Reprinted from New Visions Magazine
Quantum Physics De-Mystified
Interview by Edie Weinstein-Moser, MSW
When most people hear the word ‘physicist’, the thought of someone cerebral and professorial; complete with pen-laden pocket protector whose use of language is beyond the capacity of the average person to comprehend comes to mind. This image couldn’t be farther from the truth of the man who graces this month’s cover of New Visions. Yes, Dr. Fred Alan Wolf is a physicist who could, no doubt, hold his own in a room filled with the type of folks described in the first few words of this paragraph, but he does something that very few others on the planet can do as succinctly. He translates complicated concepts into easy to grasp images and metaphors. With a Ph.D in Theoretical Physics from UCLA, he is best known for his role in the breakthrough movie “What The Bleep Do We Know?” which I would describe as a film that profoundly explores “life, the universe and everything.” He is the author of many books including Taking the Quantum Leap, Parallel Universes, The Dreaming Universe, The Eagle’s Quest, The Spiritual Universe, Mind into Matter, Matter into Feeling and his latest book, The Yoga of Time Travel: How the Mind Can defeat Time
New Visions Magazine: The first thing that leapt out at me when I was looking at your website, www.fredalanwolf.com, was your persona named Captain Quantum. Can you tell me about him?
Fred Alan Wolf: Captain Quantum was a creature I invented back in 1981 when I first appeared on stage with Timothy Leary at the Wilshire Ebells Theater in Los Angeles. He had me come on as the opening act. I decided to do a kind of quantum magic show, illustrating the ideas of quantum physics. The cartoon you saw was made for a publication called “Futures Magazine” in 1982. The article was written about me and therefore I decided to import it to my web page and it’s been there for four or five years. Captain Quantum reappeared as Dr. Quantum in the movie “What The Bleep…” You can see him on the cover of the comic book that the character Reggie holds in his hands as he talks about where he learns all this stuff about quantum physics and says, “from Dr. Quantum Magazine.”, as he shows it to one of the characters. I have several products coming out on the market: “Dr. Quantum Presents…the User’s Guide to Your Universe” that just came out in CD (a 6 CD set) and another CD that will be coming out in the Fall called The Real Creator: You. A book that is coming out in the next couple of months is called The Little Book of Big Ideas.
What I’m up to these days is kind of a three-pronged attack. The first prong is: what is quantum physics and why should I care? The second prong is: how can I use quantum physics in my life in some way and make sense of it? By three it’s really the spiritual aspect of it. Several scientists and I believe that quantum physics is pointing to a new understanding of spirituality.
New Visions Magazine: Can you explain the connection between quantum physics and consciousness?
Fred Alan Wolf: It’s not easy to explain; in fact it’s the major mystery of our age. The fact that there is a connection seems to be fairly well accepted although some people think that there may not be any connection at all. Anybody who has studied the problem to any great extent has come to the conclusion that there must be some kind of connection and that’s because we experience the world in two different ways. There’s the world we can understand through our ideas of the world and there’s the world that we experience in our every day lives. To the extent that one is like the other is what science is really all about. Heretofore, it was thought that science just played a role in a sense that there are undiscovered laws and that if we discovered them, we could become better human beings. These would be cause and effect kind of laws; if somebody does this, then that outcome is bound to occur. The world that we live in doesn’t seem to quite fit that. There’s always been a little bit of slipperiness to the world that we never quite get things to go the way we want them to go and the question is: Why is that? It was first thought that we were inept in some way and that there was some kind of error built into human beings and we couldn’t get a grip on things. It seems now that there is maybe a quantum mystery that is being revealed to us. There’s a reason why we can’t get a grip on things and that’s because things themselves are indeterminate to some degree. There’s a blurry fuzziness around everything that may be so imperceptible that as far as you’re concerned, it doesn’t exist. Nevertheless, it’s very real and if you try to explain how things hold together and you leave this fuzziness out, nothing would hold together; it would crumble into pieces. We need that quantum fuzziness to act as a stability agent. Now, the question is, what’s making the fuzziness? The best we can come up with is that it appears that mind is what’s making the fuzziness. It’s not that the objects are there in sharp detail and we’re bumping them around. It’s more like the objects are there in fuzzy detail and we’re bringing them into sharp detail moment by moment by moment. They may be so rapid that we don’t pay attention to them or so slow that we can’t pay attention to them. That’s where the human being comes into the equation: how can I get a hold of this fuzzy slippery stuff in my life and make my life more meaningful and masterful in what I do with it.
New Visions Magazine: You talk about the term “the new alchemy”. How would you define it?
