Most people think the world they struggle with every day is a concrete reality. In truth behaving as though it is is the easier in the short term than thinking of things at a deeper level. It is the reason the rabbis used to say you couldn’t study the Kabbalah until you were a certain age and had acheived a certain state of mind. It is the reason Tantric practices are only released slowly, to the properly prepared initiate. There is a place where philosopy and physics intersect, a true Twilight Zone, where the solid and familiar physics of Sir Isaac Newton dissolve to reveal what lies beneath. Most people take great pains to avoid excursions in that direction but I like going there.
Which is good because someday I am going there entirely and the more I know about where I’m going the more comfortable I am. Scientific work rarely noticed by a public distracted by economic and political chaos is slowly inching toward a realization that more is affected by this than invisble particles with funny names. Take photosynthesis for example.
The basic process involves plants taking in sunlight and CO2 and turning them into energy. We tend not to think about how the photons of light that strike a plant’s leaves came from millions of kilometres away with enough energy to knock an electron in one of those leaves aroud with a good smack. Like a well executed breaking shot on a cue ball in a game of pool the effect on the electron is the same. Energy is transferred and it begins to move around eventually passing it’s energy to the type of molecule that can fuel the plant. In the Newtonian view the electron should take a certain amount of time to trigger this molecule before continuing on it’s way. It also should loose energy as it bounces around and the impacts the molecule. But no, perversely, the electon takes far less time than expected and barely looses energy at all.
Then research showed indications of quatum effects in the molecular centers for photosysthesis. The work published in Nature is pretty technical but essentailly there were indications in the behavior of the electrons that indicated quantum effects, possibly superposition, the ability to exist in several places at once. Hypothetically, the electron could test several pathways to the correct molecule at once and practically instantaneously pick the most efficient.
This kind of reasearch is costly and doesn’t produce something someone can sell so it doesn’y get the publicity and backing other things do. It’s also hard to digest without some flexibility in your thinking. Still, I find the tiny windows it opens through the Newtonian curtain fascinating and reassuring. The Buddha and the Hindu sages taught what we think we see in daily life is illusion. Going down the quantum rabbit hole like a scientific Alice rather confirms this to me. I like diversity, change and complexity. And I can stay a lost more detached from all the myopic focus on the material that surrounds me. I like the idea of infinite possibilities. I like to think that Schroedinger’s cat is always alive and well in some universe or alternate reality and maybe I and my cats are as well.