Psychokinesis and quantum entanglement

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.

Helmut Schmidt (1928-2011) and his QRNG’s

Schmidts research took place in the years 1970-1980 at the Rhine Research Center Institute for Parapsychology. Schmidts research was heavily critcised, (C. E. M. Hansel. (1980). ESP and Parapsychology: A Critical Re-Evaluation. Prometheus Books. pp. 222-232). Carelessness and/or fraud were suggested by many:

"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.[2]"

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.

Helmut Schmidt with a subject in a QRNG experiment

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’.

Floppy Disk with visible magnetic surface
Floppy Disk Drive

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

Design principle of Schmidts pk-experiment

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.

Left the direct control of the flashes, right the principle of delayed control. The delay was achieved by playing the zeros and ones recorded on a floppy disk at a later time.

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.

Apparent retrocausality?

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.

Time, space, matter and old wisdom

The reduction of the state wave

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

When the state wave passes through a double slit, two sources of synchronous waves originate from the two slits to interfere with each other and exhibit places of maximum – the dotted lines – and minimum intensity. Maximum intensity means maximum probability to find the particle there. Hence the pattern of dark and light bands on the screen.

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.

As soon as the slits are observed, the state wave is reduced to one slit. The probability to find the particle is now maximal in the middle behind the slit and gradually diminishes to the left and to the right.

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)

Sculpture presenting the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna. It is located in Tirumala.

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 the time, 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

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 (204-270)
Plato (427-347 v.Chr.)

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.

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950)

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)

Hermes Trismegistus

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)

Oldest image of Augustinus
(6th century), fresco in Saint John Lateran, Rome

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)

Cologne City Hall Tower – Meister Eckhart – Johann I (Brabant)

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.

Nicholas of Cusa or Cusanus

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.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

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)

Karl von Eckartshausen

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.

Portrait of Immanual Kant at middle age (approx. 1790)

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, OM FRS FBA, English mathematician and philosopher.

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:

Wolfgang Pauli (1945)
Carl Gustav Jung circa 1935
"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

Erwin Schrödinger (1933)
"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

David Bohm (right) talking to Krishnamurti

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.

From The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory:

“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

De hele Olifant
The nine blind monks and the elephant

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.”

If all of the above mentioned appeals to you, read ’The whole Elephant Revealed‘ by Marja de Vries.

Einstein’s insight ánd blind spot

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

Light can give a push

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.
Einstein’s Recoiling Slit Thought Experiment – Version 1. There is no interference. Each photon travels through only one slit because we can know its path from the recoiling 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.
Mechanically the same recoiling slit experiment – just envisioned differently. The recoiling slit is now considered as a part of the photon gun. We don’t know which path the photon takes. We now will see interference.

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.

Schematic representation of the principle of the experiment. From the publication ‘Einstein–Bohr recoiling double-slit gedanken experiment performed at the molecular level‘. Click on the figure for the full article on IOPScience.

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.

Confusing and obscuring misunderstandings about quantum physics

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.

Cannon ball trajectory calculation in the middle ages.
That it is obviously wrong doesn’t mean that they missed their targets in that time.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. The laws of nature are fixed. They are the same today as they were at the beginning, and they will stay the same forever.
  5. Nature is purposeless, and evolution has no goal or direction.
  6. All biological inheritance is material, carried in the genetic material, DNA, and in other material structures.
  7. 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.
  8. Memories are stored as material traces in brains and are wiped out at death.
  9. Unexplained phenomena such as telepathy are illusory.
  10. 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?

Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness © Marvel Studios

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.

Nobel Prize physics for demonstrating non-local quantum entanglement

It was time the Bell was heard

John Clauser, Anton Zeilinger, Alain Aspect. Nobel Prize Physics 2022.

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”.

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.

EM-wave. Red: magnetic component, Blue: electric component. Speed in vacuum is constant: 299,792,458 metres per second.

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.

