An ultra short introduction into quantum physics

Recently I did an online presentation to an audience while I knew I shouldn’t be speaking about electrons, photons and double slit experiments and all that phyicist stuff. Still, I wanted the participants to glean a useful insight into what quantum physics has to say about the world and how it supports the idea of a consciousness that doesn’t depend on our material brain. It worked wonderfully, given the comments and the questions. That is why I am posting this introduction here as well. I’ll start with some basic definitions.

Particles

When we talk about particles, what are we actually talking about?

  • A particle is a concept that originates from classical Newtonian physics. That is, it is a model and therefore does not necessarily have to be the true reality. What follows is therefore only the definition of the concept of a particle. However, one that we usually use when we think and talk about reality.
  • A particle is an object where all of its matter exists within its boundaries. It has clear defined boundaries.
  • A particle has an exact location and speed.
  • Material reality consists of particles and their interactions.
  • Particles cannot pass through each other, they collide and usually bounce back or stick together.
  • Particles exist in place and time but are not part of it.

Waves

When we talk about waves, what are we actually talking about?

  • A wave is a moving excitation of a coherent medium.
  • A wave has no boundaries. The boundaries are those of the medium. The boundaries of a wave in the ocean are the surrounding coasts.
  • A wave has speed and frequency, but not a precise location.
  • That a wave has no boundaries means that the wave is present everywhere in the medium. Every wave in the ocean exists everywhere in the ocean.
  • A wave is not apart from the medium. It is the medium in a state of excitation.
  • Waves do not collide but pass through each other. Their excitations can be added at any time, creating more complex waves. Even standing waves.

Waves and particles

Waves and particles are thus completely different concepts. To claim that something is a wave and a particle at the same time is therefore confusing, it’s nonsense, a sham. Don’t fall for it.

The quantum wave is a non-material wave

A sound wave is a good example of a material wave with the air acting as the coherent medium. Ditto for a wave in water. The quantum wave and its medium, on the other hand, do appear to be non-material, given the following facts:

  • The mathematical dimensions of the quantum wave’s physical properties do not exist in our 3D reality.
  • The immaterial quantum wave of an object gives us the probability of observing that object as a particle when we focus our attention on a certain location at a certain point in time.
  • The outcome of such a focused attention is called a “measurement” by physicists. Physicists do not agree in this regard to what an exact definition of a measurement is. The result of a measurement is, without exception, something that, independent of the instruments used, an experience in our consciousness.
  • That the quantum wave is a probability wave strongly suggests that the quantum wave is something that is not taking place in material reality but in our mind. Probabilities are not matter. They are numbers.
  • The medium in which a non-material wave propagates must be coherent because a wave can only exist in a coherent medium. A good candidate for a coherent non-material medium is, of course, the mind.
  • Prior to the ‘measurement’ – the observation – the observed particle does not exist. This has been confirmed in many experiments and is therefore a major source of cognitive discomfort for many physicists. That discomfort is in turn the source of interpretations that turn out as inconsistent and/or absurd on critical consideration – such as, for example, the multiverse hypothesis – when these try to explain this phenomenon materialistically.
  • There is no known reason why the manifestation resulting from observation – the quantum collapse – should be limited to atomic dimensions. The fact that we experience the world as a permanent presence is no proof that this is indeed the case. The statistical probability that my desk will be in the same place on the next time I observe it is so close to 100% that I don’t have to worry about that at all. Every time I look it is – it materializes – exactly where I expect it to be. The discontinuities are so small I’ll never be able to observe them.
  • Since the quantum wave itself has no boundaries – that is a basic property of a wave – any object can in principle materialize instantaneously at any location in the universe, although that probability is generally extremely small. This may sound far-fetched, but it is the basis of the so-called quantum tunnel effect, where objects materialize on the other side of an impenetrable barrier without being able to pass through it. This effect has been known since 1927 and is at the root of nuclear fusion, all semiconductor technology and also of the efficiency of the metabolism of animals and plants, something that was discovered at the end of the 20th century. Quantum tunneling can happen even faster than the speed of light.
Quantum Tunnels Show How Particles Can Break the Speed of Light – Quanta Magazine october 2020

Conclusion

An observation (measurement) thus seems to bring the manifestation about of the observed object. This is not necessarily a cause-effect relationship. It is conceivable and even credible that perception and manifestation are identical, that they both do take place in the mind. Hopefully it has become somewhat clear to you how quantum physics does not contradict the idea of a consciousness that exists independently of our brain and can survive death. It even supports it.

For those people who object that it would then be sufficient to simply close their eyes to an oncoming bus or train, for them I have this answer: train and bus are examples of macro objects. It is true that as long as they are not observed, they are a non-material probability wave. The probability of being hit by that bus is 99.999999999999% (or closer to 100%). So, closing your eyes will not help very much, and it should not be forgotten that we have more senses than eyes alone. Finally, the bus driver is also an observer, of course. In philosophy the view of the world as being entirely inside mind is called Idealism.

The above is an extremely concise summary of my view as a physicist on the meaning of quantum physics. If you want to know (much) more I have to refer you to my website or to my book. I invite you not to believe me on my word, but to be curious and to do your own exploration of quantum physics. No mathematics needed.

You can see the presentation ‘Quantum Physics and the Afterlife’ I did here.

The relational interpretation of quantum physics

A reaction by a reader of my book mentioned that she didn’t find any mention of Carlo Rovelli’s relational quantum physics interpretation. Indeed. So I’ll repair that here. Rovelli sets his idea of relational quantum physics out in his recent book, Helgoland – Making sense of the Quantum Revolution. A book that should be read by everyone interested in the puzzling aspects of quantum physics. Rovelli is a good storyteller quite capable of keeping such a difficult subject interesting for the lay reader.

To me, his relational interpretation seems to say that all the material objects, that physics is about, only exist in relation to each other. They need each other to manifest their physical qualities. Without each other they are literally nothing.

