fuckyeahquantummechanics
Quantum Physics makes the seemingly preposterous claim that there is no “is” until an observer makes an observation.

Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. (via schlahty)

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Yes. But what’s left out is that an “observer” is not necessarily a conscious being, like a human. Nature is able to observe itself, through interactions between systems that record one another.

wildcat2030
“The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment.”[1]

Bernard d’Espagnat

Bernard d’Espagnat (born 1921) is a French theoretical physicist, philosopher of science, and author, best known for his work on the nature of reality.

(via wildcat2030)

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An edgy anthropocentric headline… I’ll bite.

I don’t agree with that quote, but I have no idea which facts or experiments he’s referring to, and the “Education and career” section make it clear that this guy isn’t pulling things out of his bum. Sounds like an interesting person.

I’m curious if he means the experiments affected by { observation }, in which case that’s not necessarily the conclusion to which one should jump. But I’d like to find out specifically what he’s talking about.

fuckyeahquantummechanics
fuckyeahquantummechanics:


DAMN INTERESTING: Quantum Mechanics and Immortality
By: Alan Bellows
Quantum Mechanics is a curious area of study which began in the early 20th century when scientists began to discover that the theories of electromagnetism and Newtonian mechanics, which so elegantly describe the movements of normal objects, completely fell apart at extremely tiny atomic and subatomic scales. It soon became clear that a separate theory would be necessary to describe subatomic interactions, and thus Quantum Mechanics was born.
The theory of quantum mechanics describes a tiny realm completely foreign to the one we observe normally. At quantum levels, matter exists simultaneously as particles and as waves (wave-particle duality), a particle’s position and momentum cannot be precisely known at the same time (Heisenberg uncertainty principle), and the state of two objects can be intertwined, regardless of the physical distance between them (quantum entanglement). Niels Bohr, one of the fathers of quantum mechanics, once said, “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”
The predictions of quantum mechanics have never been disproved in any experiments in over a century of development. It has been studied by brilliant minds including Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman, and though there is much disagreement about what it all means, there is little doubt that it is true. Some even think it provides us with a means to live forever.Quantum mechanics is not in the business of exact predictions, rather it deals in probabilities when describing the position or momentum of a given particle at a certain time. This inexactness is not because the theory is incomplete, but because those qualities of a particle are inherently unpredictable with any precision; or to put it another way, because there seems to be some degree of randomness at play in the universe. Einstein was famously uncomfortable with this facet of quantum physics, asserting that “God does not play dice!” But despite spending a good deal of his life after 1925 trying to back up his assertion, he was never able to.
In 1957, a student named Hugh Everett suggested that perhaps the reason that a particle’s outcome can’t be predicted is not because of randomness, but because every possible outcome does occur. This idea led to the “many-worlds interpretation” (MWI) which postulates that at the quantum level, everything that can happen does happen, and that each possible outcome branches the universe into another which is at first identical aside from the alternate outcome. So the seemingly “random” outcome is actually just representative of the one possible outcome one’s current universe happens to be based upon. The overlapping universes, between which no information can pass, would then continue to develop individually, each of them branching endlessly as well. Among physicists worldwide, this “multiverse” idea has become one of the most widely accepted interpretations of quantum physics.On a larger scale, MWI would mean that everything which canhappen will happen in at least one universe. Based on this, Max Tegmark at Princeton University suggested an experiment to prove that the many-worlds interpretation is correct, where one points a loaded gun at one’s head, and pulls the trigger. If you were to try this test, it is highly unlikely that you would survive… but if the gun failed to go off, and continued to do so in subsequent tests, you could eventually become reasonably confident that you’re in one of the branched universes where something caused the gun to misfire each time. Of course only the “you” in those “miraculous survival” universes would know this, the others would all be dead from gunshot wounds to the head.
Obviously this ridiculous test is not recommended, but if MWI is true, wouldn’t that mean that there are universes where I decided to try this for myself, and in at least one of those universes I survived miraculously? This article is probably much more exciting in those universes. Incidentally, in this branch, my brain is currently trying to gnaw its way out of my skull in self-defense.
In such a way is the argument for Quantum Immortality made. Some say that regardless of the cause of death, if the many-worlds interpretation is true, then there will always be at least one branch where the “miraculous survival” scenario is realized, and that version of “you” will never die. Of course the odds are overwhelmingly against the possibility that anyone in this universe is a perpetual miraculous survivor. Although the whole idea is wildly speculative, quantum immortality violates no known laws of physics.


