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Wave-particle duality suggests something extra to perception

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Ostronomos, Apr 22, 2021.

  1. Ostronomos

    Ostronomos Active Member

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    In the standard scientific experiment of wave-particle duality, photons of light build up a pattern of light and dark bands as if wave-like interference was occurring as the photon passes through the two slits. This is supernatural science at its finest. As it suggests that something extra to what can be perceived is causing the interference. This mysterious occurrence has obvious supernatural implications that it is highly suspicious that the scientific community did not make the connection earlier. In the 1970s technology became sophisticated enough that detectors were used to determine which slit the photon passed through. This phenomenon led to the development of the many-worlds theory. The reason a God was not posited earlier as a reason was due to the fact that religion has so much baggage that the scientific community avoided it at all costs.
     
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  2. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    In the cases where 'which slit' information is obtained, the interference pattern disappears.

    We *do* have an explanation of what is happening. It is called quantum mechanics.

    No supernatural is required unless you (mistakenly) require classical notions of causality to be maintained.
     
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  3. Ostronomos

    Ostronomos Active Member

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    You are defining the word supernatural to mean implausible. Science can and does have an explanation for the supernatural.
     
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  4. Twilight Hue

    Twilight Hue The gentle embrace of twilight has become my guide

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    The issue I have with that is the difference between doctor quantum and an actual University explaining the details of the experiment.
     
  5. RestlessSoul

    RestlessSoul Active Member

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    Aren’t most interpretations of Quantum Mechanics pretty close to miraculous? Examples being the aforementioned multiverse theory, super-determinism, particulate entanglement etc?

    “I think I can safely say that no one understands quantum mechanics” - Richard Feynman
     
  6. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    I don't think you can call them miraculous, no. QM itself is the antithesis of miraculous, in that it is based on observation and reliably predicts how nature behaves. By contrast, a miracle has - by definition- to be something that defies what we observe to be the normal behaviour of nature.

    The various interpretations of QM are all extremely counter-intuitive, certainly, but we should not confuse what is merely unintuitive to human minds with what goes against observed nature. The uncomfortable fact is that nature's observed behaviour does not fit easily with how we are used to perceiving the world.

    I'm actually in the middle of Carlo Rovelli's new book, "Helgoland", on the interpretation of QM. (I was lucky enough to get a signed copy, from Waterstone's :). ) Where I think he is going is towards a "relational" interpretation of QM, in which QM entities don't have a defined existence except when they interact with one another. But I'd better not guess ahead too much.

    He rates Heisenberg's insights particularly highly, by the way.
     
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  7. RestlessSoul

    RestlessSoul Active Member

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    There are two ways to live your life - either as if nothing is a miracle, or as if everything is.

    - Albert Einstein
     
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  8. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    This quote is, like so many attributed to Einstein, disputed. Wikiquote has researched it and come up with the following, which appears under their "Disputed" sayings section:
    QUOTE

    There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.
    • As quoted in Journal of France and Germany (1942–1944) by Gilbert Fowler White, in excerpt published in Living with Nature's Extremes: The Life of Gilbert Fowler White(2006) by Robert E. Hinshaw, p. 62. From the context it seems that White did not specify whether he had heard Einstein himself say this or whether he was repeating a quote that had been passed along by someone else, so without a primary source the validity of this quote should be considered questionable.
      Some have argued that elsewhere Einstein defined a "miracle" as a type of event he did not believe was possible—Einstein on Religion by Max Jammer (1999) quotes on p. 89 from a 1931 conversation Einstein had with David Reichinstein, where Reichinstein brought up philosopher Arthur Liebert's argument that the indeterminism of quantum mechanics might allow for the possibility of miracles, and Einstein replied that Liebert's argument dealt "with a domain in which lawful rationality [determinism] does not exist. A 'miracle,' however, is an exception from lawfulness; hence, there where lawfulness does not exist, also its exception, i.e., a miracle, cannot exist." ("Dort, wo eine Gesetzmässigkeit nicht vorhanden ist, kann auch ihre Ausnahme, d.h. ein Wunder, nicht existieren." D. Reichenstein, Die Religion der Gebildeten (1941), p. 21). However, it is clear from the context that Einstein was stating only that miracles cannot exist in a domain (quantum mechanics) where lawful rationality does not exist. He did not claim that miracles could never exist in any domain. Indeed, Einstein clearly believed, as seen in many quotations above, that the universe was comprehensible and rational, but he also described this characteristic of the universe as a "miracle". In another example, he is quoted as claiming belief in a God, "Who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world."
    UNQUOTE

    Trivially, if everything is a miracle then the term has no useful meaning.
     
