Jan 31, 2014 | By George Gantz
I have hesitated to delve deeply into quantum physics (QP) in the ISAS Forum before because it is complex and paradoxical, and because the field is quite confused. Two recent articles, one in Nautilus magazine and one posted in BQO have changed this – new ideas being offered to explain the paradox of QP will change our understanding of the very nature of time and causation. The metaphysical implications are staggering – physicists are talking about the possible necessity of universal consciousness and universal purpose – and beginning to mention God.
One of the unsolved mysteries of quantum mechanics is the phenomenon of entanglement. Two entangled (or paired) particles are created in an experiment. Being entangled, they share in specific characteristics, such as their spin. Ultimately, when measured, they will be found to spin left or spin right. But until they are measured the spin of the particles is indeterminate. It is as if they have not yet chosen. One explanation is that, until the point of the measurement, the particles are, in a probabilistic sense, spinning both ways.
Remarkably, when one of the paired particles is measured and the spin is determined, the other paired particle, no matter how far away, will prove to have the same spin. It is as if the first particle to be measured “chooses” and the other particle obeys. This may seem bizarre, but the experiments are conclusive.
One plausible idea is that somehow the two particles communicate with each other – some unseen, potentially massless messenger jumps to the second particle when the first is measured. However, experiments have been confirmed that if this were the case, the messenger would have to travel faster than the speed of light (violating the laws of space-time). Moreover, experiments have been conducted where each observation point would perceive the other to be in the future based on Einstein’s theory of relativity – this effort to fool the paired particles into a contradiction always fails.
One possible conclusion is that there is a form of “non-local” coordination that extends outside of space and time. Many physicists find this concept troubling, as it introduces the idea that there can be “causes” outside of the physical reality of space and time.
Another theory that some have postulated to solve the seeming paradox of particles “choosing” an outcome is to assert that at the point when the measurement is taken, two parallel worlds are created – in one the particles spin left and in the other they spin right. This is the basis for the Many Worlds concept – that all of the quantum possibilities are realized in alternate worlds, but we only perceive the one that we are in.
An alternative conclusion (newly proposed), is that when the particle measurement is taken, the outcome will, in effect, apply backwards in time to when the two particles were created. Once the measurement is made, it will be as if the particles had always been that way. This theory is called “retro-causality” and it has some significant implications (if true).
First, retro-causality does not require faster-than-light communication – it merely assumes the measurement changes the point of time in the past when the entangled particles were created. The downside is, rather than faster-than-light communication, we seem to have a form of time travel. Second, retro-causality moots the Many Worlds hypothesis. This is a significant positive contribution since the notion of parallel universes is anti-intuitive and impossible to verify.
More significantly, retro-causality brings relevance to the concept of purpose or “ends”. The end-state of a quantum choice can influence past states and the resulting space-time trajectory. While Newtonian and then Einsteinian physics held sway, physicists had no interest in teleology since the universe was perceived to behave deterministically. Now there is a potential mechanism being considered that brings teleology to the fore. End states in QP (purpose) may be found to play an instrumental role in evolutionary processes, and solve some of the problems in evolutionary theory. Just as there is a need for “top down causation” in understanding emergent phenomena generally, there is a need for a purposeful agency in evolution. With retro-causality, evolution may be characterized as the future perfected state “coming into being”. While theologians are comfortable with this idea as consistent with God’s purpose, physicists are not.
An additional important area developing from QP is the recognition of the critical role of a conscious observer in establishing the framework by which quantum phenomena perform. In essence, there would be no QP if there were no conscious observer. In some sense, the purpose of this universe has been to create the conscious observer that measures it. Moreover, as consciousness is integral to QP, that consciousness in a universal form exists prior to QP. In this context, God answers the need for universal a priori consciousness.
For some background, please review these previous posts in the ISAS Forum:
Resources for this article include:
Antoine Suarez links
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