••••••
OS:
TL;DR (Although I actually did):
.~* Max Tegmark is trolling.*~.
But seriously, how did it get like this? Are quantum physicists serious about interpreting QM this way, or is this a metaphor meant for laymen that just got blown WAY out of proportion?
And I don’t mean that “many worlds” isn’t a real theory, but does anyone truly, literally, think of it in this way? As opposed to { Murray Gell-Mann’s explanation of Everett’s theory }:


“…his interpretation is often described in terms of ‘many worlds,’ whereas we believe that ‘many alternative histories of the universe’ is what is really meant. … the many worlds are described as being ‘all equally real,’ whereas we believe it is less confusing to speak of ‘many histories, all treated alike by the theory except for their different probabilities.’ To use [this recommended] language is to address the familiar notion that a given system can have different possible histories, each with its own probability; it is not necessary to become queasy trying to conceive of many ‘parallel universes,’ all equally real.”
Murray Gell-Mann, The Quark and the Jaguar, 138


The two assertions are different:
There are billions of “me” at the same time, living varied lives.
There are billions of possible outcomes of what happens to me — and my entire universe because it is connected to me — but one “history” is decided upon when it occurs (it { observes } itself, thus pushing cancelling the alternative options).

fuckyeahquantummechanics:

DAMN INTERESTING: Quantum Mechanics and Immortality

By: Alan Bellows

Quantum Mechanics is a curious area of study which began in the early 20th century when scientists began to discover that the theories of electromagnetism and Newtonian mechanics, which so elegantly describe the movements of normal objects, completely fell apart at extremely tiny atomic and subatomic scales. It soon became clear that a separate theory would be necessary to describe subatomic interactions, and thus Quantum Mechanics was born.

The theory of quantum mechanics describes a tiny realm completely foreign to the one we observe normally. At quantum levels, matter exists simultaneously as particles and as waves (wave-particle duality), a particle’s position and momentum cannot be precisely known at the same time (Heisenberg uncertainty principle), and the state of two objects can be intertwined, regardless of the physical distance between them (quantum entanglement). Niels Bohr, one of the fathers of quantum mechanics, once said, “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”

The predictions of quantum mechanics have never been disproved in any experiments in over a century of development. It has been studied by brilliant minds including Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman, and though there is much disagreement about what it all means, there is little doubt that it is true. Some even think it provides us with a means to live forever.

Quantum mechanics is not in the business of exact predictions, rather it deals in probabilities when describing the position or momentum of a given particle at a certain time. This inexactness is not because the theory is incomplete, but because those qualities of a particle are inherently unpredictable with any precision; or to put it another way, because there seems to be some degree of randomness at play in the universe. Einstein was famously uncomfortable with this facet of quantum physics, asserting that “God does not play dice!” But despite spending a good deal of his life after 1925 trying to back up his assertion, he was never able to.

