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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A wild look at physics

I've gotten interested in quantum mechanics and other aspects of modern physics largely through reading RAW's Schroedinger's Cat trilogy and some of his other writings. And so, after hearing Brian Greene interviewed on the radio, I decided to read his new book, The Hidden Reality, which discusses the possibility of parallel universes, one of the major themes of the Cat trilogy.

Anyone who thinks Robert Anton Wilson made modern physics sound more weird than it actually is should try Greene's book, which has something that's amazing and mind-blowing every few pages. Here, for example, is the first two paragraphs of Chapter 9, "Black Holes and Holograms: The Holographic Multiverse":

Plato likened our view of the world to that of an ancient forebear watching shadows meander across a dimly lit cave wall. He imagined our perceptions to be but a faint inkling of a far richer reality that flickers beyond reach. Two millennia later, it seems that Plato's cave may be more than a metaphor. To turn his suggestion on his head, reality -- not its mere shadow -- may take place on a distant boundary surface, while everything we witness in the three common spatial dimensions is a projection of that faraway unfolding. Reality, that is, may be akin to a hologram. Or, really, a holographic movie.

Arguably the strangest parallel world entrant, the holographic principle envisions that all we experience may be fully and equivalently described as the comings and goings that take place at a thin and remote locus. It says that if we could understand the laws that govern physics on that distant surface, and the way phenomena there link to experience here, we would grasp all there is to know about reality. A version of Plato's shadow world -- a parallel but thoroughly unfamiliar encapsulation of everyday phenomena -- would be reality.


Thom Foolery said...

For a great overview of the possible philosophical implications of quantum mechanics, check out Quantum Reality by RAW's friend Nick Herbert. It is an excellent catalog of weirdness!

Eric Wagner said...

I remember Bob suggested watching the "Back to the Future" trilogy to understand quantum mechanics.