“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”
– Quote attributed to Albert Einstein
Yes, this is quite a bold statement, if true, that would certainly demand some sort of evidence or mathematical proof to back it up. It may seem like a paradox that the things which we can see and touch are nonexistent. However, there is an answer to this, which may be found in the bold and exciting (relatively) new science of quantum physics.
In ages past, it was believed that what we can see and touch, like a rock for instance, was the elements, in other words, matter. However, as science developed, such as chemistry, and much more recently quantum physics, it had been observed that matter seems to exist on one hand, but once one takes a deep look into the heart of the matter (no pun intended), there seems as if there is nothing. In atoms, you have mostly protons, neutrons and electrons. However, electrons for example, are insignificantly microscopic and spread out over enormous distances. Inbetween them, there is what is perceived as empty space. In fact, 99.99999% of an atom is this so-called ’empty space’. Even if we look into electrons, protons, etc, we see that there is yet more open space. Gluons, neutrinos and the like are also in there somewhere but no matter how far into these particles we look, there is not anything that we can say quantifiably that it is the building block of all of this. What’s more, electrons literally possess no dimension. An electron is simply not an object as we know it. There is nothing. However, our eyes and observations are fooling us because indeed this nothing is something but we can not quantifiably say it is something and therefore it is nothing. There has to exist an energy that holds all these particles together like a sort of glue, or else matter would not exist because it would be akin to having a rock turn into sand that can not stay together as a rock any longer.
There have been some notable quantum physicists, such as Dr. Fred Alan Wolf, that have been looking to fuse science with spirituality…and with relative success. Below is from an article attributed to Dr. Wolf concerning his perception of this most-interesting issue at hand.
Quantum physics has thus brought about a radical new understanding both of the particles and the void. In subatomic physics, mass is no longer seen as a material substance but is recognized as a form of energy. When a piece of seemingly solid matter–a rock or a human hand or the limb of a tree–is placed under a powerful electronic microscope: the electron-scanning microscope, with the power to magnify several thousand times, takes us down into a realm that has the look of the sea about it… In the kingdom of corpuscles, there is transfiguration and there is samsara, the endless round of birth and death. Every passing second, some 2-1/2 million red cells are born; every second, the same number die. The typical cell lives about 110 days, then becomes tired and decrepit. There are no lingering deaths here, for when a cell loses its vital force, it somehow attracts the attention of macrophage.
As the magnification increases, the flesh does begin to dissolve. Muscle fiber now takes on a fully crystaline aspect. We can see that it is made of long, spiral molecules in orderly array. And all of these molecules are swaying like wheat in the wind, connected with one another and held in place by invisible waves that pulse many trillions of times a second. What are the molecules made of? As we move closer, we see atoms, the tiny shadowy balls dancing around their fixed locations in the molecules, sometimes changing position with their partners in perfect rhythms. And now we focus on one of the atoms; its interior is lightly veiled by a cloud of electrons. We come closer, increasing the magnification. The shell dissolves and we look on the inside to find…nothing.
Somewhere within that emptiness, we know is a nucleus. We scan the space, and there it is, a tiny dot. At last, we have discovered something hard and solid, a reference point. But no! as we move closer to the nucleus, it too begins to dissolve. It too is nothing more than an oscillating field, waves of rhythm. Inside the nucleus are other organized fields: protons, neutrons, even smaller “particles.” Each of these, upon our approach, also dissolve into pure rhythm. These days they (the scientists) are looking for quarks, strange subatomic entities, having qualities which they describe with such words as upness, downness, charm, strangeness, truth, beauty, color, and flavor. But no matter. If we could get close enough to these wondrous quarks, they too would melt away. They too would have to give up all pretense of solidity. Even their speed and relationship would be unclear, leaving them only relationship and pattern of vibration.
