After having encountered quantum thought, quantum breath, then finally quantum massage on the internet, I can tell with confidence that me, massage therapists and everyone else understands the quantum phenomenon completely except for professors specialized in quantum physics. And once you read this article, you too shall be a quantum professor like myself, so no worries. And what I want to explain to you is a crucial part of the entire subject.
We see and sense existing beings*. For instance when you hit your pinky toe to the table leg, you feel that the table is “there”, don’t you? None of the beings is “pretending to be”. They’re just there. We know they are. The table is either there or not. It cannot at the same time be there and not be there simultaneously. Neither can it exist in two places at a time, correct? So you would think.
In the micro-world at the subatomic level, such is not the case. First—although we call it the name subatomic “particle”, the electron is not a very tiny ball. Electrons on the contrary are bulks of energy that continuously move nonstop and they can move at the speed of light*. Their motion can be observed via various setups. They’re not in a size you can see or perceive. Let alone eyesight, they are not even visible through a light microscope. Their existence can only be depicted by special devices. Funny, though, you COULD technically perceive the presence of electrons if you were to put your fingers into a plug (Disclaimer: DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!) but a single electron and its movements can only be detected via specialized tools.
When I say detectable, I mean detectable by not ordinary people like you and me but by physicists.We can only share selfies on instagram as to our greatest experience with the subatomic particles. Remember I told you not to put your finger in the plug. Or have you? If so, then congrats—you just officially met the electron among the subatomic particles.
In the subatomic world we call the micro-world, the ordinary laws of nature do not apply as they do in the macroscopic level. In the world that is so small, the laws of quantum mechanics apply.
For those who are not familiar with the field, the most basic principles of the quantum world are as follows;
1. Subatomic creatures behave as sound/energy waves while we’re not looking and not like a substance would, but while we are looking they behave as particles.
Whenever the subatomic particles are not being observed via detectors, that is when they move like waves on the surface of the water. But whenever the detector is at play they behave like particles.
And what does “wave” mean? I am waving at you, yes, what is that which we call “wave?” You visualize some surfer on seawaves I assume. The surfers make use of the energy of the wave and move on top of it but the water molecules that make up the wave are not going from A to B. The molecules simply transmit the energy among the droplets among each other. Like a Mexican wave—at a football game the crowd get up and sit down one after the other but they are still in their seats, right? And yet we see motion in the field.
Quantum physicists state that subatomic particles act like particles when we’re looking at them and like Mexican waves while we’re not.
Quantum physics has been around for a century. The experiments above have been repeated thousands of times to a great extent. And whenever there is a measurement or observation on the “slits”, the photons move as particles—but whenever there is no observer or measurement, the photons act as waves.
I’ll try to put it more simply. Imagine an inanimate object. Whenever it “feels” like someone is watching, it becomes a particle but when no one is looking it turns into an energy wave like the ones on the sea surface. Can an inanimate being pick and choose between being a particle or a wave as it wishes? Can it play hide and seek without possessing a consciousness? I mean, yeah, the table and the chair are not playing hide and seek but the electrons, protons, neutrons, which make up the core of our being, and their entire bloodline—they do.
Let’s get this straight—is this so that if electrons are waves but act as particles when we look at them appearing like a substance, the table—which also consists of atoms, electrons, protons and their sisters-in-law and their second cousins and all that—disappears and becomes a wave when we’re not watching? Well, yes.
So the table that sits in front of me as I’m looking at it becomes an amorphous wavy being while I’m not looking—this bogus drives scientists and especially Einstein insane in the literal sense of the word. Yet, Erwin Schrödinger, maybe not instagram-famous but a still very popular and well-known scientist ponders upon this phenomenon that we cannot begin to wrap our heads around, and eventually he designs this super famous quantum experiment called the “double slit” experiment which accounts for our understanding of the behavior of photons that I have mentioned previously. This, then, is where the slit business comes from. The cat simultaneously both the living and the dead.
