Nonlocality in Quantum Physics

 

The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2022 was awarded to three physicists, Alain Aspect, John Clauser, and Anton Zeilinger, for their work on Nonlocality. What is Nonlocality, other than something that distinguishes physics from real estate?

Nonlocality is a fundamental property of Quantum theory. Something that happens in one place directly and instantly affects something elsewhere. This is not the propagation of effects, like the beating of a butterfly’s wings here affecting the price of eggs in China, with a long causal chain in between those events. This is direct and “spooky action at a distance” (as characterized by Einstein). It involves what is called “entanglement.” For example, a pair of photons created in a quantum event (that are thus “entangled”) might travel away from the event of their creation in opposite direction with opposite polarizations. Their status is described by the wave equation describing the quantum event, which describes a superimposition of probabilities, that says that both photons have both polarizations simultaneously. When the polarization of one photon is detected via a conscious observation (measurement), the other photon, though it be many light years distant, has its polarization instantly fixed, though there is no physical contact between the photons at the time of measurement. This is spooky action at a distance. This is quantum entanglement. This is Nonlocality.

From the beginning of the Quantum era (early 20th century), Nonlocality was a controversial concept. Einstein cited Nonlocality (which was originally called the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox) as one of the reasons he thought Quantum mechanics couldn’t be correct. He correctly pointed out that the upper limit of information transfer in the Universe is the speed of light, as demonstrated in his Special Relativity; thus, the instantaneous communication over large distances reflected by Nonlocality could not possibly occur. He suggested the possibility of “hidden variables” somewhere in the formulation of Quantum mechanics. Louis de Broglie postulated a “pilot wave” theory to make Quantum theory compatible with classical physics and answer Einstein’s objection. That idea never took off, though it was later elaborated by David Bohm (see his book, “Wholeness and the Implicate Order”) and still has some advocates, with modification.

Erwin Schrödinger, who had developed the wave formulation of Quantum Mechanics, was perplexed by Nonlocality, particularly with the interaction of conscious measurement and the wave equation of a quantum system. He presented his famous thought experiment of the ‘cat-in-the-box’ to show how consciousness collapses the wave equation. A cat is placed in a closed box, with a system involving a single radioactive atom, a geiger counter, and a flask of poison gas, so positioned that if the radioactive atom decays, the geiger counter detects it, which triggers the release of the poison gas and the cat dies. The scientist “collapses” the wave equation describing the system and creates the denouement of the experiment. Prior to the conscious observation (measurement), the wave equation describes a superimposition of probabilities, with both possibilities extant simultaneously until the observation is made. Thus the wave equation describes the atom as both decayed and undecayed with 50:50 probability of each, with the cat as both alive and dead, until the box is opened and the observation is made. The conscious observation creates the outcome of the quantum system.

The conscious interaction with the quantum system, affecting its outcome (the so-called “measurement problem”), drove Schrödinger into a sort of Vedantic pan-psychic view; he became something of a mystic, concluding that the only reality is Consciousness. That Consciousness interacts with the wave equation of a quantum system remains an unexplained conundrum of quantum physics.

Early in the Quantum era, different physicists had different views of Nonlocality as it related to conscious observation. Bohr more or less dismissed the consciousness/nonlocality relationship. John von Neumann and Eugene Wigner insisted on its fundamental and essential part of Quantum mechanics. Heisenberg was somewhere in between the two poles, and it appears was largely responsible for what came to be called the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, e.g., a pragmatic approach to understanding Quantum mechanics with experimental approaches that could be dealt with, while not entirely dismissing the more mystical view of consciousness/quantum interactions.

While much was written of various nature on this conundrum (“Dancing Wu Li Masters,” The Tao of Physics,” “Who’s Afraid of Schrödinger’s Cat,” “Wholeness and the Implicate Order,” “The Conscious Universe,” “The Interpretation of Quantum Physics”), the perspectives have ranged from the hardcore mechanical/materialistic/deterministic to the vague and unquantifiable. It remains that conscious observation/measurement interacts with the quantum world ineluctably. This has been demonstrated in double-slit experiments and arrays of half-silvered mirrors, in which observed quantum particles behave very differently than unobserved quantum particles. An unobserved photon, traversing an array of half-silvered mirrors to arrive at a target, takes every possible path simultaneously; an observed photon takes a single path. Why or how this happens remains unexplained. That a photon seems to “know” a prior, in an almost time-nonlocality type way, what it is about to encounter before it actually traverses the array, is simply not explained, or explainable. That is why Richard Feynman said, and it remains true today: Nobody understands Quantum Mechanics.

