Tuesday, October 18, 2016
" I Have The Power!" Says He Man The Physicist
Time for a rant. I'm watching Startalk, a program I enjoy (although not one of my favorites) and I am listening to obviously highly intelligent people make utter fools of themselves. What about? Schrodinger's cat, of course!
We keep hearing about this over and over again as if it is a great mystery. Schrodinger presented the concept in order to disapprove the observation theory of reality. His intention was to show just how ridiculous the position was and therefore that it was impossible.
Yet, time and time again people take the issue seriously as if it were a real problem he presented in order to demonstrate the strangeness of reality rather than the foolishness of their ideas.
The original issue was that of quantum uncertainty. Down at that sub microscopic level things happen statistically rather than rigidly. That is to say, there is a percentage which indicates how likely anything is to happen or an object is to be in a given place rather than an absolute reality. This means that if the quantum level under certain circumstances an object may be in more than one place at any one time. Or to put it another way there is a high probability it is here, a lesser probability it is there, an even lesser probability it somewhere else. This sounds like just a description of working in reality, but any quantum physicist will tell you that this is a description of the actual state of the particle. It isn't entirely in any one of those places.
Down at the quantum level, physicist assure us, an object may simply stop being where it is and start being somewhere else. It has not moved. It has simply stopped being where it was and started being somewhere nearby. As insane as this sounds, every experiment made to prove or disapprove it has proven it. It is called quantum tunneling and it happens because quantum particles exist where they are only as a matter of probability. They can stop being where they are and start being somewhere else without warning.
This was interpreted decades ago as meaning that in the quantum world nothing existed until someone observed it to exist any particular place. When they made that observation then the thing was there. They had seen it, so that made it be there. It was actually only probably there until someone looked at it.
Schrodinger thought this was ridiculous. He said that if you took a box put a cat in it and next to the cat put a detector which would react if an atomic particle was emitted by a radioactive material, and if that particle would trigger the release of a poison gas which would kill the cat, then, since the particle might or might not be emitted, according to this theory, the cat would neither be alive nor dead until someone opened the box and observed it.
Schrodinger's point was that the argument was ridiculous and should be discarded.
Unfortunately, people have been taking it seriously ever since he proposed it. It is obviously ridiculous. Furthermore, it is obvious why it is ridiculous.
What makes me the most angry is that this was pointed out at the same time Schrodinger made the suggestion. It is not new data. It is old data which is ignored for the sake of thrill and showing off.
The response to those who took the issue of observation seriously was the question, "Does the moon exist if no one is looking at it?" Or "Does the moon exist if a mouse looks at it?"
The answer is at the moon exists, obviously, even if no one and no living thing looks at it. The issue is not that a quantum state cannot be resolved into reality unless someone observes it. It's simply a question of interaction. When a particle can be either here or there it is both here or there in a state of what quantum physicists call super position. But the moment that particle interacts with other particles, no observation required, then it must be in a particular place and therefore it is in a particular place. No observation required. No life required. No experiment required. Only necessity is required.
The moon exists because its gravitational field interacts with the earth's gravitational field, etc. etc. etc. The detector either identifies an emitted particle or it doesn't. No other observation is required.
Or as someone else once put it:
God in the Quad
There was a young man who said,
"God Must think it exceedingly odd
If he finds that this tree
Continues to be
When there's no one about in the Quad."
Dear Sir: Your astonishment's odd:
I am always about in the Quad.
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be,
Since observed by Yours faithfully, GOD.
Repeating, when a particle must be either here or there then it is either here or there and only in one of those two places.
The error these scientists are making, and I must assume it's a deliberate error, since the points I have made above were made decades ago, is one of the oldest problems and philosophy. Solipsism.
Solipsism is the belief that only your mind exists--everything else is created by you. You are the sole creator and the sole power and the sole being that exists in the entire universe. Taking the Schrodinger's cat situation seriously requires an observer, and surely that observer must be you, if you carry this on to its logical conclusion. So what if Professor Dorffel believes that the cat is alive or dead? You haven't observed it, and only your God-like observation power can make things real or false.
I appreciate the desire to make science interesting to ordinary people like me, but it should not be done with the foolish equivalent of pulling a quarter outof someone's ear. It gains attention, but it illustrates nothing about the nature of reality.