Less than zero

Lynne McTaggart

One of the most frustrating problems faced by physicists is the fact that the quantum world cannot be observed as it really exists – in its multiple state, called ‘superposition’ – without its being disturbed.  Instead of being a billiard ball of certainty, every quantum particle exists as a cloud of probability.
At its most elemental, the smallest units of life actually aren’t an anything yet, but a self in the process of becoming. In fact, in a pure quantum state, this ‘self’ is collection of all possible future selves all at the same time, like an endlessly replicated chain of paper dolls.
The observer effect
The only thing that appears to dissolve this cloud of probability into something solid and measurable is living observation. In this strange twilight world, where everything exists in a gelatinous goo of all possible states, the very act of measuring or observing reduces the quantum particle to one particular state, referred to as ‘collapsing’ the wave function. 
Take the tiniest peek at an electron, and you reduce it to a single state.  Take the quickest measurement about where it’s heading, and you end up with just one direction. 
By noticing or weighing or calculating, you create what we think of as the ‘real’ world – a storehouse full of set somethings  - but you also affect what it is you’re observing and so cannot observe the world in its ‘pure’ state without your influence.
The shadow self
Every type of particle has its shadow self in the form of antimatter or an antiparticle, which behaves just like its corresponding ‘positive’ variety except with an opposite charge. So for every quark there is an antiquark, for every electron a positron. Should the two ever meet, and be observed doing so, they simply combine and implode, so that the superficial appearance of an entity reverts to indeterminate, unspecified energy. 
The observer effect suggests that our reality is ‘participatory’ – that we are utterly intrinsic to the creation of reality as we know it Nevertheless, our inability to objectively observe the undisturbed quantum state (or ‘pre-world’ of pure potential) has severely limited our understanding of quantum physics  - until recently, when Japanese and Canadian researchers were both able to independently confirm something called Hardy’s paradox.
In 1990 an Oxford physicist called Lucien Hardy devised a very strange thought experiment.  Through the use of a gadget called an ‘interferometer’, he imagined an electron hitting a mirror, which creates a superposition, causing the particle to travel down two arms of the device at the same time.  The two versions of the particle are then reunited and hit another half-silvered mirror, positioned so that, if the electron has been undisturbed during its travels through the interferometer, it will be collected in detector ‘C’.  If it has been disturbed it is sent to detector ‘D’.
Hardy thought up a situation where he’d have two such interferometers positioned so that one arm of each would overlap.  He then imagined firing a positron (an electron’s antiparticle) in one, and an electron in the other.  At one point of their multiple journeys, they should meet in the central overlapping region and annihilate each other.  However, according to Hardy, as these particles exist in multiple states, if unobserved, the two particles could meet, so to speak, but fail to wipe each other out.
But as no one is able to observe this state of affairs, it remains unconfirmed, which is why it is usually referred to as ‘Hardy’s paradox’. (Physicists are fond of weird unobservable ‘unequalities’ and ‘paradoxes’.)
A sideways peek
Several years ago, Yakir Aharonov, a prestigious physicist at the Quantum Group at Tel Aviv University, discovered a means to observe this kind of quantum standoff through a thought experiment that would imagine detectors that would measure so weakly (that is, take such a weak sideways glance) at the particles that they would not collapse its superposition state. 
The particles would be remain in several places at once – both in the place where they’d meet and annihilate each other and then in other arms at the same time.  Because the measurements were so weak, the scientists would not gather enough information about them to be able to pinpoint the electrons to a set state, but by carrying out the experiment multiple times, they could pool the results and produce results that are more or less accurate.  
In this week’s issue of the New Journal of Physics, Kazuhiro Yokota of Osaka University in Japan carried out such an experiment with a pair of entangled photons, or particles of light, as did researchers at the University of Toronto (published two months ago in Physical Review Letters).
What both groups discovered about the state of reality is even stranger than the most farsighted quantum physicist could imagine.
No there there
In this case, as Aharonov predicted, certain of the photons recorded were less than zero (or -1).  Although that would usually indicate the presence of antiparticles, there are no such things with photons. The photons themselves must have some sort of negative presence.
Yokota and his colleagues called the results “preposterous’.  ‘This gives us new insights into the spooky action of quantum mechanics,’ wrote Yokota cautiously.
But in Aharonov’s view, this may mean that the quantum world is a whole lot stranger than we thought, and that parts of particles can exist as a shadow  – they can be there, but not be there. 
Or, it could be that without us, and our consciousness, life is less than zero.
What lends any electron a final identity is our presence as a co-creator.
The simple fact is that nothing, finally, exists independently. What our subatomic world teaches us is that matter cannot be understood in isolation but only in relationship, a complex web of relationships, forever indivisible.

