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Alopiidae

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quantum physics: philosophy
« on: 28/07/2006 00:52:29 »


To the enlightened physicist:

Would you agree with the position held by H. Stapp (author of “Mind, Matter and quantum mechanics” 1993) that reality is connected to subjective experience? That all the superpositions of atoms, etc. are only fixed in position at the point the observer actually makes a measurement of the event; thus collapsing the Schrodinger wave?

Or would it be more accurate to-date to suggest that the superposition will be fixed (by?) prior too and without influence by the observer?

Any direction or advice on these theories would be greatly appreciated! (I am a physics newbie and basic interpretations would be the most helpful!)

thank you!
Alopiidae

Soul Surfer

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Re: quantum physics: philosophy
« Reply #1 on: 28/07/2006 09:57:59 »
You are trying to split hairs.  we experience individually what we peresonally observe  and that includes of course writings of othe peoples experiences.  the fact that we (or anyone else in the woeld) does not experience a particular event does not deny its happening

Your question is like the zen wuestion about the tree falling on a forest asking does it make a noise if no one is there to hear it.

so things will happen whether or not we observe them and in some cases the way we observe them may make things happen in particular ways but it is just not possible to know if that was always predetermined in some way.

Some aspects of quantum wierdness (look up "Bell's inequality" on Google) suggest that it might be.

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« Last Edit: 28/07/2006 10:00:39 by Soul Surfer »

monkey

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Re: quantum physics: philosophy
« Reply #2 on: 28/07/2006 11:00:48 »
To, us, observers, reality is defined by what information we can gather. If we cannot gain any information about an object, be it an atom or an elephant, then it may as well not be real - that isn't to say it does not exist, we just cannot say where it is, how fast it is going or what it's mass is - it may as well not be there.
I should imagine that most things are real most of the time as we can infer the existence/position/speed of an object by it's interactions with others. Nearly everything interacts with everything else, through electric and gravitational fields, etc.

"Or would it be more accurate... and without influence by the observer?"

The observer does influence the observed. That's where Heisenberg's uncertinty principle is from. If your unsure about that it's the thing that states that you cannot know an objects absolute position and it's absolute speed at the same time. It comes from the fact that to observe an object (say an atom) then a photon must be detected. this photon must have interacted with the atom, changing the atom's state.

Alopiidae

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Re: quantum physics: philosophy
« Reply #3 on: 28/07/2006 11:19:06 »
Thank you for your opinions, they have been helpful.

I should clarify a little what I am trying to get a sense of: The current accepted position (not that I assume that makes it unquestionably the most correct one) regarding how the observer influence the collapsing wave to create a singular observation from a large probabilities of other observations due to the unknown superposition.

What I am being told is that quantum physics can resolve the debate that the mind can exist beyond the brain state. Or in other words, that consciousness and the mind can willfully change the brain (ie. the mind is more then merely the parts of the brain).

The first view, that the observer plays a lead role in collapsing the wave function can be used to support the theory or emergent materialism that the mind is more then the product of the brain and cannot be merely reduced to neuronal firing and neurotransmitters etc. And thus consciousness would be able to directly influence and change the physical brain.

While the second view supports Functionalism and Epiphenomenalism that  the mind may exists but its capacity is limited to what the brain dictates as the mind is created by the brain and therefore cannot alter its physical state. Or, the observer has no role in the collapse of the wave function to create a singular observation.


My knowledge of both quantum physics and neuroscience/philosophy are very limited and I hope I have not incorrectly summarized!

Thanks again

Soul Surfer

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Re: quantum physics: philosophy
« Reply #4 on: 29/07/2006 09:42:13 »
Some of the ways you express yourself suggest that you "personify" the situation and see that the person making the observation is somehow significant.  This is totally unscientific.

You have to remember that "the observer" in this context is NOT a sentient being.  It is usually another atom (or subatomic particle)at the quantum level.

We as sentient beings make our observation by noting the behaviour of this other atom and inferring what has happened from this.

