[Warning] This is a fairly scientific article. I wanted to share my thoughts about this topic, but for those which are interested, yet know little quantum physics, i have inserted a lot of hyperlinks to Wikipedia articles, explaining those notions i am using. Please feel free to visit/read them for a better understanding of the article. Also, i picked English for this article, so that it would be easier to debate it with friends abroad.
By far, the hottest research domain is modern science is quantum physics.
And that is not only because it (tries to) explain the origins and laws of Universe at the smallest level, but because it also offers a thrilling insight on our own human nature.
Since Descartes, the relation between body and mind is an ever-new subject for the philosophers. But the debate is even older. The occidental, “scientific” (namely the physicalist paradigm), which postulates the existence of an independent, objective reality, regardless of the observer Vs. the subjective reality, typical for the eastern philosophies but also mystics everywhere.
In this philosophical context, quantum mechanics appeared like a crack in our objectivist (i.e. reality is the same, regardless if we observe it or not) perspective of the world.
At first, there was the Double slit experiment . Then Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. But then, in 1935, perhaps the most popular quantum mechanics thought experiment was devised – Schrodinger’s cat. The idea was simple – you take a completely closed box, put inside a single radioactive atom (uranium for example), a Geiger counter (which detects radioactivity) and a poison release mechanism, connected to the Geiger. And, obviously, a living, healthy cat. As the radioactive decay is governed by quantum laws, in the absence of an observation, the system was in superposition and the cat was dead and alive in the same time. Well, at least until someone opened the box.
A bit later, Eugene Wigner, a Nobel Prize Winner, continued the logic of Schrodinger’s experiment, devising another, more complex experiment, called Wigner’s friend. This one is like the iterated version of Schrodinger’s cat experiment. If Wigner runs the cat experiment and opens the box, breaking the superposition and causing the wavefunction to collapse, his friend, not knowing of the experiment’s result, will cause the collapse of the Wigner + cat system wavefunction when he returns?
Michio Kaku repeated the experiment to infinity. Imagine the cat in the box, person 1 opening the box and causing the wavefunction of the cat system to collapse, while being himself in a box, just like the cap. Person 2, opening the sealed room/box and finding the person 1 with a dead/alive cat and so on, to infinity.
Mathematically, it could look like the sum of consciousnesses determines the sum of existences.
Two questions arise.
1. Such mathematical model, is it just a mumbo-jumbo or does it have any observable aspect in the real world?
2. What exactly causes the wavefunction collapse? Is it consciousness?
Both the questions get an answer here: The Global Consciousness Project.
A mindblowing experiment started at Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) laboratory, set out to change the way we see the world… and ourselves.
The first step was observing the influence of observers on random number generators. Out of 100 electronic “coin flips” , from the normal distribution pattern of heads and tails was affected by the will of the observer… this might sound interesting, but it pales in comparison with the implications it has.
The guys from PEAR, with Roger D. Nelson in the head of the team, set out to build a worldwide network of such devices.
Running for tens of years, the data was analyzed with the most scientifically serious and accurate methods.
However, it was not until the unfortunate huge impact of 9/11 when the implications of this seemingly bizarre (under traditional occidental objectivist thinking) were seriously considered.
As we can see in this video, the GCP network (which by the way, you can watch it LIVE here – Data access section) detected MAJOR deviation from randomness before the first plane crashed into the Twin towers.
This means 3 things:
1. As the point for the entire GC Project is, there are solid proofs that somehow our consciousnesses combine into a wave global consciousness, which responds to major effects… But, the fact that the major deviation started BEFORE the event, could mean 2 things:
2. The information was somehow “leaking” from the future into some sort of 6th sense, in which people “felt” that something was wrong, but they didn’t consciously realized that, and the detectors measured the combined deviation or…
3. The Global Consciousness, as a sum, was somehow part of the cause of the event. Or at least, a collateral effect, linked to the event.
Coming back to Michio Kaku’s interpretation of the iterated Wigner’s friend logic (i.e. that the sum of consciousnesses determines the sum of existences) and now knowing that such Global Consciousness exists and it has measurable effects… does that mean there is a Consciousness (which we are part of) determining the wavefunction collapse for the entire system? In other words, our subjective existence?
It sounds terribly close to the Hindu vision of Atman and Brahman relation – our individual soul (immaterial consciousness/mind) part of an Universal Consciousness, which determines all Creation.
This is, indeed, just a speculation, however based on proven scientific facts.
But the idea is not new and there are renown physicists, such as Sir Roger Penrose, which uphold this idea – the mind is not purely physical, but rather immaterial, such as Descartes pointed with his dualist view. Together with Stuart Hameroff, they came up with a model, which not only aims to explain consciousness as a quantum mechanism, but also points out the idea that Consciousness is not purely linked to neural networks, but is rather a property of space, which, coincidentally, can be observed as we humans know it, in complex networks, such as the synaptic ones. But that doesn’t rule out the possibility that EVERYTHING has (to a much less degree) some sort of consciousness.
Coming back to The Global Consciousness Project, i cannot be but shocked by how easily such a well-documented study is ignored by “mainstream”, physicalist scientific world.
Luckily, quantum physics, as a beautiful and yet strange domain of physics seems to fill the gap between paradigms… and as younger generations come with a more flexible perspective, incredible aspects of “reality” are being uncovered in areas otherwise considered tabu.
Looking forward for the next few years!