“Reality” is a term which has continued to baffle philosophers ever since the early 70s. Numerous great thinkers such as Albert Einstein, Aristotle and Leibnez who did extensive research on metaphysics and philosophy came up with reasonable explanations and theories which tried to explain this term. However, most of these explanations proved to be paradoxical and none were practical enough to justify its actual meaning.
One of Einstein’s famous quote states that: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
In the following paragraphs you will come to realise that we live in a rather bizarre world where what we once thought was real has turned out to be quite the opposite! Given the intensity of my pondering over this term, I find it quite worthwhile to share my thoughts on the same.
To begin with, “Reality” is a term which I have often questioned and been confused about ever since I was in high school and if I’m not wrong, I’m sure most of you might have felt the same at some point of time in your life!
In fact, the definitions of “Reality” are plenty and each may vary depending upon the context in which it is used. However, this is the definition which piques up my interest in particular:
“A thing which is actually experienced or seen”. This is how a dictionary typically defines “Reality”.
While in high school, it is common for a child’s mind to run through every other possibility of existence which he/she thinks may lie beyond all that is taught in the textbook. It is obvious that a young brain tends to grasp what elders teach at home or school.
In fact, a child’s belief system is initially shaped by parents and later influenced by peers, friends or teachers at school. However, it so happens that the more curious you are, the more your brain refuses to come to terms with the notion of the world being ’nothing more than what we perceive’.
I personally believe that the term “Reality” is ambiguous and there is much more to the world than what meets the eye.
Here are 4 baffling facts that are sure to have you rethinking your notion of Reality:
1) The feeling of touch is a mere Illusion
During our school days we have been taught that matter comprises everything which has mass and occupies space. We are also aware that matter consists of atoms, molecules and ions. Also, Energy as we all know is the capacity to cause change.
While these theories seem practical and sane, several questions may arise regarding the composition of our own bodies as well as everything around us. The human body is indeed a combination of matter as well as energy. However, the fact that 99.9999999% of our body comprises empty space truly confuses me! If this is true, then what really makes our body ’solid’? Of course the tightly bound atoms which are vibrating together play a major role in defining our body structure.
However, since atoms consist mostly of empty space, it actually means that we aren’t really touching anything in this world! It is merely an illusion caused by the electromagnetic force of electrons in your body repelling the electrons of the object you try to touch!
In other words, if you try to hold your friend’s hand, you are not really touching their hand. Instead, the electrons in your hand are pushing away the electrons in your friend’s hand which is perceived by our brain as a feeling of touch! To be honest, it is more like hovering than touching. So, your friend’s hand is actually hovering at an approximately 10^-8 meters from your hand!
Isn’t it fascinating how we humans spend our entire lives cherishing the feeling of touch whereas in reality, we are most likely hallucinating the whole experience?
2) Black Holes and the Multiverse Theory
The term “Black Hole” has intrigued me ever since I was introduced to the term. Given that a Black Hole is a big black ball of nothingness, isn’t it bewildering that we can somehow manage to see it but can never possibly enter it and make it out alive? Science explains that this would be a result of the insanely intense gravitational field present within this region which allows neither matter nor radiation to escape it.
I sometimes wonder if our galaxy is actually located at the centre of an enormous black hole! Would that possibly explain why Earth has gravity? As a matter of fact, this seems to be quite a common question which scientists have tried addressing but have so far failed to draw a clear conclusion. Scientists claim that our galaxy was born out of a massive black hole which spun at a speed which was almost as high as the speed of light, thus resulting it to eventually collapse and cause the Big Bang. However, there is absolutely no evidence which supports these claims.
The Multiverse theory though, is something that is far too surreal to be true! Some scientists do consider Black Holes to be one-way doors between different universes or alternate dimensions which are most likely to be similar to ours but at the same time are the exact opposite of ours. Would that possibly explain the reports of UFO sightings in some parts of the world?
These questions are currently unanswerable even to modern day scientists. However, as astounding as it may sound, scientists have already built a time machine: “The Large Hadron Collider” which has been effectively designed to propel you into the future at nearly the speed of light! However, an actual human risking his life for a ride into the future would probably never happen, since appropriate safety gears and equipment required for such a high intensity travel would probably take eons to develop!
Well, until that happens we curious humans should never stop contemplating! Who knows, one of us may end up being witty enough to crack the code of the universe!
3) The human brain is a natural photoshop
When all this while we have been using photoshop and filters to edit our selfies, none of us have had the slightest clue about the inbuilt editing app present within our own bodies…and that folks is none other than the human brain! Isn’t it common to hear people complaining about their selfies looking disastrous?
In other words, most of us often hate the way we look in selfies and spend quite a lot of our free time figuring out the good and bad side of our faces, clicking a dozen selfies, making pouts and finally adding a touch of filter before uploading them on Instagram. Also, has anyone ever noticed how we look perfectly alright when we view ourselves in a mirror? It’s rather intriguing isn’t it?
Well, as we all know, a mirror often flips the image upside down. In other words, a mirror reverses the reflected image in the direction perpendicular to the mirror surface, as a result of which the designs and letters written on our T-shirt may appear reversed. While this is a fact which almost all of us might be aware of, most people may be oblivious to the fact that all of our faces are more or less assymetrical. In fact, not even the prettiest movie star is born with perfectly aligned symmetrical features! This asymmetry however, is something which we ourselves cannot identify as we look at ourselves in the mirror all day!
