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Posts posted by bombus

  1. No, it has not. QM does indeed suggest some things about reality that were previously hypothetical. However, that is not one of them.


    We might be going around in circles here. I say that it is one of them according to some interpretations of QM. Can you please provide proof of your claim. I have provided proof of my claim. Here;s another:



  2. Ok, the statement is equivalent to:


    "I have no way of proving whether or not the world disappears when I close my eyes."


    This is true. It can be applied to anything, and "anything" includes quantum mechanics. However, it has no special significance to QM.


    Only QM has provided scientific data that suggests that it could be a possibility. Without QM data it's pure conjecture.

  3. yes, it is theoretically possible to build a mechanical computer. it is also practically possible as evidenced by the difference engine.


    in theory, if you had enough time you could do everything a modern computer can do on babbages difference engine.


    In that case, if it is possible for computers to become conscious (and many think they can), could a purely mechanical engine of enough complexity become conscious?

  4. Title Erratum : "exercise"


    Let A and B two people wanting to make a community. Suppose A has 1'000$, B has 5'000$. What is the common money (common to A and B) ?


    Their dollars would be worthless unless their community exists within a larger one where the money has value (e.g. the USA).

  5. A thought experiment:


    Charles Babbage is thought of as the inventor of computers with his difference engine etc. This was a mechanical device.


    Modern computers are electronic rather than mechanical and work by having electrons flow through CPUs and other electronic devices.


    Is it theoretically possible to replicate the workings of a computer using mechanics?

  6. At the risk of saying something that might already have been touched upon, in the double-slit experiment, the results changed without ever being relayed through a consciousness. Electrons through double slit = interference pattern; electrons through double slits with (non conscious) detectors = particular behaviour (as conveyed by the screen on the other side of the slits). Sure, a consciousness observed the photons coming from the screen which showed the difference in behaviour of the electrons, but surely the wavefunction collapse occurred much earlier, at the point of detection. And even if the detectors did not actually record anything, their very presence caused the breakdown of the probability curve.


    Why do you say 'but surely the wavefunction collapse occurred much earlier' ? There is no surely about it. This is IMHO a big issue in science where investigation can be influenced more by incredulity than impartial analysis of evidence. See here:



  7. No, you aren't. The statement, "it might be the case that the paper doesn't say anything until a conscious mind becomes aware of it" is not especially related to quantum mechanics.


    Sorry, I have no idea what you are on about. Please explain.

  8. And this is where you make your mistake - you ignore evidence and choose to BELIEVE. Look, I wasn't kidding, someone call Occam.


    If you make a random number generator that yields over-50, then it's busted. Then you do it again, with pre-recorded data that HAS been observed and fixed (some guys in white coats somewhere KNOW what the numbers will be). You again get over-50.


    My first guess is you blew it. Bug in siftware, bug in generator, you name it.


    You might not be an experienced person with random numbers but as a 15yr+ programming experience, I'll let you in on a few secrets:


    a) random number are never random. They are extracted from the decimals of a function with a very long period. Better systems have a recorded set and work with that


    b) random numbers are repeated if you take the same seed. In PCs and similar implementations, Randomize() skips in the decimal string at current time(). If you set the clock at 1:00:00, 19-06-2009 and call randomize() then Random(3), you get 1. Reset time and call again, it again 1. Not only that, but the sequence restarts. I can write you a program that calls Random() 50.000 times, draws a graph and tomorrow morning when you re-run, it will reproduce exactly. Once little bug in code and you have a shot experiment.


    c) Random numbers all sum up to zero (or whatever they collapse to). There is no obligation for them to be UNIFORM, though. Perfect random numbers are: 1,1,1,1 ...., 1, -300000. This sequence is random (not determined by a function), averages 0 and it's 300.001 numbers long. Perfect (statistical) string but only works if you take 300.001 samples. Any other subsample and you get skewed results.


    c.2) As a result of c), if you draw the graph of random sum function RS, with Rs begin RS(x) := RS(x) + Random(1,-1) (or Signum(-100 + Random(200)) if you will), then the function will hover around zero at some point or other. While it WILL go through zero several times and the sum of the values will tend to be zero, any subsection of the function will look full-positive or full-negative because in that section numbers will tend to be negative, but the sum is positive.


    What I'm trying to say if I didn't put you all to sleep is that (ESPECIALLY WITH HUMAN-PC EXPERIMENTS) these things mean squat unless you do many, many, many permutations. PC Random() will settle statistically after 2^31 extractions(signed 32 bit because Randomize() takes such a number. Anything less and you get positive-exceeded or negative-exceeded results.


