness based on Quantum Mechanics.

Stapp’s theory of consciousness is [.] based on Quantum Mechanics.

See http://www.nonlocal.com/hbar/qbrain.html and http://www.thymos.com/science/qc.html

[…]. The universe is represented by one huge wave function. The collapse of any part of it gives rise to an event. The collapse of a part of the wave function for the brain is the formation of an idea. Mental life is made of events in the brain.
[…] Stapp follows the logical consequences of this approach and achieves a new form of idealism:
All that exists is that subjective knowledge, therefore the universe is not about matter, it is about subjective experience. Quantum Theory does not talk about matter, it talks about our perceiving matter. […¦]
[…]Instead of dualism or materialism, one is faced with a sort of interactive "triality", all aspects of which are actually Mind-like:
[…]. The conscious act of asking a question is what drives the actual transition from one state to another, i.e. the evolution of the universe. And then there is a choice from the outside, the reply of Nature, which, as far as we can tell, is random.

And God saw that it was good ….
(Genesis 1)

Quantum Theories of the Mind

[…] Stapp shows that quantum effects are indeed important in the way the brain operates. In fact, they must have a dramatic effect on the function if the brain - perhaps allowing it to function as a ‘quantum computer’ and take advantage of search algorithms, perhaps similar to that proposed by Grover (1997)
Further implications: Deutsch (1997) argues that it follows from MWI
[the Many World Interpretation], that anything possible exists - somewhere in the ‘multiverse’.
If this is true, we can say that there are many universes (but a very tiny proportion of the multiverse) where you, dear reader, are a billion years old.
Could it follow that you, the experimenter’s consciousness, will inevitably ‘end up’ in one of those universes? If so, we are immortal - from our own point of view.

ESP, Synchronicity ,Distant Healing

The universe is fundamentally interconnected, interdependent, and inseparable."

Fritjof Capra

Interactions under non-local reality

Experiments […] indicated that in spite of the local appearance of phenomena, our world is actually supported by an invisible reality which is unmediated and allows communication faster than light, even instantaneously.
1: The interactions does not diminish with distance
2: It can act instantaneously (faster than the speed of light)
3: It links up locations without crossing space

Quantum Theory for Beginners P 170

Ether or Akasha

The ancient theory of ether* or Akash is coming back to science in the form of quantum vacuum
Leading theoreticians now conclude that this invisible sub-quantum field, capable of being the ground state of the universe, would be free of matter as well as the effects of gravitation. Since it resembles empty space, they appropriately named it the Quantum Vacuum.
However, following more recent discoveries, they were forced to revise their notion of an etheric void in favour of new theories which suggest that The Quantum Vacuum is a highly charged cosmic medium; an energy-filled plenum whose subtle order measurably influences the space-time motion of the material universe.
Scientists now agree that it was the Quantum Vacuum which gave birth to the observable universe.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads; ‘The Great Aranyaka’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press, 1971

In the higher ranges of consciousness, which the sages identify as the realm of pattern, all things exist in potentia, they are not here manifest. They may exist in Being but not in Time. They are precipitated into physical reality by the contracting power of Time.
* According to Yogananda, the Ether or in Sanskrit akash is the background on which God projects the cosmic motion picture of creation. Space gives dimensions to objects; ether separates the images

Here from Man’s Eternal Quest, Glossary


It is Saturn/Chronos which differentiates the infinite energy-consciousness of the Supreme Godhead into material form.
In its native state, the Absolute is unbound, undifferentiated and eternal; One without a second. In order for the Incomprehensible to become intelligible to itself, it becomes dense, first becoming audible and then visible. It does this through a process of contraction which slows down the vibrations of the infinite consciousness, gradually congealing it into a spatial field containing material forms. It manifests first as Cosmic and Planetary harmonies before reaching a highly specific individuation in the human domain. Through this alchemical process, the Absolute is reduced from its original state of undifferentiated Unity into Form and Multiplicity. This act of contraction is the basis upon which the Greek myths portray Saturn/Chronos as having dismembered his father.

