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BBC: Human mind’s link to quantum physics is real?

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From Philip Ball at BBC:

Nobody understands what consciousness is or how it works. Nobody understands quantum mechanics either. Could that be more than coincidence?

The problem is not that we don’t understand consciousness but that we don’t know how to understand it.

And our rules may very well preclude us from finding out. Which is okay if we would prefer to ask questions rather than get answers.

In other words, the mind could genuinely affect the outcomes of measurements.

It does not, in this view, exactly determine “what is real”. But it might affect the chance that each of the possible actualities permitted by quantum mechanics is the one we do in fact observe, in a way that quantum theory itself cannot predict. Kent says that we might look for such effects experimentally.

He even bravely estimates the chances of finding them. “I would give credence of perhaps 15% that something specifically to do with consciousness causes deviations from quantum theory, with perhaps 3% credence that this will be experimentally detectable within the next 50 years,” he says.

If that happens, it would transform our ideas about both physics and the mind. That seems a chance worth exploring.More.

To judge from this long form article, Ball may actually want answers.

See also: Split brain does NOT lead to split consciousness? What? After all the naturalist pop psych lectures we paid good money for at the U? Well, suckers r’ us.

Does the ability to “split” our brains help us understand consciousness? (Apparently not.)

What great physicists have said about immateriality and consciousness

Or else: Consciousness as a state of matter

Rocks have minds?

Researcher: Never mind the “hard problem of consciousness”: The real one is… “Our experiences of being and having a body are ‘controlled hallucinations’ of a very distinctive kind”

Searle on Consciousness “Emerging” from a Computer: “Miracles are always possible.”

Psychology Today: Latest new theory of consciousness A different one from the above.

Evolution bred a sense of reality out of us

Claim: Science is afraid of animal consciousness. Why? Won’t crackpot theories work as well as they do for human consciousness?

So then: Question: Would we give up naturalism to solve the hard problem of consciousness?

Neuroscience tried wholly embracing naturalism, but then the brain got away

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12 Replies to “BBC: Human mind’s link to quantum physics is real?

  1. 1
    J-Mac says:

    Consciousness is essential for us think about what consciousness is. Without it, we are just monkeys driven by instinct and other supposedly conscious creatures who try to suppress their consciousness into an mindless instinct and still retain their human dignity.

  2. 2
    Querius says:

    Human observation (with precise measurement) can collapse the wave function associated with a quantum state such as occurs with the double-slit experiment.

    I wonder whether conscious observation of such a measurement by non-human animals can do the same or does it just contribute to a Von Neumann chain?

    A related question is where consciousness originates.

    – Is it a sort of pan theistic property of matter?

    – Does it suddenly appear with sufficient complexity such as a massive computer or an even more massive mountain or tree?

    – Or does it originate in another dimension or outside our universe?

    -Q

  3. 3
    Gordon Davisson says:

    Querius:

    Human observation (with precise measurement) can collapse the wave function associated with a quantum state such as occurs with the double-slit experiment.

    This has been proposed, but there’s no actual evidence for it. This is known as the “measurement problem” in QM — measurement is presumed to collapse the wave function, but we can’t tell what (if anything) constitutes a measurement. The assumption that conscious observation is necessary for “measurement” is just that — an assumption.

    Take the two-slit experiment described in the article: fire quantum particles through a barrier with a pair of slits in it, and see where the particles end up. With both slits unobstructed, the particles arrive in a wave-like interference pattern. But as the article says:

    If we place a detector inside or just behind one slit, we can find out whether any given particle goes through it or not. In that case, however, the interference vanishes. Simply by observing a particle’s path – even if that observation should not disturb the particle’s motion – we change the outcome.

    What the article doesn’t mention is that it doesn’t matter if anyone (i.e. any conscious being) looks at the results of the detector. The detector could have a broken readout (or no readout at all), and it’ll still destroy the interference pattern. The mere interaction with a measurement apparatus seems to be all that’s needed.

    And actually, an “apparatus” isn’t needed either. Interacting with anything complex (i.e. made of many atoms) is generally enough to do it. Once the particle interacts like this, it either collapses to a definite state or becomes entangled with the complex object in such a way that there’s no way to tell it’s still in a superposition (uncollapsed state). There’s no way to tell if it collapsed or not, so no way to tell if what happened was a “measurement” or just a normal interaction.

