Quantum Theory Suggests All Physical Matter Is Actually Made Up Of Energy

Quantum theory is not a new concept, but what it means is still strange and unknown to a lot of people. Physicists like the Danish Niels Bohr started developing this scientific theory in the early 1900s, profoundly changing the way we think of physical matter, energy, and even the ideas of cause and effect. The concept of what’s physical seems intuitively obvious, but it turns out it’s not so simple, when you get deep into the physics of the universe. Physical matter is not so physical after all, or rather, the distinction between matter, information and energy is much less clear than classical scientists imagined. On our human scale, it seems like the world is very clear cut. Here is a table, it’s easy to tell that it’s made up of physical matter and where it ends and begins. If you zoom in to the quantum level, though, on the scale of the particles that make up atoms, you will find that subatomic particles are not necessarily particles at all. They are spikes in an energy field, or waves of information, and the way they become “physical” is the interaction they have with the rest of the world.
Waves are fundamental to how this quantum world operates, but it can be hard to imagine waves when we don’t really know what they’re made of, or what they’re “in”. What’s energy? Vibrations? Waves? In some sense the information about the world in these fields and waves are the world, and the physical matter in it is no different from what we might think of as energies. So what does that mean about how the world operates? It means that sometimes, the world does something completely unexpected, as happened in the famous double slit experiment, when researchers pass particles through two small openings in a barrier. The way the particles pass through it indicate that they operate more like a wave than how we imagine a physical particle, or perhaps that the particle “knows” the other possible paths it could have taken, in violation of how we usually think of ideas like time and cause and effect. The other interesting thing about the double slit experiment is that the observer matters. If you observe the particle passing through one slit or the other, you actually alter its trajectory, forcing it to pick a path. This is known as collapsing the wave function, and you will see scientists and pseudoscientists disagreeing on what it means, exactly. What it does mean is that the world does not always operate in the simple, cause and effect way we think it does. Simply looking at something can change the nature of the thing you’re looking at. An electron in one place can get entangled with one in another place or time, transmitting information that by the laws of classical physics, shouldn’t have been there. On the normal, human scale of everyday life, none of this is visible to us. However, being aware of it can change our outlook and remind us of how mysterious our universe is, the things we don’t know. That humility and perspective may be just the thing we need to figure out our human, everyday problems.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.