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  9. Yazata

    Yazata Member

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    Only if we interpret the word 'supernatural' in a peculiar way.

    How much of any of this is directly perceived without experimental apparatus and the application of lots of theory?

    Again, what do you understand the word 'supernatural' to mean? Things like radio waves aren't directly perceivable but I'm not sure that's what those who talk about 'the supernatural' are really talking about.

    I fail to see the connection there.
     
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  10. Yazata

    Yazata Member

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    Is QM really an explanation? Or is it really a description that correlates observables in a formal mathematical way?

    It seems to me that progressing from descriptions of what is observed to explanations of why it happens that way is where the interpretations of QM come in. We would seem to need some account of how reality is such that the mathematical calculations come out as they do.

    And that's what we don't really have yet.
     
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  11. RestlessSoul

    RestlessSoul Active Member

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    Doesn’t surprise me that the provenance of the saying is disputed; the OP above is correct in inferring that the quickest way to destroy a career in science is to mention or allude to god or divinity of any kind. So if Einstein did say it, there’s every chance he regretted having done so. Just as Peter Higgs apparently regretted coining the term “the God particle”.

    imo your last sentence identifies both the banality and the impenetrable paradox of the disputed sentence. Which is kind of the point, whoever coined it.
     
  12. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    I don't think it's at all the case that mentioning God destroys careers in science. Plenty of eminent scientists are known for their religious belief and it has done them no harm at all. I attended lectures in mathematics for chemists at uni from Charles Coulson FRS, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry, who served a year as vice-president of the Methodist Conference and was a well-known lay preacher. So clearly his beliefs did him no harm.

    Ken Miller, Prof of Biology at Brown University is well-known for his Catholic faith and has written books on harmonising science and religion. He is widely respected and was in fact called as an expert witness in the Dover School trial.

    The problem only comes if a scientist tries to insert God into scientific accounts of nature. That is career-destroying, and rightly so. Neither Miller nor Coulson would ever do that. (In fact it was Coulson who coined the phrase "God of the Gaps")
     
    #12 exchemist, Apr 22, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2021
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  13. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    That means that now science accepts the proof of existence of God.
     
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  14. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    OK, I disagree that you need an interpretation to determine 'why'. For example, the reason a hydrogen atom shows the particular spectrum it does is because of the inverse square Coulomb law between the electrons and the nucleus. The reason it is an inverse square law is that the photons are massless.

    I'm not sure it makes sense to expect an 'account of how reality' does anything fundamental. Any fundamental description *cannot* have an underlying reason since such a reason would be a *more* fundamental description.

    Now, it is legitimate to ask if QM is the most fundamental description. That we do not know. But it is certainly the most fundamental one we have so far. And, at the very least, it has shown that we cannot expect that fundamental descriptions correspond to classical intuitions.

    Most of the 'paradoxes' of quantum mechanics are not internal paradoxes at all. They are paradoxes that come from trying to 'explain' what happens in a quantum system using classical concepts (like only having one path, or that things have definite properties at all times).

    The problem is that you don't explain a more comprehensive system in terms of an older, less comprehensive system. If anything, the explanation should run the other way. Doing it the wrong way around inevitably leads to paradoxes.
     
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  15. RestlessSoul

    RestlessSoul Active Member

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    Yes, I see the distinction. Must still be a struggle for any scientist who feels spiritually as well as intellectually uplifted by his discoveries, to avoid the pitfalls of unfiltered self expression.

    Especially if said scientist believes in “a God who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of the world”, or who believes God can be observed “in the way entities interact with one another”.

    In Tom Wolfe’s ‘The Right Stuff’ he tells the story of one of the earliest manned space flights, in which the astronaut (forget who) waxed lyrical about the majesty of the stars. This caused Houston a problem; they didn’t want astronauts with a poetic or spiritual bent, they wanted someone to read the bloody dials and respond to questions in a clinical and precise manner. He was off the program after one flight.
     
  16. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    No, I don't agree at all. Many scientists of religious persuasion see the wonders of God's creation as being revealed by the scientific enterprise and are happy to celebrate that. But, being scientists, they understand that the methodology of science is what enables this to be revealed. That methodology is to seek explanations of nature in terms of nature, rather than some external agency.

