The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?  (Read 30617 times)

Offline David Cooper

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1505
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #50 on: 21/05/2013 19:33:38 »
I would like to throw a thought into the ring to see if it is in any way new. To many, the idea of a cat being both alive and dead at the same time until it's observed by someone is a step too far, and this is because if a human observer is able to force a collapse of the wavefunction, a cat should really be able to do likewise. But what is it about us (and cats) that could drive this collapse? I reckon the answer is that both contain information systems, and trying to maintain highly complex information in multiple states may be more difficult than maintaining mountains of material in multiple states, so if the model in the brain is forced to simplify and take up a specific form, that would force the external reality to simplify too to remain compatible with the data. So, it isn't measurement that forces a collapse, but the integration of the resulting data into an information system which will then apply complex processing to it.

It may really be that when we look out into the universe through a telescope, we can potentially force whole uninhabited galaxies to throw off most of their possible states so that they can appear to us in a particular, specific form rather than a fuzzy mess of multiple possibilities. This would not result in any causality travelling back billions of years through time though, because it would only force that galaxy to take up a specific form now, while it's entire past history up to that point would remain fuzzy. The first complex observer to look at it would force a collapse, and that collapse would be transmitted throughout the universe in an instant such that no other observer could force an incompatible collapse of the wavefunction of the same object.
 

Offline Bill S

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1830
  • Thanked: 12 times
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #51 on: 21/05/2013 21:57:45 »
Quote from: David
The first complex observer to look at it would force a collapse, and that collapse would be transmitted throughout the universe in an instant.....

That's going to need some serious thought. 

The first thing that comes to mind is that you have linked the two parts of this thread.  Your instantaneous transmission could happen only if every part of the Universe were in contact with every other part.

Come back Bohm, all is forgiven!   :)   
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #52 on: 22/05/2013 09:10:48 »
...  what is it about us (and cats) that could drive this collapse?[/quote I reckon the answer is that both contain information systems, and trying to maintain highly complex information in multiple states may be more difficult than maintaining mountains of material in multiple states, so if the model in the brain is forced to simplify and take up a specific form, that would force the external reality to simplify too to remain compatible with the data. So, it isn't measurement that forces a collapse, but the integration of the resulting data into an information system which will then apply complex processing to it.
This sounds like an Objective Collapse interpretation, using complexity as the trigger. The problem I have with these interpretations is their arbitrariness. At one extreme, it reduces to Wigner's interpretation, i.e. only the complexity of a human consciousness will collapse it, and at the other extreme, it reduces to interaction collapse, i.e. any particle interaction is sufficiently complex to collapse it.

What's missing is some explanation of why (information) complexity is relevant (why not mass, or particle count, or number of interactions, ...?), and why it becomes critical at some arbitrary level. Could a mouse collapse it? a pidgeon? frog? ant? amoeba? and what about a non-biological information processing system, a PC?, IBMs 'Watson'? the internet? Where do you draw the line, and why?   

 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #53 on: 22/05/2013 09:40:09 »
... Your instantaneous transmission could happen only if every part of the Universe were in contact with every other part.
That would be OK if it was a case of primordial entanglement (e.g. originating at the big bang). The problem I have with it is that it smells of special pleading for consciousness. I'm wondering quite how it would work in practice; would the first creature of sufficient information processing capability cause collapse as soon as the first photon from a distant galaxy hit its retina, or would there be a delay until the resulting signal had been through the visual cortex? Would it take multiple photons? how many, how much processing? would some early hominin look up at the sky at night, see a distant galaxy as a barely visible dot and collapse its wavefunction without even knowing what it was? And why, in David's example, if the universe was superposed this way, would only the one galaxy wavefunction collapse, wouldn't it be entangled with the rest of the universe? and what about intelligent life elsewhere in the universe - had the first arrivals already collapsed the universal wavefunction millions of years before we arrived on the scene?

It just doesn't smell right to me.
 

