Does the Schrodinger's Cat experiment say/mean what this personal trainer/life coach says it means?

Ah, yes, I remember reading The Dancing Wu Li Masters when I was twenty-three. Deep, man, I thought I had finally solved the mysteries of the universe. It was all about Quantum Mechanics and, like, its relationship with Consciousness and . . . stuff.

Although you probably can’t really expect a lot more when it’s based on the author’s notes from a conference at the Esalen Institute, for chrissakes.

A reliable assumption: any inference drawn by a non-scientist from aspects of quantum physics will be worthless.

Schrodinger was just trying to illustrate the superposition principle as applied to quantum mechanics. Taken at it’s most mundane all he is saying is that if |cat alive> and |cat dead> are allowable states of the cat in a box system then also |cat alive> + |cat dead> (i.e. a superposition of the two states) must also be an allowable state.

I think he may’ve been trying to illustrate as well by reductio ad absurdum that there’s some sort of cut-off whereby a measurement automatically occurs in such a complex system as cats either are alive or dead and our experience suggests (generally speaking) that they can’t meaningfully be both dead and alive at the same time.

As Half Man Half Wit mentioned, only really one of the significant early pioneers of quantum mechanics held to psychoparallelism (that is that conciousness plays an intergral role in the measurement process) and that was Eugene Wigner. Otherwise psychoparallelism was not taken that seriously and even less so today.

Wigner actually extended Schroedinger’s cat into a version known as Wigner’s friend. In Wigner’s version he has a ‘friend’ who is also in the box and observes whether the cat is alive or dead and now the cat and the friend in a box system is also in a superpositon of states |friend observes alive cat> + |friend observes dead cat> (I believe this was a further reductio ad absurdum argument for psychoparallelism).

Doesn’t Schrodinger tell us that a new age mystic’s ideas are neither true nor false until we open their heads to investigate?

This may just be a question of different use of terminology, but the way I heard the story, Wigner indeed proposed his thought experiment to refute psychophysical parallelism—which to me means the view that the physical and the mental are two separate, noninteracting realms, evolving in tandem as with Leibniz’ pre-established harmony (though I’ve also heard it used to mean merely the fact that every conscious state has a physical correlate, i.e. that conscious and physical states are in one-to-one correspondence)—, instead arguing for an interactionist view, in which consciousness is non-physical, but still causally effective on the physical world, since to him it seemed absurd that a conscious observer could be in a superposition of two contradictory conscious states.

I think it’s more likely that you’re right, because I am just going from my memories of a book (Quantum Mechanics by Rae, 4th Edition) that I read quite a long time ago.

I think this is what most trips up these guys. One could argue that consciousness causes collapse of the wavefunction. But that doesn’t mean consciousness controls the collapse of the wavefunction. If I look at an electron it will suddenly be spinning up or down, but that doesn’t mean I can choose its direction, it will still happen randomly. The what the bleepers take the idea of consciousness having a (tenuous, at best) connection to the outcome of an experiment and run away with it, claiming stuff like “consciousness directed at any given result influences outcome”.

Also, it should be noted that the guy quoted in the OP referred to the “Schroedinger’s Cat Experiment”, as if it were a real experiment that actually took place. Thankfully, no cats were harmed in the making of quantum mechanics.

IDK. If you can extract an entangled state from the quantum vacuum which as far as we know is uniformly random and universal, don’t you pretty much have to say that all bets are off?

Both and neither, if the personal trainer hasn’t opened the box the cat’s in, yet.

Of course, that assumes the personal trainer has enough brains to be a conscious intelligent observer, smarter than the cat, which the OP’s quote calls into serious question.

So you’re trying to say that they are box-shaped blockheads, and there might be a dead-or-alive cat in there, instead of a brain? I hadn’t thought of that hypothesis. I’ll have to test that one in my basement [del]dungeon[/del] laboratory.

That may not be true. I got an email forward once, which said that one of those early QM guys left an early draft of one of his papers sitting on the kitchen counter, and his cat jumped up there looking for tuna, looked at the paper, and its head asploded. Made quite the mess. The email said the writer checked that on Snopes. I’m convinced.