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Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

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19 comments on “Less than zero”

  1. Ah, will the mighty perceive that they have enjoyed the glance of a fellow being and hence exist!

  2. Very interesting. Thank you Lynn.
    I am thinking of patterns. Patterns in terms of conciousness. As co-creators we difintely influence the identity of an electron, chart its course, and influence its conclusion. As I am understanding, the mechanism by which this is done is through intentional patterns in our conscious or unconscious. In the most fundamental way theses patterns exists as paradigms of thought, again existing either consciously or not. These patterns could then be solidified through the collective consciousness pertaining to a certain point in time and space. We pick up these patterns and inadvertantly will only see reality through this lens. The patterns exist as default paradigms with higher intensities based on our own proximity in time and space. The collective many have constructed these patterns/paradigms like Newtonian Physics etc. To some degree, this is why the scientific community has had difficulty embracing Quantum Physics and reconciling it to the well constructed orthodox/scientific paradigms.

  3. Lynne,
    That brings to mind some other experiments constructed so that an electron must travel a certain path. The result shows that the electron must travel that path and simultaneously it can not exist in that path. What does it all mean?? It means that the world does not exist as our Newtonian conditioning tells us that it does.
    So what is "Reality"?? Reality is what is experienced, at what ever level that experience takes place. Or to use the quantum term, reality is what is observed, at what ever level that observation takes place. Those statements feel equivalent.
    As someone infamous once said. The Universe is not stranger than you imagine, it is stranger than you can imagine.
    Thanks for the good work.
    Master Technician

  4. How do you measure something that you do not understand? Perhaps the equipment or the approach needs remodelling? There are two universal constants that can be used one being size and the other being a direction in space. Magnitudes are taught at school and used in science, however directionality is not. Being that all is interconnected, the question of how, comes to mind. Most would agree that the system is a pattern using and pattern making one and to create patterns there has to be 'pre-defined' directions in space! I see the quality of directionality as being more revealing than something that is in isolation and quantised. Has anybody studied the 'way' of the quantum realm? If you know, drop me a line. Being that the system is fractal, its a big assumption to make, that if you are at the threshold of your measuring tools you are at the threshold of the universe. To assume that a photon is made up any differently to the rest of the system is also absurd. Here is a thought experiment - Dimensions made up of orthogonal resonating surfaces. The surface at right angles would not be solid, however as you travel through a 90 degree rotation the surface would become the solid one and the one you left would be no longer solid. Is this what happens when you travel faster than light? This would allow different information systems both to share and occupy the same space? Just a thought experiment? :o)

  5. I would suggest that we are 3D creatures trying to describe a dimensionless reality. For those who have experienced consciousness without an object and without a subject (ref. the philosophy of Franklin Merrell-Wolff), there is a realization that there is no space and no time. Was it not Einstein who said that space and time are inventions of humankind? My personal experiences have taken my awareness to places and times which our current methods of reckoning would place thousands of miles and thousands of years from our current place and time.
    I live beside a large body of water, and often watch the waves moving across the bay. I know that the water is not moving laterally, but the waves definitely give the impression of lateral movement of the still water. The philosopher, Walter Russell, suggests that the physicalities detected by our physical senses are the interminglings of complex wave patterns within the still oneness of reality.
    With regard to our ability to comprehend such reality, humankind is indeed in a very primitive stage of development.

