Quantum mechanics needs no consciousness (and the other way around)

#1
Have at it after you read it.


Abstract
It has been suggested that consciousness plays an important role in quantum mechanics as it is necessary for the collapse of wave function during the measurement. Furthermore, this idea has spawned a symmetrical proposal: a possibility that quantum mechanics explains the emergence of consciousness in the brain. Here we formulated several predictions that follow from this hypothetical relationship and that can be empirically tested. Some of the experimental results that are already available suggest falsification of the first hypothesis. Thus, the suggested link between human consciousness and collapse of wave function does not seem viable. We discuss the constraints implied by the existing evidence on the role that the human observer may play for quantum mechanics and the role that quantum mechanics may play in the observer’s consciousnes.

Introduction
The nature of human consciousness and its relation to the physical reality is arguably the most puzzling issue regarding the fundamental questions about ourselves and the interaction with the world that we live
in. An interesting proposal has been put forward of a link between the seemingly distant quantum mechanics and consciousness, leading to a direct, yet bizarre bridge between the mental and the physical. It all started
with the measurement problem in quantum mechanics, which can be formulated as follows: According to quantum mechanics, the states of any physical system can be described fully by a wave function (state vector) that characterizes various system’s variables such as its position, momentum, energy or spin. Schrodinger’s famous equation describes how these variables evolve over time
(Schrodinger,1926). According to most interpretations for the formalism of quantum mechanics (with the exception of the hidden variable theory, e.g., Bohm,1952), the system described by the wave function does not have specific values (e.g., does not have a specific position), but is in a superposition state defined as the weighted sum of all states that the system may possibly assume following a measurement (known also as a set of eigenstates). This superposition can be verified experimentally, for example through interference phenomena (Zeilinger,1999a). However, for each single measurement, that is, whenever a macroscopic measuring deviceis used to detect the state of a particular system, the result always indicates a single eigenstate, e.g., a single photon always has a specific location in space. Importantly, the probabilities for observing the specific states, i.e. their distributions, are predicted most accurately by the wave functions, which describe the system as a superposition of multiple states prior to the measurement. This led physicists to conclude that a quantum system can evolve in two, very different, forms: one is continuous, deterministic and reversible, described by a wave function and occurs prior to the measurement. The other form is discontinuous but stochastic, as, during the measurement, the system “jumps” suddenly from a superposition state into a single randomly chosen eigenstate.
According to some interpretations of quantum mechanics, this jump is an irreversible event that occurs during the measurement process, and is usually referred to as the collapse of wave function or reduction of state vector. The measurement problem in quantum mechanics refers to understanding the nature of this “collapse”, both at the explanatory level, such as: “Which other, more fundamental processes cause the collapse?”, and the ontological level, such as: “Is the collapse physically real or it is just an artifact of the theoretical system?”. This measurement problem is a major topic of discussion in quantum physics and has been a source... more http://arxiv.org/pdf/1009.2404v2.pdf
 
#3
More. I especially like the quotes. Part 1
Does Quantum Mechanics Require A Conscious Observer?
Michael Nauenberg
Physics Dept. University of Califonia Santa Cruz, CA, USA
http://journalofcosmology.com/Consciousness139.html



Abstract The view that the implementation of the principles of quantum mechanics requires a conscious observer is based on misconceptions that are described in this article.

The notion that the interpretation of quantum mechanics requires a conscious observer is rooted, I believe, in a basic misunderstanding of the meaning of a) the quantum wavefunction ψ, and b) the quantum measurement process. This misunderstanding originated with the work of John von Neumann (1932) on the foundations of quantum mechanics, and afterwards it was spread by some prominent physicists like Eugene Wigner (1984); by now it has acquired a life of its own, giving rise to endless discussions on this subject, as shown by the articles in the Journal of Cosmology (see volumes 3 and 14).

