Physics: Only When We Look At It

“Is the moon there only when we look at it?” –Albert Einstein

I have just come away from reading the Seed article “The Reality Tests” and it made me think considerably about locality and reality. Locality states that distant events do not affect one another. Reality states that things exist before we measure them. This is the Classical Model. Both assume that the Observer does not have to be part of the system. This Einstein believed.

Quantum mechanics turns this on its head. Quantum mechanics requires the observer to be part of the system because observation affects what is observed. This was the product of Heisenburg’s particle theory and Schrodinger’s wave theory. Heisenburg subsequently came up with the uncertainty principle and Max Born with superposition. Uncertainty principle states that certain pairs of measurements are incompatible observables. For example, momentum and position or energy and time. Superposition states that individual events cannot be predicted; only probabilities of experimental outcomes can be defined. For example, Schrodinger’s cat can be alive and dead at the same time. This Niels Bohr came to believe.

Hugh Everett, tried to resolve the paradox of superposition and the von Neumann-Dirac collapse dynamics with the Theory of Universal Wave Function, but left it incomplete. This led to attempts to solve it using the Many Worlds, Many Minds, Many Histories and Relative-Facts Theories. However, none could fully resolve the paradox.

Another viewpoint

There is another interesting aspect to our own perception that adds to the mix. Our minds do a considerable amount of “filling in”. It begs the question, “Is the continuous reality that we perceive simply a construct of our own minds?[1][2] Are we “blind” to the collapse of waveforms?” This goes back to Einstein’s question of the moon. Even if we do not see the moon, the effect of its gravity can still be observed. Or is this correlation without causation?

[1] Visual IntelligenceDonald Hoffman

[2] My Stroke of InsightJill Bolte Taylor

The Existence of Alternate Universes – Jim Holt – Slate Magazine


One Response to “Physics: Only When We Look At It”

  1. Science: Within and Without the Box « relationary Says:

    […] Physics: Only When We Look At It […]

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