Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics

The book Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness provides a thorough and detailed story of the efforts by quantum physicists to grapple with the observer effect in quantum mechanics (Q.M.). It has been a “problem” almost since the beginning. The authors are practicing quantum physicists at the Univ. of California, Santa Cruz who created a course for nonphysicists, and this course is the source of the books material. You don’t have to be a quantum physicist to understand it. I am going to just give a few highlights. I will start with Einstein’s efforts to disprove Q.M.

Einstein had many debates with Neils Bohr arguing against the probabilistic nature of Q.M.–even coming up with “thought experiments” that showed Q.M. is just too strange; thus Bohr’s and other Q.M. workers theories must be wrong. But, when experiments were conducted on the physics of Einstein’s thought experiments, they were found to be real. A key one is that “quantum theory tells us that the observation of an object can instantaneously influence the behavior of another greatly distant object” [by measuring it]. Experiments conducted in the latter part of the 20th century have proven this.

John Bell, 20th-century’s most insightful quantum physicist on consciousness decided to “take on this consciousness problem because Q.M. reveals the incompleteness of our worldview” [of reality]. The authors of Quantum Enigma note that the enigma is not a physics problem, but a metaphysics one. Because of this, non-physicists’ opinions have as much validity as those of physicists.

Bell is quoted as saying, “that the new way of seeing things will involve an imaginative leap that will astonish us.” [Emphasis added] In a recent paper, I write about this consciousness’ role in our universe and the astonishing things we are discovering supporting this (this is the material I provide in Frontiers of Knowledge): “It is an amazing story that at one level can be viewed as uncovering the ‘fingerprints’ of God through all existence in the form of souls, individualized consciousness with free will. For those coming from the scientific perspective, it provides the consciousness behind quantum physics.”

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