Consciousness And Quantum Physics – And Where That Leads

(Originally posted on: December 10, 2011)

The tie in of consciousness and quantum physics is in respect to the role of the observer in the collapse of the wave function that describe some quantum system under study when a measurement is taken.

The frequently referenced double slit experiment is one such system, which began as a thought experiment but over the years has been verified – as well as elaborated on, such as Wheeler’s Delayed choice and the Delayed choice quantum eraser experiments.

This statement here from the wiki’s description of Wheeler’s Delayed choice experiment crystallizes the essence of the mystery that goes on in these experiments:

According to the results of the double slit experiment, if experimenters do something to learn which slit the photon goes through, they change the outcome of the experiment and the behavior of the photon. If the experimenters know which slit it goes through, the photon will behave as a particle. If they do not know which slit it goes through, the photon will behave as if it were a wave when it is given an opportunity to interfere with itself.

Amongst quantum physics early founders, Wolfgang Pauli and Werner Heisenberg believed that it was the observer that produced collapse. John von Neumann wrote on this in his 1932 book The Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics.

Sorry – the New Agers did not invent this spin on quantum physics (pun intended).

There are basically these takes on the nature of what is going on here:

  • Consciousness causes the collapse by observing

    In its most broad depiction, so-called reality is always indeterminate until it is being observed by consciousness thereby collapsing the wave function of that which depicts perceived reality.

  • Hidden Variable Theory

    No longer considered in the running since Bell’s Theorem has been experimentally substantiated.

Bell started from the same two assumptions as did EPR, namely (i) reality (that microscopic objects have real properties determining the outcomes of quantum mechanical measurements), and (ii) locality (that reality is not influenced by measurements performed simultaneously at a large distance). Bell was able to derive from those two assumptions an important result, namely Bell’s inequality, implying that at least one of the assumptions must be false.

Bell’s theorem implies that the concept of local realism, favoured by Einstein, yields predictions that disagree with those of quantum mechanical theory. Because numerous experiments agree with the predictions of quantum mechanical theory, and show correlations that are stronger than could be explained by local hidden variables, the concept of local realism is thus refuted as an explanation of the physical phenomena under test, and superluminal effects are evidenced. [superluminal, e.g., quantum entanglement]

  • Many worlds interpretation

    This is favored by those individuals that reject dualistic explanations of mind/consciousness.

The many worlds concept, as it’s title implies, posits that reality is constantly forking upon wave function collapsing of subatomic matter into definite states. It’s a wildly outrageous theory that utterly thumbs its nose at Occam’s razor principle. This theory holds that the observable universe has innate existence so it also needs to be accompanied by theories of matter/energy such as String Theory (a theory that itself over the decades has had no success scientifically but has resulted in a lot of books and papers being published that give purpose to physicists’ careers).

Naturally this many worlds concept has a tall order of explanatory problems to overcome. For starters, the proponents have no explanation for why forked matter/energy is not observable (or how all these innately material many universes exist concurrently in shared space/time). It’s very much akin to the rolled up dimensions of String Theory – they haven’t been observed either. It’s pretty obvious also that forking is the ultimate free lunch concept. Yet of everything that’s been learned of the universe thus far there is a sublime principle of economy in its nature (which kind of relates back to Occam’s razor).

So now going back to consciousness causes the collapse – this will lead to explanations of reality being an emergent experience of underlying information processing, a programmed universe (or software simulation – albeit a vastly complex one). All characteristics of reality jive with this notion, such as most fundamentally its discreet nature (Planck’s limit on space/time granularity) and that there is nothing that has innate material existence. When looked at very closely, matter/energy is just a flux of information states and information processing. There are no “tiny marbles” (i.e., there is no String Theory of tiny energy string vibrations nor Hidden variables locality concepts in play).

Physical Laws Based On Continuous Maths vs. A Discreet Reality

Stephen Wolfram’s 2002 book, A New Kind of Science explored how emergent behaviors can be the product of underlying simple programs (cellar automata).

