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A Quantum Theory for the Rest of Us

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posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 06:30 PM
The ‘spooky’ phenomena of quantum mechanics are understandable by all people, following directly from their membership within any social structure. The discipline of theoretical physics neither offers, nor recognizes the need for, sufficient explanation of the theory, including its ontological implications. A generalized quantum theory gives a legitimate context for understanding all self-organizing complex systems.

this is an original article in six easy-to-read parts, with footnotes and citations.

part 1 introduction
part 2 the early history of quantum theory
part 3 "what the bleep" and its criticisms
part 4 a simplified description of 'spooky' quantum phenomena
part 5 the ontological implications of a generalized quantum theory
part 6 a flock of birds framed within a generalized quantum theory, a specific application

bibliography follows

(sorry, no tl;dr)

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 06:30 PM
part 1 introduction

Since nature means two things,
the matter and the form,
of which the latter is the end,

and since all the rest is for the sake of the end...

...the form must be the cause.

- Aristotle

Sophisticated telescopes look out to space, showing us elegant blobs of color isolated in the blackness; in the sky we observe a flock of birds gliding through the air as a single unified object; in the microscope we see the sweep of fluorescent light as a molecular signal transits the petri dish; in the test tube, clouds of energetic particles dictate the interactions of molecular systems.

A cursory analysis of these four particle systems makes plain that, at least in appearance, the universe respects neither cosmological scale nor the nature of being in its manifestation of complex self-organizing systems.

There currently exists only a single well-supported scientific framework, quantum mechanics, which offers a workable description of this phenomenon. Unfortunately, this framework has been sanctioned by popular scientific mandate for exclusive use at the sub-molecular scale. I will argue that quantum mechanics, applied as a generalized theory, provides an appropriate foundation for the explanation of all self-organizing particle systems irrespective of cosmological scale and nature of being.

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 06:31 PM
A Trip 'Down the Drain'
part 2 the early history of quantum theory

By its own admission, quantum mechanics (QT) is not, nor has it ever claimed to be, an explanatory theory; for decades, physical theorists have strongly emphasized that QT is exclusively a practical methodology.

Due to the lack of a positivist explanans (1), aspiring physicists are inducted into the study of quantum mechanics according to an unusual mythology involving great oracles, their dogma, and a harrowing fate for those persons who would question it. The Nobel laureate Richard Feynman cautioned his students,

Do not take the lecture too seriously, feeling that you really have to understand in terms of some model what I am going to describe, but just relax and enjoy it. I am going to tell you what nature behaves like… Do not keep saying to yourself, “But how can it be like that?” because you will get 'down the drain' into a blind alley from which nobody has escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that. (2)


If we retrace the steps taken into this ‘blind alley’ by the originators of the dogma (along the social constructivist interpretation of science (3)), an inability to sufficiently explain quantum phenomena (4) appears to be built into its very foundation. A specific effort was made early in the theory’s development stage to minimize the “pseudo-psychological complications” (5) and “embarrassing quantum enigmas” (6) associated with the measurement problem and the troubling ontology thus implied.

The great minds of Heisenberg, Dirac, von Neumann, and others, were influenced by the desire to lean – as far as possible – on existing classical formalisms (7). QT and its formalisms were not constructed from a ‘first principles’ perspective; rather, the entire theory has become merely a patchwork of footnotes to its classical predecessor (8).

If we are to conform to the demands of the keepers of this mythos, we are faced with the unfortunate scenario in which neither physicist nor layman is enabled by the establishment to scrutinize the foundations of the theory or explore its ontological implications; worse still, layman and physicist alike are forced to put their credibility at risk by even attempting to do so.

In response to their heavy demands, we might inquire of the keepers if special prerequisites are required to kick a football or drive a car? Or more plainly, if QT is so fundamental to our reality that it defines the very fabric of it, how can it be that every living soul on this planet is not a direct empirical expert in its ubiquitous effects, as with the classical laws?