The simple reason behind this is that our brain edits, rather photoshops our imperfections, which in turn results in our face looking perfectly symmetrical to our own eyes. However, keep in mind that how you see yourself in a mirror is not how people see you in real life! How you appear in a selfie is close to how to actually look and appear to all the people around you. But, it also depends on the camera and focal length of the lens. Keeping the lens too close to your face may cause a slight distortion of the image, thus resulting in some parts of your face appearing larger such as your nose.
Has anyone ever clicked a single selfie and uploaded it on Instagram with 0 edits and filters? It is obvious that after a hundred selfies later we finally come across the perfect one and decide to touch it up with the perfect brightness and filter before uploading it on Instagram. No wonder everyone looks absolutely gorgeous on Instagram!
The truth is that as soon as we click a selfie, we immediately dislike it! The reason is not because we look bad, rather it’s because of our asymmetry! We are so accustomed to looking at our face in the mirror that our brain edits it such that we barely notice our asymmetry. However, in a selfie, our image isn’t flipped over as it is in a mirror, which causes our asymmetry to stand out more prominently. Hence, when we look at a selfie we immediately dislike it since we notice our asymmetry to be a flaw.
Another surprising fact is that while it is almost impossible to notice the asymmetry of your own face in a mirror, others surely can! When you and your friend stand next to each other in front of a mirror, you both can in fact notice each other’s asymmetry, the simple reason being that either of you is so used to seeing the non-inverted selfie versions of each other in real life, that it becomes very easy to spot the flaws while looking at the inverted refections of each other through a mirror!
Want to use a mirror to know how you really look? Just place two mirrors parallel to each other with their reflecting surfaces facing each other. Stand in between the two mirrors and study your reflection on the second mirror which is reflecting your original reflection from the first mirror. This is how you look in real life!
Yet another baffling fact which most of us wouldn’t know is that our nose is always visible since it firmly sits between our two eyes. This would mean that amidst everything that is visible to us in our daily lives is also our nose. However, our brain edits it out, such that it appears invisible! This is in fact very similar to the ‘Content-Aware Fill’ option in Photoshop which allows you to remove that stray photobomber from your otherwise perfect picture. So, here is yet another reason why the human brain is indeed the most powerful natural photoshop of the human body!
4) No one really knows the sound of their own voice
We all think that we do but we don’t! Have you ever listened to a recording of yourself on a recorder or perhaps your cellphone and instantly realised that you sound a tad bit different than you thought you sound when you speak? Has anyone ever told you that you sound a bit too shrill or too soft, but you never really understood how?
Everyone perceives their own voice as normal since we are the ones who are both speaking and hearing it. However, others around us may perceive it differently since they are only hearing it. To begin with, sound reaches the inner ear by two distinct pathways. Each of these pathways are majorly responsible for the way we perceive sound. In fact, the sound that we hear is classified into two types: ‘Air-conducted sound’ and ‘Bone-conducted sound’.
‘Air-conducted sound’ consists of sound which is carried to the cochlea (inner ear) through the external auditory canal from the external environment by air conduction whereas ‘Bone-conducted sound’ consists of sound which directly reaches the inner ear through certain tissues present in our head. Hence, ‘Air-conducted sound’ travels through the ‘Air-conducted pathway’ and ‘Bone-conducted sound’ travels through the ‘Bone-conducted pathway’.
In fact, when we speak, the voice that we hear is a result of sound travelling along both these pathways. In layman terms, when we speak, our voice reaches our ears through the ‘Air-conducted pathway’. At the same time, the sound also travels from our vocal cords directly to our inner ear but undergoes further enhancement by the mechanical properties of our head as a result of which our voice sounds deeper to us than it actually is.
However, when we hear our voice on a recording, our voice naturally sounds different since we are only able to hear it through the ‘Air-conducted pathway’. The ‘Bone-conducted pathway’ is eliminated since we are only hearing but not speaking. The rich low frequency sound which is delivered by the ‘Bone-conducting pathway’ is absent in this case and our voice comes out shrill and different from what we are accustomed to hearing. This is in fact the reason why most people deeply dislike their voice when they hear it on a recording.
Similarly, by putting in ear plugs, we observe that our voice sounds different yet again! The reason behind this is that we are able to perceive our voice through the ‘Bone-conducted pathway’. However, the ‘Air-conducted pathway’ is now eliminated since the ear plugs prevent our voice from traveling to our cochlea through the external auditory canal.
The truth therefore, is that it is practically impossible to let others know exactly how our own voice sounds to us and also impossible for them to let us know exactly how our voice sounds to them and vice versa! Devices such as recorders may have bugs or glitches which may alter the sound to a certain extent. Hence, it is a sad truth that the sound of our own voice will always remain a mystery!
The enigma of reality lets you open your mind to embrace new possibilities! These 4 jaw dropping facts are sure to have set your thoughts ablaze! With this, we come to the end of this blog. Please let me know your thoughts and theories in the comment section below!
Many thanks for the read and have a marvellous day!