artists are at a great place right now – being able to visualize what a quantum world looks like, creating the logo.
The term “quantum object”, although regularly used in physics, is really an oxymoron. An “object” is something that lives completely in the paradigm of classical physics: It has an independent reality in itself, it behaves deterministically, and it has definite physical properties, such as occupying a well-defined volume in space and time. For the “quantum object” all those seemingly self-evident truths become false: Its reality is one that is relative to the observer, the principle of causality is violated, and other features of materiality such as clear boundaries in space and time, being objectively located or even possessing identity, do not pertain.
Unable to perceive the world on the quantum level without sophisticated technology, our intuition about the nature of reality is shaped by the comparative crudeness of our unaided senses. If we, for example, observe an apple falling from a tree, we naturally assume that the apple has an identity and is one and the same thing before, during, and after the fall. Quantum physics, however, teaches us that there is no real continuity of “objects” around us. The image we perceive as “the apple” is actually the rapid accumulation of an astronomical number of single, indivisible quanta of experience, or events. These quanta of experience are individual little flashes of light that our brain automatically connects into familiar objects that then appear to us as constant.
In the most basic manifestation of entanglement, two twin-like particles share a connection that is deeper than anything thought possible in classical physics. The two particles’ states are tied together as if they were located at the same spot, even though they might be separated by light-years. It has been hypothesized that phenomena showing similar connections between humans, like extrasensory perception, are manifestations of such entanglement.
Quantum physics is the scientific foundation of practically everything we encounter in the world, including the miracle of life. Despite its overwhelming importance and its fundamental status in science, quantum theory remains philosophically extraordinarily problematic. After struggling with it for the last hundred years, we cannot escape the fact that there simply are no consistent mental images we can create to understand the world as it is portrayed in quantum physics. I believe that the advent of quantum physics in the sciences and the rise of modernism in the arts in the early twentieth century represent two facets of the same profound shift in the cultural evolution of humankind. The uneasiness many of us experience when dealing with either illustrates how little we have grappled yet with the consequences of this paradigm shift.