Episode 4: Ted and the quantum healer
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Ted hadn’t planned for the answerphone. He’d been so worried about rejection that he hadn’t considered the possibility that he might not even get the chance to be rejected.
“So, er, maybe you know give me a call or something sometime if you want… see you… bye”. Ted hung up and sat cringing for a moment. What was about asking a girl out that turned him into a gibbering fool? Standing up to head into the kitchen, he tossed the phone back onto the sofa, only for it to light up and vibrate just as it hit the cushion.
His heart jumped a beat, obviously the text would be from her. It took a second or two to realise that “Mike” was not the name of the girl he had just tried to call, and it was an invitation to the pub, not an offer of a hot date.
The offer of a pint with a bearded friend was the best he had, and he felt like he needed a distraction anyway. He arrived at the pub, only to find another text telling him that Mike would be late. So he ordered a pint and found himself a seat on the edge of a half-occupied table.
Ted was happy enough to keep himself to himself, but the table’s other occupant struck up a conversation.
“Wow, a quantum physicist?” he asked, when Ted told him what he did. “I’m fascinated by quantum mechanics”.
“Really? Most people just say they don’t understand it”
“Sure, I mean I love the idea that the spiritual world is linked to reality through quantum physics.”
“I’m not sure what you mean…”
“Really? I read about a physicist in America who said that consciousness is related to quantum uncertainty, and that our own thoughts affect the physical world around us”
“that’s why scientists don’t understand how homeopathy and other medicines work, because the link between the physical and spiritual world is inherently uncertain.”
“Well, that’s not quite what quantum uncertainty means”
“No, man, you should look into it. The problem is that mainstream science doesn’t take these ideas seriously. I mean, all matter is like waves of universal energy. If we can tap into that energy, it’s like the energy of the universe. We can do anything, we just have to change our way of thinking beyond the everyday world that we see. That’s what quantum physics is all about, right?”
Ted digested this for a moment. He didn’t quite know how to respond.
“OK,” he said, “but I don’t think quantum mechanics has anything to do with homeopathy. We might not understand all the philosophical consequences of quantum physics, but the point is that what we do know has been tested with experiments. Way back in the early days, Einstein, Bohr and others spent years picking apart quantum physics and testing the logic behind it.
“We can use analogies to try to explain quantum physics, but it doesn’t mean you can extend an idea beyond the atomic scale to fit a certain philosophy. It doesn’t work that way.”
Ted’s new friend was unperturbed.
“You should read up on it. I read that illness was caused by fluctuations in quantum energy, but drugs companies block this knowledge because if we could eliminate illness through the power of thought, they would be out of business.”
Ted replied, “but there’s no evidence to back up what you’re saying. Sometimes people dress up alternative medicine with a veil of science, quantum mechanics for example, to try to make it sound legitimate while confusing the patient, or should I say customer? I’ve heard a lot of these theories, and none of them are consistent.”
“wait, let me finish. We know some amazing things about the universe, how things are made up. I love to talk about these things, but it’s frustrating when it’s twisted into something that it’s not. We have to just look at the world and try to figure it out systematically, not come up with fruitcake theories to sell…”
Ted was about to say “sell sugar pills to morons”, but could feel this was going nowhere and didn’t want to insult anyone just because he was getting worked up. He broke the awkward silence by saying, “look, I don’t believe in this spiritual link through quantum mechanics. If you can’t test an idea, and it doesn’t flow logically from the maths, then it isn’t science.
“I think it’s amazing that from the start of the universe, atoms have arranged themselves here on Earth in such a way that people, made of atoms, can understand so much of what they are made of. But consciousness is still a mystery… mystery and uncertainty are two different things, and it’s a leap of logic to link the two.”
Slightly deflated, but not persuaded, Ted’s companion just said, “well OK, I just read these things that’s all”.
Despite knowing he was right, Ted still felt guilty and awkward. Fortunately, Mike finally showed up, after which Ted’s memory of the evening started to get a little hazy.Explaining nano, Quantum Disco comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.