The Conceptual Revolution
We stand on the brink of a revolutionary change to our understanding of reality, possibly the greatest of all time. There has been a major scientific revolution, but it is incomplete. The final step is to understand the meaning of the new physics we have discovered. Unexpectedly, this has major implications for everyday life.
As stated by Heinz Pagels:
We live in the wake of a physics revolution comparable to the Copernican demolition of the anthropocentric world – a revolution which began with the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics in the first decade of this century and which has left most educated people behind. (1982, 347)
Basically physicists have suffered a severe loss: their hold on reality (1985, 15).
However, they have a very keen grasp on physical reality. It is the reality one actually encounters, which is not quite the same thing, that they have lost their hold on. In truth no one ever had it. It is a new discovery of considerable significance.
The Current Paradigm
Three hundred years ago Isaac Newton transformed human understanding of the world. The physics of Newtonian mechanics showed that the world is essentially a huge physical mechanism. This became the scientific paradigm, the well-established and generally-accepted scientific worldview. This is also called the classical view. With this understanding the industrial revolution was born.
One hundred years ago the fundamentals of the new physics were discovered. The growth of new technologies went into top gear, culminating in the current information age. But the science still cannot determine exactly what reality is. In September 2012, New Scientist magazine published a special issue What is Reality?. We still do not know, was the conclusion. This reason is that quantum theory seems ambiguous, which is the everyday meaning of the measurement problem. This is the great paradox of quantum theory.
In relativity the great paradoxes are the passage of time, and the Now, meaning the present moment. These issues are seldom addressed but they remain stubborn issues that appear to show that the science is incomplete. It is generally assumed these unresolved problems mean that the new physics needs more work, or that a further discovery will reveal the resolution of the paradoxes. In fact, however, the solutions to all these issues have already been discovered, it is just we have not been able to recognise them.
The New Paradigm
In both pillars of the new physics deep paradoxes exist because obvious and fundamental attributes of the world have no explanation in the physics. The resolution is that these are phenomena of a different ‘logical type’. The paradoxes arise because we are trying to explain them in terms of physical existence but this does not work, hence their longstanding nature.
The new paradigm is a huge revision, a conceptual revolution; it even transforms our concept of ourselves. Nonetheless, this is exactly what we should expect. Had the solution of these problems not required a radical leap into the unknown, it would all have been worked out a long time ago. These puzzles have been plaguing the new physics for a hundred years.
The implications are truly bizarre from the perspective of our current worldview. In the current paradigm the individual is totally irrelevant to how the world at large operates. But as shown by ‘QBism‘ the world is personal. It is determinate solely where you have observed it. Extraordinary implications follow. The resolution of the paradoxes of relativity brings even wilder changes to the paradigm. A summary of the new perspective is provided in Overview, with subsidiary pages giving further explanation.