Quantum mechanics is a statistical theory that determines the probabilities for the outcome of a physical process when its initial state has been determined. A fundamental quantity in this theory is the wavefunction ψ which is a complex function that depends on the variables of the system under consideration. The absolute square of this function, ψ2, gives the probability to find the system in one of its possible quantum states. Early pioneers in the development of quantum mechanics like Niels Bohr (1958) assumed, however, that the measurement devices behave according to the laws of classical mechanics, but von Neumann pointed out, quite correctly, that such devices also must satisfy the principles of quantum mechanics. Hence, the wavefunction describing this device becomes entangled with the wavefunction of the object that is being measured, and the superposition of these entangled wavefunctions continues to evolve in accordance with the equations of quantum mechanics. This analysis leads to the notorious von Neumann chain, where the measuring devices are left forever in an indefinite superposition of quantum states. It is postulated that this chain can be broken, ultimately, only by the mind of a conscious observer.

Forty five years ago I wrote an article on this subject with John Bell who became, after von Neumann, the foremost contributor to the foundations of quantum mechanics, where we presented, tongue in cheek, the von Neumann paradox as a dilemma:

The experiment may be said to start with the printed proposal and to end with the issue of the report. The laboratory, the experimenter, the administration, and the editorial staff of the Physical Review are all just part of the instrumentation. The incorporation of (presumably) conscious experimenters and editors into the equipment raises a very intriguing question... If the interference is destroyed, then the Schrodinger equation is incorrect for systems containing consciousness. If the interference is not destroyed, the quantum mechanical description is revealed as not wrong but certainly incomplete (Bell and Nauenberg, 1966).

We added the remark that "we emphasize not only that our view is that of a minority, but also that current interest in such questions is small. The typical physicist feels that they have been long answered, and that he will fully understand just how, if ever he can spare twenty minutes to think about it." Now the situation has changed dramatically, and interest in a possible role of consciousness in quantum mechanics has become widespread. But Bell, who died in 1990 , believed in the second alternative to the von Neumann dilemma, remarking that :



I think the experimental facts which are usually offered to show that we must bring the observer into quantum theory do not compel us to adopt that conclusion (Davies and Brown, 1986).
Actually, by now it is understood by most physicists that von Neumann's dilemma arises because he had simplified the measuring device to a system with only a few degrees of freedom, e.g. a pointer with only two states (see Appendix). Instead, a measuring device must have an exponentially large number of degrees of freedom in order to record, more or less permanently, the outcome of a measurement. This recording takes place by a time irreversible process. The occurrence of such processes in Nature already mystified 19th century scientists, who argued that this feature implied a failure in the basic laws of classical physics, because these laws are time reversible. Ludwig Boltzmann resolved this paradox by taking into account the large number of degrees of freedom of a macroscopic system, which implied that to a very high degree of probability such a system evolved with a unique direction in time. Such an irreversibility property is also valid for quantum systems, and it constitutes the physical basis for the second law of thermodynamics, where the arrow of time is related to the increase of entropy of the system.

Another misconception is the assumption that the wavefunction ψ describing the state of a system in quantum mechanics behaves like a physical object. For example, the authors of a recent book discussing quantum mechanics and consciousness claim that

In quantum theory there is no atom in addition to the wavefunction of the atom. This is so crucial that we say it again in other words. The atom's wave-functions and the atom are the same thing; "the wave function of the atom" is a synonym for "the atom". Since the wavefunction ψ is synonymous with the atom itself, the atom is simultaneously in both boxes. The point of that last paragraph is hard to accept. That is why we keep repeating it (Rosenblum and Kuttner, 2006).

If the wavefunction ψ is a physical object like an atom, then the proponents of this flawed concept must require the existence of a mechanism that lies outside the principles governing the time evolution of the wavefunction ψ in order to account for the so-called "collapse" of the wavefunction after a measurement has been performed. But the wavefunction ψ is not a physical object like, for example, an atom which has an observable mass, charge and spin as well as internal degrees of freedom. Instead, ψ is an abstract mathematical function that contains all the statistical information that an observer can obtain from measurements of a given system. In this case there isn't any mystery that its mathematical form must change abruptly after a measurement has been performed. For further details on this subject, see (Nauenberg, 2007) and (van Kampen, 2008). The surprising fact that mathematical abstractions can explain and predict real physical phenomena has been emphazised by Wigner (Wigner 1960), who wrote:

The miracle of appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve.
I conclude with a few quotations, that are relevant to the topic addressed here, by some of the most prominent physicists in the second half of the 20th century.