    Back to Querius:

    I wonder whether conscious observation of such a measurement by non-human animals can do the same or does it just contribute to a Von Neumann chain?

    If QM provided a way to test this, it’d let as resolve a huge number of philosophical questions. Unfortunately, as I said, there’s no way we’ve found to test for collapse once things get interesting.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Gordon Davisson,

    How (conscious) observation is inextricably bound to measurement in quantum mechanics:
    Quote: “We wish to measure a temperature.,,,
    But in any case, no matter how far we calculate — to the mercury vessel, to the scale of the thermometer, to the retina, or into the brain, at some time we must say: and this is perceived by the observer. That is, we must always divide the world into two parts, the one being the observed system, the other the observer.”
    John von Neumann – 1903-1957 – The Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, pp.418-21 – 1955
    http://www.informationphilosop.....s/neumann/

    Does Quantum Physics Make it Easier to Believe in God? Stephen M. Barr – July 10, 2012
    Excerpt: Couldn’t an inanimate physical device (say, a Geiger counter) carry out a “measurement” (minus the ‘observer’ in quantum mechanics)? That would run into the very problem pointed out by von Neumann: If the “observer” were just a purely physical entity, such as a Geiger counter, one could in principle write down a bigger wavefunction that described not only the thing being measured but also the observer. And, when calculated with the Schrödinger equation, that bigger wave function would not jump! Again: as long as only purely physical entities are involved, they are governed by an equation that says that the probabilities don’t jump.
    That’s why, when Peierls was asked whether a machine could be an “observer,” he said no, explaining that “the quantum mechanical description is in terms of knowledge, and knowledge requires somebody who knows.” Not a purely physical thing, but a mind.
    https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/content/does-quantum-physics-make-it-easier-believe-god

    Moreover, a subjective experience versus empirical evidence dichotomy is born out in quantum mechanics. (February 2017)
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-624894
    February 2017 – In providing experimental evidence for the Christian claim that Mind is primary, it is interesting to note the primacy of mind in conceiving of any experiment that might prove that Mind is primary over material.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-625115

    The following video also explains why decoherence does not solve the measurement problem:

    The Measurement Problem in quantum mechanics – (Inspiring Philosophy) – 2014 video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qB7d5V71vUE

    As well, Steven Weinberg himself rejects decoherence:

    The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics – Steven Weinberg – January 19, 2017
    The trouble is that in quantum mechanics the way that wave functions change with time is governed by an equation, the Schrödinger equation, that does not involve probabilities. It is just as deterministic as Newton’s equations of motion and gravitation. That is, given the wave function at any moment, the Schrödinger equation will tell you precisely what the wave function will be at any future time. There is not even the possibility of chaos, the extreme sensitivity to initial conditions that is possible in Newtonian mechanics. So if we regard the whole process of measurement as being governed by the equations of quantum mechanics, and these equations are perfectly deterministic, how do probabilities get into quantum mechanics?
    One common answer is that, in a measurement, the spin (or whatever else is measured) is put in an interaction with a macroscopic environment that jitters in an unpredictable way. For example, the environment might be the shower of photons in a beam of light that is used to observe the system, as unpredictable in practice as a shower of raindrops. Such an environment causes the superposition of different states in the wave function to break down, leading to an unpredictable result of the measurement. (This is called decoherence.) It is as if a noisy background somehow unpredictably left only one of the notes of a chord audible. But this begs the question. If the deterministic Schrödinger equation governs the changes through time not only of the spin but also of the measuring apparatus and the physicist using it, then the results of measurement should not in principle be unpredictable. So we still have to ask, how do probabilities get into quantum mechanics?,,,
    Today there are two widely followed approaches to quantum mechanics, the “realist” and “instrumentalist” approaches, which view the origin of probability in measurement in two very different ways.9 For reasons I will explain, neither approach seems to me quite satisfactory.10
    http://www.nybooks.com/article.....mechanics/

    Moreover, Weinberg rightly rejects the ‘realist approach’ to quantum mechanics mainly because of ‘many worlds interpretation’, but, on the other hand, it is interesting to note the main reason for why he rejects the ‘instrumentalist approach’ to quantum mechanics:

