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Saturday, 20 July 2013

Delayed Choice Quantum Fudge

Well, this is fun.  Got a comment from someone who raised a serious issue about the experiments I proposed in One Song for the Edinburgh Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics that I put together there.  Here's the comment, and my response....

"you are wrong on Delayed Quantum Eraser. "Eraser" stands for device that makes it impossible to discern which patch photon took and not deleting some file. "Delayed" is about distance and light patch and "choice" about photon choosing to go through one path or the other, and not choice any conciseness make. Those effects show something about effects that happens on polarizers and beam splitters and are not about consciousness or viewing anything at all

and what is the real point of all of this quantum stuff anyway? is that really that important where mind is projected? we all see it is projected somewhere and it hurts and that is what matters. How to stop this suffering, that matters!

One Song is otherwise great and I thank you for it as it opened my otherwise closed eyes. But seriously: leave quantum stuff out of it. Never even mention it in the same article, book or YT video. It just scares people off and that is bad because rest is very good"


Thank you so much.

When I say the file is deleted this is how I understood what was being done with that device that makes it impossible to discern the photon path.  This is just my understanding.

The point of that device is not that it shuts down the measurement - as I understand it - but that it renders the results of measurement (of the photon's path) permanently inaccessible.  To shut down measurement, you just need to turn the detector off, or just not have one in the first place.  My understanding of what DCQE does is have the measurement, but render the results permanently inaccessible.  And again - I may well be wrong in this, it's highly technical - but my understanding of how it does this is that it deletes the information permanently.

I phrased it by saying 'it deletes the file' because I figure that if the detector is storing information electronically, then we're talking about a file, or something very much like a file.  That is - straight up - just an assumption I made, if this is wrong (and absolutely it could be, 1000%) please, God, say.  Am I fudging this too much (I almost certainly am) - or worse - is it doing something totally different?

The issue of the delay.  Yeah, this is clearly very important.  I think the flaw you raise in my understanding arose from the human-scale interpretation of the collapse, whereas it should (of course) have been totally focused on the Quantum scale.

I'll read up more about this, but could you go into a little more detail?  You say it's 'about distance and light patch'.  It would help a lot if you could open this up a little further - what exactly seems to be being delayed by what, and how?

Now look - everything I know of QM I have had to teach myself in a total vacuum.  I would honestly be amazed if there weren't problems with my understanding of the technicalities - it's an extremely technical subject.

Because of that, I really appreciate any help, critique or input of any kind about this.  And you should see my browser - I've got 12 tabs open right now, and 2 books on download, about the Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser (DCQE) experiment, so I can get some real finesse on exactly how the DCQE works technically.

As such, I'll take the QM section out of One Song.  There you go, are you happy?  ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?

*runs off crying*

It'll take me a few days to do it - it's not just a case of "select all/cut" - I need to put something in that weaves the first part into the last, which is what that section did, so give me few days on this before the hate mail commences.

There's a couple of other things - when you say

""Delayed" is about distance and light patch"

Do you mean path?  Or patch?  Are you talking about the path of the photon, or the patch (or patches) of light the interference pattern makes or doesn't make on the phosphorescent screen behind the slit?

The second thing is this.  You say that:

"the "choice" in the DCQE is about the photon choosing to go through one path or the other, and not a choice any consciousness makes."

Ok, I'm becoming more and more convinced that I need to do a dedicated QM piece, because a lot of people do seem to think I'm saying something like this.

I'm really not.  I promise, I tried to be very explicit about that, but clearly I'm not being explicit enough.

I'm not saying that consciousness is making a choice, or doing anything at all.

Now, I'm going to go 'capital letters' here - not shouting at you, but I really want what I'm about to say to be clearly seen.


Stay with that for a second.  Yeah?  Is this clear?  This is the centre of the Edinburgh Interpretation.

There is no observer effect.  There is no consciousness causing collapse of probability.  This is not what is happening.

Do you understand?  And the reason is that there is no observer, and there is no consciousness.

