Mr. S.D. shared this news item, and it's one of those stories I cannot resist for reasons we'll get to shortly. As you might have gathered from the title, however, it appears that consciousness and the famous double-slit experiment of quantum mechanics are related. In this case, the famous double-slit experiment was performed under the direction of well-known consciousness researcher Dean Radin, who asked the participants to visualize which slot in the experiment a photon would take. In effect, Radin was seeking to verify whether consciousness was directly involved in what quantum mechanics calls the collapse of the wave function:
In a recent talk at the 'Science of Consciousness' conference in Tucson, Arizona, parapsychologist Dean Radin noted that when it comes to the (quantum physics) 'measurement problem', "everyone offers theories about consciousness, but nobody does anything about it." So Radin and his team decided to see if they could find experimental evidence of consciousness influencing quantum effects.
Radin's project was a fairly simple, though left-field, extension of the well-known double-slit experiment:
The only new element in this experiment, is that we asked people - in this case, a meditator - to keep the double-slit in mind, and to imagine in their minds eye, that they could see which of the two slits the photon went through. This is, as far as we could tell, the only way of directly testing whether consciousness is collapsing the wave function.
In the experiment, 137 test subjects - consisting of both experienced meditators and non-meditators - took part in sessions lasting 20 minutes each, made up of alternating sets of 30 seconds of observation with roughly 30 seconds of rest (the 'roughly' was intentional, to avoid any artifacts on strict 30 second cycles of repetition). And, after analysing the data from this pilot study of 250 sessions with 137 people - Radin and his team found a significant effect size...and especially so with the meditators in the group.
Encouraged by these results, the researchers ran a number of further experiments, including an internet-based version which ran for 3 years, with over 5000 sessions completed by human subjects, and over 7000 done by a 'Linux' robot as a control. Again, they found a substantial effect.
As the article notes, there was the usual skeptical response, and I would have to put myself in this category. And with that in mind, my reaction here is nonetheless positive, for it has been decades since quantum mechanics, with its emphasis on observation, burst upon the scene of physics, and with it, its potential implications for a "physics of consciousness" or, perhaps better, a consciousness metaphysics of physics, a "psycho-physics" if you will. Other physicists are alive to the possibility, but few real attempts at experiments have actually been performed, and Radin is to be credited with attempting to do so, and do so in a manner that deals directly with the effect of consciousness on the collapse of wave function and that deals directly with superposition.
He is not alone. In the members' area of my website I did a webinar on the research of Dr. William TIller, a materials engineering science professor in California, who devised an ingenious set of experiments designed to determine if conscious intention could alter or affect both inorganic and organic materials, and the results were no less stunning. Given the high stakes implications of such experiments, scepticism is certainly warranted. But this scepticism should not prevent the attempts from being made.
And this, for a very simple reason, which brings us to my high octane speculation of the day. If consciousness is directly involved with the collapse of the wave-function, then one is a step away from what in other contexts was simply referred to as magic. And Tiller's experiments seem to indicate that group intention seems to have a kind of "multiplier" effect on the results. Would the same hold true if a direct relationship between consciousness and the wave=function collapse were to be indicated and eventually proven? TIme will tell. But it is perhaps worth mentioning, in this respect, that there are indications from China that precisely such high level and very secret experiments of one form or another, bearing upon such problems, are underway. And lest we forget, the US government carried on its own long study of the paranormal phenomenon of remote viewing. The next step, I predict, will be the attempt to demonstrate such relationships with the phenomenon of entanglement.
See you on the flip side...