  6. These are fascinating issues to contemplate. I'm not a physicist, but it seems to me that we can't partly observe (or weakly measure) a sub-atomic particle and make any meaningful observations. We either measure it (however weakly) or we don't. There can't be an inbetween state.
    These experiments raise so many interesting questions. For example, once a sub-atomic particle/wave is observed by one observer and takes on a certain state, will the next observer see that same state, or will subsequent observers cause the particle/wave to take on another state based on the point of view of the second observer? When I look at the tree outside my window, am I seeing the tree created by my observation, or am I observing a tree previously created by someone else's observation?

  7. One of the questions on many a skeptics lips is 'who was observing the universe (or the earth) before humans came along, if it is indeed observation that collapses the wave into particle?'
    I think this is a great question but rather from an open mind and not a skeptic's.
    Firstly, to suggest we are the only life form in this galaxy is to be a microbe on a grain of sand in the San Fransisco bay and suggest to itself, I am the only microbe on the plant earth. It may be that we are not the only ones observing at this level, and our time on this planet as a civilization is but a fraction of a second of time as we know it.
    Secondly, from a higher perspective, as an animal sees the 3rd dimension as time itself, because it can not understand a 3rd dimension, and only when it walks around an object does it see the object change shape, it would, if it could, analyze this on a time scale, i.e. this object is changing shape, yet in our world, the object never changed shape, it just has depth or a 3rd dimension, we therefore may think we understand time, but it may be possible that we are far off.
    With an open mind, it is possible to accommodate the idea that there is far higher intelligence, consciousness which operates in dimensions we couldn't even fathom in our wildest dreams.

  8. Resistance from thought to that that is is wonderful to see..Because just as easy if you allow yourself the true experience of being you will always look at thigs without attachment..if we allow ourselves to just observe without attachment every thing as we know will take another journey..as will tought...

  9. To someone mildly affected with Aspergers Syndrome, it makes perfect sense 🙂
    John Coutts.

  10. Lynne I just want to say thanks. Your material just gets better and better. And thank you to all you commentators for sharing such profound insights so readily.

  11. I would suggest that we are 4D creatures that are moving consciously into an awareness of 4D thinking from an unconscious 5D perspective! It appears necessary to be in the dimension above to perceive the dimension below. The right hemisphere of the brain appears to work directly with 4D in-formation, through a sense or awareness of directions in space. Its possible to tap into this awareness, by tuning into feelings as feelings are feed back from an inner-sensory guidance system. From a pragmatic perspective, getting in touch with your own feelings enables you to relate to the feelings in others. It appears that heart plays an important part in the process. Lynne has pointed the way to others that have done some great research on the heart as a transceiver. Emotions are the glue of human relationships and feelings are the building blocks of emotions and our link to the collective. It appears that a part of the system needs to be active and used in order to stay in negative entropy (a state of order) As the left hemisphere as been favour by most educational establishments the right hemisphere in many has gone into entropy through a lack of use. As emotions are interpretations of feelings, this can lead to much confusion within that 'in turn' is reflected in confusion without in the world of human relationships. In summation, the more we are aware of our feelings, the greater state of order that is created within and the misinterpretations that are expressed in emotions are dissipated. An ordered inner domain is reflected in an ordered outer domain. A key quality of the system is a balance of like. As above so below.

  12. Amazing stuff Lynn!!
    We keep searching for meaning for ourselves.
    Perhaps, our meaning is the search. Nothing really to observe except ourselves searching.

  13. Hi Mark, I agree the journey appears just as important, if not more, than the destination and the destination is the start of another journey! Way too much attention is place on the destination. Paying attention to the qualities of the terrain whilst on rout enables the ability to choose alternative routes. This is 'being aware of your directions in space' as I have mentioned above. As that well known book says, you are alpha 'and' omega. From a Monistic perspective you are also that which divides.