    The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics – Steven Weinberg
    – January 19, 2017
    Excerpt: The instrumentalist approach,, (the) wave function,, is merely an instrument that provides predictions of the probabilities of various outcomes when measurements are made.,,
    In the instrumentalist approach,,, humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level. According to Eugene Wigner, a pioneer of quantum mechanics, “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”11
    Thus the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else. It is not that we object to thinking about humans. Rather, we want to understand the relation of humans to nature, not just assuming the character of this relation by incorporating it in what we suppose are nature’s fundamental laws, but rather by deduction from laws that make no explicit reference to humans. We may in the end have to give up this goal,,,
    Some physicists who adopt an instrumentalist approach argue that the probabilities we infer from the wave function are objective probabilities, independent of whether humans are making a measurement. I don’t find this tenable. In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure, such as the spin in one or another direction. Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,
    – per previous link

    Since Weinberg rejects the instrumentalist approach to quantum mechanics since it undermines Darwin’s goal of trying to explain humans as purely the result of the laws of nature, if I had the pleasure, I might ask Weinberg who discovered the standard model? Him or the laws of nature?

    Further notes:

    The Mental Universe – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: The only reality is mind and observations, but observations are not of things. To see the Universe as it really is, we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as things.,,, Physicists shy away from the truth because the truth is so alien to everyday physics. A common way to evade the mental universe is to invoke “decoherence” – the notion that “the physical environment” is sufficient to create reality, independent of the human mind. Yet the idea that any irreversible act of amplification is necessary to collapse the wave function is known to be wrong: in “Renninger-type” experiments, the wave function is collapsed simply by your human mind seeing nothing. The universe is entirely mental,,,, The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy.
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/The.mental.universe.pdf

    At the 16:34 minute mark of the following video the reason why detector interference does not explain quantum wave collapse is explained (i.e. observation changes the nature of what we are observing not just the activity of what we are observing):

    Quantum Physics And How We Affect Reality! – video – (17:21 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/REATuidImYw?t=1041

    Here is a good quote at the 19:06 minute mark of the preceding video:

    “That’s the enigma. That our choice of what experiment to do determines the prior state of the electron. Somehow or other we had an influence on it which appears to travel backwards in time.”
    Fred Kuttner – Univ. Of California

    As well,,,

    “The Kochen-Speckter Theorem talks about properties of one system only. So we know that we cannot assume – to put it precisely, we know that it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement.,,, So in a sense, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”
    Anton Zeilinger –
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video (7:17 minute mark)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4C5pq7W5yRM#t=437

    “We have become participators in the existence of the universe. We have no right to say that the past exists independent of the act of observation.”
    – John Wheeler

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note: Both General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics directly challenge the Copernican principle,,,

    General Relativity gives us powerful evidence that humans are not nearly as inconsequential as the Copernican principle would imply.

    In what I consider an absolutely fascinating discovery, the 4-dimensional (4D) space-time of General Relativity was created in the Big Bang and continues to ‘expand equally in all places’:

    Where is the centre of the universe?:
    Excerpt: There is no centre of the universe! According to the standard theories of cosmology, the universe started with a “Big Bang” about 14 thousand million years ago and has been expanding ever since. Yet there is no centre to the expansion; it is the same everywhere. The Big Bang should not be visualized as an ordinary explosion. The universe is not expanding out from a centre into space; rather, the whole universe is expanding and it is doing so equally at all places, as far as we can tell.
    http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/.....entre.html

    Thus from a 3-dimensional (3D) perspective, any particular 3D spot in the universe is to be considered just as ‘center of the universe’ as any other particular spot in the universe is to be considered ‘center of the universe’. This centrality found for any 3D place in the universe is because the universe is a 4D expanding hypersphere, analogous in 3D to the surface of an expanding balloon. All points on the surface are moving away from each other, and every point can be considered central to the expansion, if that’s where you live.

