What is Reality……

8 Mar

The answer to the question “What is reality?” is actually quite simple and can be put into one short sentence: it’s whatever you perceive as real. However, the simplicity immediately becomes complicated by the word ‘perceive’. Perception is subjective but there are many things we all perceive in a very similar way, but those things, such as the sky being blue are largely down to a common evolution. In the case of the sky, we agree on the colour because the receptors in our eyes are fundamentally the same in everyone (unless you are colour blind, which is a genetic defect of the eye). There is, however, a further complication to reality which is much, much deeper……

It is well known that an atom is predominantly empty space. It could be argued that it contains nothing ‘solid’ at all as we probe ever deeper. If everything we perceive as solid contains nothing at all, then how can anything exist to make our reality? This is the point at which we have to disassociate everything we think of as real and remind ourselves that perception is nothing more than an interpretation created by the sensory input to our brains. It becomes difficult to discuss, because all we have is language and mathematics to describe things, and both are coloured by our perception of reality……

Physicists ran into difficulties in the early 20th century. Called ‘The measurement problem’, the act of making a measurement actually affects the outcome. This is easily demonstrated visually with the famous double slit experiment, is still as yet unexplained and is one of the central mysteries of quantum mechanics. Follow this link to see a demonstration and the paradox will become clear. A well known thought experiment by Erwin Schrödinger in 1935 applies the double slit experiment to the macro scale with a cat in a box. Follow this link to learn about Schrödinger’s Cat and the paradoxical nature of the measurement problem becomes abundantly clear……

As we have developed the technology to ‘see’ things on smaller and smaller scales using particle accelerators, it appears that our ‘solid’ particles vanish altogether and all we are left with are forces and ‘virtual’ particles. The illusion of reality is a consequence of those forces being slowed down by the Higg’s mechanism; a sort of cosmic treacle that slows down the forces from the speed of light, giving them mass. Without it everything in the universe would move at the speed of light and nothing would exist at all……

So, what is reality? In our daily lives it is what we see, no matter how strange it is. But we have to accept that it is an illusion and, personally, I don’t believe we will ever really know. It’s a Rabbit hole which just get stranger the further down you go……

The reality right now is that I need a coffee, a smoke and more time to scratch my head……

Infinity

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