"We are complexity, trying to see deeply into this elusive thing called simplicity, which is the root of all complexity."
"How do we explain physical reality? Where do we start, and with what do we begin, in order to take even the first step toward an explanation? Given the amazing marvels of the modern world and the unparalleled advancements in so many different sciences, it would seem that much of how the world operates and even its origins, are now explained. What is the core that explanation? Does it explain why anything even exists in the first place? Can why even be answered? What does such a question mean, anyway? Could a fitting answer to it, a true one, exist?"
"In explaining physical reality, do we really have anything else, except it, with which to initiate that explanation? Is there ever anything else, except physical reality? We might think that there is more, perhaps by believing that our thoughts, memories, feelings, or dreams exist, somehow independently from physical reality. In so believing, we ignore that we cannot even ‘imagine’ anything independent of physical reality (though we might, quite mistakenly, believe otherwise), any more than we can think, feel, or dream independently of it, because physical reality includes even the motions of our very thoughts, memories, feelings, and dreams, themselves, which, to be clear, are ALL also, just as physical – every bit as much – as anything in the universe. To even consider, legitimately, that our thoughts, memories, feelings, or dreams are somehow nonphysical, one must first identify precisely what it means for them, or for anything, to be so, and how, being nonphysical in character, they nonetheless express themselves in the most overtly physical ways – like in our speaking of them, for example, that, so clearly being physical motion, makes all of our thoughts, memories, feelings, and dreams no less physical than any overt human action is; no less than ANY other kind of physical motion whatsoever in the universe is. Stating matters as unambiguously as they can be stated, anything at all that we might ever imagine being nonphysical affecting reality simply does not exist, physically – nor can it ever – (if, for no other reason, simply by virtue of definition alone).
(Note that nonphysical is considered being synonymous with the term, metaphysical, also, as there exists no physical distinction expressed between the meanings of the two; that is, to state matters clearly, what apples to one, applies to the other; hence the same lack of physical meaning corresponds identically to each term.)
So, because physical reality is all that we really have (since, as stated, anything else cannot ever be expressed, described, or manifest in any other way except a physical one), we must choose physical reality’s observation as the first step toward its explanation. If we do not choose its observation as a first step, then we must choose either not to explain physical reality, or choose something 'else' by which to explain, though there seems to be nothing else that we can use that is not its observation, by which to do so. If our goal of explaining is sincere, then we will readily recognize that if we choose the latter, that is, choose something ‘else’ besides observation, for explaining, we choose something that cannot, of course, ever be observed at all, not even indirectly (although we are certainly free to ‘believe’ otherwise, that is, in a modern world where the restriction of inquiry is wisely restricted, for the sake of keeping it so). In choosing reality’s observation, we choose something that we cannot really even imagine outside of the physical terms of the observations (or any permutations thereof: like allegory, for example) that are an outcome of our life experience or rearrangements and distortions of such experiences (as innate interpretive responses to these observations, with ‘innate’ meaning as a consequence and outcome of our cognitive biology), which are still all physical observations, as explained above, but our only basis.
By choosing observation as the first step toward explaining physical reality, we implicitly assume that physical reality is 'made' minimally, of what we observe, even if what we observe consists (as stated) only of what we think, remember, feel emotionally, or dream. We further assume that physical reality, besides being made of all these things we observe ‘within’ ourselves, is made also of all those things that we observe outside of ourselves, through our sensory awareness (our physical senses). Thus we begin, by assuming that physical reality is made of all things observed, be they observed internally or externally, directly (like seeing the print on the page that you are now reading) or indirectly (like seeing the reflection of ourselves [or anything], looking into a mirror, or looking at a recorded image). In this way, we can use physical reality as a first step, so that it can explain itself, through our embracing its observation, in the most rigorous way that we can. We will use physical reality, along with that part of it that is our imagination, as precisely as our current understanding allows, for describing our very observations themselves and the relationships existing between these observations (in a predictable and reproducible manner), which is what any meaningful explanation of physical reality must do, for it to explain anything that is genuinely, meaningfully real (that is to say, physically existing outside of our imagination). In a word, that is our goal here, to explain (explain reality’s physical existence itself: nature; and to be very, very clear, ‘nature’, as it is being used here and will be used throughout the text, is a synonym for the word “everything.”)
Having chosen to explain physical reality and its existence (again, nature: everything) using our imagination and in terms of our observations, we must next choose a method, one that renders observations consistent with those that we imagine, through our explanation. The method we will use is 'logic'. Logic is the method that science uses. It is the method that we will use too, because we observe that logic yields the greatest consistency, between that which is imagined to be true, and that which is actually observed to be (again, existing outside of our imagination). Logic includes mathematics, but we will avoid altogether using it (directly).
But, choosing logic as our tool is not enough. We must still assume more, since our previous assumption of observation’ (above and on preceding page) fails to provide any suitable basis for using logic. We MUST, therefore, assume that certain ‘other’ things are true, because logic has meaning only with respect to a (set of) minimum assumption(s) of truth. Independently of minimal assumption, logic yields no conclusions. This leads us to ask, what do we assume, minimally, about physical reality, upon which to base the logic that we can use to explain it?