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another_someone

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Re: quantum physics: philosophy
« Reply #5 on: 29/07/2006 12:04:52 »
quote:
Originally posted by Soul Surfer
Some of the ways you express yourself suggest that you "personify" the situation and see that the person making the observation is somehow significant.  This is totally unscientific.

You have to remember that "the observer" in this context is NOT a sentient being.  It is usually another atom (or subatomic particle)at the quantum level.

We as sentient beings make our observation by noting the behaviour of this other atom and inferring what has happened from this.




What is meant by observation if the result of the observation is not itself observed (i.e. is a discarded observation still an observation)?

Since my understanding of the effect of observation upon an experiment is that this is the moment what an uncertainty is translated into a certainty (i.e. you have measured it), thus a discarded observation does not itself create this certainty, because one has discarded the information within the potential measurement, and so the situation still remains uncertain until some later measurement is made that is not discarded.



George

Soul Surfer

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Re: quantum physics: philosophy
« Reply #6 on: 29/07/2006 18:34:26 »
You are still personifying the process as if quantum interections require a human being there to continue.

THIS IS NOT TRUE!

a wavefunction collapses to certainty whenever another process happens that require this.  This has nothing really to do wit "observation" as we understand it in the sense of a scientist doing an experiment and seeing the result it is just things happenig ehether we are there or not.

Learn, create, test and tell
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Soul Surfer

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Re: quantum physics: philosophy
« Reply #7 on: 28/07/2006 09:57:59 »
You are trying to split hairs.  we experience individually what we peresonally observe  and that includes of course writings of othe peoples experiences.  the fact that we (or anyone else in the woeld) does not experience a particular event does not deny its happening

Your question is like the zen wuestion about the tree falling on a forest asking does it make a noise if no one is there to hear it.

so things will happen whether or not we observe them and in some cases the way we observe them may make things happen in particular ways but it is just not possible to know if that was always predetermined in some way.

Some aspects of quantum wierdness (look up "Bell's inequality" on Google) suggest that it might be.

Learn, create, test and tell
evolution rules in all things
God says so!
« Last Edit: 28/07/2006 10:00:39 by Soul Surfer »

monkey

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Re: quantum physics: philosophy
« Reply #8 on: 28/07/2006 11:00:48 »
To, us, observers, reality is defined by what information we can gather. If we cannot gain any information about an object, be it an atom or an elephant, then it may as well not be real - that isn't to say it does not exist, we just cannot say where it is, how fast it is going or what it's mass is - it may as well not be there.
I should imagine that most things are real most of the time as we can infer the existence/position/speed of an object by it's interactions with others. Nearly everything interacts with everything else, through electric and gravitational fields, etc.

"Or would it be more accurate... and without influence by the observer?"

The observer does influence the observed. That's where Heisenberg's uncertinty principle is from. If your unsure about that it's the thing that states that you cannot know an objects absolute position and it's absolute speed at the same time. It comes from the fact that to observe an object (say an atom) then a photon must be detected. this photon must have interacted with the atom, changing the atom's state.

Alopiidae

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Re: quantum physics: philosophy
« Reply #9 on: 28/07/2006 11:19:06 »
Thank you for your opinions, they have been helpful.

I should clarify a little what I am trying to get a sense of: The current accepted position (not that I assume that makes it unquestionably the most correct one) regarding how the observer influence the collapsing wave to create a singular observation from a large probabilities of other observations due to the unknown superposition.

What I am being told is that quantum physics can resolve the debate that the mind can exist beyond the brain state. Or in other words, that consciousness and the mind can willfully change the brain (ie. the mind is more then merely the parts of the brain).

The first view, that the observer plays a lead role in collapsing the wave function can be used to support the theory or emergent materialism that the mind is more then the product of the brain and cannot be merely reduced to neuronal firing and neurotransmitters etc. And thus consciousness would be able to directly influence and change the physical brain.