Our so called physical laws appear to be emergent. For instance, Einstein’s relativity maths are continuous; yet quantum physics informs us that reality is discreet (so far as all observational evidence thus far indicates). Einstein’s maths give rise to infinity conditions – a massive star collapsing into a black hole or a particle being continuously accelerated toward the speed of light (mass presumably increases infinitely). Mathematical infinities do not have directly expressible reality in discreet systems. Discreet systems instead have definitive boundary conditions (e.g., Planck’s unit granularity of space/time). Our universe is very fine grained so continuous mathematical formulas can have great efficacy for a wide range of situations. None-the-less, science continues to be faced with the perplexity that Einstein’s relativity and quantum physics have not been reconciled. When reality is understood as an information processing program giving rise to a discreet universe, then this is no longer a surprising situation. Yet because some stubbornly cling to a universe that is presumed to be innate in and of itself, their perplexity remains likewise intransigent – decade after decade after decade after decade…

The Virutualization Stack As Natural Architectural Outcome

In computer science and its applied technology, software virtualization is all the rage these days and has quickly become the foundational bedrock of modern Information Technology processing systems and methods. In modern software architecture, virtualization is now stacked to several conceptual levels deep (electronic circuits, CPU microcode, machine BIOS, hypervisor VM management layers, operating systems, processes, threads, fibers/task, subroutines). It is entirely possible (and I believe probable) that how our information technology stack has evolved mimics the very design of existence itself: reality, parallel realities, and various levels of super realities. The characteristics of quantum physics are easy for a super reality context to impose on a sub reality – just as a computer host operating system provides for “mysterious” behaviors on behalf of the sub programs it executes. A sub program cannot easily examine outside of its own internal context as it’s walled off from the super reality of the host operating system. Of course the host operating system runs on a hypervisor layer VM that in turn executes on an actual CPU. So the actual bedrock is several levels removed from the sub program.

Similarly our reality appears to be a sub program that is executing contextually several (many) layers removed. In the 21st century, materialism is waning because we know software and virtual reality constructs are infinitely more flexible. If we are realizing that now as our information science prowess matures, a greater self aware consciousness may have arrived there trillions upon trillions upon trillions of iterations ago.

Virtualized realities apparently exist as vehicles for experience. Our own minds constantly crave something to process on (experience/information), we may be simply reflecting the very nature of ultimate consciousness that under girds all realities.

The Evidences of Irreducibly Complex Systems

When one thinks about it, this makes a lot more sense than an innately existent material universe that appeared from nothing with hundreds of fine tuning parameters that just so happen to be precisely right for biological life to arise. And then the first cell – a testament to extraordinary nano and sub-nano scale complex machinery – evolves into existence? A system of irreducible complexity evolves into existence? Life doesn’t get any simpler than the immensely complex machine of the single cell (a virus has to have actual cellular life to parasitically prey on). So something that can’t be made into anything simpler and yet be viable as a life form, cannot have arisen gradually out of simpler forms.

The problem of irreducibly complex systems appears routinely in biology – life forms are composed of internal systems that can’t be reduced to a less complex primitive level while having value as an adaptation – the life form would have to wade through many increments of inoperative adaptation or mal-adaptation until one day the functional and beneficial system is fortuitously arrived at. This is a huge problem for gradualist evolution to surmount – literally and figuratively.

The impossibility of a minimal form of life arising on Earth was so profound to Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer of DNA, Francis Crick, that he and Leslie Orgel proposed the theory of Directed Panspermia. Of course Crick and Orgel never answered with any satisfaction how what was an impossibility on Earth would be anymore possible elsewhere in the universe. Interestingly neo-Darwinian, Richard Dawkins, frequently references Directed Panspermia as a hypothesis that he views credibly. Yet Dawkins has done nothing to advance or cite scientifically how Panspermia as explanation accounts for the origin of the first cellular life in the universe. Both Crick/Orgel and Dawkins say the universe is large, ancient, and probably populated with many planets, i.e., so there is increased opportunity for more blind chance. Yet the irreducible complexity problem of first cellular life is not addressed by more rolls of the dice. Life has to have all its subsidiary subsystems (and the shear mind boggling complexity that implies) to be life. Even increasing the age of the universe or its expanse by many orders of magnitude would not vanquish this dilemma.

