Layman asks about Quantum "interaction"

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  • #1
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Summary:

Can wave collapse occur simply by gaining "information" about the particle without physical interaction?
I'm a college grad, but not in science or physics. I'm useless on the math. However, I have a solid layman's understanding of double slit experiment as well as the delayed choice quantum eraser . I also have a layman's understanding of quantum physics via reading some mainstream science books and watching documentaries, etc. (kaku, greene)

Is it conventional knowledge that the wave collapses due to only to physical interaction between the subatomic particle and the subatomic means to measure it? In other words, because you need a photon to hit or register the result.... is that what's collapsing the wave (showing a particle result instead of an interference pattern)? Or is it just that you've created known "information" and "information" collapses the wave?

Have there been experiments where the particle was interacted with (say using a photon) but the results were not recorded anywhere? In those cases does the wave still collapse?

Are there experiments where the wave collapses without physical interaction with the particle? In other words, are there experiments where simply knowing "information" by non-direct/non-physical interaction, still results in wave collapse?

Is it true that information can never be lost? In the case of the delayed choice quantum eraser, isn't it really a case of the information never being realized? Is this because it wasn't recorded or that it was recorded but then lost again? (I've watched a few videos on it and have an idea how it's setup through entanglement, but I'm still confused).
 
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  • #2
PeterDonis
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Are you asking about what particular interpretations of QM say about "collapse"? That will depend on the interpretation.

Or are you asking about what predictions QM makes about experimental results, independent of any particular interpretation? In that case, "collapse" can be taken to mean the Von Neumann projection postulate, as described in Rule 7 of this Insights article:

https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/the-7-basic-rules-of-quantum-mechanics/

If the latter is what you are asking about, this thread can be moved to the regular QM forum.
 
  • #3
EPR
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You will not gain information without interaction.
 
  • #4
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Are you asking about what particular interpretations of QM say about "collapse"? That will depend on the interpretation.
No, I'm more just asking what makes it collapse. (This is not a bait and switch for consciousness conclusion). Shouldn't subatomic particles be hitting each other all the time just out in nature? Or, maybe you could say aren't the waves being entangled all the time? If it's ONLY a matter of physical interaction and not physical interaction plus "information" learned, then wouldn't the double slit experiment show particles sometimes even if they aren't being measured by a experimental mechanism?

Or are you asking about what predictions QM makes about experimental results, independent of any particular interpretation? In that case, "collapse" can be taken to mean the Von Neumann projection postulate, as described in Rule 7 of this Insights article:

https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/the-7-basic-rules-of-quantum-mechanics/

If the latter is what you are asking about, this thread can be moved to the regular QM forum.
You mean, "#7. For successive, non-destructive projective measurements with discrete results, each measurement with measuring value can be regarded as preparation of a new state whose state vector is the corresponding eigenvector , to be used for the calculation of subsequent time evolution and further measurements."

There's waaay too much for me to unpack there even to understand even the ground rules of the vocabulary being used to describe and explain.
 
  • #5
PeterDonis
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I'm more just asking what makes it collapse.
That doesn't help since I still don't know what you mean by "collapse". Do you mean Rule 7 in the Insights article I linked to? Or, at least, will that definition be sufficient for the questions you are asking?
 
  • #6
PeterDonis
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There's waaay too much for me to unpack there even to understand even the ground rules of the vocabulary being used to describe and explain.
If that's really the case, your question is probably not answerable since you don't have the background knowledge required to even explain what you are asking about.

However, let me try to rephrase Rule 7 in a way that might be easier for you to get a handle on.

Suppose we are measuring the spin of an electron. We can do this using a device called a Stern-Gerlach device. Schematically, the electron goes in, and comes out in one of two directions, the "up" direction or the "down" direction, corresponding to the two possible results of the spin measurement.

The electron when it goes into the device might have any spin wave function at all. But when it comes out of the device, if we want to correctly predict the results of future spin measurements on that electron, we must assign it the appropriate wave function for the direction it came out: the "up" wave function if it came out in the "up" direction, or the "down" wave function if it came out in the "down" direction. That assignment of a wave function to the electron, for predicting future measurement results, based on the observed result of the measurement, is what Rule 7 is describing.

