Get ready to have your mind blown. According to an experiment led by two physicists in Australia, reality doesn’t exist. Turn on, tune in, and drop out man, because the world as you know it is all kinds of weird, at least on a quantum level.
Andrew Truscott and Roman Khakimov of The Australian National University used atoms to put a John Wheeler delayed-choice thought experiment to practical use. The Wheeler thought experiments ask, in theory, at what point does an object decide to act like one thing or another.
Truscott and Khakimov’s team used what is assumed to be extremely expensive and complex scientific equipment to trap a single helium atom and then drop it through a pair of laser beams that formed a scattered grating pattern.
Another set of lasers was then added at random intervals to recombine the beams, which, on a quantum level, made it seem like the single atom had traveled two different paths along the beams. When the second set of lasers was taken away, the atom seemed as if it only chose to go on one beam.
Are you still with us? Does your head hurt? Quantum physics is known to do that.
According to Truscott,
If one chooses to believe that the atom really did take a particular path or paths, then one has to accept that a future measurement is affecting the atom’s past. The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence.
Instead of the common sense argument that the atom either went down one path or the other regardless of where it ended up, the quantum physics explanation says otherwise.
Whether you observed the atom going down one path or two only depends on how it was measured at the end of its micro-sized and kind of improbable journey, which in a sense means reality itself doesn’t exist unless you’re observing it.
If it makes you feel any better, this particular experiment is only feasible at the quantum level, and would be nearly impossible to apply to everyday life. But it also shows that fabric of space/time is absolutely nuts and hardly makes any sense. But don’t worry, reality doesn’t exist anyway.