6. We might be able to actually change the past
According to quantum physics, very small things, like atoms, can exist as either waves or particles, but only take on the wave or particle properties when we observe them. Before they're measured, they're basically both wave and particle at the same time. It's the idea behind Schrodinger's Cat, probably the most famous thought experiment involving dead felines.
Several experiments have shown that this is a real thing, but one in particular is especially mind-shattering. Researchers isolated a single helium atom and sent it along a path through a set of lasers that would show whether or not it behaved as a particle or a wave. Think of it like shining a flashlight through a grating—the light scatters. That's how a wave acts. A particle would travel through only one arm of the laser, as both can't be possible. Once the atom hits the laser grating, it has "decided" to become a particle or wave.
However, during the experiment, a random-number generator decided whether or not a second set of lasers would be put in the atom's place. This happened after it became a particle or wave. Whenever this second set of lasers showed up, there would be the interference that shows the atom had acted like a wave. When the second lasers were not generated, there was no interference, showing that the atom traveled along only one path, like a particle.
In other words, this means that by introducing the second laser's crossroads after the atom traveled through the first, the researchers essentially changed an event that occurred in the past. The atom that had already behaved as a particle instead behaved as a wave.
Try to not think too hard about what this means. You already have enough on your plate with the whole time may not even exist thing. Damn you stoners, damn you!
Joe Oliveto is a staff writer for Supercompressor. His head hurts now. Follow him on Twitter.
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