Fred Alan Wolf: It’s an interesting term and it rose primarily because I was interested in expressing these transformative abilities that we humans have in a language that would be understandable to every day people. Sometimes it’s useful to take several steps backward in history before we go forward. There’s a famous saying by Lenin “One step forward, two steps back.”, thinking about the revolution in Russia. It’s more like we take several steps backward to go forward. In this case, what we’re doing is going back to the main ideas of the ancient alchemists as they tried to perceive and makes sense of their own worlds. They recognized this fuzziness and were dealing with the transformation of lead into gold, which really was at it’s heart, the transformation of the basic roughness of the human being into something more spiritually awake. The ideas that I presented in two of my books called “Mind into Matter,” and “Matter into Feeling” wanted to go that old idea and use alchemy in terms of quantum physics. It’s a new kind of leap here. It basically works through four functions that all human beings have that they can bring to bear in whatever situations they find themselves in. One of the functions is thinking. We presumably can think and not that many people know how to think very well, but there certainly is a process going on that is a creation of words. Then we can feel. Feeling is a complimentary aspect of thinking. It’s not something that can even be stated in words, but we all know what a feeling is and they can lead into thoughts or body sensations or intuition. You can ask a person, “What do you think about this?” and the person may respond, “Well, I feel it’s better to do it this way…” They’re not really thinking. They’re coming up with a feeling which is a very primal thing and very hard to define because they are so basic to our nature. Everything alive feels, sensing vibration. Not just vibrations of physical-ness, but the inherent fuzziness, which I would call the buzz of feeling. The other functions are sensing and intuiting. You could place each one of them at a different cardinal point…North, South, East and West and when you do so, you could compare them to the ancient alchemist’s view of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. You can more or less get some idea that there is a correspondence between them. That’s what the new alchemy is all about, the science of transforming the human personality.
New Visions Magazine: For those who have not seen “What The Bleep…” how would you describe it?
Fred Alan Wolf: It’s a spiritual movie based upon the knowledge we currently have of quantum physics and some off-shoots of it, including some speculative thoughts about water and some of the experimental evidence that people can change the optical properties of water crystals by thought or by feeling in some way into how the biology of the body works. All that is the intellectual stuff that is imbedded into an ordinary time story of a young woman who is having typical kinds of problems that young women have in pursuing their lives and making ends meet.
New Visions Magazine: Has anyone thought to take the water molecule experiment a step further and use actual bodily fluids, since we are made up of a high percentage of water?
Fred Alan Wolf: It’s a good idea; looking at urine for example, or blood to see if there are any changes there.
New Visions Magazine: How has playing a key role in the movie changed your life?
Fred Alan Wolf: Very much so in amazing ways. One thing that’s happening is that I have gotten extremely busy. I’m at the so-called age where people who aren’t my age are doing one of two things: they either have already been retired for five years or are in the process of dying. I’m in the process of working harder than I’ve ever worked and willing. I’m having fun and doing what I want to do. It’s nice to make this kind of money. I’ve never made money like this before. I’m basically a mild mannered Clark Kent. Now I’m becoming Dr. Quantum. I’m going to be going around to High Schools to talk with students about stuff. I’m going to appear in England and promoting “What the Bleep.” I’ll be at Omega on May 13th and the book expo in New York City.
New Visions Magazine: I know that you’re intrigued by time travel. How would you define time?
Fred Alan Wolf: I have a funny answer for that. When St. Augustine was asked to define time, he said “I know what it is, but when you ask me to describe it to you, I don’t know what it is.” It’s kind of a funny thing to try to define. I try to look at time in every conceivable operational, that is, hands-on way that we could possibly do it. It goes from looking at clocks to experiencing our own internal sense of time and the time of day and night, the usual things we infer about time and what that all is. Then we have something we experience; in order to make sense of and objectify, we’ve labeled as time. Actually there’s nothing in that experience is anything like time. What we call time is the relationship of these shots of experiences and events. I don’t know how to define these events, because I have to use an implicit notion of time and that’s what makes time so slippery. Memory gives us a sense of time and anticipation of the future gives us a sense of time and recollection of the past gives us a sense of time. When we try to define it in physics, we get into all kinds of trouble, because in thought, time is the same for everybody, but in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and quantum mechanics, they find that time is even more slippery, because there is no absolute time, two people can go from one event to the next and one person can feel, sense and measure by their own clocks that hours passed and another person going through the same event, may experience it in a manner of seconds. There is relativity in time. There is no absolute time. In quantum physics, we are looking at ways to move through time and there are several schema which I talk about in my book The Yoga of Time Travel: How the Mind Can Defeat Time.
New Visions Magazine: As you travel the globe, what commonalities do you discover in people?
Fred Alan Wolf: There is one basic thing that seems to be inevitably present in all people, which I would call a natural tendency to be compassionate. It may be the only thing that is absolutely the same in all people and I would call it the inherent spiritual nature of the human condition. What’s not natural is the desire to have power over another. It occurs when an animal is hungry. I think our acts of brutality, of craziness…in order to train people to go to war, you do have to train it in; it’s not natural.
Edie Weinstein-Moser is an interfaith minister, social worker, writer, speaker, reiki master and clown. She recognizes the blessings in every relationship in her life. She can be reached at 215-249-9190 or via her website: www.liveinjoy.com.Together with Peter Moses, she offers workshops entitled Happiness Is Just The Icing, Joy Is The Cake, Wellness: Longevity and Quality of Life and Creativity...Yes!