Midnight In The Garden Of The Quantum World

We have all been told by teachers and scientists that time travel is not possible except in the movies.  What if I told you this wasn’t
exactly correct? You’d probably think “well Dave has always been a  little strange.” The fact of the matter is that there are lots of us that are just “a little strange.”

For instance take one Mr. John Wheeler. He was a teacher to a guy named Richard Feynman (1918-1988), who among other things worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where they do weird stuff like smashing sub-atomic particles into each other
and weird science like that.  Well Mr.Feynman was a brilliant theoretical physicist. These guys like John Wheeler and
Richard Feynman work in a branch of science called Quantum Mechanics.  If you are wondering what this is, it is a science
of the ultra-tiny.  Particles smaller than atoms that control the very universe itself. This is a very strange place
to be for a human. In fact most scientists have a real hard time wrapping their heads around what goes on in this world.  If you could shrink yourself down to this size you would probably see things that we consider to be impossible in this tiny realm.  You would see all sorts of different funny little ball like objects tearing around at near or at the speed of light. Particles of light that behave as particles and waves. This duality of their personality occurring at the same time!  These little guys are called photons. They can have different colors to them depending upon their energy states. From a beam of ordinary visible light to high energy gamma radiation and lots of levels in between.

Let’s put the brakes on this conversation for just a few minutes and get back to Mr.Feynman and Mr. Wheeler.  Richard Feynman
decided, all on his own, to come up with a graphic way of representing what goes on during what’s called particle decay.  Events that show what happens when particles interact in a two dimensional graphic that helps us humans understand the quantum world a little easier. These diagrams are called Feynman Diagrams.  A fitting name considering he designed them. They show what’s called a space-time map showing particle interaction, with respect to time. Here’s an example;  Let us say we have an electron who’s charge state in negative  which I  will represent as e⁻ and it’s antimatter twin the positron which I’ll show as e⁺.  Yes antimatter really does exist it’s not just for Star Trek anymore.  So we have an electron and a positron on their way to smashing into each other. Hey it happens!   The two hit and destroy one another. This reaction gives birth to (usually a gamma ray photon) .  We are still moving forward in time so far, and this new photon flies to point B on the Feynman diagram where it slams into another positron. Damn I wish these positrons would learn how to drive!  This creates another photon still going forward in time. But now we have another electron that isn’t going forward in time and is in fact going backwards in time!

How is this possible? It’s possible because of lots of different things going on way down here. Conservation of charge, conservation of angular momentum, and the time intervals that exist down here. Most events that occur here are on a clock that
measures events in millionths even billionths of seconds!  A second to us would seem like eternity down here. When you think about it after all, and how small things are at this level it starts to make a little more sense. By the time events have cascaded up and out into the human experience and universe the time scales seem more realistic.

Here’s a question that crossed my mind this morning when I woke up and decided I couldn’t sleep until I wrote this.  Because the
electron went back in time, then what of its future? Will it repeat this exact same process again? If time runs on a line that does not vary then it stands to reason that this poor little electron is gonna continue this same show for eternity, or maybe until it gets absorbed into another state? Who knows? I sure don’t. I do not claim to be any sort of scientist. I barley passed high school
algebra. I do have an inquiring mind. I have read lots of books on the subject of quantum mechanics. This doesn’t mean I understand them all either. It means that I have learned to accept things as fact when given stories of this nature. If you want to move forward in a technical world you have to do this. You can tear something apart until it makes sense to you which is fine. You will eventually get to something that upon its disassembly still doesn’t make sense to you. If you drive in circles around this mess you will get bogged down at the scene of the accident and never get to where you are trying to go. I know, I found this out during my stint with the US Army in Hawk Missile School.

So I accept these sorts of stories when people like Feynman and Wheeler tell me about it. I sort of store this information sans all of its exact working components, into a fold named Feynman-Wheeler.  Going forward in time, if I come acrossed this idea I can pull out the information in the Feynman-Wheeler folder and say , “ok I remember you guys and your stories.”  It’s the way I process difficult to assimilate information.

If you readers find this whole story of mine confusing I apologize.  Try using my approach to this story and I think you’ll find it easier to swallow!

I am in the process of re-reading a book I bought called The Quantum World by Kenneth W. Ford. It’s written for dummies like me with minimal formulas and almost zero math.  I had to plow thru it the first time to get the “flavor” of it and I found that when I was done I had probably only skimmed about a third of the information that I should have come away with.  I decided to read it again. Has it helped? Kinda, sort of. That’s all I can tell you. This subject even when simplified like it is here is a real stretch for the human mind to understand, at least for me.

Why do I read this sort of science? Because it fascinates a part of my imagination that my father was responsible for kindling in me as a child.  God bless him for not being afraid to share his wonderment and dreams with me when I was young. He was a man of uncommon intellect considering that he never went to high school, which was common during that time period in his life.

I hope you find this little tid bit of information I shared here interesting. I hope you find it interesting enough to read more on this fascinating subject. At the very least I hope you at least find it interesting enough to remember it when someone says  “Time travel is impossible.”


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