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What the Bleep Do We Know

  1. May 11, 2005 #1
    "What the Bleep Do We Know"

    If anyone has seen What the Bleep Do We Know, you'd probably remember one of the physisists saying something along the lines of,... "Matter is really more of a thought, or idea, than anything else". How true is this?

    Also, the movie I love Huckabee's, or I heart Huckabee's, Dustin Hoffman's character says some stuff like,... "If you look close enough, you can't tell where one thing ends and another begins" How true is this?

    One more thing, watching Discovery channel, I heard something about empty space not really existing or something like that. Virtual particles appearing and disappearing into and out of the nothingness we call empty space. That there is really no such thing as a vacuum. How true is this?

  2. jcsd
  3. May 11, 2005 #2


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    Correct, the vacuum is very much alive and kicking! The other side of that coin is that matter is almost all empty space itself. Much of the effect of a table appearing to be solid is a result of the virtual particles.

    Weird, but true. The movie you mention - I saw it unfortunately - is not a very good reference. Like my quick paragraph above, it is easy to say a bunch of gibberish about physical reality and yet not really communicate anything of substance. (Especially if you pick and choose with the purpose of getting people to go "wow".)

    I would definitely recommend reading a good book about quantum reality, there are usually a few at any decent bookstore. :smile:
  4. May 11, 2005 #3


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    yeah, i agree. The movie was a terrible 2 hour long rant about a bunch of new age bs, with a little physics thrown in every once in awhile to further the case (which failed miserably, since the physics in it had no connection to the message about positive thinking they were trying to convey). Okay, i'm calming down now, haha.
  5. May 12, 2005 #4
    I agree the movie was hard to sit through, and while I have read a few science books, none have been exclusively about QM's. But about the physisists opinion in the movie that matter is more of an idea or thought than reality, is this hogwash or does anyone even remotely agree with this guy? Also, any books on QM's yall could recommend, that do not read like textbooks would be appreciated. Since, i'll be getting to the textbooks soon enough.
  6. May 12, 2005 #5


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    How would you know they were even "physicists"?


  7. May 12, 2005 #6
    They should have marketed it not as a documentary but as comedy.
  8. May 13, 2005 #7


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    Damnit. *sigh*. I was planning to see the movie this month in the hope it'd be something good, not this bs. I was only interested because I wanted to see how they would present a scientific topic to the general public. I guess that's just asking for disappointment.
    There's so little real physics in the media, even the documentaries about physics on the Geographic channel show only speculation and unproven stuff about how we will be traveling through wormholes in the future, while instead they should be telling what our current state of knowlegde is.
    The education system here is killing all the highschool science subjects as well. Where the hell is this going to.

    Ok, done ranting.
  9. May 13, 2005 #8


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    I haven't seen this movie, but "Matter is really more of a thought, or idea, than anything else" seems to mean that the concept of matter is more of an inference rather than something self-evident. I mean, somebody could argue that all we measure really are attributes of matter (color, weight, etc) but not matter directly, so matter (as a concept) serves as a convenient substratum to pin all these attributes together.

    Or, the speaker could be an idealist (like Bishop Berkeley, for example).

    Well, it doesn't matter. :smile:
  10. May 13, 2005 #9
    If you really wanted to look at it like that, then you wouldn't only say matter (i.e. a macroscopic fermionic structure) is an inference, you'd say forces are too. In fact, you wouldn't say colour and weight are the attributes, you could say "quanutm states are really more a thought, or idea, and all we measure really are it's observables (momentum, energy etc)".
  11. May 18, 2005 #10
    i understand now that the movie was mostly jibber jabber, like that rediculous wedding scene? but i respect it soly because if i hadnt seen it i would have no interest in this subject.
  12. May 18, 2005 #11
    when you're living in Singapore. Just having someone knowing anything about modern physics, GR, quantum theory whatever is a rare find. There is an AMAZING lack of apathy for physics in Singapore. All our newspapers feature are bioethics, biomedical, biocrap. I'm not against these fields but I think they only get recognition because they can rake in the cash. People are starting to take up courses in the life sciences not because of interest but rather that there are jobs to be found.

