Are there indications of an ID mechanism within quantum physics, specifically in the It from Bit interpretation of QM?
There are some aspects of quantum physics, as interpreted by men like John Wheeler and Anton Zellinger, that suggest to me a potential ID mechanism resident within the laws of physics. Wheeler and Zellinger call their interpretation "The It from Bit" and discuss an observer-participancy principle whereby reality is the result of our interactions with it. The basic concepts here though are quite difficult, even among physicists, and this is problematic for this thread topic. There are other interpretations, but at the same time, if we just argue all the other interpretations without people ever becoming aware of the basic claims here, the thread will be useless.
As such and considering the scope of the topic and though not normally a great idea, I plan to be active as a moderator on this thread to help it stay on topic.
To kick things off, let me give a little background and some quotes about the 2 physicists in the OP. Wheeler is the guy that came up with the black hole idea and was mentored by Niels Bohr and was a mentor to Richard Feynman and many others.
The following link is handy, but don't read more into it than I mean here. He is not necessarily accepting Wheeler's thesis here, but he does a good job presenting the basic idea.
Wheeler became even more deeply convinced of the importance of information after concocting a thought experiment that exposed the strangeness of the quantum world for all to see. Wheeler's delayed-choice experiment is a variation on the classic (but not classical) two-slit experiment, which demonstrates the schizophrenic nature of quantum phenomena. When electrons are aimed at a barrier containing two slits, the electrons act like waves; they go through both slits at once and form what is called an interference pattern, created by the overlapping of the waves, when they strike a detector on the far side of the barrier. If the physicist closes off one slit at a time, however, the electrons pass through the open slit like simple particles and the interference pattern disappears. In the delayed-choice experiment, the experimenter decides whether to leave both slits open or to close one off _after the electrons have already passed through the barrier_--with the same results. The electrons seem to know in advance how the physicist will choose to observe them. This experiment was carried out in the early 1990s and confirmed Wheeler's prediction.
Wheeler accounted for this conundrum with yet another analogy. He likened the job of a physicist to that of someone playing 20 questions in its surprise version. In this variant of the old game, one person leaves the room while the rest of the group--or so the excluded person thinks--selects some person, place, or thing. The single player then reenters the room and tries to guess what the others have in mind by asking a series of questions that can only be answered yes or no. Unbeknownst to the guesser, the group has decided to play a trick. The first person to be queried will think of an object only _after_ the questioner asks the question. Each person will do the same, giving a response that is consistent not only with the immediate question but also with all previous questions.
"The word wasn't in the room when I came in even though I thought it was," Wheeler explained. In some ways, the electron, before the physicist chooses to observe it, is neither a wave nor a particle. It is in some sense unreal; it exists in an indeterminate limbo. "Not until you start asking a question, do you get something," Wheeler said. "The situation cannot declare itself until you've asked your question. But the asking of one question precludes the asking of another. So if you ask where my great white hope presently lies--and I always find it interesting to ask people what's your great white hope--I'd say it's in the idea that thw whole show can be reduced to something similar in a broad sense to this game of 20 questions."
Wheeler has condensed these ideas into a phrase that resembles a Zen koan: "the it from bit." In one of his free-form essays, Wheeler unpacked the phrase as follows: "... every it--every particle, every field of force, even the spacetime continuum itself--derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely--even if in some contexts indirectly--from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, _bits_."
What Wheeler is saying is that physical reality is inherently indefined until observed, and that QM experiments demonstrate this. Basically, something exists as information, and only when some information is transferred does that something, the It, become physically defined in one state. As it gives the Bit, so it becomes the It.
Anton Zellinger takes this research a litte further and argues that the reason the photon in the various QM experiments acts as it does is that it is a basic unit. In other words, matter and energy are quantized because information is quantized with it's most basic unit being either yes or no to a question, and as the photon answers that question, then the form changes.
It may sound a little strange, but as you delve into the science here, it makes a lot of sense, and whether right or wrong, it is a viable theory.
The atom of information is the bit--the quantity contained in the answer to a yes or no question. If experiments are questions we ask of nature, then the simplest of them have yes or no answers: "Did the photon arrive here, or not?", "Did the counter click, or not?" We can also ask more complex questions, but they can always be built up from simpler yes or no questions like these.
Zeilinger avoids the question "What is an elementary system?" and asks instead, "What can be said about an elementary system?" His conclusion is simply stated: an elementary system carries one bit of information.
It sounds innocuous. But the consequences of Zeilinger's principle promise to be breathtaking. In the first place, it contains the fact that the world is quantised--the very starting point of quantum mechanics. ... Zeilinger's single, simple principle leads to these three cornerstones of quantum mechanics: quantisation, uncertainty and entanglement.
How this all relates to a potential Intelligent Design mechanism is that it shows, if correct, a different perspective on reality than classical physics and explains the quantum weirdness first of all, and shows, for lack of a better term, a creative action taking place where reality itself comes into being as a response to observation, including the past, as Wheeler shows.
By connecting a direct manifestation of reality, and even arguing that direct manifestation occurs all the time in response to our questions of it, this in my opinion opens the door for observing an ID mechanism whereby observation and intelligence interact with the information of what something could be, and influence that outcome.
In other words, if reality is indeed shaped by the questions we ask of it, then learning to have the right questions or right perspective (faith??) can lead to specific desired outcomes assuming one has a higher level of understanding and knowledge (as an Intelligent Designer would).