Richard P. Feynman (Nobel Prize, 1965):

Nature does not know what you are looking at, and she behaves the way she is going to behave whether you bother to take down the data or not (Feynman et al., 1965).
 
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#4
Part 2
Murray Gellmann (Nobel Prize, 1969): The universe presumably couldn't care less whether human beings evolved on some obscure planet to study its history; it goes on obeying the quantum mechanical laws of physics irrespective of observation by physicists (Rosenblum and Kuttner 2006, 156).
Anthony J. Leggett (Nobel Prize 2003): It may be somewhat dangerous to explain something one does not understand very well [the quantum measurement process] by invoking something [consciousness] one does not understand at all! (Leggett, 1991). John A. Wheeler: Caution: "Consciousness" has nothing whatsover to do with the quantum process. We are dealing with an event that makes itself known by an irreversible act of amplification, by an indelible record, an act of registration. Does that record subsequently enter into the "consciousness" of some person, some animal or some computer? Is that the first step into translating the measurement into "meaning" meaning regarded as "the joint product of all the evidence that is available to those who communicate." Then that is a separate part of the story, important but not to be confused with "quantum phenomena." (Wheeler, 1983).
John S. Bell: From some popular presentations the general public could get the impression that the very existence of the cosmos depends on our being here to observe the observables. I do not know that this is wrong. I am inclined to hope that we are indeed that important. But I see no evidence that it is so in the success of contemporary quantum theory.

So I think that it is not right to tell the public that a central role for conscious mind is integrated into modern atomic physics. Or that `information' is the real stuff of physical theory. It seems to me irresponsible to suggest that technical features of contemporary theory were anticipated by the saints of ancient religions... by introspection.

The only 'observer' which is essential in orthodox practical quantum theory is the inanimate apparatus which amplifies the microscopic events to macroscopic consequences. Of course this apparatus, in laboratory experiments, is chosen and adjusted by the experiments. In this sense the outcomes of experiments are indeed dependent on the mental process of the experimenters! But once the apparatus is in place, and functioning untouched, it is a matter of complete indifference - according to ordinary quantum mechanics - whether the experimenters stay around to watch, or delegate such 'observing' to computers, (Bell, 1984).

Nico van Kampem:

Whoever endows with more meaning than is needed for computing observable phenomena is responsible for the consequences. (van Kampen, 1988).

Appendix. Schrodinger's Cat: This cat story is notorious. It requires one to accept the notion that a cat, which can be in innumerable different biological states, can be represented by a two component wavefunction ψ, a bit of nonsense that Erwin Schrodinger, one of the original inventors of quantum mechanics, himself originated. One of the two components represents a live cat, and the other a dead cat. The cat is enclosed in a box containing a bottle filled with cyanide that opens when a radioactive nucleus in the box decays. Thus, this fictitious cat is a measuring device that is supposed to determine whether the nucleus has decayed or not when the box is opened. But according to the principles of quantum mechanics formulated by von Neumann, such a cat ought to be in a superposition of life and dead cat states, yet nobody has ever observed such a cat. Instead, it is expected that a movie camera - a real measuring device - that is also installed in the box containing the cat, would record a cat that is alive until the unpredictable moment that the radioactive nucleus decays, opening the bottle containing the cyanide that kills the cat. For obvious reasons such a gruesome experiment has never been performed. It is claimed that Schrodinger never accepted the statistical significance of his celebrated wavefunction.

