I watched a documentary last night called The Story of Science (Episode 2. What is the world made of?) Which, within the first 30 seconds completely blew my mind. Apparently if you were to take every person on the planet and remove all the empty space in us and push our matter together, we would take up the same amount of space as one small sugar cube. That’s all 7 billion of us in that one small sugar cube.
This is because when you break down what IS matter, you find molecules of elements made of atoms, but in each atom is a miniscule nucleus surrounded by a few whizzing electrons that don’t really occupy any space. Quantum mechanics does its best to offer a theory of where our electrons may pop into being at any one time, but, the electrons are so far away from the nucleus that the massive majority of what makes us (and all matter in the universe) is nothing. Void. Empty space.
A brilliant quote by physicist Niels Bohr offered in the program is, “If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet”. Really this is a mind blowing concept if ever there was one. I feel solid, so does the ground, my chair, this desk; actually it’s all just empty space with trillions of tiny atoms moving around each other.
Although the theory of quantum mechanics has raised more questions than it has answered, it opens up the realm of possibility for human potential. As a Buddhist, it seems to me that knowing quantum mechanics (particularly, knowing that we are void empty space) is akin to enlightenment. Is it possible that Buddha had this awakening under the bodhi tree, that we are just star dust and space?
Of course knowing something with your head and knowing something with each atom of your body are two separate things. The movie “What the Bleep Do We Know?” discusses the possibilities that open up as we take charge of our infinite possibilities and manage our internal mayhem. I had a eureka moment watching that movie years ago as I realised that I had been choosing to be depressed for years because that was the habit my body was in. Changing my mood was literally up to me to change my mind. Once you have this knowledge you can change yourself in an instant. I did.
I’m not saying I’ve never been depressed since watching that movie, but when I’ve felt the old habits of whinging and sulking begin, I’m aware I have the power to change them, and I do. I no longer wallow in self-pity, and that’s a pretty amazing skill to have learnt while watching a movie.
As a new generation grow up with the knowledge of quantum physics, the possibilities of a deeper understanding are apparent. If we KNOW in our vibrating physical being that we are simply nuclei, electrons and space, what is stopping us from separating our bodies into particles in space? Humankind has the potential for a conscious evolution.
No, by the way, I’m not tripping, although I understand your point. This can all sound very hippy-dippy fast, which is why it is so amazing that scientific theory and research are proving that fact is truly stranger than fiction.