Rereading the excellent book ‘The Holographic Universe’ by Michael Talbot – originally published in 1991 and still a splendid and well-documented overview of scientifically based insights on the nature of reality – a passage in the chapter ‘Time out of Mind’ resonated with my idea that we not only do create matter by observing but also do create time. Read also my post ‘Schrödingers Stopwatch‘ on this site why I think that is so. Therefore, try to understand really what Talbot describes and what it implies. Talbot writes there:
"At the 1988 Annual Covention of the Parapsychological Association, Helmut Schmidt and Marilyn Schlitz announced that several experiments they had conducted that mind may be able to alter the past as well."
What had Schmidt and Schlitz found to justify their remarkable statement? Well, in one of their experiments, they had produced 1000 different sound tracks through a random computer process and copied these sound tracks onto 1000 empty audio cassettes. Each sound track consisted of a series of audio clips, each clip differing in duration and character. Half of these audio clips were producing tones that were pleasant to the ear, the other half were producing uncomfortable raw noise. The computer selection program randomly chose clips from a database of 100 different clips, 50 of them producing pleasant tones, 50 of them just unpleasant noise.
Important: The selection process was a 100% random process, and the duration of each clip was also the result of a random process, so the expectation is roughly a fifty-fifty distribution of pleasant/unpleasant clips, not only in their number but also in the length of each clip.
These 1000 cassettes – containing the copies of the prepared soundtracks – were then sent by mail to volunteers. These were instructed, while listening to the cassette, to try with their minds to lengthen the duration of the pleasant clips and to shorten the duration of the unpleasant ones. The original 1000 soundtracks were still residing – unlistened to – in the laboratory of Schmidt and Schlitz.
When the subjects had finished listening to the tape, they informed Schmidt and Schlitz, who then examined the original sound track, that still resided in their laboratory. They found that the original sound tracks, after the subjects had listened to the copies, contained significantly more pleasant tones than unpleasant noise. Their conclusion was that the subjects had influenced the production process and thus had changed the past. Talbot joins their view:
"In other words, it appeared that the subjects had psychokinetically reached back through time and had an effect on the randomized process from which their prerecorded cassettes had been made."
Talbot thus also interprets this – the influence of the minds of the subjects on the randomly chosen length and type of sound clips from a database with 50/50 divided pleasant and unpleasant sound types – as a real retrocausal effect, a psychokinetic backwards action in time, thus changing the past. However, I am here of a different opinion, one that has a lot to do with the non-locality in space and time of quantum entanglement.
It’s not found in the description in Talbot’s book if the random generation of the compilation of sound clips was controlled by a QRNG, but it is very likely that it was given Schmidt’s other experiments. I’m assuming such for the moment.
Quantum entanglement applies also to macro objects
Nothing in quantum physics dictates that entanglement applies only to elementary particles. Most quantum physicists accept the possibility of entangling macro objects.
When generating the sound tracks, the QRNG and the sound tracks became entangled. Most quantum physicists will agree to that. Copying the generated sound tracks on the cassettes created more entanglement, the contents of the cassettes became also entangled with the QRNG. What was recorded and copied onto the cassette had not been observed yet. The contents of the cassettes – the magnetization of the iron particles – were therefore still a non-collapsed quantum state wave. However, the physical material of the cassettes, the cassette including the recording tape, was visually observable, so the observable part of it was material. The cassettes were then unlistened to – their content not observed, so still entangled with the QRNG – sent to the subjects. So the entanglement of QRNG, soundtrack, ánd copy thereof, now stretched considerably over time and place.
It was only when listening that the entangled quantum state wave – which contained not only the probabilities of the magnetization of the iron particles on the cassette but also the probabilities of the electronic zeros and ones generated by the QRNG – collapsed in its entirety in time and space. Only then – through the observation by the subject – did the entire production history of the contents of the audiocassette along with its contents become history as an experienced reality. So, the full history was created by listening to the contents of the tape.
So the past was not really altered, that would be true retrocausality, but the past was created at the moment of listening – observation – by a conscious person. Finally, if Schmidt and Schlitz didn’t use a QRNG in their experiment, but some other not-quantum based device, then this only has even greater implications for our ideas about quantum entanglement.