In the 1950s, as the Cold War was raging, a physics grad student, Hugh Everett, training at Princeton with the great John Wheeler (who developed the design of the first nuclear bomb, Ivy Mike, detonated at the Enewetak Atoll on November 1, 1952, with a 10.4 megaton yield), proposed his “Many Worlds” hypothesis of the collapse of the wave equation. The physics world paid a sort of a price for more or less neglecting the consciousness/quantum/measurement conundrum highlighted by Schrödinger, as this was indeed a far-fetched idea that appeared to egregiously violate all ideas of mass and energy conservation (how could the entire mass and energy of the Universe be instantly duplicated by a single quantum observation?).

Everett’s hypothesis was that the Universe split with the observed “collapse” of the wave equation into separate Universes, each in a separate but non-interacting reality, so that instead of just the collapse of the wave equation giving a particular outcome to the quantum process in our Universe, both possible outcomes occurred in those separate Universes. This meant that with every observation collapsing a wave equation, two universes came into being where only one had previously existed.

Wheeler, who was something of a visionary, gave some credence to the idea. Wheeler had proposed his “single electron” theory of the Universe, that the entire Universe was actually a single electron traveling forward (electron) and backward (positron) in team, such that any observation detecting an electron was a slice through space-time reflecting the local detection of the single universal electron.

Wheeler also authored a rather incredible Strong Anthropic Principle idea that we conscious observers participated in the creation process of the reality of the Universe–a Very Strong Anthropic Principle, indeed. And his Dewitt-Wheeler equation formed the basis of the idea of a Wave Equation of the Universe. So he was no stranger to some of the more remarkable ideas in physics (although some of his ideas were discarded by other physicists).

But, when Wheeler provided a copy of Everett’s dissertation to Bohr (with whom Wheeler had worked). Bohr panned the idea. Wheeler was a bit shaken, asked Everett to condense his dissertation (entitled “On the Foundations of Quantum Physics”). Everett did, to roughly a quarter of the original length, and received his Ph.D. in 1957. He promptly abandoned academic physics and worked on cold war strategies (such as Mutual Assured Destruction–Wheeler, his professor, had worked on the Manhattan Project and had been deeply involved in the development of atomic and nuclear weapons, and Everett wound up working on the strategy of their use in deference). So, the Many Worlds Hypothesis was born out of the conundrum of the “measurement problem,’ the collapse of the quantum wave equation by conscious observation.

The “many worlds hypothesis” of quantum mechanics remains an intriguing concept in the popular imagination. Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist, has worked extensively on the idea, working out the mathematical and physical implications. He did so in his position holding the Feynman chair at Cal Tech. That the Many Worlds Hypothesis, and the implications for conscious interaction with the quantum cosmos, remains a fraught topic, is suggested by the fact that Cal Tech recently asked Carroll to leave (Carroll had previously been denied tenure at the University of Chicago, prior to taking the Feynman chair at Cal Tech). Not to worry, Carroll is going to Johns Hopkins, a university that appears more open to his rather philosophical approach to theoretical physics. At Hopkins, he is a Homewood Professor of Natural Philosophy. Carroll is a confirmed atheist, who complains that too many scientists have a religious orientation!

In the 1960s, John Bell, an Irish physicist (and atheist), thought about this question of Nonlocality, and came up with a mathematical/statistical approach for experimental testing of Nonlocality with entangled quantum particles. He did this work in his spare time. His day job was at CERN, where he was a notable contributor to that institution. He published his idea, which came to be called Bell’s Theorem or Bell’s Inequality, in a minor publication that quickly went out of print. His point seemed to be to not draw attention to the fact that he worked on such things in his spare time. It was not a topic for polite conversation in physics.

Nevertheless, his idea was picked up by others, including the above-mentioned 2022 Nobel Laureates. Clauser, in particular, recounts being told, when he announced his intention to experimentally investigate Nonlocality, that this would destroy his career in physics. He also says that Richard Feynman was disdainful of his choice of research topic, apparently because he believed Nonlocality was essentially self-evident in quantum physics and it was somewhat cheeky to attempt to investigate it experimentally.

