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.

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.

A Crash Course in Quantum Physics and Consciousness

On April 3 and 10 I presented a Crash Course in Quantum Physics and Consciousness in two Zoom sessions for Wendy Zammit’s Global Gathering audience. Quantum physics is not an easy subject, but in my opinion you can get a good idea of the basics if you pay attention so you can also understand its message. Consciousness is the primary stuff of the universe. Pretty good news about what happens when the body dies. Consciousness is the creator of your experiences. Think about that.

The audience – about 50 attendants – were very interested in the consciousness message of quantum physics. A lot of questions were asked, some I could answer.

Part I
Part II

Gifts of Unknown Things

Sometimes, in a book actually not really about quantum physics, I unexpectedly come across a text that particularly appeals to me in the context of my idea that quantum physics has an important message for humanity. A message that is still not understood or not been recognized by the majority of scientists today. Lyall Watson however is a scientist who recognizes the message.

A scientist of stature

Malcolm Lyall-Watson is a widely oriented scientist of stature. He is a botanist, zoologist, biologist, anthropologist, paleontologist and ethologist. He was, among other things, director of the Johannesburg Zoo and has produced nature series for the BBC. Watson is an adventurer and also a captivating storyteller. This has resulted in a series of books of which I have only recently read just this one which leaves me wanting more.

I am concerned here with a passage in his book ‘Gifts of Unknown Things’ where he summarizes adequately quantum physics in three pages, in an attempt to explain his experiences on a small Indonesian island where the local population accepts extraordinairy phenomena as an element of everyday life. By the way, I can recommend the entire book to you, if only for its captivating reading pleasure.

An infinite book as a metaphor of the state wave

The text fragment in question: Watson presents in it a very understandable metaphor about quantum physical reality as a book where every set of two pages contains one of the infinite possible states of the universe. Where the book will open is unpredictable, but the book is bound and used in such a way that it does show a preference for certain pages. As long as the book is still closed, everything is possible, all pages – all possibilities – are still there. That is comparable to the situation where the state wave has not yet collapsed. The opening of the book is thus the measurement, the collapse of the state wave by the observation of the reader with only one pair of pages now being readable. But in fact everything is possible, all the pages are still there. Sumo – mentioned in the text – is one of the inhabitants of the island who, because of his belief system, cannot accept what he sees, until a dramatic outcome is needed.

A Modern Physics Problem

“Modern physics has a problem. In Newton's time, concern was directed largely at measuring things, because he believed, as many people still do today, that everything was knowable, and it was just a matter of clear thinking and lots of hard work. It was felt that the collection of information was vital and that when enough was available, the rest could be calculated or inferred. So classical physics for two centuries concerned itself almost entirely with the motion of bodies and the force of fields.

Then Heisenberg showed it was impossible to determine exactly the position and momentum of any body at a single instant in time. This discovery in itself would have been of only academic importance if it had not also shown that changes were necessary in some of the most basic equations of physics. The changes were made, and they resulted in the development of quantum mechanics, and this has begun to bring about a major philosophical revolution.

Physics is concerned with systems. As an example, let's choose a system made up of a number of moving particles that happen to look like the letters of the alphabet. The old physics had its classical equations of motion which were supposed to be able to calculate the complete state of such a system. Let's say that what they had in mind was an arrangement something like this page of this book. A pattern in code which would need deciphering but which could be used, they thought, like the Rosetta Stone, to understand the language and to predict the form of all future states, the pattern on all pages that might precede or follow this one.

The new physics says fine, but there is a problem. There is no such thing as a single state. Each system has an infinite number of possible states, and it exists in all of them simultaneously. Quantum mechanics recognizes not the page, but the whole book as a more valid expression of the pattern of a system at any one moment in time. In fact, it goes a lot further than this thin book can, because it needs an infinite number of pages.

Now, when we try to observe a physical system, when we attempt to make a measurement, we do not find a particle moving at a number of velocities, located in widely different positions. We catch the system in one of its infinite number of states. When we open a book, we see only one of the many different pages. With the book lying closed on the table in front of you, all those pages or states already exist, and any page is possible. The probability is not necessarily equal; there is usually a bias built into the binding which makes the book open more easily at a well-thumbed page. But with the covers closed, the system is open. It is a multiple state and enters a single state only when a reader comes along to take a measurement or make an observation.