The observer effect

With his relational interpretation Rovelli tries to explain the observer effect in quantum physics. That is the effect that the measurement of a quantum object gives the object its physical properties, such as location, speed en energy, which is the so-called quantum collapse. And also the effect that the way of observation determines in what way the objects will manifest itself. Before measurement the quantum objects has no physical properties. It does not exist in a material sense. It’s not there, not yet. Now you should realize that all objects in the world, including our own bodies, are in fact quantum objects.

That this is the case, has gradually become an inescapable conclusion for most physicists. The so-called delayed choice experiments have confirmed that before the measurement the measured particle does not yet exist physically. For a description of such an experiment carried out in 2007, I refer to my book, chapter 7 paragraph ‘The quantum eraser experiments’, or to the published article ‘Random Delayed-Choice Quantum Eraser via Two-PhotonImaging‘. Rovelli, in the introduction of his book, looking out at the sea, philosophizes with a colleague about this seeming absurd aspect of reality.

The hand in the interferometer

Rovelli describes in his book – chapter II around pages 45-46 – the surprising effect his hand evokes when he holds it in the path of a beam of photons in a Mach-Zehnder interferometer. This is a device where the incoming photons can travel along two different trajects that meet each other again at a beam splitter where interference occurs. If the device is properly configured and the photon can ‘travel’ unhindered along both roads, it turns out that interference happening at the second beam splitter causes the photons to be able only to leave the device in the direction of detector D1. It will only be detector D1 which detects photons. Detetector D2 detects nothing.

Mach-Zehnder interferometer, both trajects have equal lengths. All photons go to D1.

But when Rovelli blocks one of the two beam paths with his hand, and blocks thus half the photons, the unblocked photons, which have therefore traveled the lower path, suddenly arrive evenly distributed at both detectors.

Mach-Zehnder with hand blocking the upper path.

The photons that reach the second mirror apparently ‘know’ that Rovelli’s hand blocks the other path and can now freely choose between the two detectors. The big question is, how do they ‘know’ that?

Everything connected?

If you want to hold on to the image of a permanent objective world outside of us, then you can’t do much other than assuming that quantum objects are somehow connected to each other, that they have a relationship. Thus arrives Rovelli at his relational interpretation of quantum physics. But if you think a little further, then you will hopefully realize that this is a rather obfuscating technical term for the idea that everything is connected. And that is precisely the message that has reached us time and time again through Indian wisdom traditions, mystics, seers and – not unimportant – through reports of near death experiences.

The idea of a universe where objects only exist in relation to each other explains here the so-called quantum collapse, caused by the measuring instrument and also the undeniable observer effect that quantum physicists have been dealing with since the beginning of the last century. It is then not the awareness of the observer, but the fact that the observer is also a composition of quantum objects, which explains the observer effect. In my opinion, this is a variation of panpsychism, which says that everything is conscious. If you assume that everything is connected and ‘know’ where all the other objects are in the universe, which means awareness, then I do think the step is small to idealism, the idea that everything is actually happening within consciousness, a idea promoted these days strongly by – among many others – Bernardo Kastrup. Idealism is much simpler than making every separate object aware of all the others and therefore easier to understand than Rovelli’s panpsychism. Which does not mean that I even remotely understand what consciousness is, what it does and why, even though I experience it almost every moment.

Do we manifest the world?

What is the role of consciousness?

There is still a considerable group of scientists who prefer to keep consciousness and quantum physics as separate as possible. But their message is losing its persuasive quality as far as I can judge. The following video is a good example of these attempts to keep consciousness outside physics. The creators present first all those arguments that I also present in my book ‘Quantum Physics is NOT Weird‘ for the role of consciousness in quantum physics phenomena, such as the observer effect. These arguments pass the screen in quick succession. Convincingly presented. Very informative; I recommend seeing it anyhow for those who are reading my book. At the end comes Wigner’s paradox and the message is; current insights are that Wigner’s interpretation is no longer necessary according to the latest insights, but that those insights are in fact only reserved for people with a very deep understanding of quantum physics. This will be explained in more detail in the upcoming sequel episode. I guess that the sequel will be about the multiverse hypothesis that has indeed a growing group of adherents between quantum physicists.

Consilience confirms primary consciousness convincingly

That’s indeed the case when I observe what their message is in the sequel. Well, if it were only quantum physics providing arguments for consciousness as the primary creator of reality, I would probably also belong to the group that would consider that idea unlikely or even woo physics. I suppose that I would also gravitate towards the multiverse hypothesis despite its unprovability and its unimaginable proliferation of universes and its occupants. However, when I think of all those phenomena confirmed by experimental or extensive forensic research, such as the ability to influence quantum generators by the mind, psychokinesis, memories of past lives, near-death experiences, telepathy, instrumental communication with deceased persons and with Alzheimer’s patients, I am beginning to understand that all these phenomena strongly confirm each other mutually in supporting consciousness as a primary force. This bringing together of each other mutually supporting scientific confirmed results from different domains is called consilience. A good practice in view of the current scientific compartmentalisation.

A real skeptic does it’s own thinking an research, keeping an open mind

There are many fascinating ways you can do your own research on this topic. It will take time, but I can assure you, the view becomes breathtaking when you keep your mind open. I advise that you start reading a book written by an already three decennia practising neuroscientist, Marjorie Hines Woollacott: ‘Infinite Awareness. The awakening of a scientific Mind’.

Quantum Physics is NOT Weird – Available now on Amazon

After a year of translating and editing efforts the Enghlish edition from my book is published. It is now available at  Amazon.com. I’m quite proud of it.