Perhaps Feynman feared that his statement that no one understands quantum mechanics would be invalidated. But, even with the Nobel recognition of these investigators of Nonlocality, no explanation for it exists. But the research done by the Laureates does, as far as it goes, confirm the reality of Nonlocality. And it has provided a technical basis for manipulating entangled quantum particles, which is essential for quantum computing. And the interest in quantum computing appears to be the reason why the Nobel committee finally (50 years after the fact regarding some of this research, that was done as early as the late 1960s to early 1970s) chose to recognize this work. The reason for the delay, as noted, is due to the impolitic (at least for serious physicists) nature of the topic. It remains an embarrassment to physics, inasmuch as no explanation of the phenomenon is forthcoming. It just is. A glaring, gaping hole in physical science. And particularly embarrassing because it is at the interface of the interaction of consciousness and the material world.

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  1. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Nanocelt TheContrarian:

    An unobserved photon, traversing an array of half silvered mirrors to arrive at a target, takes every possible path simultaneously; an observed photon takes a single path. Why or how this happens remains unexplained. That a photon seems to “know” a prior, in an almost time-nonlocality type way, what it is about to encounter before it actually traverses the array, is simply not explained, or explainable.

    I don’t understand why this is thought to be such a big deal. I figure it just means them little guys are extended in time.  My arm is extended in space because it occupies more than one point of space, and a thing extended in time would occupy more than one moment of time.

    When an extended thing is in motion, an event at its front end effects what happens at its back end: When my fist hits the wall, my elbow stops moving.

    If a thing is extended in time, then an action at its front end as it travels through time would effect its back end: What we do with the little photon at 12 noon effects what it was doing a few moments earlier.

    In this way, the present effects the past, but it’s not any weirder than my fist affecting my elbow.

    But is the idea that small particles are extended in time weird?  Not that I know of.  The idea of things being extended in time isn’t particularly weird or original; you can get it from reading Augustine!

    That is why Richard Feynman said, and it remains true today:  Nobody understands Quantum Mechanics.

    I dig.

    • #1
  2. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian:

    An unobserved photon, traversing an array of half silvered mirrors to arrive at a target, takes every possible path simultaneously; an observed photon takes a single path. Why or how this happens remains unexplained. That a photon seems to “know” a prior, in an almost time-nonlocality type way, what it is about to encounter before it actually traverses the array, is simply not explained, or explainable.

    I don’t understand why this is thought to be such a big deal. I figure it just means them little guys are extended in time. My arm is extended in space because it occupies more than one point of space, and a thing extended in time would occupy more than one moment of time.

    When an extended thing is in motion, an event at its front end effects what happens at its back end: When my fist hits the wall, my elbow stops moving.

    If a thing is extended in time, then an action at its front end as it travels through time would effect its back end: What we do with the little photon at 12 noon effects what it was doing a few moments earlier.

    In this way, the present effects the past, but it’s not any weirder than my fist affecting my elbow.

    But is the idea that small particles are extended in time weird? Not that I know of. The idea of things being extended in time isn’t particularly weird or original; you can get it from reading Augustine!

    That is why Richard Feynman said, and it remains true today: Nobody understands Quantum Mechanics.

    I dig.

    The idea that a conscious observation of a single photon instantaneously determines the condition of another photon up to 15 billion light years away that has no direct physical contact or connection otherwise than quantum entanglement is a little much don’t you think? I don’t believe Augustine specifically or directly addressed this idea.

    • #2
  3. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian:

    An unobserved photon, traversing an array of half silvered mirrors to arrive at a target, takes every possible path simultaneously; an observed photon takes a single path. Why or how this happens remains unexplained. That a photon seems to “know” a prior, in an almost time-nonlocality type way, what it is about to encounter before it actually traverses the array, is simply not explained, or explainable.

    I don’t understand why this is thought to be such a big deal. I figure it just means them little guys are extended in time. My arm is extended in space because it occupies more than one point of space, and a thing extended in time would occupy more than one moment of time.

    When an extended thing is in motion, an event at its front end effects what happens at its back end: When my fist hits the wall, my elbow stops moving.

    If a thing is extended in time, then an action at its front end as it travels through time would effect its back end: What we do with the little photon at 12 noon effects what it was doing a few moments earlier.

    In this way, the present effects the past, but it’s not any weirder than my fist affecting my elbow.

    But is the idea that small particles are extended in time weird? Not that I know of. The idea of things being extended in time isn’t particularly weird or original; you can get it from reading Augustine!