In the words of quantum mechanics, an observer collapses the system into one of its component states. He is not part of the system, he is not one of the letters that make up the pattern on the pages, and he cannot be included in the equations. But neither can he be left out, because without him there cannot be any particular pattern. Without an observer, there is no description; but no description can be considered complete unless it takes into account the effects of the observer who made it. There is no such thing as an objective experiment.

This is the measurement problem, and it has left much of the physics community in a state of considerable disquiet. There are inevitably a number of unconvinced Newtonians (like Sumo) who are doing their best to discredit this interpretation, but so far they have had very little success. The uncertainty just won't go away. In fact, it gets more alarming all the time.

When a system is observed, it collapses into one of its states. But what happens when there is more than one observer?

Science refuses to accept as valid any measurement made by only one person. The experiment has to be repeatable and produce the same result. So when two scientists in widely separated laboratories succeed in making the same measurement, when they get the book to open at precisely the same page, there must be some factor which at that moment puts them on common ground. They must be linked. This linkage, which provides them both with the same page number, is a procedure that we call experimental protocol. It has to be followed precisely or the experiment will "fail"—the book will open elsewhere. It is a very strict procedure with a precise set of rules which require that individuality be held as far as possible in abeyance. It suggests that the scientific approach is a ritual, an incantation, a set of magic words and gestures for producing the desired effect.

And what if there are two observers stationed at the same vantage point? Assume that the two scientists involved in this work happened to be together in the laboratory when the experiment was completed successfully for the very first time. They were exploring new territory, so there was no established protocol; they were simply following a hunch. They collapsed the system and exposed one of its states. Both made the same observation. They saw the same page. This could happen only if the observation process itself united them in some way, or if one of them saw the state first and imposed his view of it on the other. Both sides in the quantum-mechanical argument support the theory of relativity which says it is not possible to put either of the observers first. So that leaves us with only one possibility. Observers of the same state at any moment in time are coupled. And if there are more than two, they are grouped. And as joint observers are often too far apart to hold hands or make any normal physical contact during the process of observation, they must be united by some nonphysical factor.

There is only one nonphysical entity that is nevertheless real and sufficiently widespread to be held responsible.

Our consciousness.”

From: Gifts of Unknown Things by Lyall Watson published by Inner Traditions International and Bear & Company, © 1991. All rights reserved.
http://www.Innertraditions.com  
Reprinted with permission of publisher.

I totally agree.

Consciousness taken to court

It is the neurologists who still largely believe in classical physics, through which they want to explain consciousness as an emergent phenomenon of the brain. European neurologists are busy working on the Human Brain Project. This is one of the largest research projects in the world. In its final phase (April 2020 – March 2023) the HBP’s focus is to advance three core scientific areas – brain networks, their role in consciousness, and artificial neural nets – while further expanding EBRAINS. They expect – and hope – that their digital copy of the neural netwerk that we harbor in our skulls will become aware. For the sake of this emerging digital awareness, I hope not. In the main media I regularly come across articles that subscribe, rather uncritically, to this emergence idea. Fortunately, I also come across critical reviews, such as here in The Telegraph.

The neurologist’s message: your consciousness is a hallucination. It’s a recursive pattern within a pattern within a pattern of neuronal activity.

If you repeat a message often enough, a significant portion of the recipients will simply believe it. Just look at Donald Trump, about 43% of the male residents of the US currently believe that large-scale vote fraud has been committed in the presidential elections of 2020. The other male 57% are just looking uncomprehending at such a belief, since it can only survive if you completely ignore the facts. Apparently this is also the case with this neurological ‘We are our Brains’ brainwashing. It’s a belief. Verified facts are completely ignored. Entire tribes believe it. Of course you are free to believe what you want, but this is a belief with major consequences for science, humanity and its future.

