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"It is not necessary to see or comprehend the information that is available. The experimenter cannot make information go away by not looking at it. If the information is available, it will [be] reflected in the measurement outcome."

But unless you see or comprehend this information at some time or another, how can you confirm that the light behaved one way and not the other way?

IOW, if you look at the information later, you get the particle at the slit.

If you erase the information, however, you just don't have any information to tell you what happened. No evidence.

So it would seem that it really is a matter of observation. It can be observation in real time or observation after the fact.

Or am I missing something?

One other thing. I think the metaphor of the CPU is useful *to a point*.

However, that metaphor implies software and hardware, which would have their own matter or media and themselves be subjected to physical laws.

If, in fact, the Universe is a virtual reality program, that program would have to be *somewhere* and mediated by *something*. You would have an infinite regress as these somethings in turn would have to be virtual reality programs.

Mr. Prescott's obsversation coincides with material presented by the late Jane Roberts who channelled an entity name Seth. Below is an except from a ebsite (http://educate-yourself.org/mbc/sethcreationofmatter.shtml) discussing Seth's "take" on the creation of matter:

Seth says that this is something we all do.

"You form the camouflage world or appearances with the same part of you that breathes." Session 23, p.167 , The Early Sessions, Book 1 "The physical world that you recognize is made up of invisible patterns. These patterns are "plastic," in that while they exist, their final form is a matter of probabilities directed by consciousness. Your senses perceive these patterns in their own ways." Session 803, p.29 , The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events

"If you erase the information, however, you just don't have any information to tell you what happened."

You erase the information gathered by the detectors at the slits, but you still have the pattern generated by the quantum units when they hit the target. This pattern will be different depending on whether the information from the slits is still available or not.

In other words, the quantum units (electrons, say) first pass through the slits and then hit a target screen. Measurements taken at the slits will determine the pattern registered on the screen. If the slit-measurements are erased, the screen pattern will be compatible with a wave motion. If the slit-measurements are still available, the screen pattern will be compatible with the behavior of individual particles.

Michael,

Most interesting. Now, couldn't a variety of experiments be run based on the "availability" of that information:

For example,

1. The slit measurements are not erased, but the file is encrypted with an impossible to crack, randomly generated password.

2. The measurements are put on a CD that is placed in a box, encased in cement and thrown into the ocean (retrievable but difficult).

3. The measurements are half erased, half not.

4. The measurements are put in a Schroedinger's box type situation and randomly destroyed or not.

For #4, if the quantum pattern could accurately predict whether the measurements were destroyed or not, wouldn't that prove telepathy of a sort?

[One other thing. I think the metaphor of the CPU is useful *to a point*.

However, that metaphor implies software and hardware, which would have their own matter or media and themselves be subjected to physical laws.

If, in fact, the Universe is a virtual reality program, that program would have to be *somewhere* and mediated by *something*. You would have an infinite regress as these somethings in turn would have to be virtual reality programs.]


No, you are thinking in terms of our limited level of reality, and what we think of as "matter."

So if this quantum weirdness is really true, and really confirmed by physics experiments, then it seems to prove that "mind" is not confined to physical brains. Of course most of us here know that. But how can materialism be taken seriously? The materialists just brush off quantum physics and say it does not apply on our macro level. Well why not?

I Understand, It does not matter if you record or erase the information, it collapses. It is not as if they experimenter collapses it, it is as if either it collapses when a experimenter is present or, perhaps, the collapses is built into the mind of the experimenter, I dont think we could every be certain which is the case really?

I Have a brother in law who believes that what is happening in the dual slit is.... each super position is an alternate universe, and when we measure, we decide, or it is decided for us, which multi-verse we are in....

If this is the case than why see the super position, the particle acting like a wave at all.

Is there any grounds for this idea or is he misunderstanding it?

"The materialists just brush off quantum physics and say it does not apply on our macro level. Well why not?"

The usual argument is that you can't scale up quantum effects because quantum decoherence takes over at the macro level. I don't know enough about the subject to assess this argument. Anyone care to weigh in?

"Now, couldn't a variety of experiments be run based on the 'availability' of that information?"

Some experiments along the lines of the ones you suggest actually have been run. See the Web page I linked in the main post (Chapter 2 of Ross Rhodes' presentation).

"If, in fact, the Universe is a virtual reality program, that program would have to be *somewhere* and mediated by *something*."

The idea is that at the bottom of it all, there's just information and information processing (and, presumably, consciousness, unless consciousness is seen as an emergent property of the information-processing system).

In our physical world we make computers out of matter, but what I half-seriously call the Cosmic CPU would not be a material construction. It would exist outside of the space-time universe.