(1) Also known as a subsuming law or premise arising from natural cause (Balashov & Rosenberg, 2002).
(2) (Feynman & Gleick, 1994)
(3) Science is a convenient fiction, wholly reliant upon social agreement (Latour, 2009).
(4) Described in more detail in section VI.
(5) (Valente, 2008)
(6) (Hobson, 2011)
(7) (Lacki, 2004)
(8) All of reality is supposed to be generated from structure-less, meaningless elements (particles), pushed around according to definite rules (forces). So particle mechanics came to believe that every material behavior could be, and should be, and indeed must be, reduced to purely syntactical sequences of configurations in an underlying system of particles (Rosen, 1991).
edit on 20-12-2013 by tgidkp because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 06:31 PM
A Planck is a Bug is a Bird is a Star
part 3 "what the bleep" and its criticisms

The refusal to determine a reasonable explanation for quantum phenomena has generated a complacent, yet sharply defensive culture in the scientific community. Meanwhile, the pseudo-psychological complications that lead a person down-the-drain have been actively co-opted by members of society that at best wish to see a unification of science and spirituality, and at worst wish to mold science into the form of their personal beliefs. As a result, any attempt to explain, interpret, or ascribe meaning QT, regardless of the scientific legitimacy of such interpretation, is met with swift rebuke.

In an article published in Scientific American in 2005, physicist Michael Shermer leads the way in the fight against what he has termed “quantum flapdoodle”, “New Age pabulum”, “Physics envy”, and “Quantum Quackery”. (9)

Shermer’s verbal assault is levied against a particularly egregious 2004 film entitled “What the Bleep Do We Know?” which remains to this day a massive success in independent filmmaking. He gives the following description: “trying to make sense of an apparently senseless universe, the film’s central tenet is that we create our own reality through consciousness and quantum mechanics”. (9)

The current article is not interested in taking sides with either Shermer or the allegedly fallacious expositions contained in the film. Instead, I will use Shermer’s critique as a convenient stepping-stone toward understanding why the scientific contentions regarding the legitimacy of applying QT to other fields of science, are themselves illegitimate.


In a popular argument often echoed by his contemporaries (fairly common on ATS), Shermer states that,

“for a system to be described quantum-mechanically, its typical mass, speed and distance must be on the order of [the unimaginably tiny number known as] a Planck-length. The gap between subatomic quantum effects and large-scale macro systems is too large to bridge, and quickly fades in the face of the complexities of biology”. (9)

This shortsighted comment fails to address the very real need for an explanans on scientifically acceptable terms, and further, leads us to form the essential question that must be asked when applying QT to larger systems.....

.....Why must we measure the coherence of bird flocks in Planck-lengths?
........Do individual birds not qualify as quantized units within the flock-system? (10)



(9) (Shermer, 2005)
(10) Quantum Biology is not about applying quantum mechanics as it is already known through the experiences of traditional physics, but rather about an attempt to extend quantum mechanics in the manner that the physicists have not tried (Matsuno & Paton, 2000).
edit on 20-12-2013 by tgidkp because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 06:33 PM
What exactly is it that everyone is so worried about?!
part 4 a simplified description of 'spooky' quantum phenomena

I will now remedy this paper’s glaring absence of a description of the quantum ‘strangeness’ in question. In order to do this in simplest terms, I will return to the examples given in the introductory section.

Simultaneous with the observation of a flock of birds in the sky or a signaling cascade in a colony of bacteria, our minds impose upon them the preconditioned category of ‘Living Thing’, which itself contains the subcategory of ‘Intelligent Behavior’. Thus, when we observe these relatively mundane phenomena, we do not find it odd in the least that such a system is capable of coherently unified activity. (11)

The single thread unravelling the entire theory, fraying from the defensive anxiety of Shermer’s rant, concerns the incredible and profound fact that sub-molecular systems (of protons, electrons, etc.) are apparently capable coherent activity nearly identical in nature to the flock of birds. (12)

That the trajectory of a bird within a flock is linked directly with that bird’s positional awareness, and that the flock – as a coherent unified entity – results directly from the collective awareness of the birds, is a simple thing. Conversely, we are informed from the highest scientific authority that something as obviously and inherently ‘dumb’ as a cloud of electrons can never exhibit a similar awareness. (13)



(11) The existence of societies is dependent on the generation, exchange, and processing of meaningful information amongst their constituent members. Biological and para-biological societies need be involved in a permanent web of self-modifications and problem-solving activities in order to achieve their survival. This socio-informational way of existence can be pinpointed in the cell’s ‘society of enzymes’, in the organism’s ‘society of cells’, and within any society of individuals (Marijuan, 1996).