A lawsuit

Suppose the question of the origin of consciousness were the subject of case law. In such a fictitious case, consciousness is accused of masquerading as an objectively existent thing when, according to the indictment, it is just a hallucination of our neurons. Therefore, its right to exist as an original phenomenon is dubious and unfounded. A verdict would have major consequences for our society. Fortunately, there are facts to consider, both for and against consciousness as a product of our neurons. So let’s put consciousness in the dock, and ask the judge to make a legal decision based on scientifically established facts.

The prosecution:

Your Honor, if I get a blow on the head, I lose consciousness. If I drink a lot of alcohol, my consciousness will behave less well. When I get demented and my brain is affected I forget who I am and who my husband is. With a dose of LSD or DMT I experience the most fantastic hallucinations. These are all examples where the cohesion and/or the chemistry in my neurons is affected. I am my brain. My consciousness pretends to be real, but it is only an illusion.

The defense:

Your Honor, what has been put forth is by no means conclusive evidence that consciousness is produced by the brain. The correlation of the electrical behavior of neurons with thoughts and sensations has been demonstrated, but a correlation is not a causal relationship. The fact that many firefighters are usually present at a fire does not mean that their joint presence causes fires. There is no question that the brain plays a role in our consciousness, but it is arguable that the brain is only an instrument of consciousness, to be able to interact with the world, a receiver of awareness with a very advanced filtering capacity.

When I crash my iPhone, it stops functioning, but the content that was ready to be shown or to be played is still there. When I buy and install a new iPhone, this content can be revived again. Much to the amazement and unbelief of someone of the 19th century. Furthermore, fMRI research has shown that when people use drugs such as LSD and DMT, their neuronal activity decreases while the intensity of the hallucination increases. This contradicts the idea that the brain produces their intense experiences and directly supports the filter hypothesis. Finally, you can also ask yourself what it is that experiences that illusion. Those neurons?

The prosecution:

Your Honor, consciousness here apparently masquerades as something that exists outside the physical body and communicates with it in ways unknown to us. This is not possible given generally accepted scientific knowledge. As far as we know there is only matter and energy, and energy exchange can only take place between matter and other matter. No disembodied consciousness has ever been demonstrated in the laboratory. The Cartesian duality, a disembodied spirit in a physical body, is a misrepresentation born of outdated religious beliefs. I think the me, who thinks so, is itself an illusion.

The Judge:

Pardon me, this is an illusion addressing me? Well well, I surely want to hear more of the defence now.

The defence:

Your Honor, if the prosecutor thinks his thinking self is an illusion, I wonder why we should listen to an illusion. And that a disembodied consciousness has not been demonstrated in a laboratory is not proof of the non-existence of a such a phenomenon. The measuring instrument that would be needed is, as far as is known, not yet available. The only known way to perceive consciousness is consciousness. Current scientific knowledge is necessarily incomplete and based on materialistic models, the correctness of which in the past had to be repeatedly adjusted or even rejected. That energy exchange can only take place between matter is not a fact but an unproven dogma. Quantum physics, the most successful physical theory currently, seems to indicate strongly – by delayed choice experiments, among other things – that the observer creates the observed. Matter thus seems to become the illusion, not the perceiving consciousness. But it is not matter that is in the dock here to be defended.

There are excellently documented cases of individuals where no brain activity at all could be detected – flat EEG and ECG – while this person was observing the environment from a point of view different from the usual, that is, observing the world from somewhere outside the body. In support of this defense I offer here an excellent verified file of cases where brain and normal sensory perception could not function, but where the person concerned clearly consciously perceived and remembered details that were verified on correctness in a way that cannot be explained with a strict material model of reality. Something that means that strictly material theories are limited in their explanatory models and that full awareness at the time of the Near-Death experience cannot be a product of complex neuronal activity. A clear awareness going together with a cerebral cortex that is demonstrably no longer functioning cannot be reconciled with the idea of an emergent consciousness.

I want to present here also the case of the 44-year old man with a tiny brain. His case was published in The Lancet in 2007. The man seemed to function normally with a healthy IQ, but, as a result of hydroencephalitis, he walked around with a skull mainly filled with cerebrospinal fluid. See the x-ray for yourself.

