Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Why they call me a "Quantum Quack"

(The Third Choice)

Front Loading is a popular hypothesis among the earnest ID scientists. Whether these scientists refer to it by name or just in general concepts, they are looking for the answer to ID’s “innocuous question” by searching for biological solutions that presume later biological needs. A designer-centric term for this would be “planned”. A mainstream scientific term would be “supernatural”. For the Third Choice model I suggest “retrocausal” (a generalized observation of an action occurring before a cause.) While “retrocausal” normally implies time travel, we need a looser definition due to the lack of appropriate candidates in the English language. For example, a soft retrocasual example would be the action of someone taking an umbrella out of the closet and carrying it before it rains. This is the designer-centric 'planning". A hard retrocausual example would be precognition. This is mainstream’s "supernatural".

Retrocausalty alone isn’t enough to explain design. We also need an organizing process or agency. The designer-centric answer is “the designer did it”. The mainstream answer is “nature selection did it”. The Third Choice involves interconnected quantum effects.

Chapter 1 – Quantum Weirdness is real

Quantum mechanics is the foundation of all matter, living or not. It has been understood since the 1930s that quantum mechanics expresses “quantum weirdness” which is more formally known as the Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen (EPR) paradox. In over 70 years and countless experiments science is forced to conclude something fundamental has to give. I feel the Greenberger-Horne-Zeilinger (GHZ) states presents the fundamental issues the clearest.

Imagine we have three observers (Alice, Bob and Cecilia) ready to measure entangled photons that head out in three different directions; One to Alice, another to Bob and a third to Cecilia. Each observer has a choice of which polarized state to measure (linear or circular).

The first bit of weirdness is that if two circular measurements are made, the results will determine the linear polarization of the remaining photon. The two polarizations should be independent of each other but they are not. If Alice measures a clockwise (R) polarization and Bob also measures clockwise (R) polarization then Cecilia will ALWAYS measure a vertical (Y) polarization if she chooses to measure linear polarization. (RRY)

If Alice measures a clockwise (R) polarization and Bob measures a counterclockwise (L) polarization then Cecilia will measure a horizontal (X) polarization if she chooses to measure linear polarization. (RLX).

It doesn't matter which observer is the odd-man-out or in which order the observations are made. All of the mixed observations possibilities are…

RRY YRR RYR
RLX XRL RXL
LLY YLL LYL
LRX XLR LXR

XXL XLX LXX
XYR XRY RXY
YYL YLY LYY
YXR YRX RYX

So far this doesn't exhibit anything like retrocausual or superluminal weirdness. It could be explained classically (algorithmic and static states). But what happens if the first two observer’s measurements are horizontal polarization (X) and the third observer chooses to also measure linear polarization?

Let’s work with what we know. We know if the observer measured circular polarization the answer would be counterclockwise (L as in XXL). With that, we can figure out the circular polarizations of the other two photons (they would be R) because XRL and RXL are the only alternatives that fit.

Therefore, we have an RR? situation. Which forces RRY as the answer. Which means Y would be the expected linear polarization in the case of XX?.

Classically, the answer must be XXY.

Experimentally, the answer is XXX!

Quantum mechanics gives the opposite result of what classical physics would dictate. This is not a logic error. This is not an experimental error. This is a real paradox. There are only a limited number of answers to this paradox..,

1. Ignore it

2. Assume a metaphysical construct (Multi-world interpretation)

3. Assume retrocausality

4. Assume interconnected, non-local quantum effects

5. Assume both retrocausality and interconnected quantum effects

The tendency to reject retrocausality is due to a presumption of a casual paradox. What happens if you kill one of your ancestors? With quantum mechanics, that isn’t a problem. The situation is too tightly controlled. Observation forces the issue. Casual paradoxes can't happen.

The difficulty with interconnected, non-local quantum effects is that is sounds too magical and occurs faster than the speed of light. Superluminality is a problem because it inherently implies retrocausality (see Doctor Who and his IMU Watch)

The Third Choice offers no benefit if it is just another metaphysical argument. Therefore, we will forge ahead and presume the quantum effects are really real.

But what is the reality if a quantum state is never observed? This get’s into the Schrodinger’s cat paradox. If the cat lives or dies based on a quantum state, is the cat both dead and alive (superposition) pending an observation? Penrose has a suggested answer for the paradox.

