Measurement Problems

By the early twentieth century, scientists came face to face with the limits of measurability.  They could not observe what exactly happens at the moment that a quantum converts from its wave-like properties to its particle-like properties.  This invisible transition creates for scientists what is known as the quantum measurement problem.

Danish physicist, Niels Bohr explains:

Quantum mechanics exhibits a hidden relationalism — “hidden”, that is, from a classical, Newtonian point of view.

Werner Heisenburg challenged Bohr’s metaphysical assertion (the hidden relationship), saying:

It is possible to ask whether there is still concealed [hidden] behind the statistical universe of perception a ‘true’ universe in which the law of causality would be valid.  But such speculation seems to be without value and meaningless, for physics must confine itself to the description of the relationship between perceptions.

Bohr, in return, complained that Heisenberg’s approach reduced “definability to measurability”.  Bohr was saying that something, which can be defined — like a hidden relationship — is not always physically measurable, and being physically immeasurable may not be a sufficient reason to declare something valueless.

For instance, a statistical probability can be defined, though it is not physically measurable.  A statistical probability is a special kind of metaphysical potentiality.  What could not be directly measured by scientists became, at least, predictable by astute mathematicians.  In the twenty-first century, no one becomes a scientist without first studying mathematics, the language of science today.  Scientists now routinely calculate the probability of a quantum particle appearing somewhere in space, before it actually does.  Mathematically ‘measuring’ metaphysical probabilities has become as integral to physics as measuring physical properties like the mass and velocity of an actual object.  High-speed computers have enabled mathematicians to blur the scientific line of measurability.

Brilliant mathematician, John VonNeumann, tackled the Quantum Measurement Problem in 1955.  He understood that two processes (linear and non-linear) happened in contiguous times:

  1. The first interaction between that which is encountered and its measuring apparatus is a “deterministic linear superposition of eigenvalues [eigenvalue represents the energy of a quantum state in a system] that provides a range of values most likely [statistically probable] for the quantum.
  2. This is followed by an “indeterminate non-linear process that collapses the probabilities into a single actual value“.

If all that sounds like gibberish, don’t worry.  We are beginning to build a chart that will compare VonNeumann’s language above with that proposed below by philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead, as well as the Bible’s book of Genesis, all describing the happenings which occur when a mathematical probability becomes a measurable actuality.

Before we get down to the chart, let’s review some additional perspectives.

Quanta are the smallest particularities (particular/discrete entities) that are capable of engaging in informative/measurable interactions.

Physicist, David Bohm (1917-1992), proposes a solution to the Quantum Measurement Problem in 1980.  He envisions an underlying order, which he calls the ‘implicate’ order, that interacts with the ‘explicate’ order of our classical physics.

In the enfolded [implicate] order, space and time are no longer the dominant factors determining the relationships of dependence or independence of different elements. Rather, an entirely different sort of basic connection of elements is possible, from which our ordinary notions of space and time, along with those of separately existent material particles, are abstracted as forms derived from the deeper order.  These ordinary notions in fact appear in what is called the ‘explicate’ or ‘unfolded’ order, which is a special and distinguished form contained within the general totality of all the implicate orders.

The “different sort of basic connection of elements” to which Bohm refers introduces the notion of non-locality.  Apparently discrete entities, which seem separated by great distances in the explicate order, are yet somehow entangled, blended, or overlapped within an underlying implicate order.

When entangled, properties of otherwise discrete quanta correlate in such a way that even though they may be separated by a vast distance the measurement of one particle’s property instantaneously determines the correlated property of its entangled particle.

James Sully, of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, said in the Symmetry Magazine:

Entanglement isn’t just a feature of esoteric experiments. Typical states of matter we encounter all the time are characterized by a large degree of entanglement. In fact, entanglement between objects and their environment is responsible for the emergence of the familiar classical world from counterintuitive quantum laws.

Sensing a non-physical or meta-physical influence coaxing us within our circumstances can seem mystical.  Christian de Quincey, PhD, author of Radical Knowing, reflects on how some of our experiences derive from a trans-psychic meaning that is inherent in the objective material world.

Numinosity is the “charge” we experience when we find ourselves involved in events we suspect are unrelated by cause yet are acausally related through a meaning that transforms us in some way. … The meaning somehow transcends any individual psyche (or psyches) involved and is as much a part of the objective situation.  The meaning is sensed to be inherent in the material world as much as in the human mind that perceives the meaning.  