Feeling the future
Finally, this reminds me also of the more recent experiments conducted by Daryl Bem in 2011. He also noticed an effect, where the past seems to be altered by an action in the present. Studying the answers after the test, had a measurable positive effect on the test results. Indeed, the improved test results are clearly already in the past. But in my opinion it is not the already fixed past that is altered. It’s more comprehensible to consider it as an action in the present that is influenced by an action in the future. This action in the future is already residing as a potential in the outside time and place existing entangled quantum state wave. The future exists already in some quantum state, it is however not fixed. Which explains why prophetic dreams do not always come true.
Some physicists are beginning to realize that quantum physics has much more to say about the world than that quantum mechanics is an unparalleled successful predictor of physical phenomena. The book ‘The One‘ by Heinrich Päs, professor of theoretical physics at TU Dortmund, is a very good example of this changing attitude. He concludes that quantum physics can only be fully understood if we accept the existence of a quantum universe – already ages ago described by many philosophers as The One – as the ground of the world we observe.
According to Päs, this quantum universe is the – immaterial yet real – version of Everett’s multiverse, but metaphysical instead of physically material. Päs states that the image presented to the public of endlessly splitting material universes is wrong, brought into the world by opponents of Everett’s idea. All these possible universes exist certainly, however as state waves that together, by their respective superpositions, form one single state wave, where all their oscillations cancel each other out. This composite superpositioned state wave of all possible universes together is The One, the unmoving immaterial ground of everything, where space, time and matter do not exist any more, not even as thought, but from which all observed diversity sprouts. This is the Tao of Lao Tze, here anew presented as an ultimate quantum metaphysical reality..
So what’s Everett’s idea, precisely?
To answer that, we first need to look at the greatest mystery that quantum physics confronts us with, the quantum collapse. The end of the – unlimited in space and time expanded (non-local) – immaterial state wave that, according to the accepted quantum physics interpretation, represents the probability to find the material particle at measurement when, precisely at that act of measurement, that wave ends abruptly. This end of that state wave is however not predicted by the mathematics describing the state wave, the Schrödinger equation. How the act of measurement triggers this abrupt transition of immaterial probabilities into matter is still not explained satisfactorily. The most commonly accepted explanation given is decoherence, which is actually not an explanation but only a verbal description of what seems to occur. Which is that a coherent phenomenon – the wave – suddenly loses its coherence as a connected whole, whereupon only one element of it – the in our measurement found particle – remains and becomes matter.
The attributed name – decoherence – doesn’t really explain how it works. However, Päs explains decoherence as an effect caused by the necessarily limited perspective of the observer on the composite quantum wave of the universe, that one single unmoving state wave in which the state waves of all possible universes are summarized, superpositioned in the language of the physicist. His explanation how a limited perspective of the observer hides the full unmoving universal state wave and presents us only one of its myriad components, does unfortunately not go into more detail.
A metaphor he offers as an explanation is that of a completely flat ocean surface that, observed from an overall perspective, shows no movement, but which in that motionlessness may as well be the result of an endless conjoining of an enormous number of waves, that together completely cancel each other out. Waves can cancel each other out, which is what we call destructive interference. This is applied in noise reduction headphones. From a much more restricted perspective then, the area of that ocean that we are able to observe becomes something that appears to be separated from the rest. I don’t understand fully how a perspective change will present to us the world of distinct objects, but it’s an interesting image and it can at least serve as a useful metaphor for a rough explanation of the idea. If you accept his idea, the decoherence of the state wave, happening on measurement, is not that the state wave does disappear into thin air on observation, but that it is just no longer observable from the limited perspective of the observer. The observer observes then only a small part of the full quantum universe. It’s still there, in its immaterial way, but we can’t ‘see’ it.