Chapter 2 – Penrose OR

The Penrose has a model is called OR (objective reduction)…

"Penrose considered superposition as a separation in underlying reality at its most basic level, the Planck scale. Tying quantum superposition to general relativity, he identified superposition as spacetime curvatures in opposite directions, hence a separation in fundamental spacetime geometry. However, according to Penrose, such separations are unstable and will reduce at an objective threshold, hence avoiding multiple universes.

The threshold for Penrose OR is given by the indeterminacy principle E=ħ/t, where E is the gravitational self-energy (i.e. the degree of spacetime separation given by the superpositioned mass), ħ is Planck’s constant over 2π, and t is the time until OR occurs. Thus the larger the superposition, the faster it will undergo OR, and vice versa. Small superpositions, e.g. an electron separated from itself, if isolated from environment would require 10 million years to reach OR threshold. An isolated one kilogram object (e.g. Schrodinger’s cat) would reach OR threshold in only 10-37 seconds. Penrose OR is currently being tested." link

Penrose's suggests that objective reduction does, in fact, create reality (at least as real as "reality" gets). While some physicists do not like this model because of what follows, it is the best game in town. The OR model is quantifiable and can be verified experimentally. So far, no experimental result has managed to falsify it.

So what forces quantum states to be what they objectively reduce to? One experimentally observable answer is consistency with multiple observers. Which quickly leads to the concept of universal consistency of all objective reductions. In other words, Orchestrated Objective Reduction or “Orch OR” for short.

Kurt Gödel's incompleteness theorems supports the possibility of non-algorithmic things existing in nature. IOW, there can be explanations that can't be explained. Penrose points to aperiodic tiling for his non-algorithmic explanation. Mathematically, it was shown that it is possible to completely cover a two dimensional plane with a distinct set of shapes ("tiles") and not end up with a repeating pattern (“aperiodic”). Penrose figured out two shapes that solved this puzzle. A solution that Penrose claims couldn't have been accomplished without the aid of a non-algorithmic process (pseudorandomness isn't sufficient).

It might be tempting to dismiss this as just a mathematical exercise and, therefore, not "reality". However, a decade after Penrose demonstrated his Penrose Tilings mineralogists discovered quasicrystals. Naturally occurring aperiodic crystals that matched Penrose Tilings.

Penrose claims that his ability, as a mathematician, to conceptualize non-algorithmic things is inconsistent with a computer only capable of algorithmic processing. Are Penrose's instincts correct that he solved the aperiodic tiling problem instinctually instead of algorithmically

Chapter 3 - Penrose/Hameroff (Orch OR)

For the OR model, Penrose is pretty much in his element. If anyone could translate quantum weirdness into reality, it would be a man who models Black Holes for a living (along with Hawking). And his Penrose Tilings was just something he did as a hobby.

This chapter deals with subjects that Penrose admits could be totally wrong but, in his opinion, are more likely correct than not. However, the ideas are experimentally verifiable. And there have been experiments that have produced some intriguing results.

While he has made some mistakes, they were minor and the Penrose OR model is going strong, IMO. However, Penrose’s ideas about consciousness are meeting fierce resistance. I find it ironic that people rationalize that Penrose’s ideas about consciousness are totally disconnected from his brilliant work as a physicist. I just don’t see a logical discontinuity here.

However, biology isn't Penrose's strong suit, so he teamed up with Dr. Hameroff to produce the Penrose/Hameroff model of consciousness (Orch OR). The first part on the Penrose/Hameroff model depends on Penrose's theories concerning objective reduction. The timing for objective reduction, T = ĥ/E, is something that can be tested and, undoubtedly, will be tested. Penrose has proposed an experiment FELIX in an attempt to test this hypothesis.

Even if Penrose is wrong about the details there is a threshold where quantum effects appear to give way to Newtonian physics. We don't see the same quantum weirdness with throwing baseballs around as we do with throwing electrons around.

While this simplifies the situation for Schrödinger's cat it has the potential of complicating things for smaller objects like Tubular Dimers. I found this 1999 presentation where Penrose explains his chain of logic from basic physics to microtubules. However, this presentation is old and Hameroff has mostly taken over explaining the biological explanation. www.hameroff.com is a good source for material on the Penrose/Hameroff model.