References
Bohr, N. (1958). Quantum Physics and Philosophy, Causality and Complementarity in Essays 1958/1962 on Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge. Vintage Books

Bell, J. S., Nauenberg, M. (1966). The moral aspects of quantum me- chanics, in Preludes in Theoretical Physics, edited by A. De Shalit, Herman Feschbach, and Leon van Hove (North Holland, Amsterdam ), pp. 279-286. Reprinted in J.S. Bell Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics (Cambridge Univ. Press 1987) p. 22

Bell, J. S. (1987). Introductory remarks at Naples-Amal meeting, May 7, 1984. In: Bell, J.S. Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics. Cambridge Univ. Press, p.170,

Davies, P.C.W., Brown, J.T. (1986). Ghost in the Atom. Cambridge Univ. Press, Interview with J. Bell, pp. 47-48

Feynman, R.P., Leighton, R.B., Sands,M. (1965). The Feynman lectures on Physics vol. 3 (Addison Wesley, Reading ) 3-7

Leggett, A. (1991) Reflections on the Quantum Paradox, In: Quantum Implications, Routledge, London, p. 94

Nauenberg, M. (2007). Critique of Quantum Enigma: Physics encoun- ters Consciousness, Foundations of Physics 37, 1612-162

Rosenblum, B and Kuttner, F. (2006). Quantum Enigma, Physics En- counters Consciousness . Oxford Univ. Press, p. 106

van Kampen, N. G. (1988). Ten theorems about quantum mechanical measurements Physica A 153, 97 .

van Kampen, N.G. (2008) The Scandal in Quantum Mechanics, American Journal of Physics 76, 989

von Neumann, J. (1932) Measurement and Reversibility, Chapters V and VI of Mathematische Grundlagen der Quantemmechanik, translated into English by R.T. Mayer, Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton (1955) pp. 347-445

Wigner, E. (1984). Review of the Quantum-Mechanical Measurement Problem, Science, Computers and the Information Onslaught, eds. D.M. Kerr et al.. Academic Press, New York, pp. 63-82 Reprinted in "The Collected Works of Eugene Paul Wigner", Part B, vol. 6, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, p. 240

Wheeler, J. A. (1983). Law without law. In: Quantum Theory and Measurement, edited by Wheeler, J.A. and Zurek, W.H., Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, p. 196.

Wigner, E. (1960) The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics, Communications in Pure and Applied Mathematics 13, 1-14.









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#6
Now that's a pithy and cheeky question.
Maybe. But it's also a profound question, imo.
So... no need for consciousness to understand QM, maybe. Radin's experiments seem to indicate the contrary, but there's need for further independent replication.

If Radin's resutlts turned out to be confirmed, I guess it would still be hard to definitely say that consciousness causes the collapse of the wave function, but it would certainly influence it, which in itself is paradigm shift.

... you say in the title that "the other way around" is also not needed. That's odd.

We've just discussed the LHC in the thread about Carrol, where the take away message is that QM is definitely needed to explain consciousness. He believes that 100% of our daily experience is based on the the standard model.

Even Hameroff would strongly disagree:
http://phys.org/news/2014-01-discovery-quantum-vibrations-microtubules-corroborates.html

All meterialists should be very happy to explain away consciousness with QM. And I am pretty sure that the brain will turn out to be a kick-a** quantum super computer :D And we'll get lost in more correlations that don't mean causation for many more centuries to come...
 
#7
So... no need for consciousness to understand QM, maybe. Radin's experiments seem to indicate the contrary, but there's need for further independent replication.
They don't need to be mutually exclusive. Quantum Mechanics may not require consciousness to cause a collapse of the wavefunction ( as the paper showed with the delayed choise quantum eraser that can easily exhibit interference and non-interference pattern merely by turning the beams of light potentially distinguishable or by keeping the information out of a possible way of knowing it ), however that doesn't mean consciousness cannot collapse the wavefunction.

Think for example, in a table. A table doesn't require a human to move it to be moved, however, humans can move tables from time to time by pushing them.

