March 2009

Quantum Confusion

Versified argument continues over at The Digital Cuttlefish.

What it has shown me is that, as staggering as it seems, there are still working physicists who insist on a Copenhagen interpretation with a strict requirement for a "conscious" observer. *sigh* It's enough to drive one to Kuhn. At least the bulk of the physics community has given up on anthropocentrism.

I also stumbled across David Chalmers' (tongue in cheek?) Law of Minimization of Mystery: "consciousness is mysterious and quantum mechanics is mysterious, so maybe the two mysteries have a common source." It seems about as useful as Tim Minchin's
Peace Anthem For Palestine.

Quantum computing abhors decoherence;
It's there with no conscious observer to see.
Still there are mystics with stubborn adherence
To quantum descriptions that need me or thee.

Puzzles abound at the limits of science:
Mysterious cans full of worms to mislead.
Why mix up disparate cans in defiance
Of reason, experiment, logic or need?

Mind in behavior and cells and potentials
Is yielding a torrent of useful results.
Clutching at yet unexplored non-essentials
Works better for book-deals and starting new cults.

The Conversation Continues

Verse versus verse continues in the discussion over at The Digital Cuttlefish. This is another extract.

A phenomenon is "observed" when an observer becomes aware of it. This requires the observed system to affect the ultimate observer system, which is known to be localized in the brain and probably in the cerebral cortex.
Zeh, H. D. (1979). Quantum Theory and Time Assymetry. Foundations of Physics, Vol 9, pp 803-818 (1979).

This was no time for sleep;
This was no time to eat;
There were comments to write
Using metrical feet.

All that old, old, old phi -
All that phi had to die.

We shoveled the verses;
Thoughts shoveled them back,
Until out of the blue came a Quantum Attack.

It was Little Cat Zeh, a dualist dealer
And out of his hat he extracted
    A Wheeler!

Zeh implied "Let's make space for a god of the gaps:
All things that my Wheeler observes must collapse!"

You see, if we grant this wild Wheeler admission
And let his conceit go, then superposition
Descends on all universe parts unobserved
And keeps all their possible presents preserved.

"Oh no!" I said, "Cuttle, please fetch me a mop.
This anthropocentric conceit has to stop!"

I called up a friend who'd seen all this before
And told him the problem...

Copernicus swore.

Now I'm Ska'd

Remember kids, anything you post on the web could end up a source of humour in years to come. (Actually, it's worse. Anything you post could become a source of global humour overnight, but don't let that worry you. At least you'd be famous.)