World Science Scholars

1.6 Discussion

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    • There are other interpretations of quantum mechanics with different explanations for the physical meaning of superpositions. What do you think of the prevailing view that human observation makes reality definite? How might you challenge this view?

    • It seems, on opening the box with the cat, that photons interact with the superposition to give a definite state of alive or dead. We can investigate whether introduction of a stream of only neutrinos into the box would give a definite state (detected by presence or absence of sounds from the cat or its tripping on something).

      • I think it’s the presence of the observer, not light, that manifests a reality

    • If the question is about how consciousness seems to play a role, I think that’s nonsense. Consciousness is just a way for us to come in possession of an information and become aware of it, but that information we get has already happened “objectively” – it was given by a physical interaction.

    • If a tree falls in the forest and nobody sees it or hears it did it actually fall? – very Zen! But I could always go for a walk in the woods and take a look, but I don’t believe that my observation would have had any actual influence.

    • Intuitively, pilot wave theory just makes more sense to me.

    • As consciousness is my only interface with the physical universe, I cannot deny that it may have unfathomable effects. Perhaps like a video game or the ads/cft 2d control mechanism, reality only rezzes up when I’m there to observe it. This was an excellent course. Very thought provoking. Thank you.

      • I understood exactly the same. It reminds me of the double slit experiment

    • I have never been comfortable that somehow a human observation “collapses” the wave function. Just a matter of human perception perhaps? What if it is observed by something else – something we are unaware of that may be incapable of understanding, say an insect. Does it still become definite? It seems it is only definite within the ability of the perceiver.

      • Hi Paul,

        It’s not the human’s observation that collapses the wavefunction. It is the photons that interact with the system that collapse it. This is the case with the double slit experiment too when without the measurement, the electrons didn’t seem to diffract however once it was being measured. It behaved differently once the light (measurement) was interacting with it.

        So it is not consciousness that determines the state of the system but actually the fact that the system is being measured.

        • In the double slit experiment, it’s not light but the observing sensor that collapses the wave function into one reality!

    • Panpsychism “may” be the answer.

    • The prevailing view of reality asserts that, things are “real” only when they are observed, without an observer we cannot talk about a “reality”. However we learned from Einstein’s theory of special relativity basically there may be two different “realities” of the same phenomena, depending on the frame of reference. It is true that “frame of reference” refers to an observer. And “quantum superposition” cannot be observed directly in that sense. However, it is observed in an indirect manner, by the double slit experiment and interference patterns of emitted light. In the “measurement effect problem”, the problem is not that the superposition cannot be observed directly, or we can measure the would-be “directly observed state” only as a set of probabilities. The problem may be that we don’t focus on “the effect of observation”, by asking “Why do we observe a particle instead of a wave?” or “Could this be about our state of observation, our expectations, our cognitive facilities”? However, these questions trascends the defined boundaries of physics and calls for the attention of neuroscience, biophysics and biochemistry, quantum chemistry as well.

      • If a particle is steady (not in motion), floating somewhere, does it make sense to talk about superposition and probability of finding the particle in a place x or y?
        If a particle is in continuous motion, why does it make sense to use probability to estimate/calculate its position? If it is in constant moving, it doesn’t have a position, but a trajectory, a path, therefore wouldn’t it be wrong to talk about and calculate a position?
        When you say that the electrons are in quantum superposition states, are you talking about the single specific electron? How sure can we be that we are observing the same electron?

    • If a particle changes its position from one to other and vice-versa particle can be observed at both places

    • Agreed,Lal Krishna.

    • I think they merely follow a path in space and time that is less intuitive to us, and what we call its position is where its presence is boldest to our observation, but it can really cover space and time in ways that are irregular to our everyday understandings, which is exactly where gravity is gonna come in with how it modulates an object’s ability to move through space and time.

    • Humans are just another quantum system and hold no special place in causing collapse. As far as cat in box , it is in an quantum environment that has constant interactions before the box is open so the wave function collapse is based upon multitude of interactions and will have occurred before we open box. When we open box we do not cause anything but become consciously aware of what has happened— we did not cause anything.

    • The perceiver is the perceived.

      When a tree falls in the forest, does it make any sound if none are around to hear it?

      The moon Io of Jupiter has pictures that are likely touched up. They seem to show flows of what seems brass but may be gold. If there is gold on Io, did it exist before it was seen?

      Change the energy and the manifestation of the mass changes. So change the perception and the perceived changes.

      Does consciousness alone allow for existance or do things exist before being perceived? Does consciousness create reality?

      Some cultures are better than others at flowing with this idea.

    • This lecture is very informative.
      Great effort
      Can you please get the explanation for question 1.3
      Thank You

    • I don’t think that observation “collapses” the wave; rather. Why? Because there are probabilities only before the observation. How do we come up with these probabilities? We “collapse” plenty of waves. It just so happens that T1 (Trial 1) when we collapse the wave, the particle is seen to be in place 1; the second time, T2, it’s seen in place 2, etc. We’re still seeing only one part of “reality;” we’re seeing only the collapse of the wave at that particular trial.

    • I thinks as we are looking into 3-dimensional world, we see what the real position of the object is irrespective of its quantum property. According to the De-Broglie equation every single particle in this universe behaves like a wave. Now the question arises are we human collapsing the nature of the object. Ans: obviously Not we are observing it through our abilities and our human sense. What is happens to the quantum level is far different than the physical world we are living on.

    • While the prevailing view suggests that human observation makes reality definite, alternative interpretations of quantum mechanics and the existence of independent phenomena challenge this notion. It is important to remain open to different perspectives and ongoing scientific inquiry to further explore the nature of reality. I personally feel we have very limited knowledge about how things work in quantum scales. As, several experiments such as delayed-choice experiments and quantum eraser experiments, have shown that the nature of observation can have retroactive effects on the past behavior of quantum particles. These results suggest that the act of observation alone may not be solely responsible for definiteness in reality. So, further development of quantum mechanics is required to answer the fundamental questions like why certain properties exist in quantum mechanics.

    • If we take Schrödinger’s cat as an example, we can agree that, on one side, yes, human observation will make reality definite, as before the box was opened, the cat was in a state where it was both alive and dead. Although this might be true, one may argue that it was not the observation that defined the state of the cat, but rather the state of the cat was already defined, and we only discovered that fact. We could say the same about human observation in quantum superposition. Observation will show us when an object ‘collapses’ in a certain position, and after a few observations, we could determine the various positions in which this object could be, making it a definite reality. However, that object’s existence is already defined in those positions, and human observation will not change that; we will only acknowledge its situation.

    • great

    • I agree with those who say that human consciousness is NOT required to “collapse a wavefunction,” all that is required is for a measurement to occur. For ANY quantum particle that exists in a superposition, when it becomes entangled with a larger, non-quantum sized system, THIS counts as a “measurement.” No human brain, or even any type of a nervous system is required, if you follow the so called “Many Worlds” interpretation of QM.

    • It’s one thing for me to observe an experiment without a tool that requires feedback for it. With the naked eye, for example, I do not believe that interference occurs, but when light or another object hits, yes, I believe that interference occurs in the measurement. In the case of the cat, as we only have to open the box, we can only expect one or the other state, but never both.

    • In a field of infinite possibilities, the consciousness of an observer collapses the wave function and makes only one possibility real. It’s nothing physical or objective out there, it’s consciousness.

    • If an experiment uses detectors and measuring devices rather than a human observer then does consciousness play a role? And if consciousness does play a role then what if an animal observes? Does their consciousness count?

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