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Author Topic: Evolution, Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics  (Read 4532 times)

Offline horizon

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Evolution, Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics
« on: 08/12/2011 21:04:03 »
Hi

Can someone tell me at what point in evolution did consciousness start effecting the universe that created it? ("created it" in the sense "the place it grew from")

At some point there was the universe without any conscious beings...but I thought quantum physics tells us the universe doesnt exist without a conscious mind aware of it..

If you use an analogy of the universe being an incubator with chicks growing in it, at some the minds of chicks growing in the incubator started effecting the actual incubator itself, what so special about the brains of the chicks?


 

Offline Don_1

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Evolution, Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics
« Reply #1 on: 09/12/2011 09:52:21 »


..... the universe doesn't exist without a conscious mind aware of it..



..... and tree falling in the jungle with nobody to hear it doesn't make a sound???
 

Offline imatfaal

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« Reply #2 on: 09/12/2011 11:01:41 »


..... the universe doesn't exist without a conscious mind aware of it..



..... and tree falling in the jungle with nobody to hear it doesn't make a sound???

God in the Quad

There was a young man who said "God
Must find it exceedingly odd
To think that the tree
Should continue to be
When there's no one about in the quad."

Reply:
"Dear Sir: Your astonishment's odd;
I am always about in the quad.
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be
Since observed by, Yours faithfully, God."

ronald knox
 

Offline horizon

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« Reply #3 on: 09/12/2011 19:20:30 »

..... and tree falling in the jungle with nobody to hear it doesn't make a sound???

the observer doesnt effect the universe??
 

Offline CliffordK

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« Reply #4 on: 09/12/2011 22:42:08 »
..... and tree falling in the jungle with nobody to hear it doesn't make a sound???
the observer doesn't effect the universe??
That is...
Unless we all live within the MATRIX!

"La vida es sueno"
 

Offline JP

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« Reply #5 on: 10/12/2011 04:28:07 »
Horizon, we don't really know what defines an observer in quantum mechanics.  Its true that we say an observation effects things, but since we can't define an observer terribly precisely and we don't know how to define consciousness, answering your question scientifically is impossible.
 

Offline horizon

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« Reply #6 on: 10/12/2011 12:55:05 »
.. Its true that we say an observation effects things, but since we can't define an observer terribly precisely...

ok thats fine, forget about defining it precisely, but since it does happen, i was more interested in when (very roughly) and how it started happening??

If we know life started happening 3,900 million years ago, somewhere between then and modern times, life started effecting the universe it grew from.

...There were once no observers in the universe...then life started... then at some point life evolved to become observers that effect the universe...(?)...

If it sounds illogical to you...it does to me too!....its making me question the whole evolution subject...

i'd be more than happy if someone can put me straight on this, many thanks. 
« Last Edit: 10/12/2011 13:22:40 by horizon »
 

Offline Don_1

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Evolution, Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics
« Reply #7 on: 10/12/2011 13:40:01 »

..... life evolved to become observers that effect the universe...(?)...


Life began, here on Earth, as plants, these were not 'observers', but they had an effect on the evolution of this planet. I doubt they had any effect on the universe beyond the confines of our Earth.

Animals and eventually Man evolved here on Earth, but we have had virtually no effect on the evolution of the universe beyond the confines of our Earth either.

Quite apart from that, if you merely observe, do you have any effect on anything? I observe a plant growing, but my observation has no effect on its growth. It will grow whether it is observed or not. Only interaction or interference will effect its growth.

But I suppose the whole point is that we do not simply observe evolution, we are a part of evolution, thus you could say 'we effect evolution', but equally 'evolution effect's us'.

I think your problem is that you are putting us outside of evolution as observers, when we are a part of what we observe.
 

Offline horizon

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« Reply #8 on: 10/12/2011 14:06:32 »

..... life evolved to become observers that effect the universe...(?)...


Quite apart from that, if you merely observe, do you have any effect on anything? I observe a plant growing, but my observation has no effect on its growth. It will grow whether it is observed or not.

Well, an atom only appears in a certain place if you measure it. An atom is spread out all over the place until a conscious observer decides to look at it, so an act of measurement or observation creates the entire universe.

Only conscious beings can be observers, so observers must be infinitely hooked into the very existence of reality. Without observers there would be just be an expanding superposition of possibilities with nothing definite ever actually happening.   

Surely, quantum theory is at contradiction with the evolution theory
both cant be right,
...can they?
« Last Edit: 10/12/2011 14:18:44 by horizon »
 

Offline JP

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« Reply #9 on: 10/12/2011 15:56:27 »
Only conscious beings can be observers. . .