Offline lightarrow

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4586
  • Thanked: 7 times
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #54 on: 22/05/2013 13:10:44 »
What's missing is some explanation of why (information) complexity is relevant (why not mass, or particle count, or number of interactions, ...?), and why it becomes critical at some arbitrary level. Could a mouse collapse it? a pidgeon? frog? ant? amoeba? and what about a non-biological information processing system, a PC?, IBMs 'Watson'? the internet? Where do you draw the line, and why?   
Maybe, as I wrote, it's not exactly a matter of "complexity" but of irreversibility / loss of coherence (which is related to complexity but not the same thing).
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #55 on: 22/05/2013 17:36:49 »
Maybe, as I wrote, it's not exactly a matter of "complexity" but of irreversibility / loss of coherence (which is related to complexity but not the same thing).
Well yes, but that's just restating wavefunction collapse. Loss of coherence == decoherence. Decoherence is what the observer sees as wavefunction collapse.
 

Offline David Cooper

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1505
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #56 on: 22/05/2013 18:46:38 »
Well, I wasn't really suggesting that a galaxy could maintain a form that never simplifies through any collapses of wavefunctions until an intelligence finally gets round to looking at it after several billion years, but what I actually have in mind is that things can maybe maintain a certain amount of superpositions until it reaches a point where it's too hard to maintain them all, at which point some kind of simplification must occur. The galaxy will therefore repeatedly simplify itself as it becomes too hard to maintain all the superpositions, but every time it does so it will immediately start to generate new superpositions again which will in turn collapse when they become too complicated to maintain. Having a complex data system analyse the situation would merely hasten a point of collapse by increasing the complexity of the system as a whole.

It's easy enough for a single bit of data to be both a zero and a one at the same time, but to try to maintain that for billions of bits and with a program which must simultaneously run along trillions of different paths to process tham is not going to be at all easy. What we'd need to test this idea though is a way to measure the total amount of complexity involved in order to see if there is some consistent level where a collapse of the wavefunction becomes more likely than not.

I envisage real material as being outside the universe and merely contacting with it at a multiplicity of points, a bit like a spider with many legs hanging onto a web. Outside of the universe where the spiders reside there is no speed limit of c, but the movement of all the points of contact with the web are limited by c. Each leg continually multiplies into many new legs, following the waves in the web and maintaining an external, instant communication system between all these points. When the wavefunction has to collapse due to complexity, the spider simply lets go of the web with many of its legs and absorbs them back into itself.

This means that when we send a photon through a double slit, the photon starts out as a single leg of a spider and immediately multiplies into many legs as the wave spreads out. Some of the legs go through one slit, while some go through the other, and a lot of waves hit the gap in between or the surrounds. Those that continue on through keep multiplying and radiate out from the slits, interfering with each other and ending up hitting the screen in an interference pattern, but for a photon to land on the screen, all the energy has to be sent to a single point. The spider determines which leg the full energy of the photon will be transferred to and the rest of the legs simply let go of the web. Alternatively, several of the legs remain attached to the web and each of them transfers the photon provisionally so that a superposition of different possible realities is to be maintained until some later complexity forces a further simplification.
 

Offline Bill S

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1830
  • Thanked: 12 times
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #57 on: 22/05/2013 23:23:45 »
Now that the two themes in this thread seem to have come together, I shall have to go back and do some re-reading, but first; a bit more of the ongoing saga.

The Infinite Cosmos  Part 4

 John Wheeler said that “Time is nature's way to keep everything from happening all at once”. This may sound like a flippant comment, but it is in fact quite a profound observation.  We might say that eternity is the absence of time, and that in eternity everything must happen at once.  However, even that statement is misleading: in order for something to happen there must be some passage of time.  In eternity, everything just is.

  Whatever one can do with mathematical infinities, it seems inescapable that any physical infinity must be immutable.  The corollary of this is so important it is worth repeating.  An infinite cosmos cannot be multiplied nor divided.  It can have nothing added to it, because there is nothing outside it that could be added.  It can have nothing taken away, because to take something away would either make it less than infinite, or it would mean that there was something other than the all-embracing infinity, which would constitute a contradiction in terms.