    You'll need to fill me in on who this astronaut was. I've seen the film, but I can't recall this incident - perhaps it was not included in the film. But being an astronaut is far from the same as being a scientist, of course. They may have sought personalities that were hyper-rational to cope with the extreme nature of being the first men in spaceflight, which is all about being a pilot and an explorer, rather than a scientist.
     
  17. RestlessSoul

    RestlessSoul Active Member

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    Yeah, thing is, by no means all spiritual or religious individuals view God as an external agency, nor as an abstraction. A cause of much misunderstanding that, among those scientists who would dismiss the existence of God as "unscientific".

    Obviously it would be foolish - and pointless - for a scientist to postulate the existence of God without subjecting any such assertion to the most rigorous application of scientific methodology. The fact that science has not so far accomplished this, doesn't mean it never will. Seems to me that ever since Einstein, physics has been gravitating - if that's the right word - toward such an object.

    I read The Right Stuff nearly 40 years ago, and don't have a copy, so I don't know who the pilot was, sorry.

    Are scientists not in any way akin to explorers then? Astronomers are, surely?
     
  18. Windwalker

    Windwalker Veteran Member
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    Not true at all. I very much am of the school of thought that great genius and mystics walk the same grounds. The mistake of the 'lesser minds' than those like Einstein, if you will, is they conflate the transcendent with the mythic or the literal, or more pointedly the pre-rational. The former understand the need for metaphor to describe what is wholly beyond our minds of reason and our best sciences. The latter mistake them as descriptors of concrete reality, and must be either rationally sound, or dispensed with.

    You find this same thing in the greatest minds of our age in this collection of some of their more mystical writings, including Einstein, Schroedinger, Eddington, Heisenberg, Bohr, Pauli, Plank, etc. : https://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Ques...words=quantum+questions&qid=1619121514&sr=8-1

    This quote here is a favorite of mine, which is not quote mined or anything like that, as those who may find Einstein's more mystical thoughts troubling to their beliefs about him might wish to say to dismiss it. But this captures his thoughts wonderfully about this.

    “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”

    - Albert Einstein, Living Philosophies
    So the whole point is this. Clearly Einstein did in fact see the whole of life as a miracle, or Mystery, and it certainly did not mean the word has no meaning anymore if everything is a miracle. It does has NO meaning scientifically. But it has great meaning spiritually, humanly, which is what Einstein was talking about. Those who can't see it, can't see the miracle, or the mystery of life itself and be in silent awe before it? They are "good as dead", he says.
     
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  19. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    The point about astronauts in the Mercury programme was they needed extreme psychological stability, to withstand the stress of being chucked into space, more or less helpless, in a tin can too small to stand up in. Remember "spam in a can" - they had to fight to get even a window in the Mercury capsule. These psychological traits have nothing to do with being a scientist.

    As for the idea of God as part of nature, Einstein seems to have followed Spinoza in considering that God is the order in nature - what we call the "laws" of nature (though these "laws" are defined by human beings, as our way of attempting to capture the order we perceive, and are quite often "broken".).

    It's quite an attractive idea. After all, no theory of science can tell us why there is the order that we see. Yet all science depends on the conviction, borne out by experience, that there is underlying order to nature, that we can uncover if we try hard enough. But this is of course a very different conception of God from the personal God of the Abrahamic religions.

    Such a God can't work miracles of course, since this God is just the laws of nature.
     
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  20. Ostronomos

    Ostronomos Active Member

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    I thought I would chime in on this.

    You've rightly referred to God as an external agency, rarely internal unless the conditions are right depending on who or what serves as a "supernatural beacon". This could be a high-frequency consciousness i.e. an excited state of consciousness, but never the ordinary natural world. Since the wavefunction itself is the key feature of supernatural phenomenon.

    Apparently, the wavefunction, while suspended, can be collapsed by mere thought. And each thought through time collapses this wavefunction repeatedly. That means if you have a paranoia or suspicious fear (while thinking it) that you are a "supernatural beacon" and someone in the unseen world outside your door will try to enter your room to aggressively confront you and they suddenly start banging on your door with no indication of telepathy or thought transference, the wavefunction is in full operation by the excited state of consciousness, which dictates its behavior. This is known more scientifically as "Maxwell's Demon".
     
    #20 Ostronomos, Apr 23, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2021
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