Einstein in his bath probably was amused by his fart bubbles and watching his shmendrick slowly rise above the sea like some giant sea creature, surrounded by water-swaying bushes. Like all men, and without “Eurekas.”
Just thought of this beautiful passage, which closes the Lotus Eaters chapter of Ulysses. It’s Bloom’s thoughts of his next activity:

Enjoy a bath now: clean trough of water, cool enamel, the gentle tepid stream. This is my body.

He foresaw his pale body reclined in it at full, naked, in a womb of warmth, oiled by scented melting soap, softly laved. He saw his trunk and limbs riprippled over and sustained, buoyed lightly upward, lemonyellow: his navel, bud of flesh: and saw the dark tangled curls of his bush floating, floating hair of the stream around the limp father of thousands, a languid floating flower.

Oprah doesn’t.

Additional question about Schrodinger’s Cat: It seems like experiments must have been performed to test something like this, not with a cat, but with some non-living macro entity. What kind of interaction causes the wave collapse and where does it break down as objects get larger and larger?

Not explicitly, however if you try to make the Copenhagen internally consistent you have to put yourself through knots, such as, for example, positing that consciousness is the sine qua non that makes a system collapse when otherwise it would not. You must invent some way of defining measurement that is not in contradiction with the fact that all matter follows Schrodinger evolution, and that humans are made of matter.

This is a question of semantics, though. The anthropic selection that “tells you which one you ended up” in, can fairly be called “appearance of collapse caused by consciousness.” It’s just not true in a woo-woo sense: our consciousness does not physically affect a physical system in any way; it is just that which allows the appearance of collapse of the system to happen. If our consciousness operated differently --for example if our consciousness relied on macroscopic superpositions-- then we may not actually observe collapse in the same way.

A better title might have been The Dancing Wu Li Thinkers.

:dubious: Whenever the experiment had been tried, the cat has been found to be either alive or dead.

What exactly do you envisage an experiemnt testing for here?

Fungibility of grant money?

No. Why?

Well, as I said, it’s measurement that causes the collapse, if you believe there is a collapse. Defining measurement is what’s the tricky part, however…

As for quantum phenomena vanishing once you get to sufficiently macroscopic sizes, well, there’s no hard-and-fast boundary: in principle, everything behaves according to quantum mechanics. But the most readily accessible quantum effects are very fragile: you have to shield the system extraordinarily well from the environment in order to be able to observe them. For large enough systems, this simply becomes a practical impossibility.

Well, as I alluded to earlier (or was that another thread?), I’m slowly coming round to the notion that the Copenhagen view (to the extent that it exists as a unified framework) is getting a bit shortchanged in modern discussions. I still think it’s wrong, but not as trivially so as is often claimed. And I don’t think it’s the case that you’re forced to include consciousness anywhere: consistent histories presents a way to do essentially Copenhagen without it; alternatively, you can simply consider measurement as an unanalyzed primitive of the theory, with observers simply being those kinds of things capable of performing measurements. None of this is very appealing to me, and, I suspect, to you, but in that respect I think it’s about level with most (if not all) other interpretations. And I think there’s also a great deal to be gained by considering what the originators of Copenhagen have actually been saying, rather than what they’re said to have said; in particular, Bohr’s view of complementarity—as the existence of distinct and incompatible descriptions of one and the same situation, with neither being privileged in any objective way—strikes me as being deeper than it is usually presented (most discussion contends itself with saying that something can either be a particle or a wave, or something like that).

But the same is true about any of our observations. In fact, consciousness necessarily enters every scientific description of the world, in as much as it is ultimately a description of our experiences within the world; that’s got nothing to do with quantum mechanics specifically.

I don’t know, let me check.



This is the quote I was responding to, just for continuity.

So since the vacuum interacts with everything, any attempt at separation would be contrived, wouldn’t it?

Thanks, you correctly interpreted my question. The “defining measurement” tricky part is the part I’m interested in.

Which kinds of interactions are considered measurement and cause the collapse?

If you have multiple particles, which one(s) are the measurer and which one(s) are the measuree? What makes particle A part of the “less than macro object” and particle B part of the environment?