Even Cantor recognised that the absolutely infinite differed from his other "infinities".  He is said to have equated the it with God. 

  The observable Universe, as we have seen, appears to have started its existence at a specific point, and must therefore be finite.  It is important not to think of the Big Bang as having happened at a particular point in time, or at a particular location in space.  Many cosmologists assure us that time and space were created with the Universe.  However, the Big Bang has to be seen as a pivotal point in the history of the Universe.  Given that there can never have been a time when there was nothing, it follows that there must be more to our Universe than meets the eye.  For convenience we will call this extra something the “cosmos”, and will, at this point, not be diverted into considering whether that might be a “multiverse” or simply some sort of vacuum energy state from which the Universe appeared in accordance with the “rules” of quantum uncertainty. 

  If we were able to divide infinity, for example, by two, what would we be left with?  One possibility seems to be that we would have two halves of infinity.  Each half would be less than infinite, thus it would be measurable.  Measure this quantity and multiply it by two and we have a measure of infinity, which is nonsense.  The second possibility must be that each “half” somehow becomes infinite.  Mathematically this seems reasonable; after all we can multiply or divide zero by any number we choose, and the outcome will be zero.  Perhaps we also could do this, mathematically, with infinity.  Consider Cantor's infinities: the whole numbers constitute an infinite series, so do the even numbers and the odd numbers.  Thus, Cantor demonstrated that, not only were there numerous infinities, but they were not all the same size.  It is evident that the infinity containing the even, or odd, numbers must be half the size of the infinity containing the whole numbers.  Could it be that question is answered, that we can divide infinity and that any parts into which we divide it will be infinite?  There seem to be at least two reasons why this cannot be the case.  The first is that even Cantor does not seem to have performed mathematical calculations with the infinite set of all infinities; this appears to be the only one of his infinities that is not actually a mathematical infinity.  The other is that, practically there is the complication that anything that is truly infinite must contain everything; there cannot be two infinities, because each would have to contain the other. 

Applying the Reflection Principle to the infinite set of all infinities would lead to the following contradiction:  The reflection principle holds that within a universal set, containing all sets, it must be possible to find a set that contains any property found in the universal set.  The obvious contradiction is that the universal set contains all other sets (that is one of its properties), but this property cannot be found in any of the other sets.

Wikipedia says:  " In mathematics, "infinity" is often treated as if it were a number (i.e., it counts or measures things: "an infinite number of terms") but it is not the same sort of number as the real numbers. In number systems incorporating infinitesimals, the reciprocal of an infinitesimal is an infinite number, i.e., a number greater than any real number. Georg Cantor formalized many ideas related to infinity and infinite sets during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the theory he developed, there are infinite sets of different sizes (called cardinalities).[2] For example, the set of integers is countably infinite, while the set of real numbers is uncountably infinite."

Cantor defined a countable infinity to be one that can be put into one-to-one correspondence with the list of natural numbers, whereas an uncountable infinity cannot.  Useful as these concepts may be to the mathematician, none is an "absolute" infinity, and cannot therefore be considered as more than "unbounded".

Wikipedia says:  "Transfinite numbers are numbers that are "infinite" in the sense that they are larger than all finite numbers, yet not necessarily absolutely infinite."

Perhaps "transfinite" would be a less confusing term to use for mathematical infinities; then "infinite" could be reserved for what Cantor referred to as "absolutely infinite".  This latter term has about it no less an air of tautology than does, for example, "absolutely perfect".

 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 12001
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #58 on: 23/05/2013 00:37:20 »
Well, define it as all observe all :)
Then use 'c' to define the 'speed' by which we see action and reaction, in between 'observers' normally.