    The problem with humans is that that can only do a few. A thousand is a good guess before they go nuts, and focusing hard wears them out in an hour or so, with a number every 3 seconds that's roughly one thousand.


    2^31 is 2 billion. Divided by 1000, it's (we'll say 1024), that 2^21, or 2 million (roughly). Brought into real time, this is the equivalent of someone getting an idea of what you do in a day by observing you for 41.1 milliseconds. This is roughly the time it takes a flash from a photo to light, expose and die off. From a statistical point of view, you are hanging in mid air, frozen.


    You think people who play lottery, slots, etc don't WANT to win? There's a reason they never made the news, don't win lottery, don't play blackjack, etc. There are games that lean 51-49 for the house. They'd be rich, now wouldn't they?


    I would venture that it is you that is ignoring the evidence. You can explain away the evidence if you want, and choose to BELIEVE that its all an error, a hoax, or whatever. You can BELIEVE what you like.


    Do you really think the issues you mention have not been considered by the experimenters? They are not cranks you know!

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    No, you're not.


    I am talking about some interpretations of QM

  9. No, that is the nature of the interpretations of QM. One problem being that interpretations are basically an attempt to explain QM using a framework of familiar, classical concepts


    Yes, that's fair enough. It was those interpretations we were discussing, but I should have been more precise in my answer.



    But there is evidence for these phenomenon


    Well, I don't want to go off topic and debate the merits of plate tectonics and dark matter (but neither have been proven beyond all doubt) but that's not my point. My point is that just because a theory sounds too amazing is not in itself a good reason to discount it, as many accepted paradigms are quite amazing. Also, there is experimental evidence to suggest that conciousness can affect QM.


    The problem with the QM/consciousness connection is that if you move the parameters around enough, as has happened here (the detector not being conscious vs. the detector being placed by a conscious being) then it's not falsifiable. The only way that we can confirm the result of an experiment is to look at it, so there will always be a path to where consciousness was involved. So if that's the contention, then game over. Not falsifiable = not science.


    I do get what you are saying and you are not wrong (it is an intractable problem) but it does not HAVE to go so far that we have to think that 'the moon disappears when your not looking'.


    Roger Pernrose's interpretation suggests that conciousness does play a role at the sub atomic level. He proposes that conciousnesss can affect sub-atomic particles, but not macro scale objects. He suggests that the greater the mass the more quickly wave function collapses (kinda) but that at the quantum scale conciousness can cause collapse.


    But the framework where e.g. the electron "knows" that the interaction is from a detector which was placed by a conscious being vs. just being some stray field is not part of QM.


    But the idea that it is just a result of the equipment does not correlate with the evidence either. E.g. observing one slit affects the particles passing through other.


    Anyway. Are we agreed that the subject of observer = interaction is still debateable and has not been resolved?

  10. No, I want you to acknowledge that you understand that you're not talking about QM. The question that is up in the air is whether or not a computer printout has ink on it that says A or B before a conscious mind looks at it.


    Of course I am talking about QM. What do you think those paragraphs I have posted refer to?


    I think you are all forgeting that I am not the proponent of the theory, nor am I defender of it. This whole conversation is actually about whether or not the debate about the role of consciousness has been resolved. All I have been trying to demonstrate is that it has not, and why, according to some interpretations - and I think I have been able to prove that.


    If you think the debate HAS been resolved, can you please provide me with proof.

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    He wants proof that you understand that consciousness IS NOT REQUIRED for the wave to collapse.


    I understand that some interpretations do not require consciousness to cause wave function collapse, but other interpretations do.

  11. When I say you're "moving the goalposts," this is what I mean:


    You: QM is amazing! One interpretation is that [phenomenon] doesn't exist until a conscious mind looks at it.

    Me: But in order to say that's possible, you need to demand a standard of proof in which you could say the same about anything. It's not special to QM.

    You: Exactly!

    Me: ...


    I concede I have been sloppy in my response.


    The thing is, you want proof that consciousness causes collapse of wave function (is that more or less what you are getting at?).


    There is no proof outside QM itself, because the only scientific study that suggests this could be a possibility is QM, so it becomes a circular argument.


    The possibility has not, as far as I am aware, ever been raised before as there has never been a need for the proposal before QM. There is no hard proof for any interpretations of QM - hence the list of interpretations (some more popular than others), but to say that as there is no proof of consciousness causing collapse means it can't be true simply avoids the issue so it can never be solved. It remains a possiblity that may yet gain evidence although probably indirectly, as it's pretty hard to prove directly (as is the brain in a box hypothesis, or simulation argument etc).


