Tuesday, 24 February 2015

So, just what is real? (Who am I? - Part 2)

I have written earlier about what it means to be me. Not an egocentric polemic, but an examination of what it is that we call reality, from my own personal experiences. It was difficult to write, as the written word continuously failed to capture my thoughts. Language was not up to the task, which explains in part why I choose to paint (when able) as another form of expression. The problem with this approach is that while I might be able to impart my meanings through the medium of paint, there is no guarantee that it would be understood any clearer by an observer. This reflects the old philosophical dilemma of 'how can I tell that I am awake and not dreaming?'

I concluded that there must be some mechanism/language that is both unambiguous, clear and descriptive that might be useful in this case. Of course, there is Mathematics... and Quantum Theory. However, I could not find anything comparable with my experiences. That was true... until today.

I didn't expect to find this youtube video (not the best quality I'm afraid) that enlightened me to the possibility that my original belief that I might find maths or QT to be the right language to use to explore my understanding of self. And neither did I expect to find a theorem that appears to correspond to how I intuit reality. I don't know yet where this may lead... a dead-end, another journey, or answers in detail or general. But I am looking forward to the journey.

This lecture: "The Quantum Conspiracy: What Popularizers of QM Don't Want You to Know" (below) describes an alternate hypothesis to Quantum Mechanics. Since its discovery, QM has upturning scientific thinking. Einstein struggled with his "spooky stuff", and scientists today still struggle to find the elusive TOE (Theory of Everything). Classical physics and QM exist in our reality, yet each contradicts the other... in that they are incompatible. Yet if incompatible, how can they co-exist? This is the problem of finding the TOE. And there are even further problems with understanding QM.

A solution was found to explain the inner inconsistencies of QM. These are well known today, as is the solution posited in Copenhagen, in answering the question as to whether light was a wave or a particle. Perceived traditionally as waves, light could be tested and understood. Yet when identified as a particle (now called a photon), performed very differently, yet could still be tested and understood. I won't go into the details here (they are widely known) except to say that there emerged from this summit, the Copenhagen model we all know, where quanta exist in a superstate that collapses when observed... so it can be in two places at the same time, unless looked at. Famously described as 'Schroedinger's Cat'.

However, this model still conflicts with the classic science of Newton. So a new, better model should be described. So this is where we find ourselves today: either everything is only QT, or (as Einstein believed) QT is false and only classical is true, or that there is something 'out there' which encompasses them both (TOE). The currently popular model (with its variants) is the 'Multiple Universe' model. This itself has questions that need answering, yet it is the most widely accepted in general.

So when I first broached the topic with an eye to see if it could help me describe my thoughts, and answer my question: 'Who am I?', I felt dissatisfied with the prevailing 'Big Bang' single universe, Steady State universe, or Many Worlds universe. Dissatisfied as they all seem bound by their allegiance to explaining a reality that I did not recognise. That is, until today where I learnt of another option that sounds promising. What is suggested is not a single universe, nor a multiple universe, but a Zero Universe (the Quantum Information Theory). If this proves useful, I might now be able to finish my musings on reality.

Richard Feynman once famously quipped that no one understands quantum mechanics, and popular accounts continue to promulgate the view that QM is an intractable mystery (probably because that helps to sell books). QM is certainly unintuitive, but the idea that no one understands it is far from the truth. In fact, QM is no more difficult to understand than relativity. The problem is that the vast majority of popular accounts of QM are simply flat-out wrong. They are based on the so-called Copenhagen interpretation of QM, which has been thoroughly discredited for decades. It turns out that if Copenhagen were true then it would be possible to communicate faster than light, and hence send signals backwards in time. This talk describes an alternative interpretation based on quantum information theory (QIT) which is consistent with current scientific knowledge. It turns out that there is a simple intuition that makes almost all quantum mysteries simply evaporate, and replaces them with an easily understood (albeit strange) insight: measurement and entanglement are the same physical phenomenon, and you don't really exist.
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