That is almost certainly not true.  Of course, we can't define consciousness, so we can't test this.  However, it borders on mysticism to think that conscious observers have some unique way of interacting with the universe that other matter without consciousness lacks.
 

Offline horizon

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« Reply #10 on: 10/12/2011 21:36:56 »
when does matter without consciousness cause wave function collapse?
 

Offline JP

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« Reply #11 on: 10/12/2011 22:34:24 »
That's an impossible question to answer.  To check it, you'd have to conduct an experiment to see if collapse occurred without a conscious observer.  But even if we set an experiment up to check that, we'd have to observe the results eventually, and that introduces consciousness into the problem.  So there's no way of actually checking this yet (that we know of).

But science generally uses simple solutions first and only complicates things when necessary.  If consciousness is needed for wavefunction collapse, then the conscious mind is somehow special in the way that no other matter or energy in the universe is.  While that idea can sell a lot of New Age books, its making a big assumption without any evidence to back it up or any experiments that can test it.
 

Offline yor_on

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« Reply #12 on: 11/12/2011 02:19:59 »
My view is close to Dons there.

The 'wave collapse' is defined through the 'observer'. And the question then becomes what a 'observer' is? We have an definition of entanglements in where we can deflect two 'split' photons from each other after 'creating' the entanglement, without disturbing the 'wave function', all as I understands it.

That could be interpreted to imply that an 'observer' must be conscious :)

But then you have normal 'interactions' in where we expect 'thingies' to collide and exchange momentum constantly, and on a more complex plane interact as in chemical processes, without us ever needing to take notice for it to happen.

So that could be interpreted to state that we don't need 'consciousness' to define that collapse.

The later is my interpretation, tentatively speaking. And then that 'first' deflection becomes tricky in that we assume it to have no impact on that wave function. But there it might be a question of how to define it?
 

Offline horizon

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« Reply #13 on: 11/12/2011 13:34:38 »
ah ok,
leaving "consciousness" aside for a moment,
(I can grasp the concept of how consciousness evolved as man developed
and, like you say, consciousness itself seems to be very subjective concept),
but wave function collapse/observer is not subjective, its yes or no affair.

..I still cant, for the love of me, grasp how this observer concept fits in with evolution.

If the observer doesnt necessarily need to have consciousness,
does the observer need to be a living thing?

For example a fish, (you could argue probably isnt remotely conscious)
But is it considered an observer?, can we test or assume anything there?

If observers are only living things, Im still wondering when and how the observers emerged in the timeline of evolution:
EXAMPLE
4000 million years ago: Abiogenesis
2100 Million years ago: the eukaryotes...probably not observers??? 
550 Million years ago: Flatworms emerged, the earliest life with brain,
were they the first "observers"???

Why would they be able to effect the universe that they grew from??

The whole idea doesnt sit well with me. 
 
Please help me out, thanks.
« Last Edit: 11/12/2011 13:43:21 by horizon »
 

Offline JP

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« Reply #14 on: 11/12/2011 16:15:33 »
I think there are a couple points to keep in mind while looking for answer to problems like this. 

The first is that QM works incredibly well.  Its the most accurate model of the universe we've ever developed, so throwing it out because its confusing isn't really an option. 

The second is that its really, really weird and confusing.  We know the math works out and that its an incredibly good model, but we don't really know what that math means.  There are multiple ways of interpreting what the math means philosophically. 

I've found that different interpretations basically just push the confusion to different areas.  For example, if you assume observers collapse wave functions, then you get confused by trying to define an observer.  There are other interpretations, such as the many-worlds interpretation, that say that each quantum event causes multiple universes to branch off.  In each universe, only one outcome happens.  It still doesn't answer why we see only one of those universes, though, so you still have confusion. 

My current favorite explanation is that everything is quantum.  So we (and other observers) are part of the wave function.  It never collapses, and we exist in a quantum state with all possible outcomes.  Its very similar to the many-worlds interpretation in that this doesn't really explain why we see only one outcome.  I like it since it doesn't treat some observers as special--and there's no good reason yet to think some observers will be special, so we might as well keep it simple.

Then there are yet other theories that say that observers aren't special, but something (often gravity) causes QM to break down at large enough scales.  But there's no solid evidence for these yet.
 

Offline yor_on

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« Reply #15 on: 12/12/2011 10:16:22 »
Yeah, that is similar to my view, although I never considered it to be one wave function all together. Maybe it is though, on some other plane of conceptuality. I thought of it as everything 'observes' everything through 'interactions' of different kind. You might say that as 'gravity' is coupled to mass, amongst others, then the universe constantly 'observes' itself through the way 'gravity' balances it up.
 

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« Reply #15 on: 12/12/2011 10:16:22 »

 

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