Skip to comments.Should Quantum Anomalies Make Us Rethink Reality?
Posted on 04/27/2018 12:52:16 AM PDT by LibWhacker
Every generation tends to believe that its views on the nature of reality are either true or quite close to the truth. We are no exception to this: although we know that the ideas of earlier generations were each time supplanted by those of a later one, we still believe that this time we got it right. Our ancestors were naïve and superstitious, but we are objectiveor so we tell ourselves. We know that matter/energy, outside and independent of mind, is the fundamental stuff of nature, everything else being derived from itor do we?
In fact, studies have shown that there is an intimate relationship between the world we perceive and the conceptual categories encoded in the language we speak. We dont perceive a purely objective world out there, but one subliminally pre-partitioned and pre-interpreted according to culture-bound categories. For instance, color words in a given language shape human perception of color. A brain imaging study suggests that language processing areas are directly involved even in the simplest discriminations of basic colors. Moreover, this kind of categorical perception is a phenomenon that has been reported not only for color, but for other perceptual continua, such as phonemes, musical tones and facial expressions. In an important sense, we see what our unexamined cultural categories teach us to see, which may help explain why every generation is so confident in their own worldview. Allow me to elaborate.
The conceptual-ladenness of perception isnt a new insight. Back in 1957, philosopher Owen Barfield wrote:
I do not perceive any thing with my sense-organs alone. Thus, I may say, loosely, that I hear a thrush singing. But in strict truth all that I ever merely hearall that I ever hear simply by virtue of having earsis sound. When I hear a thrush singing, I am hearing with all sorts of other things like mental habits, memory, imagination, feeling and will. (Saving the Appearances)
As argued by philosopher Thomas Kuhn in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, science itself falls prey to this inherent subjectivity of perception. Defining a paradigm as an implicit body of intertwined theoretical and methodological belief, he wrote:
something like a paradigm is prerequisite to perception itself. What a man sees depends both upon what he looks at and also upon what his previous visual-conceptual experience has taught him to see. In the absence of such training there can only be, in William Jamess phrase, a bloomin buzzin confusion.
Hence, because we perceive and experiment on things and events partly defined by an implicit paradigm, these things and events tend to confirm, by construction, the paradigm. No wonder then that we are so confident today that nature consists of arrangements of matter/energy outside and independent of mind.
Yet, as Kuhn pointed out, when enough anomaliesempirically undeniable observations that cannot be accommodated by the reigning belief systemaccumulate over time and reach critical mass, paradigms change. We may be close to one such a defining moment today, as an increasing body of evidence from quantum mechanics (QM) renders the current paradigm untenable.
Indeed, according to the current paradigm, the properties of an object should exist and have definite values even when the object is not being observed: the moon should exist and have whatever weight, shape, size and color it has even when nobody is looking at it. Moreover, a mere act of observation should not change the values of these properties. Operationally, all this is captured in the notion of non-contextuality: the outcome of an observation should not depend on the way other, separate but simultaneous observations are performed. After all, what I perceive when I look at the night sky should not depend on the way other people look at the night sky along with me, for the properties of the night sky uncovered by my observation should not depend on theirs.
The problem is that, according to QM, the outcome of an observation can depend on the way another, separate but simultaneous, observation is performed. This happens with so-called quantum entanglement and it contradicts the current paradigm in an important sense, as discussed above. Although Einstein argued in 1935 that the contradiction arose merely because QM is incomplete, John Bell proved mathematically, in 1964, that the predictions of QM regarding entanglement cannot be accounted for by Einsteins alleged incompleteness.
