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the measurement problem?

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posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 10:00 AM
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okay so for those of you who have not hear of the measurement problem heres is a short vid to get you informed:


So for those of you who are really into physics, I was wondering if you could clear something up with me.
If an atom is basically everywhere when it is not observed, how do we know that? We can't really prove that can we?
Does it have to do with the double slit experiment? Because when we don't observe something then atoms are all waves, but when we observe it it acts like a particle right?
So when things aren't being observed, are they basically all possibilities until we observe it, and with our intentions, it plays out one of the endless number or possibilities?




posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 10:37 AM
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Look up David Bohm and Spherical Standing Wave theory.

Once you get your head around it, Quantum Mechanics will make more sense.

Try this link.

www.spaceandmotion.com...



posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 12:08 PM
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Originally posted by bulletproof_monk
If an atom is basically everywhere when it is not observed, how do we know that? We can't really prove that can we?


We observe what we observe. That doesn't mean we can explain our observations in terms we can fully comprehend, not yet at least.

Think about something that seems less foreign to us than quantum mechanics, think of gravity. We can all see an apple will fall from the tree. We have equations to predict how much gravitational pull is on the apple, how fast it will accelerate while falling, etc. Einstein added that gravity is an effect of warping space-time. but the question is, "What causes space-time to warp? What really CAUSES gravity?" To my knowledge,nobody really has a complete understanding of the answer to that question yet. Why do I mention this? Because we can all appreciate the reality of gravity without understanding what causes it.

So just like you observe that an apple falls from a tree without really understanding the root cause of this phenomenon, so to do you make observations in quantum physics without understanding the root cause. Someday we may understand both gravity and quantum mechanics but today the complete explanation and understanding so far eludes us.

The pseudoscientitsts like the ones who made that clip you showed don't understand it either, in fact they are widening the true lack of understanding by expanding the quantum effects to the macro world. In other words, we experience Newtonian physics more or less in our sublight speed, macro world, Einstein physics in a relativistic world, and quantum mechanics on a quantum scale (meaning very tiny). But they are trying to imply that the quantum mechanics we see on a quantum scale also may occur on macro scales, which is misleading and that's why it's called pseudoscience.


Does it have to do with the double slit experiment? Because when we don't observe something then atoms are all waves, but when we observe it it acts like a particle right?


Yes to the double slit experiment question. Not exactly to the wave-particle duality question:

Double-slit experiment


Richard Feynman was fond of saying that all of quantum mechanics can be gleaned from carefully thinking through the implications of this single experiment



Restriction to the two experiments in which either both slits are open or one slit is closed has given rise to the idea of wave-particle complementarity according to which a microscopic object (photon, electron, etc.) would manifest itself as a particle in the which-way experiment but as a wave in the interference experiment. This idea has been felt to be counterintuitive by those not being content with an instrumentalist interpretation of quantum mechanics in which that theory is accepted as just describing phenomena without providing explanations.


So whether it appears to be a wave or a particle depends on the type of experiment performed. It's not so much a function of the observer problem as that movie would suggest. If you want to understand what's going on, the first thing I would do is stop watching that movie because it will only serve to confuse you further as it's replete with pseudoscience and misinformation, mixed in with some real physics to give it an appearance of legitimacy.

You are trying to gain an intuitive understanding which is commendable, we would all like to have that, but it may not be possible to come up with an accurate mental image of what's happening in the quantum world based on our limited understanding so far. So we OBSERVE what happens, and find that we can write down wave functions that predict and are consistent with our observations. Does that mean that the reality of what exists is truly a wave function? We know the wave function makes accurate predictions, but I see it as a model to make predictions rather than a representation of the reality.

[edit on 26-3-2010 by Arbitrageur]



posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 12:09 PM
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That reminds me of the "fair witness" from the book "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert Heinlein.

an explaination is in there somewhere (even has a title section)
en.wikipedia.org...

Basically, We can only observe what we see and hear and smell and touch. Make no assumptions or extrapolations about anything else.

Say, If there is a barn in the distance, I would say this side of the barn is red at this point in time while the barn is stanging there, (i dont know what color the other side is) and the color could change, or the barn could disappear.


to answer your question.

Anything that but what we actually observe is an assumption based on prior observations, unless observed, we actually have no idea what exactly is happening, quantum mechanics takes this and runs with it.