Naturally, we must first consider the most readily observable, and hence, the most obvious of truths. We must assume two clear certainties. They are the certainty of our own existence, as our awareness of existence itself, and the certainty of the existence of the universe, as that of which we are aware. Clearly, we exist, and, just as clearly, the universe does too. However, stating these two truths simply states the obvious: we exist, and so does the universe; we seek to explain why. So how can we use these two blatantly obvious truths to further our understanding of either what we are, or what the universe is? How can they bring us any closer to specifying in real, physically meaningful terms, just what ‘reality’ (every last thing existent, including space and time) ‘is’?
In and of themselves, the assumption of our own existence and that of the universe’s existence make no inferences whatsoever about the relationships existing between any of our observations, which is, as was stated above (top), what a meaningful explanation of physical reality must do. It only implies that our own existence seems to be (according to what we are assuming) unambiguously differentiable, from the existence of the rest of the universe. Beyond the implied assertion that one is not the other, saying that our awareness of the universe is one thing, while the universe itself is another, says little else about the observations that we may make, nor does it infer any relationships existing among these observations, besides implying, through our use of the word ‘existence’, that we can expect to continue making observations into the future, just as experience has shown us we (as our imagination) remember making them in the past.
Because these two assumptions (those of the universe and our awareness of it existing, exists), in and of themselves, explain so little, we will have to assume more. To this end, we must seek assumptions elsewhere. We will seek them where our observations reveal that we are most likely to find true ones. We will seek them in the realm of ideas that is science, which tries to do that very thing, seek out true assumptions upon which to base its conclusions, thereby identifying those which are true from those which are not, by physically testing the validity of its assumptions in a predictable, reproducible, and precisely specified way. The strict, demanding rigors by which it tests itself makes science (real science) the very pursuit of truth, in its sincerest expression. Anything ‘else’, or anything contradicting (real) science, is the pursuit of something else altogether distinct, but certainly not truth.
In being the pursuit of truth, science seeks meaningful explanations for that which is real, meaning that science seeks to explain physical existence itself (just like we are trying to do in this book). In its pursuit, science has found two extremely meaningful explanations. In other words, these two explanations provide greater consistency, between that which is imagined, and that which is observed, than any other explanations ever known.
The first of these two explanations is the Theory of Relativity. The Theory of Relativity explains the geometry of time, space, and gravity in the universe, since, according to relativity, time is as much a part of the geometry of the universe as space is, with gravity as their outcome. Relativity is, unquestionably (of course, unless someone can prove otherwise), the most accurate description of gravity there is. The part of the Theory of Relativity that describes gravity is named ‘general relativity’. Given its impeccable performance whenever it is tested, we can, quite safely, assume that it is true (adequately, for our purposes [i.e. measuring space and time]). Note: It should be added here that, according to (general) relativity, time and space are purely structural qualities of that within them and therefore are absolutely never independently self-existent. What this means is that space and time indeed do not exist on their own and in this sense are “nothing”; but, to be clear, a nothing filled with quantum energy.
The second theory that explains physical reality is the Theory of Quantum Mechanics. The Theory of Quantum Mechanics describes everything lying ‘in’ the space, time, and gravity, which the Theory of General Relativity describes so well. The Theory of Quantum Mechanics describes anything and everything in the universe, except (as yet) gravity. The anything and everything in the universe that is not gravity is termed by science, ‘energy’. Quantum Mechanics describes energy, better than any other working (i.e. testable) model that has ever existed. These two theories alone embody all modern theoretical physics (all deeper theories derived from the two). Together, they are its foundations. And, in the realm that is epistemological thought and its application, that is, science, these foundations are absolutely the most sound and solid that there have ever been, or could ever logically be (notwithstanding always, a better theory).
Assuming that both the Theories of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are as true as the certainty of the existence of our awareness and that of the physically real universe are, the chapters that follow will describe how the universe operates, starting with a very brief description of those aspects of relativity that we will apply to the more in-depth discussion of quantum mechanics. A summary understanding of relativity will explain the geometry of space and time (which, for most, may seem to contradict what might be our intuitive notions about them). Relativity’s description of space and time provides the conceptual framework for specifying the character of the tiny world of the most fundamental constituents of all in nature, which is the realm of quantum mechanics (and perhaps, the realm of an even deeper theory still).
The chapters that follow will show you how and why these two theories characterize our universe. They will ultimately describe the physical nature of our very awareness, and explain the significance of its participation in creating this everything we call ‘existence’. Most importantly, these chapters will reveal the ‘reason’ why we and all other life, and the universe, even need to exist, and what ‘purpose’, if there is one, each must ultimately serve. Thus we begin, starting with the classical reality of relativity, which must be understood first, because an understanding of relativity is absolutely ESSENTIAL, for developing a true understanding of quantum mechanics, the latter being apparently the truest ‘explanation’, the truest model of reality, that there is (notwithstanding quantum gravity or string theory, but recognizing that quantum mechanics [like relativity] may, very legitimately, be the generalization of both [which is to say that at measurable scales, either quantum gravity or strings would “look” just like both quantum mechanics and relativity]).
Table of Contents |
Chapter One |
Companion Volume |
Product List |