So to salvage the current paradigm there is an important sense in which one has to reject the predictions of QM regarding entanglement. Yet, since Alain Aspects seminal experiments in 198182, these predictions have been repeatedly confirmed, with potential experimental loopholes closed one by one. 1998 was a particularly fruitful year, with two remarkable experiments performed in Switzerland and Austria. In 2011 and 2015, new experiments again challenged non-contextuality. Commenting on this, physicist Anton Zeilinger has been quoted as saying that there is no sense in assuming that what we do not measure [that is, observe] about a system has [an independent] reality. Finally, Dutch researchers successfully performed a test closing all remaining potential loopholes, which was considered by Nature the toughest test yet.
The only alternative left for those holding on to the current paradigm is to postulate some form of non-locality: nature must haveor so they speculateobservation-independent hidden properties, entirely missed by QM, which are smeared out across spacetime. It is this allegedly omnipresent, invisible but objective background that supposedly orchestrates entanglement from behind the scenes.
It turns out, however, that some predictions of QM are incompatible with non-contextuality even for a large and important class of non-local theories. Experimental results reported in 2007 and 2010 have confirmed these predictions. To reconcile these results with the current paradigm would require a profoundly counterintuitive redefinition of what we call objectivity. And since contemporary culture has come to associate objectivity with reality itself, the science press felt compelled to report on this by pronouncing, Quantum physics says goodbye to reality.
The tension between the anomalies and the current paradigm can only be tolerated by ignoring the anomalies. This has been possible so far because the anomalies are only observed in laboratories. Yet we know that they are there, for their existence has been confirmed beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, when we believe that we see objects and events outside and independent of mind, we are wrong in at least some essential sense. A new paradigm is needed to accommodate and make sense of the anomalies; one wherein mind itself is understood to be the essencecognitively but also physicallyof what we perceive when we look at the world around ourselves.
Even if I was to compare / contrast what comes out of public school with the real world, the reality is never questioned ...
What people THINK and why should be challenged ... not reality.
But then ... these are scientific Americans .... /;^)
Just follow Einstein’s “Theory of Relativity” - everyone has relatives.
Democrats make me rethink reality.
Their anomalies, contradictions, hypocrisies and paradoxes defy reality.
I fail to grok how we can co-exist in the same universe; it's like matter & antimatter.
I suggest the author test reality this way: step off a fifth floor ledge.
If he falls, he has confirmed reality...
That right there makes a hell of a lot of sense; whether it's GOOD sense or not remains to be contemplated.
Where is Professor Irwin Corey when you need him?
The strange behavior of QM could be telling us that the Universe or God really does self create.
Each generation believes they are wiser, smarter, better than the previous because “It’s self-evident!” It has never been true. Indeed, it is often provably untrue. What is funny is that practitioners of the Science of Speculation (Philosophy) like me have been saying this for centuries. The hard sciences are just now catching up.
What blows me away is that everytime mankind closes in on an understanding of reality, it makes a sharp lefturn and dives down some damned rabbithole we had no idea even existed. We are being told how naive we are to think you can build a big beautiful majestic universe on a small number of principles our puny human brains can comprehend.
So is the cat dead or alive?
The Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose - J.B.S. Haldane
The Bible discusses the universe, all we consider reality, as something that God can deconstruct as if were a rug that he can roll up. Are the quantum scientist starting to realize this may be true?
This article entangled concepts that are not even related, when it compares cultural interpretations of reality and quantum mechanics. For example, some languages have many words for snow. We see the same snow they do, and we even see the same variations of snow. But we only have one word because to us, the distinctions between types of snow do not warrant inventing new words. And if it is important to distinguish between two types of snow, we still have the ability to describe them.
Another thing is that the weirdness of quantum phenomena does not manifest at the macro level where we exist, except in the e!event of random chance. If it did, scientific research would become impossible. We may have different languages to describe what we see, but scientists studying the same thing do, in fact, come up with the same results no matter where they are or what language they speak. Or, in simple terms, a person with XY chromosomes and normal hormones and hormone receptors is still a man, even if he calls himself a woman and wears a dress.
I agree entirely. It's actually amazing to me how much we can comprehend, or at least conjecture about, with our 3-3.5 pound brains, and the flickering short existence our lifetimes in this world represent.
