Thursday, March 31, 2005

Hi everybody and thanks for following along on Dr. Quantum’s adventure in this land of dreams and nightmares. I have been getting loads of questions from you all—usually you send to me at my email address I thought I would share a few with you in this blog.

Question: Can a machine or measuring device collapse the quantum wave function and turn a possibility into a real event?

Answer: A measuring device does not collapse the wave function according to quantum physics. That assumption although popular and practical turns out to be incorrect as careful experiment indicates. There have been a number of schemes attempting to add an ad hoc assumption to quantum physics to take care of the “measurement problem” but none are consistent. Some take it that since a device is “classical” and noisy, the device couples in the following way: Take a coin that is flipped so that it lands somewhere. Make it a simple atomic coin like the spin of an electron. The coin can land H or T and the device D can therefore point to Dh or Dt. If the device is a good device then according to quantum physics we get the following scenario: Dt*T+Dh*H, as the final quantum wave function. Since Dt and Dh are very complex quantum wave functions the probability that there is any overlap between them is practically nil. Now an observer comes on the scene. The observer S can see the instrument and can see St or Sh. Hence the observer thinks the coin has landed one way or the other but the actual situation is both St*Dt*T+Sh*Dh*H. These two worlds are very complex and any overlap between them is practically nil. If we assume there is no overlap this becomes what is called the “decoherent phase approximation.” It is then envisioned that the system has “become” classical and the quantum coin is now behaving as if it has a real side showing and the device has a observed that side and the observer has observed that device. But take care it is only an assumption that appears practical but quantum physics does not say that happens.

Question: What if the observer is actually conscious of all the possibilities of the coin flip (including it landing on its side like in the twilight zone, and the possibility of it falling out of space/time, and the possibility that it bursts into flame etc.). The experience that I am ‘feeling’ (heads), however, is just one of these possibilities (as quantum theory suggests). But why does my reality have to be a choice, what if ‘I’ am actually not making any choices at all and realizing all of these realities at different times. There is no ‘consciousness’ because there is no choice, I am not actually discriminating anything, I am a cog in a much larger overall discrimination.
My question of coarse regards consciousness. I am a fan of Daniel Dennett and heterophenomenology which posits that consciousness doesn’t exist as a sincere entity. In relation to quantum physics, it seems that we are forced to believe in an observer, because without one, we have no world. However, why are we dedicated to positing an “observer.” Why couldn’t we suggest that in this reality, or this one of many realities, that the principles of light, and how light interacts with atoms results in this process. The observer, as it were, is not there. Rather, what is there is an organism that has been designed to project light towards atoms over time. The observer is our misconception that light directed outwards denotes a being, when it actually just denotes a principle of mechanics.
Moreover, if everything that can happen does happen, than isn’t therefore true that consciousness is unreal because it could be?

Answer: Thanks for your interesting question and your views on Dennett’s work. I also admire his work, although I believe it’s not taking into account quantum physics principles but only those of classical deterministic physics and Darwinism.
To really understand the problem of consciousness you will need to grasp that physics does not explain the action of an observer. Modeling what an observer does has been in the works for a long time. I am working on several ideas myself based on some new ideas called “weak measurements” which might explain how different observers often do not see the same things.
Now quantum physics predicts that according to von Neumann’s model of quantum physical observation an observer interacts with an observed in such a manner that the observer’s state and the observed state become correlated. Let me use a flipped coin as an example. That means if the observer “sees” heads the coin will be showing heads AND if the observer sees tails the coin will show tails. However quantum physics tells us that BOTH of these possibilities must exist simultaneously. In other words, the observer has split into two worlds a heads world and a tails world.
Yet the observer is conscious of only one world either heads or tails. That is the mystery. No physics explains that. Hence consciousness cannot be explained by current physics. Hence since I believe we all feel we are conscious beings, but what makes that happen? For more on this I suggest you read any of my latest books or listen to my audio CDs. Here is a list to look at: The Dreaming Universe , The Spiritual Universe . Mind into Matter, Matter into Feeling, The Yoga of Time Travel, and Dr. Quantum Presents: A User’s Guide to Your Universe.


Blogger Sophie Robertson said...