Vertically polarized light can be rotated 90o to horizontally polarized light in two steps. 50% of the originally vertically polarized photons are then transmitted.

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

Image of a Bell two channel experiment. A and B are the polarizers that can be rotated relative to each other.

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%).

The classical and the quantum mechanically predicted correlations between detections of the polarized photon pairs, measured at different angles between the polarizers in a Bell experiment. The blue curve corresponds to non-locality.

Locality falsified

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.

Quantum decoherence and information

The double slit experiment

Figure 1: Double slit interference with surface waves © Jörg Enderlein
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

Figure 2: Double slit experiment with waves, fanning out lines of maximum intensity result from the superposition of two synchronous wave patterns of equal wave lengths.

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.

Figure 3: The blind monks and the elephant

That abrupt transition of potentiality into material existence is the so-called quantum collapse for which more hypotheses have been devised than there are in the case of the eight blind monks and the elephant.

Double and single slit patterns

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.

Figure 4: Single slit diffraction pattern explained with Huygens principle

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.

Figure 5: The left diagram shows the diffraction of waves passing through a single slit. The width of that pattern is related inversely to the slit width. @physics.stackexchange.com

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.

Figure 6: Observing the particles passing the slits – no fringes. The particle seems to manifest in one of the two slits, not in both.
Figure 7: Outcome of observing which slit was passed by the particle. The grey curve is the sum of two single slit patterns.

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.

Figure 8: Experimental confirmed Pythagorean correlation between decoherence of the wave in the slits and available information.

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.

Quantum Consciousness Falsified?

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

The Penrose-Hameroff theory of consciousness is called the Orchestrated Objective Reduction (Orch OR). Their theory can be summarized very briefly as follows:

"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.”
Figure from ‘A review of the ‘Orch OR’ theory’. Microtubules processing information by the quantum collapse, which is presumed to generate conscious experience.

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.

Adapted from the setup of the – flawed – delayed-choice quantum-eraser experiment of Kim et al. (1999): Detector D0 is movable in the x direction, perpendicular to the path of the upper photon. The beamsplitter BSc is the quantum eraser. © Patrick Edwin Moran

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.

Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso, Italy

What if ..?

A good way to do science is to ask the question ‘What if .. ?’. Posing this question is usually the first step in a hypothesis. The next step in such an exercise is to investigate how many unanswered questions you find a satisfactory answer to. The phenomena and experiments that do not match the hypothesis should also be considered of course. If they don’t match, the ‘What if..?’ assumption can be rejected as impossible or improbable. Important: bias should be recognized and avoided in this regard. Together, that is what I call: ‘Research with an open mind’. So switch your bullshit detector off. It is a fast but unreliable instrument. Read if you wish ‘Thinking Fast and Slow‘ by Daniël Kahnemann.

Isaac Newton must also have followed such a what-if thought: ‘What if the heavenly bodies attract each other with a force that depends on their mutual distance?’ Quite an absurd assumption at the time, given the question of how such a force could be exerted through empty space – although we already had experience with forces at a distance such as magnetism. In fact, that force-at-distance question still hasn’t really been answered today, but Newton’s what-if question did result in the classic gravitational mechanics that were beautifully confirmed by Edmund Halley’s comet and that we still start our physics study with.

The Case against Reality

A good recent example of what-if thinking and then consecutively seeing whether there are obvious conflicts with known facts and if it provides explanations for as yet unexplained phenomena is – as far as I’m concerned – Donald Hoffman’s ‘The Case against Reality‘. What if the reality that our senses present to us is just a construction that our senses and our brains create? Hoffman is a cognitive psychologist and convincingly argues that our senses developed by Darwinian evolution where the appearance of the most suitable version of an organism for survival – read also sense here – always offered the best chances for becoming inheritable .