    That is why Richard Feynman said, and it remains true today: Nobody understands Quantum Mechanics.

    I dig.

    The idea that a conscious observation of a single photon instantaneously determines the condition of another photon up to 15 billion light years away that has no direct physical contact or connection otherwise than quantum entanglement is a little much don’t you think?

    Oh, yeah. I don’t have even an inkling of a crazy idea that could even begin to explain quantum entanglement.

    I don’t believe Augustine specifically or directly addressed this idea.

    Not that I know of!

    • #3
  4. GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms Reagan
    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms
    @GLDIII

    Interesting timing for this post. I just watched this 2 part documentary on trying to explain in lay terms the concept of entanglement and why it so disturbs the early 20th century physicists.

    https://www.amazon.com/The-Secrets-of-Quantum-Physics/dp/B081W44NZP

    • #4
  5. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Nanocelt TheContrarian: When the polarization of one photon is detected via a conscious observation (measurement), the other photon, though it be many light years distant, has its polarization instantly fixed

    A human being becoming conscious of something causes the collapse, absent any physical event?  Absent any physical measurement event?

    I was taught that measurement requires interaction with the thing being observed (like hitting an electron with a photon to measure its position and momentum).

    I was never taught that any theory of physical phenomena that even mentioned the ability of one observer to detect the consciousness of another.  Is consciousness a state variable according to some law of physics that I have never read about?

    • #5
  6. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    With an entangled pair of photons, detecting the polarization of one of the photons (a conscious observation) instantly fixes the polarization of the other photon so that the observer knows that polarization instantly even if the other photon of the is many light years away, with no other physical contact with the first photon or the observer. Einstein pointed out that that violates special relativity which says that information transfer cannot exceed the speed of light—spooky action at a distance. The conscious observation(measurement) conundrum was pointed out by Schrödinger. Bohr tried to ignore that conundrum. Wigner insisted that it was a reality. It drove Schrödinger into a pan psychic view of reality. There is no extant scientific or philosophical answer to that conundrum.

    • #6
  7. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Ma… (View Comment):

    Interesting timing for this post. I just watched this 2 part documentary on trying to explain in lay terms the concept of entanglement and why it so disturbs the early 20th century physicists.

    https://www.amazon.com/The-Secrets-of-Quantum-Physics/dp/B081W44NZP

    The early quantum physicists were much less adept at ignoring the remarkable implications of the issue than current physicists, but the question is just as open and unanswered now as it was then. Even with the notoriety that comes with the Nobel committee recognizing non-locality, physicists will continue to downplay, minimize, or ignore the problem. But will loudly and proudly trumpet their successes in quantum computing.

    • #7
  8. Metalheaddoc Member
    Metalheaddoc
    @Metalheaddoc

    That’s like if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around, does it make a sound? There is always someone around. 

    Why do I have to be the one observing the photon? What is Marvin the Martian is looking at the same photon with a telescope already? What if a dog is looking at the photon? What if a fly is observing the photon? What if someone else is observing the partner photon and therefore fixing my photon? The photon has no way of knowing it is being observed. Isn’t it arrogant  of the observer in thinking that he/she/ze/it is the only one observing the photon and therefore fixing it’s properties?

    What if I have an infrared camera and can look inside Shrodinger’s box and can determine that the cat is alive? Have I then forced the radioactive atom to not decay? 

    None of this makes sense. 

    • #8
  9. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    Metalheaddoc (View Comment):

    That’s like if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around, does it make a sound? There is always someone around.

    Why do I have to be the one observing the photon? What is Marvin the Martian is looking at the same photon with a telescope already? What if a dog is looking at the photon? What if a fly is observing the photon? What if someone else is observing the partner photon and therefore fixing my photon? The photon has no way of knowing it is being observed. Isn’t it arrogant of the observer in thinking that he/she/ze/it is the only one observing the photon and therefore fixing it’s properties?

    What if I have an infrared camera and can look inside Shrodinger’s box and can determine that the cat is alive? Have I then forced the radioactive atom to not decay?

    None of this makes sense.

