Thought-Provoking Quantum Experiments Show Reality is Only an Illusion

Thought-Provoking Quantum Experiments Show Reality is Only an Illusion

By Josh Richardson

Guest Writer for Wake Up World

No one in the world can fathom what quantum mechanics is, this is perhaps the most important thing you need to know about it. Granted, many physicists have learned to use its laws and even predict phenomena based on quantum calculations, but it is still unclear why the observer of an experiment affects  the behavior of the system and causes it to favor one state over another.

Here are some examples of experiments with outcomes which will inevitably be influenced by the observer, which show how quantum mechanics deals with the intervention of conscious thought in material reality.

Diffraction of Electrons

According to the poll of the greatest physicists conducted by  The New York Times,  the experiment with electron diffraction is one of the most astonishing studies in the history of science.  What was its nature?

There is  a source that emits a stream of electrons onto photosensitive screen.  And there is an obstruction in the way of these electrons, a copper plate with two slits. What kind of  picture  can be expected on the screen if the electrons are imagined as small charged balls? Two strips illuminated opposite to the slits, right?

In fact, the screen displays  a much more complex pattern of alternating black and white stripes. This is due to the fact that, when passing through the slit,  electrons begin to behave not as particles, but as waves  (just like the photons, or light particles, which can be waves at the same time). These waves interact in space, either quenching or amplifying each other, and as a result, a complex pattern of alternating light and dark stripes appears on the screen.

At the same time, the result of this experiment does not change, and if electrons pass through the slit not as one single stream, but one by one, even one particle can be a wave. Even a single electron can pass simultaneously through both slits (and this is also one of the main postulates of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, when particles can simultaneously display both their “usual” physical properties and exotic properties as a wave).

But what about the observer?  The observer makes this complicated story even more confusing. When physicists, during similar experiments, tried to determine with the help of instruments which slit the electron actually passes through, the image on the screen had changed dramatically and became a “classic” pattern with two illuminated sections opposite to the slits and no alternating bands displayed.  Electrons did not seem  to show their wave nature under the watchful eye of observers. Is this some kind of a mystery?

There is a more simple explanation:  no observation of a system can be carried out without physically impacting it.  But we will discuss this a bit later.


Since more than 70 percent of the planet is covered in water and 60 percent of the human body is made up of water, the experiments on water hit very close to home.  Two experiments about water gathered interest in scientific communities. The first experiment was by a Japanese scientist who evaluated the consciousness of water while another experiment by a German scientist discovered water has a memory.

The research produced by scientists at the Aerospace Institute of the University of Stuttgart, suggested that water found in oceans, rivers, lakes and rain might be transporting information around the world.

Masaru Emoto is an energy scholar in Japan. Through his experiments he claimed human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water. His controversial declarations were that water is directly affected by the energy put towards it and that positive words and prayer have a positive result on the molecules. He demonstrated this through water crystal formations.

Schrodinger’s Cat

Today there are many interpretations of quantum mechanics with the  Copenhagen interpretation  being perhaps the most famous to-date. In the 1920s, its  general  postulates were formulated by  Niels Bohr  and Werner Heisenberg. The wave function has become the core term of the Copenhagen interpretation;  it is a mathematical function containing information about all possible states of a quantum system in which it exists simultaneously.

As stated by the Copenhagen interpretation,  the state of the system and its position relative to other states can only be determined by an observation  (the wave function is used only to help mathematically  calculate  the probability of the system being in one state or another). We can say that after observation, the quantum system becomes classical and immediately ceases to exist in other states, except for the state it has been observed in.

This approach has always had its opponents (remember for example Albert Einstein’s  “God does not play dice”) but the accuracy of the calculations and predictions prevailed. However, the number of supporters of the Copenhagen interpretation is decreasing and the major reason for that is  the mysterious instant collapse of the wave function during the experiments.  The famous mental experiment by  Erwin Schrodinger  with the poor cat was meant to demonstrate  the absurdity of this phenomenon.

Let us recap the nature of this experiment. A live cat is placed inside a black box, together with a vial containing poison and a mechanism that can release this poison at random. For instance, a radioactive atom during its decay can break the vial. The precise time of atom’s decay is unknown. Only half-life, or the time during which the decay occurs with a probability of 50%, is known.

Obviously, for the external observer,  the cat inside the box exists in two states: it is either alive, if all goes well, or dead, if the decay occurred and the vial was broken. Both of these states are mathematically described by the cat’s wave function, which changes over time. The more time has passed, the more likely is that radioactive decay has already happened. But as soon as we open the box, the wave function collapses, and we immediately see the outcomes of this inhumane experiment.

In fact, until the observer opens the box, the cat will be subjected to the endless balance on the brink of being between life and death, and  its fate can only be determined by  the action  of the observer.  That is the absurdity pointed out by Schrodinger.

Heated Fullerene

Experiments on the diffraction of particles have been conducted not only for electrons, but for much larger objects. For example, using  fullerenes,  large and closed molecules consisting of dozens of carbon atoms.

Recently, a group of scientists from the University of Vienna supervised by  Professor Zeilinger  tried to introduce an element of observation in these experiments. To do this, they irradiated moving fullerene molecules with a laser beam. Then, warmed by an external source, the molecules began to glow and inevitably displayed their presence in space to the observer.

