Sunday, February 10, 2008

Betty meets quantum entanglement

Please allow me the Sunday indulgence of briefly peering into the realm of quantum physics and the meaning of life.

This week a series of discussions with friends, theologians and scientists (my husband being the most brilliant member of that group and the best looking, if you ask me) have lead me to a brief moment of Satori (a Japanese word for enlightenment).

Let me explain.

Graciously welcome: quantum entanglement.

(God forbid any bona fide quantum physicist reads this, but here goes my feeble attempt to explain).

Scientists have collided electrons together at high speeds to find something even smaller than electrons and particles: quarks (you can't even see them unless they move). And these quarks, when separated, like to go either "up" or "down." (They don't exactly know why. That's called quantum confinement).

But the thing that had me jumping up and down a few nights ago is this: Let's say a quark has been split and one moves "up" and one moves "down". If they change one, the other one changes. Amazing, right? They don't know why this happens. Einstein actually called entanglement, "spooky action at a distance."

But the coolest, spookiest, spine-chillingest thing about it is this. If you then take the "up" quark and put it in New York City and take the "down" quark and put it in Australia and then change one of them, the other one changes too! No matter how far apart they are, they act and react, or you could say "interact." They are beautifully intertwined. Quantum entanglement.

Does that rock your world or what?

We humans are beautifully and inextricably connected on this great big bouncing ball we call Earth*. And ultimately if we are to survive, we have to shatter the illusion of separateness, as Thich Nhat Hanh said.

Just had to share.

*gotta give credit to five for fighting for that metaphor.

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