    There is what is called a Quantum “No Xerox” rule, that once a quantum system is observed, and the wave equation collapsed, that is it. That is an indelible event in the cosmos, for all time. The information encoded in that event is non eradicable and forever a part of the Universe. So who ever does the observing has contributed to the ongoing creation/history of the Universe. As the Universe originated in a Quantum Event (who observed that event, to collapse the wave equation to initiate the origin of the Universe?), one might think that the entirety of the Universe is quantumly entangled, and so it may be. John Wheeler more or less originated the idea of the Wave Equation of the Universe, and Hawking ran with that idea. So the Universe exists as a superimposition of virtually infinite possibilities. What sustains it?  A clue from Paul???:  “He sustains the Universe by the Word (Logos? Consciousness?) of His power”.

    My point is that none of it makes any sense in our materialist conception of the Cosmos. And, as the Higgs Boson has been identified, and Gravitational waves observed (meaning that Gravity is a Quantum Field), it is virtually now beyond dispute that the Cosmos is a Quantum Entity, and that Quantum theory is the more fundamental theory, vs General Relativity; that the latter is a derivation of the former, and that we exist in a Quantum Universe. Which we don’t understand. Which boggles our minds, including the minds of all the scientists who study it. As I said, there is a vast gap in our understanding. Consider that Physicists can account for only 4% of the matter and energy in the Cosmos. That is, we are 96% ignorant of what it is that comprises the Cosmos. Can such a deficiency of knowledge have any claim to finality?  Are we to believe that the Scientists are, as they more or less present themselves to be, in any position to tell us in what sort of a Cosmos we exist?

    • #9
  10. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    Metalheaddoc (View Comment):

    That’s like if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around, does it make a sound? There is always someone around.

    Why do I have to be the one observing the photon? What is Marvin the Martian is looking at the same photon with a telescope already? What if a dog is looking at the photon? What if a fly is observing the photon? What if someone else is observing the partner photon and therefore fixing my photon? The photon has no way of knowing it is being observed. Isn’t it arrogant of the observer in thinking that he/she/ze/it is the only one observing the photon and therefore fixing it’s properties?

    What if I have an infrared camera and can look inside Shrodinger’s box and can determine that the cat is alive? Have I then forced the radioactive atom to not decay?

    None of this makes sense.

    “Our knowledge is a torch of smokey pine

    That lights the pathway but one step ahead

    Across of void of mystery and dread.

    Bid then the tender light of faith to shine

    By which alone the mortal mind is led

    Unto the thinking of the thought divine.”

    Santayana

    • #10
  11. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):
    With an entangled pair of photons, detecting the polarization of one of the photons (a conscious observation) instantly fixes the polarization of the other photon so that the observer knows that polarization instantly even if the other photon of the is many light years away, with no other physical contact with the first photon or the observer.

    I think that’s a poor statement of the observations and the theory. Better to say that the wavefunction collapses to a definite state with a single value of the observable upon measurement. Until that happens, neither photon has a definite position. It’s a mistake to think that the measurement “finds” one photon and the other follows suit – that causality does not exist. I think it’s an error to assume that it does.

    • #11
  12. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Regarding this…

    Nanocelt TheContrarian: When the polarization of one photon is detected via a conscious observation (measurement), the other photon, though it be many light years distant, has its polarization instantly fixed

    Maybe so.  I’m not a physicist.

    But I will tell you what I believe to be true, even so.

    I believe that the implied proposition that physicists have discovered this causal law…

    A human’s mental state of knowing can be the cause of a physical fact, such as the polarization of some  photon going from having a superposition of two values to having just one.

    is nothing but a pop science narrative that leads the general public to a false understanding of the scientific method and the state of modern theoretical physics.

    To fix the sentence, try this.

    1. replace the passive voice, vague phrase of the form “X has its Y fixed”
      has its polarization instantly fixed
      with a statement in plain, active-voice scientific language: State “A” causes state “B”.
    2. Replace the verbal chimera
      “via a conscious observation (measurement)”
      where

      1. conscious observation appears to refer to a mental event: the transition from the state of the observer not knowing to the state of him knowing, and
      2. measurement” appears to refer to a physical event
        with meaningful language of physics.

    Physics asserts this about the physical events and the mental ones:

    Gaining knowledge of the polarity of a photon (a mental event) causally depends upon a physical measurement event.

    It does not assert this:

    Gaining knowledge of the polarity of a photon causes the state of the polarity to change from a superposition of two states to a single state.

    Mental events never appear as measurables in any quantum equation.

    • #12
  13. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Ma… (View Comment):

    Interesting timing for this post. I just watched this 2 part documentary on trying to explain in lay terms the concept of entanglement and why it so disturbs the early 20th century physicists.

    https://www.amazon.com/The-Secrets-of-Quantum-Physics/dp/B081W44NZP

    Does it not disturbe them now?

