Category Archives: quantum theory
On Sunday, many of us munched hot cross buns or searched for chocolate eggs while we pondered the mysteries of the day. Easter is a time for minds open to new possibilities. On the same day, scientists at CERN restarted the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and sent protons hurtling both directions around 27 kilometer-long parallel pipes while they pondered the mysteries of the day. Such an event is a time for minds open to new possibilities.
Physicists wait with impatient attentiveness to see what happens when the particles collide. They hope the LHC provides experimental evidence to support theories to explain some of our universe’s unknowns and puzzles. The Standard Model of particle physics—“the current best description there is of the subatomic world”— explains only about 5% of the universe.
People ponder the complexities of Easter with impatient attentiveness. We must rely on contradictory Bible stories as our best evidence, and they are unscientific and insufficient, at best. Do they explain even 5% of what Easter is all about?
I enjoy the association between the LHC and Easter. For minds open to new possibilities, they are hail fellows well-met.
The Standard Model
The Standard Model explains how the basic building blocks of matter interact, governed by four fundamental forces
About a year ago I read a book called E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality by Pam Grout. The book appeals to my “I create my own happiness” philosophy.
Her book is a teaching manual of sorts, with simple “thought experiments” you can choose (or not) to try to see how the way you think affects what happens around you. The second experiment is called “The Volkswagen Jetta Principle.” It suggests that when we really look for something, we notice things we might overlook on your average day. For example, if you tell yourself that you’re having a bad day and look for bad things to happen, that is all you will see. Or, if you tell yourself how lucky you are, all you can see are all the fantastic things in your life.
Pam Grout suggest that, for a period of 24 hours, you look for a particular colour of vehicle. For an entire day, hold the intention of looking for, noticing and keeping track of the number of vehicles of that colour you find. In her book she suggests sunset beige cars.
When I read this book the first time, I followed her example, and I looked for sunset beige cars. Sometimes I had to debate if a particular colour fit the “sunset beige” criteria, but overall it was pretty easy. In 24 hours I counted 76 sunset beige cars.
This time around I thought “Sunset beige was too easy. I want something harder. How about purple?”
To increase my odds of finding purple vehicles, I decided it would be a good idea to leave my house. (I work from home, so this is not always required.) I ran errands around town, and in so doing, I drove by six car dealerships—none of which had a purple car or truck. Not even a bicycle.
I realized this was going to be more difficult than I thought.
I went for a walk in my neighbourhood. After strolling down a busy road and past the parking lots of three shopping areas, I still had not seen a purple vehicle of any description.
I began to negotiate the colours. Was that deep red close enough? It was almost purple. Some of the blue cars were pretty close too. I was tempted to include them, but when I was honest with myself, I had to admit, they weren’t purple.
As the 24-hour period drew to a close, I began to doubt. Maybe I would never see a purple car? I started to scold myself. Why did I pick such a difficult colour? I could have picked something much easier.
But I was determined. I really wanted to make this happen. I went to my basement where there is a box of toy cars my kids used to play with. The first vehicle I saw was a Jolly Rancher truck, undoubtedly purple. The words on the side read “Long Lasting INTENSE Fruit Flavor.”
From all of this, I learned:
- We have the opportunity to choose our level of challenge. We can choose easy, difficult or almost impossible.
- We can’t just look for something and expect it to walk up to our door and knock. We have to take action, look for it, work hard for it and never give up.
- As we face difficult challenges, we will have moments of doubt about the outcome.
- As we work hard to fulfill the goal, sometimes we will try to negotiate the completion of the task, and we will be tempted to settle for “close enough.”
- The harder the challenge, the more intense and long-lasting the flavour of the reward.
- Sometimes we set out on a quest and, after a long journey, we find the answer was right at home from the beginning.
Just for fun, give it a try. Pick a colour and look for all those vehicles and see how many you find.
I wouldn’t recommend purple though.
“Don’t give up before the miracle happens.”
—Fannie Flagg in I Still Dream About You.
Hundreds of years from now, the children of our children’s children’s children’s children face a seemingly insurmountable challenge. To inspire themselves to succeed they look to wisdom from the past. They scan their retinas (because surely they’ll have Google Retina by then) for pithy, profound insights into the complexities of life.
Might they find inspiration from Rumi? Perhaps. Jesus? Also possible. Shakespeare, Einstein or Confucius might also be strong contenders. But they might also stumble upon some wisdom from another great wise man: Jim Carrey.
Who would have thought, right? But Carrey nails it in a convocation speech at (of all places) the Maharishi University of Management. In less than a minute he alludes to one incident from his life that encapsulates these spiritual principles:
- Be here now
- Make your decisions based on love not fear
- Ask the universe for it and allow yourself to be surprised by the miracle
- You can fail at what you don’t want, so do what you love.
“. . . all there will ever be is what’s happening here, and the decisions we make in this moment which are based in either love or fear. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it. I’m saying—I’m the proof—that you can ask the universe for it.“
He went on to say:
“My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant, and when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”
Holding a glass of water, Julie Desmarais walked into the room. “I had a feeling you might need some water,” she said.
I hadn’t wanted water, but I didn’t want to be rude. “Thank you,” I said and took a sip.
She pulled out a deck of cards—Doreen Virtue’s Ascended Masters. She spread them out in a fan shape, face down. “Pick one,” she said.
I chose a card at random. When I turned it over, I saw a picture of Oshun, “the Yoruba understanding of the cosmological forces of water, moisture, and attraction.” “Drink more water,” the card read.
Just one more inexplicable adventure I thought I’d share, so you could ponder it.
Here is a piece I posted in September 2011. Summer is a good time to take stock and put everything into perspective. This post helps me to realize my place in a vast and ever-changing universe.
You aren`t where you think you are, or at least, where you are keeps moving.
I recently picked up the tome that is The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe by Roger Penrose. This book is not for everyone; it is a book for people with a high level of education and the ability to grasp complex mathematical equations. That is to say, not me.
Regardless, he has some interesting ideas, and I especially like his description of our place in the universe. As we go about our days brushing our teeth and sitting down to our dinner tables, the world around us feels so stable and stationary. But we are, in fact, hurtling through the atmosphere.
He asks us to pick a fixed point on Earth—perhaps where you are right now. Take out your imaginary black marker and draw a dot on your spot. (The dot will stay in that place, and you will move on.) Ten minutes from now the Earth will have rotated—and you along with it—to a position about 10 miles away from your original black marker dot. But that’s not all, the Earth is also moving around the sun, so in fact you will be about 100 times farther away, but in the opposite direction, and the earth will have moved so far away that your dot will be beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. And then the sun moves around the centre of the Milky Way galaxy, which is a part of clusters and super clusters, and so on, and so on . . .. In a mere ten minutes, you will have moved unbelievably, mind-bogglingly far through space.
I find this idea comforting somehow.
The perspective helps me to sort out what is really important. Does it matter that my library book is overdue, we have tuition to pay, or that I just spotted a new wrinkle? No! We’re all just hurtling through space.