There is no observation, anywhere, at all.  What I am saying is that observation, quite simply, does not exist.  Ever.  In real life.

Is this clear?

I'm not asking you to agree with it - that would be silly - but can you see what I'm saying here?  Before we go on, is this clear?

Consciousness has no effect on the photon because there is no consciousness.  No human consciousness, no animal consciousness, no consciousness anywhere, ever, at all.

Ever, anywhere, in any way.

This is the centre of the new interpretation.

There is no consciousness to collapse the waveform, no consciousness to interfere, no consciousness to do anything, or choose anything, or collapse anything.

There is ONLY the collapse, which we CALL consciousness, because it is the place in which all things occur, including our experience of life.

What we are looking at is OCCURRENCE, not consciousness.  That is all, that is all that is happening, and from this perspective you can make sense of every strangeness of the Quantum world.

How?  Because all of a sudden the question of what is causing the apparent collapse of probability doesn't arise.  Probability collapses into utter coherence - that's what probability does, because that's how time works.  And it is how we experience time - and then all of a sudden you have a direct, immediate, fundamental aspect of human experience which dovetails perfectly with the Quantum predictions.

So you're able to unite the division between the subatomic and the large-scale.

On top of this, the Edinburgh Interpretation also makes perfect sense of the 'God does not play dice' problem of QM.  The way probability collapses into the real must be coherent with the rest of the real - and so probability collapse is in fact not random - although it may appear to be if such collapses are taken in isolation.  All probability falls perfectly into place in coherence with what has already fallen into place - this is the fundamental nature of being, of time.

This is what the Edinburgh Interpretation claims.

And other things as well - like, say, the 'signal problem' of entanglement.  How does one particle 'know' that another has collapsed in a certain way, so it can collapse in a corresponding way?

In the Edinburgh Interpretation there is no signal problem, because there is no signal.  The secondary particle does not collapse when the first one does.  What instead happens is that the collapse of the first particle into reality means that any particle that is synchronised with it must collapse - whenever it does, even if it's centuries from the collapse of the first - in a way that is coherent with it.

And so it seems as if they're communicating, whenever you test it, because whenever you look, the second particle does correspond with the first.  But that's not what's happening.  What's happening is that reality is being set by the collapse of the first particle, and the second, if and when it ever does collapse, cannot do so in any other way without violating the coherence of the real.

Think of the explanatory power of this perspective.  And also... think how specific these predictions are.  I'm not a technically trained physicist, and so yes - I absolutely will struggle to put experiments together that will flawlessly satisfy someone who is.  But this conjecture is obviously clear enough that it can make predictions of experiment.

And if that doesn't matter, if that's an irrelevance, if that's just a little philosophical nicety that doesn't really matter, should we start, perhaps - just perhaps - to ask ourselves if that is a healthy attitude for science to take?

It takes years to put together a conjecture of this clarity.  Or at least, it took me years.  And is it inappropriate to start thinking how to begin a conversation about the immediate rejection of such things?  Or of them being sidelined as "not that important?"  Is it fair of me to ask this?

I don't have all the answers, but I think we should start asking these kinds of questions.  Asking them of science.  Because it's not heresy to ask these questions, unless science has become nothing more than a set of unquestioned dogmas, and hierarchical titles.  I don't think it has - I really don't.  But we should always take the opportunity to be vigilant about this kind of thing, and ask these questions.

Now you say "what is the point of all this Quantum stuff anyway?"

I could answer what's the point of physics anyway?  What's the point of science?

Yes, resolving suffering is a far bigger deal as far as actual day-to-day human life is concerned.  But there's much more to life, and to the world, than just not suffering.

And on top of that, the implications of this hypothesis are not irrelevant to the experience of life, because it describes the experience of time, in which everything occurs.

There's other things, like the incredible elegance and beauty of the real, and this is a very elegant perspective from which to make sense of all the Quantum weirdness.

From this - and the new understanding of time that it puts forward - would it be possible to unite Quantum Mechanics and relativity?