"each super position is an alternate universe, and when we measure, we decide, or it is decided for us, which multi-verse we are in"

That's the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics. (It's not the same thing as multiverse theory, technically.) I lack the expertise to assess it, except to point out that it requires a new universe to appear every time there is a measurable quantum event - which means trillions of universes would be popping into existence every second, and each one of them would spawn additional trillions of universes, and so on.

It does not strike me as the most parsimonious explanation, to put it mildly. Still, it does fit the equations (as do the competing interpretations). Noted physicist Fred Alan Wolf is a big promoter of the MWI.

Hawking is an MWI supporter as was, I believe, Feynman.

Whether or not it's more or less parsimonious depends, I think, on how you count the propositions involved. Many Worlders do argue that the MWI is more parsimonious than the Copenhagen Interpretation. But if you count each split universe as a separate proposition then it's hard to see how it could be more parsimonious.

Once again though, the measurement does not determine the outcome in MWI since, in the Shrodinger's Cat example, BOTH outcomes are realized regardless of measurement. The universes split because dead cat and alive cat are both equally possible alternatives. What is possible in MWI becomes actual. But actual in separate universes; the universes split realizing both possibilities.

There is exchange of information among universes so it is not possible to see all your other selves. They exist in the same space, but in orthogonal dimensions.

Correction: There is NO exchange of information between universes...

"In our physical world we make computers out of matter, but what I half-seriously call the Cosmic CPU would not be a material construction. It would exist outside of the space-time universe."

Bingo. You should upgrade your seriousness here to at least 3/4.

blimey, can we can get back to mediums? LOL.

The distinction between "observation" and "demanding" information strikes me as being a bit tenuous. Either way, it is our engagement and participation that seems to make a difference.

I agree with an earlier commenter that the whole virtual reality meme seems like a way to defer addressing the root question.

Physicists continue to smash particles into smaller and smaller bits in an attempt to get at the fundamental nature of matter. But tiny new particles just keep on coming, and the final answer - if there's actually one to be had by this mode of inquiry, seems ever to recede before their methods of disection.

"Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real. - Niels Bohr
--------------------------------------------

What we call matter is not really matter as we most commonly think of it. Atoms are mostly ghostly empty space (99.9999999% empty space to be exact) and the sub atomic particles they are made up of are more like eddies in a stream than a rock or a BB.

The only think keeping my hand from floating right down through the table they are resting on is the negative charge of the electrons in my hand repelling the negative charge of the electrons in the table.

If an atom were the size of a sports stadium the nucleus would be the size of a grain of rice in the middle and the electrons little more than wispy clouds of potential floating around the outside.

Sub atomic particles can appear and disappear, sometimes appearing as waves and sometimes as particles, able to instantaneously communicate with each regardless of distance, and sometimes even seeming to communicate with the people who are investigating them. They are hardly like anything we've come to know and understand as matter.

Or as Niels Bohr said, "If quantum mechanics hasn't profoundly shocked you, you haven't understood it yet."

The reason that MWI is considered more parsimonious is that we only need the Schrodinger equation to describe the universe.
Other interpretations require Schrodinger and a separate 'collapse' description.
Fewer required parts.
(This doesn't mean MWI is correct, just why some would call it more parsimonious.)

Thank you for this blog post, Michael. I find that this is a key point that is sometimes lost in these types of discussions. To me this shifts the question to information itself. The universe behaves in a way that treats information as something as tangible as energy or mass. But in what sense does information even exist without consciousness applying some sort of meaning to it? I think the nature of consciousness and information are closely tied. And as an interesting side note, the book Decoding the Universe describes how the information in a black hole is proportional not to its total mass, but only to its event horizon, or something along those lines. The conclusion that the book reaches is that information exists and is stored only 2-dimensionally, which sort of ties back into the holographic/VR model of reality.

I will say, that if such a thing as Time Travel were to ever exist, MWI would be the ONLY plausible way for it to work, which is why I personally favor MWI as a very real possibility. If MWI exist, there can be NO paradoxes associated with Time Travel.

For example, someone goes back in time, changes history, the river of time forks into two rivers, the original timeline remains intact and unaltered and on it's own course, and a new separate timeline emerges from that point in the past that you altered, with the changes you made. No matter what you do in the past, you couldn't cause a paradox, because you are simply creating a new fork with it's own new separate history, while your original history remains as it's own separate flowing fork.

Only if there were one timeline would paradoxes be possible, and a paradox is simply something that cannot happen.

See:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/3307757/Parallel-universe-proof-boosts-time-travel-hopes.html

Also, watch Michio Kaku explain it ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnkE2yQPw6s

Remote Viewing also highly suggests MWI, as many times when they RV the past or the future, they will get alternate scenarios, alternate futures, alternate pasts. The same viewed event can get different results.