Informally, the term "collapse" is used to describe the process of assigning the appropriate wave function to a measured system based on the observed result of the measurement. For example, we might say that measuring the electron's spin "collapsed" its wave function, so it is now either "up" or "down" (depending on which measurement result we observed), regardless of what it was before. Doing this is not making any claim about what is "really happening" to the electron; it is just a statement about what wave function we assign to the electron in order to predict future measurement results.

Is that usage of "collapse" the one you have in mind?
 
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  • #7
PeroK
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Shouldn't subatomic particles be hitting each other all the time just out in nature? Or, maybe you could say aren't the waves being entangled all the time? If it's ONLY a matter of physical interaction and not physical interaction plus "information" learned, then wouldn't the double slit experiment show particles sometimes even if they aren't being measured by a experimental mechanism?
I thought I might have understood the first part of your question, but I don't understand the last part about the double slit. Let me try to find a concrete question that relates to what you are asking.

Let's consider the asteroid belt, with millions of (macroscopic) asteroids floating around. Classically, each has a history and although the specifics are unknown, we can quite safely say that the asteroids formed at some point in the past and have moved about essentially unobserved ever since.

Is your question what does QM have to say about this? In what sense does QM allow for the classical theory of an asteroid belt forming a long time ago, seemingly without specific recorded experiments for every atomic and sub-atomic process that was required for their creation?
 
  • #8
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You will not gain information without interaction.
So unless there's a physical interaction, the wave will not collapse?

With one version of the double slit experiment, if you wait until after the wave passes through the double slits before trying to detect them (but before they hit the screen), the wave will still collapse and create the two bar pattern. (Feel free to correct me if I'm describing this wrong).

So there is no physical interaction until after the "wave" went through the slits. If I understand, the explanation is that the wave went back in time and collapsed before it was interacted with physically by "interaction" that only happened after the wave/particles passed through the slits.

How can interaction AFTER the event cause the wave to collapse in the past? We know the wave collapsed before it went through the slits but there was no interaction until after it when through the slits.

Why is it more logical to think a present action changes the past than to say that information gained collapsed the wave without interaction? Neither explanation seems at all logical to me.

 
  • #9
PeterDonis
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So unless there's a physical interaction, the wave will not collapse?
We can't answer this question until we know what you mean by "collapse". That word has multiple possible meanings. You need to pick one.
 
  • #10
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If that's really the case, your question is probably not answerable since you don't have the background knowledge required to even explain what you are asking about.

However, let me try to rephrase Rule 7 in a way that might be easier for you to get a handle on.

Suppose we are measuring the spin of an electron. We can do this using a device called a Stern-Gerlach device. Schematically, the electron goes in, and comes out in one of two directions, the "up" direction or the "down" direction, corresponding to the two possible results of the spin measurement.
Thanks for your reply and in helping me to understand.

It would help me, for now, to keep it in terms of the double slit experiment. Perhaps you could help me understand what a "which way" device is and how it works? Is the fired particle/wave going through something before it goes through the slit in order for it to be detected?

Informally, the term "collapse" is used to describe the process of assigning the appropriate wave function to a measured system based on the observed result of the measurement.
I really have spent about an hour now just trying to answer this and type out a response to your description, but it's probably best if I just define my terms as you've been asking me to do... You should know that I have read and re-read your post many times now and I do appreciate your efforts.

So let me just take a stab at defining what I thought was meant by collapse using what might be a flawed understanding of the double slit experiment.

Using the double slit experiment as an example, when a single electron is fired at the slits, this electron is still in super position. In this state, the electron can go through either slit, both slits, or neither, and so it acts like a wave, creating the interference pattern. However, if a which way detector is used to determine which slit the electron goes through, this action causes the electron to leave the super position state and collapse into a physical particle state instead. The electron has collapsed to this state and now acts like a physical particle. And this is why we see double bars instead of the interference pattern.