From the back of the cover

The materialistic Newtonian model of the world is an excellent and extremely powerful scientific tool. However, when it is the only tool that we allow in our search to understand the universe, it becomes a confusing stumbling block. If you allow a hammer as your only tool, everything you encounter will start to look like a nail. In a lot of articles and books popularizing physics by ‘hammering’ physicists and physics writers it seems obvious that Newton’s objective material reality is still unrefuted in their way of thinking, and often precisely when it concerns quantum physics. This leads to literally incomprehensible statements, like particles being also waves and traveling physically every possible path. Trying to preserve Newtonian materialism as the only allowed description of reality ensures misinterpretation and clouds our minds in quantum confusion. Notably when the mind of the observer enters the stage. All the important interpretations of quantum physics are treated extensively in this book, either materialistic or consciousness oriented. It is up to the reader to make his or her own informed choice between them. No mathematics needed.

For a quick look at the contents: Quantum Physics is NOT Weird; The Contents

The Idea of the World, according to Bernardo Kastrup

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’ ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that everything in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it – ‘I refute it thus.’

James Boswell: The Life of Samuel Johnson

Kastrup’s book is not for easy reading. Each sentence must be mentally uncompressed like a zip file. You really need to have a few concepts from philosophy at the ready. However, when you persevere, his reasoning proves crystal clear and it is not easy to find fault. I think it is worth discussing his arguments here because they are surprisingly close to my idea of the world and to my interpretation of the message of quantum physics. At the end of my book I arrive at the same view of the world as Kastrup. I champion the idea there of ​​a cosmic consciousness that ‘dreams’ this universe with us as actors in it, just like we can dream complete worlds in our sleep that are usually experienced as ‘real’ when in the dream state. Comparing Kastrup’s book with mine, in my book I do slowly peel away all the layers of the way we were taught that reality is put together, eventually arriving at Idealism. Kastrup however, goes straight to the heart of the matter – Idealism – starts from that position and then argues why that is a better and more fruitful view of reality than Physicalism.

The idea of a dreaming cosmic consciousness is essentially identical to Bishop Berkeley’s Idealism. Kastrup argues that Idealism provides the best explanation, needing the fewest ontological assumptions, for a large number of phenomena for which Physicalism is unable to provide any explanation. There are also various phenomena that even contradict Physicalism.

Any interpretation of the world, both Idealism and Physicalism, is ultimately based on a number of unprovable metaphysical assumptions. The less assumptions, the better seems to be a good starting point for a sensible choice between the two. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons for both systems and immediately register whether we can somehow be sure whether the premise is correct or not and whether it is consistent with experimental findings.

Physicalism, the problems

According to Physicalism, the world exists objectively and permanently. There exists only matter. Everything has ultimately a material cause. Our consciousness has to be a product of matter, an emergent epiphenomenon. But how can we actually justify that view with hard evidence? Remember that, without exception, the world presents itself to us as experiences appearing in our consciousness. Only at the exact moment they appear in our consciousness, those experiences become real to us. Experiences that appear in our consciousness are the only phenomena where we can unequivocally say that they are real. However, we can in no way assure ourselves that the source of our experience existed objectively and physically before it appeared in our consciousness as experience.

Samuel Johnson’s experience of his foot hitting the large stone is an experience within his consciousness. Not outside. So, it proves nothing. The fact that we agree with other people that something occurs in the world seems an argument for its objective physical existence but that is ultimately also an experience within our consciousness and thus cannot prove its objective existence. In a dream someone in your dream can confirm that he also sees what you see. But his confirmation turns out to be empty when you wake up.

Physicalism and quantum physics

Physicalism , according to its material premise, has to assume logically that consciousness is a product of matter because there is only matter. An emergent phenomenon of neural activity. However, consciousness as an emergent phenomenon of the brain does not explain the puzzling discovery of quantum physicists that observation does influence the outcome of observation. Even back in time. This is the logically inescapable conclusion of the so-called delayed-choice experiments, such as those by Scarcelli, Zhou, and Shih in 2007. For a detailed description of their experiment and the logical conclusions, I refer to my book, Chapter 7, Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser – 2007 version. An image of a universe with only matter offers no explanation whatsoever for the fact that the detection of the slit that was passed, has an effect back in time. That is because the ultimate cause of the disappearance of interference – the manifestation of the photon in one of the slits – must have occurred before the moment of detection of the slit passage.

delayed choice quantum eraser timeline

And that is by no means the only experiment where Physicalism is incapable of explaining. All Bell experiments to date have shown with increasing confidence that the measurement on particle A – although the location of that measurement is still far removed from the location of the measurement on particle B – fixates the result of the measurement on particle B. That happens before the measurement on particle A the state of neither A nor B existed. You cannot claim seriously that the particles existed already, however without their properties. Therefore I speak deliberately of measurements and not of particles flying apart, since we cannot speak of a propertyless existence of a particle before the measurement. Something that exists has by definition properties, right? Physicalism does not offer a solution.

On top of that, the quantum collapse, the appearance in the measuring instrument of the particle that immediately before the measurement existed as a coherent probability wave is still an unsolved mystery for which a really fundamental explanation has not yet been found by Physicalistic theories. Quantum decoherence offers no real explanation for the quantum collapse but offers on closer inspection just another label for this phenomenon. It explains nothing. It also does not explain how a non-physical probability wave remains coherent. Coherence – coherence – is a phenomenon that is pre-eminently explained physically. How probabilities – numbers – can form a coherent wave is still not explained.

Physicalism also involves non-contextuality. This means that the outcome of an observation should not depend on the way in which other observations are made at the same time. Non-contextuality is contradicted by the Bell experiments too. An experiment to examine non-contextuality was conducted in 2019, the provisional result of which again appears to have violated non-contextuality. For more on this I refer to my post: ‘The consensus problem in quantum physics‘.

Apart from those physical experiments, there are countless phenomena in the world that cannot be explained properly or not at all with Physicalism. These are therefore often considered impossible and written off on the basis of fantasy, illusion, deception, faulty research, anecdotal evidence and what more. The near-death experience (NDE) is a good example of this way of ignoring evidence. Incidentally, The NDE can be perfectly explained with Idealism, in fact, it predicts it.

