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How Thoughts turn to things: quantum biology

An Article Series Exploring the Quantum Science Behind the Mind-body Connection

This article series delves into the question of whether our thoughts can create our reality. Many of the world’s most successful people are walking examples that we can achieve anything we set our minds to. But to gain a better understanding of how, I choose to dive into the exciting field of quantum biology — the intersection of quantum physics and biology.

The marriage of these two fields of science is a relatively new concept. While its implications to the real world are infinite, one of the things this body of knowledge can help us with is understanding the power of our mental acts — such as thoughts, attention, focus, and beliefs. Quantum biology could be the science that helps us see how they translate into the physical actions that create the personal experience we then call our life. The book “Life on the Edge: The Coming Age of Quantum Biology” by scientists Johnjoe McFadden and Jim Al-Khalili is a wonderful introduction to the field of quantum biology. This article series follows the book, chapter by chapter, and applies its findings to the topic of how the quantum world could be responsible for our thoughts turning into things. In the last article in this series, we discussed the role that quantum physics plays in turning emotions and thoughts into the biochemical reactions we experience as feelings. Today, we will take a look at how conscious attention is the driver that turns possibilities into probabilities, and thus into our personal realities. We look at how we affect reality starting with the act of observation.


What is involved in the process that turns a seed into the grain that is then used to produce the very bread you had for dinner last night? It all boils down to the conversion of sunlight into chemical energy — the process of photosynthesis. Chapter 4 of “Life on the Edge” starts the exploration of how the quantum world translates into the physical world by delving into the details behind how excitons and electrons interact to create and store energy. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s just take a look at the big picture here. While we have often think of photosynthesis as a biological or chemical process, the latest science reveals the vital role that quantum physics plays in it. When the sun’s rays kiss that blade of wheat-grass, the trillions of molecules inside the plant move in a coordinated manner. It is precisely because they move in perfect sync that they are able to harness the power of quantum physics and its “weird” quantum phenomena such as quantum tunneling (particles passing through barriers) and superposition (particles existing in more than one place at a time). The nearly perfect efficiency with which photosynthesis happens would be impossible in the classical world of physics where atoms and molecules move in a disorganized or “random” manner. The ability of particles to move in sync is what gives them the power to use the more direct — and very efficient path — of quantum physics. This feature is also called coherence. To better understand how possibilities turn into physical reality, we’ll discuss how coherence and decoherence can mean the difference between empty space and matter.


When we say something is coherent in the world of quantum physics, it means it exhibits wave-like behavior. Rather than showing up in the world as a particle, this “something” is still residing in the space of possibilities and thus able to be in many places at one time. If we think of electrons floating in this sea of possibilities, they are still exhibiting the property of superposition where they are neither here nor there — but everywhere — all at once. When coherence is lost, the quantum world becomes what we know as the larger-scale classical world. Particles move in “random” motion and are now in a state of decoherence. Decoherence turns waves of possibility into particles that its observer is then able to see, feel, taste, or touch. When particles act coherently, they are all lined up at the exact same time, such as in photosynthesis. When they line up in ways that are not in perfect sync, they form matter. Over 99% of the universe is empty space. The tiny part that we see as matter is matter for that very reason — the dance between coherence and decoherence. As atoms and molecules interact with the forces of nature, including gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak forces, their wave-like coherence is lost. The interactions between the trillions of atoms forces those very atoms to behave like classical particles. It moves them from the field of possibilities into what we then observe as “physical reality.” An atom’s environment shapes its existence just as that atom then shapes the existence of other surrounding particles. As quantum entanglement underscores, everything in our universe is infinitely connected and mutually interdependent. “Quantum theory thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe. It shows that we cannot decompose the world into independently existing smallest units. As we penetrate into matter, nature does not show us any isolated “building blocks,” but rather appears as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of the whole. These relations always include the observer in an essential way. The human observer constitute the final link in the chain of observational processes, and the properties of any atomic object can be understood only in terms of the object’s interaction with the observer.” — Fritjof Capra