Cambrian Explosion Enigma

For 3 billion years (about 3/4ths of the history of life on Earth) there was single cell life – this gave rise to the huge fossilized sheets of blue green algae we find from that time period. In a few million years of the Pre-Cambrian period – right before the Cambrian Explosion, we find additionally the evidence of worms, soft bodied sponges, and a life form that was wide spread but simple. It had variations that looked like a wavy palm leaf or a mat spread on the sea bottom. Science is unsure if its categorization should be animal or plant. But that is it so far as the Pre-Cambrian period goes.

Then with the advent of the Cambrian Explosion, in the space of just a few million years (5 to 10) in the oceans around the globe complex creatures with appendages, varied body plans, compound eyes, etc., appear – yeah, the Trilobite era. Cambrian fossils are found in Wales, British Columbia, Canada, Australia, and China so we have a global view of that time period.

From the Cambrian fossils there have been wonderful examples of soft bodied creatures preserved. In Pre-Cambrian sedimentary layers there are soft bodied life forms preserved. In the Pre-Cambrian sedimentary layers, that are right below the Cambrian Explosion layers, there are no simpler precursor species to be found for those species that appear so prolifically during the Cambrian Explosion in a geological blink of an eye. Scientist have been looking earnestly since Charles Darwin’s time. Darwin was well aware of the Cambrian enigma (in his early career he worked a bit Cambrian fossil recovery) and considered it the primary possible objection to his theory. He simply posited that one day the precursor fossils to the Cambrian Explosion life forms would be found as it was early days for the field. Yet the expected precursor species have never been uncovered. Any scientist that discovers such fossils will have instant world fame and go down in the history books among the greats of that field. There exist every incentive in the world to uncover such precursor fossils.

After over a century and a half it is clear that such precursor fossils don’t exist. Occasionally new species turn up but they are quickly categorized into the family of species that are already well known from the Cambrian Era. The fact that soft bodied fossils are found in both the Cambrian and Pre-Cambrian sedimentary layers leaves no out for the excuse that so-called precursor fossils weren’t preserved. At this point in time, after so much earnest effort, it is safe to conclude that no simpler precursor species exist. The Cambrian Explosion just happens seemingly out of no where.

Of course, the other enigma that arises out of the fossil record of early life on Earth is why was evolution stagnant for 3 billion years and yet presumably produced extremely complex animal life forms nearly over night? Why would evolution be switched off for billions of years at a time and then suddenly get switched on? None of this makes any sense from the framework of Darwinian Evolution. People that are honest in their pursuit of science ponder such questions – those that are wedded to dogma (held with religious-like zeal) attempt to ignore and sweep such questions under the proverbial rug. They also tend to get very hostile when challenged on these glaring problems – as the rigid fundamentalist mind set is prone to do (recall Galileo’s persecution by religious fundamentalist to fully appreciate the comparison being made here).

The irreducible complexity of first cellular life and the Cambrian Explosion enigma are huge problems for a strictly Darwinian materialistic framework point of view. Lets be perfectly clear here, these are deal breakers. They are that fundamental and insurmountable such that mere hand-waving obfuscation, sleight-of-hand explanations (Directed Panspermia), or lexical alchemy (such as “punctuated evolution” – a term totally devoid of any specified scientific mechanism and rigor), are unable to paper over. So in contradiction to that framework (Darwinian materialism) as premise, the Earth appears to have been intelligently terraformed through various deliberate phases of speciation.

Fundamental Consciousness Equates To Intelligence

In short, the universe is either intelligent or is a construct of something that is intelligent – the presence of the complexity of biological life attest to that as well as the exquisitely fine tuned universe which said life inhabits.

MyCoreArticles (and some related links)
[awakening, synchronicity, Gnosticism, AAT, nature of reality/consciousness, etc.]


~ by RogerV on December 10, 2011.

One Response to “Consciousness And Quantum Physics – And Where That Leads”

  1. […] Consciousness And Quantum Physics – And Where That Leads [begin excerpt] The tie in of consciousness and quantum physics is in respect to the role of the observer in the collapse of the wave function that describe some quantum system under study when a measurement is taken. [end excerpt] […]

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