Those of us who grew up learning about the double slit experiment, know that the Copenhagen interpretation, very simplified, dictates that an electron can be said to behave as both a particle and a wave…but that we mustn’t care. The interference patterns generated on the detector screen supposedly force us to accept that an electron physically moves through the two slits in the apparatus at once. Statistically, it must, and it is only by measuring that we can find out if we are dealing with a particle or wave behavior. What happens to the electron before the detector screen measures a wave or particle behavior is undetermined. It is a question that cannot be asked (under the Copenhagen view) because we can’t find out.
Even stranger, the fact that a detector is or is not observing this experiment, changes the outcome of the experiment at the quantum level. The act of observing is said to alter the experiment. Usually, this is when the teachers stops explaining (and sweating).
This is all very unsatisfying. Students want to understand what happens at the slits. Does the particle split in two? Does it change into a wave and back? And what is up with that observer? Why is there only a statistical and not an intuitive explanation?
For most people, this is an incredibly difficult concept to grasp. Most students -and teachers- never get beyond this point. It usually takes an advanced course in physics to find out about the underlying principles that allow these experimental results to manifest. You need to be introduced to the idea that everything in nature is a manifestation of some field.
Both particles and waves are constituted ‘only’ of fields in various forms. Furthermore, a detector can only “detect” because it generates a ‘force field’ that a particle or wave to be detected can bounce into and interact with. Once a student learns this, it is immediately understood that the particle-wave behavior is just another way the same fields manifest and interact. It again becomes intuitive. (They are usually also very angry not learning about fields immediately.) The ‘observer effect’ is just an extra field, that of the detector, you need to account for in your experimental setup. If you don’t understand this. Don’t worry. Just think about the invisible force field you notice when you play with magnets. That is one of the fields ‘stuff’ is made off. Other types of fields in nature manifest in different ways but they too are detectable. (All of them are part of the standard model of physics. Google it. Find out.)
Vice versa. The double slit experimental setup does have a practical use. It can be used as a detector. It detects changes in the surrounding fields.
An interesting question is if this so-called ‘observer’, or better ‘detector field’ effect, can also be influenced by people. Our brains and heart muscles create detectable small currents and electric fields, and electric fields interact, so our presence or nearness to the electrical field of a detector must influence what the double slit experiment measures. Correct?
This has been tested over and again over the last decades in hundreds of experiments and…apparently it does. An interesting result.
Even stranger, it works at large distances. A person doesn’t necessarily need to be in the same room… or even country as the experiment setup. You just need to focus your brain on the little box running the double slit experiment. Euh. What?
Wait a minute… Electric fields taper off with distance. Does this mean that the electric fields in our brain our doing something…like quantum entanglement at a distance? Does this mean that the mind interacts with matter… at a distance?
Well. On the one hand, the answer is: of course it does. Our mind is just the manifestation of electrical pulses racing around and interacting in the neural network of our brain. Depending on whether you believe our brain is just a glorified ‘wet’ computer, this view suffices to most material reductionists, but religion, philosophical traditions and human experiences have always informed us that science doesn’t really get the human experience. Reductionism, although it does bring many technological advances, seems to overshoot in many cases. Our intuition and mind seem to be able of a lot more than science gives it credit for. Science seems to throw out the baby with the bath water, and even open-minded investigators feel their credibility will suffer when they tackle these subjects, and in doing so damage their career prospects.
But what if the reach of our electric fields, and maybe our consciousness reaches much further? Is there something as a consciousness that extends beyond our body? Couldn’t we benefit from finding out? Are we now in a position to ask these questions beyond mere philosophical discourse? Well. We know of at least person who is not afraid to ask.
If you are interested in how precisely this question can be asked and tested in a scientific and empirical manner, I recommend the lecture below, given by Dean Radin of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). He shows there is a way and the results are very intriguing to say the least.
For other people who prefer to have a wet computer for a brain and do not believe in consciousness interacting at a distance: Noticing the progress around the world with brain steered prostheses, implanting that wifi-router is less than a decade away.
Select your provider wisely.