The Physics of Reality

We’ve all been taught that the smallest particle of matter is an atom. From there the atom is divided into the neutron and proton, which are located in the nucleus, and electrons that spin continuously around in an orbit. As young and oblivious students, we let this information permeate our porous brains, and we dutifully write it down into our notebooks without much question. Yes, we are amazed by the seemingly trivial size of the building blocks of our existences, but our immature minds cannot actually wrap around an atom’s actual meaning.

As we grow older, and enter higher science classes, we are told that actually, electrons don’t move in an orbit, but instead they exist in a probability cloud. There is no way to know for sure where an electron will be and in which direction it is moving. It could be anywhere in the universe in relation to the nucleus it is associated with: it’s all based on how probability works. As much as humans claim to have harnessed the powers and laws of the universe, we really don’t know everything.

What are electrons made out of? Technically, they are fundamental particles, and are not “made Up” of anything. But if you go beyond that, what is the underlying material the makes up all matter? Eventually, we reach a point that cannot be shoved into physics equations and can no longer be calculated into mathematical certainty. Physics, which is the study of matter and its behavior through space in time, exists in predictability and black-and-white laws that can explain everything. But time and matter even real or is it just an illusion that is different for each individual person based on the reality that he or she is living in? Is this something physics can explain?

download-1.jpg

For example, take the wave-particle duality theorem. Since the start of the nineteenth century, many experiments have been done that have determined, to an absolute certainty, that light behaves like a wave. This belief was not questioned again until an unexplainable scientific catastrophe occurred almost 100 years later. Light was found to have the ability to transfer momentum (quantity based on the speed and mass of an object) to electrons, seemingly breaking both the laws of conservation of momentum and energy and even behaving as a particle too. That light unexplainably behaves as both a wave and a particle and seems to carry mass but also not carry mass is based wholly on the context in which it exists in and the reality that it is viewed from. Another example is relativity, which is Einstein’s idea that time can change based on the condition of the observer. Two events can happen seemingly simultaneously for one person, such as light traveling into eyeballs, but at different intervals for a person standing closer to one light source in relation to the other light source. Lastly, De Broglie’s idea, and subsequent experimentation, even put into question the existence of matter by stating that it can behave like a wave under certain conditions.  

download.jpg

So what does all this mean for the concept of reality as well as the universal meaning of our existences in the universe? If something can be different for each individual person, does that mean we are all living in own illusions of how the world behaves around us? If, in essence, even our material bodies are just pulsating waves of energy, what does it say about the certainty of humanity? If the substances of our existences are not even real, what does it say about our determined adherence to materialistic pursuits as a way to define our worth? This is where philosophy comes in: to attempt to put into perspective these phenomena not empirically, but conceptually. What I love about philosophy is that it does not try to fit beliefs into a confirmation bias in order to make our perception of the world more understandable and comfortable. It is a realization of our complacency and a celebration of life in ambiguity. It’s a realization of the reality that there really is no reality, which is a juxtaposition that I find to be beautiful.

So what is the physics of reality? The answer is that the really is no physics currently available to explain it. Yes, physics can determine the amount of time it will take for a ball to land on the ground after it is thrown up in the air at such and such speed, but it fails at the questions that really matter. I find comfort in the idea that some aspects of our lives cannot be explained. It presents a place for the unknown and for a plethora of possibilities; because our life is not science. 

=======================

If you would like to read one of my former posts in which I further delve into the meaning of reality from the philosophical standpoint, click here: Subjective Reality

(Both images have been taken from Google)

29 thoughts on “The Physics of Reality

  1. It seems to me that whether or not what we know as reality is an illusion depends on your perspective. If you look way way back to the origin of the universe, what we call the Big Bang, you would realise that we are ALL made of the same cosmic substance and in the fullness of time there will be no real difference between a human being and a star.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for reading! And yes, I agree, its all about perspective. I claim that I think reality is an illusion, but I know that deep within my being, I can’t really seem to let go of conventional belief. Its not just about your perspective, its about how you act based off of your perspective. I can say that everything is an illusion, but then I go ahead and strive to build a very materialistic world for myself, so there’s that too. Its always important to remember where we came from, which, like you said is stars and other cosmic substance, but have you ever wondered where all of that came from? Why and how that Big Bang happened?

      Like

    1. Ok so I just looked into it. Atomic frequency refers to the idea that the elastic waves run through solids at all times, which causes them to constantly vibrate with a specific frequency and constantly deviate from their equilibrium position? This appears to me to be breaking (or at least bending) the laws of attraction! Another thing that physics cant explain? I’ll definitely look some more into that.