Maybe, no.  But maybe yes.

And how?  Because of time, because it allows the QM equations to be understood as being fundamentally concerned with TIME.  And using that to connect the idea of spacetime from relativity?

I'd love to do something in this area, but as far as things stand, I know I would have to do it alone, and make it PERFECT.  Because if it's not perfect, then what do you think people will focus on?  The breakthroughs, or the imperfections?

And if it is the imperfections, is it fair that we take a step back from that, and ask ourselves why?  And not just why - but whether or not we should raise awareness of this, not of this theory, but of the incredibly hostile environment in which all theories and speculations must occur?

Take The Master And His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist.  That is a work that took 20 years to put together, and it shows.  Every single part is backed up like a phalanx, like only 20 years worth of research can do.  And it has to be, because if he just released the theory 20 years ago, he would have been butchered.  Is this healthy for science?

He raises the issue there - from his point of view (in Neuroscience) he says that his discipline has become focused on the amassing of data, and has - in his words, this man is a career neuroscientist - "largely abandoned any attempt to make sense of that data, once amassed, in a wider context."

Is this healthy?  Is it heresy to ask if the pure amassing of data can even really be described as science?  Should it be so controversial a thing to say?  Should it?

And yes of course, research is critical, robust criticism is critical.  But do we gauge how robust criticism is by how angry it is, how viciously it seizes on mistakes and leaps to ridicule?  Leaps to dismiss wholesale anything that is not immediately flawless?

Is this conducive to daring speculation?

These are just questions, but questions we might want to think about raising more than they are being raised right now.

Is this something that people talk about enough?  That people raise enough as an issue that is blocking the progress of science?  Is it?

And if the answer is anything less than "absolutely no, it is paramount that we respect, cherish and cultivate serious, daring and specific speculation" we might perhaps start asking some searching questions about why that is - and how we can change it.

I don't have all the answers, but I hope you can understand how it can seem very much like the culture in which we live is viciously hostile to speculation, no matter how detailed, or how clear.  And I hope you don't think I'm overstating the case when I say that this hurts science.  I think it does.  I really do.

This environment did not appear out of the ether.  This is human beings doing this, you, me, all of us.  And just as we're part of the environment, we can be part of changing the environment.  Even just to start thinking about this is a huge step forward, and even raising it with people is another huge step.

And there's another question we might want to ask ourselves - sure, yes, my theory might be total bunk.  But if we dismiss working on radical speculative theories in general, how is science ever to advance?

And again, I'm not putting these questions here to preach at you, because I don't have all the answers.  But maybe if we all start asking ourselves more questions like this, things might get a little less fraught than they are, because they don't need to be fraught.  I get attacked all the time for what I do with science by people who love science - I love science, I am one of those people.  And really, I'm big enough and ugly enough to take a few knocks - but when knocks are all that happens when scientific speculation is advanced, is there a bigger issue here than my hurt feelings?

I remember the first guy to point out the mistake I originally made in One Song, which was that I conflated the Copenhagen Interpretation and Von Neumann.  He was fuming.  Furious.  Absolutely irate, as if I'd physically punched him.  And then when I said - "Oh my God, yes, you're right - I've checked it out, and edited the piece, and put in these new bits - is this correct?", he was completely taken aback.

It seems like he was expecting nothing of me but just to throw it back in his face, and when I didn't, he was very apologetic, and didn't really know what to make of the situation.

Should rage be the response to an error like this?  I'm not the all-seeing eye, and I have no formal training in physics - is this a healthy response?  Is this a healthy culture to be part of, to perpetuate?  To leave unchallenged?

Is it truly so crazy to suggest we should start asking questions like this more than we do?  And perhaps start thinking of ways that we can put this to people, start thinking of ways that we can start opening things up a little?

Science isn't cynicism.  It's speculation and experiment.  Speculation is a critical part of it.  Critical.  And not just speculation, but daring speculation, clear speculation, refined speculation that is amenable to testing.