    You Technically Are the Center of the Universe – May 2016
    Excerpt: (due to the 1 in 10^120 finely tuned expansion of the 4-D space-time of General Relativity) no matter where you stand, it will appear that everything in the universe is expanding around you. So the center of the universe is technically — everywhere.
    The moment you pick a frame of reference, that point becomes the center of the universe.
    Here’s another way to think about it: The sphere of space we can see around us is the visible universe. We’re looking at the light from stars that’s traveled millions or billions of years to reach us. When we reach the 13.8 billion-light-year point, we’re seeing the universe just moments after the Big Bang happened.
    But someone standing on another planet, a few light-years to the right, would see a different sphere of the universe. It’s sort of like lighting a match in the middle of a dark room: Your observable universe is the sphere of the room that the light illuminates.
    But someone standing in a different spot in the room will be able to see a different sphere. So technically, we are all standing at the center of our own observable universes.
    https://giphy.com/gifs/xT4uQEEBWRiB2gcxbO
    https://mic.com/articles/144214/you-technically-are-the-center-of-the-universe-thanks-to-a-wacky-physics-quirk

    In fact, as far as general relativity itself is concerned, centrality in the universe is left completely open for whomever is making a model of the universe to arbitrarily decide for themselves what is to be considered the center in the universe,

    How Einstein Revealed the Universe’s Strange “Nonlocality” – George Musser | Oct 20, 2015
    Excerpt: Under most circumstances, we can ignore this nonlocality. You can designate some available chunk of matter as a reference point and use it to anchor a coordinate grid. You can, to the chagrin of Santa Barbarans, take Los Angeles as the center of the universe and define every other place with respect to it. In this framework, you can go about your business in blissful ignorance of space’s fundamental inability to demarcate locations.,,
    In short, Einstein’s theory is nonlocal in a more subtle and insidious way than Newton’s theory of gravity was. Newtonian gravity acted at a distance, but at least it operated within a framework of absolute space. Einsteinian gravity has no such element of wizardry; its effects ripple through the universe at the speed of light. Yet it demolishes the framework, violating locality in what was, for Einstein, its most basic sense: the stipulation that all things have a location. General relativity confounds our intuitive picture of space as a kind of container in which material objects reside and forces us to search for an entirely new conception of place.
    http://www.scientificamerican......nlocality/

    “Can we formulate physical laws so that they are valid for all CS [coordinate systems], not only those moving uniformly, but also those moving quite arbitrarily, relative to each other? […] The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS could be used with equal justification. The two sentences: “the sun is at rest and the earth moves” or “the sun moves and the earth is at rest” would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS.”
    Einstein, A. and Infeld, L. (1938) The Evolution of Physics, p.212 (p.248 in original 1938 ed.);

    “We can’t feel our motion through space, nor has any physical experiment ever proved that the Earth actually is in motion.,,,
    If all the objects in space were removed save one, then no one could say whether that one remaining object was at rest or hurtling through the void at 100,000 miles per second”
    Historian Lincoln Barnett – “The Universe and Dr. Einstein” – pg 73 (contains a foreword by Albert Einstein)

    “If one rotates the shell *relative to the fixed stars* about an axis going through its center, a Coriolis force arises in the interior of the shell, *that is, the plane of a Foucault pendulum is dragged around*”
    –Albert Einstein, cited in “Gravitation”, Misner Thorne and Wheeler pp. 544-545.

    “One need not view the existence of such centrifugal forces as originating from the motion of K’ [the Earth]; one could just as well account for them as resulting from the average rotational effect of distant, detectable masses as evidenced in the vicinity of K’ [the Earth], whereby K’ [the Earth] is treated as being at rest.”
    –Albert Einstein, quoted in Hans Thirring, “On the Effect of Distant Rotating Masses in Einstein’s Theory of Gravitation”, Physikalische Zeitschrift 22, 29, 1921

    Moreover, in both General and Special Relativity, the observer himself is given a privileged frame of reference in which to make measurements,,,

    Introduction to special relativity
    Excerpt: Einstein’s approach was based on thought experiments, calculations, and the principle of relativity, which is the notion that all physical laws should appear the same (that is, take the same basic form) to all inertial observers.,,,
    Each observer has a distinct “frame of reference” in which velocities are measured,,,,
    per wikipedia

    The happiest thought of my life.
    Excerpt: In 1920 Einstein commented that a thought came into his mind when writing the above-mentioned paper he called it “the happiest thought of my life”:
    “The gravitational field has only a relative existence… Because for an observer freely falling from the roof of a house – at least in his immediate surroundings – there exists no gravitational field.”
    http://physics.ucr.edu/~wudka/.....ode85.html

