In the best of all possible worlds
nothing is impossible.
- The Shamen

Trance dancing, nootropic ingestion, audiovisual stimulation and other aspects of the Rave Experience have been said to promote a kind of shared spirituality where degrees of universal connectedness between like-minded people can be experienced. But does this empathetic mysticism have any basis in "fact"? Or is the brush with Cosmic Consciousness nothing more than a combination of subjective feelings colored by religious preconditioning, wishful thinking, and the artificial stimulation of certain parts of the central nervous system? As it turns out, we happen to be living in an exciting time of informational enlightenment and it is now possible to seek objective answers to the philosophical and metaphysical questions about the nature of consciousness and reality by looking toward the forefronts of modern science.

Let's flashback to the classic image of an electron circling around the nucleus of an atom. The question of the day, circa 1925 or so, was "What keeps the electron from spiraling out of orbit and falling into the nucleus?" No one knew why. In defiance of classical Newtonian physics, electrons seemed willing to spin in stable orbits forever. But the truth of the matter was that scientists couldn't directly see what electron were doing. And this is true of anything we try to observe: it's not your friend you see dancing in front of you, just the light reflecting off of hir body. Likewise, in order to see (or measure) an electron, you have to do something like bounce some light off of it. But doing so alters the characteristics of the electron in a way that cannot be completely predicted. The inability to completely measure the state of an electron (or anything) is spelled out by Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Scientists realized that the best they could do was to describe where an electron *probably* was at any given time. Probability or wave equations (developed by Erwin Schroedinger) showed that it was highly probable that an electron would remain in some orbit around the atom's nucleus. In other words, the reason an electron doesn't fall into the nucleus is because its wave equation makes it highly improbable. This was the beginning of Quantum Physics.

The equations of Quantum Physics predicted all kinds of strange paradoxical, yet accurate, things about nature. It turns out that all things, even humans, have a degree of uncertainty about their physical state, and an associated wave equation that describes their possible states in the spacetime continuim. Scientifically speaking, you cannot know for sure where you are right now, only where you probably are! And there is a distinct probability that all your atoms (i.e. you) may in the next moment be 20 feet above your current position. Highly improbable, but not impossible.

But what is really amazing about Quantum Physics is not how good it is at explaining to scientists what's going on in the world, but how it brings human consciousness back into the picture. Remember, the mathematics behind Quantum Physics comes from the uncertainty involved in trying to exactly measure things. So it turns out Quantum Physics, and the universe as we know it would not exist if we weren't trying to observe the universe in the first place. Even if we were able to exactly observe (measure) things, it couldn't be the same universe as the one we are currently in. According to modern science, the structure of our universe has been molded from our attempts to know it, and by the limits to which we are able to know it.

More recently, scientists like Stephan Hawking have been applying the Uncertainty Principle and probability wave equations to the universe as a whole. In trying to explain what things were like at the beginning of the Big Bang, it has become apparent that each of us is living in one of an infinite number of possible universes. The scientific community is now coming around to the realization that each of us is its central observer, and yet, all of our universes are a part of a universal wave equation that allows for an infinite number of possible universes. It seems that there are times during raving that we sense this connectiveness, where we feel this oneness between our universe, the universes of other ravers and the universe of atoms and galaxies around us. Ultimately, we are all a part of the same equation, an equation that allows for unlimited possibilities.

The academic world of sterile mathematics and convoluted theories of Physics can no longer be viewed as something separate from the magical and mystical notions of expanding consciousness and alternate realities. Like the cold hard beat of mechanical drum machines and synthesizers that uplift our emotions and put fire into our souls, knowledge from the edges of human experience is coming together to forge a new awareness of our place in the Universe. So the next time you feel like God on the dance floor, remember that not only does science support you, but you don't even have to be certain about it!


By Lee Fogel for Rhythmos Magazine.
©qaswa 1996.