Quantum physics confronts a potential discoverer with one of the most enduring mysteries that modern science has to offer, what famed physicist Richard Feynman called “the only mystery”. The name given to it – the double slit experiment – sounds much simpler than the puzzle.
This experience is now becoming more and more mysterious with research revealing a strange relationship between mind and matter and how mental practices such as meditation can affect quantum phenomena.
But let’s begin by reviewing that foundational experiment that led us to this new, post-Newtonian model of the quantum world.
Double slit experiment
One way to explain this puzzle is to start by looking at its single-slit counterpart: Try to imagine a beam of photons (particles of light) being shot into a photoresist box through a single slit, then hitting a piece of photographic paper inside. What would appear other than a pattern that matches that slit on the paper as one would expect? The exposure will be strongest in places where a straight line emerges from the light source, passes through the slit and touches the paper. Of course, some of the light will be scattered randomly to the sides, becoming fainter and scattered farther away, as the photon particles tend to go straight rather than sideways; These outliers are predictable, however. The outer edges of the less exposed paper will appear. This pattern is exactly what you’d expect from a beam of light shining through a slit—like tiny bullets, releasing photons like particles. There is nothing strange here – yet.
The strangeness appears when a second incision is inserted. The shooting of light through two slits produces a completely different and unexpected pattern; The reason for this breaks the old scientific paradigm. Since the single slit produced one exposure, you might now expect two exposures, but strangely enough, that’s not what happens. Instead, several bands appear, of varying intensity with gaps between them, spanning the width of the sheet – not following straight lines as before, but capturing all the different angles. This is recognized by science as an “interference pattern,” but it’s not something produced by particles (like tiny bullets shooting through space). not at all. Interference patterns are caused by waves (beach rather than bullets), which are not particles; And when multiple waves intersect, they either multiply or cancel each other out at different intervals, creating such patterns. Photons have always been considered particles. Somehow, the double slit experience made them stop acting like that and instead made them act like waves.
Seeing this, the scientists were puzzled. Particles are not waves. Waves are not particles. lead lead. The beach is the beach. There was something missing in the old Newtonian model.
Therefore, they began to closely examine what was happening between the light source and the paper. They tried to shoot single photons one by one through the slits, not knowing which slit it would enter, and amazingly they ended up with an interference pattern. This is surprising because one would expect the photon to have to “pick” another slit or slit in order to shoot and hit the paper; How can it enter through both slits, like a wave, and then hit to produce that pattern? In a way, the single photon avoided “picking” as the particles do. Scientists were puzzled, so they looked closely.
They zoomed in to spy closely on each photon to see for sure which fissure it entered. And an amazing thing happened: the act of looking at oneself seemed to switch the pattern! The interference pattern is gone. Two cluster exposures appeared instead – as one would expect of small bullets flying off, as in the first experiment! What could have caused this to happen?
Various theories have been put forward. The act of conscious observation has been shown to be instrumental in causing a ‘quantum event’. Some have assumed that a particular substance (eg: photons) does not occupy, at times, only one spot in space and time but Ability Places. Then, under certain conditions, it “picks” one or another spot, and it emerges in our time space from the quantum world. It so happens that the photons in that non-state take a wave form – not physical waves but potential waves: where the particle is likely to appear. It also so happened that an event of observation – a quantum event – collapsed those possibilities, causing the particle to appear here on this side. Finally, consciousness joined the equation of matter. It was discovered that the universe is more mysterious than Newton dreamed of!
Quantum physics does not fit into the paradigm of classical physics, which has prevailed for centuries: matter and mind are forever separated from each other. In the quantum world, the objective conscious observer loses his objectivity, because the very act of observation distorts the results.
In order to further understand how the mind influences matter, some scientists have gone on to test the abilities of the mind. How better to look at these crucial interactions than to get out of the old double-slit experiment for another round?
an experience: The mental powers of the averages are statistically significant
Enter Dean Radin and colleagues, who conducted a series of experiments to explore how the mind can influence matter. In their tests, participants first became familiar with the double slit experience by viewing a 5-minute cartoon; They were then taken to an electrically shielded steel room, seated a few meters away from the double-pronged apparatus, and instructed to try to sway the beam of light using their brains alone.
During the randomly assigned periods, which lasted between 15 and 30 seconds, participants were asked to either sit idle or try to sway the device. Each session lasted about 15 minutes. They found that during periods when participants focused on the device, interference patterns appeared less frequently compared to when the device was active without anyone present. Human focus seems to make a difference.
As far as controls go, they controlled for factors such as electrical protection, temperature, and vibration – none of which could explain the results. Radin and colleagues also studied how fluctuations in the geomagnetic field affected the data, as previous studies have shown that magnetic variations are associated with specific human behavior (eg: stock market activity, suicides, heart health, experiments on extrasensory perception, etc.). ). They found that these differences did not exclude experiments, although they contributed to the results, confirming the effects these effects had.
To see these results by chance, they decided that one should run the same set of experiments 150,000 times, whereas most psychology studies consider 1 out of 20 results to be correct.
They revealed that the mental ability to focus was key in the results of the experiments. Focused focus affects the nature of light, and determines whether photons behave as waves or particles. Furthermore, participants tested in meditation showed a greater ability to influence patterns; Those who did not meditate normally failed to show statistically significant effects. The statistical evidence speaks for itself: Meditation can play a role in triggering quantum events.
Which raises a set of new questions: What exactly is the relationship between focused attention and quantum phenomena? How do meditators differ from those who do not meditate? How does focus affect these results? Does volume of practice or degree of mastery matter? If so, to what extent? How can some meditation techniques or techniques affect the results? The path is paved, most likely, towards a new scientific world in which mind and matter are one and the same.