Saturday, December 17, 2016

Death, sensation, and entanglement

Christ on the cross between the Virgin and St. John, Detail
 circa 1330 – 1335
Ugolino de Nerio

Back in November, I said I would explain something about the nature of Being and its relationship to some of the latest questions raised in physics and cosmology.

It's fair to say this is a very complicated question, and all but the geekiest of readers will be either baffled or uninterested. For those who are interested, recommend you first read the article "Black Holes, Wormholes, and the Secrets of Quantum Spacetime" in the November 2016 issue of Scientific American. The author is Juan Maldecena, a theoretical physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. (Apologies to readership, but I cannot post a scanned copy of the complete document due to copyright considerations.)

 Entanglement is a phenomenon whereby apparently unrelated particles share a deep and perfect connection that exists independent of spacetime as we know it. That is to say, they are connected in such an intimate (and apparently,  from the point of view of the "real" world, impossible) way that anything that affects one of them affects the other one in an instantaneous manner; their characteristics are exactly and simultaneously reciprocal. They display, in other words, the ability to manifest effects instantaneously, even when that has to take place across vast distances. 

Einstein was deeply disturbed by this prediction which emerged from quantum theory in 1935. He called it "spooky action at a distance," and it seemed, then as now, to be inexplicable.
 Another consequence of the articles on quantum theory published in 1935 was idea that black holes existed; and, furthermore, that they could be connected by wormholes. The idea of wormholes has gained a lot of currency in science fiction movies of late as a means of traveling more or less instantaneously from one point to another in the universe. Of course that's not possible; but what's interesting is that it provides a vehicle for the transference of properties that takes place in entanglement. The author, in a nutshell (and I am glossing over a vast amount of material to get to this point, no doubt about it) reaches the following conclusion in the article:



"Although we identified the connection between wormholes and entangled states using black holes, it is tempting to speculate that the link is more general -that whenever we have entanglement we have a kind of geometric connection. This expectation should hold true even in the simplest case, in which the spatial connection could involve tiny quantum structures that would not follow our usual notion of geometry. We still do not know how to describe these microscopic geometries, but the entanglement of these structures might somehow give rise to spacetime itself. It is as if entanglement can be viewed as a thread connecting two systems. When the amount of entanglement becomes larger, we have lots of threads, and these threads could weave together to form the fabric of space time. In this picture, Einstein's relativity equations are governing the connections and reconnections of these threads; quantum mechanics is not just an add-on to gravity—it is the essence of the construction of spacetime."

What's so cool about this? Well,  first of all, the article brings up a point that is not only brilliant but most likely correct, because it explains something impossible with a simple, logical connection that has always been understood to lie at the fundament of quantum theory. Elegant solutions like this usually turn out to be right. 

Secondly, because if entangled structures actually give rise to space time, it means that everything is entangled.

 This extraordinary proposition lends credence to the concept that all of space time is the expression of a single thing, and that absolutely everything is connected to everything else so intimately that it is impossible, at a conceptual level, to separate it — even though things appear to be separated to us.

 Readers of this space who go way back may recall my post from February 2008 where I explained that reality is granular in nature. It's possible to sense this through Being; and that sensation, although we could call it molecular, extends to the microscopic geometry of space time, which creates everything, including us — and our consciousness. What is astonishing is that we are capable, in some measure, of actually sensing this, because the components of our being, which were designed to  serve knowledge

—(nb. the scanned document at the above link is a copy of one of the original first-edit transcripts of this talk by Gurdjieff, originally read as "Pure and Impure Emotions.")

Hosanna.




Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

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