I'm very interested to have you correct my understanding. I don't have the math or a mastery of the vocabulary you use to describe your understanding of what's happening during the double slit experiment. However, I do have a conceptual understanding enough to see that something bizarre is happening. Something has changed the nature of the electron from one state to another such that it is acting like a physical particle in one state whereas before it was "collapsed" it was not acting like a physical particle but was acting like a wave. If you're unable to think conceptionally without shoehorning my question into your framing, then my question is probably not one that is answerable by you becuase you are unable to separate yourself enough from your academic background to even understand what I'm asking conceptually.
 
  • #11
PeroK
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So let me just take a stab at defining what I thought was meant by collapse using what might be a flawed understanding of the double slit experiment.

Using the double slit experiment as an example, when a single electron is fired at the slits, this electron is still in super position. In this state, the electron can go through either slit, both slits, or neither, and so it acts like a wave, creating the interference pattern. However, if a which way detector is used to determine which slit the electron goes through, this action causes the electron to leave the super position state and collapse into a physical particle state instead. The electron has collapsed to this state and now acts like a physical particle. And this is why we see double bars instead of the interference pattern.
This is very much a "pop-science" take on the experiment. The QM description is that an electron is a particle and behaves as a single particle, its wave-function evolving under the SDE (Schroedinger Equation) unless (Copenhagen interpretation) a measurement/interaction with a macroscopic measuring apparatus disrupts this evolution. QM itself, ironically, has no wave-particle duality; QM explains the apparent wave-particle duality that classical physics could not.

In the Copenhagen interpretation it makes no sense to ask which slit the electron went through - unless you measure this. Copenhagen demands you talk about only what is measured.

An intermediate measurement of an electron's position effectively resets the initial conditions for evolution under the SDE: wave function collapse.

The final measurement at the screen is less wave-function collapse than decoherence through absorption into the macroscopic system of trillions of atoms that is the macroscopic screen. After that measurement there is no free electron to analyse further.
 
  • #12
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I thought I might have understood the first part of your question, but I don't understand the last part about the double slit. Let me try to find a concrete question that relates to what you are asking.
I appreciate the effort, but I'm not yet sure if your example is addressing my question.

Let's consider the asteroid belt, with millions of (macroscopic) asteroids floating around. Classically, each has a history and although the specifics are unknown, we can quite safely say that the asteroids formed at some point in the past and have moved about essentially unobserved ever since.
To my mind it is "safe to say" that macroscopic asteroids formed at some point and have been moving about, but then again, to my mind it's safe to say that a single electron was formed at some point and has been moving about, but I'm not sure quantum physics would agree with the later and maybe not the former.

I also noticed you used the word "observed" which might be quite a loaded term. I can accept these asteroids were never "observed," in the common sense, but your sentence structure also suggests they might have been observed during their forming. I don't think that's what you meant, but then why posit they have been "unobserved" "ever since"? Please clarify.

Is your question what does QM have to say about this?
No, but while we're here, what does QM have to say about this?
 
  • #13
PeroK
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No, but while we're here, what does QM have to say about this?
I don't know. That might be heavily interpretation dependent.
 
  • #14
PeterDonis
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Using the double slit experiment as an example, when a single electron is fired at the slits, this electron is still in super position. In this state, the electron can go through either slit, both slits, or neither, and so it acts like a wave, creating the interference pattern. However, if a which way detector is used to determine which slit the electron goes through, this action causes the electron to leave the super position state and collapse into a physical particle state instead. The electron has collapsed to this state and now acts like a physical particle. And this is why we see double bars instead of the interference pattern.
There are some corrections that could be made here, but I think they would take us too far afield, and this does help to clarify what you mean by collapse. Let me try to rephrase this in simpler terms:

When we run an experiment on some quantum object, the possibilities for what gets recorded afterwards depend on how the experiment is set up. For example:

(1) In a double slit with no "which way" information, what gets recorded is the pattern of dots on the detector screen, and that's it.

