Quantum Tunneling: How Particles Pass Through

Impassable Barriers, Like Ghosts



Quantum tunneling is when a particle breaks past or “tunnels” through what is supposed to be an impassable, impenetrable, and insurmountable solid barrier. Think of a ghost passing through a concrete wall, for example.


Quantum tunneling, similar to other “spooky” observations in quantum mechanics, is extremely hard to wrap your mind around. It’s one of multiple observations in the field that show what we think is impossible, is actually probable. Another phenomenon I’ve written about previously is the present changing the past.


These observations happen at the subatomic level because quantum mechanics observes matter in its smallest form, where we often see strange and unexplainable things happen. It’s commonly believed that the ‘rules’ and physical laws don’t apply to matter at the quantum scale as they do at what’s known at the classical scale. In other words, just because particles have been observed passing through impenetrable barriers at the quantum level, it does not mean human beings can walk through walls or that solid objects can pass through them. Or does it? After all, we are all made up of subatomic particles, aren’t we?


There has been evidence that large physical objects can also pass through spatial barriers. ‘Paranormal’ events may, in some way, be connected to what we see in quantum mechanics. We will get to that later in the article.




In March of 2019, a paper was published detailing a multi year investigation by theoretical physicists who measured a tunneling electron from a hydrogen atom and found that its passage was practically instantaneous. Again, particles can pass through solid objects not because they’re very small (though they are), but because the rules of physics are different at the quantum level.


Just imagine a ball rolling down a hill that all of a sudden comes to a giant mountain. The ball wouldn’t have enough energy to climb up and over the mountain. A subatomic particle wouldn’t need to pass over the mountain, it would simply go through it.


The thing is, particles at the quantum level also represent themselves as a wave of possibilities. This is often illustrated by the quantum double slit experiment. In this experiment, tiny bits of matter (photons, electrons, or any atomic-sized object) are shot toward a screen that has two slits in it. When there is no measuring device placed at the screen, the tiny bits of matter act as a “wave” and create an “interference” pattern on the other side where a wall is placed to catch the pattern.



Because there was no measuring or observation device used to see what slit the matter went through, we cannot know what path it took. When the pattern on the wall is examined to see what path it took, it represents a wave of possibilities, meaning the matter (particle) went through both slits, and just one slit, and went though both and interfered with itself, which should be physically impossible. This experiment is fascinating because the single act of observation collapses the wave pattern. When we measure and watch the particles path through the slit, it only goes through one, suggesting that the particle itself may be aware that it is being watched, among other interpretations.


When it comes to quantum tunneling, an article published by Live Science explains,


“Particles are also waves, which extend infinitely in space. According to the so-called wave equation, this means that a particle may be found in any position on the wave.

Now picture the wave striking a barrier; it continues on through but loses energy, and its amplitude (the height of the peak) dips way down. But if the obstacle is thin enough, the wave’s amplitude doesn’t decay down to zero. As long as there’s still some energy left in the flattened wave, there’s some chance — albeit a small one — that a particle may fly through the hill and out the other side.”


If a particle confronts an energy barrier, the encounter modifies the spread of the wave function, which starts to break down and decay inside the barrier. Regardless, some of it leaks through on the barrier’s far side. Thus, there remains the probability of detecting the particle beyond the barrier, which has been done.


In 1993, Paul Kwiat and Raymond Chiao and colleagues from the University of California, Berkeley, detected photons tunneling through an optical barrier (a special piece of glass that reflected 99 percent of the incident photons; 1 percent of them tunneled through). The tunnelling photons arrived earlier, on average, than photons that traveled the exact same distance but were unimpeded by a barrier. The tunnelling photons seemed to be traveling faster than the speed of light, which is possible in some circumstances without breaking Einstein’s theory of relativity.


The “Paranormal” Connection


As far as the ‘paranormal’ connection with regards to objects passing through spatial barriers a, document titled “Research Into Paranormal Ability To Break Through Spatial Barriers” reviews experiments conducted by the Aerospace Medicine Engineering Institute in Beijing.


The document highlights experiments involving the videotaping and high-speed photography of the transfer of test specimens (nuts, bundles of matches, pills, nails, thread, photosensitive paper, chemically treated paper, sponges dipped in FeCl3, etc.) through the walls of sealed paper envelopes, double layered KCNS-type paper bags, sealed glass bottles, tubes with sealed caps, and sealed plastic film canisters without the walls of any of these containers being breached.


All of the experiments used gifted children and young adults, who apparently possessed well-known extraordinary PK (psychokinetic) ability that allowed them to teleport the various test specimens.


According to a declassified Air Force study by scientist Eric W. Davis entitled Teleportation Physics Study, “The experiments were well-controlled, scientifically recorded, and the experimental results were always repeatable.”


A quote from the Chinese Institute of Atomic Energy pointed out in 1991, in a study archived by the CIA:


“Such phenomena and paranormal abilities of the human body are unimaginable for ordinary people. Nevertheless they are really true.”


In all the experimental cases that were reported, the test specimens teleported were completely unaltered or unchanged from their initial state.


Be sure to access the document, read through it, and examine the study and the methods and experiments used if you’re looking for a deeper analysis.


Final Thoughts


Finally, we can explore stories about ghosts, and even supposed extraterrestrial or extra dimensional beings passing through walls, doors, etc as many ‘experiencers’ have claimed. If one is familiar with parapsychology and has researched lore in the “paranormal” realms, as well as quantum mechanics, it’s not far fetched to believe that there are explanations for how some of these events occur. In many cases, we simply don’t understand it yet. We tend to instantly dismiss phenomenon we don’t understand or have no explanation for.


There is still so much we have to discover about the true nature of our reality. Through all stages of human history, intellectual authorities have ridiculed and even suppressed information that doesn’t fit within the frame of ‘accepted knowledge.’ Human beliefs are a very delicate thing, when something comes along that is so out of the ordinary it takes a long time for it to be studied, let alone accepted within the mainstream.


Image via Shutterstock

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Arjun Walia 


BA in Philosophy from the University of Waterloo, BEd from the University of Toronto. Writer/journalist for the past 15 years. Passionate about sharing information on a variety of topics, as you can tell!


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