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The Conceptual Revolution

We stand on the brink of a revolutionary change to our understanding of reality. 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. 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)

When it comes to the true nature of the reality we live in, it has left everyone behind. As Nick Herbert wrote in Quantum Reality:

Basically physicists have suffered a severe loss: their hold on reality (1985, 15).

This is not for lack of expertise; the physicists 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. Unexpectedly, this has major implications for everyday life.

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 seeds of the industrial revolution were sewed.

One hundred years ago the fundamentals of the new physics were discovered, and the age of modern technology was born, 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?. The answer is we still do not know. It is not clear how exactly reality is defined, and how it actually works. This is the technical issue in quantum theory that is encapsulated in the well-known ‘measurement problem‘.

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. It is all too alien. In other words, it is too far removed from the current paradigm, the well-established and generally-accepted scientific worldview.

The New Paradigm

This is the very problem described by Thomas Kuhn, an influential physicist and philosopher of physics. His work addresses the difficulties of updating the scientific paradigm, even when it is clear that this is inadequate or even wrong; solutions that do not conform to the current paradigm are just assumed to be mistakes. He came to see the whole issue as a linguistic problem. As he explained, a new vocabulary is required in order to make sense of the new explanatory principles, a new lexicon. Here it is shown that analysis in terms of ‘logical type’ resolves the great paradoxes, and reveals the meaning of the new physics. Both pillars of the new physics have deep paradoxes because obvious and fundamental attributes of the world have no explanation in the physics; but in the light of this analysis it is clear the physics is complete and correct, but there is a further explanatory principle that has been missing.

The new paradigm is a huge revision, a conceptual revolution. 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.The problem is that reality is personal, as described by QBism. This is nonsensical from the perspective of our current worldview, which is why the full meaning of the physics has been invisible. In the current paradigm the individual is totally irrelevant to how the world at large operates, and could not possibly be otherwise. But the world one actually encounters is determinate solely where observed, as QBism describes. 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 linked content giving further explanation.


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