THE TIPPING POINT

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I found him in the morning at the coffee shop in the hotel lobby. It was his last stop before leaving the conference. To say his presentation last night was not well received would be an understatement. Few people get laughed off the podium at these events, however extreme their views may be. He was the exception. A heretic, with a wild theory, trying to warn everyone of an approaching nightmare. But he had absolute faith that theories were right. Oh how he believed. I had my doubts with his work but I had to admit there was something nagging me about his conjectures. Could he be right.

I seated myself next to him, silently sliding across the table to face him so we could talk more discretely and avoid any interruptions from the other patrons. “Sorry about last night, I tried to talk, but you left so quickly.”

He raised his eyes to meet mine and I sensed pity instead of the remorse I expected. “I did my best to make it clear to everyone. I can’t help it if it sounds crazy. The experiments and research shows that there is a tipping point. There is no other conclusion.”

He took another sip of his coffee and proceeded to give me his whole presentation in much simpler terms. “The tipping point is where the force of a belief manifests itself in reality. The so called self-fulfilling prophecy is an example but in the grand scheme of things, if enough people believe in something then it will happen.” Waving off my obvious retort he continued “No you cannot change the laws of physics, but you can influence the course of reality, not just history.”
My response was the same as most of last night’s listeners. “Sure the observer and the belief system influences reality but your conjectures go too far.”
“Why? Because I believe that society, as a whole, has the greatest ability to influence its reality and make the impossible happen. It only seems impossible looking forward, looking backward we can clearly see the path and the beliefs that got us here.”

“So hind sight is twenty-twenty, I accept that” I joked.

“Yes, but what everyone has missed is that the whole of society has never been aligned to one belief system or focused on one reality. That’s the tipping point. Once the majority of our society adopts a belief system or a focus, that belief will become the dominant effect on our reality. Before the age of the internet, instant communications and worldwide distribution of beliefs nothing could take a dominant hold and truly affect our reality. All these observations and beliefs tended to normalize and keep our society on an even keel. That’s not true anymore. In today’s world we are bombarded with information, news, books, movies and television. All of this influences our beliefs on a massive scale.”
While his eyes pleaded with mine to accept his viewpoint, I stumbled for words. “Ok, let me get this straight, If, we really believe it, then it will happen, whatever that is. Isn’t that just wishful thinking?”
“No. Millions of people play the lottery all believing they will win. But only one ticket wins so there cannot be a dominant belief system that creates a specific outcome. All my research shows a clear correlation of observance, belief and consequences. The larger the observance and the belief force, the more pronounced the consequences. The belief system of an individual does not have the force to affect any great consequence in reality. It’s too small to measure. But if you take the majority of our society and create in them a new belief system, then that can influence reality.”

This is where I thought I had him. “This sounds like science fiction to me. We live in a very causal universe where we can directly attribute any physical occurrence to a physical influence. What you’re asking me to believe is that these physical occurrences’ can be the result of some nonphysical occurrence”

He sighed and shook his head and with seemingly great patience restated his argument. “No you’re getting it wrong again. You’re looking at only the physical occurrence and not the shift in reality. As I said earlier, you can’t change the laws of physics but you can bend reality. Right now our reality is all around us and we believe it to be as it is, thus it continues as it is. But if the overall mass of belief in our reality shifts, reality will shift as well. The key is the amount of force in any dominant belief. Once we reach a tipping point, reality will bend.”

Giving up with arguing, I raised my hands. “So you really believe we’ve reached this tipping point as you say we have, then did you create the tipping point or did you push us over it? I mean you’re the only one that believes in this tipping point effect after all.”

For the first time I saw him stop to consider the implications. His eyes seemed to dart back and forth as though considering my words, then met mine again for the last time. “I hadn’t thought of it that way, this could all be my fault. The more I push people to believe in a tipping point, the more that tipping point becomes a reality and we create the very thing I’m trying to stop. It’s like telling people not to think of pink elephants and then all they do is exactly what you told them not to do. I’ve got to stop this somehow.”

That was the last time I saw him or heard from him again. The more he tried to stop the cataclysm, the more he made it’s inevitability. The world’s belief system was set on a collision course with a destiny we now believed in. A belief he had tried to extinguish and in the end ignited.

