The sound an atom makes

The ancients believed that the planets and stars were on crystalline spheres, whose turning created harmonics equivalent to our musical notes.  Hence, “the music of the spheres,” signifying the aesthetic order of the cosmos.   We don’t have that cosmology anymore, but we do have quantum physics.  Scientists have isolated the vibration and thus sound of a single atom.  It is the musical note, D. [Read more...]

“A strangeness at the heart of all things”

Michael Gerson says that we are in the “golden age of physics,” which explodes the old common sense materialism and discloses “a strangeness at the heart of all things.”

He gives examples of the weird science that quantum physics reveals, then speculates about the philosophical questions.  Read the excerpts after the break and consider:  What are the worldview implications of the new physics? [Read more...]

The NSA’s encryption-busting quantum computer

The NSA is working on the development of a quantum computer that could foil all public encryption systems.  The description of this technology, after the jump, combines weird physics, weird mathematics, and weird surveillance. [Read more...]

The geometric form of the year

Artist’s rendering of the amplituhedron, a newly discovered mathematical object resembling a multifaceted jewel in higher dimensions. Encoded in its volume are the most basic features of reality that can be calculated — the probabilities of outcomes of particle interactions.

[Read more...]

A vacuum is not empty

More weird science:

Two forthcoming research papers question whether or not the nature of a vacuum remains static.

In one paper, Marcel Urban from the University of Paris-Sud, located in Orsay, France identified a quantum level mechanism for interpreting vacuum as being filled with pairs of virtual particles with fluctuating energy values. As a result, the inherent characteristics of vacuum, like the speed of light, may not be a constant after all, but fluctuate. [Read more...]

How Quantum Physics refutes materialism

Physics professor Stephen M. Barr explains how quantum physics makes the world view of materialism–the assumption of most of today’s atheists–scientifically impossible.

Materialism is an atheistic philosophy that says that all of reality is reducible to matter and its interactions. It has gained ground because many people think that it’s supported by science. They think that physics has shown the material world to be a closed system of cause and effect, sealed off from the influence of any non-physical realities — if any there be. Since our minds and thoughts obviously do affect the physical world, it would follow that they are themselves merely physical phenomena. No room for a spiritual soul or free will: for materialists we are just “machines made of meat.”

Quantum mechanics, however, throws a monkey wrench into this simple mechanical view of things.  No less a figure than Eugene Wigner, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, claimed that materialism — at least with regard to the human mind — is not “logically consistent with present quantum mechanics.” And on the basis of quantum mechanics, Sir Rudolf Peierls, another great 20th-century physicist, said, “the premise that you can describe in terms of physics the whole function of a human being … including [his] knowledge, and [his] consciousness, is untenable. There is still something missing.”

Barr goes on to explain in a technical but pretty lucid manner why this is the case, going into the mathematics of probability and why the observer has an intrinsic impact on the system being observed.   I can’t summarize it.  Read it yourself.  Here is his conclusion:

If the mathematics of quantum mechanics is right (as most fundamental physicists believe), and if materialism is right, one is forced to accept the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics. And that is awfully heavy baggage for materialism to carry.

If, on the other hand, we accept the more traditional understanding of quantum mechanics that goes back to von Neumann, one is led by its logic (as Wigner and Peierls were) to the conclusion that not everything is just matter in motion, and that in particular there is something about the human mind that transcends matter and its laws. It then becomes possible to take seriously certain questions that materialism had ruled out of court: If the human mind transcends matter to some extent, could there not exist minds that transcend the physical universe altogether? And might there not even exist an ultimate Mind?

via Does Quantum Physics Make it Easier to Believe in God? | Big Questions Online.

HT:  Anna Williams


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