Sunday, December 25, 2011

Are we connected?

I am constantly amazed at minds ability to constantly find things to occupy itself. And this time my brain is trying to answer a philosophical conundrum. Are we connected?

OK here is a brief background of what does this question mean to me or how did I start thinking about it. I was listening to this physics lecture about atoms and quantum particles and how they interact. The presenter was pointing out the facts how everything around us is created of atoms molecules and sub atomic particles. How the food we eat and air we breathe has these particles. This got me thinking...... does this mean we are all connected? Let me elaborate about my train of thought. We all eat food and breathe in air which we know is used by our body to produce energy using various bio-chemical reactions. But there are also certain by-products which are released back into the blood stream and finally into the environment, for example carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide is used by plants during photosynthesis to generate energy and produce oxygen used by other creatures, on this planet, for respiration. Same thing with the food we consume and excrete. It recycles itself after decomposition. From a macroscopic view all seems so disconnected and each process seems completely independent. But when I try to zoom in and get a closer view, I find something mind boggling. My body, my tissues, my cells are made up of atoms. The chemical reaction in my body is interaction between the atoms in oxygen molecules I inhaled and the food I ate. Same thing is true for the trees which absorb the carbon dioxide generated by the reactions within the molecules in my body. These oxygen atoms/molecules are then used by some other organism for its metabolism. Now if I try to look at the level of sub atomic particles, there should have been an interaction between the particles within my body, within the tree and so on. I am assuming interaction between molecules happened as there was a change in energy states of particles and new particles/compounds were formed. I believe that with these interactions at sub atomic level I am interacting with almost each and every particle on this planet. Not only present but from distant past.

This begets my quandary. Are we all connected? Can my thinking be affected by some other organism? Is butterfly effect a fact of life?

Another thought that emerged from my previous argument was that do these interactions make me, in a way, immortal? After all the atomic particles never die they are just recycled in nature. Although I know I will forget about this in a month or so. But I still find it amusing just to think that I am just a recreation of some atomic entity which existed in past and I may exist forever after I disintegrate / decompose after my death. (I believe this thought of mine may have been inspired by from planet Gaia from Isaac Asimov foundation series) And here we are trying to cheat death every day when we know it is inevitable. While in reality there is no me, you or us. It is in reality everything but at the same time nothing.