Rereading the excellent book ‘The Holographic Universe’ by Michael Talbot – originally published in 1991 and still a splendid and well-documented overview of scientifically based insights on the nature of reality – a passage in the chapter ‘Time out of Mind’ resonated with my idea that we not only do create matter by observing but also do create time. Read also my post ‘Schrödingers Stopwatch‘ on this site why I think that is so. Therefore, try to understand really what Talbot describes and what it implies. Talbot writes there:
"At the 1988 Annual Covention of the Parapsychological Association, Helmut Schmidt and Marilyn Schlitz announced that several experiments they had conducted that mind may be able to alter the past as well."
What had Schmidt and Schlitz found to justify their remarkable statement? Well, in one of their experiments, they had produced 1000 different sound tracks through a random computer process and copied these sound tracks onto 1000 empty audio cassettes. Each sound track consisted of a series of audio clips, each clip differing in duration and character. Half of these audio clips were producing tones that were pleasant to the ear, the other half were producing uncomfortable raw noise. The computer selection program randomly chose clips from a database of 100 different clips, 50 of them producing pleasant tones, 50 of them just unpleasant noise.
Important: The selection process was a 100% random process, and the duration of each clip was also the result of a random process, so the expectation is roughly a fifty-fifty distribution of pleasant/unpleasant clips, not only in their number but also in the length of each clip.
These 1000 cassettes – containing the copies of the prepared soundtracks – were then sent by mail to volunteers. These were instructed, while listening to the cassette, to try with their minds to lengthen the duration of the pleasant clips and to shorten the duration of the unpleasant ones. The original 1000 soundtracks were still residing – unlistened to – in the laboratory of Schmidt and Schlitz.
When the subjects had finished listening to the tape, they informed Schmidt and Schlitz, who then examined the original sound track, that still resided in their laboratory. They found that the original sound tracks, after the subjects had listened to the copies, contained significantly more pleasant tones than unpleasant noise. Their conclusion was that the subjects had influenced the production process and thus had changed the past. Talbot joins their view:
"In other words, it appeared that the subjects had psychokinetically reached back through time and had an effect on the randomized process from which their prerecorded cassettes had been made."
Talbot thus also interprets this – the influence of the minds of the subjects on the randomly chosen length and type of sound clips from a database with 50/50 divided pleasant and unpleasant sound types – as a real retrocausal effect, a psychokinetic backwards action in time, thus changing the past. However, I am here of a different opinion, one that has a lot to do with the non-locality in space and time of quantum entanglement.
It’s not found in the description in Talbot’s book if the random generation of the compilation of sound clips was controlled by a QRNG, but it is very likely that it was given Schmidt’s other experiments. I’m assuming such for the moment.
Quantum entanglement applies also to macro objects
Nothing in quantum physics dictates that entanglement applies only to elementary particles. Most quantum physicists accept the possibility of entangling macro objects.
When generating the sound tracks, the QRNG and the sound tracks became entangled. Most quantum physicists will agree to that. Copying the generated sound tracks on the cassettes created more entanglement, the contents of the cassettes became also entangled with the QRNG. What was recorded and copied onto the cassette had not been observed yet. The contents of the cassettes – the magnetization of the iron particles – were therefore still a non-collapsed quantum state wave. However, the physical material of the cassettes, the cassette including the recording tape, was visually observable, so the observable part of it was material. The cassettes were then unlistened to – their content not observed, so still entangled with the QRNG – sent to the subjects. So the entanglement of QRNG, soundtrack, ánd copy thereof, now stretched considerably over time and place.
It was only when listening that the entangled quantum state wave – which contained not only the probabilities of the magnetization of the iron particles on the cassette but also the probabilities of the electronic zeros and ones generated by the QRNG – collapsed in its entirety in time and space. Only then – through the observation by the subject – did the entire production history of the contents of the audiocassette along with its contents become history as an experienced reality. So, the full history was created by listening to the contents of the tape.
So the past was not really altered, that would be true retrocausality, but the past was created at the moment of listening – observation – by a conscious person. Finally, if Schmidt and Schlitz didn’t use a QRNG in their experiment, but some other not-quantum based device, then this only has even greater implications for our ideas about quantum entanglement.
Feeling the future
Finally, this reminds me also of the more recent experiments conducted by Daryl Bem in 2011. He also noticed an effect, where the past seems to be altered by an action in the present. Studying the answers after the test, had a measurable positive effect on the test results. Indeed, the improved test results are clearly already in the past. But in my opinion it is not the already fixed past that is altered. It’s more comprehensible to consider it as an action in the present that is influenced by an action in the future. This action in the future is already residing as a potential in the outside time and place existing entangled quantum state wave. The future exists already in some quantum state, it is however not fixed. Which explains why prophetic dreams do not always come true.
Some physicists are beginning to realize that quantum physics has much more to say about the world than that quantum mechanics is an unparalleled successful predictor of physical phenomena. The book ‘The One‘ by Heinrich Päs, professor of theoretical physics at TU Dortmund, is a very good example of this changing attitude. He concludes that quantum physics can only be fully understood if we accept the existence of a quantum universe – already ages ago described by many philosophers as The One – as the ground of the world we observe.
According to Päs, this quantum universe is the – immaterial yet real – version of Everett’s multiverse, but metaphysical instead of physically material. Päs states that the image presented to the public of endlessly splitting material universes is wrong, brought into the world by opponents of Everett’s idea. All these possible universes exist certainly, however as state waves that together, by their respective superpositions, form one single state wave, where all their oscillations cancel each other out. This composite superpositioned state wave of all possible universes together is The One, the unmoving immaterial ground of everything, where space, time and matter do not exist any more, not even as thought, but from which all observed diversity sprouts. This is the Tao of Lao Tze, here anew presented as an ultimate quantum metaphysical reality..
So what’s Everett’s idea, precisely?
To answer that, we first need to look at the greatest mystery that quantum physics confronts us with, the quantum collapse. The end of the – unlimited in space and time expanded (non-local) – immaterial state wave that, according to the accepted quantum physics interpretation, represents the probability to find the material particle at measurement when, precisely at that act of measurement, that wave ends abruptly. This end of that state wave is however not predicted by the mathematics describing the state wave, the Schrödinger equation. How the act of measurement triggers this abrupt transition of immaterial probabilities into matter is still not explained satisfactorily. The most commonly accepted explanation given is decoherence, which is actually not an explanation but only a verbal description of what seems to occur. Which is that a coherent phenomenon – the wave – suddenly loses its coherence as a connected whole, whereupon only one element of it – the in our measurement found particle – remains and becomes matter.
The attributed name – decoherence – doesn’t really explain how it works. However, Päs explains decoherence as an effect caused by the necessarily limited perspective of the observer on the composite quantum wave of the universe, that one single unmoving state wave in which the state waves of all possible universes are summarized, superpositioned in the language of the physicist. His explanation how a limited perspective of the observer hides the full unmoving universal state wave and presents us only one of its myriad components, does unfortunately not go into more detail.
A metaphor he offers as an explanation is that of a completely flat ocean surface that, observed from an overall perspective, shows no movement, but which in that motionlessness may as well be the result of an endless conjoining of an enormous number of waves, that together completely cancel each other out. Waves can cancel each other out, which is what we call destructive interference. This is applied in noise reduction headphones. From a much more restricted perspective then, the area of that ocean that we are able to observe becomes something that appears to be separated from the rest. I don’t understand fully how a perspective change will present to us the world of distinct objects, but it’s an interesting image and it can at least serve as a useful metaphor for a rough explanation of the idea. If you accept his idea, the decoherence of the state wave, happening on measurement, is not that the state wave does disappear into thin air on observation, but that it is just no longer observable from the limited perspective of the observer. The observer observes then only a small part of the full quantum universe. It’s still there, in its immaterial way, but we can’t ‘see’ it.
Everything becomes an observer
Which raises the questions of what an observer actually is, and – related – if an observer is really necessary for evoking the quantum collapse. Everett’s idea to do away with the observer and the quantum collapse is that every possibility exists in the state wave where ‘existence’ does not mean a material existence, but nevertheless a real existence. With this, the definition of what is real is changed in an important way. Accept this for the moment. According to Everett’s proposal, in the double-slit experiment with a single object shot at the slits, both possibilities exist in a real way – the object goes through the left slit and it goes also through the right slit – but both in their own separate immaterial realities. In each of these two realities exists an immaterial observer, who observes the only one outcome within his reality. Every observer is after all only able to observe the reality in which he exists. This eliminates the apparent necessity of a physically enigmatic influence of the observer on the state wave, triggering the quantum collapse of that wave, simply because there is no collapse at all. Instead, however, there are now two completely identical observers.
I hope that you will understand that Everett’s proposal does not impose any special immaterial requirements on the observer, such as perceptive awareness, a camera will suffice. The underlying condition for his idea is clearly that consciousness is an emergent property of the immaterial but nevertheless real brain of the observer. Both observers in both universes are (immaterially) identical to each other and therefore have an identical emergent consciousness, with their also identical emergent memories. The only difference is their observation at the time of the experiment. There splits their universe, with them in it, in two.
Wat is real, really?
This example of ‘bifurcating’ observers in their universes has been kept simple for reasons of explanation here, way simpler than in any practical real double-slit experiment. In practice, there are many, almost innumerable, possibilities in such an experiment where the observed object can manifest itself everywhere at any of the interference fringes on the back screen, and each possibility therefore means a split universe, each including a copy of the observer. I hope you see that the number of universes and observer copies can get quite substantial if not improbably gargantuan. Therefore, Päs stresses that all these possible universes are not material, even if they are real. The definition of what is real therefore needs to be adjusted. But in such an extended interpretion of reality, an illusion, even a dream, is also something real, although I think Päs does not want to stretch it that far.
Emergent consciousness as condition for the multiverse
Only by considering consciousness as an emergent property of the physical brain, this way of interpreting quantum physics is defensible, it is definitely a prerequisite for Everett’s idea, and this assumption is also stated repeatedly in Päs’s book: ‘Of course, as long as we stick to the reasonable hypothesis that our consciousness is confined within our brains, …’. After shortly considering the idea of primary consciousness as a possible cause of the quantum collapse like, for example, John von Neumann did – Päs joins the almost unanimous opinion of neurologists (Tononi et al.) that consciousness is an emergent product of the brain. He forgets that neurology is an ultimately reductionistic branch of science while he argues elsewhere in his book strongly against reductionism in physics.
Monism – not a new idea – to the rescue of physics?
The idea of the existence of an ultimate source of reality that is The One, that knows no separation, that contains no separate elements, that knows no time and space, is called monism. Päs spends an extensive and indeed fascinating chapter of his book on the history of monism. It is a view on reality – also known under the more common denominator Platonism – that can already be found in Greek antiquity with proponents like Thales, Plato, Parmenides, Pythagoras, and Philolaus. Later on, monism as an opponent of the monotheistic but dual presentation of the world that the Christian church steadfast portrays, repeatedly pops up in historical figures such as Giordano Bruno, Kepler, Copernicus, Meister Eckhart, John Scotius Eriugena, and much later on in time, Spinoza and Kierkegaard.