The objections to Idealism

Idealism says this: there is only a universal consciousness in which reality as we experience it takes place in the same way as when we dream. Obviously within consciousness. The materiality and permanence of the perceived world is an illusion. Kastrup lists the main objections:

  1. The experienced concreteness of the world.
  2. The personal private character of consciousness.
  3. Does only perceived reality exist?
  4. My consciousness is incapable of adjusting the perceived reality.
  5. If the world is a dream how come we share it?
  6. What is the origin of the laws of nature?
  7. That phenomena take place outside our personal psyche is equally well explained by Physicalism. Why another explanation?
  8. How is it that what goes on in our psyche correlates with the observable processes in our brain?
  9. Why is it that, shortly before we make a decision, brain activity already increases? (Libet)
  10. Where is that immaterial consciousness when we are unconscious?
  11. Isn’t Idealism the same as solipsism?
  12. How did the Big Bang come about without consciousness?
  13. When I look at the universe, I see no consciousness there.

It will go too far here to go into all these objections. I refer to Kastrup’s book, part III: Refuting objections. But I will go here into objections 1 to 4:

  1. The concreteness of the world is also ultimately an experience within consciousness. A good definition of consciousness is ‘That which experiences’. By that definition, there is no way to experience the objective world without the involvement of consciousness.
  2. That we all experience a personal private consciousness is completely possible if every private consciousness is an independently functioning part (subroutine) of the universal consciousness, but which can only communicate with that universal consciousness to a very limited extent.
    • A technical example: Virtual computers within computers. The virtual computer has no direct connection to the hardware and cannot control it directly. I myself have a fully functional — and legal — Windows 10 running in a virtual environment on an Apple computer.
    • A human example: Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID – formerly MPS). Several personalities can reside in one person. An excellent example is the case of a woman who has both blind and sighted personalities. When the blind personality takes control, the visual brain centers are demonstrably no longer active. They become active when a non-blind personality takes control. Read: Sight and blindness in the same person: Gating in the visual system.
  3. That the moon only exists when I look at it, that’s impossible, it cannot be! However, what do we mean by “the moon exists”? When I look at the moon, I see it because a number of photons manifest themselves on my retina. Those are not the identical photons that someone else sees. The other person who notices with me that the moon is in the sky receives his own photons, not mine. The moment that seeing the moon is needed within my experiences, the universal consciousness will ensure that I receive the correct photons according to the image of the world that universal consciousness is constantly creating and according to patterns that we recognize as laws of nature. Think of VR glasses, if I put them on and look around (move my head) the VR projects the corresponding image. The image that corresponds to what should be behind me is not projected into the glasses yet, it does not ‘exist’ yet.
  4. If consciousness creates the world, why can’t my thoughts create the world the way I want? The simplest answer to that is that I – what I currently experience as I – am a split off part of the universal consciousness. So I’m a case of DID. That split fragment that I am is incapable of influencing the total picture of the world with an action of the will. That is shielded from my mind. Incidentally, it has been shown in countless parapsychological experiments that the mind of the observer influences reality. Also think of what is often reported when people are dreaming and start realising that they are dreaming but are not able to alter their dream very much. Still a dream is viewed as something that is created by individual consciousness.

For the other objections against Idealism I have to refer to Kastrup’s book. I can tell you that he convincingly deals with all of them.

Idealism versus Physicalism

Idealism makes metaphysical unprovable assumptions. You cannot avoid that. According to Kastrup:

  • Universal consciousness is primary. It is the ground of everything.
  • Universal consciousness must have the capability of self-excitation, like a string that spontaneously enters a state of vibration.
  • This self-excitation must be the source of every experience.

Defenders of Physicalism often point out – in the spirit of Samuel Johnson – that Physicalism does not require any metaphysical assumptions. Everything is already available. But this is not true. Where do the physical laws come from? Why does matter behave according to mathematical laws?

Quantum physics phenomena are explained by physicalists with the assumption of the quantum field. That is a field of potential that pervades the entire universe, constantly active at every point with virtual particles appearing out of nowhere and quickly disappearing into nothingness again unless it transforms – unpredictably – into a non-virtual – observable – particle.

  • The quantum field is primary, it is the ground of everything.
  • The quantum field has the capability of self-excitation. It continuously produces spontaneously virtual particles that are able to become objectively real.
  • That self-excitation is the source of every observation.

When you compare quantum physics with Kastrup’s idealism, what would be the most parsimonious hypothesis in this, thinking of the phenomena which Physicalism cannot explain?

Nothing but benefits

If you consider it for a moment, Idealism appears to offer excellent explanations for a number of phenomena where Physicalism goes astray:

  • The NDE
  • The surprising aptitude of mathematics to describe the phenomena in the world while mathematics is pre-eminently a product of the mind.
  • The fact that space and time depend on the position of the observer. That space can be curved. This indicates that space and time are a product of the mind.
  • Synchronicity. Events that have no causal connection but have a common meaning for the person experiencing the synchronicity. Stopping clocks at the time of a family member’s death is one that happens quite often.
  • The surprising precision with which the physical constants are aligned so that life is possible. A slight deviation from that would result in a universe without any life as we know it.
  • The quantum coherence in living systems that persists much longer than is thought possible.
  • The quantum efficiency of metabolic processes.
  • Etc.

And last but not least. Idealism also offers a significantly more hopeful message than Physicalism. The end of the physical body is not the end of consciousness. The universe is far from meaningless.