Based on that assumption, we can say the following:

  • It is not necessary that what is presented to us by our senses corresponds 1:1 to reality, whatever reality may be. What we sense as beneficial to our survival – an apple on a tree, a slice of bread, a glass of water – is just a translation that makes us act in such a way that we survive and are able to reproduce, in this case grab the food and consume it. Think of a VR program where the actual electric digital actions in the computer are hidden and are translated for us into an image that we understand, such as a map icon. There is absolutely no need for that translation to be equal to the underlying reality, as long as our response is adequate that’s fine. So here we see no apparent conflict with our experiences.
  • Hoffman’s idea is broadly in line with the idealism of Bernardo Kastrup. According to Kastrup, everything, including our own senses and brains, is not material and does not exist in a solid state separate from us. All our observations are complex experiences that enter our consciousness through a translation (Kastrup evokes the image of a dashboard that represents the phenomena that are happening outside) and are only experienced within consciousness. Solid material reality as something that exists outside of us is an illusion. Again, there are no obvious conflicts with our experiences, although it requires that we switch our bullshit detector off.
  • The question of what consciousness – that which experiences – is has not been answered, neither by Hoffman nor by Kastrup. However, it is the ground on which their philosophy rests. That is in itself not an argument against their idea as there is no philosophy where consciousness is fundamentally or even weakly explained. Neurologists are also limited to speculating about consciousness as some hazy emergence from a complex brain like steam rising from hot water, but that’s very far from even being a provisional explanation.

All in all, we thus arrive at the what-if assumption of primary consciousness which says that all matter, and the experience of it, are products of consciousness. By primary consciousness I mean something much more extended than our daily waking consciousness, which is probably only a small part of it. The next step in this what-if exercise is whether we can with the hypothesis of primary consciousness explain phenomena that we have not been able to explain with the materialist paradigm – also often called physicalism. Then, of course, we also have to see if there are phenomena that contradict it. That’s the scientific approach.

Step 1 – Explanations of observed phenomena not explained by physicalism

What observed phenomena is the hypothesis of primary consciousness able to explain where physicalism fails utterly, I count nine here:

