Why does nature obey mathematical formulas?
Since Galileo Galilei we have known the idea of the laws of nature. A nature that neatly adheres to exact mathematical formulations. These laws describe the supposed immutable mandatory rules that nature has to adhere to. Since Galilei it has proved possible to discover the mathematical descriptions of those laws. It has become the task of the physicist to find them so that we can predict the behavior of the universe with increasing precision. And yes, we are only too happy to predict the future. Alas, quantum physics has thrown there a spanner in the wheels, but the consolation is that the future of large objects can still be predicted very well, the bigger the more precise, but in the small we lose that possibility.
A small selection of those ‘laws’ that we have ‘discovered’ since Galilei:
- Newton’s first law: the law of inertia: An object on which no resulting force acts stays at rest or moves in a straight line, and at a constant speed.
- Newton’s third law: Action and reaction are of the same magnitude and opposite.
- Conservation law of energy and mass: the amount of mass (plus energy) in the universe is constant. No new mass is created and no mass disappears. Mass is solidified energy.
- Gravitational relativity time dilation Law: time slows down in a gravitational field. The greater the gravity, the slower the clock is ticking.
- The second law of thermodynamics: the entropy of a closed system can only decrease. This means in simple words that the coherence of the parts of that system, because it is closed, necessarily eventually dissolves into chaos.
- Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle: The greater the precision with which the location of an object can be determined, the smaller the precision with which we can determine the speed. And vice versa.
- Quantum ‘Law’: The location and speed of an object in time can be described as a wave of possibilities. This is the state wave. The state wave extends in time and space without limits. It is a wave of potential. The intensity of that wave at a certain location and time indicates the magnitude of the probability that we will find the object when observing at that location and time. This is not yet accepted as a law actually, but it is an extremely accurate interpretation of the meaning of the solution of the Schrödinger equation. Many experiments have confirmed that the object has no speed and location before its observation. It therefore cannot be said to exist before its observation.
All these laws – and more – are discovered by humanity in the last centuries and are all laid down in mathematical formulations. Nature’s behavior can be described apparently very well with mathematical formulas. Many prominent physicists have already expressed surprise and wonder at this willingness of nature. But the more common opinion is that nature should obey to these laws anytime, anywhere. Basta. That opinion is the source of the following statement by Pierre-Simon Laplace (1814):
We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom.
For such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past could be present before its eyes.
That everything would be predictable – albeit in principle – meant not only the end of chance and of free will, but also that Laplace’s demon is in fact powerless. He knows everything but has to watch the course of events idly. You would almost feel sorry for him. Laplace’s statement is from before the introduction of quantum physics. A physics theory that posits the unpredictability of nature on an atomic scale as a fundamental property of nature. But Laplace still has a major influence on our ideas of reality today
That the mathematical formulations we have found since Galilei have been promoted to laws illustrates the human need for certainties. If something happens often enough, we declare it a certainty. Just like that turkey that gets fresh food every day from the farmer’s wife, which he could declare then a law – till his surprise at Christmas. Rupert Sheldrake also throws the bat into the henhouse in the presentation below by stating that the so-called natural laws are probably just habits of nature.
Even God would better stick to the laws of nature
What is the place of God in this? For the God who has been presented to us by most religions, that does not seem very different from that of that poor demon. The big difference is that God can intervene. Which means he’s overruling then the laws of the universe at his whim. Something we would rather not have, as that makes us powerless. We would rather have a trustworthy God that sticks to his laws. We would then at least have the (false) certainty of the predictable results of our actions, even when we are facing an almighty entity, right?
The past is created and fixed by the observation in the NOW
In the delayed choice experiments, which I also discuss in detail elsewhere on this website, it has been demonstrated that what happened in the past – history – is created and recorded only at the time of observation – NOW. Also have a look at my ‘Schrödinger stopwatch in a closed box’ thought experiment. That is easier to understand and says essentially the same thing. The past is recorded upon observation in accordance with the knowledge that is available to us at that time. Before that observation, that past did not exist. Past is in fact just memory.
That is the inescapable conclusion of the delayed choice experiments I discuss elsewhere. If we can have knowledge of the slit through which the photon passes in the double slit experiment, the state wave that describes that photon will only pass through one slit. The probability that the photon was in the other slit is zero. Even if that information only arrives in our awareness later. This apparent retro-causality follows inescapably from the results of the delayed choice experiments. It cannot, of course, happen that this outcome may conflict with information that surfaced at a later time. That would incur a real change of the already recorded past and therefore mean real retro-causality. That existing but unseen information still influences the outcome of an experiment is an even more stunning conclusion. It means that the universe must therefore be aware of existing but still unobserved information! This is indeed congruent with the law of conservation of information that quantum physicists have discovered.