The large black space is the fluid that built up in his brain. Feuillet et al./The Lancet.

Consciousness in this case can hardly be the result of an extremely complicated network of neurons that produce together a pattern within a pattern within a pattern.

Your Honor, finally I would like to add that if I were to say to my GP, “I think the me, who thinks this, is an illusion,” she would be concerned, write a referral to the psychiatrist and think probably, “Oh my, the poor wretch’. But when a neuroscientist says the same their audience apparently listens breathlessly. I beg you to remain critical.

The prosecution:

Your Honor, I hope you will exercise some patience in this matter and will wait until there is conclusive scientific evidence to show that consciousness is a product of the brain and thus is a hallucination. We are confident it will be produced within a few years fom now. That person with so few neurons still had quite a few, as you can see from the x-ray, so apparently not so many are needed for intelligent consciousness as we thought. That proof, that consciousness is a product of the neurons, will come, I assure you. That won’t be long. We are working on it with all our might. I implore you to have confidence in the promise of science and its devoted practitioners. In anticipation of the outcome we are already so sure of, I propose that consciousness should already be given the status of hallucination at this stage. This will, according to our belief, explain completely the emergence of consciousness from matter and, very important, in that way we only need matter to explain the world. Please, let’s not complicate matters more than necessary.

The defence:

Your Honor, it should be well known that at this time any active interest of scientists in consciousness as an independent primary cause that does not originate in matter, could be detrimental to their careers, even if they already had a Nobel Prize. Nevertheless, there is a steadily growing number of scientists who dare to defy this career risk. I therefore I ask you urgently not to base your verdict upon some vague promises, but only on documented and verified facts, even if they do not come from laboratories, and to assign consciousness rightly its status as an actual, independent and original entity. Thank you very much.

An ultra short introduction into quantum physics

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

Particles

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

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

Waves

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

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

Waves and particles

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

The quantum wave is a non-material wave

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

The role of consciousness cannot be ignored, Quantum Physics confirms despite opposition

As regular readers of my posts and of my book will know, I am of the opinion that quantum physics does not so much prove the primary role of consciousness, however that it certainly strongly confirms it. This is of course a controversial position. As long as accepted science continues to cling to the materialistic frame of mind, there will be scientists who wholeheartedly try to show this as wrong. They want to maintain their there-is-only-matter vision, although the attractiveness of that idea of reality, in which I am only a casual bystander, escapes me. On top of that, there are also people who take consciousness and its survival after physical death seriously, but they prefer to keep quantum physics out of the whole discussion about consciousness.

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle explained (?) by classic physics

The same goes for those two Finnish scientists who published a mathematical study in September 2020 in which Heisenberg’s uncertainty relation is a result of statistical fluctuations in space-time, somewhat comparable to the Brownian motion of microscopic particles in a liquid. These Finns, not quantum physicists by the way, would have shown that Heisenberg’s uncertainty relation is not a consequence of the measurement – the observation – of the particle, but is something that takes place entirely in the classical Newtonian world. One of the two authors, Jussi Lindgren, is not a mathematician but is a mathematically very educated person. This he states in his LinkedIn profile:

Part-time doctoral student at Aalto University School of Science, main interests in optimal control theory with applications in macroeconomics, physics and finance. Other academic interests include nuclear engineering and philosophy of science. Quantum physics, relativity and theoretical physics are key interests of mine as well.’

Their publication does indeed contain a impressive piece of complex mathematics. That is not particularly accessible to the layman who, despite his lack of mathematical skills, is interested in the true meaning of quantum physics.

Although my mathematical ability is not what it used to be, I would still like to add a critical note concerning their publication and especially their conclusion. Their conclusion is that the interpretation of quantum physics can be found within the classical Newtonian domain, ie hard objective scientific realism. The Heisenberg uncertainty relation says that there is a fundamental lower limit to the accuracy with which the position and speed of particles can be measured. According to these Finns, the particles in an experiment are permanently objectively present, but are controlled by statistical fluctuations in space-time that make it impossible to measure speed and position with an accuracy greater than Heisenberg’s principle allows. In fact, their approach is an excellently elaborated example of an the ensemble theory in quantum physics. Quantum ensemble theory is only about the statistical behavior of larger ensembles of particles and prefers to ignore the individual particle behavior itself. And therein lies the problem. Ignoring unwelcome facts is not science.

