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This is analysis a guide by two physics professors titled, Quantum Interference "Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness." I argue that to understand quantum mechanics you need to understand the difference between science, metaphysics, and philosophy.
Human beings have a drive to know and understand everything, and there are two types of inquiry that stand side-by-side as equals: metaphysics and science. Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness suggests that a lack of comprehension of metaphysics is just a stumbling block in understanding science. Metaphysical questions arise from our transcendence, that is, our ability to create ourselves the subject of our own knowledge: What is the conscious understanding of humans rather than the sense understanding of animals? What is an actual being? What are mental beings (images, concepts, past, future, dreams)? What is truth? What is causality? What is free will? What does it mean to understand something? Is the universe intelligible?
Basically, the answer to every one of the above questions is that there surely is no answer. They are mysteries. We could comprehend what a person is basically because we realize everything we do and everything that happens to us, but we can't define or explicate what a person is. Put simply, humans are embodied spirits. Using the types of metaphysics, the human soul is spiritual. Assuming or hoping that the universe is intelligible contributes to the existence of a transcendent reality that is called God in Western religions. God is not a free image, like Santa Clause, but an actual being, such as a beloved friend who gets in your nerves from time and energy to time.
In science, there are no mysteries because science has a tremendous track record of success. You will find only unanswered questions. It can be said of metaphysics that there surely is no record of success. A typical example of metaphysical wisdom is that knowledge is the openness to be to the self-manifestation of being. In metaphysics, whether the universe is intelligible is an open question. In science, it is not. If Johannes Kepler thought for 1 minute the universe was not intelligible, he wouldn't have spent 10 years attempting to understand just why the planets move because they do. What caused the Big Bang is not a mystery. What is consciousness is just a mystery. Calling both questions mysteries indicates that you do not understand the difference between metaphysics and science.
A quantum enigma arises from the question of why the isotope cobalt-60 decays into nickel-60 with a half-life of 5.27 years. Using the probability waves of quantum mechanics, physicists can calculate the half-lives of isotopes. A particular cobalt-60 atom may decay in 10 minutes or 10 years. There's a 50% probability that it will decay in 5.27 years. This raises the question: What can cause a specific cobalt-60 atom to decay at this time it does? With your present state of knowledge, there's no hope of answering this question. This is an enigma or puzzle because we understand so much about isotopes from quantum mechanics, although not this.
The authors concur with the nonsense that there surely is a link between human rationality (consciousness and free will) and quantum mechanics. I think this idea arises from a lack of comprehension of the difference between science, metaphysics, and philosophy. Philosophy is a method of inquiry that arises above another approach to inquiry. How should scientists do science is just a philosophical question. The scientific method is a remedy to the question. The many interpretations of quantum mechanics are area of the philosophy of quantum mechanics because they're attempts to answer questions about quantum mechanics.
One of the ways we obtain knowledge and understanding is through analogies. If you poke a lion in a cage with a stay, it will roar and try to claw you. We know by analogy that the lion is angry because this is how we'd feel if it was happening to us. There's an analogy that is used in quantum mechanics to answer the question: What are quantum mechanical waves?
To answer this philosophical question, look at the decay of cobalt-60. If you observe a cobalt-60 atom for 5.27 years it might decay (D) or may remain stable (S). Repeated observations will provide you with some S's and D's. You receive, put simply, a collection: (S,S,D,D,D,S,..). The fraction of times you receive S or D approaches 1/2 in the limit as the number of elements in the set increases. I'm using set theory because you need set theory to understand a declaration analogous to the decay of cobalt-60: Flipping a coin full of the air together with your thumb and fore finger and getting heads (H) or tails (T). With coin tosses you receive exactly the same sort of set as you receive observing cobalt-60 atoms. The possibility of getting heads or tails is 1/2 because that is the fraction you receive from the set and all possible subsets. In case of the coin, there are two events (flipping and landing head or tails), the subtle proviso that the calculation is completed for many subsets to eradicate the likelihood that there surely is a demon or hidden variable affecting the outcome, and the truth that we understand just why we get heads (or tails) 50% of the time. In case of cobalt-60, there's only one event: the decay of the atom. These are two different phenomena. Saying, "1/2 is the possibility of a cobalt-60 atom decaying in 5.27 years" is an analogy or even a philosophical comment. For me, calling the quantum mechanical waves probability waves is an example of philosophizing.
The cornerstone for thinking there's a link between consciousness and quantum mechanics is the double-slit try out particles (photons, electrons, or atoms). A model of this experiment is on YouTube.com ("Double-Slit Experiment-Water Wave Interference Pattern"). The double-slit creates two water waves and a very visible interference pattern. Exactly the same interference pattern occurs with particles. The probability waves of quantum mechanics explain this and it is another triumph for quantum mechanics.
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Joined: October 3rd, 2017
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