I think the author below makes some great points about the materialistic, mechanistic, reductionist world view that had lead us to view the Universe, and ourselves, and the processes of life etc as "mechanistic" and "machines".
Into the Quantum Realm
A Quantum Reality
Ironically it was science's unquenchable thirst for breaking things into smaller and smaller pieces that ultimately bought the walls of Newtonian physics tumbling down. As our instruments grew more and more powerful, and we began to probe the subatomic realm -- the supposed "building blocks" of the universe -- scientists came to a staggering realization. In the realm of the very small, Newtonian physics did not hold. In fact, in the realm of the very small, nothing we believed in as solid reality turned out to be true. Solid reality, if we look deep enough, does not seem to exist at all!
To understand how this is possible, we have to comprehend a concept that is central to the ideas of quantum physics. It is called "nonlocality." It refers to the capacity of quantum particles (such as two electrons) that have once been in contact to retain a connection even when separated -- the actions of one will always immediately influence the other, no matter how far apart they are. Today it is widely accepted that, in the subatomic realm, one quantum entity can influence another instantaneously, over any distance, despite there being no exchange of force or energy.
Physicists started moving toward this realization in 1935, when Einstein, along with Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen, published a paper -- the so-called EPR thought experiment or EPR paradox -- that showed that under certain circumstances, quantum mechanics predicted a breakdown of locality. According to this theory, a particle could be put in a measuring device in one location and, through that action alone, would instantly influence another particle an arbitrary distance away. Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen themselves refused to believe this effect -- which Einstein labeled "spooky action at a distance" -- and viewed the experiment as evidence that quantum mechanics was incomplete. However, the EPR experiment set the basis for a potential scientific proof of the existence of nonlocality.
Almost thirty years later, J. S. Bell proved mathematically that the results predicted by quantum mechanics could not be explained by any theory that preserved locality. In the forty years that have followed, countless experiments using physical instrumentation have been performed to try to prove the EPR experiment. In the empirical experiments of French physicist Alain Aspect in the 1980s (subsequently replicated in laboratories all over the world), a bizarre thing took place. In the experiments, the correlation of spin state between two particles was maintained -- instantaneously -- irrespective of how far apart the particles were. (Theoretically this would apply if the two particles were on opposite sides of the universe.) In Aspect's original experiments, the speed of this transmission was estimated at less than one billionth of a second, about twenty times faster than the speed of light in empty space. In a subsequent experiment performed in 1997 by Nicolas Gisin, it proved to be 20,000 times faster than the speed of light. Many consider these experiments as "proof" of nonlocality. These experiments also obviously put a dent in Einstein's special theory of relativity, which states that nothing can travel faster than light.
"Teleportation" experiments of the 1990s -- where one electron has been "teleported" to another position -- have also been cited as "experimental proof" of nonlocality. And in 2004, two independent teams of physicists -- one at the National Institute of Standards in Colorado, the other at University of Innsbruck, Austria -- announced that they had "teleported" the quantum state of entire atoms. While nonlocality still has its skeptics who state that "sufficient experimental proof" has not been offered, today the concept of nonlocality is assumed to be valid in quantum physics.
This realization was the deathblow for Newtonian physics as a model for the whole universe, since matter could no longer be considered to be individual and separate. Actions did not have to have an observable cause over an observable state. Nothing (at the quantum level) can be considered independent of anything else; all can only be understood in terms of their relationships to each other. The quantum model proposes that the universe exists as an interconnected web of relationships, forever indivisible, since nothing has any meaning by itself!
Our great instruments, which we had built to confirm the solidity of the universe and our concept of the world as a machine built of understandable and predictable parts, now reveal that at its most basic level, the universe is as ethereal and drifting as a dream and as solid as a mirage! Nothing is solid; nothing is real; the universe is a seething field of energy and potential. What is even more astonishing is the realization that we -- the living consciousness that observes "reality" -- may be the most essential ingredient in this indivisible and interconnected universe. The quantum physicists found something that could have as profound implications for the destiny of the human species as anything we have ever discovered. They found that: "the state of all possibilities of any quantum particle collapsed into a set entity as soon as it was observed or a measurement taken."