    i think this movie should be screened in Singapore then leave the real physicists to straighten out their minds afterwards.

    but anyway, i think the movie's crap. Worse than the tao of physics.
    Last edited: May 18, 2005
  13. May 24, 2005 #12
    lol the one I couldn't figure out about the film is if it was a quantum physics documentary or a self-help program. To be true, I'd say a lot of the philosophy therein is actually good for your mental health. I suppose you hardcore "don't bleep up my physics" guys weren't too impressed though.

    I bet that basketball kid had like an 180 IQ, smart lil bleeper. :)

    oK bYE
  14. May 30, 2005 #13
    More insight into "What the bleep"

    More insight into "What the bleep":


    I'm doing research for a paper for my philosophy class in which I argue that discoveries in quantum physics are misused by a wide range of people, from filmmakers ("What the Bleep") to religious proponents (Science Of Mind) to makers of laundry cleaning devices (The Laundry Clean Ring - a plastic doughnut filled with water that replaces conventional laundry detergent. It works by "the amazing principles of quantum physics.")

    So, the film is immensely popular, and I keep coming across this idea that even though it's hokum, we should be okay with it because it's getting people interested in science. But, I'm finding that most people I talk to about the movie never questioned that the "experts" might not be any such thing. And they certainly never opened a textbook to find out anything about quantum mechanics for themselves. The vast majority of people watching the film are just not going to make the effort, and so they walk away thinking that science tells them something about their universe that it strictly does not.

    I don't know, it's an interesting problem of whether ends justify the means. I think in this case no.
  15. Jun 3, 2005 #14
    This movie is the reason for my recent interest in science. A friend at work recommended the movie. He said it was great, that is used physics to explain the truth about reality and new ideas about God. So I obtained a copy later that week. I knew very little about physics before watching this film.
    Initially, I recognized 'some' of the information they presented, but then it started to get a little weird. The claims of how the natives couldn't see Columbus's ships and the water crystal experiment set up red flags. There are other questionable studies and experiments referenced, I'm sure someone could write a 20 page review tearing this film to shreds.
    I consider the person that told me about this film to be a fairly intelligent and common sense person, but I was amazed at how much he praised this film. After watching WTB I spent a little time on google and confirmed what I basically already knew. This film, to put it bluntly, is a load of horse #$%#. I also came across TTC and Feynman lectures and a number of sites including this one. So by attempting to feed me a load of BS the movie sparked an interest in learning more about science and seeking out credible sources.
  16. Jun 3, 2005 #15
    Quantum Physics in Singapore

    Actually, Singapore has a significant and growing interest in quantum information technology. They are working to build the world's first city-wide quantum cryptography network http://www.quantumlah.org
  17. Jun 3, 2005 #16
    Consider that matter as we know it consist of almost entirely empty space. I think it is fair to say that our brain creates matter (in the sense that we know it). There is certainly something there, but what we actually sense it to be is a creation of our minds.
  18. Jun 4, 2005 #17

    Thinking back to what got me into science i have to agree with the people that say let people watch it and then try to correct the damage. Before I was a physics student i was always snapping up those articles about worm holes and time travel and reading those sites about perpetual motion machines and things like that. the misinformation downside is unfortunate, but I think the interest it generates outweighs the mis information.
  19. Jun 10, 2005 #18
    on second thought

    I just saw the movie and I'm now going to have to side with the people who say this movie is full of caca. Its more of a 90 minute feel good about yourself and everyone is connected. They claim that quantum mechanics and cellular biology is what does this, but quantum physics enters mostly as a word. There is precious little real physics in it. And there are enough misrepresentations of science to make it more misleading than inspiring.
  20. Jul 4, 2005 #19
    Thanks all and Ivan too - Ivan, delete the other thread if you want.
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