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Explaining Nature
by Chongo in collaboration with José

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Fifteen years in the making! Real science for those interested in what is genuinely true about the founding principles underlying everything in nature. Includes descriptions of the most elusive topics in quantum physics, explained in tangible, concrete terms, and in a manner that requires no prerequisite formal education whatsoever.

Although the text is challenging, it is interesting and engaging as well. So, if you can read, and you are willing to grasp two very simple “old” ideas (those of perpendicular and infinity) and imagine them in what may be an altogether “new” way, then you have all the conceptual foundation necessary for building an accurate understanding of nature’s “universal” ways. It remains only to learn, albeit conceptually, the best description of these ways ever imagined, namely, theoretical physics, or put more simply, the theoretical model of reality.

Theoretical physics is the “truest” description of nature ever conceived; "truest," by virtue of describing reality more accurately than any other way that has ever existed. It is the explanation that has never failed once, far surpassing any and all others proposed, before and since.

Empower your intellect and enrich your life as you never have before, by learning about this amazing account of all natural phenomenon, because anyone who can read can come to understand physical theory. Theoretical physics reveals the most fundamental of truths in nature, as you can come to discover for yourself, through what is among the best descriptions of fundamental truth ever written and the only description that does so exclusive of any mathematical notation whatsoever.

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EXCERPT  (This paragraph, the one that initiates the actual description of quantum theory in Chapter Four, followed by the ending paragraph for that chapter. and thereby perhaps best embodies the substance of the content.)

"To discover what is true about physical reality, we observe it. So, to discover more, we observe more. But, how, exactly, do we observe ‘more’? One way is to adjust the scope of our perception, and thereby observe more precisely. By looking through a telescope, and thus more finely focusing the scope of our perception, we discover what is true about the motions in the sky. To discover what is true about the motions that are too small to see (unaided), we likewise focus the scope of our perception more precisely, looking at smaller and smaller things. To observe more precisely how the very smallest things move, we peer more and more deeply into matter itself, no differently than we do when we look out into space, through our telescopes. By peering more deeply into matter, near and far, science has discovered that at the most fundamental levels and, in particular, at the very, very smallest scales of size, things move in a completely different way altogether from how we EVER see any solid bodies around us move. Yet, anything that moves, which is everything there is (that is energy), ultimately moves, according to this 'other' way of moving*, a way which is described ‘most’ accurately – in fact, more accurately than any other way – by the Theory of Quantum Mechanics. And what this remarkable theory reveals about the nature of motion (all of it) in our universe is no less amazing than what the Theory of Relativity reveals about the nature of space and time’s geometry, within which this motion, according to what the Theory of Quantum Mechanics implies, becomes a very, very, very meaningful and incredibly rich reality.

"The Theory of Quantum Mechanics accurately describes and predicts physical phenomena to great accuracy. Furthermore, it is the physical theory underlying classical Newtonian mechanics. (Quantum mechanics yields Newtonian mechanics as its outcome, when large aggregations are considered.) In other words, the Theory of Quantum Mechanics is the most fundamental working theory for describing the world, or for describing anything in it (except, as yet, gravity). And, it has been confirmed repeatedly, by observation. Thus, ANY model of reality positively must include quantum mechanics either as a part or, at very least, as a limiting case, to be true. The Theory of Quantum Mechanics is as significant to the understanding and history of physics as relativity is. Like relativity, it is a foundation upon which physical principles can be and are in fact built (e.g. lasers, microwave ovens, computers). Like relativity, quantum mechanics is true (it always works). But, unlike relativity, which is invariant (in the common definition of the term, not the scientific: invariant with respect to a reference frame) with respect to the presence or absence of an observer; the Theory of Quantum Mechanics wholly requires one. That is correct, according to the most successful model of nature ever conceived, a universe requires something alive, somehow observing its events, in some way, or it is never actually “real.” Amazingly, experiments in quantum mechanics demonstrate that the laws of nature themselves vary with respect to the presence or absence of an observer, observing. The universe, it seems, operates two completely different ways, according (exclusively) to whether it is being observed or not being observed. (Appreciating this is absolutely crucial to understanding. Overlooking it or reducing its importance will serve only to mislead.) Quantum mechanics reconciles these two different ways that the universe works, by precisely specifying how much we cannot ever know, just as precisely as it specifies how much we can (ever know).

