Collapsing Reality into Existence
From Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, and the Blossoming of Human Spirit
"Thoughts become things... once a thought is thought, it's as if it's instantaneously endowed with a power and a force all its own, and it's as if it's given a single, solitary mission: to reappear in your life within time and space. If you think thoughts of material things, your thoughts will strive to become those material things, if you think thoughts of events or circumstances, your thoughts will strive to move the players and conditions around in your life, so as to yield those events or circumstances. And if you think thoughts of love,
or hate, or of other emotions, again, your thoughts will shift around the conditions of your life so that you can experience those thought-of emotions all over again."
--Mike Dooley, "Thoughts Become Things"
The Self as Creator
A wave can pass through multiple points at once, much like an ocean wave flowing through the supporting pilings of pier, while a particle, like a baseball, can pass through at only one point. Subatomic particles such as photons and electrons exhibit both behaviors. Project a beam of light through two parallel slits in a barrier and it will produce an interference pattern of light and dark stripes on a screen. Like water waves on the surface of a pond, two crests combine to make a bright stripe, while a crest and a trough cancel each other, creating a dark stripe. Thus, nineteenth century scientists believed light was a wave.
With the rise of quantum theory, however, physicists realized that light was not just a wave, put rather a wave-like particle called a photon. The discovery suggested a new experiment, that it should be possible to send light through the slits one photon at a time onto photographic film. Logically, there should be no interference pattern, since there would be nothing for the photon to interfere with. Scientists tested this assumption in 1909 and were astonished to see an interference pattern develop as photons accumulated on the photographic plate. The interference pattern could only develop if a photon passed through both slits at the same time and interfered with itself like a wave.
Physicists conducted many tests to determine the speed and locations of these wave-particles. When they tested the speed they discovered a wave, but when they tested the location they discovered a particle. It is not presently possible to determine speed and location of a subatomic particle at the same time.
A wave has an infinite number of points, while a particle exists at only one point. The wave, no matter how large or small, can always be divided in half, and then in half again and again and again. Like plotting points on a line, you can always divide the space in between any two points and put another point in the middle. For a wave to become a particle it must collapse, out of an infinite number of possibilities, into one particular point. Scientists found this distressing because they like to run controlled tests, where they have completely removed themselves from affecting the outcome. Yet in this case the scientist apparently causes the wave to collapse while he or she is trying to determine a location. The popular analogy of this situation is a cat in a box, where a random event has a fifty-fifty chance of releasing a deadly gas that kills the cat. In the old view of physics, something did or did not happen, and we open the box to see the result. But from the viewpoint of quantum physics, nothing happens until we remove the lid. The possibilities remain in flux, and it is only when the observer removes the lid that the wave collapses into one reality or another. It is called the "observer effect." Scientists would like to be impartial observers, but it is they who collapse the wave of possibilities into a single point.
Quantum physics reveals a conundrum in the quest to determine what reality is. Like physicists, we endeavor to remove ourselves from the experiment. We endeavor to detach from our preconceived notions of reality to discover what reality really is. Now we discover that reality is paradoxical. We cannot remove ourselves from the experiment because we are part of the equation. We affect reality in the process of attempting to define it.
1. Mike Dooley. "Thoughts Become Things." http://www.tut.com/beliefnet/thoughts_become_things.htm. January 28, 2002.
Accessed January 31, 2008.
2. David Barry. "The (Long and Winding) Road to Reality." Discover. June 2005. Pages 27 - 35.
3. William Harmon. Global Mind Change. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. 1998. Page 59.
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