Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Questioning Reality Experimentally

Physics Web reports on yet more experimental evidence that reality as we commonly experience it does not exist when we're not observing it.
Some physicists are uncomfortable with the idea that all individual quantum events are innately random. This is why many have proposed more complete theories, which suggest that events are at least partially governed by extra "hidden variables". Now physicists from Austria claim to have performed an experiment that rules out a broad class of hidden-variables theories that focus on realism -- giving the uneasy consequence that reality does not exist when we are not observing it (Nature 446 871).
As repeat visitors to AstroRoach probably know, I've come to embrace the view that reality is the interference patterns of probablity waves. Conciousness converts this pattern into the universe we know, just as a 3D image appears when a hologram is illuminated by coherent light. The tiny bubble of the universe we each illuminate around us contains the whole - just as each piece of of a hologram cut apart contains the whole image but with lesser detail. Yeah, I know that sounds like a lot of new-age psychobabble, but I don't think its at odds with the experimental data, and I find the concept appealing. For now at least, it just feels right.

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