15 June 2005

Discover: June 2005 (II)



Next article up for discussion is about someone I'm much happier with: Roger
Penrose. (Although I don't agree with everything Sir Roger has to say: I
disagree with his quantum consciousness-microtubule theory).

Basically, Penrose is saying he has a testable alternative to both major
current interpretations of Quantum theory. These interprestations attempt to
explain why things in the macroscopic world don't exhibit quantum behavior.
The two major interpretations are the Copenhagen and the Many-Worlds.

Neither current interpretation is falsifiable or even testable, nor does
either have a theoretical explanatory basis. Not usually good signs, but
both have held out for a while.

Penrose says both are wrong, and that an "interpretation" is not what is
required, but an actual physical effect. In other words, macro objects
don't exhibit quantum effects because of some as yet undiscovered physical
law.

Three interesting things about his hypothesis:

1 the quantum collapse is theorized to be due to gravity - for which there
is as yet no quantum theory for anyway

2 the theory is testable and falsifiable - doesn't rely on tautologies and
consciousness

3 the theory and the test focus on the behavior of objects which are of a
size that just straddles the quantum scale and the macro scale - a scale
which has been ignored by quantum physicists and cosmologists alike

This one seems promising. Humans are too big and massive to exhibit quantum
effects. That's why I'm not a blur of eigenvalues but rather a person who
you can see. Atomic and smaller particles are to small NOT to exhibit
quantum effects. But what about sizes in between - giant molecules, dust
motes, etc.? How do they behave? In Penrose's theory, it depends on how
massive they are. How much gravity they generate determines how fast their
quantum waveforms collapse.

-Brain in a Jar

--Sent from my Blackberry wireless handheld.