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The Observer Problem Part IV Interpretations. Is the moon up there when we are not looking?. Overview. QM suggests that the observer/experimenter has an effect on the observed. The observer may even change the past as suggested by the so-called delayed choice experiment.

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the observer problem part iv interpretations

The Observer ProblemPart IVInterpretations

Is the moon up there when we are not looking?

  • QM suggests that the observer/experimenter has an effect on the observed.
  • The observer may even change the past as suggested by the so-called delayed choice experiment.
  • The following is a quick review of the preceding sections.
the heisenberg uncertainty principle

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

Dx DP ≥ h

Measuring one of a complementarity pair features of an object disturbs the system such that the other feature acts bizarre.

superposition of states
Superposition of states
  • A quantum system is in all probable states at the same time.
  • For example, an electron, before detection, is believed to spin clockwise and counterclockwise about all possible axes at the same time.
state reduction
State reduction
  • Upon detection by the experimenter, the electron exhibits spinning in only one direction along the trajectory of the detecting photon.
entanglement spooky action in the distance
Entanglementspooky action in the distance
  • If one of the entangled photons is measured to have a clockwise spin, the other entangled pair will show counterclockwise spin immediately, even if the photons are worlds apart.
  • In 2009, researchers at the USC at Santa Barbara demonstrated entanglement between two big

objects visible by naked eye.

quantum zeno effect
Quantum Zeno effect
  • If a system that normally decays to a lower state, is watched very early in the process, it almost stays in its original state. If it is watched constantly,

it virtually never decays.

  • The act of us watching stops the


  • A watched pot never boils!!
wheeler s delayed choice experiment
Wheeler’s Delayed Choice experiment
  • Today’s choice changes the past
  • Does the future affect the past?
possible solutions
Possible Solutions

1/ The world is in a classical state. Superposition of states of quantum mechanics is wrong.

2/ The world is in quantum superposition of states, Observers actually reduce it to one classical state.

3/ The world exists is in superposition of states. The observer perceives just one state.

possible solutions1
Possible Solutions

4/ There is a common phenomenon shared by all observers which leads to the progression of state reductions and evolution of the universe.


  • Followings are different interpretations offered by physicists.
  • Choose one of them and make it your own.
copenhagen interpretation
Copenhagen interpretation

Physics is not concerned with how nature is, it talks about what we can say about nature.

Shut up and Calculate

many world s
Many worlds
  • Super-position is real. There are many collapses to many probable single states.
  • Every state starts a new universe.
  • Many copies of observers continue on each new branch of the universe.
bohm s quantum potential
Bohm’s quantum potential

There is no super-position.

There is just one process, no need to divide it to wave or particle.

The process is governed by quantum potential.

bohemian mechanics continued
Bohemian Mechanics continued…..

Humans are physical objects who are influenced by quantum potential and influence it as well.

Our mental processes create our own realities.

penrose hamerof theory of consciousness
Penrose –Hamerof Theory of Consciousness
  • The theory defies the classical approach where awareness is mere the product of physical processes of the brain.
  • Solitons are waves in microtubules.
  • Recent experiments has found vibrations in megahertz range in microtubules.
  • The experiments suggests that EEG rhythms (brain waves) also derive from deeper level microtubule vibrations.

Is consciousness a separate entity from what we call physical domain?

