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Observer Effect hype in Double Slit Experiment

  1. Sep 7, 2015 #1
    I don't know if you physicist out there knows it, but the statement that observing something changes its state is having a drastic impact on the less informed populace at wide.

    An example, one of the most popular Quantum Physics video on youtube
    <Link to video not acceptable under PF rules removed>

    While I am by no means expert in Quantum Physics, but I like to believe my ability at reasoning is still solid.

    So here is the question:

    Did the result in Double-Slit Experiment change because of a consciousness observing it?
    Or is it because the measuring device/method is messing with the result?

    Because reason dictates it is far more likely the 2nd explanation that's causing the changed results.

    If that's the case, then this whole experiment is a sham, no different from someone claiming the temperature of a bucket of water got colder because they "observed" it by sticking a cold thermometer into the bucket. And all the physicists out there riding this hype-train making Quantum Physics looking like a frontier science that's defying logic is highly irresponsible.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2015 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, we know. Trust me, we know....:H
    That notion was being tossed around a century ago, when physicists were first trying to hammer out a coherent theory for explaining the surprising and non-classical results of their experiments. It was abandoned after the modern mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics was discovered in subsequent decades, but by then the notion had taken root in the popular imagination.

    If you search this forum you will find many many threads on the subject. The quick summary is that this idea that consciousness causes the wave function to collapse is no part of the modern understanding of quantum mechanics, and hasn't been for a very long time now.

    Hmmm.... That video claims to have been done by a scientist named "Dr. Quantum"... But I've searched LinkedIn and the membership lists of every professional society for the past century, and I can find no evidence that this "Dr. Quantum" has received a PhD from any respectable institution.... I'd consider the possibility that he's not entitled to the title "Dr." and that he may not be a real scientist at all. I certainly wouldn't pay much attention to him until I had more reason to think he knows what he's talking about.

    OK, seriously, kidding aside: That video is not real science, and if you want to understand what QM is really about, your best bet is to hang around here for a while. The Physics Forums rules about acceptable sources will filter out a lot of the garbage (for example, this video wouldn't have made the cut), and there's a large cadre of people who can help you through some of the genuine hard spots.
  4. Sep 8, 2015 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    I have deleted a number of posts in an attempt to turn this into a thread about what QM is, rather than an attempt to refute claims that have never been made. The discussion was tangled enough that I wasn't able to edit individual posts sensibly, so here is a summary of the key points so far:
    Yes. Indeed, that's pretty much the mainstream collapse interpretation and if you're reading something that suggests otherwise, you should be cautious. One math-free and layman friendly book that I can recommend is https://www.amazon.com/Where-Does-The-Weirdness-Mechanics/dp/0465067867
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