QM requiring consciousness can turn into very nasty contradictions and problems if one wills to take the issue furth enough, as one can see in Wigner Friend though experiment as a possible outcome of the decoherence required to see classical mechanics and the consciousness required for it. Quantum "God-like" consciousness have the terrible problem that we may never get to see quantum mechanics at all, or that the past doesn't exists, or many other bizarre scenarios that doesn't stick to well, epistemologically and ontologically speaking.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#8
They don't need to be mutually exclusive. Quantum Mechanics may not require consciousness to cause a collapse of the wavefunction ( as the paper showed with the delayed choise quantum eraser that can easily exhibit interference and non-interference pattern merely by turning the beams of light potentially distinguishable or by keeping the information out of a possible way of knowing it ), however that doesn't mean consciousness cannot collapse the wavefunction.

Think for example, in a table. A table doesn't require a human to move it to be moved, however, humans can move tables from time to time by pushing them.
Yup. Kauffman posits a form of quantum consciousness that utilizes decoherence to explain the collapse due to observation.


Also, a reply from Fred Kuttner, one of the Quantum Enigma authors:

"I had not yet seen this paper. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. If you have read our book, you know that we claim neither that consciousness is needed to explain quantum mechanics ( though that is a common misinterpretation of our argument) nor vice versa. Rather, we claim that the action of free will in the choice of experiment is an encounter between consciousness and the experimental situation."

Finally, the paper in the OP mentions Chalmers. Making links seems to have stopped working mid-post, or I've hit some personalized limit (;)), but here's a quote from a 2014 interview:


http://filosofisksupplement.no/on-t...-philosophy-an-interview-with-david-chalmers/

What I’m skeptical of are certain reductionist approaches to the problem of consciousness, about developing a theory of consciousness in wholly physical terms. I think that’s probably not going to work out. But I’m very much open to scientific non-reductive approaches to consciousness, which take consciousness to be something fundamental and primitive and develop theoretical principles about it. I think there’s a lot of that happening right now. The talk I’m doing tomorrow can be viewed as a contribution to that project – consciousness collapsing wave functions.14 The work of someone like Tononi is also interesting.15 He very much sees his work as a non-reductive approach. So what we have got out of the science of consciousness in recent years, as I see it, is basically a non-reductive science. It doesn’t try to reduce consciousness to the brain.
It’s finding interesting correlations between consciousness and the brain, and ultimately we want to figure out the fundamental principles that align those correlations. It is early days for doing that, but someone like Tononi is putting forward some hypotheses, and maybe there are others. So I suppose the distinctive pessimism I have would be just directed at reductionist approaches. I think one shouldn’t identify science with materialism. Those are two very different things.
eta: More on Chalmers' work on conciousness & the failure of materialist explanation here:

http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/facing-up-to-the-problem-of-consciousness.725/
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#9
Argh, note sure what is up with posting. Just going to make this new post to continue from above.

1) Good point. It's important to note Orch-OR relies on Penrose's idea for the collapse where "consciousness is the collapse" rather than the cause of the collapse.

More on all that good jazz at Hammeroff's site:

http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/presentations/whatisconsciousness.html

Other theories on quantum consciousness here:

http://quantum-mind.co.uk/theories/

2) Have to watch Ron Garrett's talk again, but my understanding is the argument for either Idealism or the Multiverse being our only choices did not depend at all on consciousness causing collapse:


3) Nor, to my knowledge, do the IQOQI results:

www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/iqoqi-results-lend-support-to-idealism.607/

4) Also important to keep in mind some experiments done after the 2010 publication date of the article in the OP:

http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/iqoqi-results-lend-support-to-idealism.607/page-2#post-13886

http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/iqoqi-results-lend-support-to-idealism.607/page-2#post-13887

5) According to Kaku in his 2014 book Future of Mind, Wigner's Idealism remains a valid interpretation of the measurement problem:

http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/iqoqi-results-lend-support-to-idealism.607/#post-13256

Though I do believe Kaku is wrong about Wigner holding to the idea, as AFAIK a paper by Zeh changed Wigner's mind.

Possibly more later...
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#10
Didn't we need consciousness to research and finally discover the existence of what we call QM? :D
This is the direction Schaefer, a professor emeritus of physical chemistry, takes:

Is Quantum Physics a Sort of Idealism?

