It seems my focus has finally narrowed to one suspect who raises her ugly head too often;

**Quantum Mechanics**. A warning - what follows will not include mathematical formulae, but it might as well for all the sense it makes in the real world. As some early twentieth century scientists were variously quoted:

*"Reality is not only stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can possibly think."*

Here goes:

A fellow by the name of Einstein got it started with his

**General Theory of Relativity**, published in 1916, by inspiring others to consider that classical theories of space and time had got it wrong. Space and time were instead connected into a continuum he called space-time.

In the 1920s a fan of Einstein's named Schrodinger, who famously seemed to dislike cats, developed his

**Probability Wave Function**which has been used successfully in many applications since to describe our world. It is not a formula that tells you everything, but instead it is used to tell you the probability of things being a certain way at the atomic level.

We used to think the world is solid right down to the tiniest things, but we now know that all there is, way down there, is a cloud of possible things that might be. Fortunately, the probabilities work at that tiny level, and at the macroscopic level where we live, a table, chair, or the floor are all quite solid because all those possible-things-that-might-be cooperate to keep us from noticing that the chair is, in fact, a cloud of seemingly uncountable non-existent atoms.

In a thought experiment designed, some say, to illustrate how preposterous this situation is, Schrodinger described a situation in which a cat was confined in a box where poison would be released if a detector recorded the decay of a particle of radioactive material. According to the wave equations, there was a certain probability that the cat would be alive when the box was opened. In order to satisfy those who wanted the world to be "normal", it was postulated that until an observation occurred, the cat existed

*simultaneously*in those two quite different states; alive and dead. However, (and this is the concession to the fans of 'normal') since we assume

*, the probability wave was suggested to "*

**the observer lives in only one world***" when an observation was made, and from then on, the cat was either dead or alive but no longer both.*

**collapse**The whole thing begs questions, including "What is so special about the act of looking?" and "What if a hyena had looked inside instead, then either had eaten or not eaten the cat? Is a hyena's power of observation good enough to collapse the wave function, or maybe, (and this is important) would the hyena have then lived in two parallel universes with the cat, having either eating the carrion, or wandering off looking for a meal?" And the best question of all, "what if ...

**everything**obeys those probability equations of Schrodinger's and

**we also live in a set of parallel universes**where either we saw a dead cat or a live one?" That would mean that we are conscious of only one of a multitude of universes that exist, since these sub-atomic this-or-that decisions are constantly being made. An idea referred to as

**Quantum Entanglement**suggests that we are conscious of only one of those universes at a time, because we become entangled with only one at a time.

These ideas came into current thought as a result of a paper written by a graduate student, Hugh Everett in 1957, (rejected by the physics community of that time, but since accepted) referred to as the

*. To emphasize, it says that everything obeys the probability equations, not just the sub-atomic particles in the cat box but every bit of matter. We are all existing in a multitude of universes,*

**Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics**

**but are entangled with only one.**Further to this, consider that our brains are part of the physical structure of the universe(s) we live in, and so, our thought process is entangled as well.

I have often asked where ideas come from. Perhaps what all of this means is that all ideas exist but I have only become entangled with a few of them.

Wouldn't it be interesting to find a way to observe those other roads not travelled?

The cat is alive in this universe and doing it's business in my freshly dug flower bed!

ReplyDeleteSchrodinger claims his cat was an indoor cat ...

DeleteShows what a fool he was thinking that he had a cat. The cat had a human!

DeleteActually, you and Schrodinger would have got along it seems. Be careful what universe you entangle with if you kill the cat - I don't want you getting in trouble.

DeleteHi Halle,

ReplyDeleteHaving read so much about this subject I must say this must rank as one of the best concise summaries.

If this is any indication of how you explained mathematics to your students, than they must have been very fortunate indeed!!

Suffice to say it reads very well. You have summed up the position and conclusions far better than myself. Thanks so much for posting this, as I enjoyed reading it. I simply love your conclusion “Further to this, consider that our brains are part of the physical structure of the universe(s) we live in, and so, our thought process is entangled as well.”

That's so simply expressed yet so profound !!

Best wishes

Why, thank you Lindsay. I hope the explanations given to those students were clear. It seems a long time ago now.

DeleteYes, but!!

ReplyDeleteHello Halle; When I read relatively simplified explanations I begin to wonder. Let us suppose the wave function has collapsed in one universe. Suddenly, we are, no I am, transported from a universe we shared into one we do not. Yet in all respects except one [that one being the one which collapsed the wave function] we continue in the same universe. Even if we didn't, there must be a finite probability that at some time in the future [a future in which time does not exist] a new wave function will collapse which will rejoin our universes from the apparent multi-verse in which we supposedly live, move and have our being.