Let’s now repeat our current paradox/dilemma. Particles such as photons and electrons move as particles when we are observing them yet while we are not looking they behave as ghost-like waves with no mass. And if such is the case, the book or the phone when you look at them appear like substances because that is when electrons behave as particles but as soon as you let them out of your sight the electron family goes into the wave format so shouldn’t the book too disappear completely?
Schrödinger had designed a though experiment to prove that there can be no such irrational thing yet while trying to prove irrationality wrong he in fact happened to fail to reject the irrational thing hypothesis being potentially the case. The thought experiment consists of a setup.
In a box, there is a cat, a radioactive substance, and a setup. And by the way radioactive substances keep spreading radiation/electrons for no reason.
And the equipment is fairly simple. A detector to detect that the radioactive substance is emitting electrons, a hammer tied to the detector and a bottle full of cyanide.
When there is electron emission, the detector detects it, runs the setup, the hammer breaks the bottle, the cyanide kills the cat. That’s Schrödinger’s experiment.
Schrödinger says that since during the trial the box is not open so it is not being observed, the radioactive radiation will remain in the form of wave, meaning the detector won’t be switched on. For the detector to be switched on, the electrons need to be in the form of particles. And for that to happen, observers are needed. But when it was time, the radioactive substance emitted the electrons—that we know for sure. And since until someone opens the box the electrons will not turn into particles, the scenarios where the cat is dead and where it is alive are two equally probably possibilities that coexist at the same time. Until the box is open, the cat is both dead and alive.
Eventually we come to the interesting conclusion that there is the presence of a conscious being needed for obtaining information on the fate of the cat—or deciding thereof. After all, the cat may remain in the two opposite states forever at the same time unless one of us looks into the box.
When you open the fridge, a light gets turned on. And it gets turned off when you close the fridge but you can’t observe that being happen. You know the light is off but if you were to try to actually see it happen the light will turn back on.
Burned out yet? I hope not. Because we shall go on.
2. Quantum Tunneling: Now in the same box let’s put a ping-pong ball instead of a cat. Let the box be covered on all sides. It is impossible for the ball to exit the box is that right? Yet quantum mechanics states that that is quite the possibility—only that the ping-pong ball in this case stands for subatomic particles.
3. Quantum Entanglement.
Imagine now two electrons and that they are somehow twins. And in fact all electrons are exactly the same. But what I mean by twin is that their spins are identical—meaning they both turn/rotate in the same direction. And keep in mind that electrons travel at the speed of light, and not any faster. Now imagine you send these two electrons to two points very far from each other while they are in their wave form. Then, assume that you observe one of these electrons i.e. turning that one into its particle form but leaving the other one unobserved i.e. having that one remain in its wave form. The fascinating thing is, no matter how far apart in space these two electrons are, the state of a single electron affects the other one in the opposite manner. Meaning, if the electron you observe is spinning in the clockwise direction, the other one that is farther seems to be spinning in the counterclockwise direction—NOW WAIT FOR IT—this exchange of information between these two electrons takes place faster than the speed of light.
Okay, you’re lost. Let me be more straightforward. Let one of these twin siblings be in Germany and the other one in China. As soon as the twin sibling in Germany raises his left hand the one in China raises its right hand. How come the sibling in China be informed of what the other sibling is up to and how does he do so in a speed faster than the speed of light?!
And this thing above is called quantum entanglement.
If you have grasped these following three principles, I hereby declare you Professor of Quantum Mechanics.
Subatomic particler, electrons, protons, neutrons, photons and their relatives;
- Act like particles when we look but as wave forms while we’re not looking.
- May leave a box that is impossible to get out of. This is called quantum tunneling. They may exist in multiple places in space at a single time.
- When one of the two wave-like electrons with identical spin numbers is observed, even though they are so far apart, the other one is observed such that it appears to have the opposite spin. And this flow of information occurs faster than the speed of light.