“The Observer Riddle: 5 Famous Quantum Experiments”

In the News (theoryandpractice.ru): “Nobody in this world understands quantum mechanics—that’s the main thing we need to know about it. Physicists have learned to use its laws and even predict phenomena based on quantum calculations. But so far it is not clear why the presence of an observer determines the fate of the system’s and causes it to make a choice in favor of one state. …

“Schrödinger’s Cat

“There are many interpretations of quantum mechanics, the most popular among them is the Copenhagen version. Its main provisions were formulated by Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg in 1920s. A central term of the Copenhagen interpretation is the wave function—a mathematical function containing information about all the possible states of a quantum system in which it simultaneously exists.

“According to the Copenhagen interpretation, only external surveillance defines the state of the system and distinguishes it from other systems (the wave function only helps to mathematically calculate the probability of finding the system in a given state. We can say that after observing, the quantum system becomes a classic: it immediately ceases to co-exist in many states at once in favor of one of them.

“This approach has always had a lot of opponents…, but the accuracy of calculations and predictions prevailed. However, in recent years the supporters of the Copenhagen interpretation are becoming fewer and not the least reason for that—the most mysterious instant collapse of the wave function in the measurement.

“The famous thought experiment by Erwin Schrödinger—cat, poor guy, was just intended to show the absurdity of this phenomenon.

“Let’s remind you of the essence of the experiment. Into a black box is placed a live cat, an ampule of poison, and some mechanism that can randomly put the poison into action.

“Let’ say, one radioactive atom breaks the ampule. The exact time of the radioactive decay is unknown. All we know is the period of its half-life —i.e., the time during which the radioactive decay will be concluded with the 50% probability.

“So, for the external observer the cat inside the box exists in two simultaneous states: it is ether alive, if everything goes right, or dead, if the decay occurred and the ampule is broken.

“Both states are described by a wave function (psi-function) of the cat that is being changed with time: as more time elapses, the greater is the probability that the radioactive decay took place.  However, as soon as the box is open, the wave function collapses and we see the result of this cruel experiment.

“So, before the observer opens the box, the cat will always balance on the verge of life and death. Only the action of the observer can define the outcome. This is an absurdity that Schrödinger pointed to.

“Electron Diffraction

“There is a source that emits a stream of electrons that flow towards a screen, a photographic plate. A barrier is placed on the path of the electrons—a copper plate with two slits. What kind of picture can we expect on the screen if we visualize electrons as simple little charged balls? Two illuminated strips opposite the slits.

“In fact, the screen displays a much more complex pattern of alternating black and white lines. The fact is that as the electrons pass through the slits, they start behaving not as particles, but as waves (similar to photons, the light particles, can be particles and waves simultaneously.)

“Then the waves interact in space with each other. Sometimes they enforce each other, sometimes weaken. As a result, a complicated picture made of alternating light and dark lines appears on the screen.

“However, the result of the experiment doesn’t change. If electrons go through the slit one by one, not as a solid stream, then each given separate particle simultaneously exists in both states—as an element and as a wave.

“Even one electron at a time can pass through both slits (an this is an important provision of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics: objects can simultaneously demonstrate their ‘habitual’ material properties and exotic wave parameters.

“What has an observer to do with it? During similar experiments, when physicists have tried to fix with the help of instruments through which slit the electron would pass, the picture on the screen dramatically changed and acquired a ‘classic’ form: two light-struck plots against the slits and no alternating bands.

“It looked like electrons were unwilling to demonstrate their wave nature under the close eye of an observer as if they decided to adjust to the observer’s desire to see a simple and clear picture. Is it mystic?

“Heated Fullerene

“Experiments in the field of diffraction of particles were held not only with electrons, but also with much bigger objects—fullerenes—large, closed molecules that consist of tens of carbon atoms (for example, the fullerene of sixty (60) carbon atoms is in a form very similar to a soccer ball: a hollow sphere made of pentagons and hexagons).

“Recently, a group from Vienna University headed by professor Zeilinger tried to add an observer’s presence as a component of a scientific experiment. For that, they irradiated moving molecules of fullerene with a laser ray.

“After being heated by an external source, molecules began glowing; thus, they inevitably were visible to the observer.

“After this innovation was implemented and used in multiple experiments, molecules changed their behavior. Before, they were completely visible to the observer. They successfully avoided obstacles (i.e. showed the waves’ qualities) similar to electrons from our last example—the ones that penetrated an opaque screen.

“Later, when an observer stepped in, fullerenes ‘calmed down’ and started to behave as totally ‘law-obedient’ material particles.