Everything becomes an observer
Which raises the questions of what an observer actually is, and – related – if an observer is really necessary for evoking the quantum collapse. Everett’s idea to do away with the observer and the quantum collapse is that every possibility exists in the state wave where ‘existence’ does not mean a material existence, but nevertheless a real existence. With this, the definition of what is real is changed in an important way. Accept this for the moment. According to Everett’s proposal, in the double-slit experiment with a single object shot at the slits, both possibilities exist in a real way – the object goes through the left slit and it goes also through the right slit – but both in their own separate immaterial realities. In each of these two realities exists an immaterial observer, who observes the only one outcome within his reality. Every observer is after all only able to observe the reality in which he exists. This eliminates the apparent necessity of a physically enigmatic influence of the observer on the state wave, triggering the quantum collapse of that wave, simply because there is no collapse at all. Instead, however, there are now two completely identical observers.
I hope that you will understand that Everett’s proposal does not impose any special immaterial requirements on the observer, such as perceptive awareness, a camera will suffice. The underlying condition for his idea is clearly that consciousness is an emergent property of the immaterial but nevertheless real brain of the observer. Both observers in both universes are (immaterially) identical to each other and therefore have an identical emergent consciousness, with their also identical emergent memories. The only difference is their observation at the time of the experiment. There splits their universe, with them in it, in two.
Wat is real, really?
This example of ‘bifurcating’ observers in their universes has been kept simple for reasons of explanation here, way simpler than in any practical real double-slit experiment. In practice, there are many, almost innumerable, possibilities in such an experiment where the observed object can manifest itself everywhere at any of the interference fringes on the back screen, and each possibility therefore means a split universe, each including a copy of the observer. I hope you see that the number of universes and observer copies can get quite substantial if not improbably gargantuan. Therefore, Päs stresses that all these possible universes are not material, even if they are real. The definition of what is real therefore needs to be adjusted. But in such an extended interpretion of reality, an illusion, even a dream, is also something real, although I think Päs does not want to stretch it that far.
Emergent consciousness as condition for the multiverse
Only by considering consciousness as an emergent property of the physical brain, this way of interpreting quantum physics is defensible, it is definitely a prerequisite for Everett’s idea, and this assumption is also stated repeatedly in Päs’s book: ‘Of course, as long as we stick to the reasonable hypothesis that our consciousness is confined within our brains, …’. After shortly considering the idea of primary consciousness as a possible cause of the quantum collapse like, for example, John von Neumann did – Päs joins the almost unanimous opinion of neurologists (Tononi et al.) that consciousness is an emergent product of the brain. He forgets that neurology is an ultimately reductionistic branch of science while he argues elsewhere in his book strongly against reductionism in physics.
Monism – not a new idea – to the rescue of physics?
The idea of the existence of an ultimate source of reality that is The One, that knows no separation, that contains no separate elements, that knows no time and space, is called monism. Päs spends an extensive and indeed fascinating chapter of his book on the history of monism. It is a view on reality – also known under the more common denominator Platonism – that can already be found in Greek antiquity with proponents like Thales, Plato, Parmenides, Pythagoras, and Philolaus. Later on, monism as an opponent of the monotheistic but dual presentation of the world that the Christian church steadfast portrays, repeatedly pops up in historical figures such as Giordano Bruno, Kepler, Copernicus, Meister Eckhart, John Scotius Eriugena, and much later on in time, Spinoza and Kierkegaard.
According to Päs, the strong reactionary suppression of the Catholic church of these clearly monistic ideas, through torture, pyre, excommunication and social exclusion, is the root cause of the fact that the notion of an immaterial ground of our reality is not very popular at the moment, certainly not among most physicists, although I do notice a growing change in attitude. Bohr and Heisenberg also played an important role in this suppression, with their idea of complementarity, by classifying the deeper reality of the state wave as not relevant to physical theories. They classified thus the contradictions, between for example particle and wave, as fundamental to nature, and thus not susceptible to further investigation. There is just no underlying reality to investigate. Case closed. Shut up and calculate.
According to Päs, this is the reason that physics, with its highly reductionistic approach, is currently in crisis. The investigation into the foundations of matter has so far been sought in the ever smaller dimensions of matter for which the necessary energies ánd finances are correspondingly increasing . The path of reductionist approach of nature, and what could be achieved by it, seems to have come to an end. It is therefore time, according to Päs, to introduce monism as a grounding principle in physics. Quantum physics and the quantum universe show us the way.
