Quantum Physics and A Brief History of Time
By Cam Mather
Lately I’ve been reading “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking. Oh sure, it’s pretty intellectual stuff, but that’s just me. Intellectual. I also love that ABC show called “Wipeout” where contestants get whacked with foam rubber boxing gloves and try to leap across big red rubber balls but inevitably fall into a pool while their bodies are twisted into painful-looking contortions. I try to span the whole spectrum of intellectual pursuits.
I should confess that I’m actually reading “The Illustrated, A Brief History of Time.” It was a dollar at the Salvation Army Thrift store because it is a soft cover. When the book first came out in 1988, it was huge. Everyone had it on his or her coffee table. No one that I know was able to finish reading it, but they had it! And now I have it on my coffee table! And I’m determined to get through it. The pictures help, but it’s still pretty tough slogging.
I’ve learned that the general theory of relativity describes things on a big scale… a universe scale. Quantum mechanics on the other hand deals with things on a really small scale, like atoms and particles. Apparently these two theories are inconsistent and can’t both be correct, so apparently Stephen Hawking has set us up to keep reading to discover the new theory that will incorporate them both.
Reading about quantum physics reminded me of a movie I’d seen a number of years ago called “What the /:Bleep do we know?” in which a bunch of Quantum Physicists are interviewed as they try to describe reality. I recalled that the movie was as tough to get through as the book, but luckily Tim at Tamworth’s awesome video store still has the movie, so I recently rented it again to give it another shot.
My memory from the first time was that when physicists try and describe matter and really, really small things and how they’re all held together and how we perceive them, there is no real answer and it kind of blows your mind so God is within all of us. And when I watched it again, more intently, I’m still thinking this is what they were getting at. I’m sure the producers would say I’m a moron and didn’t get “it,” but as I learned from the movie, “reality is unique to the individual” and that’s my reality.
One of the experts interviewed suggested that from a scientific point of view he gets up each morning and basically makes a mental plan of how he expects his universe to unfold that day. And then as the day goes on he is aware of incidents that confirm his intention.
I liked that part because I experience these crazy coincidences all the time. The book “The Celestine Prophecy” put great emphasis on paying attention to these events. A number of years ago I was reading a book in which I found the word ‘crinolines.” I’d never heard of the word before but figured out that they were the shaped “cages” that made women’s skirts puff out in the 1800s. That night we went to see a performance by the comedian Sandra Shamas and one of her gags somehow used a ‘crinoline.’ Come on! How could I have gone 35 years without hearing a certain word, and then hear it twice in one day?
My life is filled with these crazy coincidences and my gut reaction is always that the universe is telling me to buy lottery tickets that day. And I do. But apparently that’s not the real message since I never win. Yesterday I downloaded the song “The Longest Highway Home” from iTunes by a band called “The Reason.” Then I rented the movie “The Way” which is about an 800 km journey in search of meaning in life… kind of the longest highway home as it were. I didn’t do it intentionally, it just happened.
I spend a great deal of time in front of my house at night looking up at the infinite, expanding universe with spiral galaxies and worm holes and cosmic microwaves and I marvel at it. And I’m hoping Stephen Hawking’s book is going to answer all my questions. But I don’t think it can.
And as I seek the greater meaning I love the quote that my niece Ashleigh posted on Facebook, “OK universe, I’m listening.” I too am waiting for that bolt of consciousness where all the big questions are answered … like who really shot Kennedy, what really happened on 9/11, and what happens after this life. What’s out there? I think there’s something, but I’m just not sure what.
I think my gardening brings me closer to that enlightenment, working with soil, made up of tiny grains of sand, made up of atoms and atomic particles.
I was splitting wood recently, taking out my frustrations with two individuals in my life. There is nothing like slamming away with an axe into freshly cut firewood for an hour to settle one’s psyche. Then I went in to make breakfast and turned on the radio, and I kid you not, the first two songs that were played were songs that I only associate with these two individuals because they were their favorites years ago. Now come on, what are the odds of that? How can that happen? I’m really starting to think that quantum physicist was onto something when he talked about how he has some control over his own reality and destiny each day.
I just don’t know what it is. But stay tuned; I’m sure once I finish “A Brief History of Time” I’ll have the one definitive answer! And if it involves picking winning lottery ticket numbers I will share that too, right after I retire on my winnings.
* * * * * * *
Michelle’s Note: If Cam has inspired you to purchase any of these books or DVDs from amazon, please remember to use the link to amazon over there on the right. When you use that link, we earn a very small commission from your purchase. Thanks!