  1. Quantum Physics: Quantum physics seems to tell us that the information available to the observer creates the observed reality in time and space. There are excellent arguments for this. I’ve published a complete book about quantum physics, information and consciousness, also and especially for the lay reader. If reality is a construct of our consciousness – including our body and bodily senses – then it provides an explanation for the otherwise incomprehensible results of quantum physics such as objects that can be in multiple places at once and are entangled over astronomical distances, to name but a few.
  2. Relativity Dilation: Special relativity says that when we observe a relative to us moving object such as a rocket, a bullet, or an elementary particle, the rulers, or whatever may pass for them, shorten in that object to zero and time slows down to standstill as its relative velocity increases to lightspeed. This effect has been confirmed by many experiments. This dilation effect is incomprehensible if we stick to the ideas of solid permanent matter, fixed space and time. But when the consciousness of the observer creates the world – the world is within the mind – it becomes suddenly understandable. Matter, space and time acquire then the same properties as thoughts (James Jeans: ‘The stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter… we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.’
  3. Field Forces: Gravity, electromagnetic force, the strong and the weak nuclear force are all field forces. They affect matter remotely without direct contact through the use of force-transmitting objects, such as with billiard balls. If the world consists only of matter, then field forces are inherently incomprehensible, not even when we try to use the curved space-time dimensions of Einstein’s general relativity. But when consciousness creates reality, field forces become not fundamentally different from thoughts either.
  4. Dreaming: Dreaming is utterly common and incomprehensible at the same time. When dreaming we sometimes create fantastic virtual realities sometimes complete with all possible sensory impressions, seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling. You really see colors, hear sounds, touch objects. However, try evoking such a realistic experience in the waking state (without hallucinogens). Just try to evoke, with your eyes closed, the experience of seeing the color red or the picking up and feeling the size and weight of an object as a real experience. The result is never more than a faint shadow of a real experience. It always amazes me how little amazing most people find it that we can dream at all. If consciousness is indeed capable of creating vivid experiences of reality, then dreaming is no longer so different from what we do in our everyday waking world.
  5. Blindsight: Nicola Farmer has founded a school – the ICU academy – where children can learn to read, draw colored figures, and play with balls while blindfolded. Nicola also trains teachers who can teach this subsequently to children. This blindsight ability of these children has been confirmed by independent observers and recorded in a film ‘Children with real superpowers‘. Apparently our eyes are not really necessary to perceive the world visually. From the idea of primary consciousness creating the idea of matter this is understandable since what the children “see” is the creation of consciousness itself. Blindsight is also a phenomenon recognized by neurologists, but they attribute it to a different from normal visual processing neural path, ultimately still based on the signals that our eyes transmit to the brain. This cannot be the case with these blindfolded children.
  6. Psychokinesis (Pk): Pk has been confirmed in laboratory experiments, although they concern usually micro-Pk. This is nothing but the primary consciousness in immediate action.
  7. The NDE (Near-Death Experience): Since Raymond Moody’s book “Life After Life” – published originally in 1975 – worldwide interest in the NDE has exploded and large numbers of people have come forward with their NDE experience. The Near-Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF) has collected more than 5,000 experiences on its website since 2000. It is estimated that between 3 and 5% of the world’s population has had an NDE. Primary consciousness provides an excellent explanation for such a widely reported phenomenon, since consciousness being primary means that it cannot the product of a material brain and thus – after the death of the material body – can continue to exist and perceive independently. Skeptics’ claim that the NDE is neurologically explained is – sorry – bullshit.
  8. The ADC (After-death-communication): Since the beginning of this century, the After Death Communication Research Foundation (ADCERF) has collected more than 2,000 reported experiences of contact with recently deceased loved ones and animals. Polls show that more than 50% of people report an ADC experience shortly after the death of a partner, child or beloved pet. Read “The Departed among the Living” by professor Erlendur Haraldsson. This phenomenon is also perfectly explainable from the non-material death surviving primary consciousness.
  9. Evolution: The predominant neo-Darwinian view of the origin of life and evolution — life has come into existence by blind chance and by the survival of the most suitable organism plus a few billion years of single local mutations in DNA — is on the verge of collapsing. Read “Evolution 2.0” by Perry Marshall, “Evolution: A view from the 21th Century, Fortified” by James Shapiro or “Active Biological Evolution” by Frank Laukien. All life, from viruses and single-celled organisms to “modern” animals and plants, responds to challenges from its environment by actively modifying its entire genetic machinery (not just its DNA) – humans also. Amazingly often successfully and also inheritable by the next generations. The irrepressible suspicion that an intelligent reaction to the experiences of the organism is taking place here, starts to receive more and more attention. Primary consciousness, assuming it is also intelligent (a fairly obvious assumption), offers a good explanation.

Step 2 – Conflicts with established observations

Are there phenomena that conflict with the hypothesis of primary consciousness? At first glance (our bullshit detector) it seems there are at least four:

  1. The experience of solidity: Reality as we experience it is solid and rather permanent. We can’t walk through a wall. If we bump ourselves, it hurts. If we fall, we get hurt. Objects left behind remain there until we – or others – relocate them. Matter does not appear out of nothing, nor does it just disappear into nothingness. That would go against the well-known and soundly affirmed conservation laws of physics.
  2. Multiple observers: When my consciousness creates the world and everything in it, a problem arises with multiple observers (read ‘Tom Poes en de Kwanten’ in the bundle ‘Trammelant en Tierelier‘ by Marten Toonder, highly recommended, however only available in Dutch).
  3. Free will: Why – assuming I have free will – can’t I create the world I want. I cannot create or make matter disappear at will. The latter can probably be doubted if you take Mary Rose Barrington’s book – JOTT – seriously.
  4. Evil: Why does Evil exist? In itself this is not a physically definable conflict but nevertheless a valid question. If consciousness creates the world why also Evil? That question is food for philosophers.

