On a recent trip back from Europe, I had the chance to watch a TeD video by Arron O’Connell an experimental quantum physicist where he provided an interesting analogy. As to first explain, in the quantum world things are different then the world we live in, and I’m going to get to a point quickly so don’t glaze over on me just yet. As the problem humanity faces is just that as if the world is made up of quantum particles, then why do they operate differently then we can?
Well that’s the 64,000 dollar question researches are trying to figure out as it’s a rather perplexing issue to say the least. What are some of these unique anomalies you ask, well one is the fact a particle can be in two places at one time, and yes a neat feat isn’t it. So if we are made of these particles, why are we bound to only one place at one time? Well frankly we don’t know which makes this a problem just as we don’t know how the four major forces (gravity, magnetism, strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force) are linked.
However what we do know is quantum particles like to do their duality thing in private. Yes they like to be very, very cold as well as in the dark per-se before they show their wild side and this is where O’Connell’s analogy comes in as he explains it this way. You’re on an elevator by yourself and what do you do? Alright now be honest with yourself as you should see some of the hidden camera footage we have on hand. Well let’s say you need to keep your day job as Dance fever material your just not.
Yet when the doors open and other people get on what do you do, yes you stare at your watch, pretend to look at your Black Berry as all important people do that right? Well cheap humor aside the point here is when you are being observed you behave differently then when you’re not and that goes for our friendly particles too.
However why should we behave differently when someone is watching us then when we are alone? Is it our basic need to comply with social norms that drive us into our shell, or something else? As think about this, you dance on the empty elevator, Bob plays air guitar and Gina passes gas. Why do we stop these things when we are placed together?
Well Arron’s belief is it’s the company we keep, and the fact we do keep company too. As my add to this analogy is to expand the logic from an elevator to a Ball Park where we go from a handful of folks, to thousands what happens? Yes, order increases in proportion to units (a scientific word for people) involved. therefore as we join together more and particles to make atoms and atoms make molecules, which in turn make people, it seems to show that we are in fact a product of our environment…