A Quantum Observer

Published on by Catherine Toulsaly

Does this then mean that my observations become real when I observe an observer observing something as it happens?

Richard Feynman, Feynman Lectures On Gravitation

Thoroughwort

Thoroughwort

What sets apart the yogi from the rest of us is a sustained frequency at which occurs a vibrating intuition, the endurance of an intuitive momentum. Intuition is that something, a reflection of a dolphin in a foggy mirror. When it is consciously amplified, it is acted upon. Drawn to the edge of the mirror, we take a step back, wary of lifting our feet off the ground at the sight of a dolphin jumping off the water field of the brain. What will happen if we let ourselves go? Will the mind keep building upon the shape sphere? Will it be swallowed into a black hole? Will it be contained within four squared walls in the ancient bedrock of the flow of ideas? What matters is the sight of a tread at the top of yet another flight of stairs. A quest involves the peculiar image of an intuition whose amplitude rises above that of trains of thought moving along fixed tracks.

Oxeye

Oxeye


From sandy shores where footprints become erased memories, I have returned to the quantum realm. As I listen to the various sounds of the flow of ideas, a hummingbird rests on a redbud leaf. Unstoppable waves of knowledge pass me over. Only a handful of them collapse and feed my mind’s narrative of a theory of everything. Could the unconscious have access to stimuli of sensory nature undetected to the conscious mind? Shades of brown and red are blinding my eyes. Ideas fall like raindrops into the realm of knowing. They circulate on interconnected multiple-lane highways, superpose over each other, without revealing themselves consciously, and work intuitively in the background.

Purple-top

Purple-top


There is an enormous amount of quantum transmission in the human brain, which leads to a seemingly random and free environment where intuition roams at the quantum level. A collapse of consciousness,  David Chalmers and Kelvin McQueen write in their paper on Consciousness and the wave function, may collapse an associated brain state which will be entangled with action states or cause a corresponding action state. Experts debate how quantum information transmission happens in the brain and proposed that tubulin quantum coherent superpositions and computations may combine to augment their superposed mass energy. Once the energy meets the critical threshold of quantum gravity, self-collapse occurs.

Spicebush

Spicebush


How consciousness relates to the wave function has put in mathematical terms the relationship between Consciousness and the Universe. The observable quantum world that defines our frog’s perspective, Dieter Zeh writes, is no more than a tiny component of the global wave function. The latter, representing the bird’s view, may be regarded as the true hidden reality behind the phenomena. Images simmer in my head, spilling over stories I once told. It reminds me of the poet frog who meditates on the nature of the Universe, quenching her thirst at the fountains of the past, at those that are believed to have dried up because they have become underground, entrenched in the unconscious of the human mind. The bird’s view brings me back also to the observer who is convinced that the real significance of the Universe must lie beyond. She crawls outside and comes back with the tale of the zygote constrained within the walls of a transparent membrane.

Buttonbush

Buttonbush

The wave function gives a physical meaning to a physical event which is the random discontinuous motion of particles. At what stage consciousness starts to play a role is anyone’s guess. The guessing game only hints at the possibility that the physical event and consciousness both reflect a time-directional causality. It leads to a deeper issue related to whether consciousness is fundamental or emergent and touches upon the principle of supervenience. Outwardly, the Universe appears to express itself by revealing itself through events of spontaneous localization. If the quantum collapse is simply a self-acting process of a random kind defined under the heading of agency, it may have nothing to do with consciousness.

A Quantum Observer

The collapse is a time stamp on particles of matter as they move in space. It is about the outcome of measurements. The wave function is a wave crossing time. When left alone, the particle-jelly spreads out in space, giving a picture of a linear time continuum while the time evolution of the observable Universe lays out sequence after sequence of collapse time, each establishing new correlations with the Universe and bringing them into the functional frame of reference.

Bee on swamp milkweed

Bee on swamp milkweed


Raising the possibility of superposed states of consciousness even before entering the macroscopic Universe invites the following question about what it would be like to be a quantum observer. The mind of a quantum observer may be an entangled superposition of brain states with different perceptions. The quantum observer who swims in the entangled flows of the quantum system might have visions, feelings and be sensitive to the background noise of a swirling system that could alert her of an imminent collapse.

 

In my mind’s eye, what it is like to be a quantum observer would be akin to a dissociative state of the kind experienced while in trance. In the spirit world, there are horses flying off the veil, oxen guarding the gate, and angels watching over the pond. All are dispersed, though, by a passing breeze. Would entanglement refer to entanglement of multiple conscious states in one mind — these, though, may be only fragments of a single conscious state that subsumes and unifies them — or one conscious state shared even briefly by multiple observers?

Lobelia

Lobelia


Is entanglement silent until it reaches the edge of the collapse? Between the visible and the invisible, there is a mirror where sounds of silence meet sounds of the Universe. Vibrations within respond to sounds without. Echoes fill the field of consciousness. In the case where the collapse generates consciousness, the noise becomes its signature. It must be considered, Angelo Bassi notes, that the noise acts on the quantum system, and the quantum system acts back on the noise. The fact that the noise couples to the mass density and that the larger the system, the stronger it is, suggests, he concludes, that it might be linked to gravity.

Milkweed bugs (lygaeus) on common milkweed

Milkweed bugs (lygaeus) on common milkweed

 

David Chalmers and Kelvin McQueen suggest that small superpositions of consciousness which are brief, or low-amplitude, or between closely related states may be ubiquitous. But as those small superpositions become larger, it yields higher probabilities of collapse of consciousness onto a more definite state. Whether consciousness can be in a superposed state raises a fundamental question about its evolution and its presence at the macroscopic level. Crossing the threshold of the macroscopic Universe may not necessarily mean ending superposition as it appears that branching continues right under our eyes. From the frequency of the microcosm to that of the macrocosm, large superposed states of consciousness may represent what I would call cosmic consciousness, defined as a total state of consciousness that combines the entire integrated information of a physical correlate. David Chalmers and Kelvin McQueen comment that, perhaps, the existence of macroscopic superpositions is counterintuitive, but many cosmological theories already allow macroscopic objects to be in superposition in the early universe where there are no observers.

 


Visits of the intuitional mind occur at night when a conversation unfolds with the dreamer who struggles with radical acceptance. Nothingness, the dreamer dreams, is neither space, time, nor matter but an empty set, a circle diving into eternity and one speaks for the wholeness of quantum reality. Stepping forward on tiptoe, glancing left and right, beyond statistical correlations and calculational tools, can 0/1 expressions be those of something in a quantum superposition state attempting to communicate about the nature of the Universe before it becomes specific? Waking up to the whooshing sound of raindrops, the dreamer realizes that there are still things to learn, subjects to study, fundamentals to meditate upon.

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