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The Illusion of Reality

This Article was written by Kate Lesperance, Year 10


Do you think reality is really what you see? Neuroscience says it is a fact that what we experience is only your imagination. Yes, that which we experience reflects the physical stimuli that is present, but the brain that interprets signals from the eyes and other sensory mechanisms are also the reason for your imagination, dreams and delusions. Reality for the brain is basically both real and imagined.


Neuroscientists attempt to understand how one’s brain perceives its reality by using visual illusions. A visual illusion is defined by, “the dissociation between the physical reality and the subjective perception of an object or event”. With visual illusions, one might either see something that is not there or will entirely miss something that is there. Visual illusions present how your brain can fall short of recreating reality. Analysing the brain’s inability to perceive reality for what it really is increases our knowledge and understanding of the way it creates what we see, which is affected by brightness, colour, shading, eye movement, etc.


The moon is perceived as larger at the horizon than when it is higher in the sky, however when a photo of it is taken at different places in the sky, it is exactly the same width each time.


“Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one” - Albert Einstein


The belief that physical reality is physical in the early 20th century was built upon by scientific research of elementary point particles. It showed that reality is not an illusion, however, when we began colliding electrons and other particles in accelerators, it appeared that the foundations of physical reality are not physical at all and that everything is energy. Superposition is a term that means a particle can be in two different places simultaneously. This can only happen if everything is energy. Quantum entanglement is when particles become eternally entangled after interaction by a force that is not visible and forever influences each other’s spin (angular momentum). Even if you change the spin state of one of the particles, the other one will inevitably change in the opposite direction. That is only possible if everything is energy. But quantum entanglement means breaking the rules of Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity and its forbidding of travelling faster than light yet experiments prove that quantum entanglement is very much real and fundamental to nature. Or is that just an illusion too?


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