Consciousness found to collapse quantum wavefunction?
Posted by Xeno on May 29, 2012
… a new experiment performed by parapsychology researcher Dr Dean Radin (with others) which could provoke debate with its publication in Physics Essays: “Consciousness and the double-slit interference pattern“. …
“A double-slit optical system was used to test the possible role of consciousness in the collapse of the quantum wave function.
The ratio of the interference pattern’s double-slit spectral power to its single-slit spectral power was predicted to decrease Double-slit interference pattern when attention was focused toward the double slit as compared to away from it.
Each test session consisted of 40 counterbalanced attention-toward and attention-away epochs, where each epoch lasted between 15 and 30 s.
Data contributed by 137 people in six experiments, involving a total of 250 test sessions, indicate that on average the spectral ratio decreased as predicted (z=-4:36, p=6·10-6).
Another 250 control sessions conducted without observers present tested hardware, software, and analytical procedures for potential artifacts; none were identified (z=0:43, p=0:67). Variables including temperature, vibration, and signal drift were also tested, and no spurious influences were identified.
By contrast, factors associated with consciousness, such as meditation experience, electrocortical markers of focused attention, and psychological factors including openness and absorption, significantly correlated in predicted ways with perturbations in the double-slit interference pattern.
The results appear to be consistent with a consciousness-related interpretation of the quantum measurement problem.”
During a test session, participants were instructed by the computer to direct their attention toward the doubleslit apparatus or to withdraw their attention and relax. To announce the attention-toward task, a computer-synthesized voice said, ‘‘Please influence the beam now’’; for attention away, it said, ‘‘You may now relax.’’
Participants were asked to direct their attention toward two tiny slits located inside a sealed black box (the double-slit optical system). It was explained that this task was purely in the ‘‘mind’s eye,’’ i.e., an act of
imagination. To many this instruction proved to be somewhat abstract, so to assist their imagination they were shown a 5 min animation of the double-slit experiment, where a particle detector was portrayed as
FIG. 1. From the left, the regulated power supply for the laser, the HeNe laser tube extending out of the optical apparatus, and the camera attached to the right side of the apparatus. The housing is a precisionmachined
aluminum box, painted matte black and optically sealed. FIG. 2. (Color online) (A) Interference-pattern intensity recorded by the 3000-pixel line camera, averaged over 10,000 camera frames. (B) Log of spatial spectral power with double-slit power peaking around wavenumber 45 (equivalent to a wavelength of about 69 pixels) and single-slit power at 1. The peak around wavenumber 90 is a harmonic of the double-slit frequency…. If the task was still unclear, it was suggested that they could try to mentally block one of the slits, or to ‘‘become one with’’ the optical system in a contemplative way, or to mentally push the laser beam to cause it to go through one of the two slits rather than both.
Once a test session was under way, the computer synthesized voice instructions directed the participants’ attention toward or away from the optical system in 15 s epochs. A single test session consisted of 40 such epochs
presented in a counterbalanced order. The counterbalancing scheme consisted of five randomly assigned groups, where a group followed either the assignment order ABBA BAAB or the order BAAB ABBA, where A
and B refer to attention toward and attention away. Test sessions began by collecting between 15 and 20 s of baseline data, followed by the 40 instructed epochs. Participants one at a time sat quietly about 2 m from the sealed optical apparatus (see Fig. 3). They were instructed not to touch or approach the device at any time. Test sessions were conducted inside a solid steel, double-walled, electromagnetically shielded chamber at
the Institute of Noetic Sciences (Series 81 Solid Cell chamber, ETS-Lindgren, Cedar Park, TX, USA). Electrical- line power in the chamber was conditioned through a high-performance electromagnetic interference filter
(ETS-Lindgren filter LRW-1050-S1), and to further reduce potential electromagnetic interference, the optical system and computer were powered by a battery-based uninterruptable power supply.
This testing chamber in its unadorned state is a rather imposing steel cube without windows, so to make it more welcoming the walls and ceiling were covered with a tan-colored muslin fabric, antistatic carpeting was installed on the floor, and comfortable furniture was placed inside the chamber. The computer presented a strip-chart display updated once a second with the spectral-ratio R values. Participants were invited to look at the graph to gain near real-time feedback about their performance, or to view an alternative meter-type display showing the same information.
Get the PDF here.
This is a mind-blowing result and I look forward to it being replicated. If this is repeatable, it will change the world. If not, it will go down in history as another example of a paranormal researcher missing a confounding factor in an experimental design. In either case, it is a good reminder to get back to my daily meditation. The first thing I would do is repeat the experiment and for the first half, have people obey the computer, but for the second half have them do the option they are not told to do by the computer. The reason is, the computer itself (amount of output on the screen from different instructions, etc.) may be influencing the result.