A View from the Other Side

Observations from the winged dude next door.

Archive for the tag “quantum mechanics”

Quantum Science, Your Brain, and Us

This one covers a lot of topics to do with quantum theory and human consciousness and how they interact, but more importantly, how we interact with you:

The Strange Link Between the Human Mind and Quantum Physics

Quantum mechanics is the best theory we have for describing the world at the nuts-and-bolts level of atoms and subatomic particles. Perhaps the most renowned of its mysteries is the fact that the outcome of a quantum experiment can change depending on whether or not we choose to measure some property of the particles involved.

When this “observer effect” was first noticed by the early pioneers of quantum theory, they were deeply troubled. It seemed to undermine the basic assumption behind all science: that there is an objective world out there, irrespective of us. If the way the world behaves depends on how – or if – we look at it, what can “reality” really mean?

That’s what Schrodinger’s Cat is about. It’s both alive and dead until a person observes its state. Of course, this is a macrocosm example, because the cat itself knows if it’s alive or dead. Cats don’t need people to tell them. But it’s the kind of example people need in order to understand what happens at the quantum microcosm level, which is a whole other situation.

Today some physicists suspect that, whether or not consciousness influences quantum mechanics, it might in fact arise because of it. They think that quantum theory might be needed to fully understand how the brain works.

Here’s where the article starts to get really interesting and isn’t the same old thing about dead/alive cats. It’s turning the theory back on itself, or on its head, or whatever. You get the idea.

The article then talks about the “slit experiment” with light photons and observations and measurements affecting the outcome. But then…

Wheeler even entertained the thought that the presence of living beings, which are capable of “noticing”, has transformed what was previously a multitude of possible quantum pasts into one concrete history. In this sense, Wheeler said, we become participants in the evolution of the Universe since its very beginning. In his words, we live in a “participatory universe.”

Now you’re reading more closely, right? Right. Now we’re getting into where people are affecting how the universe is created and plays out, and not just through conscious (or even unconscious) choices. Simply observing the world around you alters things at the quantum level.

Now imagine if you could control this. Some of us can, as I’ve talked about here before. But I digress. Back to the article:

What if, Penrose asked, there are molecular structures in our brains that are able to alter their state in response to a single quantum event. Could not these structures then adopt a superposition state, just like the particles in the double slit experiment? And might those quantum superpositions then show up in the ways neurons are triggered to communicate via electrical signals?

Maybe, says Penrose, our ability to sustain seemingly incompatible mental states is no quirk of perception, but a real quantum effect.

These structures are called microtubules. They’re real and they exist inside you right now. There’s even a photo of them in the article I’m quoting here. I posted a link to an article here a while back talking about these things, and how they could be what contains consciousness when it’s inside a meat suit. Hello, let me just borrow some of your microtubules for a few minutes so I can type. That kind of thing. But anyway…

Pay close attention to this next part:

Put another way, entangled states are really superposition states involving more than one quantum particle.

Okay. If you’ve read other articles about quantum entanglement, they talk about how two particles can affect each other even though they’re nowhere near each other. I’ve also talked about how parallel universes overlap, which is how I’m able to talk to you here. But this takes it a little farther into explaining how they can overlap, for you people out there who need hard science to explain all this. The superposition state at the quantum level.

But wait, there’s more. It also explains how some of you can not only hear us, but how you can interact with us, and let us front, beyond (or maybe in addition to) the microtubule theory.

The article talks about a particular kind of phosphorus atom and Polsner molecules, then:

In Posner molecules, Fisher argues, phosphorus spins could resist decoherence for a day or so, even in living cells. That means they could influence how the brain works.

Because of entanglement in Posner molecules, two such signals might thus in turn become entangled: a kind of quantum superposition of a “thought”, you might say.

…You might say.

There’s some other cool stuff in there that I’ll let you explore on your own. I’d love to hear what you think. Post a comment.

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Schrodinger’s Atoms

New experiments from Cornell University physicists are showing that atoms won’t move while you watch, sort of like the “weeping angels” on Doctor Who.

