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Quantum measurement problem

  1. Mar 18, 2013 #1
    Do you believe that "conscious" observation has anything to do with "collapsing" superimposed quantum states, or do you simply believe that interaction with a macroscopic, or sufficiently large system, is what causes superimposed quantum states to collapse? Why?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 18, 2013 #2


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    Gold Member
    2017 Award

    Yes, more or less. Some interactions yield a collapse (or what appears as a collapse).
    Because I don't see why consciousness would have anything to do with fundamental physics.
  4. Mar 18, 2013 #3

    Be careful what you claim, this is well beyond current science and you are on a scientific board and could easily land in ban territory. Learn all the facts(this will take quite some time) and form an opinion. Opinions vary, there a number of interpretations... this in particular isn't particularly compatible with the scientific paradigm of today, so it cannot be discussed here at length(unless you are a peer-reviewer or an exceptionally talented physicist who can stand his ground). Otherwise, you might be better off taking it elsewhere.
  5. Mar 19, 2013 #4
    To Maui
    You write "Be careful what you claim", and I was just asking a question, not making a claim. Question is based on book I carefully read called "Quantum Enigma - Physics Encounters Consciousness", by physicists Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner, in second edition by Oxford University Press. Professor Rosenblum was my physics thesis advisor and I have exchanged many emails with him about the book. So your warning and claim that I am making a claim seems strange..
  6. Mar 19, 2013 #5


    Staff: Mentor


    Hmmmm. Sort of. I believe its a result of decohrence, but decoherence requires surprisingly little in the way of a 'large' system - a few stray photons or even an oxygen atom is enough.

    Imagine a quantum experiment recording the positions of an interference experiment but the results are stored in a computer. The apparatus is disassembled and centuries later the results viewed. It doesn't seem reasonable that's when the wave-function collapsed and the positions manifested. If so that would mean conceiving of computer memory in some kind of intermittent state - an idea any computer scientist would reject as - well - silly. Indeed exactly what quality distinguishes a computer memory recording results and human memory doing the same thing? You could probably come up with some contrived scheme placing the human brain on a pedestal with some privileged status but exactly for what gain?

    I hasten to add this doesn't disprove it, but in the light of making sense of modern technology, especially computers, it looks pretty hard to swallow. Indeed Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff have come up with an interesting theory along those lines but IMHO it needs a lot more experimental support to be taken seriously:

  7. Mar 20, 2013 #6
    I think consciousness-causes-collapse hypothesis are totally useless. I also think interaction with large systems causes quantum states to appear to collapse, but this is because physicists have been using overly-sloppy language for statistics.

    Unfortunately, my opinions are little more than conjectures - at least, as far as I know. This topic has caused a huge number of arguments, many of which are active topics of research. This type of question tends to be terribly difficult to answer experimentally. Even worse: it's vague enough to attract pseudoscientists and con artists.

    Wigner's Friend is one of the more pragmatic attempts to formulate this question as a thought experiment. (Wigner was very good at QM, and his opinions on QM and consciousness were nearly opposite mine.)
  8. Mar 22, 2013 #7
    Application of Conscious Collapse

    The Universe Expands exponentially. Perhaps this is due to the propagation of quantum waves or quanta potentia. The potentials that create observable matter are spreading out therefore increasing the entropy and decreasing the density of the universe. Collapse is only known to occur when matter is observed. The matter we as occupants of our planet observe at any given moment is infinitely smaller that the section of the universe unobserved. Perhaps the truth isn't that relativistic physics is wrong, only that the theory left by Einstein must be innovated to address the subjectivity of biological perception and its effect on the world around it.
    ANALOGY: Even if a mirror is perfectly straight and reflects light back at a perfect 180 degrees, the light would not be the same. Each photon would be present at a different time once it hit the mirror and the photon's velocity would have changed direction. But the question needed to be asked in order to expand our understanding as scientists would be what else? How can a light wave be exactly the same after it has had contact with another form of mass? What ultra-precise and subtle marks has the mirror left on each photon that we have not been clever enough to measure?
  9. Mar 22, 2013 #8
    This is one of the worst posts I have ever seen on this site.
  10. Aug 5, 2015 #9
    Speaking only as a newbie here, but:
    A, He asked a question, he didn't make a claim. B, I think that this reaction to a simple question, one posed by some heavy hitters as you probably know, is a little bit against the spirit of enquiry and friendliness....Don't you think? Is that how it is here?
  11. Aug 7, 2015 #10


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Maui, whose post you are objecting to, was banned a while back (this thread is more than two years old) and stuff like this was part of the reason why. So to answer your question... No, that's not how it is here.

    Or at least not how it's supposed to be, which brings me to another point. We mentors have awesome powers (mine came from being bitten by a radioactive spider during my adolescence, or maybe Greg just set my privilege level to "moderator"), but these superpowers do not extend to clairvoyance. Thus, you cannot assume that just because you've seen a bad post we automatically know about it. When you see a post that you believe is a problem.... Click that "report" button to bring it to our attention, and we can deal with it. If you just reply in thread there's no guarantee that we'll notice and take action.

    I'm closing this thread as it is years old, and the underlying issue has been dealt with.
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