Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

Collapse

A question which has long plagued me might at last have an answer. What I'm really pleased about is that someone else even sees it as a question to be addressed. I've blogged about this before. I've long believed that the world we encounter is the result of a collapse of possibility brought about by the act of observation. That's a possible answer to why the universe is constructed to favour life (the so-called Anthropic Principle).

In other words the Universe exists, prior to the existence of observing living entities like ourselves, as a cloud of possibility; at the point where that includes the possibility of an observing being all that possibility is collapsed into a fixed state - the phenomenal world which we experience. (I'm saying 'the point where' or 'the time that' because of the limitations of language - it isn't really a point in space and time until after the collapse occurs).

Now the big question for me is - why do we all see the same universe? Or put it another way - did this collapse into fixed reality occur once only, when the first living thing experienced the universe, or does it occur every moment, for every living thing? If we each collapse the universe - why do we all end up looking at the same universe? Why do we seem to share this reality with other creatures like ourselves?

Some people are solipsists, and think only their own reality exists. Some people, like Leibniz, believe that the harmonising of all our monadic experiences is proof of the existence of god. Some people think there is only one consciousness, which passes through all living things. I tend to that view myself.

Now some scientists in Los Alamos have proposed that only a small number of collapse states are stable enough to sustain themselves. Therefore we all inhabit the same universe because it is the only one stable enough not to decay away within microseconds.

Physicists agree that the macroscopic or classical world (which seems to have a single, 'objective' state) emerges from the quantum world of many possible states through a phenomenon called decoherence, according to which interactions between the quantum states of the system of interest and its environment serve to 'collapse' those states into a single outcome. But this process of decoherence still isn't fully understood.

"Decoherence selects out of the quantum 'mush' states that are stable, that can withstand the scrutiny of the environment without getting perturbed," says Zurek. These special states are called 'pointer states', and although they are still quantum states, they turn out to look like classical ones. For example, objects in pointer states seem to occupy a well-defined position, rather than being smeared out in space.


I am just so delighted that other people are worrying about the same stuff that I am, and have even come up with a plausible answer to the problem. I'm often frustrated by the language I have available to express the ideas that occupy my mind.
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