Entanglement as the ultimate creator of unity and universal love
According to Päs, entanglement is by far the most important factor in the quantum universe. It ensures a connection of everything with everything and confirms thus the unity of The One. Individual properties of the parts do cease to exist in favor of strongly interrelated properties. Interestingly, he quotes Neoplatonist John Scotus Eriugena in: ‘Just as entanglement unites the universe in quantum cosmology, for Eriugena it is “the pacific embrace of universal love” that “ gathers all things together into the indivisible unity which is what He Himself is, and holds them inseparably together”. Päs, apparently makes here a connection between quantum entanglement and what Eriugena calls universal love. That immediately reminds me of the NDE reports that are almost always about the overwhelming experience of universal love. This is found in almost all reports. That’s real, if only because of the amount of data.
You could protest now that you and your ex have a common history and must therefore be quantum physically entangled, but that there is no more love in your present relationship. Päs would say – I think – that your observation is of course a matter of your limited perspective.
Does Päs acknowledge the quantum physical reality of universal love? It might be different. By linking entanglement and universal love in this way, he also could reduce the latter to the first. Love would then become something that could be examined in the physicist’s laboratory as a phenomenon to which numbers could be assigned by means of measurement. He would then do the same that physicists have done with the actually incomprehensible mystique of forces at a distance, as we experience it with gravity, electricity and magnetism; reducing it to a field that can be measured and described mathematically and thus reduce the phenomenon to something that belongs to the material universe. Reïfication by reduction.
How could they know?
An important question then is, of course, how the ancient philosophers had already stumbled on this principle of the very substance of our reality without having the technical tools available to science today. The ancient Greeks had little more at their disposal than their own senses and their sharp minds. Päs just briefly goes into this and assumes that early and primitive humanity was capable of a more direct observation of The One than modern man, and that these insights were handed down from generation to generation. Which is very close to the assumption of the general validity of mystical lore.
Summary and comments
At the end of this book review, it is good to briefly summarize Päs’ ideas, supplemented with my summarized comments:
The perceived reality is an illusion and originates in the quantum universe. Certainly a remarkable statement by a physicist.
The multiverse is the quantum universe and it is not material. It’s one. That too is remarkable.
In the apparent split of the universe, the physical observer and his mind also split into several observer copies, each observing a single outcome. The quantum collapse is therefore the impression that every observer copy has because each one observes necessarily only a single result of the many possible outcomes. That means that an underlying assumption has to be made, that the mind is a product of the physical brain. That assumption is essential in this multiverse explanation of the quantum collapse. Accepting this, the large number of experiences of people leaving their body at the threat of an imminent physical demise, often verified by third parties, while being able to perceive and report the circumstances near their body correctly (the NDE), are either completely ignored or declared as illusion.
In this assumption, the observer is therefore just a physical object, so that actually every physical object becomes an observer. Which is also the conclusion that, among others, Carlo Rovelli, Sean Carrol and Thomas Hertog convey. Why certain objects, such as lenses, mirrors and even reflective crystals, are exempt from being observers is not clear to me.
But since, according to Päs, physical reality is an illusion, we as observer have an illusion that observes the world and thus creates also reciprocally the illusion of the observer. Whoever wants to believe something contorted like that, is fooling himself, as far as I’m concerned.
The quantum collapse is caused by decoherence which is, according to Päs, an effect of the observer’s limited perspective. The deeper mechanism of decoherence, and how it is triggered, remains unexplained.
Given the interference that the state wave always shows us when it travels through the double slit, all those universes must be able to interfere with each other. That can only be true if all those universes are themselves indeed non-material state waves. Then they can indeed interfere with each other, because they are waves. In this way, they are not material and therefore do not contain any material observer copies. How a non-material state wave can then produce emergent consciousness is pure speculation.
As Päs describes the quantum universe, he is already very close to the idea of the universal mind from which all reality comes, which is a description precisely matching those reported by many near-death experiences. He’s clearly switching his own perspective and he is almost there.
In short: A fascinating, instructive and in general honest book of the quest of a quantum physicist for the meaning and future of quantum physics and a much needed beginning of a farewell to the there-is-only-matter paradigm.