To say that an atom is everywhere when we do not observe it covers all possible actions that the atom could take when unobserved. Yet when it is a particle (as observed) we can identify exactly what it appears to be doing, and then it is in a fixed location (relatively). When Unobserved again, once more, the atom could be doing anything, or be anywhere, unitl we observe it.

example, When you take your shoes off and go to bed, you actually have no idea what your shoes are doing or where they are (unless you give them the old staredown all night) you can only assume based on prior knowledge that they will stay in the same spot, and do not move. That is only an assumption.



posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 01:02 PM
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The reason that it is called "the measurement problem
" is that it is in fact a problem. The details are not well understood. We don't understand the apparent "wavefunction collapse" when the object goes from being a wave to a particle. What causes it, how it works, and to what extent it is a genuine phenomenon are not well understood. We don't know to what extent the "wave" form of a particle is a physical reality as opposed to a mathematical convenience in our equations. Several interpretations of reality have arisen from the confusion, none of which are particularily compelling. For example, the "many worlds" interpretation, where every possibility is instantiated across an infinite number of "parallel" realities. This is untestable and therefore has no place in science.

The New Age movement gets excited about this issue because they think it means we have magic powers. They like to interpret the wavefunction collapse as an individual creating or manifesting or modifying their own personal reality as a function of their intent. This is completely incompatable with the reality and the science. It's annoying when this claim is made because they base it on hard science, yet every scientist that does these experiments will tell you that the New Age "magical" interpretation of their results is incorrect. They cherry pick what they want out of the real science and ignore the parts disagree with their fantasy.

These measurement are made on small groups or even individual particles, often not even atoms and instead just photons. These particles have absolutely no capacity to be effected by someone's intention. They can't represent information like that. You can "intend" to find a particle at point B all you want, but there's no way to get that intention "into" the particle, least of all just by wanting it badly enough. Intentions are brain processes, they involve billions of neurons, they manifest on the time scale of milliseconds, and the only way to get thoughts out of your brain and into the world is to use your body in the ways you know how: talking, write, make things. The scale of thoughts and intentions is so much greater than that of subatomic particles that we can absolutely dismiss out of hand the idea that intentions can manifest in those subatomic particles.

Also, if this magical interpretation of reality were right, science and technology would not have had the effect on the world that they did. It would have been wizards and faith healers and shaman and mystics all the way. Instead, look at what happens when we dismissed the possibility of a mystical reality and instead embrace materialist, reductionist science: the life expectancy doubled in the developed world, and we advanced our ability to actually manipulate our environment and therefore "control our reality" more in past five hundred years than we did in the previous hundred thousand.



posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 11:14 PM
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Hey thanks for the replies. Lot's of good info for me.
I was just wondering if you guys have heard about the random number generator experiments. I was gonna post a link but couldn't find one.. anyway this experiment said they found a noticable difference when people intended to get one number over the other (it generated 1s and 0s). I guess there really isn't any way to prove this, but it's interesting to look in to.
So i think i get this a little better. In the quantum world, there are different rules that apply when compared to the macro scale (the world we're used to). The outcome of what happens in the quantum world somehow creates what we see as our reality...
Is that correct?



posted on Mar, 27 2010 @ 03:32 AM
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Originally posted by bulletproof_monk
Hey thanks for the replies. Lot's of good info for me.
I was just wondering if you guys have heard about the random number generator experiments. I was gonna post a link but couldn't find one.. anyway this experiment said they found a noticable difference when people intended to get one number over the other (it generated 1s and 0s). I guess there really isn't any way to prove this, but it's interesting to look in to.
So i think i get this a little better. In the quantum world, there are different rules that apply when compared to the macro scale (the world we're used to). The outcome of what happens in the quantum world somehow creates what we see as our reality...
Is that correct?


I'm not familiar with those experiments but post a link if you ever find it.

I don't think you can oversimplify a question like the one you asked about the quantum world effects to a yes or no answer. If the things involved are tiny like atoms, molecules, photons, or subatomic particles, then we will see the effects. Well obviously the easiest things in that list for us to see in our macro world are photons, like the light used in the double slit experiment.

But just to give you one example in quantum mechanics that is NOT manifested on larger scales is the quantization of energy. Here's a rough analogy. If you press the gas pedal on a car, it accelerates smoothly and continuously. In the quantum world, as you add energy, that doesn't happen, energy exists in discrete, quantized amounts. This would be sort of like your car jumping from 3 kph to 5 kph without ever going 4 kph in-between. That won't ever happen in our macro scale like a car, but it happens on the quantum scale.

We can observe the effects from that quantum effect from the energy of the photons that are emitted when an electron jumps from a higher energy state to a lower energy state. These quantized changes in electron energy levels absorbing or emitting photons form the basis for spectroscopy.



posted on Mar, 27 2010 @ 11:53 AM
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I believe the results you are refering to are those reported by the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research lab, specifically the Global Consciousness Project. Here:

noosphere.princeton.edu...
en.wikipedia.org...
noosphere.princeton.edu...
en.wikipedia.org...

Their results are highly controversial and continue to be a subject of debate. The lab closed in 2007 claiming that they had accomplished their mission of answer the question of whether or not consciousness influences physical reality in a measurable way that cannot be accounted by conventional physics. Their answer was a resounding yes.

It is important to not interpret their results as magic powers. The effects are only evident as minute variations over vast data sets.



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