According to Päs, the strong reactionary suppression of the Catholic church of these clearly monistic ideas, through torture, pyre, excommunication and social exclusion, is the root cause of the fact that the notion of an immaterial ground of our reality is not very popular at the moment, certainly not among most physicists, although I do notice a growing change in attitude. Bohr and Heisenberg also played an important role in this suppression, with their idea of complementarity, by classifying the deeper reality of the state wave as not relevant to physical theories. They classified thus the contradictions, between for example particle and wave, as fundamental to nature, and thus not susceptible to further investigation. There is just no underlying reality to investigate. Case closed. Shut up and calculate.
According to Päs, this is the reason that physics, with its highly reductionistic approach, is currently in crisis. The investigation into the foundations of matter has so far been sought in the ever smaller dimensions of matter for which the necessary energies ánd finances are correspondingly increasing . The path of reductionist approach of nature, and what could be achieved by it, seems to have come to an end. It is therefore time, according to Päs, to introduce monism as a grounding principle in physics. Quantum physics and the quantum universe show us the way.
Entanglement as the ultimate creator of unity and universal love
According to Päs, entanglement is by far the most important factor in the quantum universe. It ensures a connection of everything with everything and confirms thus the unity of The One. Individual properties of the parts do cease to exist in favor of strongly interrelated properties. Interestingly, he quotes Neoplatonist John Scotus Eriugena in: ‘Just as entanglement unites the universe in quantum cosmology, for Eriugena it is “the pacific embrace of universal love” that “ gathers all things together into the indivisible unity which is what He Himself is, and holds them inseparably together”. Päs, apparently makes here a connection between quantum entanglement and what Eriugena calls universal love. That immediately reminds me of the NDE reports that are almost always about the overwhelming experience of universal love. This is found in almost all reports. That’s real, if only because of the amount of data.
You could protest now that you and your ex have a common history and must therefore be quantum physically entangled, but that there is no more love in your present relationship. Päs would say – I think – that your observation is of course a matter of your limited perspective.
Does Päs acknowledge the quantum physical reality of universal love? It might be different. By linking entanglement and universal love in this way, he also could reduce the latter to the first. Love would then become something that could be examined in the physicist’s laboratory as a phenomenon to which numbers could be assigned by means of measurement. He would then do the same that physicists have done with the actually incomprehensible mystique of forces at a distance, as we experience it with gravity, electricity and magnetism; reducing it to a field that can be measured and described mathematically and thus reduce the phenomenon to something that belongs to the material universe. Reïfication by reduction.
How could they know?
An important question then is, of course, how the ancient philosophers had already stumbled on this principle of the very substance of our reality without having the technical tools available to science today. The ancient Greeks had little more at their disposal than their own senses and their sharp minds. Päs just briefly goes into this and assumes that early and primitive humanity was capable of a more direct observation of The One than modern man, and that these insights were handed down from generation to generation. Which is very close to the assumption of the general validity of mystical lore.
Summary and comments
At the end of this book review, it is good to briefly summarize Päs’ ideas, supplemented with my summarized comments:
The perceived reality is an illusion and originates in the quantum universe. Certainly a remarkable statement by a physicist.
The multiverse is the quantum universe and it is not material. It’s one. That too is remarkable.
In the apparent split of the universe, the physical observer and his mind also split into several observer copies, each observing a single outcome. The quantum collapse is therefore the impression that every observer copy has because each one observes necessarily only a single result of the many possible outcomes. That means that an underlying assumption has to be made, that the mind is a product of the physical brain. That assumption is essential in this multiverse explanation of the quantum collapse. Accepting this, the large number of experiences of people leaving their body at the threat of an imminent physical demise, often verified by third parties, while being able to perceive and report the circumstances near their body correctly (the NDE), are either completely ignored or declared as illusion.
In this assumption, the observer is therefore just a physical object, so that actually every physical object becomes an observer. Which is also the conclusion that, among others, Carlo Rovelli, Sean Carrol and Thomas Hertog convey. Why certain objects, such as lenses, mirrors and even reflective crystals, are exempt from being observers is not clear to me.
But since, according to Päs, physical reality is an illusion, we as observer have an illusion that observes the world and thus creates also reciprocally the illusion of the observer. Whoever wants to believe something contorted like that, is fooling himself, as far as I’m concerned.
The quantum collapse is caused by decoherence which is, according to Päs, an effect of the observer’s limited perspective. The deeper mechanism of decoherence, and how it is triggered, remains unexplained.
Given the interference that the state wave always shows us when it travels through the double slit, all those universes must be able to interfere with each other. That can only be true if all those universes are themselves indeed non-material state waves. Then they can indeed interfere with each other, because they are waves. In this way, they are not material and therefore do not contain any material observer copies. How a non-material state wave can then produce emergent consciousness is pure speculation.
As Päs describes the quantum universe, he is already very close to the idea of the universal mind from which all reality comes, which is a description precisely matching those reported by many near-death experiences. He’s clearly switching his own perspective and he is almost there.
In short: A fascinating, instructive and in general honest book of the quest of a quantum physicist for the meaning and future of quantum physics and a much needed beginning of a farewell to the there-is-only-matter paradigm.
The classical view on observation and measurement.
In classical physics, the human observer does not play a creative role in what is observed. Everything is observed from the so-called 3rd person perspective. In all physics experiments, any influence of the measurement on what is measured should be avoided as far as possible, although some small effect is unavoidable. For example, consider the radar detection of a vehicle’s speed. The radar photon will bounce back from the vehicle and thus have a tiny influence on the speed of the vehicle. But that effect is so small that we can safely ignore it in practice. Protesting the traffic control fine on account of this effect will be in vain. The electricity meter also uses a very small amount of energy by its measurement. But protesting the energy bill on that account will also be in vain, I am afraid.
Observation in quantum physics
However, in quantum physics – a branch of physics that has succesfully taken over the fundamental role of its parent, classical physics – this is not the case. The way we measure is of crucial influence on the behavior of that which we are measuring. There is nowadays no doubt about that effect. Is it the influence of the measuring instrument or of the experimenter? After 120 years of quantum physics success, the discussion about exactly what a measurement is is still not definitely decided. Measurement causes the so-called quantum collapse, the end of the immaterial state wave and the emergence of the material particle. John von Neumann – one of the first quantum physicists – already stated emphatically that the observed object and the measuring instrument are not physically connected in some way and thus cannot cause the quantum collapse.
This was the way he reasoned; both – instrument and measured object – are ultimately composed of fundamental particles that, when not measured, will behave like an immaterial wave of probabilities, which is their state wave. Both state waves will meet each other when doing the measurement, but will not collapse, just as two meeting waves will run unimpeded through each other without eliminating in some way the other wave. On meeting they excite their medium by summing their movements and after that they just roll on, unaffected. According to von Neumann, there is therefore no reason to assign a special influencing role to the physical measuring instrument with regard to the end of the state wave. His insight was dismissed by later phycisists, as the influence of the observer (and his consciousness) was not considered as something objectively measurable and was therefore preferred to be left out of physics. What made it even worse is that the state wave is a wave that we can formally describe, calculate and predict with physics – that is, with numbers and symbols – but that the state wave itself is not materially observable. It does not even exist in a material sense. It is a wave of probabilities and these are numbers, symbols, mathematical constructions of the mind.
Is then everything an observer?
As soon as you make a measurement, however, the immaterial wave ceases to exist and we find only one of the many possibilities, the particle, which is decidedly not a wave. This behavior is also expressed in the Copenhagen interpretation of Bohr and Heisenberg. Gradually, the insight of von Neumann, Bohr and Heisenberg – mainly because of some recent advanced quantum physical experiments such as the delayed choice experiments – has been confirmed in such a way that the observer, who is seemingly physically realising that which is observed, can no longer be ignored and is acknowledged as an essential element in the fundamental understanding of nature, which is of course something what physics aspires to. This inspired Carlo Rovelli – among others – to declare that literally every object acts as an observer of any other object in order to materialize each other. So, according to his idea, each particle only exists materially in relation to another particle. My question is then, of course, how to imagine such a process, where both particles – while not yet existing materially – are able to relate to each other and then become material as a result. In my opinion, the order of events here is wrong. Cosmologist and quantum physicist Thomas Hertog describes in ‘The origin of Time’ something similar; all things become observers causing the quantum wave to collapse and therefore matter to appear. But things are made of matter which has to collapse itself first? So – to ask the real question – what exactly do we mean by an observer and what role does it actually play?
What is an observer according to quantum physics?
In many quantum physical experiments – especially those seeking to investigate the observer effect – have until now been carried out by an instrument acting as observer. The question is whether this is the right perspective. In an complex experiment pictured in the above figure – it was based on Eugene Wigners thought experiment with two observers – Wigners idea was indeed implemented, albeit with instruments acting as observers. In such an experiment, part of the experiment is carried out within a closed environment. One of the so-called observers is residing within that closed environment and thus observes directly the result of ‘his’ experiment. The state wave is then considered to collapse by that observer observing the experiment and has by that observation collapsed into an observed particle.
But outside this closed environment there is a second observer for which the content of that closed environment – the larger box with the experiment and the first observer in it – is still an uncollapsed state wave as long as the second observer has not yet observed the contents of the larger box. Only when that second observer can observe the contents of the larger box will for ‘him’ the state wave end, making the measurement of the particle becoming a fact. As far as the second observer is concerned it is then that the particle becomes manifested with its physical properties. Who of these observers is now the person who triggers the materialisation of the measured particle with its properties?
The figurines inside and outside the boxes, representing the observers, are physical measuring instruments and lack therefore any consciousness that could interpret their observation. So, is an interpretating consciousness really necessary here? The experimenters apparently do not think so. Anyhow, the outcome of the experiment implicated surprisingly that we could start to doubt the existence of an objective material world in which consensus rules, in which a fact is simply a fact, regardless of who did observe it.
Is consciousness really needed? Is interpretation necessary?
Can a physical instrument observe its environment and then interpret its observation? I would like to draw attention here to something that I do not think a physical instrument can do, however advanced it may be, namely interpretation, giving meaning to perception. That’s the core of the case here. What is interpretation? Can a physical instrument do that? The experimenters think so, which fits their materialistic image of the world in which man, and any organism, is only a complex machine. Something that can – in principle – be described as the result of its parts. The observers brain is according to them merely an advanced computer, coincidentally created in the evolutionary process of survival of the most suitable biological machines. The mind, emerging from the brain, can therefore be replaced by an advanced but non-biological machine such as ChatGPT, an AI. Interpretation by the mind is – in that vision – not different from a calculation. So, the question is; is there any difference between an organic living observer and an observing instrument? And what is the difference? In trying to answer this question, we have to simplify the discussion and look at the essential differences between a simple ‘acting’ measuring instrument – a central heating thermostat – and an organic observer.
Can a physical instrument be an observer?
What is the difference between the central heating thermostat and the biological entity that depends on its central heating thermostat for a pleasant ambient temperature? Is there a fundamental difference, fundamental in the physical sense? The thermostat ‘senses’ the ambient temperature, determines if it deviates from the optimal value, and then activates or deactivates the central heating boiler. Is that interpretation? Is that a measurement? These seem to me to be essential questions, although I suspect that they cannot be answered with a 100% waterproof answer. But I will try.
What causes the state wave to collapse?
We could therefore ask the following question. How is it possible that a physical instrument, which itself is not observed and thus is in a state wave, will cause the state wave to collapse or reduce? (The “collapse of the wave function” is also known as the “reduction of the wave packet). Consider the central heating thermostat. It does its job, even if no one is present because you have forgotten to lower the ambient temperature for a few days of absence. When you return home after a few days of absence you will notice that the house is warm, that the thermostat is still set on higher temperatures, so you must conclude that during your absence the boiler has been burning fuel for nothing. That conclusion – fuel burned for nothing – is interpretation. This unconscious thermostat was not able to understand that, otherwise it would have chosen to lower the desired ambient temperature. Can you still say that this unconscious thermostat is an observer? If so, did the thermostat collapse the state wave that contains your unobserved central heating boiler, all the radiators and the air in your home into a materiality? Every time it measured the temperature? How?
Real observers are interpreters
I think indeed that a real observer should be able to interpret his observations. Interpretation is assigning a meaning to an observation. That’s not what an instrument does. I have to tell the thermostat first, by programming it, which is a pleasant temperature. It cannot do that by itself because such an instrument has no knowledge of ‘pleasant’. Now you might argue that an advanced AI like ChatGPT could do it. But to do that, ChatGPT should first search through a huge database with data on what are pleasant temperatures for human beings. And how is ChatGPT’s database fed with these data? Indeed. By human beings who have recorded what they experience as a pleasant temperature. Had they not done so, ChatGPT would not be able to produce an answer on the question of what a pleasant temperature is. You might get an answer on the question of what ambient temperature a biological human being needs. But that’s not what is meant by pleasant. Pleasant is not a numerical expressible experience. Always, and without exception, the question of the meaning of an observation, its interpretation, has to be traced back to an observation by a conscious being. A being that was able to consciously interpret his perception as pleasant or unpleasant, red or green, hard or soft, wet or dry, beautiful or ugly. These experiences are certainly not numbers. I hope you will realize that, without living people, the ‘pleasantness’ of a temperature wouldn’t make any sense. The thermostat has no inkling of ‘pleasantness’. Of course it can be programmed to produce pleasant temperatures, but that always takes someone to think what that means and to translate it subsequently into the numbers a machine can process.
Conscious interpretation is always the final act of an experiment
The fact that a conscious interpreter is ultimately required, in my view, applies without exception to any experiment. Even for a run of the enormous Large Hadron Collider in Geneva. Ultimately, the result is always observed by a conscious being that assigns meaning to it. We may eventually get informed of the meaning by a publication, but it is usually not mentioned in the publication that there was always a person involved in the interpretation of the results. That is so obvious that it does not need to be mentioned explicitly. This means that an essential element of the experiment is never mentioned in reports. The observation was X, and that means Y. And that last part of it — and that means Y — that’s what it’s all about. That’s the interpretation of a person and therefore the actual experience of the world. That conclusion creates in the Copenhagen Interpretation by observation also all the previous events in the experiment as someting that did happen. As in previous example about the central heating, the history of the unwanted fuel consumption during your absence has become a fact after and because of your observation. That fact is then, after the quantum collapse brought on by your observation on returning home – unfortunately – no longer an immaterial probability distribution. It became what we call a fact. That’s something for which there can exist consensus.
What then is the role of a recording measuring instrument?
We have spoken enough of the observer for this moment and will now focus on the other question. What is a measuring instrument in this context? The requirement seems to be that it should be able to register. This means that a certain class of passive measuring instruments won’t qualify. Think of the yardstick, for example, which does not itself make a registration of length. It is a completely passive measuring instrument in contrast to an advanced central heating thermostat that remembers the indoor temperature pattern to anticipate the next moment of starting or stopping the boiler. So, registering ability seems at first glance a valid criterion, measuring plus recording. So, is a voltmeter connected to a recorder an observer or not? Is a photon detector connected to a coincidence detector in an advanced double-slit experiment an observer or not?
In order to answer that question, try therefore to think about how a recording measuring instrument might affect – by some yet unknown physical process – the registered object in its wave state and, above all, why another very similar instrument would not do so. Take, for example, a solid length of iron rod. That rod doesn’t seem a recording instrument, until you realize that the rod expands or shrinks according to its temperature. So, the rod measures the temperature by its length. If the rod is long enough and cleverly connected to a marker pen and a moving roll of paper, this would record the temperature evolution history. The change in the length of the rod provides the information on the temperature evolution. In this way you can consider the rod with marker and paper as a recording measuring instrument. Because we are able to use the rod in an ingenious way, as a registering instrument that we considered from another point of view as passive, it would thereby become an observer who would cause the quantum wave to collapse. I hope you see the inconsistency.
So you will not easily identify any arbitrary iron rod as an observing measuring instrument. If you start thinking about measuring instruments in this way, then the idea of an instrument as an observer becomes inconsistent and therefore highly questionable. Whether an instrument registers, or not, would then be not determined by its physical properties but by the way in which we employ it, and this is of course a case of human reflection. Ultimately, therefore, we must begin to acknowledge that even with an instrument that measures and records the result, the real observation – the observation that makes the quantum collapse happen – happens only if the result is observed finally by a conscious observer. If we accept that as an explanation then we may have an acceptable, useful, and consistent criterion for the definition of a measurement and also for the triggering of the quantum collapse, which is the material manifestation of the world.
So in the end we have to acknowledge that a conscious observer is needed for a real measurement, no exceptions. The measuring instrument is then nothing but an extension of our senses – which are also physical measuring instruments – and cannot be the cause for the quantum collapse, evoking the appearance of matter in our world. That has a profound meaning for our experience of the world. We are essential in the (hi)story. We are an essential part of the world, of the universe. By observing the world and thus experiencing the world consciously we create it.
Given the wide possibility of doing psychokinesis experiments over the internet, it is perhaps now a good time to brush up Professor Helmut Schmidts PK experiment (Read my book: Quantum physics is NOT Weird: Chapter 6 / Seven Critical experiments / 2: PK experiments), as not only psychokinesis is shown there, but also quantum entanglement of macro-objects – I mean objects that we can see with our eyes and handle with our hands without having to use special instruments.
"The psychologist C. E. M. Hansel found flaws in all of Schmidt's experiments into clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis. Hansel found that necessary precautions were not taken, there was no presence of an observer or second-experimenter in any of the experiments, no counterchecking of the records and no separate machines used for high and low score attempts. There were weaknesses in the design of the experiments that did not rule out the possibility of trickery. There was little control of the experimenter and unsatisfactory features of the machine employed."
Unexpected experimental results, possible flaws in the design or control and the mere possibility of fraud may be a good reason for doing the research better, but not for right away implicating possible fraud. There are, of course, cases of fraud among scientists, especially if the pressure to publish is high, but there should be a clear reason for suspicion of fraud. It is certain that his publication did not help Schmidt in his career, on the contrary. Furthermore, acceptance of the phenomenon of mental influence on quantum generators – QRNG’s – has grown significantly because of the Global Consciousness Project.
As far as I am concerned, Schmidts results are well worth repeating and verifying at a time when his research could be more extensively done, with more advanced means and perhaps at a lower cost via the Internet. This is why I give here first a brief description of Schmidts research. Then I will explain why I think that this is a quantum entanglement effect between macro-objects and that it is important that such a phenomenon should be investigated properly.
Floppy’s as storage for the QRNG output
Schmidt already used quantum generators – QRNG’s – for his experiments in 1970-1980. The output of such a QRNG – the electronic versions of zeros and ones – was used to control red and green lights, 1 for red, 0 for green. Those zeros and ones were stored on floppy disks, initially for checking purposes only. The results and any statistical deviation could be analyzed quickly via the computer. In those years, the floppy was the portable storage device for computers. A thin flexible plastic disc with a magnetized layer and stored in some sort of square envelope. With the magnetic read and write head of a floppy disk drive, you could save and read data on it. It will become clear that it is important that a floppy disk is something you can pick up in your hands and that the magnetic layer is partly visible through the rounded opening in the ‘envelope’.
The output of a good designed QRNG is a completely random series of bits – according to the so spectacularly successful quantum physics. It is totally unpredictable whether a 0 or a 1 will be produced, but with a well-adjusted QRNG, on average, exactly as many zeros as ones will be produced. So, with the generation of a sufficiently large number of bits, the same amount of green and red flashes up to a predictable equal percentage of both can be easily produced.
Psychokinesis on QRNG’s
A subject was asked to try to mentally influence the red and green flashes controlled by the QRNG output that was also recorded on a floppy disk. More red than green, or vice versa. After a full influencing session, the output recorded on floppy was analyzed for deviations from normal behavior. Subjects proved able to produce deviations of 2% of the normal output. Well, this does not seem impressive, but if tests sessions show such a measurable deviation consistently, then a statistical analysis can be used to calculate the probability of this being a coincidence. In the analysis of the total of Schmidts experiments, chance of probability turned out to be 1 at 8000. So, this is serious.
Delayed influence on a QRNG
It is even more interesting to note that Schmidt also carried out delayed QRNG influence experiments. In this case, the red and green flash signals were not received directly from the QRNG, but by a detour and with a certain delay. The zeroes and ones recorded on floppy disk were then used at a later time to control the red and green flashes. So, in these delayed experiments, the signals for the red and green flashes were not received directly from the QRNG and before the moment of observation by a subject it was still unknown to everyone what series of bits of the QRNG precisely had been registered on the floppy disk.
So, now the results – the bits – of the QRNG were first magnetically recorded, something in which we generally assume that such an action is something definitive and trustworthy. When I save a file to my PC’s hard drive, I assume that it resides physically there, albeit in magnetised digital form, and generally I can rely on it for retrieval, and a backup – a digital copy – is of course always a good safety precaution. Although floppy disks are no longer used as storage media today, they were no less reliable than a modern hard drive or SSD. I still have floppy’s lying in a drawer from years ago and everything was just still on it when I recently checked some.
The floppy disk became entangled with the QRNG ..
To be safe, Schmidt also made a copy of such a floppy disk with QRNG output on it. Then the originals and their copies were stored in a safe, without their digital content being observed by anyone. By observing I mean viewing the contents on a computer screen or printing the output on paper. This is an important detail. After some time, be it days, weeks or months, such a written and labeled floppy was retreived from the safe, inserted into the floppy disk drive whereupon the output, the zeros and ones that were waiting on the floppy to be played, was used to control these red and green lights in the same fashion as before. A subject was instructed again then to try to influence the red-green ratio mentally. Which remarkably enough succeeded, with even the same success rate as with the non-delayed QRNG playback experiment. The explanation here is that the magnetization on the floppy had thus become quantum physically entangled with the QRNG. The subject caused, by observing the flashes, the physical manifestation of the output of the QRNG together with the physical magnetization on the floppy disk with an apparently retrocausal effect. That’s the way I see it – quantum physically.
… ánd with the copy
After such an experiment, there was still an unused copy left in the safe. When this unused copy was then used in another mental influence pk experiment, it turned out that a subject could not mentally influence its contents any more. A subject no longer achieved any result with his mental efforts, different from the output of the primary floppy disk. This is in itself what should be expected of digital copies. I also expect this with a backup of the original files on my PC. On the copy, of course, should exist exactly the same series of zeros and ones as resided on the already by a subject observed original series.
Here, in my opinion, we clearly see the entanglement of macro-objects. The magnetic registration on the original floppy had thus become entangled with the QRNG. Only when ‘observing’ the contents of the floppy, via the flashing green and red lights, did the so-called quantum collapse or state wave reduction occur – apparently backwards in time. So even though you could just have the physical floppy disk in your hands and even see part of the magnetised surface, the magnetisation on it was still in the quantum wave state until the stored bits were manifested by a subject observing those red and green lights.
Entangled floppy disks
So, the copy floppy disk had also become entangled with the primary floppy disk ánd with the QRNG. Both floppy disks and QRNG were in the unmanifested quantum state wave condition while the floppy disks were waiting in the safe until the magnetic content of one of the floppy’s was observed. At that moment, the quantum collapse of the quantum state wave of the QRNG and the primary floppy disk took place as well as that of the copy. I think that this is a wonderful and convincing example – recorded in an experiment – of entanglement of several macro-objects visible to the naked eye.
I say ‘apparently’ because we automatically assume that the past is something that really extends into the time dimension and that the zeros and ones that Schmidt’s QRNG produced – after their historical assessment by the perception of the subject – suddenly existed physically in that landscape, that is the past time. This is reminiscent of Einsteins static universe, which we traverse traveling along our individual world lines. Einstein believed deeply in this static universe where everything is essentially predictable. Retrocausality, a backward action in time, would then mean a change somewhere in such a static universe. That kind of retrocausality – retroactivity in time – evokes time paradoxes, such as preventing that superaccidental first encounter of your parents so that you were not born, which means you do not exist and cannot prevent their encounter, which means you were born, etc.
So, I see retrocausality somewhat differently. Not only matter but also the associated time is created by observation. I have already described this phenomenon in ‘Schrödingers Stopwatch‘. This is – rather subtly – something different from retroactivity in time. It is the creation of history by observation in the only moment that ontologically speaking really exists, in THE NOW. I have sometimes called it the creative accounting act of the universe. Once the manifestation has occurred by observation, history is fixed from that moment on and can no longer be modified. History is basically remembrance and re-membering happens in THE NOW. That, of course, immediately raises the fascinating question of what remembrance is.
Proposal for an experiment
I believe that this is an experiment that is perfectly suited to be carried out on a larger scale in a somewhat modified form via the Internet. Of course, the requirements of thoroughness, integrity in registration and control by independent second observers must be rigorously met, but these are in fact normal requirements for any real experiment. This could be a task for the an organisation that is dedicated to sound scientific parapsychological research – such as IONS – in cooperation with a quantum physicist, favorably one who is not believing too firmly in the multiverse. The demonstration of multiple quantum entanglement on that scale could be worth a Nobel Prize.
The most commonly used interpretation of quantum physics is that the state wave describing the behavior of particles is a non-material wave, a wave that, when calculating its (complex) value at a given place x,y,z and time t, renders the probability to find the particle at that place x,y,z and time t. Before measuring, we can only speak of a wave of probabilities, but the measurement destroys the wave abruptly and we find the particle. This is what is commonly known as quantum collaps. Some physicists, such as Sabine Hossenfelder, prefer the term ‘reduction of the state wave’. Personally I think that reduction is a more apt name, and I will explain why.
First of all, I would like to point out that the observation that the particle was found is not a direct observation. It is a statistically grounded conclusion: The probability that the particle was at the measured location at the time t is at best 100%, from which the conclusion is drawn that the particle was actually there. But you can say as well that the probability wave at the time t was reduced to that very precise location. In the latter interpretation, it was still an probablity, so no concrete material object appeared.
Information reduces the state wave
The latter interpretation corresponds very well to the effect that, proportionally to the amount of information concerning the behavior of the particle that the experiment can deliver, the probability of the state wave is reduced . Also read my blog on quantum decoherence and information, where I discuss, among other things, the Korean experiment that demonstrated this relation. Reduction by information explains very well what happens to the double slit when we have arranged the experiment so that we can get information about the chosen slit. The state wave is then always reduced to a wave passing through only one slit, which destroys the interference – something which requires at least two synchronous waves of the same wavelength running through each other.
The manifestation of the particle on the screen or in the detector can therefore better be understood as a reduction in probability of up to 100% to find it on the screen or in the detector because of available information. We have the information that detector and screen are impermeable objects that in our everyday experience do not allow the particle to pass through, so that it ‘has to end there’. This also explains that transparent objects such as lenses and semi-permeable mirrors do not reduce the quantum wave. Our information – from everyday experience again – is that they are transparent. This explanation – reduction by information – is preferable because of its logical simplicity, and has been confirmed experimentally. What actually reduces the state wave is unknown, but there is clearly a cause-effect relationship.
Matter and time spawn space
As I have already indicated in another blog – Schrödingers stopwatch – it is not only matter that is manifested by observation, but time also, from which automatically follows that this applies equally to space. This follows from the special theory of relativity that merged the fabric of space and time into one whole, space-time. What is space for one observer in rest is experienced as time by another moving observer . Time slows down and space shrinks, both according to the same laws. This flexibility of space-time has also been demonstrated experimentally and indicates that time and space are created by observation.
In the so-called delayed choice experiments, the information about the chosen slit is – controlled by an unpredictable quantum process – either or not irrevocably destroyed, just before the state wave would reach the detector or the screen. Despite the delay, the state wave seems to have gone through one or through both slits depending on the availability of that information. This is best understood as that the way the state wave reached the screen is not a fixed observation until the observer views the result of the experiment. The role of the observer can therefore no longer be ignored. The universe responds in its manifestations to the observer.
That time, space and matter are created by perception is not a recent discovery of western science. Surprisingly it can even be found in writings dating from before the beginning of the century count. A selection ordered from old to recent – courtesy of Lars Sunnanå (not the journalist) who contributed a lot of material to this survey – can be found below:
Bagavad Gita (ca. 500-200 BC)
Thus Krishna spoke to Arjuna:
BG 02:16: "That which is not will never be, that which is will never stop being. For the sages these truths are self-evident."
BG 10:30: "From the Daitya’s I am Prahlâda, from what reigns I am thetime, from the animals the lion and from the birds I am Garuda"
BG 10:33: "Of the letters I am the first, of the composite words I am the dual word and for sure I am the eternal of time and the Creator [Brahmâ] who sees in all directions."
BG 11:32: "Time I am, the great destroyer of the worlds here engaged in the destruction of all men, all soldiers who are on both sides, except you alone, will find their end."
Origen of Alexandria (185—254 C.E.)
Origen of Alexandria was one of the most important teachers in the early phase of Christianity. According to him
"is man a microcosm with the Sun, the Moon and all stars within consciousness. So there is an intimate relationship between the whole world and every individual person."
"Understand that within you are herds of cattle and herds of sheep and goats. Understand that even the birds of the air are in you. Don't be surprised when we say that all of this is in you, understand that you yourself are a world of yourself, in miniature, and that you contain both the Sun and the Moon and all the stars in you."
Plato (427-347 B.C.) and Plotinus (204-270 C.E.)
Plotinus puts Plato’s thoughts in writing. The basis of all is the eternal Now. What is Now, is eternal. Eternity is a property of the divine being and utterly fulfilled in itself. The future and the past are not aspects of eternity. The Eternal ‘Now’ is not the same as the everyday ‘now’ which is connected to the present and to the future. It contains all possible worlds as a reality in itself. Plato seems to be making a first hint here of our current hypothesis of multiversa.
In the 2nd century AD, Plotinus wrote that time was created simultaneously with the World Soul, and is an integral part of it. And because every human soul is part of the World Soul, time is in each of us. Time is not something that exists objectively and outside of ourselves, it is subjective and a characteristic of human consciousness. Because time is contained by the human being, space or the physical world will be also, because space is the stage where events in time unfold.
Quote from Plotinus, 3rd Enneade, 7th paper, 13th chapter:
"Is the time within us? Yes, time is in every soul according to the pattern of the World Soul, it is present in every one of us in the same way. For all souls are part of the World Soul."
Hinduism and Buddhism
We find about the same insight in the physical world Eastern traditions as Hinduism and Buddhism. In the Indian Samkhya philosophy they say that the world consists of two basic elements, Purusha and Prakriti. Purusha stands for consciousness, and Prakriti is physical nature. According to the Samkhya philosophy, the world arises from the meeting of Purusha and Prakriti. In these traditions it is common to count six senses: Eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body(sensation), and the objective (or external, ordinary) consciousness. The objective consciousness of man is therefore an instrument that we use to receive sensory impressions of the physical world. This seems – like Descartes’ ideas – duality, matter and consciousness as two fundamental phenomena. However:
In order for creation to unfold there must be (an apparent) duality – like Tao splits into yin and yang. So also in Indian philosophy: all is unity, but the experience of the world arises from (the apparent) duality of Purusha and Prakriti. Indian philosophy says that on a higher level, all is One. So they don’t consider matter and consciousness as to absolute and fundamental phenomena. David Buckland (Davidya) presents an interesting view on this in one of his posts.
The guru Sri Aurobindo wrote in a letter to a friend (quote from Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Letters on yoga’):
"One day you will see that matter of itself is not material. It is not a substance, but a form of consciousness, Guna, a quality of being as perceived by our sensory consciousness"
The Poimandres of Hermes Trismegistus (2nd and 3rd century)
The Poimandres – tractate 1 – describes a revelation of the highest God done to a clairvoyant or shaman, who speaks of himself in the first person, but nowhere mentions his name. The Poimandres was probably written in the first century AD.
In the text we find:
"That in you that sees and hears is the Lord's Logos. But Nous in your inner, your highest sense, is God the Father. They are not separated from each other, and the union of the two is life."
In other words: Nous is God the Father, which is a symbolic expression of the source of all creation. There is a spark of the original Nous also in the interior of man, and it is called the “monad“, the “spark of divinity” or “The eye of the Mind”. Logos, in turn, is the entire physical world, including the human body with sensory organs and the associated, objective consciousness that receives and interprets sensory impressions. Nous and Logos meet in man’s interior, and in that way man’s experience of the world is created. It is man’s consciousness that produces the world we experience.
Aurelius Augustinus (354-430)
Augustine was perhaps the greatest Christian philosopher of Antiquity and certainly the one who exerted the deepest and most lasting influence. He took the reflections of Plotinus concerning time as a starting point and reached the same conclusion. In Augustines ‘Confessions, Book 11, Chapter 20, he writes:
"Consequently, it is not correct to say there are three times: past, present and future. But perhaps it is correct to say that it is three times, a present time of things that have happened, a present time of things happening now, and a present time of things that will happen in the future. For these three are found in the soul, and I find them in no other places: the present of things that have happened are memories, the present of things that are happening are direct experiences, and the present of future things are expectations."
Meister Eckhart (approx. 1260 – 1328)
The Christian mystic, theologian and philosopher Meister Eckhart writes in ‘Sermons’:
"The eye with which I see God is the same with which God sees me. My eye and God's eye are one eye, one sight, one knowledge and one love."
All created beings unfold their version of reality, based on the properties belonging to their level of consciousness and their sense organs. Whether you are an anemone, ant, bird, dog, human, deceased, angel or archangel, you have an experience of the world that matches your own sensory apparatus.
Nicholas of Cusa (Nicolaus Cusanus) (1401-1464)
Nicholas of Cusa (Nikolaus Krebs von Kues) was a German theologian, philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, humanist and lawyer.
Cusanus writes in “the Coniecturis II”, Chapter 14:
"Man is a Microcosm, or a human world. Therefore, Man encompasses the human area, through its human power, both God and the whole world."
And a little further in the same chapter:
"Man has the characteristic that he unfolds all things from himself, within the perimeter of his own area. This is how man produces all things, through the power of his own center."
In other words, each human being is a Microcosm that thinks the macroscopic world into existence.
Each human spirit or monad is an individualized fragment of God’s all-encompassing consciousness. Through our consciousness, God (or All, Tao, Brahman) experiences what it is like to be us, when we choose to be who we are. Through our eyes the Universe sees itself. Through our ears the Universe can hear its song. Our task is to make the Universe aware of itself.
Below is a list of some other claims made by Cusanus in the 15th century. It was a hundred years before Copernicus launched the heliocentric model of the solar system:
The earth is round and rotates around its own axis.
The Earth and the other planets revolve around the Sun.
The planets do not move in perfect circles, as was thought then. (Kepler did read Cusanus and got there the idea of elliptical orbits).
Space is infinite, and the Sun is one star among countless others.
Life probably also exists elsewhere in space.
In 2001, Pope John Paul II wrote a text entitled ‘Letter on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the birth of Nicholas of Cusa (Cusanus)’. The Pope shows here that he had studied Cusanus’ writings in depth. John Paul II writes:
"The cardinal's brilliant ideas opened up new directions in thinking and study. He provides insights which, although long forgotten, are still valid today and deserve to be taken up again: In astronomy as well as in mathematics, in science and medicine, in geography and jurisprudence history, but especially in philosophy and theology".
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716)
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a contemporary of Newton and at the same time with him, but not together, the creator of differential calculus. He had a completely different view compared to Newton regarding time and space. According to Leibniz, space and time are abstractions of the relationships that physical bodies maintain with each other. The most fundamental substance of the universe is the monad (see Hermes Trismegistus and Cusanus above). Monads are units that represent the outer world within themselves. These representations are equal to the conscious contents of living beings. Physical objects, also including their bodies, are phenomena that appear in the imagination of the monad.
According to Leibniz, all statements about space and time are based on things and events and their relationships. The place of one thing is not linked to a unique and eternal point in absolute space, but is defined as relationships or situations with other things. Movement is not the cycling through mathematical points in an absolute space, but is the changing of the situation, of the relationships to other things: They come closer or move further away or go in another direction. Place is a certain relationship to co-existing things. Space is the collection of all possible places.
In other words, Leibniz rejects Newton’s absolute time and space. Things do not exist in God’s sensorium as Newton thinks that space is but in the imagination of the monad.
"Reality can only be found in a single source, because of the interconnectedness of all things with each other."
Karl von Eckartshausen (1752 – 1803)
Von Eckartshausen was an influential German author who became known by his publications on philosophy of nature and Christian theosofie. He describes his outer physical experiences in ‘Aufschlusse zur Magie‘ as follows:
"Mass, space, time, distance, past and future are attributes of the physical world. As it has already been said: For the spirit there is no space, no time, no condition. It has no obstacles. Its power is the will - unlimited the spirit can work through the will. The soul thus has the ability to move to the most distant places. The body cannot leave, because it is limited by time and space."
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who lived in the 18th century, and is considered one of the most important thinkers in modern philosophy. Kant went particularly in-depth on cognitive-theoretical questions. He builds on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and explains that our impression of the world is created by our own consciousness. We can never know what the world “out there” really consists of, all we can know is what our physical senses and our own consciousness tell us.
Kant distinguishes between “Das Ding an Sich”, or “the thing in itself”, and “Das Ding für mich”, or “the thing as it appears to me”. According to Kant, Das Ding an Sich exists in the so-called “noumenal world”, of which we cannot have direct experience. Man’s physical senses and consciousness structure and shape the impressions from the noumenal world.
In this way, we humans create a “consciousness image”, and this is the world we perceive. Kant’s “noumenal world” corresponds to the landscape outside Plato’s cave, and Kant took the name itself from the Parable of the Cave: In Greek, Plato calls the landscape outside the cave “noeton topon”, or “the noumenal area”. (The Greek word “noeton” is derived from nous, meaning spirit or consciousness.)
Kant says that time and space do not exist as independent and objective states outside of human consciousness. About space he says ( from Kants ‘Inaugural Dissertation of 1770’ with the original title ‘de Mundi sensibilis atque Intelligbilis Forma et Principiis’. Section 2, Section 15 D):
"Space is not something objective and real, it is neither a substance, an event nor a relationship. In contrast, space is subjective and ideal, and has its origin in a fixed law in the nature of consciousness. The function of space is to create a unified coordination of all external sensory impressions."
From the same dissertation, paragraph 14.5, he says about time:
"Time is not something objective and real, it is neither a substance, an event nor a relationship. Time is the subjective condition that the nature of human consciousness needs to coordinate all physical events among themselves, according to a certain law."
Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)
Alfred North Whitehead was probably the first philosopher to see and recognize the importance and implications of quantum physics, when it emerged in the early 20th century. He saw that the objects in the quantum world again contain time, unlike the inert dead objects of Newton physics. Each quantum object can be represented as an organized vibration. A vibration does not exist as a single point in time and space but has a necessary dimension in time and space. Whitehead presented the world as a composite of events, not objects.
There is no such thing as timeless matter. Spirit and body do not have a spatial relationship but they have a relationship in time. They are phases in a process, one moment informs the next. Subject of experience in the now becomes historical object in that process. Matter is always ‘past’.
“The misconception which has haunted philosophic literature throughout the centuries is the notion of 'independent existence.' There is no such mode of existence; every entity is to be understood in terms of the way it is interwoven with the rest of the universe.”
Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958)
Wolfgang Pauli writes in a letter to Carl Jung that he has the same experiences:
"After a long time having critically assessed many arguments and my
own personal experiences, I have now accepted that there are deeper, psychological levels that cannot be described from our usual perception of time”
From the Pauli/Jung Letters, 1932-1958.
Erwin Schrödinger (1887-1961) and the Corpus Hermeticum
"I am in the east and in the west, I am up and down, me is the whole wide world.”
This quote comes from Erwin Schrödingers autobiography and philosophical testament ‘Mein Leben, Meine Weltansicht’. Schrödinger also explains that the quote repeats the teachings of the brahmins, and that they coincide with his own view of life.
Compare Schrödingers text with this text from the 13th tractatus of the Corpus Hermeticum, written in the first century AD. :
"I am in the sky, in the earth, in the water, in the air! I'm into animals and into plants! I am in the womb, I am before birth and after birth; I am everywhere!”
It also strongly reminds of Jesus’ statement from the gospel of Thomas, verse 77:
"I am the Light that is above all things. I am everything. From me all things proceed, and to me all things return. Split a log, I'm there. Lift up a rock and you will find me there."
David Bohm (1917-1992) en the holografic universe
The physicist David Bohm developed, thinking about the non-local effects in quantum physics such as entanglement, the idea of a holographic implicit order – the inner dimensions of creation – from which matter, time and place in the experienced world – the explicit order – unfolds. Bohm derived the terms ‘implicit’ and ‘explicit’ from the texts of theologian, cardinal, philosopher and mystic Nicolaus Cusanus. Bohm mentions his inspiration by Cusanus in an interview with Maurice Wilkins on March 6, 1987. This interview can be found on the American Institute of Physics website, www.aip.org, under “Portrait of Bohm – David Bohm Session X“. Read also for a better understanding of Bohms ideas ‘The Cosmic Hologram’ by Jude Currivan.
“The notion of a separate organism is clearly an abstraction, as is also its boundary. Underlying all this is unbroken wholeness even though our civilization has developed in such a way as to strongly emphasize the separation into parts.”
Finally: The Whole Elephant Revealed
Finally, a highly contemporary work in which all these and many more historical sources have been fully and thoroughly reseached, and that, together with recent scientific discoveries, creates an overarching image of all these fragmented old insights. As she says in her introduction:
“Many readers will realize, while reading this book, that these insights are not new at all, but that they actually already knew these laws deep inside, but might not be able to put them into words properly.”
Einstein’s opposition to the quantum state wave interpretation of Bohr
Despite his contribution to quantum physics with his explanation of the photoelectric effect with Planck’s quantum, Einstein strongly opposed the quantum mechanics interpretation of Bohr, Heisenberg, Pauli, Born and von Neumann. According to Einstein, despite the successes achieved, the theory still lacked a few essential parts. Einstein was a materialistic thinker who still thought completely in the spirit of classical physics with real hard particles with mass, speed and energy. In his view, photons were real permanently existing particles with an energy and momentum that depended directly on their frequency, although the philosophical question still remains what the frequency of such a particle actually means. On the opposite side, Bohr’s group advocated the idea that there existed only a non-material state wave before measurement which only changed into a material particle upon measurement.
Einstein was an excellent inventor of thought experiments (gedanken experimenten), which is also the way he developed his theory of relativity. He therefore devised a number of thought experiments with which he hoped to convince Bohr and his colleagues that their quantum theory was still far from complete. In his first quantum thought experiment, which he presented on a Solway conference in 1927, he wondered what would happen if you knew which slit a photon passed through in a double-slit experiment. According to him, quantum theory, as it was at the time, predicted two contradictory outcomes, namely an interference pattern on the screen behind the double slit and at the same time no interference pattern.
Gedanken experiment with recoiling slit and photons
Einstein’s reasoning went like this:
A photon has a momentum. Momentum is a physical quantity that indicates the thrust a particle can deliver on collision. A photon’s momentum is proportional to its frequency. Although the photon has no rest mass and always moves at the speed of light, it can still push an object it hits. Watch the YouTube video above if you want to know more about that.
We fire single photons – monochromatic, so all will have the same frequency, energy and wavelength – with a photon gun on a double slit. But those photons have to pass first a movable slit of which we can measure its up and down movement. After the movable slit, the photons must travel up or down to pass through the upper respectively the lower slit of the double slit. We measure the recoil of that movable slit brought on by the hit of each passing photon. The photon has then a speed and a direction that is influenced by the recoiling slit, which classically means that the slit must also recoil in turn. Action equals reaction and is oppositely directed. We measure – in principle, it’s a thought experiment – the recoil movement of the single slit.
Behind the recoiling slit the normal double slit and screen are positioned. The recoiling slit shown in the figure is a drawing which was actually made by Bohr in finding an answer to Einstein’s challenge. He even drew the nuts and bolts with which the slit holder should be fastened to the support of the whole set-up and also a pointer and a scale that would indicate the recoil.
From the recoil of the movable slit we know which slit the photon passed. As the slit recoils downwards, the photon must travel upwards and thus pass through the upper slit. If the slit recoils upwards, the photon must travel the lower path and thus go through the lower slit.
In this way we know which slit the photon passed through. According to quantum theory, the state wave of the photon will now only extend from that slit. However, from the other slit there will now no state wave be extending. There is therefore no possibility of double slit interference, so we will not see any interference pattern on the screen. The result of shooting a large number of equal energetic photons will now look like a single spread-out spot on the screen with the greatest intensity in the center behind the double slits.
So far excellent reasoning by Einstein and nothing to argue really against.
However, you can also think of the photon gun together with that single slit, Einstein says, as a single device, a composite source of photons, so that the experiment now becomes an ordinary double slit experiment where we fire photons at a double slit.
With this alternative design of the experiment, which is actually exactly mechanically the same, but only envisioned in another way in terms of components, we will now expect interference. The reason for this is that it shouldn’t matter how the photon source is composed of its parts. It only matters that the photons all have the same frequency.
A disturbing contradiction for quantum physics
With the same set-up, only arranged differently in mind, we therefore expect both interference and no interference. Quantum theory predicts two conflicting outcomes and that means there is something wrong with it, it is probably not complete.
After probably a night of worrying, Bohr more or less found an answer to Einstein’s challenge. The photon that passes through the recoiling slit and changes its direction there, loses necessarily some of its momentum. That momentum had been transfered to the recoiling slit. This is perfectly consistent with the law of conservation of momentum. That loss of momentum due to the interaction with the recoiling slit, means that the photon loses also some of its energy and frequency . The frequencies of all the photons are now no longer equal, which disrupts the interference pattern because the locations of maximum and minimum probability differ now per photon. The interference pattern weakens, and can even turn into a spread-out spot.
A real recoiling slit experiment
In my eyes a somewhat weak defense from Bohr and still almost completely in a classical physics way reasoned. But that was in 1927, quantum theory was still in full development and the technology was not yet there to really carry out the experiment. But by 2014, the technology had advanced far enough that Einstein’s thought experiment could actually be performed. I describe that experiment in detail in my book, chapter 5.
The double slit has been replaced by the two atoms of an oxygen molecule. Which oxygen atom has been hit by the photon is measured by the captured electron that flies away from the hit atom. It is investigated whether the interference pattern depends on whether or not it is possible to determine which atom has been hit by the photon.
The outcome of the experiment is that the interference stays away as soon as we can know which oxygen atom was hit by the photon. The article is rather technical, but the ‘Abstract’ does indeed describe the effect on the interference of information being available or unavailable. “This wave-like behavior and corresponding interference is absent if ‘which-slit’ information exists.” However, explicit reference is also made to the momentum transfer of the photon to the recoiling slit as argued by Bohr in his answer to Einstein. So Bohr was proved right and Einstein was wrong. But that’s a bit short sighted in my opinion. I do want to pay attention to something that Einstein saw excellently, after which both he and Bohr were apparently blind to what was really going on.
Einstein & Bohr’s blind spots.
What Einstein and Bohr both missed was that there is an essential but hidden difference between the two ways in which we envision the “double slit with moving slit experiment”. You may have noticed it already, but it took me quite a while before I saw it.
Although an uncompromising and thorough thinker, Einstein did not recognize that when there was no difference in the machinery of the experiment the only remaining difference was that which we can know. In the envision in mind where the recoiling slit is not part of the photon source, we can know which slit the photon passed through. From this ‘being able to know’, Einstein realizes that it can be deduced that the state wave only comes from one slit because the photon is – as we know – only in one slit. This may seem obvious but is a deep and extremely important insight. In the alternative envision in mind where the recoiling slit is seen as part of the photon source, we are supposed no longer to be able to know the recoil; such is more or less tacitly assumed but not explicitly expressed. But it is an extremely important difference. I think that it is not so easily recognized because, mechanistically speaking, both versions are completely identical so that they should therefore behave identically. The difference in the experimental set-up exists purely in the mind. There is still a moving single slit between the primary photon source and the double slit in the envision where slit and photon gun have become a single device. Only in that case it is now tacitly assumed that we cannot observe it. In both envisions Bohr’s argument of loss of impulse would equally apply, so the difference is really only in being able or not being able to know which slit has been chosen.
So you could now perhaps conclude, as the researchers seem to do, that it is indeed the impulse transfer that would make the interference disappear, but there are several arguments against this. First, that argument also applies in the event that the researchers were unable to determine which atom was hit because the atoms stuck together. There was, of course, just as much impulse transfer there, so that can’t make a real difference. Second, this is not the only experiment where the interference disappears once we can know which path the quantum object has taken. I describe two of these experiments in my book: The Delayed Choice Experiment with Single Atoms in Australia at the University of Canberra and The Delayed Choice Experiment with Two Photon Imaging at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
In short; to measure is to know is to realize
As soon as we can know which path the quantum object has traveled, we see that the state wave has adapted to what we can know. As soon as we can know which slit has been chosen, the state wave will only have passed through one slit. I am speaking here on purpose about the state wave and not about the particle, for the reason that we will never be able to determine the difference between ‘there was a material particle in the slit‘ and ‘the state wave passed through one slit, so the probability of passing the photon measured there was 100%‘. I prefer the latter option as it assumes less concerning the so-called quantum collapse, which only happens in that case on the screen and not in the slit, and therefore has a greater probability of being closer to the truth. Ockham’s Razor.
And last but not least; if it is indeed a question of ‘being able to know‘, then the connection with the consciousness of the observer is of course obvious.
Anyone who thinks he understands quantum physics doesn’t understand it.
Thus Richard Feynman argued that his field of expertise was fundamentally incomprehensible. He didn’t mean the quantum mechanics, the mathematics that made unprecedentedly precise predictions about the behavior of atomic objects, but he meant its interpretation. But is this really undeniably true? Is quantum physics really fundamentally incomprehensible? It seems so, but in my opinion that incomprehensibility is rather the result of misunderstandings, misdescriptions and the ingrained belief that the world consists of only solid permanent matter and their interactions.
The misunderstandings and erroneous descriptions (and conclusions) regarding quantum physics that I often encounter in books and articles are certainly not limited to the domains of spiritual literature and/or the popular science media. This confusion does not contribute to the real understanding of quantum physics and what it means for our idea of reality. It is certainly possible to understand quantum physics at the same level of understanding as the understanding of the trajectory of a bullet without having the need for mathematics.
The practical understanding of the bullet’s trajectery and being able to calculate it precisely are very different things. When someone throws you a ball, you won’t do mathemics in order to catch it. In my book I try to explain the meaning of quantum physics without any math involved so that any persistent layman can come to understand it. The many misunderstandings about quantum physics found so often in books and other media hinder such an understanding with their confusing, obscuring and even contradictory statements .
From a brochure for a quantum physics course
As an example of the influence of these obscuring misunderstandings on those who are not quantum physicists, I quote here below the subtitle of a brochure for a workshop in the context of a psychotherapy training: ‘Quantum mechanics and its influence on reality’, organized by Coach & Care, Utrecht , which will be given on January 29, 2023 by Pierre Capel, emeritus professor of immunology:
“Meant only for those who can let go of all certainties and accept that we cannot understand reality.”
When you read something like that, you’d almost give up trying to understand anything about quantum physics already. To compensate for such discouragement, I do present below an overview of typical misunderstandings and misrepresentations around quantum physics and their long overdue corrections.
Misunderstandings and other mind twists around Quantum Physics
Quantum physics was discovered through research at the atomic scale, but it is not limited to atomic dimensions. Even the behavior of billiard balls is 100% subject to quantum uncertainty after some collisions. Even the moon exists by observing it. Quantum mechanics is the broader theory that fully encompasses classical material Newtonian mechanics.
Entanglement and telepathy have nothing to do with each other. Information cannot be transported by entanglement and telepathy is obviously the transport of information from one mind to another. Entanglement most likely has to do with the information the observer already has about the particles before they parted.
The particle-wave duality is often represented as
either the particle that also behaves like a wave
or the wave that also behaves like a particle. This is a wrong and confusing misrepresentation. There is no particle at all until it is observed. At least that’s what delayed choice experiments have shown. Before the observation, only a wave of possibilities oscillating in location and time existed, representing the probability of finding the particle if we tried to observe it at that particular location and time. So, it is either a wave or a particle, but not both at the same time. It is not a particle that also behaves simultaneously like a wave.
The quantum wave, an oscillating and propagating wave of probabilities is not matter, it is mind-stuff. Probabilities are numbers. Numbers are abstract concepts. Numbers do not exist outside the mind, outside the mind they have no meaning. Numbers are mind-stuff.
We don’t see the quantum wave itself, ever. Not even with the most advanced instruments. From the results of our experiments we deduce only afterwards that there has been wave behavior.
The electron fired from a double slit does not pass through both slits. That’s what the non-material quantum wave, which represents the behavior of the electron, does, to pass through two slits. Which is something a wave is able to do. It is only at the detector that the wave ends and the electron manifests itself. So you don’t have to imagine the impossible, a particle in two places at once.
It is often expressed that, when we observe in a double slit experiment through which slit the particle passes, we ‘see’ particle behavior. This is definitely not what is happening. We still ‘see’ wave behavior. When the passage through the slits is observed, the quantum wave will always be reduced to only one of the slits and thus will not pass through both slits as happens in the standard double-slit experiment. This is quantum reduction, a partial quantum collapse. The wave thus apparently responds to the information that the experimental set-up can provide to the experimenter. But in the end, this is still wave behavior. The wave passes through one of the observed slits – which one is unpredictable – and then expands again until it reaches the detector where the particle then finally materializes. That wave behavior in and after the slit explains very well the single spread-out spot pattern of hits that we see instead of the usual light and dark fringes.
The all too often expressed idea that particles take all possible paths to the detector at once, clearly contradicts the realistic concept of a particle. However, as a purely mathematical device to predict the numerical probability where the particle will hit the target, the idea is indeed extremely succesfull. But that does not make it a realistic description of the actual state of affairs.
Delayed choice experiments seem (!) to demonstrate retro-causality. This only seems so because an observer’s ultimate observation of the result in the experiment is ignored as as an important and indispensable component of the experiment. Human observation is always the indispensable final act of a measurement. Without observation and reporting, we know nothing. When observation creates the particle manifestation, it also creates it necessarily with its history included. Incidentally, this creation of time was already implied by the Copenhagen Interpretation which says that it makes no sense to talk about the existence of the particle before the measurement.
Contrary to what some spiritual teachers advocate, quantum physics does not prove the survival of the mind. But it is perfectly arguable that it supports the survival of the mind after the death of the body. The hypothesis that it is ultimately the mind of the observer that ‘collapses’ the quantum wave on observation is very well defensible, is also often defended and explains many quantum phenomena that are in no way materially explicable. Many of the early quantum physicists more or less openly supported the hypothesis of the quantum wave collapse brought about by the observation made by the non-material mind of the observer. This hypothesis is never proven even a little bit wrong. When this idea is accepted, the logical conclusion must then be that the mind cannot be a product of the brain and therefore has a good chance of surviving the material demise of the brain.
The ten core beliefs that most scientists take for granted without proof
In the context of the above misunderstandings and the search for their cause, it is good to list here the ten core beliefs that most scientists take for granted without evidence and from which – among other things – they try to understand the quantum physical phenomena such as entanglement and quantum collapse. No wonder quantum physics is declared incomprehensible. These ten core beliefs below are taken from ‘Science Set Free’ by Rupert Sheldrake.
Everything is essentially mechanical. Dogs, for example, are complex mechanisms, rather than living organisms with goals of their own. Even people are machines, “Lumbering robots; in Richard Dawkins’s vivid phrase, with brains that are like genetically programmed computers.
All matter is unconscious. It has no inner life or subjectivity or point of view. Even human consciousness is an illusion produced by the material activities of brains.
The total amount of matter and energy is always the same (with the exception of the Big Bang, when all the matter and energy of the universe suddenly appeared).
The laws of nature are fixed. They are the same today as they were at the beginning, and they will stay the same forever.
Nature is purposeless, and evolution has no goal or direction.
All biological inheritance is material, carried in the genetic material, DNA, and in other material structures.
Minds are inside heads and are nothing but the activities of brains. When you look at a tree, the image of the tree you are seeing is not “out there,” where it seems to be, but inside your brain.
Memories are stored as material traces in brains and are wiped out at death.
Unexplained phenomena such as telepathy are illusory.
Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.
Also watch this YouTube video of Sheldrake’s presentation at the EU2013 Thunderbolts Conference where he courageously discusses and demolishes these dogmas of science in his characteristic friendly humorous way.
And what about the multiverse?
If you read the above list of dogmas carefully, you will probably understand where this mad multiversa hypothesis comes from. Just invent more matter.
Fear? For what?
The vehement opposition of materialistic persons to the idea that the mind of the perceiver is an active factor in quantum phenomena is not based on fact. It is the result of a belief that everything can and must be explained from permanent matter and the interaction between them only. That’s an ingrained belief, not a proven fact. According to these believers, things that cannot be explained from their belief in permanent matter can not exist or should in any case not do so. Because of the vehemence of their resistance, it is most likely based on some deeply hidden fear. The question is what that fear is.
Alain Aspect, Anton Zeilinger and John Clauser were jointly awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize for their efforts to demonstrate that quantum entanglement exists and is non-local. John Clauser was the first to demonstrate this experimentally doing a Bell test in 1972. His result – entanglement is a non-local effect – was confirmed in 1982 by Alain Aspect, but there were still loopholes that could explain his results in a classical physics way. Then – 35 years later in 2017 – Anton Zeilinger conducts a test that definitively excludes all possible loopholes.
Quantum entanglement exists and is non-local, i.e. the relationship the particles have with each other is instantaneous and does not depend on the distance from each other and thus conflicts with Einstein’s laws of relativity because such a relationship would involve instantaneous communication between the particles.
To be accurate, a test that excluded all possible loopholes was already done in 2015 by the team of Hanson and Henson in Delft. However, I heartily grant these three guys their well-deserved Nobel Prize. Non-locality was still a hotly contested idea in 1972 and this kind of research was not really very beneficial for your scientific career at that time. Non-locality raised (too) big questions about the fundamental behavior of nature then. It just couldn’t be. Clauser and Aspect were thus putting their careers at risk by just posing the question. See this quote from the Nobel Prize article on Quanta Magazine under the headline “Who performed Bell’s experiment?”.
"Initially, physicists including Richard Feynman discouraged Clauser from pursuing the experiment, arguing that quantum mechanics needed no further experimental proof."
I will briefly explain what a so-called Bell test basically means, a more extensive description can be found in my book, chapter 5, “Bell’s theorem”.
John Stewart Bell (1928-1990) published in 1964 what is now called the Bell theorem. In principle, this theorem can be used to demonstrate experimentally whether or not local variables play a role in quantum phenomena. I won’t explain local variables here, but it means ultimately that – if local variables apply in quantum physics – particles exist permanently throughout their journey from source to detector – in the same way that we assume that arrows exist permanently throughout their trajectory from source to target, and even before that. Remember that. The experimental setup of a Bell experiment should be such that faster-than-light communication between entangled objects is excluded.
Most Bell tests have been performed with polarized light – that is, polarized pairs of photons. An EM wave consists of an electric and a magnetic field component. These oscillate perpendicular to each other and both oscillate perpendicular to the direction in which the light travels.
The direction of oscillation of the electrical component of the EM wave is called the polarization. The wave in the above figure is horizontally polarized. A polarizing filter, such as Polaroid glasses, only transmits light that oscillates – after its passage through the filter – in a direction that is determined by the orientation of the filter. If the light oscillates at an oblique angle to the orientation of the filter, light is only partially transmitted. The transmitted light oscillates only in the direction the filter has enforced. If the incident light oscillates exactly perpendicular to the direction of the filter, nothing is transmitted. Light is an EM wave, but from a quantum physics point of view, that wave consists of masses of photons that are each polarized. How we should imagine the polarization of a single photon is not clear, so we don’t do that.
No halved photons but probabilities
Photons that are not polarized exactly in the orientation of the polarizing filter, for example hit the filter at an angle of 30o, are transmitted for 50% but are not halved. Their frequency is not affected, but the probability of passing through the filter is 50%. The probability of transmission of a single photon depends on the angle its polarization makes with the orientation of the filter. So, if they are polarized exactly perpendicular to that orientation, the probability of passing through is zero. At an angle of 45o, according to quantum mechanics, the probability that they will pass through the filter is about 71%. The photons transmitted by the filter have not changed in energy, wavelength and frequency. They certainly haven’t halved. So, it’s all about probabilities.
Bell test with polarized photons
The photons are detected by D+ or D-. The coincidences (co-occurring detections) and the angle between A and B are recorded in the coincidences detector. According to the conservation laws of physics, the polarization directions of both photons should be identical when they were created as a pair. But this joint polarization is a quantum manifestation that becomes real when one of the photons is measured and is therefore completely random. This begs the question if the measurement is done by the detector.
Spooky action at a distance?
If the left photon appears to have a certain polarization upon detection, then the right photon must have at the same time the same polarization since they were created as a pair. And that’s strange when their polarization only becomes ‘real’ upon detection, as quantum mechanics seems to imply. So, that looks on first sight like mutual communication. But as soon as you assume that you also have to ask yourself how the communication between the two manifesting photons actually works: “Hello partner, I have been measured, now you must immediately show your polarization and it should be the same as the one I am showing at the moment”. That’s Einstein’s “Spooky action at a distance”. Do you see why Clauser was discouraged from investigating this experimentally?
Either classical permanent particles or materialization by observation
The Bell experiment is therefore concerned with whether it can be determined if the polarization of the photons already existed from the moment of their creation (classical permanent particles) or if they only ‘materialize’ at the moment of their detection (non-local quantum interpretation). According to non-local quantum theory, if the two polarizers are not equally oriented with respect to each other, the correlation between the polarizations of the photon pairs – the [D-/D-] or [D+/D+] coincidences – must be greater than the correlation predicted by the local permanent particle theory.
That angle-dependent correlation between the coincidences can be predicted for both theories, classical local or non-local quantum. The genius of Bell was that he realized that differences between classical local and quantum theory occurred if the polarizers (A and B) made different angles with each other than 0o, 90o, 180o or 270o. See figure below for the predictions of the correlations as calculated in both theories. For example, the figure shows that for an angle of 158o between the two polarizers, the classical local expectation for the correlation will be 0.75 (75%), but for the non-local quantum expectation it will be 0.85 (85%).
If the measured correlation of all coincidences at that angle of 158o is greater than 75%, then local hidden variables are falsified and has it been experimentally confirmed that the polarizations of both photons only ‘materialize’ at the moment they are measured in the D+ and D- detectors. When it can be shown that mutual communication at a speed that is at most that of light is excluded, then the hypothesis that particles only exist when detected is strongly confirmed. Therefore, in a Bell experiment it is required that communication between the photons with at maximum the speed of light is excluded.
In any case, it means that very high demands are made on Bell experiments. Two absolute requirements are:
Communication with the speed of light (or below) must be excluded; this means that the mutual distance of the detectors on the left and right must be very large or the time difference between the coinciding detections on the left and right must be very small.
All photons sent in the experiment should also be measured to prevent photon pairs that do not show coincidence of the same polarization from being excluded from the measurement and thus making the measured correlation appear larger.
All photons must come from a source that precludes their creation from being dependent on the experimenters.
Anton Zeilinger’s experiment in 2017 fully met all these requirements. He used starlight photons.
What now? When does something exist?
Every Bell test – see the timeline on the Quanta Magazine article – has so far confirmed with increasing probative value that the quantum particles only ‘get’ their properties – such as polarization – upon detection. In other words, they do not materially exist until they are detected.
That is quite something. Especially when you consider that the quantum laws are by no means limited to the atomic domain, but also apply to objects in the order of magnitude that can be perceived with our own senses, or even much larger. There is not a single good argument why the quantum laws should not apply at the level of our daily experience. The moon only exists when it is detected. Period. Sorry, Professor Einstein.
Now you can think about this: if the polarization of a photon does not exist before detection, how is it possible that a polarization filter even works? I’ll let you ponder this question for now.
That’s why you have to ask yourself what detection and observation actually mean and what it means if you close the door of your house behind you and no one is left behind. The contents of your house do not materially exist as long as no one is detecting them. The probability that the content will materialize again on your returm, almost exactly as you left it is 99.999999999% (or even closer to 100% but never exactly). That’s reassuring to hear, of course. So, as long as we do not recognize the role of the observer, the interpretation of quantum physics remains an issue that urgently needs to be solved. That’s my opinion, and I’m certainly not alone. Many physicists are already convinced of the role of the observer in experiments, such as Carlo Rovelli almost does with his hypothesis that all properties of objects – just like velocities were already – are relative. If you’re not convinced yet, I propose that you read Bernardo Kastrup, he has some very convincing arguments showing that the permanence of matter is a wrong image of reality.
Richard Feynman was fond of saying that all of quantum mechanics can be gleaned from carefully thinking through the implications of this single experiment, so it's well worth discussing.
Feynman’s recommendation is indeed an excellent one and we will follow his advise. You don’t need to have a knack for maths, just be able to think logically. That in itself is quite difficult for many people of course (read Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnemann) but certainly not beyond the reach of people with average intelligence if they take the trouble.
Pretty much everything I have to say about quantum physics and its interpretation is ultimately based on the essential and simple double slit experiment. Many of the most current and interesting quantum experiments are based on this as well. It invariably concerns quantum waves that split in two and meet themselves – after having shortly traveled different paths – in order to interfere. On meeting the two split waves cancel each other out or reinforce each other in different locations in a geometric pattern. Other interesting interference experiments are the Mach-Zehnder experiments, but I won’t go into these here because they don’t add new insights here.
An infinite wave of possibilities
The most common interpretation of the quantum wave, also called a state wave, is that it is a wave that contains all the potential material manifestations of the to be observed object (superpositions) and that it expands dynamically in space and time until it hits a physical detecting instrument on its course. Because it is a wave of potentialities it should be considered immaterial.
At that meeting the object manifests itself, possibility becomes physical presence, and the wave dissolves at the same time. You could also say that only one single element of the infinite spectrum of possible material manifestations contained in the wave remains in existence and thus manifests. The rest of it disappears into thin air without a trace. The wave has then become the particle.
With a double slit we get an interference pattern, with a single slit also, but that looks very different. In the center of the single slit pattern we see a spot with a maximum brightness in the center that decreases to zero towards the edges and then some small maxima to the left and right of it. Those small maxima are the result of effects the wave is subjected to at the edges of the single slit. That’s diffraction. The wave deflects from its main central direction at the edges. The waves arriving from the left and right sides of the slit interfere.
So there is a very clear difference between the patterns that are observed behind a single slit and behind a double slit. Both patterns are the result of wave behavior and both show interference.
What happens when we observe the slits to see what is happening in the slits?
I hope it is becoming already obvious that in these double-slit experiments information playes an important role. In any double-slit experiment with particles, be it photons, electrons, buckeyballs or even larger objects like small viruses, it happens that, when we arrange the experiment in such a way that it also makes information available about the chosen slit, the characteristic double-slit interference patterns, those dark and light fringes, do not appear. Instead, the result is a spread-out spot that is brightest right behind the middle of the slits and decreases in brightness outwards. That pattern is the superimposed result of two slightly offset single slit projections. See Figure 7.
The most obvious and simple explanation of the above pattern – figure 6 and 7 – is that the quantum wave for each observed object passed through only one of the two slits. So it does not have to be the case that the object actually manifested itself in the slit. The odds of finding it in the slit there were 100% at a certain point in time, but the philosophically interesting question is whether that equates to a material presence.
Measuring the influence of information
An important experiment in this regard was conducted at Korea’s Institute for Basic Sciences (IBS) in 2021. They measured the gradual effect on the interference of the degree of information about the chosen slit. In the article in Physicsworld I see the frequently committed fallacy that the experiment demonstrated the wave-particle complementatity as Niels Bohr called it, the impossibility to see quantum wave behavior and particle behavior at the same time. In my opinion this is a wrong description of Bohr’s idea because in all cases – always afterwards – we suppose wave behavior that we don’t really observe until that ultimately results in a really observed particle at the detector. So there is always a wave that itself is not observed but is assumed in order to explain the phenomena, and there is always ultimately a particle that is observed. If you think that’s a subtle difference, then you’re right, but it’s important nonetheless in the interpretation I want to give below.
The effect in the Korean experiment is that the interference pattern – see Figure 2 – that we see when we can’t get information about the passed slit gradually changes into a pattern like in Figure 7 above, two superimposed single slit projections. Gradually, as more information is made available about the passed slit, the pattern also gradually starts to resemble Figure 7 more closely. The experimenters were therefore able to increase or decrease that information in a controlled gradual manner.
Conclusion: The information that the experiment can provide plays a crucial role in how the quantum wave moves through the slits. The more the information, the more the wave goes through one of the slits and the more the single slit pattern is shown. In the experiment, a mathematical relationship was even established between the available information and the distribution of the quantum wave between the slits. It looks like this: V (interference pattern clearly two slits) and P (slit information) are related according to the mathematical expression P2 + V2 = constant. Pythagoras once again looks over our shoulders as so often happens in quantum physics.
Decoherence of the quantum wave
I see it this way. When the wave only goes through one slit, the quantum wave has lost half of the possibilities that the wave has for the manifestation of the particle. It’s reduced. That is nothing more or less than decoherence, albeit a partial one. Many phycisist prefer the term ‘The reduction of the quantum wave’ over ‘Decoherence’. So decoherence and information are positively correlated, the more information, the more decoherence. Viewed in this way, the quantum wave is reduced in such a way that we can infer that the particle passes through one slit. And then the usually drawn conclusion is that the particle was materially in the slit when, strictly speaking, we could only say that the wave went only through one of the slits. In the Korean experiment, when adhering to the idea of real particles going through the slits, we should have to say that each particle passed one slit a little bit more materially than the other, which is an absurd image of reality.
Decoherence is usually attributed to the molecular turmoil of the detection instrument. Here we are clearly dealing with a different interpretation of the cause of quantum decoherence. A hypothesis that von Neumann had already protested against and that Schrödinger indirectly argued for with his cat-in-a-box thought experiment.
But what about the full decoherence of the quantum wave at the detector? Is it also caused by the information we could retrieve from the measurement? That is indeed a good defensible position. The information we posses already beforehand is also important. We posses information that the detector always forms a physical barrier to the particle. I hope you agree. So, that physical barrier information is 100% correlated with the full decoherence of the quantum wave at the detector.
We can also explain – with this information decoherence interpretation – the exceptions that had to be made to what causes molecular unrest decoherence. These exceptions are all the optical parts, such as lenses and mirrors. They do not cause decoherence while they are large and molecularly restless enough. The fact that we can drop these exceptions is of course an additional strong argument for this information-decoherence interpretation. Just think about that. Perhaps good news for the builders of quantum computers where the decoherence of their entangled qubits is the big problem.
Caveat: Correlation is not proof of a causal relation. It is indicative.
The role of the observer
Coming back to those eight blind monks and their elephant, I think that the parts of their experimental set-ups that many physicists seem to have a blind spot for are precisely those indispensable parts for which information plays a major role: the observers. The observer is the elephant in the room.
Underground test of gravity-related wave function collapse falsifies quantum consciousness
On 26 Nov 2021 a physics research team published the result and conclusion of their tests at the Gran Sasso underground laboratory of the Diósi-Penrose model of the gravity induced collapse of the quantum wave . Gravity induced collapse is a basic element of the Penrose-Hameroff hypothesis of quantum consciousness. The conclusion of the Gran Sasso team is that there is no gravity induced quantum collapse in the way Diósi and Penrose supposed. This actually falsified also the Penrose-Hameroff model of quantum consciousness. I received some questions from readers concerning the meaning of the outcome of this experiment. Would it mean also a falsification of the hypothesis of primary consciousness that I defend in my book and on this website?
Orchestrated Objective Reduction – Orch OR falsified
"Superpositions of quantum states arise in your brain, in so-called microtubules (small protein structures in the nerve cells in the brain). A conscious experience takes place the moment those superpositions collapse.”
So this is, properly speaking, one of the theories that tries ultimately to explain consciousness as a product of the brain. More precisely as a product of quantum states in the brain. The collapse of the superpositions – the quantum collapse – is thereby assumed to be a physical process, the superpositions are all physically existing. Then at the collapse they change into just one of all possibilities, the other superpositions disappear without a trace into ‘quantum nothing’.
If that collapse is physical, as physicist Roger Penrose and anesthetist Stuart Hameroff think, it means a small change in the distribution of the corresponding electrical charge and according to Maxwell’s laws a very faint electromagnetic signal should be generated. This is the EM signal that the researchers, who wanted to test the Orch OR theory, thought to pick up. They did so in the deep caves of Gran Sasso, where disturbances of the measurements by cosmic rays are as small as possible because they first have to pass through thick layers of rock. A (most likely costly) experiment that showed that the quantum collapse does not generate electrical signals. This means that one of Orch OR’s underlying assumptions has been falsified. So, good riddance for Orch OR. One theory less about the relationship between quantum physics and consciousness. Which is in my opinion good news . We already have too many theories of quantum physics and consciousness.
However, the Orch OR theory has nothing to do with the primary consciousness hypothesis. I hope you can see that. Orch OR is just a single branch of the tree of divergent ideas that try to understand consciousness from only the material perspective. But the Orch OR theory has nothing to do with the primary consciousness hypothesis. On the contrary, the primary consciousness hypothesis is that matter is a secondary phenomenon created by that consciousness upon perception. Which is something completely different.
Is the Primary Consciousness theory also falsifiable?
If you want to falsify the hypothesis of primary consciousness, it can be done a lot easier and cheaper than with a mediagenic experiment deep under the Gran Sasso. The hypothesis of primary consciousness in my book is based on the concept of information. The information that a measurement or observation can provide determines how the observed object behaves or has behaved. It is becoming increasingly clear in experiments that the less information a measurement provides, the more wavelike behavior is observed.
The most extreme example of this is the effect that when observing through which slit of the double slit the object passed, the signature interference pattern, the light and dark bands, changes into a single spread-out spot. That spot is still the result of a wave hitting the screen but now of a single wave that went through just one slit. The inescapable conclusion, then, is that the object must have manifested itself in only one slit — in response to the fact that the information we were able to obtain was precisely about which way the object went. However, the repeatedly observed fact that it is information that collapses the quantum wave is not proof or even evidence that it is the consciousness of the observer that is causing the collapse, although we have to ask ourselves whether information still has meaning if it does not show up within our consciousness. But, just as the collapse of the quantum wave should produce an electrical signal was a fundamental assumption of Orch OR, the collapse of the quantum wave by available information is a basic assumption of the primary consciousness theory. If we can falsify that assumption, then it becomes difficult for the idea of primary consciousness.
The quantum information eraser can do just that
The quantum information eraser experiments are a good step in that direction, but there is still some further work to be done in order to falsify the information hypothesis. In all quantum eraser experiments that I know of, the irreversible destruction of the information about the chosen slit is done by a semi-transparent mirror. And, noteworthy, let that be just the physical part of these experiments where any physicist – who adheres more or less to the Copenhagen interpretation – automatically assumes that it constitutes an exception to the rule that a physical object, if only massive enough, triggers the quantum collapse. According to these physicists, the quantum collapse takes place in and through the detector and ostensibly not by hitting the semi-transparent mirror or other optical components. My assumption, however, is that the quantum wave collapses on the basis of the available information. So not by the detector but by someone becoming aware of the result of the detector. That means, if we irreversibly destroy that information immediately after passing through the detector before anyone can observe it, that the interference pattern of light and dark lines will show up again. Such a precision experiment can easily be carried out in any well-equipped university optical laboratory.
In the above figure, you can see that the quantum eraser components I added – two simple changover switches controlled by a QRNG – are located directly behind the detectors D1 and D2. In the upper position the quantum information about the passed slit is erased mechanically by fusing the two signals into one. It is a fairly simple adaptation, actually a drastic simplification, of a 1999 quantum eraser experiment at Maryland University in Baltimore. That experiment is often mentioned by there-is-only-matter physicists to demonstrate the nonsense of the quantum eraser since the 1999 Maryland experiment had a fundamental flaw in its design that rendered its conclusion unwarranted. The debunkers then conveniently ignore the correct and successful quantum eraser experiments that were done afterwards at the same university. For those who want to delve into this ‘hard’ quantum eraser, I refer to this page on my website or to chapter 13: ‘Falsifiability of the consciousness hypothesis‘ in my book.
Now all we have to do is wait for avid researchers who don’t want to miss this opportunity to falsify the primary consciousness hypothesis. No Gran Sasso needed. The NewScientist reader is waiting for them and so am I.