- Slides: 12
Quantum Theory of What? What does quantum theory describe?
What is an object? • An object is a concept. • A concept is a result of separating and naming. • Thus, an object is always separate from some other object, both of which have names. • Examples: This thought, that pain, a table, a human body, a black hole, a unicorn.
Definition of objective reality • An object is said to exist objectively if two or more observers… • …agree on the definition of the object… • …agree on their observations of the object… • …and agree that the object exists whether or not it is being observed. • If so, the object is said to be objectively real by those who agree (e. g. , a human body, a table, a black hole, a unicorn). • For those who disagree, it doesn’t exist! • This is existence by agreement.
In classical physics, objects exist by wide-spread agreement • Classical physics describes macroscopic objects that can be perceived with the human senses. • Classical objects are assumed to have precise positions and velocities. • A classical object is assumed to exist whether or not it is being observed if two or more observers agree that it exists. • For those who disagree, it doesn’t exist!
But, what does quantum theory describe? • That is the big question! • Quantum objects do not have precise positions and velocities. • Quantum theory predicts the probabilities of measuring specific positions or velocities in specific measurements on specific quantum objects (e. g. , “atoms” observed with a scanning tunneling microscope, see next slide).
Example: Measurements of iron “atom” position probabilities surrounding “electron” position probabilities
In both classical and quantum physics, an interpretation is needed • We do not actually perceive a classical object. We perceive only sensations. It is the mind that constructs an object from the sensations. Different minds may construct different objects. • However, in classical physics there is wide -spread agreement on the definition of a classical object, and… • …if two or more observers agree on its existence, it exists for those observers.
But what is a quantum object? • Is it objectively real—i. e. , does it exist whether or not it is being observed (ontological existence)? • Does it exist only as a belief (epistemological existence)? • Or does it exist only as the mathematical prediction of the probability of obtaining a specific result in a specific observation (mathematical existence)?
Contrary to classical physics, there is no agreement among quantum physicists on what a quantum object is! • There is no wide-spread agreement on the definition of a quantum object. • There is no wide-spread agreement on the existence of a quantum object. • No agreement, no existence!
Question: How does consciousness fit into all of this? • Consciousness, as pure nonphysical awareness, is assumed in one interpretation. • Consciousness as an emergent property of matter is assumed in other interpretations (but matter-based consciousness has no creative power!). • Consciousness is not assumed at all in the remaining interpretations (but how could there then be observations? ).
A problem! • In quantum theory, objective time and space form a fixed background (as context) in which everything happens. • In general relativity (gravity theory), objective time, space, matter, and energy depend on each other and evolve in time together (as content). • How to unify such disparate theories into a quantum theory of gravity? • One possibility: Eliminate objective time and space!
What if Reality were spaceless and timeless? • Space is the concept of size and location. • Time is the concept of duration. • If there is no space, there is no size or location. • If there is no time, there is no duration. • What does this remind us of? • Nirvana, pure Awareness, satori, enlightenment!