HOW THE 2-SLIT EXPERIMENT TEACHES US TO THINK.
Abstract: Quantum Physics is teleological. As simple as that. You read it here first. That this has not been pointed out so simply before, illustrates another theme of the essay below, namely that the wisdom of the Quantum has not reached the masses yet.
This has an amusing consequence: people simply do not know how to reason correctly. The models of logical thinking they have been taught are inspired by the naïve classical physics, the automata, the Turing Machine. Well, sorry folks, the world is not like that. That is what Quantum Physics shows. The world is not flat, the world is not round, the world is not curved, the world is Quantum. This has consequences even in the way one should think about politics, sociology, economics…
Some will scoff, and sneer that all the logic they need is found in Hollywood. Not so. We have global problems, and they have to be thought of globally. Quantum Physics shows us the way of correct thinking, and it is global: omniscience, and omnipresence, that’s what the Quantum is all about.
If you want to learn about energy, you better learn about waves. And this is not just a lousy joke about nuclear energy and tsunami waves. Life is all about energy, all about waves, and neither can be put in a box, or then just so. (An allusion to the Casimir effect, a manifestation of vaccum energy; all these carry in metaphors and analogies to the everyday world!)
A concluding perspective on how babies learn, how we learn fundamental things, illustrates how our minds themselves are entangled with the Quantum.
WRONG YESTERDAY DOES NOT MEAN WRONG TOMORROW:
A lot of the received wisdom in philosophy is plain wrong. This has nefarious effects all over. Ironically a lot of what is wrong has to do with notions which used to be taken for granted in the Middle Ages, because of the super properties of the mythical God, and the son he tortured. They came short.
OK, let me be explicit: take teleology, and teleonomy. Tele means “far off” in Greek. Teleology would be logic at a distance, teleonomy, allotment, or management, at a distance. Philosophers cringe when confronted to those concepts, because Aristotle was notoriously wrong believing in their existence.
Here is Aristotle in —Physics, Book II, ch.8, 199b: “It is absurd to suppose that purpose is not present because we do not observe an agent deliberating… The best illustration is a doctor doctoring himself: nature is like that. It is plain that nature is a cause, a cause that operates for a purpose.”
More down to earth, philosophers in the last few centuries, made the simpler observation that it is not because we do not observe that an agent is present, that there is one which is present. Call that scarcity of reasoning. It proved most fruitful.
The Middle Ages believed a lot in mysterious influences, some hidden, some at a distance. The Devil, the Good Lord and various saints and archangels were the prime agents. That distracted from observing the most elementary facts, and reasoning out of them. Why to try to understand the “natural” world, when there is no such thing, because Allah, Devil and Djins control everything? (Another of my low blows at Islam!)
When the God craze subsided, the most elementary facts were finally observed. Aristotle’s physics was promptly found to be wrong, when not outright delirious. So philosophers and their pets decided that anything which smacked of the old superstitions, for example influences at a distance, were the mark of the primitive mind, and that they were counter-productive. But it is not because we do not observe an effect sometimes, that it is not present, most of the time.
LOCALIZE ME NOT; AT A DISTANCE IS SPOOKY, BUT REAL:
How did the erroneous wisdom evolve? An example is the derivation of local logic, and more generally, local everything.
To understand the physical world, physicists made a number of hypotheses, to simplify the analysis of what they were considering. In particular, physicists assumed that the world was local. That worked very well. But, once again, it’s not because something works sometimes, that it works always.
As it turns out, in the deepest sense, locality never works, as I will show. If, each time a photon goes somewhere, or any particle goes somewhere, or any fundamental process happens, locality is violated, then locality is violated always, and everywhere. And this is what happens.
What does “local” mean? To find out what is going to happen at a point x, one analyzes what is happening in a neighborhood, around x. This is the crucial assumption of field theory (gravitation, electromagnetism, gauge fields). This locality assumption, made in physics for centuries, has informally filtered throughout modern decision making.
However, the world works this way only in the first, grossest approximation. Intrinsic to Quantum Mechanics is what Einstein called: “SPOOKY ACTION AT A DISTANCE“. Einstein and a number of collaborators, including the philosopher Karl Popper, evolved reasonings exhibiting situations in which measurements on one particle would imply an effect on a particle at a distance (this is called the EPR effect). The effect has been verified experimentally since, and the Wolf Prize in physics was given to Alain Aspect for so doing (2010).