In 1957, a student named Hugh Everett suggested that perhaps the reason that a particle’s outcome can’t be predicted is not because of randomness, but because every possible outcome does occur. This idea led to the “many-worlds interpretation” (MWI) which postulates that at the quantum level, everything that can happen does happen, and that each possible outcome branches the universe into another which is at first identical aside from the alternate outcome. So the seemingly “random” outcome is actually just representative of the one possible outcome one’s current universe happens to be based upon. The overlapping universes, between which no information can pass, would then continue to develop individually, each of them branching endlessly as well. Among physicists worldwide, this “multiverse” idea has become one of the most widely accepted interpretations of quantum physics.On a larger scale, MWI would mean that everything which canhappen will happen in at least one universe. Based on this, Max Tegmark at Princeton University suggested an experiment to prove that the many-worlds interpretation is correct, where one points a loaded gun at one’s head, and pulls the trigger. If you were to try this test, it is highly unlikely that you would survive… but if the gun failed to go off, and continued to do so in subsequent tests, you could eventually become reasonably confident that you’re in one of the branched universes where something caused the gun to misfire each time. Of course only the “you” in those “miraculous survival” universes would know this, the others would all be dead from gunshot wounds to the head.

Obviously this ridiculous test is not recommended, but if MWI is true, wouldn’t that mean that there are universes where I decided to try this for myself, and in at least one of those universes I survived miraculously? This article is probably much more exciting in those universes. Incidentally, in this branch, my brain is currently trying to gnaw its way out of my skull in self-defense.

In such a way is the argument for Quantum Immortality made. Some say that regardless of the cause of death, if the many-worlds interpretation is true, then there will always be at least one branch where the “miraculous survival” scenario is realized, and that version of “you” will never die. Of course the odds are overwhelmingly against the possibility that anyone in this universe is a perpetual miraculous survivor. Although the whole idea is wildly speculative, quantum immortality violates no known laws of physics.

••••••

OS:

TL;DR (Although I actually did):

.~* Max Tegmark is trolling.*~.

But seriously, how did it get like this? Are quantum physicists serious about interpreting QM this way, or is this a metaphor meant for laymen that just got blown WAY out of proportion?

And I don’t mean that “many worlds” isn’t a real theory, but does anyone truly, literally, think of it in this way? As opposed to { Murray Gell-Mann’s explanation of Everett’s theory }:

“…his interpretation is often described in terms of ‘many worlds,’ whereas we believe that ‘many alternative histories of the universe’ is what is really meant. … the many worlds are described as being ‘all equally real,’ whereas we believe it is less confusing to speak of ‘many histories, all treated alike by the theory except for their different probabilities.’ To use [this recommended] language is to address the familiar notion that a given system can have different possible histories, each with its own probability; it is not necessary to become queasy trying to conceive of many ‘parallel universes,’ all equally real.”

Murray Gell-Mann, The Quark and the Jaguar, 138

The two assertions are different:

  1. There are billions of “me” at the same time, living varied lives.
  2. There are billions of possible outcomes of what happens to me — and my entire universe because it is connected to me — but one “history” is decided upon when it occurs (it { observes } itself, thus pushing cancelling the alternative options).

RE:

If we must disturb a particle to observe what it did, and the author claims that the experiment was designed so that the particle would not be disturbed until after it “decided” to act as wave or particle… how do we know that it decided to be a [particle] at all? 

I’d love a better explanation of Wheeler’s variation on the double-slit…

- Olena

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Camerxn has a pretty good { response } with lots of useful links.

••••••

As for the first part of my question: it was not about whether the observed “object” is a particle or wave — it’s both. That much is made clear in theories about { wave-particle duality }.

Light is made of elementary particles called photons, but those photons don’t have well-defined trajectories. At any given time, their positions are diffused clouds of probability that move like waves. Thus, light can act like a wave, going around obstacles and creating patterns of interference. Or a photon can act like a particle, producing a discrete click when it hits a detector. The behavior depends on the experimental measurement.

- Science News

The question is about what we detect it to be, and how — if we don’t interfere with it — we can know whether it showed up as a particle or wave prior to when we do finally interfere with it. A wave/particle is always a wave/particle until it’s prompted (by an interaction) to make a choice between the two. So unless I misunderstood the premise of Wheeler’s experiment (also a question — did I?) how can it “decide” prior to when we force it do “decide”?