(2) In a double slit with "which way" information, what gets recorded is the pattern of dots on the detector screen, plus the output of the "which way" detector that tells which slit each individual electron went through.

You are basically saying that "collapse" happens when information that gets recorded is obtained. So in #1 above, "collapse" happens at the detector screen; but in #2 above, "collapse" happens at the "which way" detectors.

If this is a reasonable statement of how you understand "collapse", then I have two additional comments:

First, there is a correction to be made. In #2 above, the way I take you to be using the term "collapse", "collapse" would happen at both the "which way" detectors and the detector screen where the dots appear. In between those two points, nothing about the electron is being recorded, so we cannot say it is a "classical particle". In this particular experiment, it is true that there is nothing of interest in between that affects its behavior; but that is not true of all experiments. We could even make it not true of this one by putting something in between the slits and the detector screen--for example, what if there were a second set of slits in between, with no "which way" detectors? So for your usage of the term "collapse", we have to apply it everywhere that information that gets recorded is obtained.

There is also a caveat about that term "recorded". In the scenarios we've been discussing, "recorded" means a record is made that humans can read afterwards. But that doesn't have to be true. It is perfectly possible for information to be "recorded" in this sense by macroscopic objects that provide no way for humans to "read" anything. In fact, this possibility is what allows macroscopic objects to behave classically despite the fact that they are made of quantum objects that, in isolation, don't behave classically: information is constantly being "recorded" by the macroscopic objects, and so we can consider "collapse" to be happening all the time with them, hence we never observe them exhibiting things like quantum interference. For example, this is true of the asteroid belt in the example @PeroK used; they behave classically, and hence "collapse" under the above definition is constantly happening with them, but those constant "collapses" don't record any human readable information (unless we want to count the classical positions and velocities of the asteroids as human readable information, but that leaves an awful lot out, and also it's not as though we humans set the asteroids up as an experiment to record their positions and velocities).

My second comment is that the way I take you to be using the term "collapse" in the above is basically the same as Rule 7 in the Insights article I linked to earlier. So if that is what you are interested in, this thread can be moved to the regular QM forum, since that usage of the term "collapse" does not depend on any particular QM interpretation.

However, if you want to accept the above meaning of "collapse" for purposes of this thread, you should be aware that this meaning of "collapse" does not refer to any "real" process that may or may not be happening, despite the way I described things like the asteroids above. This meaning of "collapse" refers solely to something we humans do with our models of objects. It does not refer to any "real" process going on with the objects themselves. Some of the things you say make me think that might not be what you have in mind regarding "collapse"; for example:

Something has changed the nature of the electron from one state to another such that it is acting like a physical particle in one state whereas before it was "collapsed" it was not acting like a physical particle but was acting like a wave.
Here you seem to be talking about "collapse" as something changing with the electron itself, not something that is purely within our human models of the electron. If you are thinking of "collapse" as something that is "really happening" to the electron, then you are not talking about Rule 7 in the Insights article; you are talking about something that, according to some interpretations of QM, does not even exist. Not all QM interpretations even accept the existence of "collapse" as a real process happening to things like the electron.

So you still need to give some more feedback in order for us to know (a) how to respond to your questions, and (b) what forum this thread belongs in.
 
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  • #15
PeterDonis
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If you're unable to think conceptionally without shoehorning my question into your framing, then my question is probably not one that is answerable by you becuase you are unable to separate yourself enough from your academic background to even understand what I'm asking conceptually.
Please do not display this attitude. You are the one that has a conceptual issue to resolve at this point, not us. I described what that conceptual issue is in my previous post just now (post #14). If we are unable to respond to your questions without further input from you, that is not because we are "unable to separate" from our "academic background". It is because you have not yet resolved conceptual ambiguities that are present in your questions, whether you realized they were there before or not.
 
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  • #16
atyy
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Is it conventional knowledge that the wave collapses due to only to physical interaction between the subatomic particle and the subatomic means to measure it?
In quantum mechanics there are two fundamentally different types of interaction:
(i) interaction of quantum systems
(ii) measurement

The collapse happens only in situations that permit successive measurements.

