20/1/2009

Quantum, Consciousness and Divinity

Filed under: — Bravus @ 1:24 pm

Just sharing a discussion from a forum, mostly because I liked what I wrote and didn’t want to limit it to a small audience. 😉

Someone wrote:

ahh but her answer is from a classical physics perspective.

the quantum world opens up possibilities of superposition and the role of consciousness and observation in the question.

Someone responded:

?

And I wrote:

I could answer that question-mark, but I’d have to teach you some quantum physics first…

OK, very briefly, in quantum physics pretty much everything physical can be represented by a wave function. We started out wondering whether light was a particle or a wave – and it turns out it behaves as both, depending on what experiments you do. We can think of a photon of light as a ‘packet of waves’. Thing is, it doesn’t have to be in a particular place unless someone (conscious) observes it. So on the class Young’s double slit experiment, from a quantum perspective, the photon of light doesn’t have to choose to go through one slit or the other, rather its wave function gives it a certain probability of going through each slit, so that even a single photon behaves as though it goes through both slits.

Now, light as a wave is not too controversial, but quantum extended the notion first to electrons, which also seem to have a wave nature – electron orbitals in an atom are probability wave functions of where we expect that the electron might be, but it doesn’t have to decide to be on one side of the nucleus or other until someone observes it. But later quantum physics extended the wave notion to everything physical – even an elephant has a wavelength that can be calculated, although it’s so tiny that it’s imperceptible to us.

But this means that even an elephant does not have to ‘choose’ where to be – to collapse its wave function, in quantum terms – until someone observes it. Now, for an elephant the uncertainty is tiny – its probable location doesn’t smear out across the whole of Africa, or even across a meter, so we never notice any uncertainty. But for atomic and subatomic particles the uncertainty can be quite large in comparison to their size.

The point being made above is the importance of the role of the conscious observer in the universe – consciousness seems to have some key central function in the operation of the universe under a quantum view that it did not have in classical physics.

Now some people will then ask ‘what happened to the universe before the advent of consciousness?’ If we assume that means human consciousness, then it only appeared a blink ago in evolutionary terms.

Some then posit the existence – and necessity – of a divine consciousness to collapse the wave functions of the universe and make its existence possible.

Others don’t.

One response to “Quantum, Consciousness and Divinity”

  1. Sirdar says:

    Very technical post…and I learnt something from it.

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