Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Does matter exist?

It may seem like a ridiculous question to ask if matter exist since we seem to be surrounded by it and made of it. We all learned in school that matter is made up of atoms. Atoms, we learned, are made up of protons and neutrons orbited by electrons. The problem is that once we get in to the sub-atomic level we cross over from the straightforward world of physics into the confusing world of quantum mechanics. In the quantum world, a sub-atomic “particle” such as an electron can exhibit both wave and particle like properties. It doesn’t end there. Sub-atomic particles can be broken down into quarks which are found inside hadrons. It seems that the further you go into an atom the more “parts” you find. We tend to picture in our minds that you can continue breaking down matter into smaller and smaller parts until eventually, you end up with a particle that is so small it cannot be broken down any further. The problem is, that once you pass into the sub-atomic levels of creation, quantum mechanics shows that these “parts” can behave as waves. In the classical sense, waves are not matter, they are energy. It seems that what we think of as “matter” is actually a form of energy, or perhaps a combination of energy and fields (similar to magnetic fields) that repel or attract other organized units of energy. It brings to mind a small green teacher of mine who famously said, “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” Also, in the book of Genesis, God says, “Let there be light.” Perhaps all of creation really is “light” (energy). It is interesting to think that we are energy personified. We are made of energy, and we are conscious beings. If all of creation is made of energy and we are created of this energy then, in a sense, we are the universe looking back upon itself and pondering it’s own existence. But this existence may not “exist” in the physical sense that we traditionally understand it. One last interesting point to consider; at the quantum level, space and time break down and no longer make any real sense. At our most basic level, we exist separately from time and time space. Although our brains perceive a physical world and a linear time progression we are really, at our core, timeless, intelligent, and free-thinking waves of pure energy.

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