Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness: A New Measurement
In 1935 Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen, published the now famous EPR paper that challenged the Heisenberg uncertainty principle: “Can Quantum Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?” They argued as follows. Assume that two identical particles, call them A and B, are initially at rest and that they are somehow then propelled in opposite directions. At a given instant, we can measure the position of particle A with perfect precision even according to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, knowing that we thereby sacrifice any possibility of simultaneously measuring its velocity. Similarly, we can measure the velocity of particle B with perfect precision at that instant even according to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, knowing that we thereby sacrifice any possibility of simultaneously measuring its position.
Owing to conservation of momentum, if the precisely measured position of A is x at a given instant in time, then the precise position of B must be –x at that time. Similarly, if the precisely measured velocity of B is v, then the precise velocity of A must be –v. We have seemingly succeeded in determining the precise velocity of A and the precise position of B without having had to measure these quantities. They can be inferred with perfect precision from the value of the other particle. Einstein believed that this thought experiment demonstrated that there were indeed precise values of position and velocity for each particle created at the outset of the experiment, not by subsequent observation, that could be determined in this indirect way.
In 1964 John Bell published his now famous inequality showing that a reformulation of the EPR experiment could be experimentally tested. In 1982 Alain Aspect carried out the Bell experiment and found that quantum physics was correct and Einstein wrong. Quantum properties are not real and hidden, but instead are created in the act of measurement.
In 2003, Nobel Laureate Anthony Leggett published a more rigorous version of the Bell experiment. A Leggett inequality experiment was carried out recently in the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information at the University of Vienna and published in Nature in April 2007. Reporting on this New Scientist said:
Their results, published in 2007, suggest “…that there is nothing inherently real about the properties of an object that we measure. In other words, measuring those properties is what brings them into existence.” (New Scientist, 23 June 2007) Or as quantum researcher Vlatko Vedral of the University of Leeds puts it: “Rather than passively observing it, we in fact create reality.”
Quantum mechanics is now telling us unambiguously that consciousness creates reality. And since quantum physics is at the root of everything, this has profound consequences for the interpretation of our own nature, the universe, and, yes, even why it may make more sense to trace everything back to a conscious intelligence rather than inanimate fields and forces.
Bernard Haisch, Ph.D., Calphysics Institute, is an astrophysicist and author of over 130 scientific publications. He served as a scientific editor of the Astrophysical Journal for ten years, and was Principal Investigator on several NASA research projects. After earning his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Haisch did postdoctoral research at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics, University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands. His professional positions include Staff Scientist at the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory; Deputy Director of the Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley; and Visiting Scientist at the Max-Planck-Institut fuer Extraterrestrische Physik in Garching, Germany. He was also Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Scientific Exploration.
Recorded at the 27th annual SSE Conference in 2008 in Boulder, Colorado, USA.
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Published on November 13, 2018