Sunday, July 28, 2013

Quantum mechanics

Okay, first....don't run away!  For years, I have agreed with the concept of multiple dimensions, which I thought was string theory (I actually have no clue why I thought this was string theory).  But the idea of there being an infinite number of realities, all existing at once, with every possibility existing in at least one of them, is something that has flavored my magical practice from the beginning. 

I am also a fan of the show The Big Bang Theory (yes, I have been a nerd of some sort since grade school!), where they definitely talk about different theories and what not.  And recently, I was reading Witch Crafting (by Phyllis Curott), and it touches on the ideas of magic being supported by some of the current scientific theories.

So, when I went to the library, I decided to do some reading up, and got The Grand Design (by Stephan Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow).  I had sort of put off reading it, expecting it to be quite dry (even though it was supposed to be a non-scientists explanation of stuff), and when I finally sat down to read it I was pleasantly surprised.  It was definitely interesting and not too hard to digest.

Anyways (I swear my rambling will start heading somewhere soon....), the book mainly talks about how the standard concepts of 'how stuff works' doesn't really function so well when you start getting into tiny particles.  While things like our laws of gravity and magnetism work great on an everyday scale (stuff you don't need a microscope to look at), when you start getting towards an atomic level, stuff behaves differently.

That is the basis of Quantum mechanics:  finding out how tiny stuff works. What I found really interesting is that a lot of Quantum mechanics could easily be applied to energy (which is also comprised of tiny bits!). 

One of the goals of scientists for pretty much forever was to find the Grand Unified Theory:  the one theory that explained everything.  However, it is looking like that isn't technically possible.  The book (The Grand Design) explained it like this:  existence is kind of like the earth.  If you try to draw a (flat) map of the entire globe, you really can't because as you get to different areas it gets skewed out of proportion.  What you can do is draw a lot of little maps, each of a different section of the globe.  As these maps get laid out next to each other, you can see how they fit together, and each is accurate for their own area.

This kind of reminds me of a lot of discussions I see about "the right way to do stuff" in the magical community.  There are a lot of people who feel like their way explains everything, but sometimes they really have to stretch to explain things that aren't outside of their field of expertise.  And especially when it comes to why some things work one way for one person but another way for another is almost impossible to explain trying to use the 'one rule' theory.

Another idea that I really liked was that of Model Dependent Realism.  This states that there may be an Ultimate Reality, but it is kind of pointless to worry about it.  What is important is whether the models we use to explain stuff actually agrees with the observations we are other words, do our theories work.  If I have a theory on how energy works, and you have a theory on how energy works...and both of us have never had a personal experience that negates our own theory, then it is pointless for us to sit and argue over who's way is better.  They both work, and so they are both equally real.  Not only that, but your theory might not be real for me because it just won't work for me....but that doesn't make it any less real to you.

This has been a big thing in my practice.  I definitely have things that work well for me that aren't traditional ways of doing things.  There are 'standard' ways of doing things that just don't work well for me.  If I were to try to do things in a traditional way, I wouldn't be very effective at all.  Instead I try things, observe what happens, and then adjust as necessary.  If it works, then it works, and I run  with it.  If it doesn't work, I try to figure out why not and what I can do to make it work.

Now here is where it starts to get a bit tricky.  On a quantum level (remember, this means tiny stuff), if a particle is moving from point A to point B, it doesn't just take one path.  It is not like if I were to roll a ball across the floor.  When talking about tiny things, they are understood to take all possible paths, all at once, to get from point A to point B.  Okay, that is a bit confusing, but I think it has HUGE magical potential.  If I were wanting to accomplish something magically, where I am now becomes point A, and the result I want is point B.  If I think of energy in quantum terms, to get from where I am to where I want to be, that energy can move in an infinite number of ways.  Which way it actually moves is based on how probable that particular path is out of the infinite number of choices.

In fact, when you observe a quantum particle, anywhere along the path from point A to point B, you actually change what happens.  So, if I am not looking, the particle moves in every way possible.  However, if I watch one particular path, and I see the particle on that path, it is no longer moving on all the other paths.  Think about this magically for a minute.  Lets say my point A is me not having a job, and my point B is having a job.  There are a lot of ways that I can get from point A to point B.  But if I work magic, and use energy, I start to effect the outcome.  Now lets say I use a spell to get a job, and while doing it my mind is thinking about me wearing a uniform.  That is me, observing the path of me in a job with a uniform.  I have just nudged the energy in that way.  It is now more likely that any job I get will involve a uniform.  The more 'paths' (or specific qualities) you observe, the more probable those outcomes become.  Not only that but the more you observe (focus), the more you are nudging the energy towards those paths.

What I find really interesting is that when dealing with quantum particles, you don't have to do the observation while the movement is taking place.  If one were to observe light particles that have been moving for thousands of years, how you observe them today actually effects the paths they took to get here....for all those thousands of years.  Now think about how this could effect your understanding of energy.

Not only energy however, this also effects history.  Instead of viewing history as a definite path, it is now a spread of paths.  The present is the known fact, and much like we look at the future in terms of "this will most likely happen if nothing changes" and "this might happen if I do this", we can look at the past in terms of the multitude of ways we could have taken to get to where we are now.  This also ties back into the theory of having multiple universes (or dimensions).  Each possible past exists on another level, in another universe.  I believe we can tap into these alternate universes just as we can our own.  This can be especially useful in working through past traumas, or even working with past opportunities we were unable to make the most of.  It definitely effects my thoughts on pathworking.

I always love when science or commonly accepted ideas mesh with my own magical perspective, and I was not disappointed to find that a lot of scientific thought is very much inline with my own understanding of how energy works, how the world works, and the possibilities of the universe.  It was mentioned in the book that no one is sure in M-theory what exactly the M stands could be 'master', 'mystery' or 'miracle'.  I think it could also be Magic!


  1. Quantum mechanics is a really fun topic, and they're discovering new stuff every day. Scientists who study it seem to fall into two categories; those who try to explain it and those who accept that it works, however that might be, and use it to make cool stuff. The former are theoretical physicists and the latter are engineers.

    And Stephen Hawking is cool. I still haven't read the Grand Design; I'm not sure why. I keep checking it out from the library and then not reading it. But I have read many of his other books, most notably "A Brief History of Time." If you want to understand string theory, which he pioneered, there is no better way to get a grasp of what is otherwise a pretty unfathomable science.

    And string theory actually is a multiverse theory, so you're not nuts for thinking that. It's also known as M-Theory and it postulates ten dimensions (or more) rather than just the four that we're aware of. Michael Crichton's "Timeline" was based on the idea of parallel universes existing on a quantum level.

    Now I'm the one rambling endlessly... good thoughts! :)

  2. Very cool, I saw "A brief history of Time" at the library also, will definitely have to read it. I highly recommend The Grand Design, it was a really nifty read.

    I always think science is fascinating, it is just sad that it has the rap of being so convoluted as to be incomprehensible....I think a lot of it can be broken down into manageable chunks for easy digestion.