(12) The attempt to localize a thought in the brain strongly resembles the attempt to localize a quantum particle which happens to be everywhere and nowhere (Stern, 2000).

(13) It is conventional to regard the former as a mere syntactic shorthand for the latter, and accordingly, that any attempt to attach independent significance to the latter, to regard it as an autonomous thing apart from the particles which it carries, is a terrible mistake (Rosen, 1991).

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 06:33 PM
The Signal is the Noise is the Signal
part 5 the ontological implications of a generalized quantum theory

Humanity has remained poised, terrified, on the edge of a great new paradigm shift,
while pretending as though we have already safely crossed it.

As we jump the gap between coherence at the atomic level to the coherence of systems much larger, we return to the all-important question: is the Plank-length the only valid unit of quantization? If instead we use the more relevant quantized unit of ‘bird’, we reveal the simplicity at the heart of quantum theory: the coherence of a flock emerges as the interference meta-pattern generated from the mutual measurements of quantized bird units against themselves. (14)

Further, this interference pattern is distributed as an instantaneous holographic-like entanglement (15) among all members of the flock which thus obtains an identity and awareness at a higher meta-level. At once, we realize the profound ontological implications of the quantum measurement problem avoided by its founders: in an interlinked universe made of systems-within-systems-within-systems…. either everything is ‘intelligent’, or nothing is. (16)



(14) Metalevels are a basic necessity for coupling or relationships of referentiality to occur, such that energy can exist as matter, as information (Taborsky, 1999).

(15) A computer is indifferent to the content of the data it processes. It does not matter whether these data concern words or graphics, the weather forecast or the calculation of a nuclear explosion. The quantum-theoretic machine is fundamentally different: its states depend on its knowledge content (Stern, 2000).

(16) Reverse-time entropy production (inverse of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics) is supported by the following recent finding: “The giant density fluctuations are suppressed, in agreement with our unanticipated experimental findings. We stress here that these long range hydrodynamic interactions do not depend at all on the propulsion mechanism at the individual level” (Bricard,, 2011).

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 06:34 PM
part 6 a flock of birds, as framed within a generalized quantum theory: a specific application

A. The smallest unit of measure for a flock is a bird. The smallest unit of action between two birds is a ‘bird-length’. (17)

B. It is impossible for one bird to observe the instantaneous state of its adjacent birds without interfering directly with the state of those birds (a non-interfering observation would require a measurement probe smaller than the ‘bird-length’ which does not exist in the flock system). (18)

C. A flock system cannot be reduced to any one of its constituent birds. The instantaneous collective-measurement-interference (19) of all birds resonates coherently as a unified system state, giving rise via holographic noise, not information (20), to a level of coherent organization higher than the birds as individuals.

D. The emergent flock is autonomously capable of making decisions which resonate in time-->backwards causality. (21) The bird generates the flock, and is yet subject to the flock’s decisions. (22)

E. The flock system, itself, defines a ‘flock-length’ which dictates its ability to interact in time-->forward causality (25) with other similar flocks and all other objects which may be measured at the flock-length.



(17) If one wants an algorithm that gives pixel by pixel, the momentum and position of all particles of two or more mixed gases, this algorithm would be as large as the required information to give those data: no regularities allow describing them by a shorter program (Longo, Miquel, Sonnenschein, & Soto, 2012).

(18) A crucial lesson from quantum mechanics is that the interaction between object and apparatus cannot be made insignificant or compensated for (Matsuno & Paton, 2000).

(19) The quantum mechanical computation underlying the updating is extremely versatile in accommodating a huge array of parallel processing. This competency rests upon the molecular capacity of experiencing the presented exclusively from the internalist perspective (Matsuno & Paton, 2000).

(20) Information is understood as being encoded by discrete data types; anything else is considered as noise. If a wire is compressed, pulled or twisted, these actions will not increase the information that they are transmitting or elaborating. On the other hand, in all living systems, compression, dilation, shearing, pulling, twisting and continuous deformations [holographic noise, not information] significantly and causally contribute to development (Longo et al., 2012).

