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Quantum mechanics needs no consciousness (and the other way around)

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posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 07:33 PM
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Quantum mechanics needs no consciousness (and the other way around)


It has been suggested that consciousness plays an important role in quantum mechanics as it is necessary for the collapse of wave function during the measurement. Furthermore, this idea has spawned a symmetrical proposal: a possibility that quantum mechanics explains the emergence of consciousness in the brain. Here we formulated several predictions that follow from this hypothetical relationship and that can be empirically tested. Some of the experimental results that are already available suggest falsification of the first hypothesis. Thus, the suggested link between human consciousness and collapse of wave function does not seem viable. We discuss the constraints implied by the existing evidence on the role that the human observer may play for quantum mechanics and the role that quantum mechanics may play in the observer's consciousness.
The idea of consciousness being involved in quantum mechanics dates back to Von Neumann in the 1930s, but the idea was more recently popularized by Wigner. However people citing Wigner may not realize he dropped this opinion in his final years:


Wigner popularized this link between consciousness and collapse of wave function passionately (Esfeld, 1999). Wigner suggested that “It is the entering of an impression into our consciousness which alters the wave function.” and “It is at this point that consciousness enters the theory unavoidably and unalterably.”(cited from Shimony, 1963). Importantly, however, Wigner dropped this opinion completely at his final years (Esfeld, 1999).
The paper goes on to cite heated debates about the subject of consciousness in quantum mechanics that span decades, and notes that:


Many of them address this issue from the philosophical point of view. Although they went to deep and interesting levels and brought up exciting ideas about fundamental aspects of the relationship between the mind and the physical world, those profound analyses failed to reach a simple and clear conclusion that would be widely accepted.
Since philosophy wouldn't ever resolve this question, an empirical approach was needed:


In the present paper, we do not aim to provide another philosophical argument. Instead, we attempt to address this issue from an empirical perspective. We reformulate von Neumann’s hypothesis as an empirically testable problem. We then attempt to falsify the hypothesis on the basis of the existing empirical evidence, as already suggested elsewhere (Mandel, 1999; Zeilinger, 1999a; Brukner and Zeilinger, 2002).


The paper then discusses experimental evidence suggesting conscious perception is not required to explain quantum mechanics observations:


We first derived a proposition about the relationship between the collapse of thewave function and conscious perception. Our subsequent analysis lead to the conclusion that this proposition is already disproved by the existing empirical results, which forces us to conclude tentatively the following: Conscious access to the information about the outcome of a measurement of a quantum state is not necessary for the collapse of wave function– –conclusion similar to those suggested else- where (Mandel, 1999; Zeilinger, 1999a; Brukner and Zeilinger, 2002).
The analysis in the paper is a bit technical, but for a simplified explanation see the video below which explains the experimental results in layman terms and the implications for consciousness.

Quantum Eraser Explained | Quantum Mechanics ep 5


In this video I'll explain the basics of the quantum eraser experiment and then explain what it means. If you want to understand the full experimental set up, check out my previous video: youtu.be...
What seems odd is that some people try to cite the quantum eraser experiment as proof that consciousness is needed in quantum mechanics but it actually shows the opposite, that it's not. That's ok, you can have other reasons to feel special about yourself, without the need to feel that the universe revolves around you because of your consciousness.

Here is a pretty good technical explanation of the implications of the quantum eraser experiment. Most of the "spooky" misinterpretations which lead to "magic" are the result of assuming things we call "particles" must always act like particles, but a fundamental concept of quantum mechanics is that they can also behave as waves. When we consider this wave behavior, it's much easier to interpret the results of the experiment:

The Quantum Eraser Experiment.

The aim of this set of experiments (Ref. 5) is similar to that of the Wheeler Delayed-Choice Experiment in that if one assumes the existence of particles, then one gets into causality (and locality) troubles. Before explaining the experiments, we should reiterate that there is No Evidence for Particles; all the particle-like properties of matter can be shown to be properties of the wave function. So our view is that, as in the Wheeler delayed-choice experiment, one is using an unsupported idea—particles—to derive seemingly surprising results.
So we do see "particle-like" behavior, but even this is the result of the wave function.


If one postulates particles, and if one requires that each particle be in a definite state at each instant, then experiment 3 seems to require action-at-a-distance between the two particles. And experiment 4 seems to require retroactive action-at-a-distance. But if one postulates no-particle quantum physics, the experiments simply verify the correlations predicted by quantum physics between the two entangled photon-like wave functions.
It took me a while to figure out that when physicists say "particle" or "particle-like" they are not necessarily inferring marble like objects though this is the impression one might get from seeing sources over-simplified for popular consumption. Quantum mechanics has the wave function at its heart and the key to understanding the quantum eraser is to stop thinking of "particles" as little marbles, and start thinking of them as manifestations of the wave function. The sooner you realize that a photon has very little in common with a small marble, the faster you'll be able to grasp interpretations of quantum experiments using the wave function.

