Friday, 23 November 2007

Out of the Corner of the Eye

Nature has an article up today which does my witch’s heart good.

Way back in the day when I was first learning quantum mech., oh, sometime in the 70s, I used to refer to the idea of a squash ball careening around the squash court and sometimes – not all that often but sometimes - passing right through the walls of the court. It made sense to me, a squash-player, in a way that Schrodinger’s Cat usually failed to. Shut a kitty up in a box with a vial of poisonous gas and an amount of radioactive material? I mean, who would do that to one of our feline companions without risking the utter wrath of Bast?

Anyway, the point of the article is that quantum effects –squash balls passing through walls, compass needles jumping seamlessly between point, cats being half-alive-half-dead-are not only real, they are observable, if only we sharpen our vision.
The decoherence effect which physicists postulate for our inability to see these things is a result of our fuzzy eyesight- we don’t see single states clearly, but rather many of them, one partially overlapping the other, in a cloud-like effect which resolves into the macro state we’ve come to expect and love.
If we could polish up our focus a little, we would behold the individual states in all their glory- and who knows what mystical visions would then be explained?

Things both are and are not what they seem.

They are what they seem because that is how we behold them.
They are not what they seem because that's only how we behold them.

They are frozen by our collective gaze , set in stone into a form I can only surmise we agreed upon before we laid the foundations of the World.
We have the power to change what we see and what we are.

Just around the next bend, between the atoms out of the corner of the eye . Just go look and see.