Quantum Mechanical Angels (or, throwing angels at walls to see what happens)
I started researching to help jkateel with an ask… but then my inner scientist and teachers got way ahead of me. So here is the resulting essay. (Warning: contains discussions of quantum mechanics. Disclosure: although I’ve taken a lot of physics classes but I’m an astronomer, so please correct me if my science is wrong, and feel free to add where I’m lacking! I LOOOOVE learning more about science. I also love discussing ridiculous scifi/fantasy science. There is also way more information in here than is strictly necessary to understand what I’m saying, mostly because I think facts are cool and I LIKE TO SHARE THEM OK. Free physics lessons, one Supernatural plot hole at a time.)
—> Actually you should start here because it outlines some good things about actual quantum physics instead of supernatural-biased quantum physics explained by an astronomer. Plus it’s short and has a pretty picture. Note this perfect line: “The atomic world is nothing like the world we live in.” But substitute Supernatural for atomic.
(probability densities because they’re pretty, from ☛)
Based on the statement that Cas is “a multidimensional wavelength of celestial intent,” I would argue that he’s effectively a particle of something that functions very similarly to light. (Some kind of odd non-standard model particle that acts like a photon… but I digress) We’ll assume for the sake of argument that angels can be described by the same physics as light (or electromagnetic radiation in general, since they wouldn’t necessarily be just visible light. The fact that Cas’ true form is skyscraper-sized would lead to the conclusion than he exists partially in the radio part of the spectrum. Which is fitting, what with angel radio and all.)
It’s actually easier to think of Cas/Angels as a set of wavelengths (superimposed or something, when you add waves together they look really cool) than being “made of photons.” The “particle” form of Cas would be what he is in his vessel; but maybe that’s just my own headcanon? Otherwise, an angel would be the set of photons that was equivalent to his total energy (it gets really complicated, I think this is better left as *waves hands* supernatural stuff, probably because of magnetic fields or something).
Since angels are equivalent to light, they can exist in two states at once, or, what we call wave-particle duality.
I kind of like to think of it as, angels have a true form (wavelengths of celestial intent) and a “particle” form; when they inhabit a vessel. (Actually how I equated those things is really inaccurate to real science, don’t think of actual wave-particle duality that way. Your quantum prof will find me, and they’ll make me give up my scientist card.)
And then to make everything a little bit more confusing, let’s add the fact that EVERYTHING has a wave form. Even you. You have a wave-particle duality! But you’re so large (relatively, I mean, when even an atom is large, you’re kind of ginormous) that the probability that you act like a wave instead of a particle is infinitesimally small. So an angel can be a large particle (or their vessel, since those seem to inherit the properties of light in some cases too, when they teleport around and such) with a high probability of acting like a wave. (Ooooh can we talk about quantum tunneling next? If you throw an angel at the wall and close your eyes will it go through?)
(Good job, you read a lot. Have a cat! Breathe. Okay ready for more? image source ☛)
Anyway, the important part is probably where we start applying the quantum superposition principle. This is where things get hairy, so there are three examples I’ve come up with to try and explain this; Schrödinger’s Cat, Young’s double slit experiment, and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.
The uncertainty principle just says that if we know where something is exactly, then we can’t determine it’s momentum (which is just the combination of the particle’s mass and velocity, and the fact that mass is included only matters in relativistic or very very high velocity cases) as accurately. The important takeaway message though is this: the observation of a thing (aka the perception of it ooooh s8 keyword) is IMPORTANT. Especially in quantum mechanics. Fun fact: just like I said above, this stuff applies to large things too. Except, the difference in measurement precision is so small compared to any motion or position of larger thing that it’s functionally nonexistent. (If you want to know how small things have to be look up Planck’s Constant.)
I’m not actually going to talk about Young’s double slit experiment; but I will say it was the first thing I thought of. The Schrödinger’s Cat analogy makes more sense. The important thing that I’d point out though (and go read about the experiment because it’s neat) is that again, observation is important, and things can act like waves or particles, but not necessarily both at once (but sometimes both at once—did you read that post at the beginning? it’s not actually supposed to all make sense).
Alright, everyone knows about the cat in the box right? [Note: it’s just a thought experiment. This blog does not endorse the sacrifice of cats to the Supernatural writers, or anyone else. Even in the name of science.] Let’s expand the thought experiment, but now Cas is the cat, the box is the entire set of Biggerson’s Restaurants (I think there are hundreds is what the CIAngels said?), and instead of testing the vitality of the Cat, we’ll test the position of the Cas. (Or we could do both at once. Cas and Cat!)
So, roughly, Wavelength!Cas is spread throughout all Biggerson’s, but it’s impossible to determine which his particle-form is in at a given time. (I hope you don’t mind, but it makes more sense this way.) This happens, according to the CIAngels, because of quantum superposition. Granted, they say that in a way that makes it sound like perception is more important than the science (it’s as if WE’RE in every Biggerson’s at once, and he CHOOSES one ahead of time, so keep that in mind too I guess?)
It’s like a big Schrödinger’s Cat game; your box is all of the Biggerson’s Restaurants, but when you open it you can only pick one to observe at a time. (I spent all that time typing stuff above to convince you that the act of observation is important in quantum physics.) Until you rule out each option, Cas exists in all of the restaurants. Now, IRL, he’s only sitting in one of the restaurants. But before the CIAngels know which one, the probability that he exists in all of them is the same. Just like the cat has the same probability of being alive as dead, until you observe it. Then; by definition, the probability that the cat is alive or dead is 100% (or, when you observe Cas in a specific place, the probability that he is there is 100%—it’s subjective to the observation). In Cas’ case, there are more than two options (the cat is either alive or dead). So to the observers, he exists in all of these, in a state of quantum superposition, until they find him. Each time he takes off he becomes a probability cloud again.
I think it also would depend on the fact that they have some information to go on like what he can see, since the similarity of all the restaurants matters (maybe he leaves a trail or an echo they can follow, or he’s not completely cutoff from angel radio gps). Or my other entertaining hypothesis that angels are continual emitters of some sort.
You made it to the end! Congratulations!
(sorry I don’t have a source for this one, if it’s yours let me know because I love it but the place I got it from is obviously not the original, and I even tried reverse-searching for it :-\ argh)