    As has been mentioned above the whole subject ends up being more like metaphysics than hard physics, but that is the nature of QM.


    I am not offering any solutions to intractible problems here, but I would say that we need to remain open minded and not reject theories just because they *seem* unbelieveable - as there is lots in QM - and science for that matter - that seems unbelievable but ends up being considered the paradigm.


    Plate tectonics could be thought of as quite unbelievable, but is widely accepted. Dark Matter too, I am sure you can think of others.

  12. This is just moving the goalposts.


    I am not trying to be evasive and moving the goalposts. The placing of goalposts IS the argument. If conscious observation is involved then it makes no difference when the observation takes place. That is the crux of the issue - at least according to some interpretations of QM.



    By and large it is not physicists in the debate, and the debate is not about the physics, much like a debate about the ethics of medicine is not a debate about medicine, it is a debate about ethics.


    I get what you are saying, but I would still say it is a debate occurring within the subject of physics.


    See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpretation_of_quantum_mechanics



    Again, the emphasis is on the philosophical interpretation, not the physics.


    Well, yes, I would agree. But ultimately physics and indeed all science is a branch of philosophy. Interpreting QM however does indeed blur the boundaries though. Again, that's at the crux of the problem when people try to make sense of QM. I am sure I don't need to highlight how many interpretations there are!


    And it has been answered, yet you persist in presenting a contrary conclusion.


    To your satisfaction maybe, but perhaps not to everyone's.

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    Do I seriously need to? In this case the extraordinary claim, I think, is that the car didn't crash because it ran into a brick wall, but only because we are aware of it.


    Detection of electrons passing through just one slit affects electrons passing through the other where there has been no interaction. This is difficult to explain through purely the detector affecting the experiment.


    The interaction is whatever the method of measurement is, which Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle proves it is impossible to make without affecting the measured.


    Yes, acording to some interpretations


    Again, you're making the extraordinary claim, and not even about QM. You're saying that, for example, a computer printout doesn't say one thing or the other until you look at it. While technically you can't prove that isn't the case, it's an argument that has nothing to do with the double slit experiment.


    Well, yes, it is an extraordinary claim. Astonishing and unbelievable in fact. However, some of the greatest minds have struggled to interpret the results, and if it is simply a case of the physical interaction affecting the result I doubt QM would have caused such a fuss (and continues to do so).


    But another standpoint is that it is not really that astonishing. The very question 'Why is there anything?' cannot be answered by science (or even gods for that matter) and yet the fact that existence exists (:confused:) is astonishing. From the big bang/beginning of existence is anything really THAT astonishing?


    Again, in QM, there's no such thing as "just looking."


    What about not looking at one of the slits?


    You can't "prove" anything by that standard, ultimately. But we were talking about what's special about QM, and you keep trying to move the goalposts.


    I disagree that I am moving the goalposts. As said above, the placement of the goalposts are integral to the issue, some (but not all) interpretations involving conscious observation suggest that it's a goalpost that does continually move...


    Do you talk like that to people in person?[/


    Only to those that believe in the many worlds interpretation;)

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    Bingo! The non-falsifiable nature of the discussion is how one knows the "debate" is philosophy and not physics.


    You are correct of course, and one can't argue with this. But in the case of QM and it's wierd results maybe its acceptable? I think that QM pushes the issue of philosophy/science into our faces and we should not retreat from tackling the problem.

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    To answer your question...


    In general terms you are correct, but experiments have been undertaken with pre-recorded data where 'observers' have been asked to try to influence the data e.g make data recorded by a random number generator produce numbers above 50.


    The effect seems to work with real-time random number generators but also works with pre-recorded data (the results cannot be accounted for by chance)!


    I find this astonishing, unbelievable, and though I'm willing to remain skeptical, am also willing to believe it could be possible.


    But to get back to my original question (where all this debate stemmed from) I am not sure that I agree that the issue about observation and interaction being the same thing is universally accepted. E.g.


    In Einstein's theory, any object that has mass causes a warp in the structure of space and time around it. This warping produces the effect we experience as gravity. Penrose points out that tiny objects, such as dust specks, atoms and electrons, produce space-time warps as well. Ignoring these warps is where most physicists go awry. If a dust speck is in two locations at the same time, each one should create its own distortions in space-time, yielding two superposed gravitational fields. According to Penrose's theory, it takes energy to sustain these dual fields. The stability of a system depends on the amount of energy involved: the higher the energy required to sustain a system, the less stable it is. Over time, an unstable system tends to settle back to its simplest, lowest-energy state: in this case, one object in one location producing one gravitational field. If Penrose is right, gravity yanks objects back into a single location, without any need to invoke observers or parallel universes.[1]






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    There is a whole host of people who are using QM as an excuse to justify the nonsense they peddle. Deepak Chopra and his ilk. So while I can't view the video at the moment to comment specifically on that, let me say that just because someone uses the words of QM doesn't mean they are actually doing QM.