    • #13
  14. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    With an entangled pair of photons, detecting the polarization of one of the photons (a conscious observation) instantly fixes the polarization of the other photon so that the observer knows that polarization instantly even if the other photon of the is many light years away, with no other physical contact with the first photon or the observer. Einstein pointed out that that violates special relativity which says that information transfer cannot exceed the speed of light—spooky action at a distance. The conscious observation(measurement) conundrum was pointed out by Schrödinger. Bohr tried to ignore that conundrum. Wigner insisted that it was a reality. It drove Schrödinger into a pan psychic view of reality. There is no extant scientific or philosophical answer to that conundrum.

    But it cannot be used to transmit information, since you cannot set the state just observe it. I think they calms people down about it. 

    • #14
  15. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    It seems to me we are looking at shadows on the side of a cave cast by a light source we cannot see, against things behind us. 

     

    • #15
  16. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    I do not understand physics at all. And I’ve been thinking about this since yesterday afternoon, when I read the post. 

    This is what I’ve got: 

    “When the polarization of one photon is detected via a conscious observation (measurement), the other photon, though it be many light years distant, has its polarization instantly fixed, though there is no physical contact between the photons at the time of measurement. “

    I thought this  meant something like: Twin babies, separated at birth, grow up on opposite sides of the country. If I (the observer) know that I’m looking at one of two twins, and I learn that the twin I’ve got in front of me is two years old, then I also know that the other twin is two years old, without either twin #1 or the observer (me) having any contact with twin #2. 

    The two twins exist—one seen, one unseen—and the observer (me) exists, but now there is also a byte (so to speak) of information that has been generated by our interaction, and that byte of information exists. 

    If a tree falls in the forest, does it generate sound waves? Yes.

    If there is no one to hear them, the sound waves still exist. But when both sound waves and someone with the  appropriate auditory apparatus are present, a third phenomenon comes into being—information has been created. 

     

     

    • #16
  17. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    My musings turned theological: When God created the heavens and the earth, in effect  He created a cosmos stuffed with—even made out of—- information. It was only potential information—like the tree falling when there’s no one to hear it. For information to be created,  an observer is required.

    Okay, well, a dog is an observer. Let’s say dog #1 pees on a fire hydrant and goes away. Does the fire hydrant contain molecules of potential information? Of course. But it doesn’t become actual information until dog #2 comes along, sticks his unbelievably sensitive and discerning snout in the right place, and learns all sorts of delightful factoids about dog #1.

    Presto! The interaction between the dogs, the fire hydrant, the molecules, the air, etc.  have brought information into being.

    And this might have been enough except that it’s kind of limited. What the dogs don’t do is consciously interact with the information and generate new sources of actual and potential information. The dog is a receptor and transmitter,  but not a creator of information.

    “Information” isn’t a bad translation of logos, really.

    • #17
  18. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    I remember reading, in Robert Wright’s Three Scientists And Their Gods,  that information is like everything else in the universe—it cannot disappear. A question asked by a scientist in the book was something like “if you are writing an essay on the computer, and you erase a paragraph, what happens to it? That is, what happens to the information you’d created? Where does it go?”

    • #18
  19. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Regarding this…

    Nanocelt TheContrarian: When the polarization of one photon is detected via a conscious observation (measurement), the other photon, though it be many light years distant, has its polarization instantly fixed

    Maybe so. I’m not a physicist.

    But I will tell you what I believe to be true, even so.

    I believe that the implied proposition that physicists have discovered this causal law…

    A human’s mental state of knowing can be the cause of a physical fact, such as the polarization of some photon going from having a superposition of two values to having just one.

    is nothing but a pop science narrative that leads the general public to a false understanding of the scientific method and the state of modern theoretical physics.

    To fix the sentence, try this.

    1. replace the passive voice, vague phrase of the form “X has its Y fixed”
      has its polarization instantly fixed
      with a statement in plain, active-voice scientific language: State “A” causes state “B”.
    2. Replace the verbal chimera
      “via a conscious observation (measurement)”
      where

       

      1. conscious observation appears to refer to a mental event: the transition from the state of the observer not knowing to the state of him knowing, and
      2. measurement” appears to refer to a physical event
        with meaningful language of physics.

    Physics asserts this about the physical events and the mental ones:

    Gaining knowledge of the polarity of a photon (a mental event) causally depends upon a physical measurement event.

