Consciousness Causes Collapse

Schrödinger's Cat thought experiment

Shit just got real, and also not.

This is an idea I got turned onto by Dr. Amit Goswami in the documentary about him (Netflix).

So I’m no expert in quantum mechanics, but I see it roughly like this: until we observe a particle, we have no idea where it is. All we know is the probability that it will be in a variety of locations. In fact, it’s weirder than that: it isn’t just that we don’t know where the particle is; it is in fact in all those locations simultaneously: superposition, it’s called.

The classic example of this is Schrödinger’s Cat, wherein a cat is placed in a box with some kind of poison, rigged up to a Geiger counter. In the hour we sit around doing this experiment, there is a 50% chance that an atom in a nearby radioactive source will decay. If it does, it will set off the counter and release the poison, killing the cat. So we set this thing off, and can’t see, hear, or otherwise know what’s going on inside the box, nor the state of the Geiger counter. After an hour, what’s going on inside the box? Quantum mechanics tells us that until we open the box and peer inside, the cat is both living and dead, simultaneously. Weird, huh?

It’s the act of opening the box that “collapses” the multiple quantum states (alive/dead), “choosing” a state that becomes the reality we perceive. If we don’t look in the box, the states don’t collapse. And before we look in the box, there is no phenomenon known to science that can tell us what the states will collapse into.

So, the theory goes, maybe it’s consciousness. Maybe it is the conscious act of looking into the box that actually causes the states to collapse—and maybe it’s some “force” of consciousness that does the choosing. So, consciousness makes our reality. Without it, the universe is a bunch of possibilities, all occurring simultaneously. Only by observing it do we make it real, do we pin it down to true physical states. And not only that: given the myriad possibilities out there, consciousness selects the realities it desires.

What could this mean? Well, let’s say you get a really good handle on your consciousness. You might not be able to materialize a mango out of thin air, but you could subtly influence the subatomic processes going on all around you—the flow of air particles in the wind, the chemical processes in your cells—maybe even the activity of neurons in another person’s brain? Let’s look at that last possibility in another post.

Read up on the quantum mind-body problem and how consciousness might be the answer!

~ by Grant on June 22, 2012.

Join the Observation

Be sure to check "Post to Facebook" to help boost this article's popularity!