And at the absolute pinnacle of speculative excellence, you have a speculation that initiates a completely new paradigm of understanding.  That is the tip of this mountain, it is the absolute zenith of what speculation can be.  Relativity was such a speculation - and it still IS a speculation.  So was evolution.  So was Newton's laws of motion, or the work of Copernicus.

Speculation IS science - speculation leashed.  Leashed to experiment - not to cynicism.

Are we truly giving it the time it deserves?  The consideration?  Are we as people who love and respect science making a fertile environment for speculation, or a hostile one?

These are the questions we need to put to ourselves, and maybe start thinking how to put them to others as well.  Not to enforce a new ideology, or anything like that, just to raise the issue into view.  Just that alone would be huge.

To think about these things as a matter of some urgency, and as a counter to the reflex cynicism that shuts down the daring speculation - to use Einstein's words - that is necessary to advance our understanding of the world.

Now look - I'll tell you one way you could do something that would make a serious, serious difference.  Please give me your email.  My email is in the sidebar, just drop me an email, and leave it at that.

The more I read about the DCQE, the more I feel it is key to building a set of clear predictions directly from the Edinburgh Interpretation.  I am so thirsty for serious technical criticism - but I need clarity.  And now you've raised this issue about DCQE, I need to go back, do some more research... but I'll come up with something, and that may be wrong too.

But if can get clear criticism of it - even just a few lines - that would make my work 1000000% more straightforward.

And before you say - well, any physicist could do that - the blunt fact is that, and I wish this weren't true - in my experience I have found it very difficult to find one who will.  If you would be that one, that would be amazing.

But enough of this.  I'll cut the QM section from One Song, because an experiment is a technical thing, and if what I've suggested is based on a misunderstanding then it needs to change.

But I won't abandon the Edinburgh Interpretation.  It needs work - of course it does - and if it's at all possible, maybe a little bit of help.  I'll do all the heavy lifting, if you could just be there to read what I suggest and critique it - especially my work on the DCQE and any experiments I suggest, that would be amazing.

Is this cool?


  1. Sorry, I'm getting some comments on this.

    Look - comments on this are for either - paid subscribers only.... or....

    People who have a credentialed scientific background in a relevant discipline. One or the other, or both.

    I make an exception to the paid subscriber rule on the science articles because genuine critique from people with a background in science is something I welcome so much it is genuinely pathetic.

    But if you're just generally interested and want to ask general questions on this, or evolution in general - I'm sorry, that can only be available to people who subscribe.

    I know this isn't ideal, I wish it didn't have to be this way, but I need to fund my work somehow, and it is only the clients I have that make this blog possible.

    When that changes, I'll be the first to open things up, but until it does I have no choice and must be strict, or I lose my capacity to support myself doing this, and have to stop doing it.

    It literally is that hard and simple an equation. So that's how it goes.

    On the other hand....

    SUBSCRIBE!!! Subscribing leads you to a magical land of pixies and profundity where all your dreams come true.

    If, that is, you dream specifically of getting answers to questions you post on my blog.

    Hope this isn't too much of a kick in the teeth, and if you wish to merely see your comment up on my blog, remember that I always approve really nice comments about how good my work is from anyone, which again, is a little pathetic, but there it is nonetheless.

    Much love.

  2. In one song you wrote "What we're really looking at is occurrence, and everything that exists, occurs at the same time. That is what it means to exist. To occur. And to occur at the only time. Now."

    How does that gel with Einstein's notion of time dilation as a result of relativity? If you travel fast enough away from and then back to Earth, while 5 years may have passed for you, 100 years have passed on Earth.

    Doesn't this indicate that there is more than one "now"? How can everything happen at the same time if you only age 5 years whereas everyone on Earth ages 100 years?

    I can't get my head around this in any case so I'm wondering what you make of it. I noticed you said comments for subscribers only, I'd like to subscribe, how much is it?

    1. Great question - I got to answering it and ran way, way over the space allotted in the comment box, so I posted it up as a new blog post with your question in it. Link is here: