Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Observer Effect

It is a law of physics that the mere act of observation changes/affects that which is being observed.

There has been many experiments in the field of quantum mechanics - the science of the very small, where it has been proven that the electrons that surround the nucleus of an atom, which are non-local in nature (not in one precise point but rather in a cloud of potentiality) only condense to become local if they are being observed. So in essence they move from potentially being anywhere and everywhere in the orbit of a nucleus to a precise point only if someone is there to watch it.

I hope I haven't made an absolute mess of trying to break down ridiculously complex physics into basic language but I really wanted to post something which is scientific law and relevant to our everyday experience.

There are many examples where this law could be used to illustrate its veracity. I'll use creative license and talk about two such examples.

  1. A metaphoric example: Since this blog is partly about living one's dreams, I thought I would attempt to make a link between this immutable law and the act of achieving one's goals. As we continually make lists of things we like to see, do, have, accomplish, experience, etc, we create a field of potentiality; one that we continue to hone, refine, improve upon and so on as time goes by and our life experience builds. It just so happens that the actual achievement of said goal/s only comes when you have kept your attention on it (taking time, effort, opportunity, luck and the other nebulous bits) to bring the dream out of the ether into solid reality. What you think about you bring about we're constantly told...
  2.  A literal example: Since this blog is also about the creative endeavor - specifically writing, here is an example where I have personal experience... With writing I have repeatedly come across the advice that you should be careful about showing anyone your writing - whilst it is in its draft stages (the question of 'when is a book truly finished?' will be tackled in a future post). The reason being is that your reader/observer through your invitation will affect your writing through sharing opinion, asking a question, making a comment, omitting a comment, making a facial expression (real or imagined), and on it goes. Sometimes this can be to the benefit of the story and other times to its detriment - but either way, it will change the beast and affect you, the writer. It cannot be any other way. 
Food for thought, no? So keep it in the back of your mind that merely observing something or someone does have a powerful effect. The ramifications are awesome.

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