An experiment by Australian scientists has proven that what happens to particles in the past is only decided when they are observed and measured in the future. Until such time, reality is just an abstraction.
Quantum physics is a weird world. It studies subatomic particles, which are the essential building blocks of reality. All matter, including ourselves are made up of them. But, the laws governing the tiny microscopic world seem to be different to those dictating how larger objects behave in our own macroscopic reality.
Quantum laws tend to contradict common sense. At that level, one thing can be two different things simultaneously and be at two different places at the same time. Two particles can be entangled and, when one changes its state, the other will also do so immediately, even if they are at opposite ends of the universe – seemingly acting faster than the speed of light.
Particles can also tunnel through solid objects, which should normally be impenetrable barriers, like a ghost passing through a wall. And now scientists have proven that, what is happening to a particle now, isn’t governed by what has happened to it in the past, but by what state it is in the future – effectively meaning that, at a subatomic level, time can go backwards.
To bamboozle you further, this should all be going on right now in the subatomic particles which make up your body.
If all this seems utterly incomprehensible and sounds downright nuts, you’re in good company. Einstein called it “spooky” and Niels Bohr, a pioneer of quantum theory once said: “if quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.”
In this latest experiment, carried out by scientists at the Australian National University, lead researcher Andrew Truscott said in a press release that they have proven that “reality does not exist if you are not looking at it.”
Scientists have shown long ago that a particle of light, called a photon, can be both a wave and a particle by using the so-called double slit experiment. It showed that when light is shone at two slits in a screen, a photon is able to pass through one of them as a particle and both of them as a wave.
Australia’s New.com.au explains,
“Photons are weird. You can see the effect yourself when shining a light through two narrow slots. The light behaves both like a particle, going through each slot and casting direct light on the wall behind it — and like a wave, generating an interference pattern resulting in more than two stripes of light.”
Quantum physics postulates that the reason for this is that a particle lacks definite physical properties and is defined only by the probabilities of it being in different states. You could say it exists in a suspended state, a sort of super-animation until it is actually observed, at which point, it takes on the form of either a particle or wave, while still having the properties of both.
This was discovered when scientists carrying out double-slit experiments noticed that when a photon wave/particle is observed, it collapses, so it wasn’t possible to see it in both states at once. Thus, it isn’t possible to measure both the position of a particle and its momentum at the same time.
However, a recent experiment – reported in Digital Journal– has now captured an image of a photon as both a wave and a particle for the first time.