Sunday, 17 June 2012

Ask the electron.

A ballade of epistemological narrative on a quantum tune

I'm deeply fond of quantum physics for many reason; the main one, I don't understand it. Which means that I'm better place in making sense of it than someone who does. According to Feynman at least. Only this would be enough to place it in the top five. But there is more. It is a wonderful metaphor for the mind. Not a big surprise that many feel an intrisic connection between quantum physics and consciousness. Which is wrong. The last reason is that Einstein didn't like it. And Einstein is almost a pop star of science. And if you think he's a genious, you're grossly wrong. I think people under-estimate Einstein. He was much, much more. Anyway.

I love the gentle epistemic touch of particle physics on the very essence of being. When you speak of electrons or nuclei, you should always smile. In fact they are not properly there. They are not properly...When you try to point them they fairly elude you and behave as pure energy. But under many circumstances they are there. Not lastly because we are! Notwithstanding our honourable testimony, it's impossible to touch an electron. I mean in Newtonian terms. The fact is that particles are not thing! And when we try to weight them, we found ourselves entangled in their energetic arch-enemy, antimatter. Physics gave us an unprecedented insight about the world. Before there where Greek philosophers talking of water and fire, even worst religions and myths were classifying our real world with fairy tales. At least we have the means, the methods and the tools to label the world. Dark matter. It's a bit ungenerous, but I find ridiculous that our frontier of exact understanding clash against “we don't know what”. But we do understand what's going on. It's just that words are not fit enough to express it. Better: at present the physicists don't have a clue about what their procedures mean, but they work. What strikes me is that they don't even care: meanings are evicted by understanding. Pure manipulation of symbols is giving us the most precise control and prediction over the material world.

Is this understanding? Well, I suppose that from a mathematical point, it is. And maybe even from a deeper, more subtle, more hidden way of wisdom, it could be true. Again, I giggle in front of the idea that science swept away all the old myths because it finally decided to ground its believes on real things and not dreams. Now there are not even words to describe the real things these hypotheses are attached to. Still....

Still everything is fine. The biggest problem is not in any notion, but in our will to attach a descriptive theory. This is in part fault of contemporary science which has no interest in spending time on words. The fact is that we have an apparatus of understanding based on Newtonian entities. Things. And they behave erraticly only because we have an epistemological narrative that is dragging our quantum entities to bizarre realms. Actually particles and waves are the simplest idea to image: they are vibrations of nothing, entering in resonance with they own going back and forth from existence.

See, similarly the thing most present in front of our eyes, is our consciousness. And we are pushed by our own narrative to establish a mind beyond that self reflection. Only because it fluctuates, it doesn't mean it's there. Most of all: only because the fluctuation of mind signals, it doesn't entail that it means something. Beneath a mind twinkles, most likely there is nothing. Which is good. Ask the electron.