Here is a link to an experiment trying to verify Penrose/Hameroff

"In recent times the interest for quantum models of brain activity has rapidly grown. The Penrose-Hameroff model assumes that microtubules inside neurons are responsible for quantum computation inside brain. Several experiments seem to indicate that EPR-like correlations are possible at the biological level. In the past year , a very intensive experimental work about this subject has been done at DiBit Labs in Milan, Italy by our research group. Our experimental set-up is made by two separated and completely shielded basins where two parts of a common human DNA neuronal culture are monitored by EEG. Our main experimental result is that, under stimulation of one culture by means of a 630 nm laser beam at 300 ms, the cross-correlation between the two cultures grows up at maximum levels. Despite at this level of understanding it is impossible to tell if the origin of this non-locality is a genuine quantum effect, our experimental data seem to strongly suggest that biological systems present non-local properties not explainable by classical models."

Chapter 4 - The Third Choice

Einstien once remarked "God doesn't play dice." TT's Joy has expanded that to "God does not play dice. God plays a particularly mean game of billiards."

God doesn't play dice because there are no dice.

Imaging playing a dice game on an algorithmic computer that uses a pseudorandom number generator to decide which numbers come up. Even though this game could still be enjoyed by humans incapable of calculating the next number, it is not really random. Pseudorandomness could be used to simulate anything from a dice game to an evolutionary process occurring over billions of years. It wouldn't be actually random, just a simulation of randomness.

Is there such a thing as "natural" randomness?

Leaving living things out of the picture for the moment, any inorganic randomness can be traced to quantum mechanics and quantum mechanics isn't random. It is just non-deterministic.

Quantum weirdness defies algorithmic explanation. Quantum effects are clearly interconnected in space-time to all other quantum effects. The universe is totally interconnected at the quantum level.

It is impossible for one observer to see Schrödinger's cat dead while another one sees it alive so the paradox is prevented from happening in the first place. How? Through non-deterministic NON-RANDOM quantum weirdness.

Don't living things act randomly?

That pool shooting hustler pulled a fast one there. When life needed a randomizer, where do you think she got one? Via quantum mechanics of course. Quantum mechanics has been sewn into the very fabric of what make living things appear to be acting randomly.

Observation doesn't cause "random" objective reduction. It is just quantum weirdness being consistent with itself. The observer isn't acting random.

God plays a particularly mean game of billiards. She uses an invisible cue stick inscribed with the words "quantum weirdness". Not only can't we verify the existence of either her or her cue stick, we aren't even allowed to see the balls until they "poof" into existence right before our eyes via objective reduction.

Dr. Dembski can talk about Universal Probability Bounds all he wants, but unless it is absolutely impossible, God can not only make the shot, she can do it in such a way you won't be able to tell she did it much less how.

And, oh yeah. time is just another dimension of space-time. Quantum consistency includes the past being consistent with the future. Past, present and future are all interconnected. If God needs to, she can reverse cause and effect, retrocausality.

Chapter 5 - DNA, RNA and Microtubules

Here is a Hameroff discussion titled Quantum Computing in DNA

"Hypothesis: DNA utilizes quantum information and quantum computation for various functions. Superpositions of dipole states of base pairs consisting of purine (A,G) and pyrimidine (C,T) ring structures play the role of qubits, and quantum communication (coherence, entanglement, non-locality) occur in the “pi stack” region of the DNA molecule."

Whether we are talking about a theist's pool shooting God or an atheist's universe just forcing consistency. Penrose's Orch OR model is practically running DNA processing according to Hameroff.

Another point that transcends metaphysical interpretation. Life is a natural outcome of enabling quantum mechanics. Living things can satisfy the needs of quantum consistency in ways non-living things can't. OOL becomes easy to explain. The game is rigged. If it can be done, God or a mindless universe has all the tools it needs with quantum mechanics. There is no such thing as randomness just forced consistency.

Rocks aren't very efficient at doing whatever the universe need done. However, living organisms contain microtubules that are very active with quantum effects.

Here is a film clip that is a compelling argument all by itself.


Here is a link to a film clip of microtubules in a neuron.

Chapter 6 - NOMA or OMA?

Gould's Non-overlapping Magisteria will always be a source of conflict. Can we separate the metaphysical from science? If we don't that we have to decide which version of the OMA Truth (capital "T") is reality. Personally, I think the Truth will be forever unknown and unknowable. Therefore, we are forced to live with multiple Truths, but not everyone accepts that.