I wanted to tell you about a rather startling observation, and other than fear I'm not exactly sure why this is. I have been very much influenced and changed by "What the bleep", and all very positive, but while blogging I surfed other blogs by people that had "What the Bleep" as a favorite movie and I found that they were quite fatalistic. Of course I don't know these people and I don't know if they had that tendency before viewing the movie. Do you find, when you're speaking with fans, that interpretation?
Personally my world imploded and exploded at the same time and life is amazing. A door has opened for me, there's synchronicity and coincidences and life is magic. I've been reading your articles and learning so much - thanks for sending me down the rabbit hole!
I can be blogged at

April 30, 2005 at 6:24 AM  
Blogger O said...

I'm with your audiobook right now.
Talk to you later.

October 21, 2005 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger The Populist said...

Mr. Alan Wolf:

I dont believe in the possiblity of alternate universes on moral grounds. Notice I used the word "believe". Whether or not I "think" this mystery implied by Quantum Mechanics is real has nothing to do with the following moral arguement:

What would it really mean morally If alternate universes existed? There would be an infinite number of observers reflecting the infinite number of quantum states possible for every particle and observer. That would mean that there are an infinite number of me, although I am only aware of the self that is writing this post.

If that were true, then my life would be meaningless. Everything I have observed or experienced, all my trials and tribulations would have no purpose, or meaning. Because somewhere in an alternate universe, one of the infinite versions of me is living a life of happiness and bliss.

Why would God create such a meaningless universe(s)? It just makes no sense. As Dr. Quantum said on "What the Bleep", we should stay in the mystery.

As an aside, I just found your weblog and it's great. But your comments are being hijacked by the internet's newest low-lifes, weblog spammers.


June 18, 2006 at 7:42 PM  
Blogger vieome said...

Hi Fred!
Sorry I stumbled on your work while searching for myself.

I wanted to ask one question.
Have you watched the (Matrix) and how
do you think it falls in line with
the new thinking in the quantum arena?

Amazing things are happening to me all the time...

I ponder!

July 10, 2006 at 6:57 AM  
Blogger Design By Bain said...

Hi! I wanted to stop in your blog world and tell you that I really enjoyed watching you in what the bleep and the secret! Your energy is wonderful! Looking forward to reading up on your blog, and meeting you some day, I'm in the bay area too!

Thanks for sharing your teachings, passions, live, energy and fun with us!

with gratitude

August 15, 2006 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger Pythos said...

As does everyone else, I enjoy your writing, love your sense of humor and am grateful that you have chosen to co-habitate my universe; but I must admit some doubt about the vailidity of your ideas has now crept into my mind.
I would expect a physicist to understand complex mathematics and simple arithmetic. Your blog bio says that you were born in 1934 and that makes you about 70. By my reckoning, you are almost 72.
Keep smiling.

October 11, 2006 at 6:29 AM  
Blogger Pythos said...

So, like everyone else, I enjoy your writing enormously, love your sense of humor and am grateful that you have chosen to exist on this planet at the same time as me.
However, since you, a physicist who must be able to understand some fairly complex mathematics, seem to have a problem with simple arithmetic (blog bio says born in 1934; therefore age = 70), I wonder about the vailidity of all your other published numbers.
Keep smiling. Keep writing. Enjoy the ride.

October 11, 2006 at 6:37 AM  
Blogger Neil Anderson said...

A heads world and a tails world. Talk about win-win! :)

July 6, 2008 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Wizard said...

"What would it really mean morally If alternate universes existed?"

Let's imagine that you can move your point of awareness to any universe you want.

Thats a slightly more focussed version of your question.

That would mean that no matter what you do or do not do, has no effect on the world. If you visit the universe where gays are treated as equal, it does not change the fact that universes continue to exist where they are not.

It would be a powerful incentive to leave things alone and not interfere - bear in mind, that most evil is caused by people meddling in an attempt to change the world for the better.

The moral question would switch from "how must I act on the world" to "what world do I wish to experience"?

You can experience a world where you are the richest person in the world, or you can experience a world where you help the poorest person. Which would you choose to experience? What would that say about you? What would you learn from either experience?

I think having all experiences accessible would vastly enrich your existence.

"If that were true, then my life would be meaningless."

Meaning is a subjective emotion, not an objective judgement. Your life has meaning if you decide it has meaning. It has no meaning if you decide it has no meaning.

September 28, 2011 at 1:38 AM  

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