“Cooling Dimension

“One of the most famous laws of quantum world is the Heisenberg uncertainty principle: it’s impossible to locate the place and the speed of a quantum object at the same time.

“The more precisely we measure the particles’ impulses, the less accurately we can calculate their positions. Quantum laws work at the level of tiny particles and are usually unnoticeable in our world of big macro-objects.

“That’s why recent experiments by Professor Schwab’s group from the US are valuable. During his experiments, quantum effects were demonstrated not at the level of electrons or fullerene molecules (their characteristic diameter is about 1 nm), but at little more tangible object—a tiny aluminum strip.

“A strip was fixed on both sides so that its middle was suspended and could vibrate under the external influence. In addition, next to the strip was a device able to detect its position accurately.

“As a result, the experimenters found out two interesting things. First of all, any measurement of the object’s position or its monitoring didn’t go unnoticeable to the object. After each measurement the position of the strip changed.

“Roughly speaking, the researchers defined with high accuracy the strip’s coordinates, thus according to Heisenberg uncertainty principle, changed its speed and as a result the subsequent location.

“Secondly, (it was totally unexpected), some measurements somehow caused cooling of the strip. So, the observer by mere fact of his participation in the experiment changed physical characteristics of the objects.

“Standstill” Particles

“As is known, unstable radioactive particles decay in this world not only for the sake of experiments with cats, but mostly on their own. Each particle has an average life-time that may, it turns out, be extended under the watchful eye of an observer.

“This quantum effect was predicted for the first time in 1960s, and his brilliant experimental confirmation came in the article published in 2006 by a group of Nobel Prize laureate in physics Wolfgang Ketterle of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“In their work, the group studied the decay of a non-stable excited atom of rubidium (rubidium atoms decay into the ground state and photons). Immediately after the preparation of the system and atoms were excited, they and were watched by shining a laser beam.

“The monitoring was done in two regimes: constant (when small light impulses were constantly sent to the system) and pulsed (when the system from time to time was exposed to more powerful impulses.)

“The size of the effect for both regimes studied by scientists also coincides with the predictions. Maximal life of a non-stable agitated rubidium atom was prolonged by 30 times.

“Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness

“Electrons and fullerenes stop demonstrating their wave properties; aluminum strips cool down; non-stable particles freeze while decaying. Under a powerful eye of an observer the world changes. Isn’t it an evidence of the involvement of our intellect in the world around us?

“So maybe Carl Jung and Wolfgang Pauli (Austrian physicist, Nobel Prize laureate, one of the quantum physics pioneers) were right when they said that the laws of physics and consciousness have to be considered as complementary, mutually replenishing?

“But it is only one step to the recognition: the entire world around us is in essence an illusionary product of the mind. Scary? Then let’s again refer to physicists.

“The thing is that in all experiments described above, observers inevitably influenced the system. They illuminated it by a laser beam, used measurement tools… There is a general and very important principle: it’s impossible to watch a system and measure its parameters without interacting with it. However, where there is an interaction, there is an alteration of properties.

“It’s even more so when huge quantum objects interact with a tiny quantum system. This situation is described by the term ‘quantum decoherence’—an irreversible process of distortion of quantum properties in a system from the point of view of thermodynamics when it correlates with another large structure.

“During such an interaction, the quantum system loses its original characteristics and becomes ‘classic,’ i.e., ‘obeys’ a bigger structure. This explains the paradox with the Schrödinger’s cat: the cat is such a huge system that it just cannot be isolated from the world. The parameters of this thought experiment are not quite correct.

“In any case, compared to the reality of creation as an act of consciousness, decoherence sounds much calmer. After all, with this approach the entire classical world becomes one big effect of decoherence.

“As the authors of one of the most significant books in this field state, this approach generates a logical statement such as ‘there are no particles in the world whatsoever’ or ‘there is no time at a fundamental level.’

“Is it about a constructive observer or omnipotent decoherence? We have to choose between two evils. Remember: at this time, scientists are increasingly more convinced that there are quantum effects that lay in the very foundation of our thought processes. So, each one has to choose where ‘surveillance’ ends and reality starts.”

My Comment: Science in this world is only able to identify some of the effects that are “out of this world” that we are unable to comprehend through our properties and mind. The wisdom of Kabbalah doesn’t even try to explain them to the men of this world because, in principle, it is impossible due to the absence of our respective properties.

The wisdom of Kabbalah gives a person who is interested in attaining the upper world a chance to obtain the properties of the upper reality, thus to the extent of possessing these properties, one can become a “resident” of the higher world and explore it from the inside as we now explore this material world.

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Quantum Entanglement Affects The Past

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