The first zombies appeared just outside Washington.

About the Author: 
Dave McNab is an electrical engineer working in the wireless communications, GPS and inertial navigation fields. Likes to write stories.

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Quantum Theories

Z is for ... Zero-point energy

Even at absolute zero, the lowest temperature possible, nothing has zero energy. In these conditions, particles and fields are in their lowest energy state, with an energy proportional to Planck’s constant.

R is for ... Reality

Since the predictions of quantum theory have been right in every experiment ever done, many researchers think it is the best guide we have to the nature of reality. Unfortunately, that still leaves room for plenty of ideas about what reality really is!

M is for ... Multiverse

Our most successful theories of cosmology suggest that our universe is one of many universes that bubble off from one another. It’s not clear whether it will ever be possible to detect these other universes.

D is for ... Dice

Albert Einstein decided quantum theory couldn’t be right because its reliance on probability means everything is a result of chance. “God doesn’t play dice with the world,” he said.

R is for ... Radioactivity

The atoms of a radioactive substance break apart, emitting particles. It is impossible to predict when the next particle will be emitted as it happens at random. All we can do is give the probability that any particular atom will have decayed by a given time.

N is for ... Nonlocality

When two quantum particles are entangled, it can also be said they are “nonlocal”: their physical proximity does not affect the way their quantum states are linked.

I is for ... Interferometer

Some of the strangest characteristics of quantum theory can be demonstrated by firing a photon into an interferometer: the device’s output is a pattern that can only be explained by the photon passing simultaneously through two widely-separated slits.

R is for ... Randomness

Unpredictability lies at the heart of quantum mechanics. It bothered Einstein, but it also bothers the Dalai Lama.

C is for ... Computing

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U is for ... Universe

To many researchers, the universe behaves like a gigantic quantum computer that is busy processing all the information it contains.

P is for ... Probability

Quantum mechanics is a probabilistic theory: it does not give definite answers, but only the probability that an experiment will come up with a particular answer. This was the source of Einstein’s objection that God “does not play dice” with the universe.

K is for ... Kaon

These are particles that carry a quantum property called strangeness. Some fundamental particles have the property known as charm!

O is for ... Objective reality

Niels Bohr, one of the founding fathers of quantum physics, said there is no such thing as objective reality. All we can talk about, he said, is the results of measurements we make.

G is for ... Gluon

These elementary particles hold together the quarks that lie at the heart of matter.

S is for ... Schrödinger’s Cat

A hypothetical experiment in which a cat kept in a closed box can be alive and dead at the same time – as long as nobody lifts the lid to take a look.

H is for ... Hawking Radiation

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J is for ... Josephson Junction

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A is for ... Alice and Bob

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A is for ... Atom

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X is for ... X-ray

In 1923 Arthur Compton shone X-rays onto a block of graphite and found that they bounced off with their energy reduced exactly as would be expected if they were composed of particles colliding with electrons in the graphite. This was the first indication of radiation’s particle-like nature.

I is for ... Information

Many researchers working in quantum theory believe that information is the most fundamental building block of reality.

Y is for ... Young's Double Slit Experiment

In 1801, Thomas Young proved light was a wave, and overthrew Newton’s idea that light was a “corpuscle”.

C is for ... Cryptography

People have been hiding information in messages for millennia, but the quantum world provides a whole new way to do it.

D is for ... Decoherence

Unless it is carefully isolated, a quantum system will “leak” information into its surroundings. This can destroy delicate states such as superposition and entanglement.

V is for ... Virtual particles

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P is for ... Planck's Constant

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L is for ... Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

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S is for ... Schrödinger Equation

This is the central equation of quantum theory, and describes how any quantum system will behave, and how its observable qualities are likely to manifest in an experiment.

B is for ... Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC)

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U is for ... Uncertainty Principle

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F is for ... Free Will

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G is for ... Gravity

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T is for ... Tunnelling

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H is for ... Hidden Variables

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W is for ... Wave-particle duality

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M is for ... Many Worlds Theory

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Q is for ... Qubit

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A is for ... Act of observation

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Q is for ... Quantum biology

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T is for ... Teleportation

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L is for ... Light

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W is for ... Wavefunction

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S is for ... Superposition

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B is for ... Bell's Theorem

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E is for ... Entanglement

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