A Remote Viewer friend of mine pointed me to a project attempting to prove MWI through Remote Viewing ...

http://www.farsight.org/demo/Multiple_Universes/Multiple_Universes_Experiment.html

Remote Viewing the Future in the Context of Multiple Universes

For many years the physics community has contemplated the existence of alternate realities, or universes other than our own. The idea of multiple universes commonly occurs in discussions of quantum mechanics, and was originally proposed by Hugh Everett in 1956 (the so-called "many worlds" theory) as a possible explanation for experimental results involving the "two-slit experiment." But until now, no one devised an experimental approach to test for the existence of these multiple universes.

Beginning in January of 2009, a group of remote viewers utilizing three separate methodologies (CRV, HRVG, and SRV, later expanded to four with TDS) began an experiment designed by Dr. Courtney Brown that directly tested for the existence of multiple universes while using remote viewing to predict future events. This project remains an exciting and landmark opportunity to see remote viewing in action within the context of an important scientific study that has profound implications to our understanding of physical reality. As with many of our studies, this project involved public participation. We encouraged web site visitors to watch the study unfold as the weeks and months proceeded. There has never been a need to "believe" anything with any of our experiments. We simply want people to look at the results, and learn.

"Fred Allen Wolf Supports MWI?"

In his book "The Eagles Quest" He states the the idea that consciousness is what collapses the wave function is in compettion with the whole multiverse idea, he made it sound like he supported the idea that there is one universe and when we observe the matter it collapses. etc.

Looking on Amazon I see that he has another book called "Parallel Universes"

I have also heall rd another idea where, consciousness is the dynamic thing kinda "traveling through" the universe, and these multiverses are "static" places that exist as proablities. I think this is the best interpretation myself. I read this in Discover mag eons ago.

All in all, it is quite amazing that we now have an empiracally accepted idea about how mind interacts with matter.

It seems that mind is actully very important in our universe!

Has anyone heard of Quantum immortality theory? this is based off of the MWI, it means that when we die our consciousness will be tranferred over to realities where we haven't already died, some of these parallel universes could be completely virtual.

"Physicists continue to smash particles into smaller and smaller bits in an attempt to get at the fundamental nature of matter. But tiny new particles just keep on coming, and the final answer - if there's actually one to be had by this mode of inquiry, seems ever to recede before their methods of disection."

There is no ultimate particle because matter is not made out of matter. Matter is made out of relationships, and relationships are information, and information is intelligence, and intelligence is consciousness. Everything is conscious, and everything is part of God.

"It seems that mind is actully very important in our universe!"

That would go without saying, if materialism had not taken over mainstream science. Every idea is twisted in the attempt to hang on to materialism. Eventually, maybe they will give up and admit that everything is MInd. That is the most parsimonious theory, which just happens to agree with common sense.

"it means that when we die our consciousness will be tranferred over to realities where we haven't already died, some of these parallel universes could be completely virtual."

....and this is one of them.


"Matter is made out of relationships, and relationships are information, and information is intelligence, and intelligence is consciousness."

I like that formulation very much. The only part I might question is "information is intelligence." I'm not sure about that, though it could be true. I'd need to know more about information theory. (And yes, I've ordered "Decoding the Universe," recommended by Sam ((above)), as well as "Programming the Universe," another book relevant to this topic.)

Strictly speaking, "intelligence is consciousness" is also debatable. I remember reading Julian Jaynes' eccentric book "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" some years ago. Among many other points, Jaynes argued that consciousness was not necessary for many of the behaviors and qualities we associate with it. But I would say that in the larger sense, consciousness is necessary for intelligence, even the seeming "intelligence" of plants, germs, antibodies, etc. It all depends on how broadly or narrowly one understands the term "consciousness," I guess.

The key mechanism is decoherence. This is the loss of coherence of a superposition of states (for example the superposition of the state of a particle in the double-slit experiment), due to the interaction of that particle with the environment. This environment can be a measuring device, but it can also be randomly moving gas atoms or molecules. This has also been confirmed experimentally by increasing the gas pressure in a double slit experiment, which causes the interference pattern to disappear, as more and more particles interact with the gas and lose thereby their coherent state. The loss of visibility of those fringes is an exponential function of the gas pressure, as predicted by the theory.

So it's not only not necessary to observe the electron to destroy the interference, and even not necessary to make observation merely possible (measurement without looking), but mere interaction with an environment of randomly moving particles or radiation is sufficient (which is in fact also a kind of "measurement", but of no practical use to us for determining the position of the particle). That also implies that according to modern quantum theory, Schrödinger's cat is dead or alive before you look at it, and not in some superposition state of dead and alive cats, as any superposition of states will have disappeared practically immediately by decoherence.