      Like

  2. A celebration of ambiguity — I rather like that line! I’ll celebrate with you. Uncertainty is a wonderful quality for us to embrace, because it means we are still vulnerable enough to keep asking important questions. I do think just about everything which occurs within space-time is relative, physically as well as philosophically. As far as what physics cannot explain…perhaps we should more accurately say, what physics cannot explain, yet. Given our traditional, exciting and beautiful exploration of the natural universe, whom knows what further awe-inspiring facts science will uncover in the centuries ahead (presuming, perhaps too optimistically, that our species does not annihilate itself by means of its own stupidity). I also ponder what new mysteries may make themselves available to our studious minds, which will hinge on our discovery of any newly uncovered information. Philosophy is a beautiful field of study, since the entire world and universe is its field, which means it is an infinite subject. I think it marries quite well with science. Can’t do without it, really.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes! It’s so important for us to embrace the unknown. Us humans really don’t want to think about the fact that our existences in the universe are not defined in any certain way. We all like to think that we have harnessed the laws of the universe, and that we are the center of it, and that we are all very important. We also thrive on predictability and we don’t really question our actions, desires, morals etc I guess because we don’t realize them as a shifting and relative concept. And, yes, I do agree the science will advance far enough during the next centuries to erase some of that unknown. There’s a quote by a physicist, I think Ernest Rutherford, it goes something like “All of Physics is either impossible or trivial. It is impossible until you understand it, then it becomes trivial.” I think that this is a good way of looking at science. The questions that were asked centuries ago are now common knowledge, for example atom and the solar system, and I wonder what would be common knowledge centuries from now. It does make me think that some things should be left undiscovered. As they say, ignorance is bliss. Usually, I’d disagree with that, but how much do we really need to know? Don’t get me wrong, though. I really love science. Science intertwined with philosophy can give you a very great understanding about human life. I actually study both areas equally, but philosophy is more interesting to write about because it is more open to discourse.

      Like

  3. Like you said it is perception and how you act off that perception. But something stops being an illusion once we have accepted it as reality. Once our reality is set then the perception of that “reality” around us forms our behaviors/thoughts which creates our need for materialistic needs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, we all have different perceptions and illusions of the world. I don’t think these illusions stop being illusions once we accept them as reality, because, in my opinion, reality is an illusion as well, but the way that we all act doesn’t reflect that. We all cling to so much that is unknown that we overcompensate and turn our realities into material objects. So therefore we act off of our material perceptions of the world, just like you said. Thank you so much for reading!

      Like

  4. “It’s a realization of reality that there is no reality…”. Beautiful lines.
    Being a science student I can totally relate it with the subject and with the life as well. Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice post. I just wanted to give a small correction that current physics does not say that electrons are made up of anything at all. They are considered fundamental particles. It is protons and neutrons that are made up of quarks. I think that is what you are trying to say here. I think it might help you make your point if you incorporated the correction. Hope you don’t mind 🙂

    I agree with the central point though, that there is a certain metaphysical aspect to existence that physics and science do not answer (or indeed even aspire to answer, as they are tools for phenomena rather than noumena). Philosophical questions rarely have concrete answers, but can have serious consequences on life and choices. And are worth pondering. I enjoy reading this blog. You have good posts here 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was never good with the technical side of science, so naturally I made a mistake. It should be a minor correction, though. Also, what I meant by “what are electrons made up of” I didn’t really mean the materials that constitute them, but what, in essence in the thing, THE material that is the electron. I guess I should make my wording better.
      I’ve never considered this to be something that science cannot answer. I always just assumed, considered the pace as which the field is currently progressing, that we will find out more and more about our existences. I never thought that was I good thing: I believe that some aspects of our lives are better left to speculation and mystery, and it seems as if you think so too.
      I’m so happy that you like my blog, thank you so much for reading!

      Like

  6. With physics and biology there is a similarities. From one singular entity, breaks down to two and keeps multiplying after that, organisms/matter comes about. Hmmm. . . 😒

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading! I guess if you look at our existence from a biological and evolutionary perspective, the answer might start to make sense. I totally see and respect your opinion, but I do not know if I completely understand it. If organisms are created purely by multiplying, but was the first organism created?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had to read two reference before I had to reply. In Biology, any cell to produce, needs a host and a vessel. The vessel would be a seed, in that seed life alters in molecular production. In electromagnetism, before any energy is produce, negative and positive charge needs to be there in order for energy is introduced. In Astronomy, in order to produce bodies, a meteor(negative) collides into any matter(positive) for anything to be produced(energy).
        Enlighten me please if all of these info are wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think most of what you said it correct, except for the part about electromagnetism. Magnets are not associated with charges, so I think you mean north and south poles. Also magnets do not produce energy, since, based on the law of conservation of energy, energy is neither created nor destroyed.