Obviously, one may ask - why isn't the measurement an interaction between quantum systems - isn't the observer also a quantum system? This is not resolved within quantum mechanics, where one must decide subjectively when a measurement occurs. This is not a problem for producing accurate predictions for all practical purposes to date. But it is a problem that has led many, including Einstein and Dirac, to suggest that quantum mechanics is incomplete.
 
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  • #17
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This is very much a "pop-science" take on the experiment. The QM description is that an electron is a particle and behaves as a single particle, its wave-function evolving under the SDE (Schroedinger Equation)..."
Well hold up there a sec. Before being measured, That particle is certainly not behaving as a single particle would, unless a single particle can create a wave pattern, which it can't. Right? Put another way, single particles tend to have definite properties, but particles in super position do not.

"...unless (Copenhagen interpretation) a measurement/interaction with a macroscopic measuring apparatus disrupts this evolution. QM itself, ironically, has no wave-particle duality; QM explains the apparent wave-particle duality that classical physics could not."
Or in other words, QW explains the state of the electron before measurement and classic physics explains after measurement? Or, QW explains before the wave collapses, and classic physics after?

It's starting to feel very much that you completely understand exactly what I mean by collapse and that you understood from the moment of my first post and yet you are trying very hard pretend you don't. Even though I'm not fully understanding your POV, it's very clear you're trying to reframe my question or divert me from asking it not because you don't understand my question or what I mean by collapse, but because you think my question is invalid. That's fine. But, I'd like to understand WHY my question is invalid.

In the Copenhagen interpretation it makes no sense to ask which slit the electron went through - unless you measure this.
Well, as I'm sure you've heard, someone did think it made sense to ask, and when they did the came up with the idea to measure it, and when they did, the resulting pattern switched from interference to a double bar, a result that stunned the scientific community. If it didn't make sense to ask, they would never have set up the detectors to measure it. Whether or not it makes sense to you or Copenhagen to ask isn't really of concern to me or to those who did the experiment.

Anyway, I'm not necessarily asking what state the particle was in prior to being measured. I'm just trying to understand how in went from a QW state to a classic particle. It's a change in state that I've been calling the collapse of the wave function.
 
  • #18
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No, but while we're here, what does QM have to say about this?

I don't know. That might be heavily interpretation dependent.
I'm very confused why you would interpret , re-direct, and otherwise speculate that I was asking something I wasn't only to tell me you don't know the answer to a question I wasn't asking.
 
  • #19
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If you're unable to think conceptionally without shoehorning my question into your framing, then my question is probably not one that is answerable by you becuase you are unable to separate yourself enough from your academic background to even understand what I'm asking conceptually.
Please do not display this attitude. You are the one that has a conceptual issue to resolve at this point, not us. I described what that conceptual issue is in my previous post just now (post #14). If we are unable to respond to your questions without further input from you, that is not because we are "unable to separate" from our "academic background". It is because you have not yet resolved conceptual ambiguities that are present in your questions, whether you realized they were there before or not.
First who's "us"?

That's real question. You're the only one responding to me.

It feels like you are speaking for some kind of audience instead of speaking to me, some random person who's sincerely asking specific questions he sincerely doesn't understand.

I'm trying real hard not to interpret your attitude as condescending. If this is what your are doing I ask you to please stop displaying it. I truly do feel you are having trouble conceptualizing what I'm saying. Either that or you are being coy.
 
  • #20
PeterDonis
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Before being measured, That particle is certainly not behaving as a single particle would, unless a single particle can create a wave pattern, which it can't. Right?
Put another way, single particles tend to have definite properties, but particles in super position do not.
QW explains the state of the electron before measurement and classic physics explains after measurement? Or, QW explains before the wave collapses, and classic physics after?
All of these statements are wrong.

You said in the OP to this thread that you have a solid layman's understanding of the QM experiments you are asking about, but your understanding does not appear to actually be solid.

