Photons and The Constant
The speed of Light is all very well. As a measurement, it's useful in gauging distance between stars and galaxies. But to say that nothing in the Universe can travel faster is a statement reminiscent of the age when the Earth was said to be the centre of the Galaxy, or the Solar System, or even at one point the centre of the Universe.
We have a tendency to adopt a hugely inflated opinion of ourselves.
When that opinion comes crashing down to earth we don't much like the effects, so tend to avoid inviting such catastrophes. Sometimes, though, a catastrophe is unavoidable, much as the Ultraviolet Catastrophe was unavoidable in physics. When something absorbs/emits every frequency of everything that Is, something has to give. Constants might well be first in line.
We are constantly bemoaning things. The state of the planet, its governance, our failures in husbandry. Our lot, our position, our responsibility. We bemoan our health, potential, direction of progress and lack thereof. All we do, really, is moan. Perhaps we've been trained this way. Perhaps we're so accustomed to negativity in the news that the new normal is really not very far away from the old one, and we're kidding ourselves that things have changed.
Physics has the same problem. Look at any paper describing an equation and you'll see text that says something like, "If X equals Y then Z can be A, and B will be equivalent to C." Everything the maths tells us is coming from a place of safety, where symbols are sacred and the numbers don't really matter because it's all relative anyway, the solution a product of its own device.
This video slashes the speed of light into silos for further management, asking questions of the constant that even Max Planck might approve of. Where there's light, there are things to be seen. The trouble is, we can only ever see a tiny slice of the bigger picture.
The word 'Super' is all very well but when it precedes a description in physics it means something beyond the state of goodness we generally ascribe to the principle. Something that is 'superb' is a great thing, a positive thing, a thing of beauty. So it should be across the board, one would think, but in quantum mechanics 'Super' is relative, superlative not as an expression of praise, but more often one of despair.
The superlative qualities of the quantum realm are yet to be defined; including as they do Uniqueness and Entanglement, products of Uncertainty and Non-locality - therein being the classic juxtaposition of One versus All, for we do not know to what extent we are subject to entanglement as it's not a measurable commodity in the real world, but we do know that we are all unique. Our uniqueness is something we take for granted unless we're placing ourselves in the bowl of humanity and bemoaning it as we are wont to do.
How many people, I can ask myself now, can sit at their desk with a collared dove on one side and a tawny owl on the other, both more than happy to be there, for the owl is blind and the flightless dove has figured that out, so their relationship with each other is ambivalent while their relationship with me is mutually affable. This situation might be shared by many others with different birds, by people with animals of all kinds accompanying them on the journey without destination. But these birds beside me are unique, and that satisfies the desire to be One which humans seem to possess and other creatures seem to perceive no need of.
Our separation within the Supersystem carves out for us an illusion of grandeur, an unfortunate trait that has led to where we are now, on a planet suffering the consequences. It's okay to eat and drink the products of miserable lives and savage deaths; for some, consuming the by-products of endangered species is the best thing to do. Buying from supermarkets is a normal thing to do - every supermarket buys into the system no matter what you choose to purchase from it. They sell a lot of tuna. Most people buy milk. Coffee. Palm oil - who checks the ingredients? They sell what tastes nice, where pleasure and hunger cement an easy agreement.
No wonder we are fraught with fears of loss on a promise of infinite nothingness. What have we to look forward to, when things are unlikely to change? These relationships of ours, where are they going, when neither can see a way to put right what is so often determined to be wrong? You're more than likely asking now what the hell that has to do with quantum mechanics.
Kathy is the author of Quantumology. She met up with quantum mechanics in 1997, pledging allegiance to its sources thereafter. These are her personal thoughts and testimonies.