Sobottka made a good stab at presenting a verifiable, single OMA truth based on this model. It bothered me when I first read it. However, during the second read-through I figured out where he crossed the NOMA line. I'm not saying Sobottka did anything unethical or even that he is wrong, just that my "faith" in NOMA continues because there are still unknown and unknowable Truths.

If quantum mechanics is truly the embodiment of consciousness then EAM is the Truth by definition. Quantum mechanics is part of all matter that make up the universe. Personally, I am taking the more modest approach of assuming consciousness is just an artifact of quantum mechanics. I think of quantum mechanics as a non-deterministic, non-algorithmic, non-local
process. A rock has little use for such a thing. It provides some value to quasicrystals. To wiggly, squiggly organic things it gives them an edge in the evolutionary process. To inorganic AI machines, it could cause a paradigm shift and probably will.

I am still holding on to my multiple NOMA Truths that include a purposeless predetermined Universe and an Ultimate Engineer (or Science Fair project). I will explain both of these in the light of the new Third Choice.

A predetermined Universe would be like a cosmic Mandelbrot Set. A Mandelbrot Set appears to be chaotic and "random" yet exposes patterns and design. If you picture the universe from outside space-time you would see time as just another dimension, therefore the universe is unchanging. Past, present, future is all fixed and consistent with itself. There are no discontinuities because the non-algebraic "equations" don't provide for it. The past is
interwoven with the future. Time travel/retrocausality can and does happen but it doesn't cause a conflict because the whole Mandelbrot picture is unchanging. The universe just
is.

God is an equally valid as a metaphysical model, IMO…

I can easily hold the notion that the universe is the Ultimate Invention of the Ultimate Engineers. For non-engineers, I sometimes refer to it as a Supernatural Science Fair Project. The more I understand the more I am impressed. Surely a creation like this is worth a blue ribbon. But I can't know since I have nothing to compare it to even if I did, I wouldn't be able to fully appreciate either.

But what about fine tuning arguments? Do you still think chance has anything to do with this? There are no dice. At least none we can see. This universe may be the only Mandelbrot Set that works. It is also possible that a designer got to choose. Either way, we will never know.

I am content with understanding, and being impressed by, the invention. If there is an inventor/designer/God, I think it is a reasonable assumption that this is the best way to show our appreciation of his/her work.

8 comments:

Danko said...

Hi there,

I have read your notes, because you have posted at Hameroff's blog just below my message.

The obvious problem with your post is that you misunderstand the meaning of superluminal communication, and quantum entanglement.

There is so called "No-cloning theorem" from which as a consequence floows that quantum entanglement CANNOT be used for superluminal communication! The issue is quite subtle -
[i] YES, the entangled objects behave as a "whole" and there is "interconnectedness"
[ii] This is NOT SUPERLUMINAL COMMUNICATION. You cannot use EPR channel to transfer information back in the past.

I am not argueing just for making confrontation, I just make precaution that the terminology used in your post is confusing. For layman if they don't know what entanglement is, will at 100% acquire the false believe that "superluminality" resulting from EPR states is equivalent to "superluminal communication" that is transfer of say message/information/classical bits into the past, which is NOT the case.

Regards, D.G.

Thought Provoker said...

Hi Danko,

Thank you for your comment.

I agree my introduction strongly implied superluminal communication of the type that is prohibited. We must presume that any information that could cause a causal paradox can't exist.

However, Doctors Penrose and Hameroff openly discuss quantum information going backwards in time. Penrose coined the term "quanglement" for quantum entanglement.

Quanglement acts superluminally and, therefore, is bidirectional in the time dimension.

Again, thank you for your reaction and your critique is a valid one. However, I have had extended conversations in the various blogs where I have tried to explain why causal paradoxes can’t be allowed happen in a consistent universe.

Was there anything else questionable that you noticed?

JJS P.Eng. said...

Good evening TP,

I found this such an interesting post that I provided a link to it in the sidebar at EE.

What do you think of this: I see Quantum Mechanics, along with Energy and Information Theory, as future lines of research in evolutionary biology/OOL.

I see from your site that it is not updated very often, so this comment may go unnoticed. But hey, it's BLOG-O-RAMA-RA-MA! Anything goes!

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