Does consciousness explain quantum mechanics?
The wild theory suggests that consciousness can explain quantum mechanics by causing subatomic particles to choose one particular outcome.
One of the most puzzling aspects of quantum mechanics is that small subatomic particles don’t seem to “choose” a state until an outside observer measures it. And the act of analogy turns all the vague possibilities of what might have happened into a concrete, tangible result. While the mathematics of quantum mechanics provides the rules for how this process works, that mathematics doesn’t really explain what it means in practice. One idea is that consciousness—the awareness of ourselves and our influence on our environment—plays a major role in measurement, and that it is our perception of the universe that transforms it from imaginary to truly real.
But if so, can human consciousness explain some of the oddities of quantum mechanics? Quantum mechanics is the rules that govern the subatomic particles that make up the universe. Quantum mechanics tells us that we live in an undefined fundamental universe. In other words, at least when it comes to the world of small particles, it is impossible, no matter how creative scientists are in their experimental plans or how well they know the initial conditions of this experiment, to predict the outcome of the experiment with certainty. any experiment.
In the macroscopic world, everything works according to the deterministic laws of physics.
And when physicists experiment with quantum systems (for example, by trying to measure the energy levels of an electron in an atom), they are not quite sure what answer they will get. Instead, the equations of quantum mechanics predict the probabilities of these energy levels. As soon as scientists actually do an experiment, they get one of these results, and suddenly the universe becomes deterministic again. Once scientists know the energy level of an electron, for example, they know exactly what it will do because the “wave function” is broken and the particle chooses a certain energy level.
This transition from indeterminism to determinism is completely bizarre, and no other theory in physics works in the same way. What makes the measurement process so special? Countless quantum interactions are constantly taking place in the universe. Do these interactions experience the same switching even when no one is looking?
The standard interpretation of quantum mechanics, known as the Copenhagen interpretation, says to ignore all this and just focus on getting results. From this point of view, the subatomic world is fundamentally mysterious, and people should not try to build coherent pictures of what is happening. On the contrary, scientists should consider themselves lucky if they can at least make predictions using the equations of quantum mechanics.
But many people are not satisfied with this. There seems to be something incredibly special about the measurement process that only shows up in quantum theory. This specialization becomes even more impressive when the measurement is compared to, for example, any other interaction.
For example, in a distant gas cloud, deep in interstellar space, there is no one around; Nobody is watching. If two atoms collide in this gas cloud, this is a quantum interaction, so the rules of quantum mechanics must apply. But there is no “measurement” and no consequence – it’s just one of the trillions of random interactions that occur every day without a person noticing. Thus, the rules of quantum mechanics tell us that the interaction remains undefined.
But if these two atoms collided inside the lab, scientists could measure and record what happened. Since the analogy has taken place, the same rules of quantum mechanics tell us that uncertainty has turned into determinism, and this has allowed me to write a concrete result.
What is the difference between these two cases? Both involve subatomic particles interacting with other subatomic particles. Each step in the measurement process involves subatomic particles at a certain level, so there should be no deviation from the usual quantum rules, which say that the result should be indeterminate.
Some theorists, such as quantum physicist pioneer Eugene Wigner, point out that the only difference between the two scenarios is that one involves a conscious, thinking observer and the other does not. Thus, what in quantum mechanics is called “collapse” (the transition from indefinite possibilities to a specific result) depends on consciousness.
And because consciousness is so important to humans, we tend to think that there is something special about it. After all, animals are the only known sentient beings inhabiting the universe. One way of interpreting the rules of quantum mechanics is to follow the above logic to its extreme: what we call an analogy is actually the intervention of a conscious agent in a chain of ordinary subatomic interactions.
This line of reasoning requires consciousness to be distinct from all other physical phenomena in the universe. Otherwise, scientists could (and do) argue that consciousness itself is simply the sum of various subatomic interactions. If so, there is no end point in the measurement chain. If so, then what scientists do in the lab is no different from what happens in random gas clouds.
Although not strictly a physical theory, the concept of consciousness as distinct and separate from the physical universe has a long tradition in philosophy and theology.
However, until one can find a way to test this concept of consciousness as separate from the rest of physical laws in a scientific experiment, one must remain in the realm of philosophy and speculation.
Source: Living Science