I hope you can see that in all the above points the assumption is hidden that primary consciousness is identical to the individual waking consciousness. Which is not necessarily the case. When we can drop that assumption, all of the above points fail as strongly valid conflicts that might reject the primary consciousness hypothesis.

Furthermore, the above is not intended as a plea for idealistic monism, as for instance Kastrup advocates, and which completely denies the existence of matter. Most of the points mentioned in step 1 can also be explained with the dualistic view that matter and consciousness coexist and can influence each other. Something that René Descartes assumed in his Meditations. However, the question that is not answered in his dualism is how these two intrinsically different things, matter and consciousness, can interact with each other.

Conclusion

As far as I’m concerned, this what-if exercise provides ample confirmation that the primary consciousness hypothesis is at least worth taking seriously. While it’s probably not the ultimate scientific theory of everything, it can explain a lot of things that are simply inexplicable from the physicalist perspective that prefers to ignore en deny an abundant amount of clear facts.

What is real? A short exercise in reality

When I’m discussing quantum physics in company of friends or presenting a course in quantum physics and consciousness, and I present the substantiated conclusion from the quantum physics experiments – especially the delayed choice experiments of John Wheeler – that we create reality by observing it, the common and very understandable reaction is often that people shy away from it because of its unimaginablity. As if it would imply that the everyday world is an illusion and therefore not ‘real‘. I answer them usually by giving them the metaphor of the rainbow, definitely not an illusion but a ‘real‘ phenomenon. But if you think that the rainbow above you is a material arc, then you are clearly wrong and suffering from an illusion.

The words “real” and “material” have become so closely linked by our upbringing that, for most people, they have taken on the same meaning. What is considered ‘real‘ is something that can be measured – so to speak – with a yardstick. If you can’t measure it, it is not ‘real‘. In this way ‘Real‘ means nowadays a permanent existence without the involvement of an observer. I wonder though: Are thoughts, dreams, fantasies not real? Are my thoughts not real as long as I have expressed them not in words, like I am doing here now?

A VR fantasy

To disconnect that engraved automatic link between the concepts ‘real‘ and ‘material‘, I propose now that you do the following simple VR imagination exercise. You don’t have to be in possession of a VR headset. A little bit of imagination will suffice.

Nursing home residents using VR headset ‘visiting’ the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Imagine then that a VR headset is ready and waiting for you on the table, including a pair of wireless earbuds. You place the headset over your eyes, plug the earbuds in …. and find yourself looking out over a plain covered mostly with fresh green grass, blooming flowers and scattered here and there a bush. Above you the blue sky with some white clouds floating quietly with the wind. Birds fly, and you can hear their songs. In the far distance you see an imposing mountain towering high into the sky, a super Mount Everest. It’s upper half is covered in snow and you notice wisps of clouds streaming away from the top.

Then you turn 180 degrees. Now you do notice that you are standing firmly on the top of a ridge overlooking a sea. Down below you see a beach where the waves roll in. Now you understand where that background noise came from. A sailboat is passing far away. The crew waves to you.

Now the reality question. Where’s that mountain you saw a moment before? Has it disappeared from reality? Does it still exist? You turn back again and there is the mountain again. Did you just recreate it from nothingness? By observing it?

Creation from non-existence by observation?

I do not think so. The image of that mountain was just not displayed on the LCD screen of the VR headset when you were looking in the direction of the sea, but its source still existed. It existed in the memory of the headset’s VR software all along, ready to be displayed if you turned your head in the right direction. The image of the mountain thus constantly exists as an opportunity to be shown and thus seen.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s exactly like the quantum behavior of the reality that we experience every day. The moment I look at the table before me, it becomes real through my observing. Before I looked at it, it did exist “really” as a well-defined stable possibility wave pattern in the quantum field. The larger the object, the smaller the relative deviations of its physical properties that are allowed by the quantum probability wave distribution. That is what makes the world appear so sharp and concrete to us with our relatively coarse senses. As far as I’m concerned, the world is ‘real‘ enough to be careful when crossing a busy road.

No creation out of nothingness

So, it is not the case that by observing we create something out of empty nothingness. It is already there, but in an unmaterialized form that leaves some room for deviations from the exact outcomes as predicted by Newtonian mechanics. That’s more room than you perhaps think. It has been calculated that after 7 or 8 collisions the movement of a billiard ball has become fundamentally unpredictable because of the accumulated and exponentially increasing Heisenberg uncertainty. Thus, the deterministic mechanical predictability of the universe, á la Laplace, collapses. That’s all. We are creators, but not free to create anything we want.

Not yet anyhow.

Help, I’m being shut down!

Is my computer aware? Would it mind being shut down? Sometimes you might wonder with your finger lingering on the off switch. Not likely, but still…..?

The PEAR Lab

The PEAR laboratory – Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory – was founded in 1979 by Robert Jahn, a professor of aeronautical engineering, along with Brenda Dunne, a developmental psychologist. In the PEAR lab, the special influence that the mind could have on physical devices, including electronic random signal generators (REGs), were studied in a variety of ways. Below is an example of the result of their influencing by intention REG experiments .

The three colored graphs represent the cumulative deviation from the standard expectation (the zero line) of the output of a REG in three test runs. The curved lines indicate the limits where the result is within the commonly accepted standard expectation limit of 5%. The red graph represents thus an clear case of the influence of intention. But apparently a reverse effect of intention is also possible (blue graph). Compare this with the behavior of an unaffected REG shown below. The graph hovers clearly around the zero line.

REG Cumulative Deviation without intention

Psyleron Conscious Technologies & Research

One of the lab collaborators was Herbert Mertz who mainly dealt with the REGs used in the PEAR experiments. Together with colleagues and friends he founded Psyleron in 2005. Psyleron supplied affordable REG kits based on QRNG devices (QRNG: Quantum Random Number Generator) with accompanying software. With these kits everyone should be able to independently investigate the effects of the mind on matter. One of their more playful products was the Psyleron Mind Lamp, a lamp that changes color when the results of the built-in REG deviate slightly from the standard expectation. Be sure to read the user experiences on the Psyleron Mind Lamp page.

Psyleron’s Mind Lamp. Changes color with focused attention, it seems. Unfortunately no longer for sale.

Herb Mertz’s book The Selection Effect is an account of his fascination with quantum number generators (REGs) and of his serious attempts in succesfully influencing them. He finds that he can indeed, but his influence evaporates as soon as the playful element disappears from his efforts and he becomes too serious in his attempts. What I want to talk about here is his description of an experiment where the experimenter effect seems to have played an important role. Herb opens his book with an extensive report of an experiment that certainly seems to belong in the category of special experimenter effects. It was conducted in 2013 by Professor Garret Moddel of the University of Colorado Boulder, one of his students, James Zhu, and Adam Curry of the Psyleron Company.

The Colorado Research Question: Is a Machine Conscious?

The research question was whether a machine, such as a QRNG, ‘feels’ coming that it is being turned off and shows this in its reaction. A QRNG is based on a quantum physics process and its output, a zero or a one is fundamentally unpredictable according to quantum physics. The only way a QRNG can ‘react’ is a deviation in the generated sequence of ones and zeros. Such a sequence is completely random, the probability of each bit – a zero or a one – in the sequence does not depend on the series of zeros and ones before it. The probability of a sequence of, for example, 20 consecutive zeros is less than 1:1,000,000. The expectation for the mean value of a random sequence of ones and zeros is 0.5. When the deviation from the expected mean value of such a sequence is statistically significant, you can consider that a QRNG reaction. Incidentally, this is exactly what is being done in the Global Consciousness Project. All over the world QRNGs continuously produce zeros and ones (the so-called EGG sites) and check in real-time whether significant deviations from the mean value of the bit rows occur and whether these are correlated with important global events. And it turns out that it is. Remarkable in itself. And ignored in many academic circles still trapped in a purely materialistic paradigm.

Global Consciousness Project: Cumulative Deviation during 12 years of standard expectation

Many experiments have been conducted to test whether people do sense a negative event coming. Most of the time this is done by showing subjects, sitting in front of a screen, a randomly selected image five seconds after they have pressed a button. The image shown can be neutral or emotionally disturbing. Through the output of an QRNG, five seconds after pressing the key, a random image is selected, and displayed, by the computer from a database with an equal amount of neutral and emotional images. Monitoring physiological factors such as heart rate and/or skin resistance can be used to investigate whether the test subject unconsciously senses what is coming before the time that the image is selected by the QRNG. This sensing the future has indeed been demonstrated in these kind of presentiment experiments. Read Dean Radin’s 2004 presentiment experiment research publication. His experiment is also extensively discussed in my book.

The warden and the prisoner

Garret’s idea was that if a machine with a QRNG built-in had any consciousness, it would probably find it unpleasant to be turned off, and, like those human subjects, it would have a presentiment of it. In those last few seconds before shutdown, it’s QRNG would respond with a measurable deviation in the generated series of zeros and ones.

The unpredictable switching on and off of the device with the QRNG was done by a second QRNG, the warden. It’s victim, the device with the QRNG 1, is the prisoner. The generated zeros and ones from warden and prisoner were both recorded. The whole device had been extensively tested for correct functioning, ‘null’ tests had been done, so, the experiment could begin. Expectations were tense. The device was switched on at the end of the day and the results would be viewed the next morning.

And lo and behold, the next morning it turned out that the ‘prisoner’ had indeed reacted every time shortly before the fundamentally unpredictable times when the ‘warden’ took out the ‘prisoner’. Statistically significant in a way that the result could not be ignored. It could not be considered as an accidental glitch in the experimental set-up. Had they perhaps made a discovery here that would stir up a lot of controversy around the world in universities and labs investigating consciousness and its effects? It was wise to wait a little longer and let the set-up run another night. The second day the outcome was an even stronger indication of presentiment of the prisoner. The third night again yielded the same result, the prisoner every time shortly before being shutdown reacting by producing a significantly deviating series of zeros and ones .

The serious scientific approach

Now it got really interesting. It became possible that a serious publication in scientific journals was in the offing. But in that case there are strict conditions attached to the test procedures. Does the length of the interval between off and on switching affect the outcome for example? The frequency of the generated zeros and ones maybe? The way it was turned off and on, perhaps? The experimenters turned the dials, doubled the frequency and then waited another night for the result. The result was now that the deviations in the prisoner’s behavior were shown no longer. Then they halved the frequency. Again no reaction of the prisoner any more. At last they reset the frequency to its original value. Again, the result remained zero negative. The effect was gone.

What had changed?

Mertz’s suspicion, and mine too, is that the moment the experimenters started to behave ‘really’ scientifically, their unconscious expectations changed. In other words, that the expectations of the experimenters early in the experiment, when uninhibited natural open curiosity played an important role and academic scientific demonstrability was less important, had changed into academic goals. It was no longer play but serious science. When they were still ‘playing’ the experimenters’ expectations influenced the outcome of the QRNG’s quantum process, the prisoner, in such a way that it changed significantly in the short time before the guard evicted the prisoner.

In my opinion the minds of the experimenters did two things. First it premonited the shut down of the prisoner by the warden, second it then influenced the prisoner REG to produce a sequence of bits outside the normally evenly distributed values.

Isn’t it panpsychism?

Panpsychism – all matter is conscious – is becoming more popular among philosophers and physicists. Too bad for them that the guard and prisoner experiment turned out so disappointingly at the moment stricter research methods were applied. But I suspect anyhow that consciousness, and in particular the expectations of the researchers, played a significant role here.