Saturday, 5 September 2009

THE QUANTUM ENIGMA

BOOK REVIEWS
Over the years I have reviewed over 50 books for our 971 Wing Newsletter. Since some have had a deep impression on me, perhaps I should include a few in this blog site. I will start with:

QUANTUM ENIGMA
By Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner, Oxford U. Press, 2006, 217 pages
Presented in language that you and I can understand, this book, a monumental shift in understanding our world, should be compulsory reading. The first 50 pages are devoted to reminding us of the many changing human mind sets from Aristotle through Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, the Inquisition, Newton, Einstein, Bohr, Planck, Schrödinger, Compton, Broglie, Bell, and many others to emphasize that there has been a skeleton in the closet that Quantum scientists have hid for a hundred years.

Quantum mechanics has never had a prediction proven wrong. A third of our economy depends on it (Lasers, MRIs, Transistors, and so on). It works, but nobody knows why so physicists have been told to “just shut up and calculate”.

We have learned that, at the microscopic level, wave functions can be everywhere at once in every state to be condensed into reality by observation (consciousness). Paired particles affect each other regardless of distance. To date this has been proven to a distance of 100 kilometres. Any two objects that have ever interacted are forever entwined.

As none of us knows what Consciousness is, this is spooky. The macroscopic world, that works with Newtonian physics, appears real enough to us but, as it is made up of the microscopic, should not the same apply? In the book, frequent reference is made to Schrödinger’s cat, of the macroscopic world, that may be both alive and dead until observed to allow it to collapse into one of those states. It was the subject of a life-long friendly debate between Harald Bohr and Albert Einstein. Einstein would argue he preferred to believe the moon was there even when he did not look.

I can be sure of my free will but I cannot be sure that you are not in a superposition state to be condensed to reality only when I observe you. The authors go to great length, perhaps too much, to show how observation dictates reality, but they do advise which chapters can be skipped by those anxious for the summation. As John Bell (Belfast, deceased) predicted: “The new way of seeing things will involve an imaginative leap that will astound us.”

Francis Crick tells us: “ You, your joys and sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity, and your free will are no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”

Consciousness and Quantum Enigma are not just two mysteries, they are the two mysteries. Only a conscious observation can collapse a wave function. Only a conscious observer can make a conscious observation.

Our universe is made up of 70% dark energy, 25% dark matter, and 5% of what we can see. There is speculation that dark energy = Consciousness. At the instant of the Big Bang this universe had to be so finely tuned against odds of 10 with 123 zeros after it to create a world permitting life that it can be argued that Consciousness created the Big Bang some 15 billion years after it happened! Ridiculous? Of course, but can you explain Consciousness and why we are here? At the moment I cannot. Neither can the authors of this book, but they give us well-presented food for deep thought.

But really, what is so novel about creating people and places? Young children do it continually. So do we in dreams.

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