Interests: Quantum Physics, Relativity, Set Theory, Goedel's Theorem, Information,
Higher Dimensions, Consciousness, the bewildering fact that there's anything
at all, and lots of weird stuff too insane even for here. (Alchemy anyone?)
Credentials: Bachelor or Arts, major in Media Studies, minor in Computer studies.
Hey, don't laugh, I've also watched LOTS of sci-fi so I'm more than qualified
to discuss the above. I've also done a few chemistry experiments... I don't
believe or disbelieve any of the following.
THE INTERPRETATION OF QUANTUM MECHANICS
There is an uneasiness in quantum mechanics arising from the fact that all
the equations and functions describe reality as being a huge mixed overlap
of every possible reality, with the different realities interferring with
each other according to complex number (sort of) probabilities.
Reality is described by a wavefunction of every possible reality in a superposition.
It is only at the very last step when a single reality is selected from this
superposition, sometimes called "wavefunction collapse". People don't really
know what to make of this last step but it has to be done in order to get
answers that look like the reality we see, and it has been interpreted in
a number of different ways. A few (heavily paraphrased) examples are as follows.
1. Measurement causes collapse. When the wavefunction touches a measuring apparatus it collapses. (Bohr)
2. Consciousness causes collapse. When the wavefunction touches a mind it collapses.
3. Decoherence. Most of the realities fade away, just leaving a few. Interaction with the environment hastens this process. (Gell-Mann, Hartle)
4. Transactional Interpretation. Advanced waves (backwards in time waves) cause most or all of the realities to cancel out. (Cramer)
5. There are hidden variables we can never measure, and there's always only one reality. The apparent many realities arise from our ignorance of the hidden variables. (Bohm)
6. Copenhagen Interpretation. Interaction with classical (i.e. big) things causes the wavefunction to collapse. The wavefunction has no actual existence but is rather a summary of our knowledge of the system. (Bohr)
7. GRW Interpretation. Occasionally a particle undergoes collapse spontaneously and the cascade collapses the whole system. (Ghirardi, Rimini, Weber)
8. Many Worlds Interpretation. Wavefunction collapse never happens. All the realities exist even at macroscopic levels. It just looks like its collapsed because we only see a thin branch of reality. (Everett)
9. When the difference between states in a quantum system exceeds one graviton (loosely the weight of a speck of dust) the wave function collapses. (Penrose)
10. Participatory Universe. The universe evolves as a wavefunction until it starts to contain observers, and then the observers collapse the wavefunction, creating both themselves and the classical looking universe around them. (Wheeler)
There are no doubt other interpretations too, as well as variations of the above. This leads me to entertain the following interpretation, which I think is also in keeping with the general spirit of Quantum Mechanics.
11. Many Interpretations Interpretation. All logically consistent interpretations of quantum mechanics are true and exist in superposition.
If the Many Worlds Interpretation (No 8) is true, then there is a parralel reality
where you believe the Many Interpretations Interpretation (No 10). Perhaps an
interaction between interpretations occurs, some interpretations canceling each
other while others reinforce.
Pure Momentum and Time
In the book "The End of Time" by Julian Barbour a solution to the (currently)
indefinable notion of "Now" is proposed: That it is an illusion. This solution
has been offered before, but Barbour supports his argument using Quantum Physics,
arguing that the universe is ultimately described by the Wheeler-DeWitt equation,
the fundamental quantum physical description of the universe. Such a universe
is basically an infinite collection of every possible quantum mechanical configuration
of mass-energy for every possible universe.
Because the configurations are described
using exact position and exact energy values, quantum mechanical complementarity
(the Uncertainty Principal, the more you know about some things the less you
can know about others) means that such a universe is totally static and contains
no time (complement of energy) and no movement (momentum, complement of position).
It presents a disjoint collection of space configurations with no organizing
principal to stitch them together, like individual movie frames that never connect.
I quite like this view, and certainly don't dismiss it out of hand. It should
be pointed out though that the Wheeler-DeWitt equation is incomplete, insoluble
and possibly wrong at a fundamental level. I wonder if perhaps this not
the only way to view things. If it is possible to view the universe entirely
in terms of position and energy, devoid of momentum and time, then I think the
spirit of quantum mechanics suggests that it is also possible to do the reverse.
After all, we can choose to perform measurements of either energy OR time, position
OR momentum. So the complement to the static universe of pure position and energy
A DYNAMIC UNIVERSE OF PURE MOMENTUM AND TIME.
I think such a universe would look pretty bizarre, a great moving blur where nothing had any position or energy at all, like a long exposure photograph left open forever. A universe of indistint, powerless ghosts screaming about in every direction, everything mixing with everything else. It doesn't sound much like the universe we generally see, but then neither is the static Wheeler-DeWitt universe of crystal clear statues sitting isolated from each other in frozen, prison cell instants. It's obvious why philophers and physicist have been drawn to the timeless, stationary universe: It's so much easier to describe! But just as some philosophers argue our perception of time (and therefore momentum) is an illusion, maybe the opposite is true and it is actually our perception of energy and position which is in error.
Our universe actually (at least to me) seems to be somewhere in between the two, just as the measurements we carry out are always part position and part momentum, part energy and part time. So the universe of pure position-energy and the universe of pure momentum-time represent the extreme poles of QM, with a continuum of mixed universes in between.