The paper cited at the beginning of this post concludes:

In conclusion, the available evidence does not indicate that the observer’s explicit phenomenal representation about the outcome of a measurement plays a role in collapsing the wave function. We also suggest that the observer does not serve a more fundamental function in quantum mechanics than that in the classical theory. Thus, the idea that by mere observation the experimenter creates physical reality is not viable. This supports Wigner’s opinion in his later years and promises to fulfill his hopes– –that we “will not embrace solipsism” and “will let us admit that the world really exists” (cited from Primas and Esfeld, 1997).


There are still fundamental mysteries in quantum mechanics. We have a lot of possible interpretations, and we don't know which interpretation is correct, but it does appear that consciousness is not fundamentally required for the currently viable possible interpretations. 7467 limit here




posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 07:43 PM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur

Neither does my car mechanic!



posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 07:54 PM
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If the act of observation affects whether or not something is observed to happen, is that because the event is more likely to be spotted or ignored, or is it because it actually happened or not?

There was a experiment some time ago, where people though they could control the automatic detection of cosmic rays. Either the rate of detection would increase or decrease simply because they believed it would happen.



posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 07:54 PM
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A better theory, Russelian Science.
youtu.be...
a reply to: Arbitrageur



posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 07:58 PM
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even at the end of the video they disproved there own explanation... seeing that things can be contradictory I would say its safe to say that your statement can and most likely is wrong



posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 08:02 PM
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So would conscious awareness of a quantum state have an effect on that state? or inversely would the quantum state have an effect on ones awareness of that state?



posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 08:03 PM
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originally posted by: stormcell
There was a experiment some time ago, where people though they could control the automatic detection of cosmic rays. Either the rate of detection would increase or decrease simply because they believed it would happen.
[citation needed]

I've read claims of variability in nuclear decay versus various cyclical time intervals, which I certainly wouldn't dismiss as impossible, however the statistical validation for such claims was less than rigorous, and even the claimants stated more research was needed. It's impossible to evaluate a claim such as that without specifics.


originally posted by: starswift
A better theory, Russelian Science.
youtu.be...
a reply to: Arbitrageur
I've seen nothing scientific about the work done by Walter Russell, but if you have any scientific papers instead of a youtube video, I'll take a look.

Comments are disabled for the video probably because they don't like to see a lot of comments saying "it's nonsense".



posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 08:11 PM
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originally posted by: Kukri
So would conscious awareness of a quantum state have an effect on that state? or inversely would the quantum state have an effect on ones awareness of that state?
The example I use is that you can put a video camera in the box along with Schrodinger's cat and the decay-activated poison.

The camera records what happens in real time without any conscious observer present in the box (assuming the cat isn't conscious but that depends on how one defines "conscious". When you review the camera's recording later after opening the box, you're not having any effect on what was recorded earlier, at least I know of no experiments to suggest that you would or could, since the Geiger counter records an irreversible event. The quantum eraser experiments are not irreversiible events when changes are made to the apparatus before the final irreversible detection is made.



posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 08:24 PM
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originally posted by: hknudzkknexnt
even at the end of the video they disproved there own explanation... seeing that things can be contradictory I would say its safe to say that your statement can and most likely is wrong
She fell into the trap I mentioned right after that video of thinking the particles must behave as particles, but as the explanation which follows the video states, quantum mechanics explains this via the wave functions.
edit on 15-6-2015 by Arbitrageur because: clarification



posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 08:26 PM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur

Truthfully Arbi i find this whole philosophy of physics thing quite overwhelming and I didn't read the full OP and did a spontaneous post of what popped into my addled brain.

To be fair I will revisit your OP, try to wrap my thick skull around it, and hopefully be able to post a more coherent and relevant query afterwards.


P.S.
This reminds me of a joke I readin another thread earlier. An immigrant man loses his watch and walks up to another man on the corner and asks "what time is? " The man on the corner replies "I'm just a physicist, you'll have to ask a philosopher that question."



posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 08:27 PM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur

I dont know why you so desire to say; "consciousness doesnt require quantum mechanics"

If quantum mechanics is the fundamental basis of reality; Everything requires quantum mechanics.

Or to say 'requires' may even be silly; may be more appropriate to say, everything 'is' quantum mechanics?

Also if a single electron is not a particle (I would use photon as an example, but you just argue it away with the self propagating e and b waves) (like a marble) what stops it from 'continuously expanding'?

What keeps a single self wave, self waving? In order for a 'something' to be a wave, it needs to be of a length, the concept of something being not nothing, is the concept of mass (yes physcists have messed up by defining photon as equal to the 0...well they can do whatever they want, but mass should be the measure of 'non nothingness'... anyway)

So just imagine an electron like a jump rope that if you are holding 1 end and wiggling it up and down, but then you let go, and it continues wiggling through space.

