Unsure Of Quanta
https://bigthink.com/13-8/quantum-mechanics-interpretation/ It’s like umm maybe In The Beginning There Was Nothing, just a seething field of not interacting stuff spread out really really wide but because there wasn’t an “anything” to judge the size by, it would to us have seemed to be a bunch of mathematical points in another mathematical point; And it got weirder from there.
(Oh hi. That above must have made little sense to you, right? You have to read all the way through that BigThink link and then re-read the paragraph. And don’t go skipping ahead either, ALL the links are probably needed.
Hehehe philosophy eh? Nit-picketty stuff.)
Nothing can be pinned down in this Universe. Being a particle is hard. When you have nothing to be relative to, you don’t really exist. And that means YOU, too. You don’t really exist unless you have something to measure yourself against. Hey - don’t look surprised. The Universe consists of everything. And that includes you.
The upshot of that whole article, to me, is that never mind how/what/why/when we think the Universe is, it isn’t. You say something isn’t there until you measure it and collapse its wave function - then what exactly is it that’s there for you to measure? And if it’s indeterminate, then what about the thing next to it, that depends on its ‘measurement’ (=interaction) with that first thing - that you haven’t yet observed and collapsed into a specific state - to be collapsed into one state or the other?
Yeah. It doesn’t work the way we think. I reckon it doesn’t work at all in any way that we think it does. Imagine a Place where quantum weirdnesses apply but is in some way one step up from that Place. (Sort of how we acknowledge that we’re a part of this Universe and also, somehow, apart from it. You know, for the purposes of Observing/Measuring, which we’re hung up on for some reason.)
In this Place if you set up a machine to have quadreptigazillions of part (= my way of saying “A lot, and parts that are all the same part too, to boot.”) all in a Perfect amount of Pre-Universe and all spaced apart and aligned perfectly and not able to see (= measure) any other bit, then that machine can be nothing and nowhere and of zero size.
Then too, of course, Place is going to be far bigger than any Pre-Universe or Universe so you can space things so unimaginably far apart that no two of all those infinite number of parts can see or interact with any other.
As long as you make sure that all those things are perfectly aligned so that you can guarantee that no thing will interact with any other thing, then something magic happens.
Because no part of this is measuring, or being measured by, any other part - they don’t exist. And because they don’t exist, they’re no size and there’s no distance between them, and so you can have a whole Universe’s worth of things in zero space. A mathematical point.
Now imagine. . . That there’s a brain. . . Holding just the concept of that machine with all those quadreptigazillions of - potential things - effortlessly apart and not making contact.
That’s also the premise for The Great Thought, sort of. (https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/344841-the-universe-looks-more-and-more-like-a-great-thought yep - it’s a quick read, just a quote, but worth it.)
Now imagine that somehow, in the place of existence, of the owner, of that brain, the size of a planet - the cat jumps and knocks over a tesseraflowervase - the owner of that brain flinches, and - two thingummies touch and suddenly have interacted with one another and measured each other, which suddenly creates space and time and then all the potential other things suddenly interact because there’s a measurable distance between them now.
The Universe isn’t even a Great Thought, it’s The Damned Cat’s Mucking Up Of A Great Thought . . . And look - I/we/everythingelse can’t even imagine a Thought that big. We wouldn’t know whether to call it a Thought or an entire New Bud Of A Being or a Very Large Complex Artifact - or even anything we could actually have a concept of. That’s the great unknown that’ll nag at scientists and particularly cosmologists and theoretical physicists for as long as there’s a Universe here.
Just how weird can those scientists make things? (https://nautil.us/my-quantum-leap-14132/) There’s QBism, too. And it may very well be true, true as anything else.
One of my personal Hells is when I think about qua . . . nta. (Hehehe I bet you thought I was going to say qualia didn’t you?) We seem to only ever be able to measure things in distinct quanta. That’s the weird Pauli exclusion principle, where electrons can be in one orbit and jump to the other - without ever being in the space in between orbits.
Light is both a quantum phenomenon of photons and a wave phenomenon and we can even measure a result that says it’s being both at the same time. Intuition says that the spectrum from black to light is a smooth analog scale but we can’t actually say it is because it increases in steps of one photon at a time, not a nice smooth graph line.
Planck’s constant is a constant that defines the quantum of electromagnetic - operation? - and relates the energy of a photon to its frequency/wavelength. Because that’s again a quantum jump between levels, it means we can’t see anything smaller than this constant because it slips in between.
Time may also have been shown to be composed of quantum changes of state. (https://www.exactlywhatistime.com/physics-of-time/quantum-time/) One thing is for sure, there’s a - - - gap - - - in between our measures of time. And if you’re seeing things in stroboscope, it can appear to go forward or backward or be frozen depending on the relative frequencies of these things. But the one thing I can safely say is that if we can’t see all of time between one quantum and the other, then we can only measure things in quantum steps.
And in there, in that last paragraph, is the kernel of my panic. . . Because, you see, there’s a thing called duty cycle. That says that anything that can be switched on and off in quantum steps may (by an outside frame of reference, for the purposes of my explanation) be OFF for far longer than it is ON, or vice versa. And time chops our experience of being into quanta too. We need both space and time in order to exist.The duty cycle can be 50/50, or 75/25, or 1/99. Or it can - probably - even - stop.
So where? - and what? - what and where are we in between ‘ticks’? And - since we can therefore no longer guarantee continuity of self or Universe - where and what were we in the previous ‘tick’? Do we know? CAN we know? What if at every tick we come back as a different being with perfect memories of their past - that didn’t exist before this tick happened.
We’ve seen people who were person A, then something happened and they had a) amnesia b) total personality change c) coma d) any number of other events and they become a completely different person. Which ‘tock’ did they come from and trade places with their many-worlds opposite number when the ‘tick’ occurred?
Are the tick/tock changes also changes between alternate worlds? Alternate existences? Tock. Nothingness. Tick. I’m Grumpy Old Guy and I just clicked ‘publish’ on this article. Tock. Nothingness. Tick. Meow meow meow mouse! Tock. Tick. Athgar Raharg Sontara! Tock.
So that’s my panic. No matter how much I think it’s ME here and now typing this, maybe I’m just the person experiencing right now and thinking that I wrote all the preceding text. What if Solipsism is the way things work? Am I talking to myself? Will I like this article as my reader self? Will this blog exist next Tick?
And then again maybe all of the weirdnesses I mentioned are just the Self saying “Wake up Jeff!” What am I (are we) missing?
One more thought, about Schroedinger’s cat: Knowing now that everything interacts, how can we imagine it’s just us looking in the box that collapses the waveform of the state of that system?
There’s an observer in the box all along. The cat seals its own fate long before we get to look in. Schroedinger was a damned solipsist phenomenalist.
Get off my lawn. Even if you’re me! Or something!
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