I'd like to understand WHY my question is invalid.
I don't think you'll be able to unless you forget everything you think you know about QM and start from scratch.
 
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  • #21
PeterDonis
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who's "us"?
Everyone who is responding to you in this thread.

You're the only one responding to me.
Huh? By my count, four different people (including me) other than you have posted responses to you in this thread, two of them (including me) in multiple posts.

I'm trying real hard not to interpret your attitude as condescending. If this is what your are doing
It isn't.

I truly do feel you are having trouble conceptualizing what I'm saying.
No, that is not what is going on here. What is going on here is that you are having trouble conceptualizing what we are saying, because you have an erroneous understanding of how QM works. As I said at the end of my last post, I think the best thing for you to do at this point is to forget everything you think you know about QM and start from scratch.

Either that or you are being coy.
Not at all. I am trying to convey to you something that I expect will come as a surprise to you, but it needs to be conveyed if this discussion is going to go anywhere.
 
  • #22
PeterDonis
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t's starting to feel very much that you completely understand exactly what I mean by collapse and that you understood from the moment of my first post and yet you are trying very hard pretend you don't.
Just to be clear, that is not what is going on here. What is going on here, as I said in my previous post, is that you have an incorrect understanding of how QM works, and because of that incorrect understanding, you don't appear to actually mean any single consistent thing by "collapse". You appear to be shifting between different meanings without realizing it, and we can't always tell which meaning you intend (or indeed whether you intend any of the generally known meanings for "collapse" in either the basic math of QM or various interpretations of it) since you don't realize yourself that you are shifting meanings.
 
  • #23
PeterDonis
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I'm very confused why you would interpret
By "interpretation", @PeroK meant "one of the multiple interpretations of QM that appear in the scientific literature". He did not mean his own personal interpretation of anything. What he was trying to convey is that the term "collapse" can have different meanings, depending on which of those interpretations of QM you adopt (and all of those meanings are different from the meaning that corresponds to Rule 7 in the Insights article I linked to before). And, as I said in my previous post just now, you don't appear to be using the term "collapse" consistently with any single one of those recognized meanings, and you might not even be using it to mean any of its recognized meanings. We can't tell.
 
  • #24
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There are some corrections that could be made here, but I think they would take us too far afield, and this does help to clarify what you mean by collapse. Let me try to rephrase this in simpler terms:

When we run an experiment on some quantum object, the possibilities for what gets recorded afterwards depend on how the experiment is set up. For example:

(1) In a double slit with no "which way" information, what gets recorded is the pattern of dots on the detector screen, and that's it.
But it's it more than a pattern of dots? Isn't the pattern an interference pattern? Isn't that distinction critical to the experiment?

(2) In a double slit with "which way" information,
lol. Why are you doing this? Why are you insisting in talking about this experiment in such a deliberately vague manner when I have specifically formed my question around how the interaction between the detectors and and the QW works?

So when you said "with "which way" information", you mean a double slit experiment where which-way detectors are utilized. Right? I just want to make sure we're talking about the same thing.

....what gets recorded is the pattern of dots on the detector screen,
By which you again mean the interference pattern, right?

.. plus the output of the "which way" detector that tells which slit each individual electron went through.
Well here I'm confused. If the detector screen first shows the interference pattern, but then that detector screen is replaced with a fresh screen and the which way detectors are added to the experiment, does the new detector screen show the double bar pattern on top of the interference pattern or just the double bar pattern?

You are basically saying that "collapse" happens when information that gets recorded is obtained. So in #1 above, "collapse" happens at the detector screen; but in #2 above, "collapse" happens at the "which way" detectors.
Not exactly. You asked me what I meant by collapse. My use of the term collapse simply refers to the collapse of the QW state of the electron into the classical state of the electron where it has properties. When I say "collapse" I'm describing a transition from one state to another. From a state of superposition to a classical physics state. Could it be that the collapse is "caused by information getting recorded" or is the collapse caused simply by physical interaction of another subatomic particle like a photon? I don't know. I'm trying to wrap my head around that.