Surely there is a simpler solution. This whole debate, or perhaps line of research, is beginning to take on the aura of an epicyclic hypothesis to explain the apparent orbit of Mars [Ptolemy?] but raised to a quantum theory level. Somewhere along the line there may come an injunction to 'keep it simple'.

When I say, "keep it simple" I mean, of course, let's generate a new paradigm [which doesn't exist, apparently, in the current multiverse].

ReplyDeleteBecause I feel a bit puckish this morning; that new paradigm

Deletedoes exist. We just need to get tangled up in it!Hi Tom. Your comment has shown that my explanation us lacking in one very important regard. You are going to hate me ... There is no collapse of the wave function!

ReplyDeleteAll I ask is for you and I to continue being entangled in the same universe.

All the best,

Halle

Oh alright then. It isn't a bad universe after all.

DeleteHi Halle & Tom,

ReplyDeleteWhat I think might be helpful is to discuss a possible quantum theory of gravity, to attempt to explain how the universe hangs together. Now we know how a Hologram carries a 3 dimensional image on to a 2 dimensional surface. So then could it be that quantum gravity incorporates the Hologram principles and maybe even keeps track of what’s going on inside a black hole. So that maybe we exist in a multifaceted surface, at the boundary point of multidimensional regions. (multiverses)

That is encoded to the extent as is necessary for our existence, to provide real experiences of that world?

Incidentally, I think one is forced into thinking that nothing can escape from black holes is maybe entirely false!!

Best wishes

Lindsay; I am beginning to feel that I am falling into a black hole of unprovable and undisprovable hypotheses. That being the case, your final comment offers me great hope.

ReplyDeleteHi Halle & Tom,

ReplyDeleteI am going to embark on a new encyclopaedic posting type attempt to be entitled ‘ A philosophers guide to Cosmology’. Goodness knows where I will end up, but hopefully, if nothing else, it might provide some additional food for thought. Philosophers shy away from attempting to find meaning via cosmological principles, but this will be a corollary along the way. I think there is some merit in the idea the universe might best be viewed from a geometric perspective - something like the Hologram principle, or cut outs of a cone with the sharp edges re- glued together to give expression to the continuum., incorporating different gravitational effects, Einstein wasn’t happy with the possible outcomes of the laws of science that he so brilliantly espoused. So , as you say, conceivably, it could be interesting to examine the factors worthy of modification that might shed some light on the matter.

Best wishes

Hi Lindsay;

ReplyDeleteI am still wedded to the idea [not sure whether there is yet potential for divorce] that in some way the continuum of space-time is a projection of what I loosely called a psycho-spiritual-timelessness continuum. I shall be very interested, therefore, where your project may lead us. And I am certain our good friend Halle will have much to contribute.

Hi Tom & Halle,

ReplyDeleteIf one could only unify quantum mechanics with the general theory of relativity physicists could come up with the equations that would do away with the need of time altogether.

But even so, I am coming to the conclusion that maybe one is confusing the measurements of different physical variables with the existence of something we choose to call time. Bit of a bold statement though,

Best wishes

All very intresting the above nicely put Halle. I would love to join in but I’m entangled in an intergalactic cruse at the moment. By the way Linsey, look up ‘Hawking radiation’ which he theorized as a black-body radiation ‘glow’ from the event horizon of black holes. More on this when I get back after, or before, a closer look at the center of M87.

ReplyDeleteHope your improbability drive brings you home! We expect a full report, or maybe you might know the question??

DeleteHi Abigale & Everyone,

ReplyDeleteReference; Linsey, look up Hawking radiation’ which he theorized as a black-body radiation ‘glow’ from the event horizon of black holes. More on this when I get back after, or before, a closer look at the center of M87.

So, one presumes you mean the common term used ever since (Hawking’s radiation) first advanced his theory surrounding black holes radiation and particle–antiparticle radiation just before the event horizon.

One particle is consumed by the black hole but the other escapes, minus the information of the first mentioned.

So conceivably the past is not deterministic, just as is the future and time – a human construct. But we also have the possibility of the imagined particle–antiparticle radiation beyond the event horizon.

Hawking’s extra dimension ‘brane’ theory, expressed as a holograph, amongst other things, does rest on discovering bursts of gamma rays from dying black holes.

So it will indeed be interesting to see what M87 reveals, but at about 53 billion light years away one can’t imagine she is about to divulge too many of her dark secrets yet – don’t you think? It could even be that our reality is something more mystical than we can imagine from say simply living within the confines of a brane, just as I think Einstein most likely believed.

But I’m sure Hawking would have been thrilled to actually see a black hole.

Best wishes