To understand this we have to reexamine the model of the atom we were all taught at school, which is that of electrons orbiting the nucleus like planets going around the sun. This model has been proven to be completely incorrect. What physicists now believe is that a cloud of "potential," which can cause the electron to materialize in any position, surrounds the nucleus. To visualize this, imagine a race around a track where the runners "appear" at certain spots on the course for a second or two, then disappear and reappear a hundred meters further along -- without having to physically cross the distance between the two points. This happens for no apparent reason, nor with any indication as to where they might disappear and appear again. Where this gets really weird, is that some physicists now believe that the "force" causing an electron to appear in some particular position --which is only a possibility and does not have to happen -- is the fact that a living consciousness is observing it.
At the subatomic level, where everything is a pulsating sea of electrical charge and possibility, the universe takes physical form (which we call reality) only because we are here to observe it. The act of observation "forces" the electron to appear in a position out of that sea of possibility, and so by observing, we cause "reality" to happen. Just as the Australian Aboriginals believe that their ancestors sang up the world as they walked through the desert, it is possible that through perceiving, we create the universe and everything in it.
These are the main foundations of quantum physics: nonlocality, the fact that the observer cannot be removed from the equation, and that the observer may actually be the reason a particular event occurs at all. At its most basic level, the universe does not operate according to the laws of Newtonian physics; those laws only apply to a small window of the universe we choose to call "our reality." Once you look past that point, things get peculiar. Energy moves around without apparent rhyme or reason, possessing strange qualities like "charm" and "spin," while every electron in the universe appears to influence (and be influenced by) every other electron in the universe, through "spooky action at a distance."
Many of the early contributors to quantum physics -- Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and especially Erwin Schrödinger -- realized the profound philosophical implications that their work presented, and they consulted the Kabbalah and Eastern philosophy for help in understanding this new paradigm. But the modern industrial world is built on the foundations of Newton's physics, as well as the ideas of economic thinkers -- such as Adam Smith and John Locke --who followed his mechanist philosophy. And while physics -- the cutting-edge of scientific philosophy -- moved into the quantum age more than eighty years ago, most other sciences have been moving far slower. Biological systems, for example, were presumed to be dependent on predictable Newtonian laws, and investigations into their quantum nature have only begun in earnest over the past twenty-five years.
As a result, our society has not really considered the profound implications of this totally different view of reality. Yoked to the needs of industry, mainstream science is good at clinging to ideas that it believes it knows, putting things it cannot understand aside for a later day. While we have utilized the breakthroughs that quantum mechanics fostered (such as the processor chip and atomic energy), we have largely ignored the philosophical implications.
Ninety-five percent of modern scientists are highly specialized technicians. They are good at performing a single function, much like a mechanic who can only fix transmissions and does not really know how the whole car operates. Those few scientists who venture outside of the conventions that industry-supported universities allow have often been branded as dangerous mavericks and have been aggressively disavowed (as seen in the fate of Nikola Tesla compared to that of Thomas Edison). Hence, the philosophical implications of quantum physics have mostly been ignored as we hold fast to the dying days of the Newtonian worldview, still treating our severely ailing planet like some kind of machine whose parts we can "fix" when they break down, instead of realizing the truth inherent in the quantum model, which asserts that all life on Earth is interdependent and impossible to regard as anything but a whole.
Only in the last couple of decades has the dominant Newtonian paradigm begun to erode in the sciences outside of physics, thanks to our incredible modern technology, which has produced both the instruments to achieve the results and the computers to crunch the enormous amount of data that has been provided. (More information will be produced by our society in the next twelve months then in the previous 5,000 years! And our technical knowledge is doubling every twelve months!) Quantum relationships are now believed to regulate all processes in the universe, whether it is atoms, cells, galaxies, or even the ultimate human mystery of all: the source of our own consciousness. The most elemental level of living things can no longer be considered as chemical reactions, but as energy.
As Lynne McTaggart explains in her pioneering work The Field:
[Scientists] also discovered that . . . [on] our most fundamental level, living beings, including human beings, were packets of quantum energy constantly exchanging information with [an] inexhaustible energy sea. Living things emitted a weak radiation, and this was the most crucial aspect of biological processes. Information about all aspects of life, from cellular communication to the vast array of controls of DNA, was relayed through an information exchange on the quantum level. Even our minds, that other supposedly so outside of the laws of matter, operated according to quantum processes. Thinking, feeling-every higher cognitive function-had to do with quantum information pulsing simultaneously through our brains and [bodies]. Human perception occurred because of interactions between the subatomic particles of our brains and the quantum energy sea. We literally resonated with our world.