And leave quantum logic to the scale where it belongs. You might use decoherence for defining where it 'disappear' possibly? Doing so you get 'two' universes as I think, or two descriptions of one theoretical, co-existing. And what differ them is the scale you use. It's not too hard describing two planets macroscopically, or the earth and the moon orbiting. But try to do the same quantum mechanically, taking into account all possible interactions.
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 12001
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #59 on: 23/05/2013 12:10:01 »
Or we are walking on the edge of infinity, scale-wise :)
=

I'm starting to look at it as a projection from infinity, and there we have scales, pointing us home. And that is where the men in white coats will smile..
« Last Edit: 23/05/2013 12:46:28 by yor_on »
 

Offline lightarrow

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4586
  • Thanked: 7 times
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #60 on: 23/05/2013 13:01:04 »
Maybe, as I wrote, it's not exactly a matter of "complexity" but of irreversibility / loss of coherence (which is related to complexity but not the same thing).
Well yes, but that's just restating wavefunction collapse.
In my opinion, not, because it would provide a (generic) model for the collapse.
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #61 on: 23/05/2013 18:28:29 »
...what I actually have in mind is that things can maybe maintain a certain amount of superpositions until it reaches a point where it's too hard to maintain them all, at which point some kind of simplification must occur.
OK; that sounds like an Objective Collapse model, which is fine as far as it goes, but for me, it needs some meat on its bones to reduce its arbitrariness.

Quote
What we'd need to test this idea though is a way to measure the total amount of complexity involved in order to see if there is some consistent level where a collapse of the wavefunction becomes more likely than not.
The problem here is that we only become aware of wavefunction collapse when we measure/observe the system, and increasing complexity means more interactions, which makes the complexity collapse model increasingly indistinguishable from the interaction collapse model.

Quote
I envisage real material as being outside the universe and merely contacting with it at a multiplicity of points, a bit like a spider with many legs hanging onto a web. Outside of the universe where the spiders reside there is no speed limit of c, but the movement of all the points of contact with the web are limited by c. Each leg continually multiplies into many new legs, following the waves in the web and maintaining an external, instant communication system between all these points. When the wavefunction has to collapse due to complexity, the spider simply lets go of the web with many of its legs and absorbs them back into itself.
Yes, I've thought about entangled particles being locally connected in a higher spatial dimension, which is fundamentally not so different from your spider, but I don't know whether this would be covered by locality in a dimensionally extended version of relativity, and I don't have the maths to find out. It's the kind of thing a physicist would think of, and I've not heard it proposed as a solution, so I'm guessing that either it is covered by locality, in which case Bell theorem invalidates it, or it just doesn't work.
« Last Edit: 23/05/2013 18:41:24 by dlorde »
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #62 on: 23/05/2013 18:39:44 »
Well yes, but that's just restating wavefunction collapse.
In my opinion, not, because it would provide a (generic) model for the collapse.
But since wavefunction collapse is decoherence observed, saying that wavefunction collapse may be a matter of decoherence is not a particularly useful generic model.

Perhaps I've missed something - can you clarify?
 

Offline David Cooper

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1505
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #63 on: 23/05/2013 19:35:37 »
What we really need to do is find experiments that allow us to push QM to the limits of how far it can sustain superpositions. I've found one that might fit the bill: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_choice_quantum_eraser. The path to D0 can be kept very short while the other path to the D1, D2, D3, D4 cluster can be lengthened without limit, and the key point here is that it's what happens at this far end that dictates what "happened" a moment earlier at the D0 end. If the longer path can be stretched out to a year, you can appear to have backwards causation in time going back for a year. You can also bend the long path back on itself such that both ends are physically located right next to each other in the same lab.

Clearly it would be hard to stretch the path out to a year as the light would need to travel a whole lightyear to cover that distance, but a minute would probably be more than adequate, and a second might suffice. Even so, that's still going to be a long path. It may also be possible to slow down the light - I've read of materials in which it can be slowed down by 90% plus and even halted, so this could maybe enable very long time delays in a small space, hopefully without destroying the entanglements.