"To understand how quantum mechanics reconciles how much we can know and how much we can never know, it is first necessary to understand relativity in, minimally, conceptual terms (like those used in the preceding chapter). Second, though it is necessary to understand relativity’s classical rules to understand quantum rules, we must also understand that our universe does not operate exactly according to relativity’s rules, though we can consider gravity effectively doing so even though it ultimately may opeerate quantum mechanically too. Energy, however, without any legitimate doubt at all, follows quantum rules, which, it seems, are, to the extent of current understanding, the 'truest' rules that there are for describing nature’s energy. The Theory of Quantum Mechanics specifies these rules better than ANY other description of physical reality there is. Recognizing that physical reality, or at least that part of it which is energy, works according to quantum rules of nature means that it, reality, does not operate precisely according to any classical rules, as relativity describes (again, ignoring gravity). The Theory of Relativity is just the ‘next-best’ thing to the Theory of Quantum Mechanics for describing energy. Indeed, as we shall see in this very chapter, and in those that follow, the rules that relativity describes are indispensable for understanding and specifying the even deeper truths that the quantum model includes."

"So, because the two-slot experiment is so significant an experiment to understanding nature, a complete chapter (the next) has been dedicated, entirely, to its explanation. Ultimately, this single experiment alone, irrefutably demonstrates the incredibly rich character of quantum reality, which is our reality, and the infinite and correspondingly enormous variety of possibilities that such a reality holds; and this is regardless of how diminished that rich character, in the local vicinity where we find ourselves observing might happen to be, because that rich character can dwell in our imagination and can be observed there too! In the meantime, it waits, always patiently and indifferently, for us to discover it by our simply learning quantum theory, albeit conceptually, and in this way behold the stunning beauty that understanding what is nature’s most accurate description of itself (its energy) can reveal to all who are willing to invest the time and thought needed to learn science’s high standard for truth that allows beholding that stunning magnificence. Because there is science, this description exists, for anyone willing enough to see it."

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"The real voyage of discovery is not in seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes."
–Marcel Proust
by Victor Pareyra, Professor of Mathematics, Stanford University

In the few years that began the twentieth century, Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity revolutionized the world of physics by showing that Newton's account of natural laws did not model nature's motions accurately. At about this same time, a new model, named the Theory of Quantum Mechanics, expressed the individual wave character of all energy. Like no others before, these two descriptions of the world changed our understanding of the smallest to the largest, and everything in between, forever, enduring now over a century of repeated testing, with exquisite and unparalleled accuracy and precision, having never failed even once. Together, these two descriptions of the world encompass everything existent in nature, including our very awareness of life. No other body of ideas ever imagined even comes close in performance and revelation.

The consequences of these two giant leaps in science have had immense repercussions in everyday life. From atomic bombs to nuclear energy, from computers to cell phones, lasers and microwave ovens, the Theory of Relativity and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics have changed the world in which we live, in every way. Now, after more than a century of unprecedented success, common and widespread understanding of these brilliant intellectual tools is still limited to the very few, even though the fundamentals can be understood by anyone capable of reading and of grasping the most simple of abstract ideas.

This work attempts to expose people to the simple ideas underlying these two magnificent accomplishments, and in so doing, advance overall human understanding of nature, by explaining these ideas in great conceptual depth, but without resorting to any mathematics whatsoever. Nature's founding principles are explained, using only words, a few illustrations, and a simplification of our own reality, by means of an imaginary world inhabited by much less complex, two-dimensional versions of us. Though far simpler than ourselves, just like us, these two-dimensional creatures discover the relativity of space and time measures with respect to the motion and gravity characterizing their much simpler world.

Next, these creatures discover their own version of the Theory of Quantum Mechanics, identical to ours. In doing so, their story shows us how we, much more complex three-dimensional creatures, in our much more complex three-dimensional world, can do the very same. And, we can do so far more easily, given our additional dimension of depth and its matching insight, by following their rich story of scientific discovery, which parallels our own even richer story. Together, the Theory of Relativity and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics comprise the most fundamental and accurate working description of space, time, and everything in them that has ever been conceived. They ultimately even lead to explaining life itself, and moreover, can flatly demonstrate life's distinction in actual physical experiments.

