To laymen like most of us, “interesting” is not the first word that will usually come to mind when we hear the term “quantum physics”. Most would think this field to be something which science nerds would only be able to appreciate and that’s why it was a pleasant surprise that the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know?” (Arntz, Chasse, & Vicente, 2004) turned out to be absorbing to watch because it provides a fascinating take on the topic of quantum physics.
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The movie provides a striking contrast between quantum and classical physics. The physics that we know and are able to observe is classical physics, that which governs macroscopic matter. At the atomic and subatomic levels however, matter appears not to follow the same set of physical laws that we can directly observe, and so quantum physics as a field was developed to study the behavior of matter, as well as energy, at this level.
Our notion of matter is that it is something solid and having a definite position. But coming from a microscopic viewpoint, we can look at matter as being made up mostly of empty space since atoms are not actually tiny hard spheres but are rather made up mostly of electron probability clouds. Considering this and the fact that similar charges repel each other, then it is plausible to think that objects that interact do not actually touch each other at all, since the electron clouds of one object would repel the other’s electron clouds as they approach one another (Arntz, Chasse, & Vicente, 2004).
Another theory of quantum physics is that matter can behave both as particles and waves. As waves, they may be found in several probable locations, but as particles they become solid objects confined to a definite location. This leads to the idea of quantum superposition, i.e. that objects can exist in several states simultaneously, and they only snap into a definite position once we observe them (Arntz, Chasse, & Vicente, 2004).
This therefore, can alter our perception of reality. If we think of reality as being composed of the tangible objects that surround us, and if these objects do exist in quantum superposition, then we can think of reality as being made of several possibilities that are all available to us, and as observers, we get to determine the reality that we see and experience (Arntz, Chasse, & Vicente, 2004).
Such an idea is really fascinating in a philosophical viewpoint. However, I think the movie’s message should also be taken with a grain of salt, since much of the ideas it presented may still be considered as purely hypothetical at present. Nevertheless, I found the movie worthwhile to watch and would still recommend it because it raises all these interesting philosophical questions on the nature of reality and whether we actually have any influence over it.
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