    Yes that is right. But we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are many emminent scientists who are vey serious about some of the implications of QM that some find unpalatable.



  13. Nope. No consciousness here, just detection.


    The "observer" in this experiment wasn't human. Institute scientists used for this purpose a tiny but sophisticated electronic detector that can spot passing electrons. The quantum "observer's" capacity to detect electrons could be altered by changing its electrical conductivity, or the strength of the current passing through it.

    If there was no conscious observer then there was no experiment. The observation just occurred later - which hinders the argument that it is mere interaction that causes the effect.


    Anything labeled "Interpretation of quantum mechanics" is not a physics debate, per se, it's a philosophy debate. Emphasis is on interpretation, not QM.


    Yes exactly my point, but it is occurring in Physics and as a result of physics therefore it is a physics debate.


    Still no indication this debate is going on in physics circles.


    I would suggest that you are incorrect, otherwise why would the issue be raised as in the links provided earlier. :

    Participatory Anthropic Principle (PAP)

    Main article: Anthropic principle

    Viewed by some as mysticism (see "consciousness causes collapse"), Wheeler's Participatory Anthropic Principle is the speculative theory that observation by a conscious observer is responsible for the wavefunction collapse. It is an attempt to solve Wigner's friend paradox by simply stating that collapse occurs at the first "conscious" observer. Supporters claim PAP is not a revival of substance dualism, since (in one ramification of the theory) consciousness and objects are entangled and cannot be considered as distinct. Although such an idea could be added to other interpretations of quantum mechanics, PAP was added to the Copenhagen interpretation (Wheeler studied in Copenhagen under Niels Bohr in the 1930s). It is possible an experiment could be devised to test this theory, since it depends on an observer to collapse a wavefunction. The observer has to be conscious, but whether Schrödinger's cat or a person is necessary would be part of the experiment (hence a successful experiment could also define consciousness). However, the experiment would need to be carefully designed as, in Wheeler's view, it would need to ensure for an unobserved event that it remained unobserved for all time [2].




    Anyway, I merely asked a question. It is another that made an assertion without backing it up.

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    Not really, though. It's the physical set up of the experiment, not the intention of the experimenter.


    Can you prove this?


    If you have a device that measures which slit it goes through, all you're doing is forcing an external interaction at an earlier point, and that external interaction forces it to be one place or another. Measurement requires interaction, and interaction causes change.


    What is the interaction? Does the interaction occur at the time of measuremen or at the time the measurement is recorded. It cannot be proven to be the former.


    If you put a brick wall across the road to measure whether a car goes by, whether or not you choose to "measure" (i.e., build the wall) will certainly affect the outcome, but it would be an odd way of phrasing it to say that your free will caused the car to crash. The car crashed because there was a wall in the way.


    Why involve a brick? If you just looked, no crash! In the double slit experiment observation of just one slit effected the results of the non-observed slit which was not 'interacted' with.


    ... But consciousness still doesn't enter into it.[/


    That is an opinion. One cannot prove this. It's all just belief my friend:-). Maybe it is time to realise this and enter a new universe.


    Thanks, but thats a link to [an] 'observable' not 'observation'. There is a subtle but important difference. The page doesn't tackle the issue directly.


    FYI, the role of consciousness and observation/measurement in Qm is being discussed here:



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    QM does indeed make some previously purely academic philosophical questions a more practical concern. Physics has a history of doing that to philosophy and mathematics. However, consciousness doesn't particularly enter into it, although certainly many (mostly non-scientists) have tried. One issue is similar to the tree in the forest, though "someone around to hear it" is replaced with "something that will be different depending on whether or not it has fallen" or some such. It is reminiscent of but not the same as the original...


    I get what your saying - the trouble is that the intention of the measurement in the double slit experience affects the outcome. If you try to see which slit the electron actually goes through it behaves as a particle, if not it behaves as a wave. The act of observation affects the outcome. This is not the case in classical physics.

  15. My point, though, was that there's nothing especially quantum mechanics-y about those doubts. There's no more reason to suspect that it it's not there until a conscious being looks at it than it is for classical physics, or everyday life. You say "choosing to ignore it" as if quantum physicists in particular are ignoring some possibility especially relevant to them. But in the exact same way, every one of us goes about our daily lives under the implicit assumption that the world is still there when we're not looking, and that objection can always be raised, no matter what the subject.


