Would this experiment prove consciousness causes collapse

  • #1
Firstly i would like to say that i am not advocating the need for a conscious observer to collapse the wave function but i just want to know whether the methodology behind this experiment would prove or disprove this idea.

The experiment would be similar to the quantum eraser experiment except for there is no detector B and eraser, just detector A. In the original experiment detector A destroys the which path information of the original photon, and thus no interference pattern is produced. However in this version whilst destroying the which path information the data is being produced but there is no conscious observer at the detector so that the measurements are being made but nobody can see them.

If a clump pattern is produced one could deduce that just measurement without a conscious observer causes collapse, but if an interference pattern is produced one could conclude that a conscious observer is needed to collapse the wave function collapse, because not having a conscious observer at the detector and destroying the which path information puts to the test whether it is just purely the act of measurement which causes the wave function to collapse due to the lack of a conscious being present.

Would this experiment prove or disprove that consciousness causes wave function collapse?
 
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  • #2
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I would say that the remaining detector in your modified experiment would "destroy the interference"*, as information is provided about which slit the photon went through - which-way info is present. Now whether the detector causes wave function collapse or not is another question - it may indeed be the case a conscious observer needs to look at that detector for the wave function to collapse.

*In principle the photon entangles with the detector, described by QM, as a unitary evolution.
 
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  • #3
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Hi John, nice thinking and I see your logic.

Unfortunately, it won't really work in practice. The reason why collapse occurs is decoherence of the measurement device. If the measurement device anyhow interacts with the outside world for example the eyes of a conscient observer there will be a collapse. But even without such observer, it would be very hard to keep the detector fully coherent (isolated from the rest of the world).

You may be interested in the von Neumann measurement scheme
 
  • #4
DrChinese
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... there is no conscious observer at the detector so that the measurements are being made but nobody can see them.

... If a clump pattern is produced.
Do you see the contradiction here? How will you know what pattern is produced if you don't look? This is essentially the situation with every version of the "Consciousness Causes Collapse" idea: namely, it cannot be falsified.
 
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  • #5
stevendaryl
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Do you see the contradiction here? How will you know what pattern is produced if you don't look? This is essentially the situation with every version of the "Consciousness Causes Collapse" idea: namely, it cannot be falsified.
Kind of like trying to see whether the refrigerator light is on when the door is closed.
 
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  • #6
vanhees71
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It's a damn good question, how to observe the refrigerator light with the door closed, but it's not a question related to QT but a challenge for a clever experimental physicist to design a device to do the measurment.

My spontaneous idea is to put a little digital camera into the fridge and make a movie about what's going on inside when you close the door :-))). SCNR.
 
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  • #7
Demystifier
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It's a damn good question, how to observe the refrigerator light with the door closed, but it's not a question related to QT but a challenge for a clever experimental physicist to design a device to do the measurment.

My spontaneous idea is to put a little digital camera into the fridge and make a movie about what's going on inside when you close the door :-))). SCNR.
My first idea is to put a fluorescent material in the fridge for a while, and see whether it will produce light when taken out from the fridge. The kitchen must be in dark.
 
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  • #8
kith
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To continue this line of more indirect measurements, how about measuring the power? If the compressor isn't running, it should be zero. Alas, we can only rule out that the light is on at certain times. ;-)
 
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  • #9
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A thin optical fiber could help perhaps, without changing the closed door position significantly.
 

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