Posted: Feb 16, 2014 11:01 am
by Evolving
It is, of course, trivially true that thoughts can affect molecules. I thought I’d have a cup of tea this morning, and as a result of that thought a vast number of water molecules made their way from the tap, through the kettle, the teapot and a mug, into my digestive system, where they are now. Without that thought those molecules would have been in a very different situation.

The effect of doing the double-slit experiment is no different: we do an experiment, and it has an effect (not on molecules: the double-slit experiment doesn’t work on molecules, they’re too big: but it does have an effect on photons and on electrons).

Where the double-slit experiment really is different is in what it is designed to demonstrate. That is that a particle is generally in an indeterminate state, a superposition of several (maybe infinitely many) possible states, relating, for instance, to the particle’s energy, its momentum or, indeed, its position (where it is, with arbitrary exactitude, or which route it is taking out of the possibilities open to it). Any of those states are possible, if circumstances force the particle to make up its mind, as it were.

A lot of nonsense is talked about this, and I think the main source of that nonsense is this: whenever we know about a particle making up its mind (its wave function collapsing), it is because we have done an experiment. We ourselves have created those circumstances that cause the wave function to collapse. But there is absolutely no reason to think, and it would be absurd to think, that no wave functions ever collapse anywhere else in the universe or ever did so before human physicists started to do double-slit experiments. It’s just that the only way to observe it happening is to do an experiment, and that is where "looking“ and "human thought“ come into it. That’s all.

Apologies if you know all this already.