Given the wide possibility of doing psychokinesis experiments over the internet, it is perhaps now a good time to brush up Professor Helmut Schmidts PK experiment (Read my book: Quantum physics is NOT Weird: Chapter 6 / Seven Critical experiments / 2: PK experiments), as not only psychokinesis is shown there, but also quantum entanglement of macro-objects – I mean objects that we can see with our eyes and handle with our hands without having to use special instruments.
"The psychologist C. E. M. Hansel found flaws in all of Schmidt's experiments into clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis. Hansel found that necessary precautions were not taken, there was no presence of an observer or second-experimenter in any of the experiments, no counterchecking of the records and no separate machines used for high and low score attempts. There were weaknesses in the design of the experiments that did not rule out the possibility of trickery. There was little control of the experimenter and unsatisfactory features of the machine employed."
Unexpected experimental results, possible flaws in the design or control and the mere possibility of fraud may be a good reason for doing the research better, but not for right away implicating possible fraud. There are, of course, cases of fraud among scientists, especially if the pressure to publish is high, but there should be a clear reason for suspicion of fraud. It is certain that his publication did not help Schmidt in his career, on the contrary. Furthermore, acceptance of the phenomenon of mental influence on quantum generators – QRNG’s – has grown significantly because of the Global Consciousness Project.
As far as I am concerned, Schmidts results are well worth repeating and verifying at a time when his research could be more extensively done, with more advanced means and perhaps at a lower cost via the Internet. This is why I give here first a brief description of Schmidts research. Then I will explain why I think that this is a quantum entanglement effect between macro-objects and that it is important that such a phenomenon should be investigated properly.
Floppy’s as storage for the QRNG output
Schmidt already used quantum generators – QRNG’s – for his experiments in 1970-1980. The output of such a QRNG – the electronic versions of zeros and ones – was used to control red and green lights, 1 for red, 0 for green. Those zeros and ones were stored on floppy disks, initially for checking purposes only. The results and any statistical deviation could be analyzed quickly via the computer. In those years, the floppy was the portable storage device for computers. A thin flexible plastic disc with a magnetized layer and stored in some sort of square envelope. With the magnetic read and write head of a floppy disk drive, you could save and read data on it. It will become clear that it is important that a floppy disk is something you can pick up in your hands and that the magnetic layer is partly visible through the rounded opening in the ‘envelope’.
The output of a good designed QRNG is a completely random series of bits – according to the so spectacularly successful quantum physics. It is totally unpredictable whether a 0 or a 1 will be produced, but with a well-adjusted QRNG, on average, exactly as many zeros as ones will be produced. So, with the generation of a sufficiently large number of bits, the same amount of green and red flashes up to a predictable equal percentage of both can be easily produced.
Psychokinesis on QRNG’s
A subject was asked to try to mentally influence the red and green flashes controlled by the QRNG output that was also recorded on a floppy disk. More red than green, or vice versa. After a full influencing session, the output recorded on floppy was analyzed for deviations from normal behavior. Subjects proved able to produce deviations of 2% of the normal output. Well, this does not seem impressive, but if tests sessions show such a measurable deviation consistently, then a statistical analysis can be used to calculate the probability of this being a coincidence. In the analysis of the total of Schmidts experiments, chance of probability turned out to be 1 at 8000. So, this is serious.
Delayed influence on a QRNG
It is even more interesting to note that Schmidt also carried out delayed QRNG influence experiments. In this case, the red and green flash signals were not received directly from the QRNG, but by a detour and with a certain delay. The zeroes and ones recorded on floppy disk were then used at a later time to control the red and green flashes. So, in these delayed experiments, the signals for the red and green flashes were not received directly from the QRNG and before the moment of observation by a subject it was still unknown to everyone what series of bits of the QRNG precisely had been registered on the floppy disk.
So, now the results – the bits – of the QRNG were first magnetically recorded, something in which we generally assume that such an action is something definitive and trustworthy. When I save a file to my PC’s hard drive, I assume that it resides physically there, albeit in magnetised digital form, and generally I can rely on it for retrieval, and a backup – a digital copy – is of course always a good safety precaution. Although floppy disks are no longer used as storage media today, they were no less reliable than a modern hard drive or SSD. I still have floppy’s lying in a drawer from years ago and everything was just still on it when I recently checked some.