Einstein and Popper were trying to prove Quantum Mechanics wrong, or incomplete. They failed. In particular Einstein naively thought that the “spooky action at a distance” could not be, thus all along the other particle had determined properties. And thus violated the uncertainty relationships, which a whole slew of physicists, such as Lande’, another Nobel Prize winner, hated. Indeed Non Locality and Uncertainty Relationships are related (this has just become again a hot subject of research).
WAVES, PARTICLES, & DE BROGLIE SYNTHESIS:
OK, let’s backtrack. I will resist going back all the way to the Greco-Romans, because they had nothing intelligent to say on the subject. However, in the Seventeenth Century, Huyghens, an originally Dutch physicist financed by Louis XIV of France (!), presented a wave theory of light. Later, Newton came up with a particle theory. However, in 1800 CE, Young a polymath medical doctor, came up with the TWO SLIT experiment, which seemed impossible to explain with Newton’s particles. Poisson came up with the Poisson’s dot, a bright spot in the shadow of a sphere, where the waves meet and constructively build up. And it was verified. Later Maxwell’s electromagnetic waves were found, by Maxwell, to be moving at the speed of light, and Maxwell proposed to identify them with light.
Then came Hertz, with the photoelectric effect, which he discovered in his lab. Hertz, like Riemann before him, promptly died, and it was left to Einstein to “heuristically” propose that the photoelectric effect showed that light was made of packets of energy. Planck, 5 years earlier, had “explained” away two contradictions of theoretical physics, by assuming that light was emitted in packets of energy hw, where h was a mysterious constant, and w the frequency of the light. The difference was subtle; Einstein had got one step further.
Then Bohr used Planck’s idea that energy differences E corresponded to radiation (= light) of frequency w, according to hw. He also proposed that the orbital period of the electron would be inversely related to the frequency of the radiation emitted at an orbit of period T, as it would be in classical mechanics. It worked. Bohr’s theory predicted that only some electronic orbits were possible, where the angular momentum was a multiple of h…
Next came de Broglie, a medievalist, and a prince, who decided to study physics theoretically, just as his brother was studying it experimentally. De Broglie proposed that any particle was associated to a wave. The waves could only interfere constructively in particular orbits, thus de Broglie’s axiom implied immediately Bohr’s finding of particular orbits. De broglie waves, if taken at face value, also implied the uncertainty relationships (a wave cannot be located within less than half a wavelength at most). Abstraction is all about finding the correct axioms.
TWO SLIT EXPERIMENT DEMONSTRATES NON LOCALITY:
Let’s go back to the 2-slit experiment. According to De Broglie, the 2-slit experiment should have worked with electrons, and it did. Just to make the situation as simple as possible, let’s consider photons. The 2-slit experiment shows that the photons tend to show up in places, where their waves constructively interfere, and avoid those where they destructively interfere.
This happens even when only single photons pass through the slits. That means that somehow the single photon is aware of both slits. So the photon is not a point: if it’s a packet a la Einstein, that packet somehow can compute the position of both slits, and move accordingly. It has an extended nature. THE PHOTON IS NON LOCAL.
This simple observation is rarely made, straight out of the 2-slit experiment. Why? Because physics students are taught to learn by rote the Born interpretation of De Broglie’s waves. Instead of real matter waves, Born interpretation views them only as probability waves. De Broglie disagreed very strongly with that.
De Broglie’s was not an opinion to neglect: De Broglie thesis, widely advertized as early as 1923, contained much of Quantum theory, including the Schrodinger equation. His prestigious thesis jury in Paris, with some Physics Nobel on it, did not know what to make of it, because it was so bold and out of this world. Finally they sent the thesis to Einstein, who was enthusiastic (and did not try to steal the ideas). It was published in 1924. De Broglie’s work is often ignored because of a triple bias: his ideas were too deep, he doubted Quantum theory the way it developed later, and he was not of the Anglo-Germanic persuasion that the Americans think is only worthy of appreciation (at least in physics).