(21) Cause and effect appear to be inseparably looped and can no longer be treated in canonical linear fashion. (Stern, 2000). Whether we express final causation in terms of "intentionality" or equivalently in terms of what its effect entails, final causation involves the future acting on the present (Rosen, 1991).

(22) In the following excerpt, the desire of ‘John Doe’ to not have hay fever in the future is the final cause of the cure; the medication is the cure, but it is not the final cause: “The resulting explanans will thus be of the following type: John Doe had a hay fever attack and took 8 milligrams of chlor-trimeton. The probability for subsidence of a hay fever attack upon administration of 8 milligrams of chlor-trimeton is high” (Balashov & Rosenberg, 2002).

Drawing from (Swenson, 1997) showing arrow (F2) as ‘reverse-time causality’ in relationship to forward-time entropy production (ΔS).


Balashov, Y., & Rosenberg, A. (Eds.). (2002). Routledge contemporary readings in philosophy. Philosophy of science: Contemporary readings. London, New York: Routledge.

Bricard, A., Caussin, J.-B., Desreumaux, N., Dauchot, O., & Bartolo, D. (2013). Emergence of macroscopic directed motion in populations of motile colloids. Nature, 503(7474), 95–98.

Feynman, R. P., & Gleick, J. (1994). The Character of physical law. New York: The Modern Library.

Hobson, A. (2013). There are no particles, there are only fields. American Journal of Physics, 81(3), 211.

Lacki, J. (2004). The puzzle of canonical transformations in early quantum mechanics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 35(3), 317–344.

Latour, B. (2009). Science in Action. In F. Allhoff, M. Alspector-Kelly, & T. J. McGrew (Eds.), Blackwell philosophy anthologies: Vol. 30. The philosophy of science. An historical anthology. Chichester [u.a.]: Wiley-Blackwell.

Longo, G., Miquel, P.-A., Sonnenschein, C., & Soto, A. (2012). Is information a proper observable for biological organization? Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, 109(3), 108–114.

Marijuan, P. C. (1996). First conference on foundations of information science: From computers and quantum physics to cells, nervous systems, and societies. Biosystems, 38(2-3), 87–96.

Matsuno, K., & Paton, R. (2000). Is there a biology of quantum information? Biosystems, 55(1-3), 39–46.

Rosen, R. (1991). Life Itself: A comprehensive inquiry into the nature, origin, and fabrication of life. New York, Chichester: Columbia University Press.

Shermer, M. (2005). Quantum Quackery. Scientific American, 292(1), 34.

Stern, A. (2000). Quantum Theoretic Machines: What is thought from the point of view of physics. Amsterdam: North-Holland; Elsevier Science.

Swenson, R. (1997). Autocatakinetics: a theory of embedded circles. Advances in Human Ecology, 6.

Taborsky, E. (1999). Evolution of consciousness. Biosystems, 51(3), 153–168.

Valente, G. (2008). John von Neumann's mathematical “Utopia” in quantum theory. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 39(4), 860–871.

posted on Dec, 21 2013 @ 02:26 AM
What I noticed? Nothing about actual quantum mechanics.

A whole lot of "flapdoodle", exactly as decried by the scientist.

posted on Dec, 21 2013 @ 08:31 AM
So birds in a flock are all the same bird in quantum superposition?

And what is it about quantum mechanics that drives those who obviously don't understand it try to explain it?

posted on Dec, 21 2013 @ 08:53 AM
reply to post by tgidkp

From what I've read so far I don't agree with you on everything, but you do add a little more data to my worldview of quantum mechanics, and you surely put up a fine formatted thread!

posted on Dec, 21 2013 @ 10:28 PM
reply to post by Astyanax

So birds in a flock are all the same bird in quantum superposition?

