Quantum Theory Can't Explain All of Life's Mysteries

Article excerpt

There's a principle in pseudoscience where, if you have two things you can't explain, you can often put them together and convince yourself they might solve each other. Separately, you've still got two mysteries, but shackled together they suggest there's an answer in there somewhere. It's known as the "conservation of mysteries", because it gets you nowhere.

The central pillar here is usually quantum theory. Experiments show that the fundamental particles of nature, which follow the laws of quantum theory, are able to do seemingly ridiculous things. They can, for instance, exist in two places at once. In certain situations, widely separated particles--which can be on opposite sides of the universe--are also able to influence each other without any physical link, a phenomenon known as entanglement.

Though strange, these abilities are well established, confirmed in experiments. They are forming the basis of a new generation of computing and cryptography tools, and giving us profound insights into the laws of physics.

They are also a godsend for anyone who is stuck for a good explanation. Because these strange quantum effects don't fit in with our everyday experience of the world, they have been invoked to resolve myriad things we don't yet understand, such as supernatural phenomena. Quantum theory has also been used as an explanation for how water could form memories of the substances that have been dissolved within it, a useful idea for homoeopaths.

Then there is consciousness. Many good scientists are researching consciousness with due diligence, and they should have been protesting outside the Aula Magna Hall of Stockholm University during the first week in May as scientists, doctors, poets and mystics gathered there for the annual "Towards a Science of Consciousness" conference. …