The foggy veil of mystery that seems to surround physics is a mere illusion. It exists only in a lack of a comprehensible exposure to the subject matter. This veil serves, no less than it has throughout human history, only as barrier to beholding what can be the richest, most interesting, and most lasting aspects of nature. Seeing through the illusion that that mystery is reveals a stunning beauty that lies hidden beneath this veil.

No mysteries need stand between us, and our understanding anything. If we simply choose to learn for ourselves the truths that science has worked so tenaciously, often at the price of enormous living sacrifice, to identify, we will discover that anyone can comprehend anything they wish to comprehend about natural phenomena, utilizing the sound conclusions of science as a foundation. No formal education is needed for this text. Simply choosing to learn is the only real step that one must take. All subsequent steps are far, far easier.

Understanding science begins with understanding its most fundamental description of the world, the Theory of Relativity and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics, which are, unquestionably, among the most outstanding of all human achievements, short of humankind's refinement of courage, insight, compassion, and liberty. Science gives these refinements, and many others like them that are their outcome, wings, so that humanity can soar, by each individual one of us being able to do so, if no where else, then in our minds.

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Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i

Prologue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii

I. Foundations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

II. The Inseparability of Space and Time Means the Relativity of Space and Time Measures . . . 7

III. The Simple Complexity of Classical Reality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

IV. Real Reality and the Rhythm of Quantum Mechanics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

V. A Hidden Universe Beneath . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

VI. Touch of the Observer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81

VII. Decisions of Nature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95

VIII. The Infinite Pattern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109

Epilogue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122

Appendix A: Riding a Beam of Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125

Appendix B: The Universe is Round . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129

Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136

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"The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible."
–Albert Einstein


We live in a quantum universe, and there is a reason why we do: we must. Were our universe any other kind of universe besides a quantum one, then ‘we’ would not exist in it, nor would anything. Fortunately for us, our universe is a quantum universe, and because it is, ‘something’, each one of us, is here in it, very alive, along with everything else required that allows us to be. This book is a description of the principles upon which our quantum universe operates and an explanation of why these principles are what they are. Perhaps most of all, it is an exploration into the reasons why these principles must be what they are, and why they can be no others, in this universe.

In understanding this description, we can uncover the stunning beauty that lies beneath everything we observe, removing the myths and misunderstandings that have, now even up into these modern times, always stood between us and what is really true about anything. Understanding the principles upon which a quantum reality is based can introduce anyone who simply wishes to know what is truest in nature, to a completely new way to see the universe, and possibly even a new way to consider physical existence.

Understanding the founding principles upon which our world is based can reveal why the smallest and most fundamental particles of nature (which includes every last bigger thing that is made of these particles) are actually finite partial ‘representations’ (projections) of something that is not finite at all, but infinite. In this way, we can see that a particle and a wave are two aspects of the very same thing, and thereby discover why physical existence is simply a shape and how all motion is just the shape of the universe changing, as we and everything living roll down a one-way road called time, observing the contours of this shape with each moment of our journey, in a connected series of moments that we call being alive.

By describing physical existence in this new way, we can ultimately discover the very nature of our awareness, and thus discover the true nature of all awareness anywhere; as well as its enormous significance in very real, very physical, and indeed very tangible and understandable terms. Using the conclusions made by physical science, namely, the Theory of Relativity and then the Theory of Quantum Mechanics, the book you are holding in your hand will explain exactly 'what' life is, precisely 'why' life is, and most importantly, why life absolutely must be, for there to be anything existent or purposeful at all!

This is the story of the Theory of Quantum Mechanics, described in a very simple manner, without any mathematical notation. Quantum theory can lead us to see why the universe is the way it is, by the necessity which is ‘implied’ by the other working physical theory, the Theory of Relativity, but which is absolutely REQUIRED by quantum theory. That necessity is the necessity for an observer in a universe, an observer who is ‘alive’ and who is ‘aware’ of something, anything. The presence of an observer and the fact that no observer is preferred (by the laws of nature) over any other lead not only to the inevitability of relativity for describing space and time, but to the inevitability of quantum mechanics too, for describing those things which lie within relativity’s space and time.