You’re not in there, not even now

I do not belong to that part of humanity that believes that our brains produce our minds. Rather the reverse. If you study my website that should become obvious. As far as I am concerned, that is a well-considered position that has adequately dealt with my fear of death, the great nothing that lies ahead for all of us. So I no longer do have that fear. Which actually comes in handy with this corona crisis. From that perspective, your mind is not inside your brain, I have recently come across three interesting publications, a presentation on YouTube, a research report and a recent book that I would like to highlight here because they confirm and reinforce each other. This coming together of different scientific domains is called consilience.

Dr. Julie Beischel’s presentation at the SSE conference, June 2020

Dr. Julie Beischel is director of the Windbridge Research Center. She has PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology with a minor in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Arizona and has been studying controversial topics such as mediums with highly scientific methods for many years. She has subjected mediums, individuals who report experiencing communication with the deceased, to rigorous testing according to guidelines that every scientific research should always apply, such as double blind tests and the repeatable production of results. In addition, she also has a pleasant dose of dry humor as shown in her presentations.

In June 2019, Julie gave a presentation for the SSE on the subject of the identification we have with our body, which appears to be considerably more tenuous than we think. We part with it at the slightest occasion, as it turns out. In her presentation she discusses the ways in which we can easily lose that orientation, such as the rubber hand illusion, the speed with which our body renews, how much not-self-life lives in us such as our gut bacteria and the recent research by Etzel Cardeña from Lund University which presents very convincing evidence for the reality of PSI. Julie talks about striking (anecdotal) evidence from mediums that show that deceased relatives are still very concerned about their surviving descendants, about a verified and almost comical near-death experience, about a Thai boy who remembers a previous life as a snake who told in verified detail how that snake was killed. In short, you are not your body, it is a temporary avatar used by your real me, the real player, just like a self-chosen user image on websites or in video games.

View Julie Beischel’s presentation:

The Physical World as a Virtual Reality

Brian Whitworth published an interesting paper, The Physical World as a Virtual Reality, in 2007, where he puts excellent arguments forward for the idea that our world of experience is a Virtual Reality (VR). With the VR assumption, many properties of our experiential world can easily be explained that do not correspond very well with the usual assumption of a physical reality.

We view our world as an objective reality, but is it? The assumption that the physical world exists independently has been hard to reconcile for already some time with the goal of assimilating the findings of modern physics with the idea of an objective physical reality. Objective space and time should normally just ‘be’ there, but in our contemporary world, space shrinks and time slows down. Objective things should exist inherently, but in our world electrons are smeared probabilities spreading, tunneling, superimposing, and entangling in physically impossible ways. Cosmology now adds that our universe emerged from nowhere about 14 billion years ago. That is definitely not how an objective reality should behave!

In his paper he examines the possibility, one that is usually rejected out of hand, namely that the physical world is the result of a quantum process and thus virtual. What he proposes is not illogical, unscientific and certainly not incompatible with modern physics. Nor is it a modern idea because its origins date back thousands of years. His proposal is certainly relevant because modern physics has discovered that we actually live in a very strange world.

Consider the following counterintuitive but experimentally confirmed inferences from general relativity:

  1. Gravity slows down time,
  2. Gravity curves space,
  3. Speed slows down time,
  4. Speed increases the mass,
  5. The speed of light is an absolute given.

And quantum physics also teaches us from her experiments:

  1. Teleportation: quantum objects that ‘tunnel’ through a barrier,
  2. Faster than light communication with entangled particles,
  3. Creation out of nowhere,
  4. Multiple existence of particles in different locations (two-slit experiment),
  5. Physical effects without cause (radioactivity).

Whitworth argues convincingly that a VR not just explains excellently all these strange effects, but should even show them. A Big Bang can be explained for example as booting the VR program ‘Genesis’. Every VR program must have a beginning that, experienced from its inhabitants, seems to come from nowhere. The maximum speed that applies in our universe, on which Einstein based his theory of relativity but did not explain why there should be one, becomes the suddenly understandable consequence of the processor speed of the VR ‘computer’. In his proposal, a VR unites quantum physics and the theory of relativity, something where physicists still not have succeeded in after more than 100 years. At the end of his paper, Whitworth presents a very convincing comparison table comparing the properties that a VR must exhibit with the properties that we encounter in our ‘physical’ world. In other words, our bodies are Avatars. But who controls them?

In short, read his paper with an open mind.

Evolution 2.0

Perry Marshall, computer programmer, businessman and internet marketer, writes Evolution 2.0. He is the opposite of an evolution biologist who wants to explain everything that lives and grows as coming altogether from purely accidenteel mutations, with the occasional favorable one that survives and transfers its properties to his posterity, combined with the Darwinian idea of survival of the best adapted (read mutated) specimen in the population.

Marshall views living organisms, such as the cell, from the programmer’s point of view. He concludes that DNA is code, not a random set of instructions, but a real code that is decoded, executed and if necessary rewritten, by the cell.

He argues using a lot of factual material and applying Claude Shannon’s information theory that DNA code cannot possibly have been created by chance. Coincidence generates noise and noise destroys information. Always and irreparable.

The possibility that the code of DNA plus the reading and decoding mechanism in the cell is generated by random mutations is astronomically small and would be an example of spontaneously decreasing entropy. Something we never perceive.

He says this: if you come across a code that is also interpreted and executed, you need a coder. According to him, that’s the cell. Or the intelligence that controls the cell. For him, the cell is an extremely complex and highly intelligent living being that actively and purposefully adapts to its environment by adapting its DNA. Mutations in the DNA are therefore no coincidences but adaptations of the cell in its DNA in an attempt to withstand the challenges of the environment. He provides an enormous amount of convincing experimental and published evidence for his claim. But then I’m going to wonder where the intelligence that the cell displays resides.

Consilience: Avatars, the world as VR and goal oriented adapting living cells

When I combine those three divergent matters together, the result is to me a fairly complete and logically coinciding picture of reality as we experience it in everyday life. Supported by these three pillars, PSI research, the physical properties that a VR must exhibit and experimental research on heredity, an image emerges of a world that takes place within a highly advanced computer game in which living things serve as avatars for something that is best described as a conscious mind. A game with the aim of development – ie evolution 2.0 – by a continuously challenging environment.