    It does not assert this:

    Gaining knowledge of the polarity of a photon causes the state of the polarity to change from a superposition of two states to a single state.

    Mental events never appear as measurables in any quantum equation.

    The experiments of Alain Aspect in particular appear to suggest that the conscious observer does indeed create the outcome of the wave equation collapse. It is as if the observer can choose the polarity of one of the photons, thus fixing the polarity of the other photon. Baysian attempts to understand this haven’t been successful thus far. Physicists have not excluded the possibility of conscious observation creating the outcome. David Gelernter  has vaguely posited the existence of an unknown force or field that mediates the interaction of consciousness and the quantum wave equation , essentially a quantum consciousness field. Combining Gelernter’s idea with Roger Penrose’s model of the human nervous system as a high termperature super conducting quantum computational system (developed with Hameroff), one has a context for beginning to understand the interaction of consciousness with quantum systems.

    All of this can be ignored by those working on the technology of quantum computing. The Chinese have a satellite, Micius, that uses a stream of entangled photons as a code key delivery method for the so far ultimate  encryption system.

    • #19
  20. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    I’ve never really embraced “the butterfly effect,” ever since I read Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder.  While small effects from a distant source may occur, they can easily be drowned out by large effects closer by.

    • #20
  21. GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms Reagan
    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms
    @GLDIII

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Ma… (View Comment):

    Interesting timing for this post. I just watched this 2 part documentary on trying to explain in lay terms the concept of entanglement and why it so disturbs the early 20th century physicists.

    https://www.amazon.com/The-Secrets-of-Quantum-Physics/dp/B081W44NZP

    Does it not disturbe them now?

    Like many fields of engineering that have been tested sufficiently to understand how something behaves and to be able to design to the known parameters it can be used (think “quantum computing”) I cannot explain why, but is a predictable design tool.

    • #21
  22. Chowderhead Coolidge
    Chowderhead
    @Podunk

     

    Sorry that joke still cracks me up. I don’t agree that a certain outcome can be based on our perception alone. Nor do I agree we know there is an instantaneous effect many lightyears away from our location. I do think that if there was a big bang and the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate it would be naïve to think we are the only universe, just like now most think this is the only inhabitable planet. 

    Because quirks can travel from one state to another without passing in-between just shows we still don’t understand the physics. As we get older we learn another fact, and we also learn there are ten more things we don’t know. 

    The best video on explaining gravity is here..

    Watch the level 5 guy who gets lost in thought. I came away with a different perspective. They mentioned if the sun were to suddenly disappear light will shine for another 7 minutes (I think), but also we would still be held in the rotation around the sun. In my mind a solar flare shooting out would still hit us after the sun disappeared.  Because of that video I have changed my mind that there is no speed of light. Photons are energy. Energy is instantaneous. Light travels at the speed of time.

     

    • #22
  23. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    Okay, first—gratitude to Augustine for chivalrously liking my post, since I’ve re-read the OP and several comments and realize I still don’t understand physics and probably sound dumb.

    Second: Has anyone else noticed that I’m the only female commenting here?

     

    • #23
  24. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael Minnott
    @MichaelMinnott

    Nanocelt TheContrarian:

    Early in the Quantum era, different physicists had different views of Nonlocality as it related to conscious observation. Bohr more or less dismissed the consciousness/nonlocality relationship. John von Neumann and Eugene Wigner insisted on its fundamental and essential part of Quantum mechanics. Heisenberg was somewhere in between the two poles, and it appears was largely responsible for what came to be called the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, e.g., a pragmatic approach to understanding Quantum mechanics with experimental approaches that could be dealt with, while not entirely dismissing the more mystical view of consciousness/quantum interactions.

    So, you’re saying that Heisenberg was uncertain, in principle?

    • #24
  25. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian:

    Early in the Quantum era, different physicists had different views of Nonlocality as it related to conscious observation. Bohr more or less dismissed the consciousness/nonlocality relationship. John von Neumann and Eugene Wigner insisted on its fundamental and essential part of Quantum mechanics. Heisenberg was somewhere in between the two poles, and it appears was largely responsible for what came to be called the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, e.g., a pragmatic approach to understanding Quantum mechanics with experimental approaches that could be dealt with, while not entirely dismissing the more mystical view of consciousness/quantum interactions.

    So, you’re saying that Heisenberg was uncertain, in principle?