If everything that is empirical is an actualization of potentiality waves, then this principle must also apply to the appearance of consciousness in this world and to its contents. Thus, we can think that the cosmic potentiality is the source not only of the material things in this world but also of the principles of our mind. This is the basis of our ability to understand the external world.
=-=-=

When Isahm discusses the viability of Idealism, he actually focuses on the Kocher-Specker theorem:

http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/physicist-chris-isham-considers-jungian-idealism.643/

=-=-=

Bohm's relation between QM and Consciousness also did not involve the wave function, but rather the necessity of the Phenomenal & Material to be unified at the level of the Implicate Order.

Here's the interview with Bohm biographer D.Peat.

A discussion between Bohm & Sheldrake about similarities in their conceptions of reality that goes into the Implicate Order:

http://www.sheldrake.org/files/pdfs/A_New_Science_of_Life_Appx_B.pdf

=-=-=

Maybe. But it's also a profound question, imo.
So... no need for consciousness to understand QM, maybe. Radin's experiments seem to indicate the contrary, but there's need for further independent replication.

If Radin's resutlts turned out to be confirmed, I guess it would still be hard to definitely say that consciousness causes the collapse of the wave function, but it would certainly influence it, which in itself is paradigm shift.
I believe Radin discusses this in Men Who Start at Photons:

Part 1:


Part 2:

 
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#11
Doesn't the double-slit experiment disprove the conscious argument? If a photon detector can collapse the quantum wave functions of photons and destroy the interference pattern, then wouldn't that mean that the observation from the photon detector itself made that into a reality instead of a conscious observer?
 
#12
Doesn't the double-slit experiment disprove the conscious argument? If a photon detector can collapse the quantum wave functions of photons and destroy the interference pattern, then wouldn't that mean that the observation from the photon detector itself made that into a reality instead of a conscious observer?
Problem is you still need a conscious observer to determine if the wave collapsed, in the 2 slit experiment. Otherwise we can't determine what happened.

Also the measuring device, whatever that might be, is constituted of subatomic particles that follow the same rules of QM so if it is left "unobserved", it will also find itself in a superposition of multiple states. Isn't it?
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#13
Problem is you still need a conscious observer to determine if the wave collapsed, in the 2 slit experiment. Otherwise we can't determine what happened.

Also the measuring device, whatever that might be, is constituted of subatomic particles that follow the same rules of QM so if it is left "unobserved", it will also find itself in a superposition of multiple states. Isn't it?
Seems like this is among the many open questions in QM.

I am actually trying to find an interesting paper by Ulirch Mohrhoff in which he states any text mentioning the collapse of the wave function by consciousness should be thrown in the trash before then going on to provide an Idealistic (or possibly Neutral Monist) argument based on QM.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#14
Also, a reply from Fred Kuttner, one of the Quantum Enigma authors:

"I had not yet seen this paper. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. If you have read our book, you know that we claim neither that consciousness is needed to explain quantum mechanics ( though that is a common misinterpretation of our argument) nor vice versa. Rather, we claim that the action of free will in the choice of experiment is an encounter between consciousness and the experimental situation."
For those who understandably don't want to go out and get the book, this paper by Ross Rhodes seems to break down what Kuttner is talking about:

Commentary on "The Observer in the Quantum Experiment" Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner

If the experimenter chooses to know which path the quantum unit took through the slits, then the result (a detection consistent with an eventual clumping pattern) will imply that the quantum unit took one and only one path through one and only one slit. On the other hand, if the experimenter chooses not to know which path the quantum unit took through the slits, then the result (a detection consistent with an eventual interference pattern) will imply that the quantum unit took two paths, i.e., that some part of the quantum unit went through each slit.

Accordingly, there would appear to be a relationship between the experimenter’s choice and the manner in which the quantum unit physically traveled through the region of the double slit. What is more, the two possible methods of travel appear to be physically inconsistent – either through one slit by the entirety, or through both slits by some kind of divisibility. This physical inconsistency itself leads to something very like the Copenhagen interpretation, as Rosenblum and Kuttner later point out.
 
