Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Quantum Mechanics - The Measurement Problem
The quantum measurement problem ultimately shows the inseparability of the observer from the observed. There is no measurable, solid reality “out there” independent of the measurer. What is “out there” when we’re not looking is an infinite wavy cloud of criss-crossing possibilities. Then when we focus our attention on something, the wave function collapses into a defined particle in a definite location for us to observe.
“This rather simple experiment raises a central question about the role of the observer in quantum reality. This is known as the quantum measurement problem: We infer that the photon acts like a wave when we’re not looking, but we never actually see those waves. So what causes the photon to ‘collapse’ into a particle when we do decide to look at it? In classical physics, objects are regarded as objectively real and independent of the observer. In the quantum world, this is no longer the case.” -Dean Radin, “Entangled Minds” (218)
Physicist Fred Alan Wolf uses the term “popping the quiff” (QWF for Quantum Wave Function) to describe the role of the observer in creating reality. Before being consciously observed, quanta (the building blocks of all matter) exist only as a boundary-less wave of undifferentiated quantum energy. In this state there is no matter as such, no particles or “things” with attributes and definite locations - just an infinite expanse of energy, Zero-Point, The Field. However, when a conscious observer focuses attention, they “pop the quiff,” collapse the quantum wave function into a solid particle of experience with definable attributes and location.
These findings are so significant because they prove that the classical Newtonian model of physics (now being termed “the old physics”) is fundamentally flawed. The old physics described a mechanistic material universe “out there” existing regardless of whether or not there was a conscious being alive to perceive it. The new physics shows that matter doesn’t even exist without consciousness. Without a conscious observer to “pop the quiff,” there is no substance, no “materiality” to that which is – just an unlimited, undifferentiated field of energy.
“If you want to see fear in a quantum physicist’s eyes, just mention the words, ‘the measurement problem.’ The measurement problem is this: an atom only appears in a particular place if you measure it. In other words, an atom is spread out all over the place until a conscious observer decides to look at it. So the act of measurement or observation creates the entire universe.” -Jim Al-Khalili, Nuclear Physicist