No Tiberous, I am not claiming that consciousness is what collapses the wave function. What I am saying is that you're claim is also not "THE" correct interpretation of quantum physics. I am saying that everything I read about QM is about trying to understand what it means to say "the observer collapses the wave function". Yes, this sentence is vague and as has been noted, can be interpreted several different ways. But the reason it is worded this way is because this is all we know! To actually define these terms in a more specific, less vague manner (the way you have) implies that we know "how" it works. For example you claim the wave function collapse due to the detecting particle interfering with it. This is an explanation for "how" the collapse works. There are numerous interpretations of QM that try to get at the answer to exactly that question. Yet you have dismissed all of this inquiry and disagreement by claiming it to be "X" as if this were standard knowledge.
I have found some references on the web to some experiments that test this very idea of a physical measurement causing a disturbance that will then collapse the wave function. I'm still looking for my books. It's irritating but they have been stuck in some dusty closet somewhere and laughing at me from afar [:)]. I will keep looking.
I will copy a bit of the text from one site and provide the link where you can read the entire thing yourself. I'm sure from there that you can research any of the experiments, universities or scientists involved.
quote.... (bold emphasis is mine)
"An unobserved quantum entity is said to exist in a "coherent superposition" of all the possible "states" permitted by its "wave function." But as soon as an observer makes a measurement capable of distinguishing between these states the wave function "collapses", and the entity is forced into a single state.
Yet even this deliberately abstract language
contains some misleading implications. One is that measurement requires direct physical intervention.
Physicists often explain the uncertainty principle in this way:in measuring the position of a quantum entity, one inevitably blocks it off its course, losing information about its direction and about its phase, the relative position of its crests and troughs. ......
(Snip)(snip) please read all this (snip).....
Now comes the odd part. The signal photons and the idler photons, once emitted by the down-converters, never again cross paths; they proceed to their respective detectors independently of each other. Nevertheless, simply by blocking the path of one set of idler photons, the researchers destroy the interference pattern of the signal photons. What has changed?
The answer is that the observer's potential knowledge has changed.
He can now determine which route the signal photons took to their detector by comparing their arrival times with those of the remaining, unblocked idlers. The original photon can no longer go both ways at the beam splitter, like a wave, but must either bounce off or pass through like a particle.
This statement in bold above is exactly what I was referring to in my first post here. There was no interference by the measurement itself. The only difference that could have caused the collapse was the potential for knowledge. As I said before, a conscious observer need not be present. But if a conscious observer can come by at any time after and calculate the information then the wave function will collapse. The implications for this seem profound to me.
Please, all of you (Les, EH, Tiberous) read through this stuff and let's reconcile it with what your thoughts were.
General page where above quotes came from.
More info on experiments specifically
Another link comparing interpretations of QM based on these types of experiments
And as for the comments on locality....I think claiming it is a non-issue because everyone is just confused about relativity is absurd. Einstein himself dealt with this issue and of all people I think he would have known of any relativity confusion. I think this comment is evidence of a lack of understanding of QM.