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Thread: physics and new age humanisn

  1. #1 physics and new age humanisn 
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    i have been reading a lot of various religious texts and happened across some interesting thoughts in new age religions.

    there is a physics experiment where particles (i think they are photons) are shot at a board with a single slit in it. predictably when they travel throgh the slit and land on the wall on the other side we can see that they hit in a predictable fashion as particles. however, place 2 slits in the board and the photons act like light waves. the conclusion being drawn from the new age point of view is that, scientifically, the observer is having an effect on the experiment. the photons do not know which slit to choose so they travel through both slits simultaneously or something to that effect. they go further to say that there is the potential for human observation (ie. human thought or will) to affect the outcomes of certain situations. that human beings have the potential to choose their "quantum reality".

    this conclusion does not appear to me to be exactly sound. it is pretty, i do like it, but i get the feeling that it is also illogical or at least not scientifically correct (as are many religious ideas). any explanations as to why the photons act like particles in one experiment and then like waves in the other experiment? is this the result of human observation or is this like schroedinger's cat? we can't know unless we are looking?


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  3. #2 Re: physics and new age humanisn 
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    Quote Originally Posted by nlwright
    i have been reading a lot of various religious texts and happened across some interesting thoughts in new age religions.
    new age = not scientific
    Quote Originally Posted by nlwright
    there is a physics experiment where particles (i think they are photons) are shot at a board with a single slit in it. predictably when they travel throgh the slit and land on the wall on the other side we can see that they hit in a predictable fashion as particles. however, place 2 slits in the board and the photons act like light waves. the conclusion being drawn from the new age point of view is that, scientifically, the observer is having an effect on the experiment. the photons do not know which slit to choose so they travel through both slits simultaneously or something to that effect. they go further to say that there is the potential for human observation (ie. human thought or will) to affect the outcomes of certain situations. that human beings have the potential to choose their "quantum reality".
    See the new age movie "What the bleep do we know" contains tons of this rubbish. It also contains the reincarnation of the warrior lord Ramtha, who supposedly ruled over Atlantis 30000 years ago. There is a whole community of "scientists" writing such nonsense. Not surprisingly, though, none of it ever makes it in a serious journal.
    Quote Originally Posted by nlwright
    this conclusion does not appear to me to be exactly sound. it is pretty, i do like it, but i get the feeling that it is also illogical or at least not scientifically correct (as are many religious ideas). any explanations as to why the photons act like particles in one experiment and then like waves in the other experiment? is this the result of human observation or is this like schroedinger's cat? we can't know unless we are looking?
    Emphasis mine

    The bold part explains it all really. It's the sole reason of existence of such theories.


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  4. #3 Re: physics and new age humanisn 
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    Quote Originally Posted by nlwright
    i have been reading a lot of various religious texts and happened across some interesting thoughts in new age religions.

    there is a physics experiment where particles (i think they are photons) are shot at a board with a single slit in it. predictably when they travel throgh the slit and land on the wall on the other side we can see that they hit in a predictable fashion as particles. however, place 2 slits in the board and the photons act like light waves. the conclusion being drawn from the new age point of view is that, scientifically, the observer is having an effect on the experiment. the photons do not know which slit to choose so they travel through both slits simultaneously or something to that effect. they go further to say that there is the potential for human observation (ie. human thought or will) to affect the outcomes of certain situations. that human beings have the potential to choose their "quantum reality".

    this conclusion does not appear to me to be exactly sound. it is pretty, i do like it, but i get the feeling that it is also illogical or at least not scientifically correct (as are many religious ideas). any explanations as to why the photons act like particles in one experiment and then like waves in the other experiment? is this the result of human observation or is this like schroedinger's cat? we can't know unless we are looking?
    I will be more blunt than Bender. New Age is nonsense, and when it influences impressionable but otherwise sensible people it is dangerous nonsense.

    The double slit experiment is explainable in terms of standard quantum mechanics. It is weird, but it is physics nonetheless and is described quite accurately by the mathematics that comes with QM. There is an effect of measurement, called 'collapsing the wave function" but it has nothing to do with human consciousness, cat consciousness or any other such "new age" trash.

    It is something like Schrodinger's cat, an analogy that was constructed to call attention to the strangeness of the quantum realm.

    Photons and electrons are particles. Particles. They are not little marbles and are subject to some probabilistic laws that are describable using a wave model. But they are particles, just not little Newtonian marbles. Pay particular attention in the Wiki article linked below to the set of pictures showing the "wave interference pattern" being developed one particle at a time.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-slit_experiment
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  5. #4  
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    I assume you are talking about something like this;

    [youtube]DfPeprQ7oGc[/youtube]
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Blandford
    I assume you are talking about something like this;

    [youtube]DfPeprQ7oGc[/youtube]
    That looks like it would qualify handily, but I have not viewed the videos and I see no reason to punish myself by so doing.
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  7. #6  
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    i thank you for your responses....i suspected as much. i've seen the movie to which you are referring and have read these new age ideas in a number of books but something struck me as not quite right. i don't think "impressionable" is the right word for people who buy this reasoning....ignorant of physics is closer. and the thing is i think this would describe most of the population. it almost made sense to me but as i get how little i really understand about physics i wasn't sure. the wiki article was very helpful
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