What does matter ultimately consist of?
According to the startling and incredible findings of modern quantum mechanics (or quantum physics), matter is composed mostly of nothing. It does not even exist independently from us, until observed or measured. Objective reality, according to the findings, is an illusion.
Isn’t this precisely what Buddhist and other mystics have been saying for the last 2,500 years?
But it is only in the last century that science has begun to realize this truth. And the concept is still as controversial today as it was a hundred years ago. Einstein, it has been said, refused to accept it.
Modern quantum physics seeks to know and study what the material universe consists of, its characteristics and behavior.
But thousands of years before that, the ancient Greek philosophers were already asking the same question. And one of them, Democritus, came closest to the scientific truth when he said that matter consists of invisible and indestructible elements called “atoms,” which are constantly moving. Atom in Greek means “indivisible.”
This was accepted by modern science until it was discovered that the atom was not the smallest particle of matter, and that it consisted of still smaller elements or particles called protons, electrons and neutrons.
The existence, behavior and characteristics of these smallest particles of matter are what modern physics is concerned with. And their findings sent shock waves through the scientific community because they threatened to destroy the very foundations of Western materialist science.
What are some of these “weird” and “irrational” findings of quantum physics concerning the nature and behavior of the subatomic universe?
1) In classical Newtonian physics, objective reality is independent of and separate from subjective reality. In quantum physics, a subatomic particle does not exist unless observed.
2) In classical physics, an element or object is either a particle or a wave with entirely different characteristics and behavior. In quantum physics, a subatomic element can behave either as a wave or a particle at the same time.
3) In classical physics, an object can stay only in one place at a time. In quantum physics, a subatomic particle can be in two places at the same time. Somehow this explains the paranormal phenomenon of bilocation.
4) In chemical physics, an object cannot influence the behavior of another object when they are far apart and there’s absolutely no connection between them. In quantum physics, a subatomic particle can influence the behavior of another particle located very far from it, although there’s absolutely no connection between them. This was what Einstein found hard to believe and he called it “spooky action at a distance.” But this explains the phenomenon of telekinesis.
5) In quantum physics, a subatomic particle can disappear in one orbit and appear simultaneously in another orbit. This is exactly what happens in teleportation or materialization. A person or a material object can disappear from one location and at the same time appear in another.
6) In quantum physics, a subatomic particle appears only when it is observed or measured. Before that, it is either a wave or particle or some other substance. Before being observed, it is just a bunch of probabilities.
There are many more incredible findings, including the existence of parallel universes or multiverses and the possibility of time travel. No wonder, quantum physicists had to invent new words or concepts to explain what they are finding in their experiments, such as Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principles” and David Bohn’s “implicate order.”
As the great Danish quantum physicist and Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr said, “If you are not profoundly shocked by quantum physics, then you have not understood it yet.”
He was also the great scientist who said, “Everything we call real is made up of things that cannot be considered real.”
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