We may not be able to directly reproduce the Designer, but we can possibly test for and perhaps even use a mechanism He uses to create things.
This message has been edited by randman, 11-21-2005 01:32 AM
I hate that the OP is so long, but it's too late now. Let me say to all that this week will not be as active as last week, and probably I will post just a little tomorrow and be largely absent for a week.
But I will get back to this thread. This topic on the nature of reality is actually more interesting to me than the ID application I propose here, and I enjoy discussing the learning about the physics here.
My own ideas, I must confess, were not borne originally out of the science as at that time, I was not as aware of QM principles, but it delighted me to find some things I had learned in a different arena so to speak were echoed in QM.
This message has been edited by randman, 11-21-2005 01:40 AM
So far the connection to ID has yet to be shown. The elements concerned relate to the interaction of the experimental apparatus and single particles (e.g. photons). There does not seem to be any truly "creative" element - simply a predictable response to the apparatus.
So how about producing additional material that actually supports your ideas ?s
He clearly means that things take on definite form as a result of interaction with observation? Leaving off the issue of what constitutes observation for the moment, consider the following quote.
To quote Wheeler - 'It from bit symbolises the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom - at a very deep bottom, in most instances - an immaterial source and explanation; that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that things physical are information-theoretic in origin.'
... Wheeler again: 'No element in the description of physics shows itself as closer to primordial than the elementary quantum phenomenon, that is, the elementary device-intermediated act of posing a yes/no question and eliciting an answer. Otherwise stated, every physical quantity, every it, derives its ultimate significance from bits.'
It seems to me Wheeler thinks there is a great bit more indicated by these experiments than you do.
The "creative" element here, thus far, is perhaps better stated as the "making element" in that the thing itself exists as information, but takes on form as a result of observation. The taking on a definite form was what I was referring to as "creative."
Now, it is true that this is just a hint of the potential process because it only explains how information takes on physical form in the real world we live in, but does not state how these fundamental information states come to be.
Nevertheless, this does involve the process of how physical form is created in the sense of manifested as real.
This message has been edited by randman, 11-21-2005 03:01 AM
I'm not arguing with Wheeler. I want the items that support your claims. And simply stating that it "seems" that Wheeler disagrees with my points is not going to cut it - expecially when the quoted statements contain no disagreement.
Looking at the interview this point seems more relevant:
COSMIC SEARCH: A few years ago you asked the question: "Are life and mind irrelevant to the structure of the universe, or are they central to it?"
Have you found an answer?
Wheeler: No, I'm one of the most baffled men in the world on this subject....
quote: The "creative" element here, thus far, is perhaps better stated as the "making element" in that the thing itself exists as information, but takes on form as a result of observation. The taking on a definite form was what I was referring to as "creative."
I think it is misleading to use "creative" in a sense that could equally well apply to an assembly-line robot. Which appears to be what you mean. Wheeler's point is that the sort of answers you get when investigating quantum phenomena are essentially a product of how you try to get the answer (which is in turn constrained by the question you are trying to answer). But this aspect is predictable - the delayed choice experiments are repeatable, for instance. Thus the element you call "creative" appears to be "mechanical" - a causal result of the measurement. And of course "creativity" of this sort cannot support ID because it is not intelligent.
You are ignoring his fundamental claim. He says physical form is undefined until observation, and is quite explicit in that. The fact the delayed choice experiments are repeatable is all the more evidence that they are correct, right?
Let me ask you this. What do you think Wheeler is saying the fundamental state of things are when they are in the undefined or non-material state?
This message has been edited by randman, 11-21-2005 03:47 AM
In some ways, the electron, before the physicist chooses to observe it, is neither a wave nor a particle. It is in some sense unreal; it exists in an indeterminate limbo.
Wheeler thinks the delayed choice experiments and other experiments indicate things exist in an "unreal" state of "an indeterminate limbo" and that all of the universe is built up from this same state.
That's the point here. The information state reacts to create a physical reality in definite form, and part of that reaction is a result of the way observation takes place.
The delayed choice experiments don't deal with "physical form" - they deal with the paths apparently followed by photons. And I don't remember any suggestion that the results of the delayed-choice experiments were wrong - only the extent to which they showed "creativity".
I can't see any clear statement of Wheeler's views on what the "fundamental nature" of a particle is before it is measured (although so far as the delayed-choice experiments go the photons are still photons - it is where they appear to have been that is in question).
That is indeed the conclusion I am trying to avoid for ID. There is way too much physics for me here to deal with. I am coming from the side of using such a collapse to ALSO be artifically selected in biological tissue. It is the only strech I know of that does the distance and goes but I have never been able to think this link completely in one thought, so I have reason to distrust both, the conscious collapse and the indentured limits to natural selection caused by artifical selections of primates and other tool users.
This message has been edited by Brad McFall, 11-21-2005 07:15 AM
This message has been edited by Brad McFall, 11-21-2005 07:18 AM
I don't see how QM can be evidence for ID when the interpretation you describe essentiallly disproves the existence of God.
If aspects of reality are undefined until observed, as you suggest, then the fact that we can detect undefined aspects of particles we're not directly observing (the Afshar experiment) means that nobody else is observing them either, like an omnipotent God.
Unless you believe in some sort of limited God, I guess. There's no use asserting that God is more powerful that QM, and that he has the power to circumvent that restriction - the limitation is not in God, but in the universe he created.