"I remember reading Julian Jaynes' eccentric book "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" some years ago. Among many other points, Jaynes argued that consciousness was not necessary for many of the behaviors and qualities we associate with it."

I read that book a long time ago. It was just yet another attempt to justify materialism and dismiss mysticism.

And it's very hard for everyone to agree on what we mean by the word "consciousness." Most of what goes on in our minds is outside of our awareness, but it seems very wrong to say that therefore most of our mental activity is non-conscious. Freud caused a lot of this confusion.

Our consciousness awareness at any moment is a tiny fraction of our mental system. Does that mean our mental system lacks consciousness? Of course not. It is conscious, but most of it, most of the time, is outside the focus of our momentary awareness.

[The only part I might question is "information is intelligence." ]

It's hard to define the word "intelligence." Or the word "information." I think what is common to both is the concept of "meaning." Of course, the word "meaning" is hard to define. I like Gregory Bateson's idea of the "difference that makes a difference."

In information theory, there are the two extremes of complete disorder and absolute order, with information, meaning, always somewhere in between. And information, meaning is always evolving, is inherently creative. Nothing can have meaning, or be informative, unless in some way it moves forward from the known towards the unknown.

Dragonfly, thank you for that helpful comment. But how would decoherence explain something like the quantum eraser experiment, where the information at the slits is recorded and then destroyed before the pattern on the target screen is analyzed?

As I understand it, erasing the slit information determines what pattern shows up on the target screen. Yet the complete experiment has already been run before the slit information is erased.

Presumably, then, the pattern on the screen is not determined by the fact of taking measurements at the slits, but by the availability of that information at a later time.

Right? Or not right?


Still thinking about the above question, I came across what might be the answer (or an answer) in a discussion at a physics site.

______________

(begin quoted comment)

This is the way I see it:

I think decoherence is compatible with the interpretation that collapse implies a change in our knowledge or the "possibility to know".
Quantum non-demolition experiments show that it is not necessarily that you physically disturb the thing when you measure. Just choosing one of the possible outcomes represents a measurement. But how and when is that choice made? Decoherence explains that process.

If you could isolate "Schrodinger's cat" inside the box, so that there is no "information" leaked, then the cat would actually be in a superposition.
But in reality, for large objects like a cat, there is interaction with the environment. If we adopt the "many worlds" interpretation, we could accept that the cat is still in a superposition, but that correlations have been established with the surrounding environment (entanglement).This implies that the environment is now also in a superposition, and correlations have been established between the cat and the environment. The live cat is correlated to one version of the environment, and the dead cat to another.
We could interpret this by saying that there is a "permanent record" in the environment about the state of the cat, which would be compatible with Copenhagen. Or we could say that we as observers are also in a superposition that is entangled with the environment and the cat (many worlds interpretation)

Don't they say there are many ways to skin a cat?

(end quoted comment)

As if on cue, Brian Whitworth has a new chapter: The Light Of Existence:

http://brianwhitworth.com/BW-VRT3.pdf

Extracts from Brian’s new paper:

“So if a photon can both exist and not exist, can Schrödinger's cat be both alive and dead? Or if cats can't be alive and dead at the same time, how can photons both exist and not exist? Or if photons can superpose but cats can’t, as quantum entities merge into classical entities, when does the superposition stop? Wigner developed Von Neumann’s idea that human "consciousness"23 triggers the wave function collapse, but if we are observation central, how did the universe manage before we came?
In this model, any interaction that merges entity classes collapses the wave function, so superposition states don’t cumulate past the first interaction. A quantum entity’s uncertainty stops the first time it interacts with another, when all its instances stop immediately. We may not know if the cat is alive or dead, but the cat does.”

He’s also scathing about the MWI:

“This theory offends Occam’s razor, as it assumes more than it explains. Deutsch's attempt to rescue it by letting a finite number of universes “repartition” at each choice just recovers the original problem, as what decides which universes are merged or dropped? The clockwork multiverse just reincarnates the clockwork universe that quantum theory demolished a century ago into a fashionable zombie theory that cant be falsified. Why should an immense multi-verse, like a doting parent with a video-camera, copy everything our universe might do? The ex post facto argument of many worlds illustrates the lengths some will go to deny choice in our world.
In contrast, choice is central to this model, as without it there is no information and no processing. It proposes a dynamic universe of constant choice not a static meta-verse of automatic machinery.”

MWI is just another convoluted attempt to salvage materialism. It is also used by radical neo-Darwinists like Dawkins, because it explains how every improbable thing is actually very probable.

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