What is the reason as to why it would continue self wiggling? And not come to an equilibrium of non wavement, become a line eventually?

Because there will be a disproportion of energy and force at different points of it, which will make it unable to maintain a pure wave wiggle throughout space.

Concepts like this, is why conceptually probably, there was trouble with light, but you already have your back pocket answer for light, so I suppose im asking for electron.

And now you will say; 'well its not really a wave, just a hypothetical imaginary fake wave function'...but you also said its not a marble like particle... it has to be something, not nothing, if it is something. That which is something must be some way. What way is the electron? Even if we cannot be certain, how is it thought? This is why 3 years ago, and sooner, I have rightfully asked for imagery of how it is thought electron exists. And why I think any intelligence would agree, the smartest physicists should work with the most talented artists, in working together to attempt to depict how the physicists think reality must exist as itself. That is the goal of physics, to know how reality exists as itself to know the laws that make it so, and to use those laws to our advantage.



posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 08:39 PM
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originally posted by: ImaFungi
a reply to: Arbitrageur

I dont know why you so desire to say; "consciousness doesnt require quantum mechanics"

If quantum mechanics is the fundamental basis of reality; Everything requires quantum mechanics.
Use a simpler analogy, classical Newtonian physics and Relativity. We are pretty sure that many aspects of relativity are experimentally verified, yet, you still find many engineers everywhere making calculations of non-relativistic velocities based on classical newtonian mechanics. Why? Because even though relativity gives what we know to be truer results, the differences are irrelevant in in non-relativistic applications. (We have to account for the differences in some cases like GPS and the LHC).

So in this sense we can say something similar about quantum mechanics, that it is a more accurate model than classical mechanics even on large scales, but we can also say that on large scales the behavior tends to appear more classical, as in we simply can't do the double-slit experiment with a bowling ball, and there are good reasons to predict that will never happen.

To observe "quantum strangeness" in experiment we often have to isolate the particles, but in larger objects like brains, there are many particles interacting with each other and this s one reason why we often don't see quantum strangeness in larger objects, like no bowling balls going through two slits in a state of superposition.



posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 10:10 PM
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a reply to: Kukri

I typed a long reply but my inability to express my intent was far too frustrating. These experiments actually caused me to raise more questions about entanglement than they explained. I do however agree with the hypothesis. I also agree that particles are not so important and the wave function is the key.

However I'm not sure the particle aspect of the mechanics can be casually excluded as I find myself considering the effects of gravitational forces and other phenomena such as refraction and polarisation to be intrinsic to understanding the physics of quantum behaviour. I also find myself considering other possibilities such as an unknown photonic element(s) (but not consciousness) affecting behaviour and entanglement.

As i said I'm a layman but there's something tickling the recesses of my brain on this every time I read up on it, I just wish I could pull it to the front. I get the feeling it's something obvious such as an equivalent to wavelengths or frequency. Anyway I''ll leave it to the real brains to figure out.

Hopefully what I typed made some sense if not very scientific or coherent but I am trying. Anyway thanks for the interesting OP and i'll follow along as you post more articles and hopefully I'll get a better grasp of the subject matter and be able to participate.





ETA: Just realised I replied to myself...Yeah my head hurts now!

edit on 6/15/2015 by Kukri because: ETA



posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 10:22 PM
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a reply to: Kukri

There is no valid interpretation of reality that does not require the effort of a conscious being.



posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 10:26 PM
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originally posted by: Kashai
a reply to: Kukri

There is no valid interpretation of reality that does not require the effort of a conscious being.





But does reality require a conscious being for it to be any less real? Does a rock not exist if it isn't being observed?



posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 10:31 PM
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a reply to: Kukri

That depends upon how one defines observation.



posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 11:23 PM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur

I already explained in another thread why this makes no sense but let me ask you a question. The title of the thread is Quantum Mechanics needs no consciousness. Could you define consciousness? What is the true nature of consciousness?

If you don't have an answer then your posts makes no sense. How can you say definitively that Quantum Mechanics needs no Consciousness when you don't know what consciousness is?



posted on Jun, 15 2015 @ 11:38 PM
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originally posted by: neoholographic
Could you define consciousness? What is the true nature of consciousness?


Consciousness is a complex arrangement of smoke and mirrors that can move itself once all the smoke and mirrors outside of it start it moving.



posted on Jun, 16 2015 @ 12:12 AM
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a reply to: ImaFungi

Based upon what evidence????



posted on Jun, 16 2015 @ 12:25 AM
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That would be a theory. Another theory is that the universe is akin to an internet or digital program, and its quite possible that unless consciousness, not ai or toaster, but living consciousness is present, that nothing gets rendered.

You know how programs read the data of a dvd and render it into 3d, or an online game, renders the next scene, but until you enter its not there.

That is another theory and its the one I believe.



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