So, we have a setup in which there is a long delay between a future cause and its past effect, but I don't think there's really any backwards-in-time causation: what will actually happen is that the data received at D0 will be maintained in an state of superposition after it's been measured, and when the measurements are made later on at the far end, those states of the data can then simplify to remove the superpositions. However, if we take the data immediately after it's been taken generated at D0 and use it in complex calculations, we could maybe do something sufficiently complex with it to force it to lose its superpositions early, with the result that no interference patterns would be observed at the far end.

Addition to this post:-

To clarify a key feature of the experiment which I linked to, if you remove the beam splitter BSc, the interference patterns disappear at both ends of the experiment, so you can sit in a lab with the long path doubled back on itself (let's say a hour long) such that you can remove BSc and put it back in again and thereby dictate what happened at D0 an hour earlier.
« Last Edit: 23/05/2013 19:45:36 by David Cooper »
 

Offline lightarrow

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4586
  • Thanked: 7 times
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #64 on: 23/05/2013 21:15:47 »
In my opinion, not, because it would provide a (generic) model for the collapse.
But since wavefunction collapse is decoherence observed, saying that wavefunction collapse may be a matter of decoherence is not a particularly useful generic model.
Perhaps I've missed something - can you clarify?
I added the concept of irreversibility, which is certainly far from being clarified in qm, but which is not simply decoherence.
But I admit I was quite criptic about it.
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #65 on: 23/05/2013 23:02:52 »
I added the concept of irreversibility, which is certainly far from being clarified in qm, but which is not simply decoherence.
Ah, OK... so in what sense might the collapse of the wavefunction be a matter of irreversibility?  irreversibility of what?
 

Offline cheryl j

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1460
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #66 on: 24/05/2013 00:01:09 »
What I've never understood is why the particle or wave question is linked to the actual act of choosing to observe or not observe and isn't a result of the system of measurement used to observe.
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #67 on: 24/05/2013 00:27:20 »
What I've never understood is why the particle or wave question is linked to the actual act of choosing to observe or not observe and isn't a result of the system of measurement used to observe.
I don't quite follow you; whether you get particle or wave behaviour does depend on your measurement setup. The object itself has the properties of both a particle and a wave in some strange way (sometimes called a 'wavicle').
 

Offline lightarrow

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4586
  • Thanked: 7 times
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #68 on: 24/05/2013 11:49:13 »
I added the concept of irreversibility, which is certainly far from being clarified in qm, but which is not simply decoherence.
Ah, OK... so in what sense might the collapse of the wavefunction be a matter of irreversibility?  irreversibility of what?
Making a measure means making a macroscopic registration of an event. Imagine a single photon hitting a fotomultiplier: something happens inside the macroscopic bulk of photo-sensitive metal, which then releases an electron, which then hits another electrode which releases 2 electrons and so on until a macroscopic current can be detected. I don't know what happens exactly, but certainly all the process is irreversible.
If, instead, a single photon hits a single atom and excites it, this proces is reversible. Maybe from the microscopic --> macroscopic some process becomes irreversible.
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #69 on: 24/05/2013 13:18:03 »
... Imagine a single photon hitting a fotomultiplier: something happens inside the macroscopic bulk of photo-sensitive metal, which then releases an electron, which then hits another electrode which releases 2 electrons and so on until a macroscopic current can be detected. I don't know what happens exactly, but certainly all the process is irreversible.
If, instead, a single photon hits a single atom and excites it, this proces is reversible. Maybe from the microscopic --> macroscopic some process becomes irreversible.
OK. That sounds to me like statistical thermodynamics; all the underlying interactions are reversible, but entropy increases because disordered states are more likely than ordered states, hence the arrow of time, and macro irreversibility...
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 12001
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #70 on: 24/05/2013 20:28:25 »
You're perfectly correct Cheryl, although dlorde is too :) (a born diplomat, that's me)
As long as you add yourself as a part of the experiment, your observation of the setup defining the outcome, I hope we can agree on it. Remember that question if a tree falls in the wood, did it? If no one is there to see it? We are the ones observing outcomes, and our observations is what define them. You can use a lot of intricate logic and that way question a lot of outcomes. But in the end I expect it to come down to if a universe can be expected to 'work' without us, or not? I think it can, and in that way you should be right in that circumstances define outcomes.
=

either my spelling, or my fingers, sux :)
Corrected though.
« Last Edit: 24/05/2013 20:51:38 by yor_on »
 

