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Meditation 647
Can Reality Really Be Real?

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Two physicists, James Dent and Lawrence Krauss, have suggested[1] that by measuring light from supernovas back in 1998 which provided evidence of dark matter, that we may have altered the future of the universe. Apparently at quantum level, thanks to the "quantum Zeno effect," when we observe or measure something, we reset its clock and stop it decaying. Consequently, by finding evidence of dark matter, we may just have managed to change our expanding Universe into a collapsing one.

To think that just looking at an event that happened hundreds of millions of years ago and hundreds of millions of light years away can change the Universe is simply weird. Or spooky. But under some interpretations of quantum theory, that is the way it is. It's quantum reality.

Or maybe not.

Einstein did not like quantum theory. It lacks certainty. It suggests that, at the quantum level, nothing exists until it is measured. The very act of measuring one particle can affect another particle instantaneously, no matter how far away it is, referred to by Einstein as "spooky action at a distance." And it makes you wonder where everything was before intelligence evolved enough to start measuring.

Unfortunately, where quantum theory can be tested, it has proven to be the most accurate theory in physics. And this tends to validate that there is a spookiness underlying reality, a spookiness into which it is possible to infer various spiritual phenomena which justifies practically any religious belief, not to mention the possibility that we can change the universe just by looking at it. Ultimately, quantum theory leads to the conclusion that there is no such thing as objective reality.

But what if quantum theory is wrong?

Joy Christian of Oxford University thinks[2][3] that might be the case. He has pointed out the testing of quantum theory has depended upon use of commutative mathematics.[4] By using non-commutative mathematics,[5] Christian has shown that an objectively realist model can produce all the results that quantum theory can.

If Joy Christian is right, reality is indeed real. And we can forget about the spookiness.

This is still a long way from being accepted science. It needs some successful experimental evidence to differentiate it from quantum theory. But we can hope it proves out.

Footnotes

  1. Don't look now but..., Phillip Jackman, The Globe and Mail, p A2,
    Thursday, November 22, 2007
  2. Quantum Untanglement, Mark Buchanan, New Scientist, p 36, November 3-9 2007
  3. Disproof of Bell's Theorem by Clifford Algebra Valued Local Variables
  4. In commutative mathematics, order does not matter. For example, 3 x 4 is the same as 4 x 3.
  5. In non-commutative mathematics, order does matter. For example, rotate a three-dimensional object 90 degrees on its x axis, then rotate it 90 degrees on its z axis, The end position will be different than if the order of rotations was changed.