If this is a reasonable statement of how you understand "collapse", then I have two additional comments:

First, there is a correction to be made. In #2 above, the way I take you to be using the term "collapse", "collapse" would happen at both the "which way" detectors and the detector screen where the dots appear.
Yes, that's fair. I hadn't given it much thought that the screen dectector is also collapsing the wave (as I use the term) but yes, that would have to be so of course. Again, still confused if you're saying the screen was or was not refreshed.

[/quote]
In between those two points, nothing about the electron is being recorded, so we cannot say it is a "classical particle".[/quote]

I'm sorry. I'm using layman's terms here. Would it be better to say it's acting like a classical particle? Are you suggesting the electron has now reverted back to a QW? Are you saying that the electron is now some sort of limited QW? Are you saying it's just not known? Are you saying it's an illegal question to ask what state it's in? I feel like you're fairly criticizing my vocabulary but not replacing it with a better definition. If the electron is not acting as a classic particle then why doesn't it form an interference pattern but in a more narrow field (because it went through the slit and then became a QW again). It's the fact that it forms a double bar instead of the interference pattern the very think that leads us to believe the electron is acting like a classical particle instead of a particle in super position?

I'm trying to fine a term for the electron after it's moved (collapsed) from superposition to a particle with known properties. I've called this a "classical particle." What do you call it? Or again are you saying it's ONLY a classical particle at the moment it's recorded, but then goes back to something else?

In this particular experiment, it is true that there is nothing of interest in between that affects its behavior; but that is not true of all experiments. We could even make it not true of this one by putting something in between the slits and the detector screen--for example, what if there were a second set of slits in between, with no "which way" detectors? So for your usage of the term "collapse", we have to apply it everywhere that information that gets recorded is obtained.
Again, I'm admitting my ignorance here and sincerely trying to understand. It's unclear to me why you want to change the basic experiment rather than just talk about it as is, but I'll try to play along. So sure, I can accept another set of slits placed as you describe would effect the particles behavior. However, I'm confused why that second set of slits would collapse the wave or why you would consider that second set of slits to be recording anything. Effecting behavior? Sure. How? I'm not sure. Your point? Even less sure.

Setting up the double slit experiment without detectors, my description (right or wrong) would be that the wave collapses when the electron hits he screen detector and when it does it forms and interference pattern. Hitting the screen is the only time information is recorded. However, the double slits to effect the behavior of the electron but this effect does not collapse the wave, nor does it count as a recording. And this is part of my confusion regarding physical interaction that collapses the wave verses physical interaction that collapses the wave and also provides information or a "measurement" if you will. I very much allow I'm not understanding some of these terms.


There is also a caveat about that term "recorded". In the scenarios we've been discussing, "recorded" means a record is made that humans can read afterwards. But that doesn't have to be true. It is perfectly possible for information to be "recorded" in this sense by macroscopic objects that provide no way for humans to "read" anything.
Are there quantum experiments where the wave is collapsed without a record being made that humans can read? Are there quantum experiments where the wave is collapsed without physical interaction?

It makes logical sense to me that macroscopic objects don't need to be "recorded" or "measured" for them to act classically, but because macroscopic objects are still made of quantum objects, I guess the idea is they would also need to be "recorded" or "measured" for their wave to collapse, so to speak. Is that right? Am I getting any of this right? Is what Einstein meant when he asked, 'Do you really believe the moon is not there when you are not looking at it?'

Although it seems an odd question, how do you know that it's perfectly possible for information to be recorded by macroscopic objects? If information about macroscopic objects is not recorded, does that mean they are existing in a QW state? These questions are well beyond my focus in my OP, but still very interesting. I'm not sure why you are taking me to these arguments or how they relate to my question, but while we are here I'm just trying to understand the assumptions on which they are based.

To be clear, I'm not and have not been suggesting that human "reading" the recorded information or measurement or whatever is causing the collapse. I even went out of my way to say I wasn't trying to make the consciousness argument.