While the second view supports Functionalism and Epiphenomenalism that  the mind may exists but its capacity is limited to what the brain dictates as the mind is created by the brain and therefore cannot alter its physical state. Or, the observer has no role in the collapse of the wave function to create a singular observation.


My knowledge of both quantum physics and neuroscience/philosophy are very limited and I hope I have not incorrectly summarized!

Thanks again

Soul Surfer

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Re: quantum physics: philosophy
« Reply #10 on: 29/07/2006 09:42:13 »
Some of the ways you express yourself suggest that you "personify" the situation and see that the person making the observation is somehow significant.  This is totally unscientific.

You have to remember that "the observer" in this context is NOT a sentient being.  It is usually another atom (or subatomic particle)at the quantum level.

We as sentient beings make our observation by noting the behaviour of this other atom and inferring what has happened from this.

Learn, create, test and tell
evolution rules in all things
God says so!

another_someone

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Re: quantum physics: philosophy
« Reply #11 on: 29/07/2006 12:04:52 »
quote:
Originally posted by Soul Surfer
Some of the ways you express yourself suggest that you "personify" the situation and see that the person making the observation is somehow significant.  This is totally unscientific.

You have to remember that "the observer" in this context is NOT a sentient being.  It is usually another atom (or subatomic particle)at the quantum level.

We as sentient beings make our observation by noting the behaviour of this other atom and inferring what has happened from this.




What is meant by observation if the result of the observation is not itself observed (i.e. is a discarded observation still an observation)?

Since my understanding of the effect of observation upon an experiment is that this is the moment what an uncertainty is translated into a certainty (i.e. you have measured it), thus a discarded observation does not itself create this certainty, because one has discarded the information within the potential measurement, and so the situation still remains uncertain until some later measurement is made that is not discarded.



George

Soul Surfer

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Re: quantum physics: philosophy
« Reply #12 on: 29/07/2006 18:34:26 »
You are still personifying the process as if quantum interections require a human being there to continue.

THIS IS NOT TRUE!

a wavefunction collapses to certainty whenever another process happens that require this.  This has nothing really to do wit "observation" as we understand it in the sense of a scientist doing an experiment and seeing the result it is just things happenig ehether we are there or not.

Learn, create, test and tell
evolution rules in all things
God says so!

socratus

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Re: quantum physics: philosophy
« Reply #13 on: 02/08/2006 13:05:02 »
There are many interpretations of quantum physics.
American physicist   J.A.Wheeler had a hobby:
He collected different interpretations of quantum physics.
Here is one more interpretation of the quantum theory.
www.socratus.com

Mjhavok

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Re: quantum physics: philosophy
« Reply #14 on: 03/08/2006 04:49:02 »
quote:
Originally posted by Soul Surfer

You are still personifying the process as if quantum interections require a human being there to continue.

THIS IS NOT TRUE!

a wavefunction collapses to certainty whenever another process happens that require this.  This has nothing really to do wit "observation" as we understand it in the sense of a scientist doing an experiment and seeing the result it is just things happenig ehether we are there or not.

Learn, create, test and tell
evolution rules in all things
God says so!



Totally agree!

another_someone

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Re: quantum physics: philosophy
« Reply #15 on: 03/08/2006 10:23:34 »
It is an interesting philosophical question, but can science ultimately be anything but based upon that which is personally observed (either directly or indirectly)?

As an example, we see an observable universe based upon how far light could travel since the birth of the universe (i.e. a sphere of about 14 billion light years).  We regard whatever is beyond that boundary as being non-existent, because it is not possible for us ever to know of it – thus we regard what exists as only being that which we are capable of knowing to exist – how much more personal than that can you get?

So, back to the question in hand – you say that the collapse of a wave function can occur not only when a human observes it, but when any other matter interacts with that wave function – but ultimately, is not this other matter also a wave function, and do not humans have to observe this other matter in order to know it is there.  I fully accept that it is possible for humans to observe particle A, which tells us something about particle B, which tells us something about particle C, etc.; but somewhere along that chain, there must be a human observations, or we should regard the whole ensemble as non-existent.



George

 

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