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NOTE (2006.07.23) – Many people come here searching for Misuro Imoto, a scientist mentioned a lot in this movie. As it turns out, his name is actually spelled Masaru Emoto. The mistake comes from a combination of a mispronounciation in the movie and English ears trying to interpret a Japanese name.

NOTE (2006.12.16) – I attended a physics conference several weeks ago. There I talked to a physicist about some of the claims made by this movie, in particular the water experiments by Masaru Emoto. She told me that all the types of water crystals seen in Emoto’s photographs are present in all types of water. Emoto merely needed to take a lot of pictures and pick the ones which best fit the idea or emotion he was aiming for in each sample. This biased analysis was pretty well guaranteed to give the results they were looking for, and as such those results are completely meaningless.

This movie deals with a topic that I find very interesting – quantum mechanics (QM) and how it relates to our macroscopic world. The focus is mainly on how QM allows room for our thoughts to have an effect on the world we live in. It is a documentary, with a small storyline to guide the train of thought.

Although interesting, there were aspects of the film that didn’t quite sit well with me. Their treatment of QM left a lot to be desired. There was plenty of talk about the possibility of strange and wonderfully things happening, as allowed by QM, but not once did they ever mention probability.

They speak also of particles spontaneously popping into existence and disappearing again. Where, they ask, do these particles go? I’m no expert, but I believe this shows a serious misinterpretation. The particles don’t come from or go anywhere. Energy is “borrowed” to create a pair of particles, and when those two particles collide and annihilate, that energy is released back to the universe. And the universe is a pretty fierce loan shark — there are specific rules about how long you can borrow energy. Yes, QM allows for a chocolate bar to spontaneously appear on my desk, but because of the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle, it could only exist there for less than one trillionth of one trillionth of one trillionth of one trillionth of a second.

The main theme of the movie – that we can change the world through our thoughts – rest mainly on an experiment by a Masaru Emoto (Common misspelling: Misuro Imoto). He did experiments on water, by doing things such as writing both positive (“Thank you”) and negative messages (“I hate you”) on different bottles and taking pictures with a microscope after some time. I admit I know nothing of the details of the experiment beyond what was said in the movie, but right off the bat I’m suspicious of it. The pictures shown did not appear to be of liquid water, as the movie implied, but of ice crystals. That there are many different shapes is no surprise to me – we all know that no two snowflakes are alike. Furthermore, there are at least ten different types of ice. If I don’t trust the results of this experiment, how am I supposed to trust the conclusions they draw from it?

A second experiment was one which involved having many people gather together and prey for peace in Washington. They predicted a 20% reduction in crime in the city, and they were right. However, this seemed to be a well publicised event, and one in which many people participated. They may have gotten the predicted reduction in crime, but I suspect the reason was more sociological than quantum mechanical.

I was very surprised to hear the qualifications of the many interviewees at the end of the movie, as they all seemed to be well educated in the sciences, and not just philosophers trying to pretend. That’s certainly what it sounded like.

The message, that positive thinking can effect the world, is clear, and one I believe in, but not because of any scientific reasons. This movie uses a very shaky scientific basis, sprinkled in between mostly unnecessarily long special effect sequences, to reach a conclusion which isn’t really novel or interesting. Okay if you’ve got nothing else to do.

Now, if you think I’ve made any mistakes in my interpretation of quantum mechanics, please let me know by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page.

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Random ? Comments (1)

One Response to “What the Bleep Do We Know?”

  1. dillon says:

    I would have to agree with you in every aspect you touched on. I actualy felt more confused during this movie then enlightened, and the confusion did not come from a misconception of what I thought of qm. I understand having to “dum” down the concepts, but when you “dum” them down, the viewer gets a vague description and has a completly different idea from what was actualy being said. It was interesting to watch but I believe they did more harm than good.

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