October 21, 2017•560 words
I’ve recently been entangled in the world of quantum physics, where absolutely nothing makes sense. I dance this confused ballad every so often, and always wind up at the same place: what on earth is going on here? The universe is as suspicious as ever.
I’m reading a book called Biocentrism, which argues that without conscious observers, the universe quite simply does not exist. That is, the universe as we know does not exist “physically”, but we create it with our minds. How is this done?
Well, I’m only a hobbyist, and quantum mechanics is still far above my pay-grade. But here’s my understanding:
An electron can have a spin. Assume for simplicity that the spin can either be up or down. At any given instant, an electron’s spin is said to be indeterminate. You can’t say, nor can it be said, that it will have this particular spin at this particular time, like you can do with most areas of classical physics. And this is not some sort of weakness in our observation or measuring techniques: it inherently does not have a spin.
That is, until you measure it. The instant you observe it, it collapses to a rigid state and then can be determined to be up or down.
It’s not currently very clear what the nature of the “observer” needs to be. Some argue that an observer need to be conscious, such as a human or an insect, for electrons to modify their behavior. Other interpretations do not require consciousness.
As the name implies, Biocentrism is about how biological life brings about the universe, and not the other way around. The book breaks down quantum mechanics in delicious and easy to understand bits, but parts of it still evade my tiny brain.
Essentially, the book argues that in a room with conscious observers (us), electrons will commit to a certain state. When a formation of these particles all commit to a state, we see it as the very persistent reality we know and love. However, when the observers exit the room, the room contents cannot be definitely said to exist anymore. The room now exists in a probabilistic state. The electrons making up the room can no longer be said to be in the same state you remembered them being in.
In a sense, the universe is "lazy-loaded”. It doesn’t “render” until it needs to. And this isn’t some wacky theory. It’s what the deepest and most fundamental understanding of physics is pointing to. A very, very “advanced” universe. And I think advanced is a very fair word to use.
Science, which is really good at producing endless technological miracles and advancements, is not so good at attribution. I don’t necessarily mean “god”, since that’s a concept that’s being deprecated quickly. Nor can I actually say what it is, but it is very clear what it’s not. The words “random” and “infinite” are words we’ve accepted to describe the universe, but neither of those words hold any actual meaning, other than being convenient concepts. To me, it’s as simple as:
A universe that created animals with consciousness cannot be dumb.
That’s probably as far as I’m willing to take it. I won’t say it’s intelligent, or sentient, or omniscient. But it’s most certainly not dumb. Random? Infinite? I don’t know what either of those words mean.