    Until we check up on him. Then he’ll make up his mind for sure.

    • #25
  26. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    It is a fundamental truth that no theory can ever make any proposition about a class or object of a class if the class is not in its universe of discourse (“domain”).

    For example, arithmetic can make the propositions “1 + 1 = 2” and “1 + 1 = 3”.  And using only the theory of arithmetic, each of these propositions can be proven true or false.

    Neither one violates the fundamental truth cited above: “1”, “2”, and “3” are in the class “the integers [1, 2, 3, …]”.  That class is in the domain of arithmetic.

    But arithmetic cannot make the proposition “1 + firetruck = 2”.

    Why?

    Because it violates the fundamental truth: “firetruck” is not a class or instance of a class in the domain of arithmetic.

    So the proposition is neither true nor false in the theory of arithmetic: it is nothing but a meaningless sequence of symbols.

    No physics theory that I’ve ever heard about has “consciousness” in its domain.

    Therefore, those who claim that one of these theories can produce some proposition that “consciousness” is a cause of X, or that it is an effect of X, are violating the fundamental truth.

    How is it that intelligent people who have completed their studies at an institution of higher education can not know the above fundamental truth?

    They don’t know it simply because just as in the case of formal logic, humans do not know it intuitively. They must learn it.  These people simply haven’t learned it yet.  It is not taught in our current institutions of higher learning.

    • #26
  27. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    Okay, first—gratitude to Augustine for chivalrously liking my post, since I’ve re-read the OP and several comments and realize I still don’t understand physics and probably sound dumb.

    Second: Has anyone else noticed that I’m the only female commenting here?

     

    I use a female pen name.  Does that count?

    • #27
  28. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian:

    Early in the Quantum era, different physicists had different views of Nonlocality as it related to conscious observation. Bohr more or less dismissed the consciousness/nonlocality relationship. John von Neumann and Eugene Wigner insisted on its fundamental and essential part of Quantum mechanics. Heisenberg was somewhere in between the two poles, and it appears was largely responsible for what came to be called the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, e.g., a pragmatic approach to understanding Quantum mechanics with experimental approaches that could be dealt with, while not entirely dismissing the more mystical view of consciousness/quantum interactions.

    So, you’re saying that Heisenberg was uncertain, in principle?

    Relatively speaking, yes . . .

    • #28
  29. GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms Reagan
    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms
    @GLDIII

    Stad (View Comment):

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian:

    Early in the Quantum era, different physicists had different views of Nonlocality as it related to conscious observation. Bohr more or less dismissed the consciousness/nonlocality relationship. John von Neumann and Eugene Wigner insisted on its fundamental and essential part of Quantum mechanics. Heisenberg was somewhere in between the two poles, and it appears was largely responsible for what came to be called the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, e.g., a pragmatic approach to understanding Quantum mechanics with experimental approaches that could be dealt with, while not entirely dismissing the more mystical view of consciousness/quantum interactions.

    So, you’re saying that Heisenberg was uncertain, in principle?

    Relatively speaking, yes . . .

    Only a retired Nukie could appreciate that retort.

    • #29
  30. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    @markcamp, you are correctly identifying the disconnect between physics and quantum physics.  We should like one to be a subset of the other, as the grammar weakly implies, but we cannot yet get the damned things to fit together at all the seams.

    Certainly there’s nothing in, say, Newtonian physics that implicates consciousness.  This is not that.

    And by the way I HATE the consciousness woo-woo about quantum physics, but some things do seem to require it.  Which is where the bit about disturbing the 20th century physicists comes in — as Nano said, later 20th and now 21st century physicists have honed their ability to ignore it for the time being, the same way that you and I don’t actually have to consciously digest food.  We just need the results.

    So — I hate the consciousness stuff, but I can’t get rid of it – so I ignore it.  I especially ignore people who try shoehorning their preferred astral vision or whatever into quantum physics.  That’s just replacing scientifically unknown woo-woo with religious woo-woo, which is not an improvement.  Stuff like Dancing Wu-Li masters can be helpful in flexing to different ways to see the problem — but it does not present a solution.  Like how X-Rays don’t cure pneumonia.

    I forget the specifics, but yes, the superposed state of a distant entangled particle has been validated.

    Several of these things for which you say “physics does not state X,” are indeed stated in quantum physics, which is maddeningly, not yet consistent with more pedestrian physics.  It’s different — that is the problem.

    • #30
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