Both matter and mind seem to cooperate, even conspire, in the unfolding of events – as if “persuaded” or coaxed by some deeper, larger pattern that gives order and arrangement to the ways of the world (including our individual parts in it).

Particles are surrounded by fields.  The fields overlap, making it possible for the particles to communicate from a distance.  INformative are the OUTforming wave-fronts that exude from the substantial world.

Bohm’s implicate order offers a common ground for Corporeality and Consciousness.

Quoting from renowned esotericist, Madame Blavatsky:

The Kabalistic deity, En-Soph, this Concealed Unity, is then Endless, non-Existent, the boundless and termless time. 

The Concealed Unity is the endless (infinite) and the non-existent, the combined Shakti-Brahman of the Hindus and the Bible’s “darkness [that] covered the face of the deep“.  This is also Bohm’s implicate order and another way to think of the Zero Point Field in physics.

What happens between the implicate (potential) and explicate (actualized) orders of physicality?

Bohm postulates that at any moment, a projection from the pre-space of the implicate order may emerge into our familiar explicate space-time.  He says specifically:

I propose that each moment of time is a projection from the total implicate order.

So far, we have itemized the ontological steps for how a physical entity comes into being: from potentiality to probability to actuality.  The potentiality and probability exist in the implicate order and are, therefore, pre-ceptual (not yet perceived).

When the projection is received (“God sees the light, that it is good”) and removed from its probabilities (“God divides the light from the darkness”), it becomes an explicate actuality.

VonNeumann, as a mathematician, concerned himself with how statistical probabilities become physical actualities.

The flip-side to his Quantum Measurement Problem is the so-called ‘hard problem’ of philosophy, which refers to the manner by which sensory perceptions become subjective experiences; in other words, how do physical sensations become specific qualia, such as color, texture, taste, sound, etc.?  These are mental rather than physical constructs.

The characteristics we associate with physical stimuli do not physically exist, nor are they inherent in the stimuli.  Rather, these descriptive characteristics arise only in the consciousness of one who, or that which, experiences/encounters the stimulus.  Grass is not actually green; photons vibrate at a frequency that registers in the human brain as a sensation we are taught to call “green”.

Panexperientialist, Alfred North Whitehead, believed that the most basic elements of reality are experiential, and that everything is constituted by its experience.  Whitehead used the word quite broadly; he intuited that everything has some degree of experience, even inanimate objects, right down to colliding electrons.

Whitehead coined the word “prehension” to describe what happens within each discrete “occasion of experience.”  Whitehead’s occasion is equivalent to Bohm’s moment in time.

Whitehead regarded prehension as occurring in two sequential modes:

  1. a reception of physical stimulus (“physical prehension”), and
  2. the re-contextualization of that physical experience into a psychological experience (“conceptual prehension”).

Whitehead recognized both physical and conceptual modes of prehension, despite these modes happening so quickly, one after the other, that perception and conception are experientially indistinguishable in people and higher organisms.

It was in a similar vein that VonNeumann had calculated two contiguous processes involved in the collapse of a potentiality into a particularity:

  1. the linear disturbance of statistical probabilities, and
  2. the non-linear collapse of a quantum actuality.

The table below shows how the two parts of VonNeumann’s process of actualization overlap with Whitehead’s two parts of prehension, and how they both correlate with Genesis, in which all three steps are outlined.

In scientific physicalism/materialism, the focus is on enduring things and their manifest properties (potential and actual columns).  By thinking of these discrete things as fundamental, we overlook the processes in which, and by which, they endure.

In philosophical idealism, the question regards how prehended ‘realities’ appear in the Consciousness of the Observer (actual and remembered columns).  Strict idealists, on the other hand, believe “there is no out there out there” and by dismissing physical stimuli they bypass physical prehension altogether.  By negating the first half of Whitehead’s contiguous stages of prehension, the concepts of the second half are rendered invalid as well.

Niels Bohr offers this pertinent paradox:

A simple truth is a truth where the opposite is not true.  A deep truth is a truth where the opposite is also true.

VonNeumann and Whitehead applied their individual genius in breaking apart what had been assumed a singular phenomena.  Because these gentlemen worked in different academic disciplines, with distinct interests, perspectives and professional support systems, their disparate observations would likely have remained unconnected; however, the comparison of scriptural creation stories, which evoked Quadernity, have now provided a framework upon which each of the gentlemen’s bi-phasic proposals may be aligned and contrasted.

Moreover, our chart effectively highlights the Female and Male functions within the OUTformation and INformation of light, which was apparently understood thousands of years ago and carefully described for posterity!

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