Born’s equation of matter waves with probability waves is rigorous, but not philosophically compelling: one could do the same on a beach: instead of looking at crashing waves as made of matter, one could consider them to be probability waves. Actually one could extend that skeptical philosophy to all phenomena, and view everything, and everybody as a probability wave. Obama would be a statistical probability wave surfing in plutocratic space… (Laughter, please! OK, I did not think so either…)
THE PHOTON IS NON LOCAL:
We can just sit here, and meditate: how can that be? Well, nobody knows. In such a sentence, on the foundations of the world, every single term is unknown: what does “photon” means? What does “local” mean? What does “is” mean? Nobody knows. In the depths, everything becomes obscure…
However in a strange logical loop, Quantum Physics may indicate how to solve the riddle, by an whole integrated reasoning. I will try to explain that later. The author has his own embryonic theory, the Totally Objective Wave, which is the closest to De Broglie’s extremely deep, and possibly correct ideas (here, again, nobody knows, it does not matter how many Nobel Prizes they got).
But this is the not the object of this essay, which is to consider the philosophical consequences of what is known for sure: QUANTUM PROCESSES ARE NON LOCAL. All and any Quantum Process is out of the integrated whole: the entire accessible geometry is globally determined by the waves, and out of that pop the possible outcomes. (This is described in the conventional approach, using all prepared mathematics, as: Geometry + Waves > Hilbert Space > Eingenstates > possible outcomes.)
That determination is done ex-temporally (time plays no role). OK, let’s give the simplest example. When the 2-slit is set-up, the geometry is determined: we know where what all the possible interference patterns are. The only missing ingredient is the wave frequency of the photon. Once that is plugged in, we know the probability pattern of future photon presence.
Thus Quantum Processes analyze all the available geometry at a glance. Out of that pops the solution. It is as if QUANTUM PHYSICS IS TELEONOMIC (management of the geometry at a distance). This allows incredible efficiency. Unsurprisingly, biology uses Quantum computation, to be as efficient as possible. This has been demonstrated for photosynthesis and vision. Soon it will be all over our explanations for life. The soul itself will come into this explanatory scheme.
I THINK, THEREFORE I QUANT:
Classical mechanical metaphors can only go that far, in the non classical world that we have. The Quantum provides with a wealth of analogies and metaphors, when not outright reasonings, which could be used all over the mental landscape.
Contrarily to legend, life is closer to the Quantum than it is closer to the mechanical. It is more dependent upon it. One could even argue that the definition of life is harnessing the Quantum to circumvent the classical. If this is true, it would mean that Quantum computers will be alive, and will achieve a form of consciousness.
The well known slogan:”Think global, act local!” is a good summary of a lot of what the Quantum does. We need to start thinking globally, because that is the only way to think.
MY BABY TOLD ME THE TRUTH:
I have a twenty month baby, multilingual and all that. The baby understands amazingly complicated sentences, and figures out words she never met before. (Then she repeats them 50 times for good measure.) How does she do it? I was mystified by her ability for quite a while. My mom declared it was all about genetics, but that did not help my urge to understand the amazing nature of the new soul.
Well, refined observations showed the following. The baby understands words, sentences and ideas from the context always. She figures out the globality of what is going on, and then determines probable meanings out of it. [Then she quickly figures out little experiments to check if she guessed right, such as pointing towards an object, and repeating the word for it (but her more sophisticated experiments are immensely more complicated, so complicated that they may escape even a keen observer).]
Notice that the baby’s mind works identically to much of Quantum Physics. She apprehends the globality, and uses it to find positively interfering solutions. Is it possible that the baby figured out Quantum Physics, and then thought that was a great way to get things done? Of course not. She does not need to figure that out.
It is very simple: she has a Quantum mind. If you want to see Quantum Physics at work, you can close your eyelashes slightly, in sunshine, and observe interference patterns. Or you can go the closest baby, and observe her, observing the world. She is a Quantum mind. That’s how she knows.
Note: One commenter sneered once that I should just read the book called the “Hidden Reality”, instead of being unintelligible. That well written, often very interesting and ridiculously biased book is about the silly idea that there are parallel universes (a contradiction in adjecto). The preceding remarks were about physics more fundamental than the multiverse babble. I have to point that out, because it is sure to be a question in some people’s mind.
The multiverse challenged believe that when a photon hit a screen a (countable) infinity of universes is created. That’s simply moronic. Imagine the accused at a tribunal been asked why he killed his victim, and responding that it is not really a problem, because murder did not happen in a parallel universe. He would be sent to a mental asylum.
But there is worse: the preceding considerations about non-locality, which is the real mystery of Quantum Physics, is left untouched by the multiverse derangement. In other words, multiverse types “explain” with the craziest logic what needs no urgent explanation, while ignoring the greatest riddle, which is in plain sight.