Wednesday, January 05, 2005

More answers to the "believe but cannot prove" question...


I was misled by the answers the NYT's excerpted. They left many of the best answers behind. The site has them all. This one is from Anton Zeilinger. I think he's at least partially correct. Note he's saying that the act of creating information (as in the state of the cat) is creating reality -- or rather, like a wave and a particle, reality and information are inseprable. The act of observation both creates information and reality (dead cat).
What I believe but cannot prove is that quantum physics teaches us to abandon the distinction between information and reality.

The fundamental reason why I believe in this is that it is impossible to make an operational distinction between reality and information... one might be tempted to believe that everything is just information. The danger there is solipsism and subjectivism. But we know, even as we cannot prove it, that there is reality out there...

So if reality exists and if we will never be able to make an operational distinction between reality and information, the hypothesis suggests itself that reality and information are the same. We need a new concept which encompasses both. In a sense, reality and information are the two sides of the same coin.

I feel that this is the message of the quantum. It is the natural extension of the Copenhagen interpretation. Once you adopt the notion that reality and information are the same all quantum paradoxes and puzzles disappear, like the measurement problem or Schrödinger's cat. Yet the price to pay is high. If my hypothesis is true, many questions become meaningless. There is no sense then to ask, what is 'really' going on out there. Schrödinger's cat is neither dead nor alive unless we obtain information about her state.
So I'm walking along and I'm hit by lightning. Nothing, not a passing bird, not myself, observes my fate. Am I dead? Perhaps not until someone observes my body? Hmm. That's definitely weird enough.

There are more like this. It's really worth starting at the beginning and working through the entire list. The physicists, as usual, are whackier than anyone. (This is praise, btw.)

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