    With QM, "observation" is indeed special in a way that in some ways parallels that idea, but the "observation" means interaction with something external, not awareness by some conscious mind particularly. In fact, you could argue that it specifically doesn't mean that, as the only conscious minds we know of (humans) have no way of directly observing quantum phenomena.


    But wasn't it QM experiments (double slit and all that) that brought the issue of observation into sharp relief? Before then it was just a philisophical question (falling trees making noises in woodlands etc). QM suggests that such philosophical thinking could have some basis in reality.


    Can you direct me to a definition of observation with regard to QM? I'm happy to be corrected.

  16. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/02/980227055013.htm


    Also, read up on John Archibald Wheeler and his Participatory Anthropic Principle (PAP):




    A quote from the following page proving the debate - see for yourself: the Many Worlds Iinterpretation is just one of many.


    MWI removes the observer-dependent role in the quantum measurement process by replacing wavefunction collapse with quantum decoherence. Since the role of the observer lies at the heart of most if not all "quantum paradoxes," this automatically resolves a number of problems; see for example Schrödinger's cat thought-experiment, the EPR paradox, von Neumann's "boundary problem" and even wave-particle duality. Quantum cosmology also becomes intelligible, since there is no need anymore for an observer outside of the universe.





    That will do. There's enough here to prove that the subject is open to debate.

  17. So, in other words, you have ZERO real citations that there is this supposed "debate," and you will just be ignoring swansonts question presented to you in post #10. Good to know.


    OK, I will find some for you.


    Maybe you can find me some citations that everyone is in agreement.

  18. You can do that indefinitely, but at that point you're no longer dealing with quantum mechanics. You're talking about philosophical sollipsism. "How do we know the machine has recorded something real until we look at it" vs. "How do I know the world doesn't disappear when I close my eyes." No difference.


    Yes, you are absolutely correct, one can do it indefinitely. But no-one can draw the line between when it stops being 'QM' and becomes solipsism? This is the big issue with QM and however unpalatable it will not go away by ignoring it.


    In laymans terms, some physicists do choose to ignore it so have a different interpretaton of observation than those that do not.


    As far as I am aware, the issue cannot be resolved by scientific experimentation. It's down to belief - which one could say has no place in science.


    And there we are all stuck!

  19. The word does cause confusion, but it just means interaction with something external. I think it comes from the initial Heisenberg thought experiments in a "how do we determine position and momentum at the same time" kind of thing, and would still apply in laboratory experiments (where, in the case of QM, it always means recorded by some type of machine, for obvious reasons). It is similar to the way we say that "no information can be transferred at faster than light," where "information" isn't limited to something understood by conscious beings.



    Consciousness being interaction is an opinion of some physicists I think.


    The results of any expts or measurements can only be recorded once a conscious observer is involved. A machine that records data has recorded nothing until the results are analysed by a conscious observer. There is no way out of this as far as I can see.

  20. It has been speculated that matter creates a drag on the expansion of space. This drag causes time to slow around matter and that gravity is a result of this.


    I wonder whether matter is purely a time differential in space. I.e. divisions/demarcations in spacetime.

  21. Yeah, it's got nothing to do with consciousness. To be "observed" means to interact with something.


    Is that not part of a current debate? I did not know the question had been settled.

  22. Have you heard about the Big Wow Theory?


    The Big Wow theory is the colloquial name for a paper by Italian astrophysicist Paola Zizzi entitled “Emergent Consciousness; From the Early Universe to Our Mind”




    You also might be interested in the following link. It's Dr. Stuart Hameroff being 'the skunk at an atheists conference'. He's not treated with much respect! He presents a suggestions about universal consciousness being a secular, non-religious, science-based approach to God.




    Go to session 4.


    The rest of the conference is very good by the way!

  23. No, actually... We're not. Only if you limit your population to something like primates can you make such a declaration and have anything resembling accuracy. Since you went on to include all life on earth in the rest of your post, I must protest your opening salvo.


    Humans are NOT top dog.



    With that said... Hands down, bacteria. Currently top dog, and forever will be... depending, of course, on how you choose to define "top dog."


    Indeed - I concur!


    Also, an interesting fact - in biomass terms there is more cow on the planet than human.


    I think there may also be more wheat than either!


    Also also, the 'evolutionary' value of intelligence has yet to be determined! It could be a bad idea for the long term.

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