The owners of this store couldn’t believe their eyes when they checked their security footage in the morning. This man walked right through their glass doors, without slowing down or breaking them, as if he were a ghost.
Then, moments later, he did it again, and acted like it’s completely normal. How could this be possible? What would you do with this power? And what scientific theory says that we could all be capable of doing this?
Even though the specific video is shrouded in mystery, and is most likely the product of visual effects, it doesn’t mean that walking through walls is impossible. If everyone were able to figure it out, then our world would become a much different place.
You could take a lot of shortcuts to work. You could walk in and out of bank vaults as you pleased. Or you could just feel stressed at home, waiting for a friend, neighbor, or a murderer to walk in through your walls whenever they wanted.
But before we get too carried away with the possibilities of walking through walls, let’s figure out how we could do it, scientifically speaking. At first glance, it seems that it should be pretty easy to walk through walls. After all, the walls, and our bodies, and everything else around us is made up of atoms. And atoms are mostly empty space.
If you look at a typical diagram of an atom, it kind of looks like our Solar System. There are a bunch of electrons orbiting the nucleus through empty space, just like the planets orbit around our Sun.
You’d think that it should be easy to pass our atoms through all that empty space, right? But it’s not that simple.
In reality, the electrons surround the nucleus less like the planets in our Solar System, and more like the blades of a fan.
When the fan is turned off, it appears that there is a lot of space between the blades. But when you turn it on and the blades are moving, it looks like they are everywhere at the same time.
If you try and poke your finger through those moving blades, you’ll quickly learn the concept of the Pauli exclusion principle, which states that two electrons cannot exist in the same place at the same time. Essentially, this principle is why classic physics says you can’t walk through walls.
But luckily, there’s a whole other branch of physics that’s a little more open-minded. Its name is QUANTUM PHYSICS. According to quantum physics, it is incredibly difficult for scientists to pinpoint the precise location of an electron. So instead, they map out the probabilities of where it could be.
Viewing an electron like this means that if you throw one at a barrier, like a wall, there is always a tiny probability that it will end up on the other side. This theory is called quantum tunneling, and yes, we realize it’s complicated. But explaining it any more would probably just lead to more confusion, and it’d take longer before we can walk through walls.
The bottom line is that quantum tunneling could, theoretically, allow all the particles in our bodies to pass through barriers. And before we know it, everyone could be walking through walls. Sure, there would be a lot of people using this ability with bad intentions.
They could use it to rob stores, banks, and houses with relative ease. They could sneak into locker rooms, or gain easy access to attack other people. But there could be a lot of benefits.
Police could solve hostage situations more easily, by just entering a location from anywhere they want, and surprising the criminal by having officers bombard them through the walls. Archaeologists could walk straight into a pyramid to check out the inside without disturbing it.
Search and rescue parties might be able to save more people, as they easily could search through the rubble for anyone still breathing. And people could reach a new level of intimacy, by literally merging with each other. Hmm, maybe we should leave these two alone.
But in all honesty, the odds of one person achieving this, let alone many, would be astronomical. You would need every single particle in your body to tunnel at the same time, and the odds of one particle doing this are extremely low.
- “An Introduction To Quantum Tunneling”. 2012. azoquantum.com.
- “Particles Walk Through Walls While Physicists Watch”. Moskowitz, Clara. 2012. livescience.com.
- “Tunneling, Barrier Penetration”. 2020. hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu.
- “The Sun Wouldn’t Shine Without Quantum Physics”. Siegel, Ethan. 2020. Forbes.
- “The Pauli Exclusion Principle | Introduction To Chemistry”. 2020. courses.lumenlearning.com.
- “9 Of David Copperfield’S Most Memorable Illusions”. SUZANNE RAGA, 2016. mentalfloss.com.