As regular readers of my posts and of my book will know, I am of the opinion that quantum physics does not so much prove the primary role of consciousness, however that it certainly strongly confirms it. This is of course a controversial position. As long as accepted science continues to cling to the materialistic frame of mind, there will be scientists who wholeheartedly try to show this as wrong. They want to maintain their there-is-only-matter vision, although the attractiveness of that idea of reality, in which I am only a casual bystander, escapes me. On top of that, there are also people who take consciousness and its survival after physical death seriously, but they prefer to keep quantum physics out of the whole discussion about consciousness.
Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle explained (?) by classic physics
The same goes for those two Finnish scientists who published a mathematical study in September 2020 in which Heisenberg’s uncertainty relation is a result of statistical fluctuations in space-time, somewhat comparable to the Brownian motion of microscopic particles in a liquid. These Finns, not quantum physicists by the way, would have shown that Heisenberg’s uncertainty relation is not a consequence of the measurement – the observation – of the particle, but is something that takes place entirely in the classical Newtonian world. One of the two authors, Jussi Lindgren, is not a mathematician but is a mathematically very educated person. This he states in his LinkedIn profile:
‘Part-time doctoral student at Aalto University School of Science, main interests in optimal control theory with applications in macroeconomics, physics and finance. Other academic interests include nuclear engineering and philosophy of science. Quantum physics, relativity and theoretical physics are key interests of mine as well.’
Their publication does indeed contain a impressive piece of complex mathematics. That is not particularly accessible to the layman who, despite his lack of mathematical skills, is interested in the true meaning of quantum physics.
Although my mathematical ability is not what it used to be, I would still like to add a critical note concerning their publication and especially their conclusion. Their conclusion is that the interpretation of quantum physics can be found within the classical Newtonian domain, ie hard objective scientific realism. The Heisenberg uncertainty relation says that there is a fundamental lower limit to the accuracy with which the position and speed of particles can be measured. According to these Finns, the particles in an experiment are permanently objectively present, but are controlled by statistical fluctuations in space-time that make it impossible to measure speed and position with an accuracy greater than Heisenberg’s principle allows. In fact, their approach is an excellently elaborated example of an the ensemble theory in quantum physics. Quantum ensemble theory is only about the statistical behavior of larger ensembles of particles and prefers to ignore the individual particle behavior itself. And therein lies the problem. Ignoring unwelcome facts is not science.
If we hadn’t had the Bell and the delayed choice experiments, I wouldn’t have been able to find good counter-arguments so easily. Their significance cannot be overstated. All Bell experiments have confirmed, with ever increasing confidence and without exception, that two (or more) particles, when they have a common history, are in such a way connected (entangled) that a measurement on one particle immediately makes the other particle exhibit the complementary property, while they did not have that property prior to the measurement. When you assume that those particles exist permanently and objectively, you cannot but assume then that the measured particle communicated faster than light to its entangled partner that it was measured, whereupon the partner ‘decided’ to show the complementary property. A property it did not have before measurement. Such an assumption, as far as I’m concerned, is far beyond what Occam’s Razor recommends us.
And then there are also (fortunately) the delayed choice experiments. These have shown very clearly that the idea of particles that are physically on their way from source to detector, and thus travel materially, cannot be correct, unless you make some rather far-fetched assumptions: about particles that can see into the future, about entangled photons that know that once the position of the other photon has been measured, they should adjust their behavior, showing or not showing interference or not, and, on top of that, retroactively in time. You are of course free to prefer the material view of the world, but then you have to be honest and accept intelligent and instantaneous behavior of elementary particles. Therefore I prefer the idea that it is ultimately the conscious observer who, when he observes an event, also records it for its history as a really happened event. My idea is that it is the conscious observer who is definitely not to be ignored if you really want to be scientific.
An experimental test of non-local realism
Last but not least, I would like to mention here the result of an experiment conducted at the University of Vienna in 2007, one that, in my opinion, has received little attention. In this experiment, the assumption that perception does not affect objective reality was actually tested. By this I do not mean that every measurement always disturbs that which is measured, that was already an accepted fact in classical physics, but that mere observation has an effect on the nature of the observed, although it does not physically touch what is observed. That is what is called a non-local influence.
In this experiment, a complete class of important non-local hidden variable hypotheses has been falsified. These theories presuppose realism. Permanently objectively existing matter. These hidden variable hypotheses propose mechanisms that would explain, for example, the entanglement of photons in Bell-type experiments with effects where they already possessed their polarization all along. They would not manifest it only at the moment of measurement.
The conclusion from this experiment is that we must take the result of a Bell-type experiment and its significance for what being real means, very seriously. We can no longer hope that science can repair the idea of objectively permanent matter of classic physics.