I learn much more when things don’t go as expected than when they do.
Never stop thinking, but realize that Thomas Kuhn’s “ Structure of Scientific Revolutions” is a very accurate book.
I recall a quote, supposedly attributed to Einstein, that goods something like:
“Before I heard your lecture, I was confused on this subject. After hearing you speak, I am still confused, but at a higher level.”
A lot of the supposed “entanglement” being discussed here is nothing more than the fact that language is used by human beings to describe their environments and that individual human beings have differing levels of access to words to describe the attributes of objects.
As we grow, we acquire (or should be acquiring) more and more vocabulary words to help us describe sensory inputs. Using the example from the article, it takes a lot of personal and collective education/experience/interest to go from a specific perceived sound the identifying it as a thrush “singing.”
My descriptive vocabularity for color is going to be more limited than say, a professional color consultant. This limitation is not a limitation on the object but on the part of the observer’s education, experience, and frankly, interest in the subject. The particular color of an object, which is a function of the wavelengths of the visible light spectrum it does not absorb, is independent of who is observing the object.
The same is true for other physical properties it may possess. They are attributes of the object and they do not change with the observer. I take this to be the “noncontextuality” being referred to. The “Quantum entanglement” being discussed seems to come down to a complaint about the lack of a specific enough vocabulary to describe what is being observed.
On a separate note, the article’s author(s) do their audience no favors by assuming it has a deep, prior education in the details of the cited experiments being conducted to prove or disprove “noncontextuality” and “quantum entanglement.” Scientific American magazine has a educated but non-specialist readership and article content should be pitched at that level.
“So is the cat dead or alive?”
I have thought for a long time that Schrodinger made an unfortunate choice by putting a sentient being in that box, rather than, say, a light that would either be on or off depending on a random radioactive decay event. That’s because the cat itself is an observing system (if it is alive and awake). If an observation collapses a superposition, the cat itself will do the job.
I’ve found that reading quantum mechanics explains my experiences and perceptions during meditation.
Perception of reality is a function of the level of consciousness from which you view it. I merely tune my consciousness into the gamma frequency which is the rate of the action potential firing rates of the pyramidal cells in level 3 of the cerebral cortex and other peoples stored memories in their soul becomes physical to my perception.
To the point where at higher frequencies consciousness expands and so does processing speed.
This causes my perception of time and space to collapse.
Something about reality has been puzzling me. Some time ago i read that NASA and other space engineers have a problem that causes difficulty. Now i am not a physicist but i do remember the high points of my Pre Med Physics. The Black Box radiation problem arose by simple observation of an event that was not novel to mankind but was seen some 100 years ago with new eyes. When pottery is glazed it is heated to temperatures so high that the wavelengths of all light leaving each surface is the same and the objects in there disappear. This observation really sparked modern physics.
Back to NASA, engineers design vehicles for space have a problem. How to dissipate heat. It seems there is something about a hard vacuum that makes this difficult relative to a planet surface where there is a lot of mass to dissipate heat to. At first glance this doesnt seem unusual. It makes sense, there is nothing there to radiate heat TO. But back up. Why should this be so? Why cant a hot surface just radiate heat in all directions into an environment which is ABSOLUTE ZERO? One would think you could radiate all the heat you wanted down that gradient. Turns out that a photon of IR light leaving a surface has to have a place to land before it can leave. Isnt that curious? As i said, i am not a physicist but seems to me that right there is a fact that we need to consider the ramifications of very slowly and deliberately. I have no idea what is meant by entanglement but this sounds like it is that kind of thing. A photon leaves an atom and the energy it takes is drained away and transferred to the atom upon which it lands and travels at the speed of light en route. But it cant leave until it has a place to go. So there is an instantaneous event on both ends that does very much exceed the speed of light. So a Universe built on location has something about it that is NOT local and that something is elemental in the fabric of reality.
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