Of what is the body made? It is made of emptiness and rhythm. At the ultimate heart of the body, at the heart of the world, there is no solidity. Once again, there is only the dance. (At) the unimaginable heart of the atom, the compact nucleus, we have found no solid object, but rather a dynamic pattern of tightly confined energy vibrating perhaps 1022 times a second: a dance… The protons–the positively charged knots in the pattern of the nucleus–are not only powerful; they are very old. Along with the much lighter electrons that spin and vibrate around the outer regions of the atom, the protons constitute the most ancient entities of matter in the universe, going back to the first seconds after the birth of space and time.
It follows then that in the world of subatomic physics there are no objects, only processes. Atoms consist of particles and these particles are not made of any solid material substance. When we observe them under a microscope, we never see any substance; we rather observe dynamic patterns, continually changing into one another–a continuous dance of energy. This dance of energy, the underlying rhythm of the universe, is again more intuited than seen. Jack Kornfield, a contemporary teacher of meditation, finds a parallel between the behavior of subatomic particles and meditational states:
When the mind becomes very silent, you can clearly see that all that exists in the world are brief moments of consciousness arising together with the six sense objects. There is only sight and the knowing of sight, sound and the knowing of sound, smell, taste and the knowing of them, thoughts and the knowing of thoughts. If you can make the mind very focused, as you can in meditation, you see that the whole world breaks down into these small events of sight and the knowing, sound and the knowing, thought and the knowing. No longer are these houses, cars, bodies or even oneself. All you see are particles of consciousness as experience. Yet you can go deep in meditation in another way and the mind becomes very still. You will see differently that consciousness is like waves, like a sea, an ocean. Now it is not particles but instead every sight and every sound is contained in this ocean of consciousness. From this perspective, there is no sense of particles at all.
If truly being the words of Dr. Wolf, I believe this above explanation of this fascinating reality is a beautiful description of the issue at hand.
So how is it that we exist as matter? Albert Einstein alluded to this answer. We, the people of this beautiful planet, are really beings made of energy, but we exist at the 3rd dimension because our atoms have a specific frequency which makes us able to exist in this very 3rd dimension. This specific frequency is stable enough for all our lifetime. Using this information, if we are indeed capable of accelerating and decelerating the frequencies to make us able to exist in the 3rd dimension, then naturally, we can use this in order to travel inter-dimensionally throughout the infinite multiverse…and here lies the key to the true evolution of the human being race. Once we learn, or progress far enough, to accelerate and decelerate the vibrating frequencies of our atoms, then, in theory, we will be able to exist in the 5th dimension and in parallel universes of this wonderful multiverse.
Update (9.26.09): I have been informed that the quote attributed to Albert Einstein in the beginning of the article, as well as the article quotations attributed to Fred Alan Wolf are not in the specific terms which these two physicists have used. However, upon deeper research, I have found enough evidence to be compelled to believe that the general message of matter not being definitive to still hold true. A quote from Einstein’s “Metaphysics of Relativity” (1950) is as follows:
“Physical objects are not in space, but these objects are spatially extended (as fields). In this way the concept ’empty space’ loses its meaning. … The field thus becomes an irreducible element of physical description, irreducible in the same sense as the concept of matter (particles) in the theory of Newton.”
A bit of extra information concerning this subject, Max Planck is attributed to saying in a lecture that was given in Florence that “As a physicist, that is, a man who had devoted his whole life to a wholly prosaic science, the exploration of matter, no one would surely suspect me of being a fantast. And so, having studied the atom, I am telling you that there is no matter as such. All matter arises and persists only due to a force that causes the atomic particles to vibrate, holding them together in the tiniest of solar systems, the atom. Yet in the whole of the universe there is no force that is either intelligent or eternal, and we must therefore assume that behind this force there is a conscious, intelligent mind or spirit. This is the very origin of all matter.”
Source of this quote is supposedly from the following:
Pauli, Wolfgang: THE INFLUENCE OF ARCHETYPICAL PRESENTATIONS ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE NATURAL SCIENCE THEORY BY KEPPLER in: Jung Pauli: NATURAL EXPLANATION AND PSYCHE, Zuerich 1952, p. 163
My apologies if the quotations were not verbatim. I have modified the article to represent this possibility.