Looks like the anti-Darwinists will have to put their stickers on physics texts after their done with the economics library.
Natural selection acts on the quantum world
Philip Ball, Nature.com Dec 23, 2004
A team of US physicists has proved a theorem that explains how our objective, common reality emerges from the subtle and sensitive quantum world....
... certain special states of a system are promoted above others by a quantum form of natural selection, which they call quantum darwinism. Information about these states proliferates and gets imprinted on the environment. So observers coming along and looking at the environment in order to get a picture of the world tend to see the same 'preferred' states.
If it wasn't for quantum darwinism, the researchers suggest in Physical Review Letters, the world would be very unpredictable: different people might see very different versions of it.
... Because, as Zurek says, "the Universe is quantum to the core," this property seems to undermine the notion of an objective reality. In this type of situation, every tourist who gazed at Buckingham Palace would change the arrangement of the building's windows, say, merely by the act of looking, so that subsequent tourists would see something slightly different.
... The Los Alamos team define a property of a system as 'objective', if that property is simultaneously evident to many observers who can find out about it without knowing exactly what they are looking for and without agreeing in advance how they'll look for it.
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...
...Now, Zurek and colleagues have proved a mathematical theorem that shows the pointer states do actually coincide with the states probed by indirect measurements of a system's environment. "The environment is modified so that it contains an imprint of the pointer state," he says.
Yet this process alone, which the researchers call 'environment-induced superselection' or einselection, isn't enough to guarantee an objective reality. It is not sufficient for a pointer state merely to make its imprint on the environment: there must be many such imprints, so that many different observers can see the same thing.
Happily, this tends to happen automatically, because each individual's observation is based on only a tiny part of the environmental imprint. For example, we're never in danger of 'using up' all the photons bouncing off a tree, no matter how many people we assemble to look at it.
This multiplicity of imprints of the pointer states happens precisely because those states are robust: making one imprint does not preclude making another. This is a Darwin-like selection process. "One might say that pointer states are most 'fit'," says Zurek. "They survive monitoring by the environment to leave 'descendants' that inherit their properties."
"Our work shows that the environment is not just finding out the state of the system and keeping it to itself", he adds. "Rather, it is advertising it throughout the environment, so that many observers can find it out simultaneously and independently."
I know I read a science fiction novel recently, written by a physicist, that basically covered this terrain in the guise of fiction. Of course I say "basically" as though I understood any of this article. I'm looking forward to the Scientific American article. I particularly want to know if this has any relevance for "spooky action at a distance" -- a now "commonplace" macro-phenomena that continues to disturb me.
Next up -- experiments that show one can bias the evolution of reality ...
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