Challenging indeed, but but also with ample provision for fun and beauty would we allow each other the opportunity. Death is only the end of the avatar, not the controller. When the controllers goal has not yet been reached, he just chooses another avatar, which is reincarnation. And what does almost every near-death experiencer, who had left the game stepping back into it because his goal had not yet been reached, tell us? It was mainly about love, selfless love for the other. Without any exception.

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A particularly persistent misunderstanding

This kind of quotes do keep popping up in reports about quantum phenomena: “Depending on the way in which it is measured, the quantum object manifests itself as a particle or as a wave.” No, no, and again no, that is not the true image of quantum reality in my opinion. In fact it is severely misleading en confusing.

Such statements create the impression of an object that deliberately adapts to the measurement methods used and then decides whether it shows itself as a wave or as a particle. No wonder many people decide that the quantum world is utterly weird and incomprehensible and stop thinking about it.

This false image, this misunderstanding, has its origins in the image of the world that we received from our earliest memories on. An image of a world existing independently of us and in which we fulfill merely the role of spectator, an accidental bystander who might as well not have been there. We are used to imagining something, every physical thing, as something that simply IS and has always been there. We tend to stick to that way of looking at reality even when, depending on the way we look at it, its properties suddenly appear completely different and extremely ambiguous, like the quantum object mentioned above.

Do we actively create our world?

It is rather unusual to think that things are there BECAUSE we perceive them, that they did not exist before our observation and are no longer there after our observation. If we would opt for that way of thought, things would attain properties that we usually attribute to dreams and thoughts and not to ‘real’ things. This way of thinking about reality is not in keeping with the common perception of the permanence of our world. Yet the quantum world teaches us that our idea of an objective permanent world is most likely false.

Looking at the double slit experiment

The double slit experiment is a crucial experiment in quantum physics able to provide a lot of insight. So let’s take a look at it

Electrons fired at a double slit form an interference pattern.

When we fire a large number of particles, photons, electrons or even large molecules, through a double slit, an interference pattern will be created on the screen after the slits. We see a pattern of light and dark bands. That pattern also arises when we fire particle by particle. Even after a long period of firing single particles, certain areas on the screen appear to be hardly hit, which are the light bands in the picture above.

Such an interference pattern is the result of wave behavior. It occurs because waves reinforce or extinguish each other in certain places depending on their synchronous concurrent or opposite motion, respectively. Watch this YouTube video for a very enlightening demonstration of double slit interference.

There is a mathematical relationship between the spacing of the bands of the interference pattern, the spacing between the slits, the distance from the slits to the screen, and the wavelength, but we don’t need to go into that to understand the meaning of this experiment.

Such an interference pattern of dark and light bands only arises when the originating waves have the same frequency and wavelength. It happens when two wave sources vibrate synchronously. The two slits here function as wave sources vibrating in phase. The rather amazing conclusion drawn from this interference pattern is: “Every particle exhibited wave behavior and must therefore also have been a wave.” This also applies to electrons and even to large molecules of more than 800 atoms.

Catching the particle in the slit

When we adjust the experiment in a way so we can determine for each particle which slit it has gone through, the interference pattern disappears and we get a pattern that you can interpret as two single slit patterns that are projected over each other and therefore are actually indistinguishable from a single slit pattern. Each of the two slits now produces a single slit pattern, which is a single light spot with the highest intensity in the center, in much the same location on the screen.

The correct conclusion is that the waves passing through the slits no longer interfere with each other. The relationship between these two waves running from the slits, which let them extinguish or strengthen each other in fixed predictable places, has disappeared. The often drawn conclusion is that we now see particle behavior instead of wave behavior, which actually makes no sense. A single slit pattern is still for 100% the result of wave behavior, only we no longer observe interference such as occurs with two synchronous wave sources. It seems more like as if every wave, connected to each particle, is now originating from only one of the slits and no longer from both. And that’s exactly what’s going on here.

How we see the world as a collection of things

“.. we can determine for each particle which slit it went through …“. Notice how this sentence is formulated. The implicit assumption here is that there is a particle that travels along a path and that shoots through one of the slits. That is an image that stems from the way we got to know the world around us from childhood. And apparently we find it extremely difficult to let that premise go. Ask yourself: Did the fired bullet travel every part of the path to the target? Or didn’t it?

The simple hypothesis: observation manifests the particle

Now, if only for a moment, try to let go of that premise, set it aside. Imagine now that, there is no particle traveling a path, there only is a wave. A wave that appears to be particularly intimately connected to our perception of the particle. (I will postpone here the effort of trying to understand how this connection works.) A wave that will end when we make an observation. An observation thus means that we seem to manifest the particle at that time and in that location. Immediately after our observation has been made, the particle is no longer there, but the wave is there again starting from where we last observed the particle. Now look again, assuming this hypothesis is right, at the version of that double slit experiment where we could determine which slit the particle passed through. Are we now perhaps able to understand this enigmatic disappearing act of the interference bands somewhat better?

Therefore, try to follow the following five logical steps:

  1. According to this hypothesis, it is the observation, in this case through which slit the particle passed, that made the particle to appear in one of the slits.
  2. Its appearance in the slit implicitly means the end of the wave.
  3. Only at the moment the observation information tells you, the particle manifested and existed in the slit.
  4. Immediately afterwards there is no particle and a new wave leaves the slit eventually ending up on the screen behind the slit.
  5. Since the particle did not appear in both slits – at least let’s assume that there is no magical particle multiplying – we now have only one single wave source.
  6. So there is indeed a wave – between the double slit and the screen – but now there is no more interference, because you need two synchronous vibrating wave sources for it to observe.

This hypothesis – observation manifests the particle – gives thus a complete and logical explanation of the disappearance of the interference when we observe the particle at the slit.

Two time-consecutive manifestations of the particle in a single experiment

Where the wave hits the screen, we do observe a bright little spot. In principle, that is also an observation. So when we set up the measurement in such a way that we can observe in which slit the particle appeared, we create a measurement setup with two consecutive locations for observations – and thus, manifestations. One in the slit and the other on the screen behind the slits. That dual observation is the crucial aspect in an experiment where we do observe the particle at the slit.

So it is confusing to say that the observed object behaves like a wave or a particle depending on the way of observing. In both setups, it is consistently true that there is a wave that results in the manifestation of a particle through an observation. In the setup where we look in which slit the particle appeared, we simply make two consecutive observations, whereby a wave manifests itself twice as a particle. The measurement directly influences the measured object and doing two consecutive measurements at two locations within the setup therefore logically should arrive at a result different from a single measurement done only at the screen. As if you gave during billiards the already rolling ball an extra kick and then got surprised that it influenced the outcome. We really don’t have to assume an intelligent ball for that.

Someone has to hit the balls.

Not a particle and wave at the same time, it’s a probability wave

If we look at it that way, then there is no longer a particle that adapts magically in terms of properties to our way of measuring. The whole process is clear and extremely predictable. As long as we don’t measure the object we want to measure it is a wave. As soon as we measure where and when the object was , we will find the object to have been there. The measurement and manifestation of the object thus become identical! This is a very important and deep conclusion.

Now the question of what that wave is and what it consists of becomes an important one. The answer to that question was first proposed by the physicist Max Born in the early 20th century. In his proposal, the quantum wave is a wave that, when interpreted correctly, gives you the probability per location and time, where and when, to find the object during a measurement. Thus, the quantum wave gives us a prediction of reality but not an exact one. It is a statistical prediction, just like when rolling a dice, the probability of exactly getting a six coming up is 1/6 and that the average outcome of a roll is 3.5. Incidentally, Max Born still assumed that the particle was somehow ‘guided’ by the wave which means that the particle traveled a path, albeit unpredictable. That interpretation was later abandoned by most physicists.

Quantum mechanics is statistics

Statistics is the way in which quantum mechanics accurately predicts the results of experiments. With the enormous numbers of particles that play a role in objects larger than a few micrometres, the outcome of a physical event can be predicted with great precision. Just as the average outcome of a hundred billion throws with an ideal die will be exactly 3.5 with a deviation that we will find only after the 8th decimal place. Many quantum physicists do accept the idea that the particle only manifests itself during measurement, but they disagree about how the measurement achieves this, given the large number of different interpretations. Most interpretations attempt to save the objective permanence of the world but until now these fail to do so convincingly. That there is not a winner since more than 100 years could be an indication of wrong underlying and deeply hidden assumptions. In technical applications, quantum physicists simply use the statistical calculation methods – shut up and calculate – and leave the interpretation to the disputing theorists.

The simplest explanation is usually the best

As I wrote at the beginning, assuming that the ‘thing’ aspect of reality only appears because we are looking and that it does not exist physically when we are not observing, means that the reality we perceive has the same quality as thoughts and dreams. If that is the assumption that provides us with the simplest unambiguous explanation of the double slit experiment, the idea that observing manifests reality might now have become not as strange as it probably sounded to you at first. Applying this hypothesis we are able to visualize every part in the double slit experiment without having to try to imagine something that is simultaneously a particle and a wave, which is impossible. This could mean that our belief that the world is permanently out there, regardless of our presence in it, is a very persistent misunderstanding. That is anyhow my deeply felt opinion. The world is there because we create it when observing it. This also applies to something dramatically destructive like the Covid-19 virus in the end. Such a message should raise of course a number of rather hard questions. For some answers on these have a look at another page on this website.

Aristotle and time

Bust of Aristotle. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek bronze original by Lysippos from 330 BC; the alabaster mantle is a modern addition.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Born: 384 BC, Stagira, Chalcidian League
Died: 322 BC (aged approx. 62), Euboea, Macedonian Empire

It turns out to be interesting to compare Aristotle’s ideas about time with my insights about time and quantum physics. There are striking similarities.

A quote from Physics, book 4.11:

But neither does time exist without change; for when the state of our own minds does not change at all, or we have not noticed its changing, we do not realize that time has elapsed, any more than those who are fabled to sleep among the heroes in Sardinia do when they are awakened; for they connect the earlier ‘now’ with the later and make them one, cutting out the interval because of their failure to notice it.

So, just as, if the ‘now’ were not different but one and the same, there would not have been time, so too when its difference escapes our notice the interval does not seem to be time. If, then, the non-realization of the existence of time happens to us when we do not distinguish any change, but the soul seems to stay in one indivisible state, and when we perceive and distinguish we say time has elapsed, evidently time is not independent of movement and change. It is evident, then, that time is neither movement nor independent of movement.

Aristotle says here that time does not exist without change being perceived by our [consciousness]. If no change is experienced, then we also won’t experience time. So time is not the same as change or movement, but it is not independent of it.

Now we perceive movement and time together: for even when it is dark and we are not being affected through the body, if any movement takes place in the mind we at once suppose that some time also has elapsed; and not only that but also, when some time is thought to have passed, some movement also along with it seems to have taken place. Hence time is either movement or something that belongs to movement. Since then it is not movement, it must be the other.

If we observe a ‘before’ and an ‘after’, which is observing a change, then there is time. But time is not equal to change. Time results from the comparison between two now moments. We define the sequence of nows ourselves by assigning it an ‘before and’ after ‘.

When, therefore, we perceive the ‘now’ one, and neither as before and after in a motion nor as an identity but in relation to a ‘before’ and an ‘after’, no time is thought to have elapsed, because there has been no motion either. On the other hand, when we do perceive a ‘before’ and an ‘after’, then we say that there is time. For time is just this-number of motion in respect of ‘before’ and ‘after’.

The ‘now’ itself does not change, but the moments recorded in every ‘now’ do.

The delayed quantum eraser

This vision of Aristotle on time reminds strongly of the conclusions about time that can be drawn from studying the results of delayed choice quantum eraser experiments. In a simple double-slit experiment, observable interference will always occur behind the double-slit. A pattern of dark and light bands. It invariably shows up whether photons, electrons, atoms or even larger molecules are sent through a double slit.

Electron interference buildup over time. Provided with kind permission of Dr. Tonomura
Source: Wikimedia commons

In the delayed choice experiments, in principle, photons are sent through a double slit, and simultaneously information is collected about which slit the photon has passed. The measured information about the passed slit is randomly either recorded or irrevocably destroyed in order to determine the effect of available information about the passed slit on the interference pattern. The experimental results are in line with the predictions of quantum mechanics but nevertheless very intriguing.

  • If information is available about through which slit the photon has passed, the result of the experiment is affected in such a way (no interference) that the conclusion has to be that the photon state wave must already have collapsed in the slit manifesting a physical photon there.
  • The experiment is set up in such a way that the moment in time when that information is measured and recorded follows in time sequence after the photon appeared (manifested) in the slit.

At first glance, this looks like an effect back into the past, retrocausality. However, this doesn’t mean that we can change the past. Once measured, the past is irrevocably fixed. But as soon as we involve the active observer, retrocausality is no longer needed as an explanation. The observer will by his conscious observation only fix the order of events at that moment . It is then not the instrumental detection of the slit passage that exerts an effect on the interference behavior of the photon. History – the sequence of now moments – is fixed by the observer’s attention. That’s time.

Time sequence created by observer

In short, quantum physics seems to confirm Aristotle’s ideas about time. Now we can see an important difference between experienced time and clock time. The latter was introduced by Newton in the 16th century as the only model of time of importance in physics. With that the observer was sidelined and was no longer an important player in the physical universe. But quantum physics seems to restore experienced time as something that also plays a role in physics. The conscious observer acting as an information processor becomes thus an active participant in the universe again.

Google claims to have reached quantum supremacy

In september 2019 the Financial Times reported: ‘Google claims to have built the first quantum computer that can carry out calculations beyond the ability of today’s most powerful supercomputers, a landmark moment that has been hotly anticipated by researchers.’

Photo Google, Eric Lukero

The quantum processor of Google, with 54 Qubits – of which one failed – managed to produce a random sequence of 53 bits with a certain distribution within 200 seconds. That’s something even a supercomputer can’t do, since the processes of a classical computer with bits that are either 1 or 0 are fundamentally not random. Random output is even undesirable. Each Qubit of a quantum computer, on the other hand, can be in both states ‘simultaneously’. If you can succesfully entangle those 54 Qubits together without ‘disrupting’ their entanglement, you can in principle perform 254 (~250 million) calculations in parallel.

Entangling so many Qubits is a technical achievement of the first order. Qubits are very unstable, which means that they can ‘decay’ to a ‘hard’ 1 or 0 bit after a very short time, a few milliseconds. Entanglement of unstable Qubits more or less multiplies that instability per added component. Unfortunately, the article doesn’t say what that particular distribution in which those random numbers had to be generated, but I assume that you can produce a huge amount of random number series in 200 seconds, while you have to pick out those that meet your special criterion.

The article gives no further details, which allows me to give my own thoughts a little free range here. A QRNG you can purchase on the Internet has a processor around 45 Mhz, so I think it produces random zeros and ones at that rate, 45 million per second. With 53 QRNGs connected in parallel, you have generated 9 billion random sequences of 53 bits after 200 seconds. Then you still have to be able to find the series that meets that special condition, which could possibly be a tough task even for a supercomputer. But when you can impose this special condition on those 53 Qubits in advance, then you have immediately the right outcome after just one operation.

I am very curious about more details and especially how people managed to impose the desired restrictions on the Qubits in Google’s quantum computer in advance. And also why they still needed 200 seconds.

The Sun in a laboratory vessel

In addition to quantum physics, I also have of course other interests and fascinations. And sometimes some other than a quantum physics subject is so impressive and important that I want to say something about it on this website, even though it’s not about quantum physics.

SAFIRE project

It’s about the SAFIRE project. The acronym means: Stellar Athmospheric Function in Regulation Experiment. It was started by a group of plasma physicists, astrophysicists and electrical engineers who wanted to test an idea differing from mainstream physics about the forces that play an important role within our solar system and also in interstellar space. This group is called out by RationalWiki as a bunch of garden-variety physicists or pseudo-physicists. Well, they have answered the challenge and started the SAFIRE project. They have implemented their model of how they think the sun works in a laboratory container, a three-year project, to see if their model can be falsified.

Click on the image to download the SAFIRE report as pdf

Their result is truly amazing. View the film they produced, read their 72 page report and think for yourself. Either they are completely fraudulent, or they have discovered something particularly important (and that option is my firm impression) that can have enormous implications for:

  • Our knowledge about the real processes that take place in a star, especially in our own nearby sun.
  • Insights about the origin of the elements heavier than hydrogen and helium.
  • Free energy production: a revolutionary way in which energy can be generated. It seems nuclear fusion is happening, because heavy elements appear to be produced, without any adverse side effects and without the need for an incredibly expensive and complex fusion reactor, which has to enclose the hot plasma in extremely strong magnetic fields.
  • Safe processing of radioactive waste.

Energy by transmutation of light elements

If this is true, then this is incredibly good news, especially in the context of our current problems with regard to our global energy needs.

Confirmation by replication

When watching the film and reading their report, I am reminded of the facilities that are available on the most universities, to replicate this and to test it. It is not beyond the capabilities of an academic technician with adequate resources. Physics students, accept the challenge.