Incidentally, creating the past by observing also explains the apparent retrocausality that occurred in the parapsychological experiments of Helmut Schmidt and Marilyn Schlitz that I describe extensively in two previous blogs (here and here).
An intelligent and intentional operating universe
In other words, the universe makes everything – in retrospect – happen, matching the expectations we have of it, based on available information, although that information is not yet known to us. As far as I am concerned, that is enormously impressive intelligent behavior of the universe. The Universe is therefore very probably aware of our current knowledge plus the existing knowledge that we are not yet aware of – but that will in the future be at our disposal – and finally of our expectations we have on the basis of what we know. The Universe then ensures that the observed events, our experiences, correspond to that knowledge plus our expectations based on that knowledge and on previous experiences.
That’s Hollywood studio’s on steriods over glassfiber – no, it’s infinitely more than that.
Even when the knowledge where the Universe is aware of, is not in our own awareness yet but, for instance, waiting in a drawer, on a yet to be developed photonegative or on a hard drive in a computer, it will be taken into account.
The law of conservation of information
And so we have arrived at a law that was not mentioned in the list at the top this blog. A law discovered by quantum physicists during the last century and that they take as seriously as the other conservation laws: The total amount of information of a closed system is constant. Physicists have discovered that information is a physical reality and must therefore comply with the other conservation laws. In order to use that law in their calculations they express the information of a system in groups of zeros and ones, bits and bytes. That black holes seem to destroy information runs contrary to this conservation law which is at the moment still an issue in physics.
Translate what these physicists understand by their concept of information into available knowledge, the knowledge we can gain about the system if we investigate it. But now I hope you start to suspect that information conservation is not a real law, some script that the universe has to obey following cause and effect blindly. On the contrary, it is very active to ensure that the total knowledge – including still unobserved but somehow existing knowledge – matches precisely what is experienced.
So now becomes clear, I hope, that the laws of nature that we experience are the result of intelligent and intentional behavior of The Universe / God / Source / The One. This means that The Universe monitors and controls everything that happens in the visible and invisible universe down to the smallest detail, in order that what is experienced by us or by any intelligence corresponds to the expectations and knowledge of every living being in that universe. And I think that means that if we adjust our expectations, there will very probably be listened.
It’s time to work on our expectations
For many, right now, our expectations are those that arise from the image of a mind-bogglingly large but completely indifferent universe, in which we have accidentally ended up. On that basis, we will have to make the most of it in that one single life that we have, whereby that ‘best’ is strongly limited by those supreme and inflexible laws of nature. It is therefore high time that we adjust our expectations. I strongly suspect on the basis of the all-knowing, intentional, and attentive character of the universe that we will be listened to.
Each observer is a different perspective of ánd on the universe
And what are we, those observers of the Universe then? That could well be the universe itself divided into a myriad of observers. I think that the simultaneity of all those observations is no problem for such an Universe. After all, it creates time itself as I argue in Schrödinger’s stopwatch. For comparison: The Unix operating system for computers has no problem with simultaneity because of the enormous speed of the processor, if I can make an irreverent comparison with a computer operating system. Each observer is then a unique individual perspective of the universe on itself, a conscious individual peephole to itself.
That is also the solution to the consensus problem in quantum physics that prompted Eugene Wigner – Nobel Prize winner in physics – to abandon his initial belief that it is consciousness that plays a role in the reduction of the state wave – the quantum collapse. He confused his own awareness with the consciousness of the universe.
It is actually abundantly clear that the laws of nature are regularly violated. That’s what we, those little peepholes, call miracles. They have been described and recorded so often and by several witnesses that it is time for us to ‘believe’ more in The Universe / God / Source / The One than in those unchanging indifferent laws of nature.
By believing, however, I do not mean that critical thinking should be suspended, on the contrary.
A warning should be given here, do not confuse expectations with desire. This is what happens when people try to materialize a shining new car by desiring and visualizing the outcome.
Paul J. van Leeuwen graduated in applied physics in Delft TU in 1974. There was little attention to the significance of quantum physics for the view on reality at that time. However, much later in his life he discovered that there is an important and clear connection between quantum physics and consciousness.