Offline Bill S

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1830
  • Thanked: 12 times
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #71 on: 28/05/2013 23:08:38 »
Quote from: dlorde
OK, go for it :)

Some people just don't know when to run for the hills. :)

Actually, this thread has given me the impetus to pull together some of the scattered notes I have made over a few years, so I guess it's done me some good.
 

Offline Bill S

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1830
  • Thanked: 12 times
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #72 on: 29/05/2013 02:23:41 »
The Infinite Cosmos      Part 5

  The apparently intrinsic indivisibility of infinity leads one to wonder if any “part” of infinity can be distinct from any other “part”.  Is it in any way meaningful to talk of parts of infinity?  If it is not, and if our Universe is “part” of this infinite cosmos, then we seem to have a problem.  However, the problem may not be as difficult to solve as it at first appears.  Consider the following possibility.  The cosmos is infinite; therefore every part of the cosmos is the cosmos.  Everything, including our apparently finite Universe, is infinite.  The birth of the Universe and perhaps its ultimate death exist together in infinity, along with all the things that “happen” between those two points.  It is all there, in eternity, in an all-embracing now.  We perceive spatial differences, and the passage of time, because our minds need to make sense of the partial image to which we are restricted.  This sounds like a recipe for predestination, but I am not suggesting that we should abdicate all responsibility for our actions; far from it.  In eternity, things are as they are, permanently.  However, we cannot entirely rule out the possibility that they are as they are, to some extent, because of the choices we seem to be making now.  Without time "to keep everything from happening all at once", our familiar concept of causality needs some re-thinking. We cannot hope to stretch our finite understanding around infinity and eternity.  Only if and when we realise the full potential of our oneness with everything in the cosmos could we hope to do that.  In the meantime, we can reason that the finiteness and change that we perceive occur only in our finite frames of reference, beyond which there is no change, and therefore no passage of, or through, time because everything just “is”. 

Julian Barbour writes of a realm – “Platonia” – in which movement and the apparent passage of time are illusions resulting from the way in which our minds interpret what he describes as a series of “snapshots” of a static, timeless cosmos.  It is a short step, if indeed it is a step at all, from Platonia to an infinite cosmos.  However, it would have to be acknowledged that in a truly infinite cosmos, the process of interpreting the snapshots, and the sequence of those snapshots, would also be illusions.  In a truly infinite realm every snapshot is every other snapshot; they exist together with no semblance of order or chronology.  We cannot move from one to another because there is no sequence and no passage of time in which to move.  If we live in an infinite cosmos, then every change we perceive, every movement we detect and every second that “ticks past” on our clocks must be an illusion.  Illusion is perhaps not the best word to use because if something exists in our reality, it is real for us.  In no way am I denying the reality of our Universe.  I am simply saying that our reality may not be "absolute" reality.

  What is, perhaps, even harder to comprehend is that, because no “part” of infinity can be distinct from any other “part”, then, any distinction which we, as individuals, perceive between ourselves and other individuals – past or present, living or dead – must also be an illusion, as must be the apparent distinction between ourselves and other creatures and objects.  Our individuality, our personality, that which we recognise as “I”, can be no more than an illusion created so that we may make sense of the limited perception which we have of “reality”. 

   Perhaps relativity is a more all pervading concept than we might imagine.  It has to be possible that, not only are time and space relative within our perception, but also that time and space exist only in our current frame of reference.  They are “real” within that frame of reference, but may be completely different, even non-existent, in another.  In fact, this is the way in which we have to look at the things I have just referred to as illusions.  It cannot be denied that they are real in our frames of reference, but reality is relative.