If we hadn’t had the Bell and the delayed choice experiments, I wouldn’t have been able to find good counter-arguments so easily. Their significance cannot be overstated. All Bell experiments have confirmed, with ever increasing confidence and without exception, that two (or more) particles, when they have a common history, are in such a way connected (entangled) that a measurement on one particle immediately makes the other particle exhibit the complementary property, while they did not have that property prior to the measurement. When you assume that those particles exist permanently and objectively, you cannot but assume then that the measured particle communicated faster than light to its entangled partner that it was measured, whereupon the partner ‘decided’ to show the complementary property. A property it did not have before measurement. Such an assumption, as far as I’m concerned, is far beyond what Occam’s Razor recommends us.

And then there are also (fortunately) the delayed choice experiments. These have shown very clearly that the idea of particles that are physically on their way from source to detector, and thus travel materially, cannot be correct, unless you make some rather far-fetched assumptions: about particles that can see into the future, about entangled photons that know that once the position of the other photon has been measured, they should adjust their behavior, showing or not showing interference or not, and, on top of that, retroactively in time. You are of course free to prefer the material view of the world, but then you have to be honest and accept intelligent and instantaneous behavior of elementary particles. Therefore I prefer the idea that it is ultimately the conscious observer who, when he observes an event, also records it for its history as a really happened event. My idea is that it is the conscious observer who is definitely not to be ignored if you really want to be scientific.

An experimental test of non-local realism

Last but not least, I would like to mention here the result of an experiment conducted at the University of Vienna in 2007, one that, in my opinion, has received little attention. In this experiment, the assumption that perception does not affect objective reality was actually tested. By this I do not mean that every measurement always disturbs that which is measured, that was already an accepted fact in classical physics, but that mere observation has an effect on the nature of the observed, although it does not physically touch what is observed. That is what is called a non-local influence.

In this experiment, a complete class of important non-local hidden variable hypotheses has been falsified. These theories presuppose realism. Permanently objectively existing matter. These hidden variable hypotheses propose mechanisms that would explain, for example, the entanglement of photons in Bell-type experiments with effects where they already possessed their polarization all along. They would not manifest it only at the moment of measurement.

The conclusion from this experiment is that we must take the result of a Bell-type experiment and its significance for what being real means, very seriously. We can no longer hope that science can repair the idea of objectively permanent matter of classic physics.

The Omkar Symbol

My book ‘Quantum Physics is NOT Weird’ contains much more information than the original Dutch title. One of this is about the Omkar, the Sanskrit name for Aum. When you study the description of this symbol in more detail the similarity with the idea of Cosmic Consciousness, that I unfold in chapter 12 – A possible Model, is striking.

It’s all in the mind. © P.J. van Leeuwen.

My model of Cosmic Consciousness, as described in my book, has a number of levels:

The four levels of Cosmic Consciousness

  1. Top Level: The Cosmic Consciousness – all-that-is.
  2. An unimaginably large number of individual fragments. Not all fragments are necessarily always conscious of the shared virtual reality or even conscious in the sense we attribute to it. The unconscious state can be seen as the state of deep sleep. Some fragments dream their individual dreams, others share a common dream.
  3. The shared memory. This is an all-encompassing storage of information. This is necessary to be able to share stories, history and experience. Storing any experience as information is responsible for the quantum collapse, the event that the non-physical quantum wave transitions into the observed object. From that moment on, that information is available to all individual participants in the virtual reality. This information store could be what is called the Akashic Records. It is probably not necessary for Cosmic Consciousness to have a dedicated memory to record and contain everything that happens in the virtual reality in its mind. Time is a human experience. It is conceivable that time as we know it does not exist and that all that has happened in the past and will happen in the future exists next to each other in a dynamic ‘now’. To retrieve the memory of a certain event, consciousness only has to ‘visit’ that event. This is reminiscent of Einstein’s block universe which is however static.
  4. The shared virtual reality dream. This is the universe that we experience in the waking state and as happening outside of us, seemingly opposed to our inner world of thoughts and experiences.

De five levels of the Omkar

The five different elements of the Omkar symbol for AUM have been beautifully described in the Mandukya Upanishad.

The AUM or OM character represents the experience of the infinite, the Cosmic Consciousness.
© Wilfredor – Wikipedia

Now compare the four levels of Cosmic Consciousness with those in the Symboldictionary description of the meaning of the Omkar decribed below.

  1. The first curve (upper left) in the Om symbol represents the waking state or the conscious mind experiencing the world.
  2. The second, almost closed, curve (right) is the dreaming state, the subtle world.
  3. The biggest curve (lower left) means the deep sleep state or the casual plane.
  4. The small curve (just below the dot at the top) signifies the absolute reality, atma, the self, or the pure consciousness.
  5. The crown (the dot) signifies absolute surrender.

When curves 4 and 5 are combined they are called the bindu and represent the awakened state.

When I compare with the four levels of the Cosmic Cons­ciousness above, then allright, it’s not an exact match, but it’s close, intriguingly close.

Quantum coherence and life

I’m reading ‘Living Rainbow H2O’ right now. Not an easy book despite the fact that the chapters are short and therefore easy to understand. The writer, Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, uses quite a few abbreviations after once introduced terms, such as CD for Coherent Domain. Something that calls for quite a bit of scrolling back. But it is endlessly inspiring.

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho has done in-depth research into what goes on inside living beings. In general, the molecular structures of cells and viruses are studied by electron microscopy. But then the preparations have already died by the preparation. To look at living organisms with the microscope, she applied polarized light microscopy, a technique that already existed but until then was only used to study minerals. To her surprise and delight, she saw all the colors of the rainbow in the living 1mm moving embryo of the fruit fly.

The Rainbow and the Worm

She saw life unfold in all its splendid colours. Those colors were not only beautiful to look at, but they also told her a lot about the physical processes that took place there. The living cell contains approximately 70% water and it turned out that the processes in and properties of water itself are together responsible for all those colors. Water in living cells behaves like a liquid crystal, which explains the polarization of light going through the cell. This liquid crystal behavior appears to be essential for the chemical processes that run in living cells. This is something that will never be visible with the electron microscope. Ultimately, she concludes that the special properties of water play a major role in the quantum processes that take place in the living cell. All life exhibits quantum coherence. It is the hallmark of life. According to Ho, we see the guiding intelligence of consciousness at work there.

What is quantum coherence?

The quantum wave is an excitation of an immaterial medium. In order to have waves, a the substance of the medium has to be coherent. Which is strange for an immaterial medium. It is striking that if you search for it on the internet you will come across direct relationships with living systems and health. I therefore devoted a special study to it, in which I also came to a better understanding of the efficiency of chlorophyll. I talk about that in my book. After I felt I had a picture of quantum coherence that I could also explain, I dedicated a special page to quantum coherence on my website to it. You can find that page here.

Living water

Ho links quantum coherence to life and consciousness. Quantum coherence is an expression of the consciousness that is behind all the life we perceive. In the interview below, she also points to her finding that water at room temperature is already about 40% quantum coherent. When I now try to picture the enormous amount of contiguous water on this planet that is thus 40% quantum coherent, I get an impression of an enormous awe-inspiring living intelligent being in which all life we know must someday arise. Take a walk along the beach, look out over the sea and muse on it.

A particularly persistent misunderstanding

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

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

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

Do we actively create our world?

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

Looking at the double slit experiment

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

Electrons fired at a double slit form an interference pattern.

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

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

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

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

Catching the particle in the slit

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

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

How we see the world as a collection of things

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

The simple hypothesis: observation manifests the particle

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

Therefore, try to follow the following five logical steps:

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

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

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

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

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

Someone has to hit the balls.

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

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

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

Quantum mechanics is statistics

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

The simplest explanation is usually the best

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