Quantum mechanics is an outcome of a universe characterized by constant and ongoing observation. The chapters that follow will explain how observation and the life that observation implies are a most natural and inescapable consequence of any physically ‘real’ universe. Most amazingly, living observers emerge because they absolutely must emerge, for the sake of a very naturally occurring and absolutely unavoidable 'inevitability', the all-encompassing one that we call “existence.” This, in a nutshell, is the substance of this book’s content and what it attempts to explain.

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"The first step toward imagining something new is often to cease the imagining of something old
– thus making room for the new."


By addressing the subject of theoretical physics, one is compelled to ask, how in the world can an understanding of nature's deepest truths enrich one's life experience? What exactly are the benefits that a conceptual grasp of quantum theory, based upon first understanding relativity, yields, that can be applied in everyday practice? How can the contemplation of the motion of subatomic particles, particles that are far too small to ever be seen and whose existence can only be inferred, improve our participation in the big motions occurring around us and in us always? Why learn such a seemingly abstract subject?

First, to explain why, it is appropriate to state that, from the point of view of those individuals who have acquired such an understanding (not the least of which are the collaborator and the author), gaining it is as worthwhile an endeavor as one could ever pursue. According to this view, achieving an understanding of the founding principles, upon which nature – indeed, upon which existence – is based, matches the thrill of living the most exciting adventure, the satisfaction that comes from solving the most elusive puzzle, or the fulfillment of gratifying the deepest passion (all of which the collaborator and author have both genuinely known first hand). Indeed, such an understanding of the physical world can be bliss itself. Nonetheless, the realization of these esoteric rewards is always subject to the preferences of the individual, not to mention the faith that an individual might have in realizing them. So, one need not, necessarily, seek only these apparently intangible benefits, anticipating no others; there are others also.

The most practical and tangible reward that an accurate conceptual understanding of theoretical physics renders is that it makes understanding everything that 'is' reality much easier too, than does a lack of such an understanding. Having it, we can consider nature's phenomena using altogether new ways of thinking and using ideas that we probably (unless we already possess them) never imagined before. Remarkably, by having this new understanding, we can even shape our very wants, by understanding 'why' we even 'want' at all. That is to say, an understanding of quantum mechanics provides genuinely new ways of dealing with the world, ways that can provide the mind with completely new concepts and wholly new insights upon which to base its (i.e. our) decisions, concepts and insights that would simply never exist in our old ways of thinking (unless these old ways incorporated a valid theoretical model). In understanding genuine science as the pursuit of natural truth, we gain intellectual tools that we may have imagined only others ever being capable of possessing, not us. But 'we', meaning anyone, can possess them too!

Armed with these tools, we (anyone) can begin to see nature's founding design. Nature's ways need not be mysteries if we choose that they not be. Beyond mystery's illusion lies an elegant, abstract beauty that nature's apparent design encompasses. In recognizing the depth and extent of this beauty, one cannot help but come to appreciate the rigors utilized, that provided the means for arriving at these new ways of thinking, rigors that we (again, anyone) can apply in understanding anything. Science demonstrates that nature does not use mysterious powers for performing its apparent 'miracles'. It does not 'use' such things because it flatly never needs to do so.

Most wonderfully, and perhaps more so than all the other benefits, an understanding of physical theory (but in particular, an understanding, be it only in the most simplified, general, and conceptual terms only, of quantum theory) can identify those conventional notions that fail in the face of accurate understanding, exposing them for what they really are (and always were anyway): simply untrue. This, in turn, provides the opportunity for embracing those notions that demonstrate themselves to be consistent with nature and hence to be true in it, which are the very notions revealed by the theoretical model. Ignoring false notions and replacing them with true ones reveals the elusive yet magnificent beauty that quietly hides in Nature's seeming mysteries, introduces reason as an alternative to reaction. This hidden beauty waits, patiently indifferent, to be revealed by our understanding of it; starting with the simple idea of natural truth. Real science is the pursuit of natural truth, objective truth, truth that may be much, much different from what one might imagine truth being according to 'conventional', nonscientific views. Ideally, truth is not subjective for science.