 In an infinite cosmos existence is infinite; everything that exists shares that same existence.  Each thing is everything.  There are no divisions or distinctions, only an all-pervading oneness.  Michael Talbot says this of the work of physicist David Bohm: “As he looked more carefully into the meaning of the quantum potential he discovered it had a number of features that implied an even more radical departure from orthodox thinking.  One was the importance of wholeness.  Classical science had always viewed the state of a system as a whole as merely the result of the interaction of its parts.  However, quantum potential stood this view on its ear and indicated that the behavior of the parts was actually organized by the whole.  This not only took Bohr’s assertion that subatomic particles are not independent ‘things’, but are part of an indivisible system one step further, but even suggested that wholeness was in some ways the more primary reality.”  This fits well with the idea that infinity is the primary reality, and that our seemingly finite existence is a mere shadow of that reality

What happens if we apply this reasoning to life, as, of course, we must?  If life is infinite, then it must be possessed by every “aspect” of the cosmos, whether or not we perceive it as being alive.  Talbot (1996) again refers to Bohm: “…he believes that dividing the universe up into living and nonliving things also has no meaning.  Animate and inanimate matter are inseparably interwoven, and life, too, is enfolded throughout the totality of the universe.  Even a rock is in some sense alive, says Bohm, for life and intelligence are present not only in all of matter, but in ‘energy,’ ‘space,’ ‘time,’ ‘the fabric of the entire universe,’ and everything else we abstract out of the holomovement and mistakenly view as separate things”.

 If all this is right, it might be tempting to say: “We are the cosmos”.  However, the term “we” implies distinction, therefore it would be more correct to say: “I am the cosmos”, recognising, of course, that every “I” in the cosmos can rightly make the same claim.  Talbot brings together two quotes from Whitman’s “Mystical Life” when he talks of “…feeling that ‘everything is everything’ and ‘I am that’.”             

Can we talk about dimensions in infinity?  Apparently some scientists feel that we can.  Some of the current cosmological theories relating to dimensions suggest that our Universe has more than four dimensions, but that we are able to detect only three of space and one of time.  Among the explanations offered for the fact that we are not aware of these other spatial dimensions is that they might be rolled up so tightly that our instruments cannot detect them.  It is even claimed that these dimensions might be rolled so tightly as to be infinitely small.  I have yet to find a definition of infinitely small that is able to distinguish it from non-existent.  However, that is another matter.  An alternative concept – the one that lets in the idea of dimensions of infinity – is that ours is a four dimensional Universe embedded in a higher dimensional cosmos, and that this cosmos might have infinite (sometimes stated as an infinite number of) dimensions.

 Any attempt to calculate the dimensions of infinity must be a matter of conjecture.  The most logical assumptions would seem to be that it might have infinite dimensions; or, perhaps, one infinite dimension.  The latter possibility seems the more likely; because, if infinity had more than one dimension, each of the dimensions would have to be all of the others, and one has to wonder how this would differ from having just one dimension.  The possibility must also be considered that dimensions are features of finite, temporal realms, and cannot be applied to infinity.  Thus, infinity would be timeless and dimensionless.  Those who have read Edwin Abbott’s “flatland” will undoubtedly notice a similarity between this interpretation of infinity and “Pointland”; although, it would have to be said that the occupant of “Pointland” was heard to be talking, which would indicate that “Pointland” must not have been timeless. 
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #73 on: 29/05/2013 12:34:48 »
I'm afraid I found that post confused, confusing, and somewhat incoherent. Confusion between a subjective and an objective view, unsubstantiated assertions, and leaps to unjustified conclusions...

For example:

The apparently intrinsic indivisibility of infinity leads one to wonder if any “part” of infinity can be distinct from any other “part”.  Is it in any way meaningful to talk of parts of infinity?
Why does it seem apparently intrinsically indivisible to you? It seems to me that infinity is divisible into any number of parts, including an infinite number of parts. In any division, there will be at least two infinite parts. Consider a road that stretches away from you to infinity in either direction. You can paint a line across it and divide it into two infinite lengths, then paint another line across, making two infinite lengths and one finite length. You can do this an infinite number of times in either direction.

Quote
It is all there, in eternity, in an all-embracing now.
It's not an 'all embracing now', because you're outside of time in that perspective; 'now' is a subjective experience of observers traversing the time dimension.

Quote
This sounds like a recipe for predestination, but I am not suggesting that we should abdicate all responsibility for our actions; far from it.  In eternity, things are as they are, permanently.  However, we cannot entirely rule out the possibility that they are as they are, to some extent, because of the choices we seem to be making now.
These are two sides of the same coin in a 4D Parminidean block universe. Part of the future is dependent on the 'choices' we make now, but those choices are deterministic events like all others, from the 4D viewpoint. That we see them subjectively as free choices is a reflection of our ignorance of all the deterministic influences involved, including the processes in our own brains (and, of course, we can't see the future). Even in a deterministic universe we will act as if we have free will - we have no choice  ;D

Quote
In a truly infinite realm every snapshot is every other snapshot; they exist together with no semblance of order or chronology.
Chronology is temporal order. But I don't see how it follows that infinity must be disordered. Consider the integers - a truly infinite extent of numbers in the plus and minus directions, and definitively ordered. All the evidence suggests that there is an ordering to time, at least at a macro scale; causality, statistical thermodynamics. There may be uncertainties at the quantum scale (see what I did there?), but they generally don't affect our subjective experience of chronology. The logical implication of your suggestion is that if we have chronology in this universe (which we appear to), it can't be infinite... I'm not averse to it being finite, but it ought to be for some coherent reason.

Quote
If we live in an infinite cosmos, then every change we perceive, every movement we detect and every second that “ticks past” on our clocks must be an illusion. Illusion is perhaps not the best word to use because if something exists in our reality, it is real for us.
So what are you saying? It isn't an illusion?  And surely saying 'if something exists in our reality, it is real for us' is tautologous - what does it mean? what is 'our reality' but what is real for us?

Quote
no “part” of infinity can be distinct from any other “part”
Why? what makes you think so?

Quote
In no way am I denying the reality of our Universe.  I am simply saying that our reality may not be "absolute" reality.
If reality is what is real to us, what is 'absolute reality'? what do you mean by it?

Quote
Perhaps relativity is a more all pervading concept than we might imagine.  It has to be possible that, not only are time and space relative within our perception, but also that time and space exist only in our current frame of reference.  They are “real” within that frame of reference, but may be completely different, even non-existent, in another.
Relativity is totally pervasive. Time and space are different for every observer. You could even say that from the 'point of view' of a particle travelling at light speed, there is no time or space (though how useful that would be isn't clear to me  ;) ).

Quote
What happens if we apply this reasoning to life, as, of course, we must?
Why?
Quote
If life is infinite, then it must be possessed by every “aspect” of the cosmos, whether or not we perceive it as being alive.
What does 'if life is infinite' mean? and why does it imply that it must be a property of every aspect of the cosmos? Two different things can be infinite without one necessarily being an attribute of the other.

Quote
if infinity had more than one dimension, each of the dimensions would have to be all of the others...
Why?
« Last Edit: 29/05/2013 18:18:45 by dlorde »
 

Offline Bill S

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1830
  • Thanked: 12 times
    • View Profile
Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #74 on: 29/05/2013 18:11:49 »
Dlorde, thanks for your response.  One of the great things about being able to share ideas is that others usually think of things in a different way and add new perspectives.

Sorry you found the last post "confused and confusing".  I've just had a look back through it, and I agree on both counts, although much less so if it is taken in conjunction with preceding posts. 

As I mentioned, these posts are pulled together from scattered notes.  It would undoubtedly have been better if I had spent more time organising them, but time is a bit short.  There should be one more "Part" to come, which may touch on some of your questions, but I will address each of them separately, anyway.   
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: What is your interpretation of quantum mechanics?
« Reply #74 on: 29/05/2013 18:11:49 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums