Friday, November 6, 2009
The Strange Illusion Of Reality
I first read that famous quote by Einstein many years ago and I remember thinking at the time, what a strange thing for one of the most important theoretical physicists of all time to say about the world we live in. Maybe it was that single quote that began my questioning everything about what we really know and understand about the Universe around us. After all, if Albert Einstein believed reality was questionable, then maybe science really didn't have all the answers.
I was in my thirties at the time and thought I had most of the bigger concepts about life down pretty pat by then. This literally rocked my world. It was somewhere in that time frame that I decided to begin my own research to better understand this incredibly odd phenomenon we refer to as "reality", or as the American Heritage Dictionary defines it: "The quality or state of being actual or true". My investigation into Einstein's "illusion" ultimately resulted in me writing a book entitled: A View Beyond the Stars.
I'd like to share some of that research I've gathered over the past twenty years with you in a series of blogs about this strange dimension we live in and glibly refer to as the "material world" - or in other words Reality. It is quite amazing stuff really and I hope you'll find it as thought provoking as I did.
Let me start by telling you what reality isn't. Oddly enough, reality is not very persistent at all. In fact, realty is actually one of the least persistent states in the Universe. Contrary to what you may see around you and occasionally bump into (I've got plenty of knots on my head to substantiate that) reality is not what IS, but what WAS a split second before right NOW. It just seems like it's persistent. What you see around you was all created in the split second leading up to it's first appearance to your senses. And if it were not for a fresh new reality appearing right behind it to take it's place, as the old reality passes out of existence, everything around you would simply vanish. Including your body. You'd suddenly just be floating around in a vast, limitless blackness stretching out to infinity in every direction. I'm crazy right? Well, can you go back and look at an "old" reality and see if it's really still there? Not really. If you recorded it somehow maybe. But that's not reality anymore, it's only a reproduction of what your reality used to be.
So in essence, reality - or the illusion of it - is not unlike a movie film. In between frames of movie film is nothing, or blackness. It just passes through the projector so fast that the individual frames blur into a consistent image you no longer can discern as strung together out of thousands of individual still frames of film. Of course real life isn't like a 2D image on a movie screen. But if you could imagine for a moment a whole 3D Universe appearing and disappearing at a fast enough clip that the "nothing" or black void in between it's appearance and disappearance is no longer discernable to the human senses, then you get the general idea of what is really happening around us. And so the real substance of our Universe, with all it's grand laws of physics and the vast distances between distant star systems, all of that simply appears and disappears at a periodic rate beyond our ability to perceive those gaps in existence. Kinda creepy huh?
Okay, now let me back you up a step, because it actually gets wierder. The whole Universe is not really appearing and disappearing in one big pulse. So the movie film analogy, while interesting and very close to being true, in fact isn't the whole story. What's really happening is that the tiniest bits of reality, or what science refers to as the quantum level of particle physics (meaning: The smallest amount of a physical quantity that can exist independently), matter flickers in and out of existence exactly like the movie film analogy.
So if you hold up your coffee cup and look at it for instance, what you don't see is that at the sub-atomic level, that cup is a shimmering, pulsating bunch of particles of energy and matter that jump in and out of existence so fast that you don't notice the flicker effect. The "flicker effect" is what the movie industry calls the barely discernable frame flicker on the movie theatre screen. So your cup looks solid, feels solid and so forth, but it's really completely changing form every split second beyond your level of perception.
Now someone is surely thinking at this point, well what difference does it make how it all works if the cup is solid enough to hold my coffee and the world around me remains persistent? That's a good question. But here's why it is essential that you understand what's really happening. Reality ends up only being an average of the position all the trillions and trillions of little particles wind up in at any given split second. So what you don't notice is that your cup is pulsating and it's composite particles are changing positions constantly to recreate themselves every split second, in roughly the same position.
Okay...but again, why is that important? Because what positions they ultimately end up in, are what you the observer cause them to end up in. If you weren't there to observe their interactions, they in fact might not even come into existence at all - let alone in their present position and form you seen them in as your coffee cup! What does that mean? It means that the observer, that's you and me folks, in essence by our active participation as an observer, bring our version of reality into existence. And that's a long explanation for how consciousness influences the very nature of reality. Therefore reality IS just an illusion! But one that we can influence and even control if we know how to do it. Pretty cool huh?
Now what I just described to you is hard scientific fact. If you care to look it up you can find this under the general heading of Quantum Mechanics. Scientists had previously scoffed at new age notions of mind over matter. Now however, they are coming to grips with a whole new understanding of this strange illusion of substance in the Universe around us.
“In the beginning there were only probabilities. The Universe could only come into existence if someone observed it. It does not matter that the observers turned up several billion years later. The Universe exists because we are aware of it.” -- Martin Rees, Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics and Master of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge
So can you change your reality by manipulating the illusion? Apparently you can. And in my next blog I'll show you how that works!