Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Conspiracies and quantum mechanics

Last blog I mentioned "Quantum Enigma", a book by two physics professors from the University of California at Santa Cruz, Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner, which takes a serious look at the role of consciousness in quantum physics. Here are a couple of interesting quotes from the website dedicated to their book:

"Quantum mechanics is the most battle-tested theory in all of science. Moreover, one third of our economy depends on things designed with it. Fine! But it also tells us that by your conscious choice you can bring about either of two contradictory situations. This is so far demonstrated only with small things, but it is today being shown true for larger and larger objects. And it is generally accepted by physicists that quantum mechanics applies to everything."

"For the most part, in our teaching of quantum mechanics we tacitly deny the mysteries physics has encountered. We hardly mention Niels Bohr's grappling with the encounter between physics and the observer and John von Neumann's demonstration that the encounter is, in principle, inevitable. We largely avoid the still-unresolved issues raised by Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Eugene Wigner, David Bohm, and John Bell. Outside the classroom, physicists increasingly address these issues and often go beyond the purely physical. Consciousness, for example, comes up explicitly in almost all of today's proliferating interpretations of quantum mechanics, if only to show why physics need not deal with it. The many worlds interpretation, for example, is also referred to as the many minds interpretation, and a major treatment of decoherence concludes that an ultimate understanding of the implications of quantum mechanics would involve a model of consciousness."

Now I'm not for a moment suggesting here that Rosenblum and Kuttner subscribe to my visual way of imagining the dimensions, but there are many direct parallels between what they are describing above and the conclusions I reach in my book.

Anton Zeilinger, professor of physics at the University of Vienna has been quoted to say "quantum physics requires us to abandon the distinction between information and reality". If what we are navigating through right now is a sea of information across the dimensions, observing one slice out of all the possible slices as we travel down our limited line in the fourth dimension, then the patterns we are observing have as much to do with our role as quantum observers as they do with the sequence of events that got us to today.

So, if there is a multiverse of universes out there, and apparently infinite branching timelines within each of those universes, then there should always be a sequence of events that we could track from the beginning of the universe to now that tells us why "this is the way things are" as opposed to "this is the way things aren't". I'm only being somewhat frivolous in my book (and in my song "The Anthropic Viewpoint") when I say that we are living in the Hydrogen Conspiracy: what hidden agendas and preferences for one reality over another caused hydrogen to be the most popular atom in our universe?

Which is not to say that conspiracies are bogus, but rather that if quantum physics requires us to abandon the distinction between information and reality, then there will always be two ways of looking at how we got to our current situation, only one of which requires us to believe in conspiracies. Personally, I'm inclined to agree completely that our consensual reality in the last hundred years has been manipulated by the powerful to make themselves even more powerful. I also believe that we are nearing the end of that time - as we and web 2.0 wake up, it's going to become increasingly difficult for games that got our world to the precipitously bad situation it is currently in to be played any longer.

In my song Everything Fits Together, there is a chant section that sums this idea up:

There’s a reason why, there’s a reason why
There’s a reason why you feel the way you do
There’s a reason why you do the deeds you do
There’s a reason why you feel the needs you do
There’s a reason why, there’s a reason why

Which is not to say that we are helpless, but rather that the knowledge of how we got to where we are right now can help us to understand what is our own fault and what is the result of other forces acting upon us. The question then becomes: what do you want to change? As Joe Jackson so eloquently put it, "You Can't Get What You Want Till You Know What You Want". I would say those are wise words indeed.

Enjoy the journey,


A link to this video can be found at

A link to this video can be found at

A link to this video can be found at

A link to this video can be found at

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