Posts Tagged ‘scientific research’

The Hidden Parameters of Quantum Weirdness

May 20, 2014

Years ago in college, I fantasized about being a theoretical physicist; alas, my brain doesn’t have the neural connections needed for such pursuits so I had to shift to Plan B. Although I can manage many other sorts of cognitive functions, I’m supremely maladroit at grasping the equations and the perspective critical to scientific research. However, what I lack in such talents, I compensate with imagination and the ability to apply exotic principles to the far messier (and equally unquantifiable) realm of human experience. So, it comes as no surprise that when I read about outlandish sounding research involving concepts such as quantum entanglements, the EPR Paradox, and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle my attention is caught. I stare at the words, half jealous that I can’t fully comprehend what these researchers are getting at, but energized by how I might use their work as a launching point for my own. And so it is that I begin this post.


Quantum weirdness is an authentic construct that occurs at the subatomic level of science. On a scale where everything is measured in nanos, the classical rules of physics no longer apply. In 1935, Albert Einstein and two colleagues wrote a paper suggesting that two subatomic particles, thousands of light years apart from one another, can instantaneously respond to each other’s vibrations. They named this phenomenon the EPR Paradox, a premise which has subsequently been confirmed. Now, just think about this for a minute. According to this principle, two subatomic particles can respond to one another faster than light can move through space. The dilemma is that the EPR Paradox/quantum entanglement construct conflicts with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. In other words, two established laws of physics appear to contradict one another—and yet, the reality is that they’re both correct.


So, where does this leave us?


What this suggests is that there are other factors at work which researchers have been unable to detect. Unthought of questions yet to be resolved.


It requires a flexible mind and a great deal of imagination to push past the parameters of the accepted. Allegations of hubris, insanity, recklessness, or any number of other things are usually cast at those who push beyond what is considered “solid information.” Of course, it’s understandable that people get jittery when scientists start publishing papers about introducing new, artificial nucleotides (A,T,C, G + the new X,Y) into a DNA sequence. I’m not sure how I feel about it, either. But, let’s go back to the problem presented in that quantumly weird world where Relativity and Entanglement intersect. They contradict one another and, yet, they both exist. What does this tell you? What are we missing in our understanding?


People do contradictory things all the time; and they can’t explain why they do so—they are as weird as they are relatable. The reason I am harping on this is that there are many aspects of our lives and relationships where we do not have the full picture. Re-booters recognize that there is much we don’t know, and may never fully understand; but we know both things are true. Ours is the human version of the EPR Paradox. The thing we need to remind ourselves is that hidden parameters–to our lives and our mindset—exist, and if we dedicate ourselves to recognizing that these parameters play a role in our choices, and work at detecting the traces or echoes these mysterious influences leave behind, our overall understanding of our life may be enriched. Does any of what I’m saying make the least bit of sense? We err only if we believe we know it all, whatever “it” may be. There’s always more to the story.


Whether one has a personal relationship with God, are a Humanist, Atheist, or whathaveyou, when one considers topics such as the secrets of the universe or the secrets of the human heart, I think we can all agree that there is way, way more “out there” that we don’t know than that we do. Sometimes, this realization can feel humbling or intimidating, but it leaves room for occurrences we’d never dream were possible. I like to think about it as the amazing influence that makes life so magical. Re-booters and researchers, alike, grappling with the mesmerizing quagmire of quantum weirdness.


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