  • The theory accepts the superposition and suggests that consciousness reduces it to one classical state.
  • Therefore, it conveys that our consciousness actually participates in forming the reality as we see it.
  • Does consciousness actually collapses the wave function?
  • Are microtubules a mean for consciousness to connect or act on quantum domain?
transactional interpretation
Transactional Interpretation
  • There is a wave going backward in time as well (answer for Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment)
  • The universe is evolving due to signals that go back and forth.
  • No Observers: Transactions involving observers are no different from other transactions. (solution for observer problem)
transactional interpretation1
Transactional Interpretation
  • No Paradoxes: Transactions are intrinsically nonlocal.(solution for quantum entanglement)
  • Universe constantly evolves. No superposition. An ever-changing but one state universe.
  • Are the assumptions acceptable to you?
  • Can future affect the past?
henry stapp views
Henry StappViews
  • Observer receives a smear of possibilities
  • Experimenter asks a question, nature answers yes or no (collapse of the wave function)
  • Observation chooses a history out of sum over histories (retro causal effect)
  • Nature somehow wants to please the observer (follows his/her desire. Good for gamblers)
henry stapp views1
Henry Stapp Views
  • Consciousness is something added over and above physical processes.
  • Everything even synapses are in superposition. State reduction is happening inside consciousness.
  • Intent can cause changes in the structure of the brain that can ultimately affect behavior.
  • Consciousness is not directly involved but intentions !!! collapse the superposition.
henry stapp views2
Henry Stapp Views
  • Intention effectively determining the trend of events.
  • This is experimentally verifiable. Physical effects far away and instantaneously... (entanglement)
  • Is intention a separate agent?
  • Is non-locality acceptable to you?
  • There is no superposition.
  • We can’t remove scientist from science.
  • The subjective experience is our only link with the external world.
  • Wave-functions are not real. They are abstractions that help us to organize our thinking.
  • One takes the wave function to be associated with a physical system —based on past experience, then calculates the likelihood of what might come next.
  • quantum non-locality is the belief that an action in one region of space can instantly alter the real state of affairs in a faraway region.
  • Therefore the wave function is only one’s expectations.
  • The only change is in the expectations of the perceiving person.
  • Most physicists don't like to recognize the experimenter’s effect in scientific experiments.

They take science as strictly objective and real. Do you?

Is experimenter part or apart from experiment result?

whom do you believe
Whom do you believe?
  • When experts are in disagreement, you can choose the expert or speculate on your own.
  • A point to take home is,

There are so many unknowns. However, bizarre things maybe happening which is beyond or current logic and understanding

food for thought
Food for Thought
  • Solving the enigma requires a multi disciplinary approach.
  • The act of observation is best studied in coordination with neurophysiology and psychology. It is beyond physics discipline alone.
free will
Free Will

In the double slit experiment, we can choose to see interference or a band.

In the entanglement experiment, we choose the polarization axis of a far away particle.

Are we robots?

Are we governed by the neurochemistry of

our brain?

free will1
Free Will

Are we governed by the quantum potential?

Isn’t free will our intuition?

Determinism of classical physics denies

free will. Uncertainty of QM allows it.

But QM randomness denies it again.

who is observer
WHO IS Observer?
  • Any material detector?
  • Any living organism?
  • Just human beings?
  • How about other life forms?
  • Does any species have its own reality?
can physics solve the observer problem
Can Physics solve the Observer problem?
  • Physics is studying subjects which are

simple, well defined and testable.

  • When it comes to atoms and molecules,

chemistry comes to the picture,

  • Function of more complex structures such

as organisms belong to biology.

interconnected or separate
Interconnected or Separate?
  • in QM objects are not separate.
  • Since everything encountered everything else sometime in the past, all component of the universe are interconnected!!
  • Therefore, what happens to one upon observation influences all of the particles in the universe.
physics or philosophy
Physics or philosophy
  • Einstein rejected the idea that observer creates reality.
  • most physicists prefer to just look at the experiment. They prefer to ignore the Skelton in the closet.
  • some theorists just touch the surface.
  • Many times the profound interpretations are left to philosophers.
emergence of a classical world
Emergence of a classical world
  • Appearing one observable state for sub-atomic particles is easy. How do they inter-relate and create a logical world that we perceive is the question.
  • How does an almost logical and in order classical world emerge from quantum frenzy?
wigner s friend a thought experiment
Wigner’s frienda thought experiment
  • It posits a friend of Wigner who performs the Schrödinger's cat experiment after Wigner leaves the laboratory. Only when he returns Wigner learns whether the cat is alive or dead.
  • Is the state of the system a superposition of "dead cat/sad friend" and "live cat/happy friend," only determined when Wigner learned the result of the experiment, or was it determined at some previous point?
  • It illustrate that consciousness is necessary to the quantum mechanical measurement process. In case of a detector , the linearity of the wave function implies that the state of the system is in a linear sum of possible states. It is simply a larger indeterminate system.

A conscious observer must be in either one state or the other, hence consciousness is not material in origin.