The tangle of physics and spirituality…
Several science journals of late (and I won’t clutter up this post with too many links, but here’s one) have posited that the universe we inhabit may be one ginormous holographic projection – from somewhere else – and that everything around us, therefore, is of a kind of reality we can’t truly know. That idea takes us almost nowhere, but I’d like to poke into the overall notion a bit further from another angle.
We all know that many primitive and modern spiritual systems support the concept that we are all part of a large, intricately interconnected system – where there is a bit of us in every other human, and bits of all living things within each of us. In truth, physics supports it. So, if physics is right, eat your heart out, Ayn Rand, because your brand of objectivism just won’t cut it.
We’ve all seen holograms. They’re made with a complex arrangement of coherent light emitters – lasers – and produce a 3D image (or about 270 degrees of it) on a 2D surface. The fascinating thing about holograms, as I’ve noted in other posts, is that their information spreads throughout the entire 2D surface. Now, just for fun, take a 4-inch square hologram image of, say, a serving of flan (because I like flan), cut it into four 2-inch squares, and the flan will appear in each of those 2-inch squares.
Not quite as clear, but suddenly you have four flans. Take a 2-inch square, cut it into 1-inch squares, and the flan is still there in each tiny square. Now 16 flans! The image has degraded further, it’s less clear and presumably less appetizing, but the basic info is intact in each piece.
“Spooky Action at a Distance”
That’s science, which means it’s true. Also true is that subatomic particles “talk to each other” instantaneously over vast distances – at superluminal speed. Experiments have been done with electrons, whole atoms, even molecules – propelling them in opposite directions at nearly the speed of light, so that they’re nearly twice the speed of light apart. Change one electron or atom or molecule in some way, the other one is instantly changed to match it. Einstein hated this idea (with his famous “spooky action at a distance” response), but ultimately came close to accepting it before he died. What this means is, when things change here, as they do every nanosecond of the day, things change elsewhere in the universe simultaneously. At the subatomic level, at the atomic level, at the molecular level. And the speed of light is reduced to irrelevance.
The result? Stuff within us is shared, to some degree, with other organisms, other stuff, around the universe. And the inverse is true also: cut us (figuratively, please) into little tiny pieces, and bits of the universe are lurking within each tiny piece. Tiny bits of it in tiny bits of us, and vice-versa.
Many belief systems line up behind this. Karma says, you screw up or do something nasty, it’ll come back to bite you in the butt. These systems also say, what divides us is ridiculously insignificant compared to what binds us. We separate ourselves from others, with thin, flimsy scrims of our own creation. That’s ego, that’s hubris, and that’s why science and humans engage in playground brawls. But scrims are gauzy and can easily be shredded. What connects us through shredded scrims is vast and rich, but not easily seen or readily accepted.
If you want to read more, try Michael Talbot’s The Holographic Universe, and/or Hyperspace by Michio Kaku. The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra is also a fun and accessible read.
(I rarely use other people’s visuals without permission or attribution, but in today’s case no credit source accompanied any of the images here.)
Somewhat related to all of the above is my novel String Theories, which I’ve recently decided is best summarized with this:
An unlikely love story about an amnesiac physicist and gun-wielding Buddhist caught up in a chain reaction of rampaging existentialism.
See more, below!