The floppy disk became entangled with the QRNG ..
To be safe, Schmidt also made a copy of such a floppy disk with QRNG output on it. Then the originals and their copies were stored in a safe, without their digital content being observed by anyone. By observing I mean viewing the contents on a computer screen or printing the output on paper. This is an important detail. After some time, be it days, weeks or months, such a written and labeled floppy was retreived from the safe, inserted into the floppy disk drive whereupon the output, the zeros and ones that were waiting on the floppy to be played, was used to control these red and green lights in the same fashion as before. A subject was instructed again then to try to influence the red-green ratio mentally. Which remarkably enough succeeded, with even the same success rate as with the non-delayed QRNG playback experiment. The explanation here is that the magnetization on the floppy had thus become quantum physically entangled with the QRNG. The subject caused, by observing the flashes, the physical manifestation of the output of the QRNG together with the physical magnetization on the floppy disk with an apparently retrocausal effect. That’s the way I see it – quantum physically.
… ánd with the copy
After such an experiment, there was still an unused copy left in the safe. When this unused copy was then used in another mental influence pk experiment, it turned out that a subject could not mentally influence its contents any more. A subject no longer achieved any result with his mental efforts, different from the output of the primary floppy disk. This is in itself what should be expected of digital copies. I also expect this with a backup of the original files on my PC. On the copy, of course, should exist exactly the same series of zeros and ones as resided on the already by a subject observed original series.
Here, in my opinion, we clearly see the entanglement of macro-objects. The magnetic registration on the original floppy had thus become entangled with the QRNG. Only when ‘observing’ the contents of the floppy, via the flashing green and red lights, did the so-called quantum collapse or state wave reduction occur – apparently backwards in time. So even though you could just have the physical floppy disk in your hands and even see part of the magnetised surface, the magnetisation on it was still in the quantum wave state until the stored bits were manifested by a subject observing those red and green lights.
Entangled floppy disks
So, the copy floppy disk had also become entangled with the primary floppy disk ánd with the QRNG. Both floppy disks and QRNG were in the unmanifested quantum state wave condition while the floppy disks were waiting in the safe until the magnetic content of one of the floppy’s was observed. At that moment, the quantum collapse of the quantum state wave of the QRNG and the primary floppy disk took place as well as that of the copy. I think that this is a wonderful and convincing example – recorded in an experiment – of entanglement of several macro-objects visible to the naked eye.
I say ‘apparently’ because we automatically assume that the past is something that really extends into the time dimension and that the zeros and ones that Schmidt’s QRNG produced – after their historical assessment by the perception of the subject – suddenly existed physically in that landscape, that is the past time. This is reminiscent of Einsteins static universe, which we traverse traveling along our individual world lines. Einstein believed deeply in this static universe where everything is essentially predictable. Retrocausality, a backward action in time, would then mean a change somewhere in such a static universe. That kind of retrocausality – retroactivity in time – evokes time paradoxes, such as preventing that superaccidental first encounter of your parents so that you were not born, which means you do not exist and cannot prevent their encounter, which means you were born, etc.
So, I see retrocausality somewhat differently. Not only matter but also the associated time is created by observation. I have already described this phenomenon in ‘Schrödingers Stopwatch‘. This is – rather subtly – something different from retroactivity in time. It is the creation of history by observation in the only moment that ontologically speaking really exists, in THE NOW. I have sometimes called it the creative accounting act of the universe. Once the manifestation has occurred by observation, history is fixed from that moment on and can no longer be modified. History is basically remembrance and re-membering happens in THE NOW. That, of course, immediately raises the fascinating question of what remembrance is.
Proposal for an experiment
I believe that this is an experiment that is perfectly suited to be carried out on a larger scale in a somewhat modified form via the Internet. Of course, the requirements of thoroughness, integrity in registration and control by independent second observers must be rigorously met, but these are in fact normal requirements for any real experiment. This could be a task for the an organisation that is dedicated to sound scientific parapsychological research – such as IONS – in cooperation with a quantum physicist, favorably one who is not believing too firmly in the multiverse. The demonstration of multiple quantum entanglement on that scale could be worth a Nobel Prize.