    And whereas in General Relativity. (and Special Relativity), the observer himself is given a privileged frame of reference in which to make measurements, in quantum mechanics it is the measurement itself that gives the observer a privileged frame of reference in the universe:

    Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.
    And yet, have you ever before read a sentence having meaning similar to that of my preceding sentence? Likely you have not, and the reason you have not is, in my opinion, that physicists are in a state of denial…
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-designer/

    New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015
    Excerpt: The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,,
    “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said.
    Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.
    http://themindunleashed.org/20.....at-it.html

    “Look, we all have fun ridiculing the creationists who think the world sprang into existence on October 23, 4004 BC at 9AM (presumably Babylonian time), with the fossils already in the ground, light from distant stars heading toward us, etc. But if we accept the usual picture of quantum mechanics, then in a certain sense the situation is far worse: the world (as you experience it) might as well not have existed 10^-43 seconds ago!”
    – Scott Aaronson – MIT associate Professor quantum computation – Lecture 11: Decoherence and Hidden Variables

    I find it extremely interesting, and strange, that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its ‘uncertain’ 3-D state is centered on each individual conscious observer in the universe, whereas, 4-D space-time cosmology (General Relativity) tells us each 3-D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. These findings of modern science are pretty much exactly what we would expect to see if this universe were indeed created, and sustained, from a higher dimension by an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being who knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe at the same time. These findings certainly seem to go to the very heart of the age old question asked of many parents by their children, “How can God hear everybody’s prayers at the same time?”,,, i.e. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I, or anyone else, should exist? Only Theism offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe:

    Hebrews 4:13
    “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account.”

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

    The following site and video are also very interesting for establishing ‘true centrality’ in the universe:

    The Scale of The Universe – Part 2 – interactive graph
    http://htwins.net/scale2/scale.....olor=white

    The Astonishing Simplicity of Everything – Neil Turok Public Lecture – video (12:00 minute mark, we are in the exponential/geometric middle of the universe)
    https://youtu.be/f1x9lgX8GaE?t=715

    The preceding interactive graph and video points out that the smallest scale visible to the human eye (as well as a human egg) is at 10^-4 meters, which ‘just so happens’ to be almost directly in the exponential center of all possible sizes of our physical reality. As far as the exponential graph itself is concerned, 10^-4 is, exponentially, right in the middle of 10^-35 meters, which is the smallest possible unit of length, which is Planck length, and 10^27 meters, which is the largest possible unit of ‘observable’ length since space-time was created in the Big Bang, which is the diameter of the universe. This is very interesting for, as far as I can tell, and as atheists presuppose, the limits to human vision (as well as the size of the human egg) could have, theoretically, been at very different ‘random’ positions than almost directly, if not directly, in the exponential middle,,,

  6. 6
    Querius says:

    Gordon,

    First, the double slit experiment can unequivocally demonstrate whether something such as photon, electron, or a small molecule (810 atoms so far) is a wave function or a particle.

    You wrote:

    Once the particle interacts like this, it either collapses to a definite state or becomes entangled with the complex object in such a way that there’s no way to tell it’s still in a superposition (uncollapsed state).

    You will need to explain how this interaction you describe takes place selectively after the event as demonstrated with the delayed choice quantum erasure experiment. Are you familiar with the experimental verifications of Wheeler’s 1978 thought experiment? These include

    Alain Aspect and colleagues at the Institut d’Optique, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan and the National Centre for Scientific Research in 2007 with photons and by randomly inserting or removing a second beam splitter.

    Andrew Truscott and colleagues at Australian National University carried out Wheeler’s experiment using Helium atoms deflected by laser pulses in 2015.

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” – Eugene Wigner

    “We have become participators in the existence of the universe. We have no right to say that the past exists independent of the act of observation.” – John Wheeler

    “What we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure, which is a very, very deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.” – Anton Zeilinger

    It seems to me that the key to the matter is in the nature of the conservation of information.

    -Q

  7. 7
    Querius says:

    Bornagain77,

    FYI, your video link to Quantum Physics And How We Affect Reality! is no longer accessible.