        I understand that these are some basic scientific rules that govern our existence. But do keep in mind that biology and chemistry are subsets of physics. What you said is mostly correct, but only under the assumption that matter is, in fact real. As I said in my post, there are hypotheses out there, such as the wave-particle duality theorem and De Broglie’s hypothesis, that put that claim into uncertainty. These theories are, and were, tested. And, if they happen to be correct, who knows what can happen to the rest of science. What I was trying to say with my post, is that we live in a lot of uncertainty, which we don’t really seem to acknowledge. Your facts are correct but not certain. If you want, you can read another of my post in which I discuss uncertainty of human existence in the context of parallel universes: https://katsobservations.wordpress.com/2018/06/23/the-impossibility-of-human-existence/

        Thank you for your comments and your thoughts, I really appreciate them.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. It seems that the surroundings can be divided into two groups: explainable and unexplainable. Former one include what can be understood & predicted by various theories, yet the second is far beyond. But to me, I think whatever it’s, we can create ways to approach, closer and closer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree that there are two categories on life, the explainable and the unexplainable, but those categories are always shifting and expanding. For example, hundreds of years ago, humans thought that human life was a mystery, and the fact that other planets besides earth existed what not even known, not to mention unexplainable. As we conquer more of the unexplainable, will will discover that there is even more and more unexplainable.

      Like

  8. I agree with you that there is a beauty in the philosophical approach. Having studied Philosophy, it is a healthy realisation that one can never do away with extreme scepticism and that at the end of the day reality may not be what we think it is at all.
    In addition to this I have also specifically studied philosophy of science and, once again, one is met with the sobering realisation that it is extremely difficult to justify the scientific method logically.
    Nevertheless, I would say that it would be wrong to dismiss Physics in favour of Philosophy. Physics may have left many questions unanswered, but at the same time it has also answered many.
    I would rather see that Philosophy is the attempt to understand the findings of Science from a human perspective, and to postulate the nature of reality beyond what science has found.
    Physics alone is something which can only, as you say, “determine the amount of time it will take for a ball to land on the ground after it is thrown up in the air at such and such speed”, but I think that good Philosophy should embrace scientific findings, go beyond them, but use them as its bedrock.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t mean to imply that Physics should be dismissed for philosophy. I wrote this post a while back, so I don’t completely recall my train of thought, but I wrote it right after my incredibly difficult physics final, so I might have been a little harsh. My physics final was a three hour marathon of question and answer, question and answer, so I was a bit disillusioned by the whole thing. If science is supposed to explain our lives, is this really all there is to it? Just these numerical computations that are somehow meant to govern all of our existence?
      Now, I’ve only ever taken an introductory philosophy course, but I’ve always been very interested in those kinds of questions that don’t have an answer. Like you said, it offers a human perspective to life, which science does not. I think that’s what science should somehow adapt when trying to tackle those very difficult questions. Anyways, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts; I appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, I empathise with you there. I think it’s difficult because in the modern world science is more for preparing people for going into industry and practical disciplines as opposed to the difficult questions. In general I’ve found that you’re right – if you want something that offers a human perspective philosophy is more eye-opening.
        No worries, I’m new to the site, and now I’ve found you’re page expect a fair few more comments from me.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah. Mathematics is the most powerful tool humans ever used. So, yeah, numerical computations do govern our lives. That’s why our things work as they’re supposed to (when these computations are right of course).

        Liked by 1 person

      3. If everything was about math, that would make life pretty boring. I think there’s much more to the human experience, such as emotions, consciousness, the soul (possibly) that cannot be reduced to a simple mathematical calculation, but I do agree that math is one of the major forces in our lives.

        Like

  9. I admire how deeply you dived into the topic. But if we can’t hold physics true, we can’t go with your idea of illusion either. What I mean is, comparing the logical reasons of both the arguments, physics has stronger. So, I’ll go with physics. BTW, you presented quite good questions. 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Looking back, I would probably agree with physics as well, but I still think it’s important to think about things like this. There is so much we do not understand about the world and so much that physics cannot explain yet, and it’s important to keep that in mind, I think.

      Like

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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