One of the oddest predictions of quantum theory – that a system can’t change while you’re watching it – has been confirmed in an experiment by Cornell physicists. Their work opens the door to a fundamentally new method to control and manipulate the quantum states of atoms and could lead to new kinds of sensors.

The researchers demonstrated that they were able to suppress quantum tunneling merely by observing the atoms. [T]he weird nature of quantum measurements allows, in principle, for a quantum system to be “frozen” by repeated measurements.

There’s a bunch of detailed information on  how they did the experiments at the link.

What I’m wondering about is, naturally, how to use this for practical applications. If atoms are doing weird shit behind your back, then “freeze” into position when you observe them, like the weeping angels, or like the toys on Toy Story, you can really only measure their actions by the resulting frozen position. What they do behind your back, you can only guess at, but the interesting fact remains that they ARE doing shifty things when you’re not looking.

If the tree falls in the forest, and there’s nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound? Science says yes, the sound waves are still produced, so technically it does create sound even if no eardrums are in the vicinity. But maybe the tree never fell in the first place. Or maybe the tree is the observer. Or insects, or fungus. It doesn’t have to be human observation.

But, back to the practical application of Schrodinger’s atoms. If something is that unstable, it’s easy to manipulate. That means you can set things into motion, then turn your back to make it happen on its own, pushed by what you did, in the direction you want.

Let’s pretend we’re talking about water instead of atoms. And let’s say that when you look at the water, it’s always ice, but you know that when you turn your back on it, the water is liquid. So, you put a toy boat on top of the ice, and point a fan at the boat. You turn your back, wait a bit, then turn around to see what happened. The boat is now far away from the fan and stuck inside the ice. You try to move the boat, but no, it’s frozen in place. However, it went in the direction you wanted it to go.

This is just what the atoms are doing, and how you can use their instability to your advantage. Think about how everything in the physical world is connected. Even in outer space, debris and radiation are coming in, while gasses and human-created junk and ships are going out. The air you’re breathing right now might have been some of the same molecules that came from inside the earth’s crust a thousand years ago, or that came out of Tut’s tomb, or that used to be part of a dinosaur’s body.

Atoms make up everything in the physical world. If you can push them, shape them, nudge them, you can change the physical world around you. And, as Schrodinger taught, your very presence and thoughts change what those atoms are doing at any given moment.

See where I’m going with this? Focus on what you’re trying to push, set down your boat, then turn your back and walk away. Then tomorrow do it again. And again, and again. Every time you go back to check on it, you’ll see a frozen snapshot, but it will show you if you’re getting closer to your goal, or if you need to adjust your steering. But if you do it too much, or observe it constantly, boat will remain frozen and motionless and never get there.

That’s my theory, anyway. Let me know if this works for you.

Parallel Worlds, and a Great Video

Seriously, you have to watch the video.

The theory suggests not only that parallel worlds exist, but that they interact with our world on the quantum level and are thus detectable. The theory is a spinoff of the many-worlds interpretation in quantum mechanics — an idea that posits that all possible alternative histories and futures are real, each representing an actual, though parallel, world.

For instance, when asked about whether their theory might entail the possibility that humans could someday interact with other worlds, Wiseman said: “It’s not part of our theory. But the idea of [human] interactions with other universes is no longer pure fantasy.”

Science: Parallel universes interact with ours

Or, from my perspective, my universe is interacting with yours…

New quantum mechanics theory says parallel universes exist, interact

“To the average person, quantum mechanics is the convoluted, science fiction-y branch of physics. A radical new theory plays into that, proposing that parallel universes exist and interact with each other ‒ and that scientists may be able to test for them.

Prof. Howard Wiseman, a physicist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, along with his collaborators Dr. Michael Hall, also of Griffith University, and University of California, Davis mathematician Dr. Dirk-Andre Deckert, published their new “many interacting worlds” (MIW) theory in the journal Physical Review X. They posited that other universes are real, exist in vast numbers and exert influence on each other.”

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