....but what i really love about your post is that you're pretending to know what is actually going on at the quantum level.


what you have said is nothing more than a reflection of the mathematical model. if you missed it, in part 2 i explained all about how the mathematical model, from its inception, was never intended to actually explain anything.

so. who here is pretending to know what?

but, to answer your question: yes. every bird in the flock represents a superposition of states in the phase space of the flock.

posted on Dec, 21 2013 @ 10:43 PM
reply to post by mbkennel

oh. i am sorry. you appear to be mistaken.

i am not here to grovel at the feet of established quantum mechanics.

i am here to point out that the observables and fundamental principles that led to the development of QM are also observed in other physical systems; thus, a rewrite is in order. this is not 'flapdoodle'. i am not claiming any sort of magic or woo. in fact.... I USED CITED RESOURCES to support this writeup. but i guess you had to complain about something, huh?

perhaps you would like to give us an explanation of that place ('down the drain') where practicing physicists dare not go? don't give me that crap about not needing to explain anything. science explains stuff.

i demand an explanation. i want you to tell me: exactly what is going on down there?

come on.... let's hear it! put up or shut up!

posted on Dec, 21 2013 @ 10:47 PM
reply to post by Aleister

i appreciate that. thanks.

i can see that you dont want to get more detailed about your disagreements. i dont blame you. some of these people can be quite unpleasant. nevertheless, i would be happy to hear your concerns.

posted on Dec, 21 2013 @ 11:17 PM
reply to post by tgidkp

You're pretending to know what is actually going on at the quantum level.

I am not.

'Understanding quantum mechanics' and 'understanding what is happening at the quantum level' are two entirely different things. That was Richard Feynman's point, the one you rejected in order to present your own attempt to interpret macroscopic events according to a quantum analogy. You have eagerly plunged down the drain.

Every bird in the flock represents a superposition of states in the phase space of the flock.

Really? Show us the mathematics. Show that if you correctly assess the position and momentum of one bird in the flock, all the other birds instantly disappear. I'd love to see you produce that result.

edit on 21/12/13 by Astyanax because: of a tweak.

posted on Dec, 21 2013 @ 11:57 PM
reply to post by Astyanax

yes you are. you are saying that because the mathematics represents the data in a certain way, that the way in which the data is represented must be a reflection of what is really going on. this is the premise upon which you proceed to make some silly statement about birds.

of course birds don't disappear! do photon (conjugates)? you seem to think so.

by the way, no one is any more comfortable with the collapse of conjugated pairs than they are of disappearing birds. stop pretending i am the idiot here. i am not the one that is claiming that anything is actually disappearing (faster than light speed, oh my!).

i am not afraid of going down the drain. it desperately needs a good scouring.
edit on 22-12-2013 by tgidkp because: arguing with astyanax terrifies me.

posted on Dec, 22 2013 @ 02:17 AM
reply to post by tgidkp

you are saying that because the mathematics represents the data in a certain way, that the way in which the data is represented must be a reflection of what is really going on.

I have better things to do than to argue with you. When the Macroscopic Schrödinger Wave Equation begins to gain ground as a method of mapping the probability distribution of birds in a flock I will acknowledge your genius. Till then you're just another crank trying to do quantum mechanics without the maths.

posted on Dec, 22 2013 @ 03:06 AM
reply to post by Astyanax

i have always wondered what it looks like when an exchange with you ends on terms which are not favorable for you. you grab your ball and go home, of course!

why did you not have better things to do than harass me in the first place? making fun is worth your time? it's so much more fun when the bullied cant defend themselves properly.

posted on Dec, 22 2013 @ 03:21 AM
reply to post by tgidkp

Have the mindset and understanding of the English language to always capitalize the first letter of the person you are talking about. In your case "I".

Quantum theory is just that, a theory. I don't buy into your theory or any of the sources you linked. I believe you are on the right track, you used the bird theory. I do not align myself with your theory but I agree it's all about gravity. Birds fly, defying gravity thus the relationship.

Before we go any further we must negate gravity from our experiments. If you want to figure out the mechanics of any type of machinery (our world) you must stop the process (gravity). Even in space, gravity affects the physics.

Since we can't even define gravity, we would have to travel outside our universe to calculate these experiments.

posted on Dec, 22 2013 @ 07:33 AM

Absoloutely brilliant. It always bothered me that physicists disregard the notion that QM could apply to all scales instead of just the sub-atomic. After all, what is a large system if not simply composed of multiple smaller systems? The difference seems to me psychological in nature, and not physical - an arbitrary distinction. Now I need to re-read that.

Thanks OP

posted on Dec, 22 2013 @ 01:49 PM
I can't
edit on 22-12-2013 by yampa because: (no reason given)

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