Quantum entanglement and psi phenomena seem to share a quintessential common characteristic – they exhibit the property of nonlocality – a shared connection that transcends the spacetime constraints of local causality. The question explored in this study was whether that shared characteristic is a mere coincidence, or whether it provides hints about the nature of psi and its relationship to the physical world. To explore this possibility, a mind-matter interaction experiment was conducted in four laboratory studies and one online study, where the “matter” was quantum entangled photons. Entanglement correlation strength measured in near real-time was provided as feedback, and participants were tasked with mentally influencing that metric.
To generate entangled photons, a commercial optical system was used (quED, qutools.com, Munich, Germany). This apparatus sends a blue laser beam through a nonlinear crystal to produce pairs of red photons with entangled polarizations. The strength of entanglement was determined by measuring correlations between the polarizations of pairs of photons. To do this, each photon in a pair was passed through a separate, stepper-motor controlled, polarizer. The motors were programmed to repeatedly cycle through a sequence of 16 polarizer settings, pausing one second for data accumulation at each setting.
Photons passing through the polarizers were carried via fiber optic cables to a coincidence counter, which recorded the number of detected pairs. The resulting 16 counts were combined by the quED system to produce a single, on-going measure of entanglement strength. This quantity, called S, is an algebraic combination of coincidence measurements first proposed by Clauser, Horne, Shimony, and Holt for paired-photons .
Each of the five experiments had minor differences in protocols, but all shared a common feature: During ~30 second “concentrate” epochs, participants were asked to focus their attention toward the quED with intention to influence S. And during ~30 second “relax” epochs, they were asked to withdraw their intention. Feedback about S was provided during concentrate epochs, and no feedback was provided during relax epochs. Control sessions were conducted in a similar fashion, except no one was present (or observing) while data were collected. Evaluation of results was based on a differential measure of S between the concentrate vs. relax epochs (ΔS). The principal hypothesis was that ΔS would be significantly different from a chance outcome, as determined through a bootstrap analysis.
The combined results of the 3 lab studies conducted at IONS showed that ΔS was associated with p = 0.01. The same analysis for all control studies at IONS was p = 0.20. The lab experiment at IMI did not produce a significant result. In the online experiment, entanglement strength declined over the course of the experiment due to alignment drifts in the optical mirrors and decline in laser power output, so only the first 500,000 S samples were considered to reflect high-quality entanglement. Of those, some 3,000 samples were obtained in fully completed observed epochs, i.e., epochs consisting of 24 contiguous samples observed by participants through the feedback provided in their web browser, and 7,800 completed epochs were not observed. There was a significant increase in ΔS for the observed samples, and no significant change in the unobserved samples.
Discussion: Five experiments explored whether a purported form of “nonlocal mind” could interact with entangled photons, a form of “nonlocal matter.” This kind of experiment had not been previously reported, so these studies were purely exploratory. The laboratory studies at IONS suggested the presence of a mental interaction effect, as did the online experiment conducted with samples considered to represent high-quality entanglement.
The primary limitation of these studies, besides their exploratory nature, was that the results of the laboratory experiments might be idiosyncratic due to the small pool of participants involved. A second limitation was the variance introduced by the degradation of entanglement strength over time. Such limitations notwithstanding, we believe that given the intriguing results observed in these initial studies that further studies using entangled photons are justified.
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Published on May 24, 2022