    -Q

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Thank you Q, here is a corrected link

    At the 16:34 minute mark of the following video the reason why detector interference does not explain quantum wave collapse is explained (i.e. observation changes the nature of what we are observing not just the activity of what we are observing): Outline of Wheeler’s Delayed Choice experiment is also discussed)

    Quantum Physics And How We Affect Reality! – video – (16:23 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/90F2R_eoAPc?t=1064

    Here is a good quote at the 19:06 minute mark of the preceding video:

    “That’s the enigma. That our choice of what experiment to do determines the prior state of the electron. Somehow or other we had an influence on it which appears to travel backwards in time.”
    Fred Kuttner – Univ. Of California

  9. 9
    Querius says:

    Thanks for the updated link, bornagain77.

    Exactly–if there was any interference with the apparatus, then the wave functions should have collapsed regardless of whether they were observed. But that’s not what happens.

    Causality is at the heart of science, and time travel adjustments based on a decision to observe seems absurd.

    What this leads me to believe is that our universe exists in the equivalent of a giant spreadsheet, in which the changes in information can propagate instantaneously according to some laws of information.

    Fascinating stuff!

    -Q

  10. 10
    Gordon Davisson says:

    Querius @ 6:

    Gordon,

    First, the double slit experiment can unequivocally demonstrate whether something such as photon, electron, or a small molecule (810 atoms so far) is a wave function or a particle.

    I’d disagree with that. QM winds up making things that’re really particles act like waves under some circumstances, and things that’re really waves act like particles under some circumstances; as a result, you can’t tell what things really are at all. Double-slit experiments can make anything — wave or particle — act wavelike. Note that that doesn’t mean it’s really a wave, just that it acts like one.

    You wrote:

    Once the particle interacts like this, it either collapses to a definite state or becomes entangled with the complex object in such a way that there’s no way to tell it’s still in a superposition (uncollapsed state).

    You will need to explain how this interaction you describe takes place selectively after the event as demonstrated with the delayed choice quantum erasure experiment.

    Nobody knows for sure what’s going on “behind the scenes” of QM; there are a number of different “interpretations” of QM that posit very different things about how the equations of QM correspond to reality. I’ll run through what several different interpretations imply about what’s really happening in a delayed-choice experiment.

    BTW, ba77’s video says (at 18:38) that when a which-slit measurement is made, “at that moment, the electrons, in essence, become particles, and seemingly always were particles, from the time they left the electron gun. So it’s as though they went back in time, to before they went through the holes, and decided to go through one or the other; not through both, as that would have had they been behaving like waves.” You’ll note that nothing like that happens under any of these interpretations; the transactional interpretation comes closest (since it involves a sort of retroactive causality), but even it’s not quite like that.

    – First, consider the de Broglie–Bohm interpretation, which says that each particle has an associated “pilot wave” that interacts with it and effectively tells it where to go. The wave goes through both slits; the particle follows a definite path, and goes through just one. If you put detectors right behind the slits, it’ll pick up the particle by whichever slit the particle happened to go through. But if you set up a row of detectors further back, the two parts of the wave merge and interfere with each other, and the particle (influenced by the entire wave, not just the part that went through the same slit it did) is more likely to wind up in places where the two parts of the wave interfere constructively, so if you do it a bunch of times you see the wave-like interference pattern.

    There are actually macroscopic systems that show very similar behavior, including replicating the two-slit results. I don’t know if anyone’s done a delayed choice version, but I can’t see any reason at all that it wouldn’t work just like the QM experiments do.

    (Personally, I don’t much like this interpretation; basically, it seems ugly to me. But the universe is under no obligation to respect my preferences, and since the interpretation can explain all of the various weird quantum effects we’ve seen, it’s a possibility we have to consider.)

    – How about the transactional interpetation, which says that a particle’s arrival is controlled by a sort of meta-temporal transaction between its emitter and its absorber. The emitter sends out an offer wave (travelling forward in time), and potential absorbers (e.g. detectors) reflect that backward through time as “confirmation” waves. Under this interpretation, the delay in a delayed choice experiment is irrelevant, since all particles lifetimes are goverened by transactions, and all transactions are inherently somewhat retrocausal. Note that the waves involved in the transaction are always waves, but depending on circumstances (e.g. which measurement is chosen) can give particle-like results.

    This interpretation is, obviously, not at all intuitive (especially wrt causality). But again, as far as I know it’s consistent with all experiments, so it’s still in the running.

    – Next, collapse-based interpetations. These say that the particle’s wavefunction passes through both slits. When the wavefunction interacts with the detector (whatever detector is set up), it either immediately collapses into a definite state; or interacts with the detector in a way that leaves the particle and the detector in an entangled superposition, and then sometime later, the superposition decays, leaving the particle and detector in definite, conistent states.

    The big question here is what triggers the collapse and when does it happen. As I pointed out earlier, you can’t tell experimentally; you’ll get the exact same final statistics if the collapse happens immediately, or after a year, or after a million years. Different collapse interpretations posit different causes for collapse, but we have no way to tell which (if any) is correct. So the choice of what to believe is essentially arbitrary. It could be conscious observation, or entanglement of more than a billion particles, or publication of the results of the experiment, or observation by a cat, or… pretty much anything.

    The von Neumann–Wigner interpretation proposes that it’s conscious observation that causes collapse. In this interpretation of the delayed-choice experiment, the particle enters an entangled state with the detector, and they both stay in this entangled superposition until someone gets around to looking at the result, at which point the whole thing collapses into a consistent definite state. Note that the collapse is not retroactive: if the observer sees a result indicating that the particle went through the left slit, that doesn’t mean it actually did; the particle’s wavefunction went through both slits, was recorded both ways, and then later the collapse made it look as though the particle had just gone through the left slit.

    Note that the only reason to assume it’s consciousness that triggers collapse is if you start with the assumption that there’s something special about consciousness. Turning around and trying to use this assumption to support the idea that there’s sometihing special about consciousness is a purely circular argument. It’s exactly as valid as someone who thinks there’s something special about cats claiming that interaction with cats causes collapse, and then claiming that proves how special cats are!

    For contrast, the Ghirardi–Rimini–Weber theory proposes that individual particles sometimes randomly just collapse their states (and as a side effect anything they’re entangled with). This happens rarely, so it’s unlikely that our experimental particle will spontaneously collapse. But the detector comprises a huge number of particles, so once it gets entangled with the experimental particle, it’s almost certain that at least one of those particles will collapse and force the detector (and the original experimental particle) into definite, consistent states.

    Those are just two of the nearly infinite possibilites for what might cause collapse. And again, there’s really no evidence to tell us which (if any) is right.

    – The last interpretation I’ll look at is the many-worlds interpretation essentially says that the wavefunction is real, and never collapses. It’s sort of like a collapse interpretation, but with no actual trigger for the collapse. According to this interpretation of the delayed-choice experiment, the particle’s wavefunction goes through both slits and interacts with the detector in such a way that they become entangled. If an experimenter (or cat!) later looks at the result, the experimenter (/cat) simply joins the entangled superposition. The experimenter interacts with other things, and they enter the entangled superposition, so it eventually spreads to the entire universe. The different elements of the superposition can’t really interact with each other, so they essentially become separate “worlds”.

    Many people find this inconcievable; but again, it’s consistent with all known experiments, so it stays on the list of possibilities.

    There are many other interpretations of QM out there, but these are the ones I’m nost familiar with, so I’ll stop there. I will say this, however: the experimental results supporting QM strongly imply that there’s something very weird going on at the most fundamental level of the universe; but there’s such a range of possibilities for what form that weirdness might actually take, that there’s no basis at all for saying “it must be be like this!”

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Gordon Davisson states:

    QM winds up making things that’re really particles act like waves under some circumstances, and things that’re really waves act like particles under some circumstances; as a result, you can’t tell what things really are at all. Double-slit experiments can make anything — wave or particle — act wavelike. Note that that doesn’t mean it’s really a wave, just that it acts like one.

    Actually the reality of the situation is much worse than that for the committed reductive materialist. In the following experiment it was shown that “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,”

    New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015
    Excerpt: The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,,
    “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said.
    Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.
    http://themindunleashed.org/20.....at-it.html

    Of related note as to undermining Gordon’s presuppositions:

    Scientists Prove That A Particle Can Be In Two Places At Once, Everything Gets Weird – Thomas Tamblyn – March 31 ,2015 (with video)
    Excerpt: Scientists at Griffith University in the US and the University of Tokyo in Japan have successfully carried out an experiment which should once and for all prove that a particle can indeed exist in two places at once.
    Described by Einstein as “spooky action across distance”, the theory goes that a particle in superposition can exist in two places at once. It is only when you try and measure one of the particles that its counterpart disappears.
    As ludicrous as that sounded, that wasn’t actually the problem that Einstein had with the theory. His real aggravation was focused around the idea that the reason the counterpart disappears is because somehow, it knows that its partner has been discovered.
    This would require a level of connection that would travel faster than light and as such, Einstein just wasn’t convinced.
    Well it turns out that even though we still don’t know how the particles know each other, you can indeed split a photon on half, send it to two separate locations and then have it exist in ‘superposition’ until it’s discovered and measured.,,
    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.u.....1427800715

    Although Gordon Davisson danced around, and pointed here and pointed there much like a disco dancer, and tried to make it seem that QM is not devastating to materialistic premises, the fact of the matter is that atheistic materialism, as it was originally conceived (and as is presently used by Darwinists), is directly refuted by quantum mechanics.

    Looking beyond space and time to cope with quantum theory – 29 October 2012
    Excerpt: “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,”
    http://www.quantumlah.org/high.....uences.php

    Quantum correlations do not imply instant causation – August 12, 2016
    Excerpt: A research team led by a Heriot-Watt scientist has shown that the universe is even weirder than had previously been thought.
    In 2015 the universe was officially proven to be weird. After many decades of research, a series of experiments showed that distant, entangled objects can seemingly interact with each other through what Albert Einstein famously dismissed as “Spooky action at a distance”.
    A new experiment by an international team led by Heriot-Watt’s Dr Alessandro Fedrizzi has now found that the universe is even weirder than that: entangled objects do not cause each other to behave the way they do.
    http://phys.org/news/2016-08-q.....ation.html

    Here is a bit closer look at what is actually ‘going on behind the scene’ as Davisson termed it:

    Double Slit, Quantum-Electrodynamics, and Christian Theism – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1127450170601248/?type=2&theater

    Gordon also claimed that there is ‘nothing special’ about consciousness, or claimed something like it was erroneous to assume something special about consciousness. My question for Gordon, assuming he really exists as a real person instead of existing as a neuronal illusion, is “can you do anything without first being conscious?” and if that does not make consciousness ‘special’ for you what in blue blazes would make it ‘special’ for you?

    “No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
    Max Planck (1858–1947), the originator of quantum theory, The Observer, London, January 25, 1931

    “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.”
    Schroedinger, Erwin. 1984. “General Scientific and Popular Papers,” in Collected Papers, Vol. 4. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences. Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden. p. 334.

  12. 12
    Querius says:

    Gordon,

    We can agree on the fact that QM exhibits some remarkably alien behaviors. Instead of fighting to find a way to reconcile these behaviors with determinism, why don’t people simply accept these behaviors as normative and see where it leads rather than, for example, postulating the most egregious violation of parsimony imaginable as with the many worlds interpretation?

    Quantum tunneling, the decay of radioisotopes, and other quantum changes are “frozen” by observation. This was recently confirmed experimentally:

    https://phys.org/news/2015-10-zeno-effect-verifiedatoms-wont.html

    A question to ask is what quantum tunneling has in common with radioactive decay. The probability for an electron or even a “live” virus to spontaneously appear on the wrong side of an impenetrable barrier, the instantaneous relocation of an electron from one shell to another in an atom, and the instantaneous response between entangled particles independent of distance are strong evidences against a deterministic, billiard ball universe.

    That mathematical probability waves can produce diffraction patterns or resolve into particles is fascinating! I resist explaining things away that are not understood.

    However, that each of these phenomena are seemingly subject to conscious observation is deeply disturbing to some people, demonstrating their ideological prejudice more than than any scientific objections. Thus, conscious involvement in QM gets conflated with “measurement” and “entanglement” even though experiments have been designed to avoid the various objections.

    But taking it further, we can’t even define consciousness (not to mention explain it), except that it has something to do with information, and that the universe seems predisposed against both deterministic knowledge and the loss of information.

    -Q

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