Sri Aurobindo, The Web of Yoga, Centenary Edition, Vol. 17, p. 48


Material reality is not a collection of separate objects but an undivided whole
To the naive realist the universe is a collection of objects. To the quantum physicist it is an inseparable web of vibrating energy patterns in which no one component has reality independent of the entirety, and included in that is the observer

Paul Davies, Ph. D, in Superforce
Here from Paramahansa Yogananda; The Bhagavad Gita p. 125

The universe, which we know and love, exists because the fundamental particles interact. These interactions include attractive and repulsive forces, decay, and annihilation

Four fundamental interactions
There are four fundamental interactions between particles, and all forces in the world can be attributed to these four interactions!
That’s right: Any force you can think of — friction, magnetism, gravity, nuclear decay, and so on — is caused by one of these four fundamental interactions.



apps.internet2.edu/assets/images/ runaway-universe.jpg

In the very early Universe the weak, electromagnetic, and strong forces were unified into a single force.
[…¦] There is a rather strong belief (although it is yet to be confirmed experimentally) that in the very early Universe when temperatures were very high compared with today, the weak, electromagnetic, and strong forces were unified into a single force. Only when the temperature dropped did these forces separate from each other, with the strong force separating first and then at a still lower temperature the electromagnetic and weak forces separating to leave us with the 4 distinct forces that we see in our present Universe. The process of the forces separating from each other is called spontaneous symmetry breaking.
The four fundamental forces all play central roles in making the Universe what it is today, but with respect to the large-scale issues that are of interest to cosmology it is gravitation that is most important […¦].


The scientific community has some success in creating formulas unifying three of the four forces The strong, the weak and the electromagnetic forces gravity still eludes them

Theories that postulate the unification of the strong, weak, and electromagnetic forces are called Grand Unified Theories (often known by the acronym GUTs). Theories that add gravity to the mix and try to unify all four fundamental forces into a single force are called Superunified Theories. […]
Grand Unified and Superunified Theories remain theoretical speculations that are as yet unproven, […¦]. Furthermore, although GUTs are not proven experimentally, there is strong circumstantial evidence to suggest that a theory at least like a Grand Unified Theory is required to make sense of the Universe.


The Gunas

Hindu thinking has the concept of three nature forces, the so-called three gunas: The three influential principles which regulate and govern environmental and biological processes emanate from the field of primordial nature and pervade the universe. They are qualities of cosmic forces with attributes. The Sanskrit word used to designate them is guna. (An influence that regulates cosmic forces). Sattva (sat, is-ness, truth, being) guna is the force of equilibrium expressive as goodness, purity, harmony, balance, happiness, virtue, and knowledge. Rajas (raj, to glow, to be dynamically active) guna is the force of energy and motion expressive as passion, action, contention, and desire. Tamas (tam, to decline or perish) guna is the force of inaction, darkness, inertia, and obscurity

Roy Eugene Davis: An Easy Guide to Ayurveda

The laws of Dharma and Karma

Dharma can loosely be translated as right living meaning a way of living that does not create bad karma.
In scientific language, the laws of Dharma and Karma indicates that since whatever we feel, think or do ,is an energy-interaction, this feeling, thinking or doing will have an effect on ourselves, the energy we emit and thus on the whole universe. In other words, it is not possible to play hide and seek with aspects of ourselves, at least it is not possible to hide from our conscience, the universe, God, whatever we do will have consequences, good or bad
This means that our personal development process is not over until we can face all actions, both the weak and the strong forces, both those with a short range and those with a long range; in short, all aspects of his or her being, without for example showing only the good sides to the counsellor. Or rather no matter how much we compartmentalise how much we in certain situations act as if our conscience, the universe, God is not fooled

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:18
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew (5:19)
Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

Matthew (5:25)