The science of physics, like any discipline, can be a time-consuming labor to learn and understand. This is due to the simple reality, as the chapters will serially explain, that thinking, and therefore learning and understanding, are motion, no different from the motion of our overt actions, like when we walk or talk (or read). And, just as it is required for ALL overt motion, such as walking or talking (or reading), the motion of our thoughts requires time too. Time is required to think, and, unless our understanding is innate, time is required to understand, anything, meaning that time must be spent to learn and understand relativity and quantum mechanics. But, given enough time invested, which is not that much (a few months or so), and given a meaningful description of these theories and the conclusions that they yield (this book), ANYONE (like the reader) CAN eventually learn and understand, if only in purely conceptual terms alone (and, in the case of the condensed explanation of relativity, only in the most brief, general, and summary terms) these proven theories that model and describe physical reality so impeccably well – to reiterate, ANYONE.

That is the intention of this book (among many), to educate anyone in the principles of modern theoretical physics. In particular, the text was designed for those individuals with least access to the means, material, and resources necessary for gaining such an understanding (e.g. the poor). Anyone, even the most uninformed or least formally educated, if they read the text enough times (provided that they read the whole book FIRST [this, reading the entire text first, is critically important] then rereading it [easier the second time]: rereading the long paragraphs if necessary, repeatedly, and, of course, reading the footnotes – they are important), should ultimately grasp the ideas and concepts underlying the two physical theories (relativity and quantum mechanics), upon which all theoretical physics is built. To put it bluntly, anyone can, at least in summary fashion, learn and understand just what this book is trying to teach – again, ANYONE. And 'anyone', includes the reader. Should modern culture ever recover from its arrogance and its achievements survive, then someday school children will begin their studies of geometry using relativity (by simply understanding how light's speed never changing explains gravity), and initiate their explorations of science with at least a conceptual introduction to the ideas that underlie quantum theory (like nature's necessity for life to observe it and why, as well as the alternative).

In short, if you can read, you can understand the content. Convinced that it is really possible to gain an actual understanding of theoretical physics, it only remains to be adequately motivated to make the appropriate effort by investing the time it takes to learn. Doing so one begins to understand why these theories are, indeed, why they must be, true. In other words, if the reader does indeed accept, and in so doing, 'believes' in their heart that it is truly possible to really understand the two theories (faith in one's own capacity for understanding is an absolute must), accepting what they reveal about the nature of reality, then the reader need only 'want' badly enough, to spend the time necessary (which may vary from individual to individual) reading, slowly and carefully, and, most importantly, taking the time necessary to think, contemplating thoroughly the concepts that the words reveal (haste fails). By taking the time required, and by understanding that it is indeed possible for anyone who can read to do so, one can begin to understand the very foundations upon which all real science is ultimately based, and thus realize that any science that is not consistent with physical theory either someday will be, or instead, be recognized as having never been a 'real' science (as truth's pursuit), in the first place.

In ignoring ALL the other intuitive notions that we might have, we can start with this single notion of perpendicular, and build upon it. By understanding this simple, commonplace concept, one has the necessary foundation to imagine geometry (as an organized labeling system for a set of distances and directions). And, utilizing, by imagining, geometry alone, one can understand in general though nonetheless unambiguous and most importantly accurate terms, just how these theories (relativity and quantum mechanics) work, and precisely what they say about the character of nature and those things constituting its phenomena.

Now, in ignoring every last notion we might have about physical reality -- except, of course, the single notion of perpendicular -- we must replace such notions with altogether 'new' ones. This, however, is not as simple as it might, at first, seem to be. For, upon incorporating new notions into our thinking, we must start thinking in what may be wholly unfamiliar ways. Unavoidably, this is what we must do (that is, think in what may be wholly unfamiliar ways), in order to think in the altogether new ways that we must in order to begin building a 'true' understanding of nature, because that is exactly what learning theoretical physics is.

Thinking, in completely new ways altogether (ways which may flatly contradict 'old' and very fundamental ways) is the price that we pay for understanding. We MUST be willing to pay this price, or we will understand little at all; our intuitive notions, just like our preferences for how the world 'should' or 'must' work, will stand between us, and what is genuinely true about nature, no less than they did throughout the history of our physics -- until about a century ago, with the discovery of two very, very important sets of ideas: the Theory of Relativity, and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics, both of which are the subject of this book.

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