Up in the heavens, galaxies are interspersed by huge empty spaces. Matter constitutes less than one percent of the universe – about one atom in ten cubic meters of space. Within an atom too, there is more empty space than substance. If the atom is magnified to the size of a football stadium, matter (nucleus) in it will be no bigger than a golf ball, the remaining space being just emptiness. However, many ancient Indian scriptures hold that there is energy aplenty in space. Physicists unhesitatingly agree. Evidence for energy in empty space comes both from Cosmology that deals with the astronomical objects of huge proportions and Quantum Physics which studies atomic- and subatomic-sized particles.
You are certain of your toothbrush being in the bathroom when you walk in there after a good night’s sleep. You have no doubt, the water comes to a boil in two minutes in the microwave for the delicious morning cuppa. You are pretty sure how long it takes you to drive to the office. That is all true. But the particles that constitute you or your toothbrush are not predictable with that sort of certitude where they will be at any given time or when they appear at a given place!
Quantum Physics studies how the tiny particles like electrons, protons and atoms that constitute everything behave. Quantum Physics sobers us down quite a bit when it is a question of being sure of things. It teaches us not to be so definite and deterministic. It comes out with mind-bending mathematics and unbelievable concepts almost bordering Vedanta. Dr. Niels Bohr, a giant among Quantum Physicists, famously said: “Anyone who is not shocked (by the concepts of Quantum Physics) has not understood it.”
For all that, Quantum Physics is not an esoteric theory. It comes with redoubtable experimental back up and unfailing proof. Continue reading →
Quantum Physics is the science of small particles. The strange and counter-intuitive phenomena it predicts often leave us stunned. It says that if two particles were together once, they never lose their connectedness even after they get separated. Each particle readjusts itself in response to any change in the state of its counterpart which might even be several millions of miles away. The readjustment is instantaneous and happens without any sort of messaging link between them. So if you met Dr. Singh once, you can never escape from getting affected by what happens to him, even if you run away to another galaxy!
“What?! ……. Sleeping? ……. No, he is in his office and very much awake.”
Dr. Singh’s Assistant, though a bit bewildered, sounded very confident in his replies. But I remained unconvinced.
If the probability of Dr. Singh being in New York is zero, and his being present in Delhi is one hundred percent, there must be some probability of his being in London in-between! Further, his Assistant asserts that Dr. Singh is awake. How does he know Singh’s state so definitely without actually seeing him? Don’t think that I lost my wits or I am an over the top Vedantin.
[The latter part of the article requires a bit of mathematical (or at least arithmetic) orientation in the reader. If you know the addition, 1 + 1, that is enough. Otherwise, it could prove slightly boring!]
We shall tackle now the question of how we wake up to be what (we think) we were before we went to bed.
I said in my previous argument that our waking up to a new morning and into an awake state is comparable to another cycle of creation. So I suggest we examine how creation itself takes place.
From a scientific perspective, creation seems to be happening from ‘nothingness’ and dissolving back into nothing. Vedantins prefer to call nothingness as ‘Beingness’ simply because even ‘nothingness’ has to ‘Be.’
If we go by what Quantum Physics tells us, what we may refer to as ‘nothingness’ is not just emptiness. There is an enormous amount of energy in ‘Emptiness.’ Physicists have been able to measure this energy of empty space.
The energy within the empty space of the nucleus of an atom is the main reason for the weight of the nucleus (and hence of the matter we are all). The energy of the emptiness within the intergalactic space is the reason for the expanding universe causing the colossal and mighty galaxies to recede from one another at speeds exceeding the speed of light. This vast energy is the result of constant creation and annihilation of virtual particles smaller than sub-atomic particles. Thus creation-dissolution is an ongoing unstoppable roiling and boiling process from emptiness to emptiness within emptiness!