"The book I'm reading now, 'The Tao of Physics,' says that no matter what well-known laws of physics apply to us and our everyday world, that at a subatomic or quantum level the rules are, well -- different.... Apparently, these teeny particles that, incidentally, no one can see, can be in two places at the same time.... They can travel back and forth in time.... Also, sometimes they're particles and sometimes waves and sometimes both at once, which means that they are at one location and everywhere at the same time....
"Weirdest of all, quantum physicists say that unless certain conditions are met, these subatomic particles don't actually exist. ... Here's my big problem: Since, at the most basic level we're just a bunch of quantum particles, I hope this doesn't mean what I'm afraid it does, that in some very scary way, I'm not really here. Now for the bad news: If I'm not really here, neither are you."
"Right now, as I sit here in the kitchen... my butt and the chair it's resting on both seem pretty solid, right? It's a solid butt-chair relationship. The physicists tell us that matter is almost totally empty space, so to them my butt (and the chair) look like the view of the heavens from the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. In addition, because on the micro-level there are supposedly no definite hard-line borders between anything anyway, from that perspective my butt also kind of blends with the chair like cheese on a cheeseburger."
Actually, sitting on a chair seems firm because negative outer electrons in surface atoms of the chair repel negative electrons of the sitter's posterior.
Meanwhile, a different local physicist, Dr. Jack Magan of West Virginia State University, says it's a mistake to think of atoms as empty -- and to think the emptiness proves Eastern mysticism. Although electrons are infinitesimal, he says, their "wave function" fills most of atoms and molecules. Thus massed atoms of matter might be visualized as a wall of balloons, with their exterior exerting a strong repelling negative force.
All this overwhelms my brain -- and makes me want to agree with famed British scientist J.B.S. Haldane, who wrote: "The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can
Haught, the Gazette's editor, can be reached by phone at 304-348-5199 or e-mail at hau...@wvgazette.com.