Newton, Einstein, Quantum Physics and the way to Life

One of the things that fascinated me most as a kid was the ‘dual nature of light‘. To put the things into perspective of the readers, let me refresh some high school memories. Newton believed light to be made of small corpuscular particles which explained certain phenomenon like Refraction. On the other hand, some scientists argued the light to be of a wave nature which explained some other phenomenon like Interference.

It was only at the dawn of the 20th century that Einstein explained that the light must be of a dual nature. And this is what grabbed my eyeballs. How can anything be of a dual nature? How can light (or anything as the Quantum Physics states) be a wave and a particle at the same time? Heisenberg joined the party and went on to provide the Uncertainty Principle. The principle provides that there is always a minimum error (which he equated to Planck’s constant) when we try to determine any body’s position or velocity. This principle seems so absurd given our experience of everyday observations but then has so far stood all the tests of Quantum Physics.

As much as I have admired modern science and continue to do so, the very foundation of science, though seemingly correct, is completely abstract. Of course, the modern science is only 2600 years old in a relative huge history of mankind (and religions/cults) and therefore can be said to be still in its infancy.

As is the case with every kid, I was seeking answers too – to anything and everything. My happiness knew no limits when I learnt the equations of motion. It was a moment of contentment. Blame it on the education system or may be I must blame it on myself (I was in my late teens), after the high school, I lost the acumen for Science.

Losing the acumen, abstract nature of science and some other factors contributed and I was soon lost. The curiosity had died with the onset of the late teens, never to be revived again (except for momentarily flares when someone spoke on a related subject).

Just into the 20’s, and there were setbacks in life. All my teenage, I had this firm belief, that with hard work, I can achieve anything. Anything. But a year into 20’s and this philosophy seemed to be dwindling. I understood that certain things are beyond our control and worse, there is no logical explanation for the same. It took me about half a decade to accept this fact (and I still sometimes wonder if I’ve completely accepted it).

I have always tried to be a rational person. But sometimes I feel like a hypocrite. For example, I hold ethical values in the highest standards. Rationality and ethics do not really go hand in hand for a long time. How can a person be rational and ethical at the same time? – This question has been making me feel like a hypocrite. I have lived a majority of my life in a state of constant conflict of mind – rational Bipin vs emotional Bipin (People call it mind vs heart) . Eventually, most of the times, I would end up making the decisions in the favour of the rational Bipin, and while it has yielded material benefits, it has failed miserably to keep me happy. There were regrets, always, and thus anger was a constant state of mind, despite the material gains.

A few days ago, Stephen Hawking passed away. I had his book ‘The Grand Design‘ but never really read it through. I fell sick and this led me to take off from my work and landed me ample time to read through the book again. And the memories of Newton, Einstein, Quantum Physics and the dual nature of light were refreshed.

It just clicked me – what if like the light has a dual nature, may be the life is meant to be lived in a dual nature too. Some times, one need to be rational while sometimes we ought to weigh the emotions more. This made me recall a phrase – “Follow your heart but take your brain with you“.

It has now been a week since I am trying to live with this modified theory of life. So far, things have looked good. I have already overcome overthinking to some extent and I am leading a relatively (even if infinitesimally) peaceful life – with relatively more actions and relatively less overthinking.

As absurd as it may seem, Quantum physics seems to be holding the key for me (analogies drawn indeed) to lead a more stable and better life.

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