  14. In answer to John Coutts who has mild Aspergers syndrome - It’s well documented that Einstein may well have been autistic. Where would science be today if the people of that generation had put a label on him and dismissed his ability to think outside of the ‘conventional’ thought of that time? Thankfully some intuitive souls of that generation realised the value of someone that was able to think differently and the groupthink moved on and outwards to other dimensions of thought. It’s a sign of the controlling nature of our times that any deviation from a normality, that has been conditioned to be so and classified to be so, is met with either hostility or ridicule. Self regulation within a social system is the most effective form control. Those that program the ‘thought matrix’ understand this all too well! If you have got anything beneficial to share with the group, please try to break free of the notion that you have some form of mental illness and that being so; your ideas and concepts are worthless to the group. Your thoughts and ideas may well be of tremendous value and equal to others that have stood up within the herd in the past and shaped the world we live in today. However, this can only be so, if there are enlightened souls out there that are willing to discuss and ‘reality test’ your ideas and not instantly dismiss them! Perhaps it takes more than one person with Aspergers to break the mould? Look around you, the groupthink of today is ‘seriously ‘flawed and heading towards social and financial chaos. No stone is to be left unturned and I for one would be willing to listen to any solutions you have or anybody else has to offer in order to dissipate the chaos that has become systemic throughout the globe. The cliff edge (war) is now in sight! It only takes one lemming with the ability to think outside of the groupthink of its pack and others to investigate and follow, to ‘turn’ a destructive outcome into a creative one. Lynne is acting as a sign post and ‘sadly’ sometimes as a toll master on the roads that lead to some great thinkers of our time. Now is the time to realise that there are two sides to the coin and that the relationships between are what life is truly all about. It would be very productive if some of the people that Lynne writes about in her works were to join in on Lynne’s social networks and other social networks? Are these people also trapped in cages of convention?

  15. I find the observer effect one of the most mind-boggling aspects of the quantum world. I think that the collapse of the wave function is the missing link in reconciling classical and quantum. But how do we quantify consciousness? Ultimately, who really is this "observer" that we all are? Infinite realities becoming one reality. Physical seperateness is what is needed for existance to forever interact with itself in the most amazing ways. Everything seems to be carefully engineered to give us the most immersive experience possible, but fact is in this world of "seperateness", what we are seeing everywhere we look is ourselves. Everytime we see something simple like a flower, or the immesurable beauty of what our Hubble Telescope now perceives, we are seeing ourself projected outwards. So who is the observer? It is I, it is you, and it is the underlying pattern of an intelligent Universe, of which every one of us are participants.

  16. Our senses collapse the 'external' wave functions and recreate 'internal' wave functions. Perhaps this process is needed in order to move from one dimension to another? The outside dimension is sensed through the guidance system of the inner dimension and the ways of this guidance system are unique to each and everyone of us. Agreements bond the collective mind into a consensus of reality. Logic was conceived as a method of mind control, so bares little or no resemblance to the universal processes that can be more likened to 'open' and 'self organising' systems. New 'ways' of thinking need to be designed in order to make sense of a universe that is either/or & and!
    The 'and' factor is the stumbling block for many as this quality does not exist in conventional Logic. Fuzzy Logic had to be devised in order to understand AI, however my feelings are that a mode of though that is designed to divide is only useful for division or to be used in a complementary ways with another school of thought that was designed to bring together and link up. An alpha/Omega form of philosophical stance? If the qualities of intelligence are a pattern using and pattern making system, then intelligence is everywhere around us. Although one would hope and there is evidence to prove this is so, that the pattern using and pattern making is an a-generate system moving towards higher states of order. For this reason I favour the Plasma universe model as its concepts include connectivity. The real component of time is a direction in space and time can travel in any direction. However there are forces at work within the system that favour some directions over others and a biasing occurs. Our solar system takes a sine wave like path and is just about to travel through a spinning disk of energy and matter that revolves around the centre of our galaxy. How this will effect time and our connection to the whole, leads to much speculation. This half cycle event occurs every 13,000 years. Why this subject is not the key focus of attention of the scientific community causes me much concern. The journey through takes 7 years and the mid point is December 2012. This is science fact not fiction!

  17. I eally don't see how this is much different from the rest of life. We catch a fish and gut it to inspect what it has eaten, and then pontificate about its past life. The fish too was describing a "quantum cloud" as it swam around looking for food and breeding. By merely being close enough to a school of fish to observe them we will have in some manner altered the rest of the lives of at least some of the fish in some manner.
    I have not doubt that the quantum world is quirky. What I find disturbing is the incesant need to make is "cosmic" or to devine "deeper meaning". It is what it is.

  18. This may well be a totally irrelevant side-issue, but could this have any bearing on orbs?

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