In the second article in this series we briefly touched on the double-slit experiment. This is the experiment that shows that a particle can act as both a wave and a particle. The act of measurement determines how a particle behaves — at least in the eyes of the observer. We must always remember that the observe himself can’t be excluded from the world he’s observing and has his own limitations of perception. As Al-Khalili and McFadden describe in "A Life on the Edge:" “It turns out that detecting the atom (and note here that even not detecting the atom is regarded as a measurement, as that means it must have gone through the other slit) causes the atom’s wave function to interact with all the trillions of atoms in the measuring device. This complex interaction causes the delicate quantum coherence to leak away very quickly and be list in the incoherent noise of its surroundings.” Decoherence is at play here as the process that turns waves of possibility into particles that the observer (or the measuring/detection device) is able to see, feel, taste, or touch. This is where I propose that it is our awareness, or our mental attention to something that brings into our subjective existence. It’s not that we literally turn thoughts into things in a larger sense, but our attention to something brings it into our personal experience — which to us then become our reality.


So is there a reality in existence even when we are not actively perceiving it? Einstein sure hoped so. “I like to think the moon is there even if I am not looking at it.” — Albert Einstein The moon is still there, but in Einstein’s reality (and ours), it is only because we are aware that the moon exists. Without having a had a direct experience of seeing the moon (or hearing about it), it would not exist our brain’s data set as a potential reality. Think of the last time you strolled through the forest on a warm summer’s day. When your attention fell on that particular tree with a huge trunk that looked like it’s been standing there for hundreds of years, you didn’t bring the tree into existence…

…but you brought the tree into your conscious awareness — and thus brought it into YOUR personal experience of reality.

By allowing its shades of brown and green to hit your retina, its piney smell to waft through your nose, and its strong and firm bark to mingle with the soft texture of your fingers, you brought the mental idea of a tree into the world of sensations and feelings — and by definition that is your reality. When we talk about creating our reality with our thoughts, it boils down to the one aspect of infinity that we choose to observe and act upon at any given point in time.


What is the burning desire that is pulsating within you right now? There is probably a series of physical steps that you may need to take in order to bring that into your personal reality. Your mental attention to that desire is what drives you to take the actions that will ultimately bring that experience into your life. The possibility of that event already exists in the quantum field as a wave of potential. The difference between your dream existing as a wave of potential or a physical event is the measurement — or your conscious focus upon it — and your following of the physical actions that will bring it into your experience. Let’s take “manifesting” more money as an example since that’s a topic most people have an interest in. We know that right now, at this very moment, there are trillions of dollars in this world. Whether they appear in your personal bank account is a function of where you choose to direct your mental and physical focus. Of course there are many factors involved here, but if we oversimplify — if you direct your focus towards actions that serve and add value to the lives of others, you are much more likely to experience the flow of some of those dollars into your account. As discussed in the last article, we can tune ourselves into higher states of coherence when our actions come from a positive, heart-based space. When our thoughts and emotions are coherent, it is easier to follow our guidance and act in ways that benefit all sentient beings. As we benefit “others,” we naturally benefit ourselves because we have never been separate to begin with (quantum entanglement). The isn’t in the thought alone, but rather in the action that follows the thought. Yet every physical action is preceded by creation in the mental world — the quantum world where the possibilities are infinite. And that is where we turn thoughts into things — through our conscious awareness directed upon them, we can eventually bring into our personal experience. Stay tuned for the next part of this series where we will further explore the intersection of electromagnetism, thoughts, and our reality.



SOURCES: “Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology” by Johnjoe McFadden and Jim Al-Khalili, 2016, Broadway Books,entirely%2C%2099.9999999%20percent%20empty%20space. RECOMMENDED READING if you’re interested in the science behind the mind-body connection: The Dancing Wu Li Masters — Gary Zukav The Tao of Physics — Fritjof Capra Evolve Your Brain — Dr. Joe Dispenza Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself — Dr. Joe Dispenza The Biology of Belief — Bruce Lipton Buddha’s Brain — Rick Hanson, Ph. D The Universe in a Single Atom — Dalai Lama The Divine Matrix — Gregg Bradden Finding Flow — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi The Physics of God — Joseph Selbie No Self No Problem — Chris Niebauer, Ph.D


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