#16
Problem is you still need a conscious observer to determine if the wave collapsed, in the 2 slit experiment. Otherwise we can't determine what happened.

Also the measuring device, whatever that might be, is constituted of subatomic particles that follow the same rules of QM so if it is left "unobserved", it will also find itself in a superposition of multiple states. Isn't it?
but didn't the disappearance of the interference pattern already happen even before the conscious observer look? If the measuring device didn't collapse the wave function in a superposition as you say, then wouldn't we see an interference pattern even right after we look since the photons have been undisturbed? What if you put a recording device while isolated by a conscious observer? If the interference didn't collapse, then surely the recording device will capture how it happened, right?
 
#17
but didn't the disappearance of the interference pattern already happen even before the conscious observer look? If the measuring device didn't collapse the wave function in a superposition as you say, then wouldn't we see an interference pattern even right after we look since the photons have been undisturbed? What if you put a recording device while isolated by a conscious observer? If the interference didn't collapse, then surely the recording device will capture how it happened, right?
I see your point.
This stuff can get so labyrinthine and make one's head spin for quite some time.

Thomas Campbell would not agree with that for example: :)


I don't necessarily agree with the video, but he has an interesting perspective on the problem.
This reminds me of a similar discussion I had with Johann in the old forum about the same video:

Every time we check an experiment's results, the wave-function has already collapsed, regardless of whether it registers an intereference pattern or not. The difference is only in placement. For example, when we see two lines, that means the wave-function collapsed prior to penetrating the double slit, whereas if an interference pattern, it collapsed upon contact with the back wall.* In the former case the presence of the detector caused the wave-function to collapse; in the latter case it was the back wall. Both "measure" the particle, and give us information about its path—it's just that the measuring device prior to the slits reveals which slit the particle went through, while the measuring device after the slits (the back wall) does not.

Another important thing to note is that when anything (including the detector/back wall) which is not isolated from the environment interacts with the wave-function, it causes a phenomenon called decoherence. A way to think about this is that the particles's wave-function entangles with that of the detector, then the experimental apparatus, then the room, and then out into the universe, and its quantum behavior becomes so "averaged" across these objects that it ceases to become experimentally detectable. To all intensive purposes, the wave-function has collapsed. Decoherence gives things the appearance of classical behavior. But it is not a solution to the measurement problem because it is still a mathematics of probabilities; that is, once a particle has decohered, it has an almost certain state—almost certain. But it is still just a probability, and we don't experience probabilities, however certain.

I find this very interesting but I never had the time to go in depth on all these aspects.
I can very much appreciate why physicists can't get to the bottom of it!
 
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#18
but didn't the disappearance of the interference pattern already happen even before the conscious observer look? If the measuring device didn't collapse the wave function in a superposition as you say, then wouldn't we see an interference pattern even right after we look since the photons have been undisturbed? What if you put a recording device while isolated by a conscious observer? If the interference didn't collapse, then surely the recording device will capture how it happened, right?
Yes, it did happen before anyone looked at it. That's what most physicists will tell you. This experiment could be done again, this time fully automated and recorded. But the results not actually looked upon by a conscious person say ten years from when the experiment took place, by someone not connected with the persons involved or the experimental setup originally and the results would still be the same.
I don't know if this has been done. I think a simple experiment could be performed that does not rely upon 50 half hour session with *statistical ananlysis. Such an experiment would require shining a laser light through a single slit [top photo] and creating the wave pattern seen in this photo [bottom photo], then reversing the procedure still using a single slit to create a single line again

The reverse [using a double slit] to create a single line could also be done. If that could be done at will would clearly demonstrate intention creates reality.

* statistics can be used to validate anything you want to believe
 
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#20
Intention creates reality?!

I thought the discussion was about the role of consciousness in the collapse of the wave function? (if it collapses at all)
Yes, according to what I've seen here and across the web. Many people use the Copenhagen Interpretation to justify this idea. Do a keywords search: does consciousness play a role in Quantum Mechanics? To see what is being asked.
 
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