What I AM and what I HAVE BEEN asking is if physical interaction is what is required to collapse the wave?

In fact, this possibility is what allows macroscopic objects to behave classically despite the fact that they are made of quantum objects that, in isolation, don't behave classically:
This is part of what I simply don't understand about what's being described by QT. Do quantum objects always exist as QW except in moments when they are measured? After being measured can they go back to being in a QW state? Once the wave has collapsed, is it a one way transition from a QW state? Does this have anything to do with the law or concept of information never being lost? Therefore it can't return to a QW state? It's getting hard to contain this conversation. lol.

information is constantly being "recorded" by the macroscopic objects,
because they are constantly engaged in physical interaction on a quantum level?

and so we can consider "collapse" to be happening all the time with them, hence we never observe them exhibiting things like quantum interference. For example, this is true of the asteroid belt in the example @PeroK used; they behave classically, and hence "collapse" under the above definition is constantly happening with them, but those constant "collapses" don't record any human readable information (unless we want to count the classical positions and velocities of the asteroids as human readable information, but that leaves an awful lot out, and also it's not as though we humans set the asteroids up as an experiment to record their positions and velocities).

My second comment is that the way I take you to be using the term "collapse" in the above is basically the same as Rule 7 in the Insights article I linked to earlier. So if that is what you are interested in, this thread can be moved to the regular QM forum, since that usage of the term "collapse" does not depend on any particular QM interpretation.
I still don't know if you completely understand what I mean by collapse without expanding on it, but I do appreciate your long response. I truly have already spent hours of time on this thread myself. If the issue is moving me to another QM forum or subforum, do whatever you think is best. I just hope I can still engage in this kind of conversation for a little longer until I get a better understanding of these concepts.

However, if you want to accept the above meaning of "collapse" for purposes of this thread, you should be aware that this meaning of "collapse" does not refer to any "real" process that may or may not be happening, despite the way I described things like the asteroids above. This meaning of "collapse" refers solely to something we humans do with our models of objects. It does not refer to any "real" process going on with the objects themselves. Some of the things you say make me think that might not be what you have in mind regarding "collapse"; for example:

Here you seem to be talking about "collapse" as something changing with the electron itself, not something that is purely within our human models of the electron. If you are thinking of "collapse" as something that is "really happening" to the electron, then you are not talking about Rule 7 in the Insights article; you are talking about something that, according to some interpretations of QM, does not even exist. Not all QM interpretations even accept the existence of "collapse" as a real process happening to things like the electron.

So you still need to give some more feedback in order for us to know (a) how to respond to your questions, and (b) what forum this thread belongs in.
I don't know what to tell you. lol. When I say collapse I'm describing the transition from one state (super position) to another. Maybe you can help me clear this up by answering some of my question above. Is an electron always in a QW state except for and only for the moment when we measure it and after that it goes back? If QW state isn't "real" then I guess I'd be describing the collapse as a movement from the not-real to the real, but I'm not sure if I see the QW state as not-real to begin with. I do think the collapse changes the behavior of the electron from wave like to more classical behavior. My vocabulary is off, but I think the double slit experiment is showing a change in the behavior of the electron.

Maybe your feedback will help me better understand what I mean and what you're asking of me.

If I don't hear from you further, at least know I've appreciated the time you've taken to try to explain.
 
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All of these statements are wrong.

You said in the OP to this thread that you have a solid layman's understanding of the QM experiments you are asking about, but your understanding does not appear to actually be solid.
lol. Fair point. Let me change it to I thought I had a solid layman's understanding of the QM experiments I was asking about.

I don't think you'll be able to unless you forget everything you think you know about QM and start from scratch.
Okay, let's do it. For starters, it might help for you to explain to me why my assumptions are wrong instead of just saying they are wrong. Specifically what was wrong with the comments I made above that you listed. Are we arguing about what "single particle" is or just how it is or isn't different from a particle in a QW state or are you saying there's no change in the particle except in it's behavior? I'm just not sure where I've gone wrong.
 

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