Also, especially looking back on the aforementioned { Science News article } about Wheeler’s experiment, I think we need to find a new way to talk about particles, or QM, or physics in general. It is not helpful to the layman to describe these events as if we’re dealing with “objects” that have “consciousness” — it creates confusion and misunderstanding, and allows people who like to jump to conclusions to attribute magical qualities to the science.

Part of the reason I’d like to understand these problems better is to be able to communicate them in a more comprehensible way that doesn’t make use of awful, misleading metaphors for what’s really going on.

wildcat2030
The larger lesson is that the brain is a neural tangle of near infinite possibility, which means that it spends a lot of time and energy choosing what not to notice. As a result, creativity is traded away for efficiency; we think in literal prose, not symbolist poetry. And this is why constraints are so important: It’s not until we encounter an unexpected hindrance – a challenge we can’t easily resolve – that the chains of cognition are loosened, giving us newfound access to the weird connections simmering in the unconscious. Here are the scientists: Consistently, these studies show that encountering an obstacle in one task can elicit a more global, Gestalt-like processing style that automatically carries over to unrelated tasks, leading people to broaden their perception, open up mental categories, and improve at integrating seemingly unrelated concepts.

Need to Create? Get a Constraint | Wired Science | Wired.com (via wildcat2030)

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OS:
linking this to the { network synchronization } study
+ this post about { networks }

I had a thought a while back, when I first read about networks synchronizing at faster speeds when disordered, that it might have something to do with creativity. I haven’t read Lehrer’s article yet, but the title, “Need to Create? Get a constraint.” is relevant. If it’s enough to go off of, I’m not sure yet. But, my idea is about the wandering mind — versus beginning with an end in mind (beginning with a pre-ordered network, which excludes anything (seemingly) unrelated to the goal), things really happen when you begin with disorder: everything is included. “Think Wrong.” And those “wrong” things trigger pathways that wouldn’t have otherwise come about (in an ordered network, they’d be closed off). A surprisingly inefficient beginning leads to efficiency later by leaving possibilities open…

Lehrer is talking about something a little different, but, constraints are what help shape a disordered network. Everything is open, but eventually, you do want to get somewhere… In a class I had two years ago, we went through a process of making lists of things that popped up. The end product might be a book, but on the list you might have cabbage, lions, nuns, stained glass, a library, two crabs and a pineapple. They’re not necessarily things to use so much as triggers to help unravel the pathways that would otherwise go unnoticed, since pre-ordering is sort of like tunnel vision.

Additionally, there were some studies about creatives & depression that I was interested in some time ago. Someone wrote about the fact that creative people actually pay attention to many more sensory stimuli than someone more… “efficient”. Stimuli that can, and maybe should, otherwise be ignored… the rust on a pole, some gravel, the color of a particular brick, and those thoughts about being a crocodile. All totally inefficient, and possibly draining, for a mind to be attentive of the unimportant and the important, simultaneously and round the clock.

Back to constraints. Finally, you have some thing. Maybe a problem, an object, a canvas… and that’s a point of concentration. Then you can put all of your lobsters on it and whatever else you’d been collecting, and once they’re all on there you can begin to take some away, and there it is. Problem solved. Hopefully.

Something like that.

Lehrer sums it up well:

A more global thought process is generally ideal for coming up with truly creative solutions, as it makes people more likely to notice cross-cutting connections.

But, how? And isn’t it interesting that it applies so extensively to various types of networks… I don’t want to say universally, I’m not sure about that. But the network synchronization study seems to point to it.

scienceisbeauty
On principle it is quite wrong to try founding a theory on observable magnitudes alone. In reality the very opposite happens. It is theory which decides what we can observe.

Albert Einstein

(via scienceisbeauty)

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this notion discussed in further depth in
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,
Thomas Kuhn, 1962