Together with this innovation,  the behavior of molecules has also changed. Prior to the beginning of such comprehensive surveillance, fullerenes quite successfully avoided obstacles (exhibited wave-like properties) similar to the previous example with electrons passing through an opaque screen. But later, with the presence of an observer, fullerenes began to behave as completely law-abiding physical particles.

Cooling Measurement

One of the famous laws in the world of quantum physics is the Heisenberg uncertainty principle  which claims that it is impossible to determine the speed and the position of a quantum object at the same time. The more accurate we are at measuring the momentum of a particle, the less precise we are at measuring its position. But the validity of quantum laws operating on tiny particles usually remains unnoticed in our world of large macroscopic objects.

Recent  experiments  by  Professor Schwab  in the U.S. are even more valuable in this  respect, where quantum effects have been demonstrated not at the level of electrons or fullerene molecules (their characteristic diameter is about 1 nm), but on a little more tangible object  –  a tiny aluminum strip.  This strip was fixed on both sides so that its middle was in a suspended state and it could vibrate under external influence. In addition, a device capable of accurately recording strip’s position was placed near it.

As a result, the experimenters came up with  two interesting findings. First, any measurement related to the position of the object and observations of the strip did affect it, after each measurement the position of the strip changed. Generally speaking, the experimenters determined the coordinates of the strip with high precision and thus, according to the Heisenberg’s principle, changed its speed, and hence the subsequent position.

Secondly, which was quite unexpected,  some measurements also led to cooling of the strip. So, the observer can change physical characteristics of objects just by being present there.

Freezing Particles

As it is well known, unstable radioactive particles decay not only for experiments with cats, but also on their own. Each particle has an average lifetime, which, as it turns out, can increase under the watchful eye of the observer.

This quantum effect was first predicted back in the 1960s, and its brilliant experimental proof appeared in an article  published by a  group led by Nobel laureate in Physics, Wolfgang Ketterle, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In this paper,  the decay of unstable excited rubidium atoms  was studied (photons can decay to rubidium atoms in their basic state). Immediately after preparation of the system, excitation of atoms was observed by exposing it to a laser beam.  The observation was conducted in two modes:  continuous (the system was constantly exposed to small light pulses) and pulse-like (the system was irradiated from time to time with more powerful pulses).

The obtained results are perfectly in line with theoretical predictions. External light effects slow down the decay of particles, returning them to their original state, which is far from the state of decay. The magnitude of this effect for the two studied modes also coincides with the predictions; the maximum life of unstable excited rubidium atoms was extended up to 30-fold.

Double Slit Experiment

The double slit experiment or wave/particle theory is a validation that matter and energy can behave as both waves and particles. This demonstrates the problem of not being able to place particles into a category scientists are comfortable with where waves behave as waves and particles behave as particles. Instead, they behave as both. This is the foundation of the nature of quantum mechanical phenomena where findings conclude that individual cells actually think for themselves.

The physicist, Robert Lanza, recently proposed his theory of “biocentrism” by using the double slit experiment. He concluded that humans are eternal beings that created the concept of life and death through their own consciousness. He claimed death does not exist and that humans believe it exists because they collectively believe in it. Many in the quantum mechanic field disagree with his findings.

Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness

Electrons and fullerenes cease to show their wave properties, aluminum plates cool down and unstable particles freeze while going through their decay  —  under the watchful eye of the observer, the world changes. Why cannot this be the evidence of involvement of our minds in the workings of the world? So maybe  Carl Jung  and  Wolfgang Pauli  (Austrian physicist and Nobel laureate, the pioneer of quantum mechanics) were right  after all when they said that  the laws of physics and consciousness should be seen as complementary?

We are only one step away from admitting that  the world around us is just an illusory product of our mind. Scary, isn’t it? Let us then again try to appeal to physicists. Especially when in recent years, they favor less the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, with its mysterious collapse of the wave function, giving place to another quite down to earth and reliable term  decoherence.

But here’s the thing:  in all these experiments with observations, the experimenters inevitably impacted the system they were observing. They lit it with a laser and installed measuring devices. But this is a common and very important principle:  you cannot observe the system or measure its properties without interacting with it.  And where there is an interaction, there will be a modification of properties. Especially when a tiny quantum system is impacted by colossal quantum objects. So it seems the eternal Buddhist observer neutrality is impossible.

This is explained by the term “decoherence” which is an irreversible  (from the point of view of thermodynamics)  process of altering the quantum properties of the system when it interacts with another larger system. During this interaction, the quantum system loses its original properties and becomes a classic one while “obeying” the large system. This explains the paradox of Schrodinger’s cat:  the cat is such a large system that it simply cannot be isolated from the rest of the world. The mere design of this mental experiment is not quite correct.

In any event, compared to the reality of consciousness as an act of creation,  decoherence represents a much more convenient approach. Perhaps even too convenient. Indeed, with this approach, the entire classical world becomes one big consequence of decoherence. And as the authors of one of the most prominent books in this field stated, such an approach would also logically lead to statements like “there are no particles in the world” or “there is no time on a fundamental level”.

Is it the creator-observer or powerful decoherence? We have to  choose between the two.  But remember, now scientists are increasingly convinced that the basis of our mental processes is created by these notorious quantum effects. So, where the observation ends and reality begins, is up to each of us.

Updated September 2014

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About the author:

Josh Richardson  is blogger, healer, and a constant pursuer of the natural state of human consciousness.  

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  • Juan Riofrio

    Nice and interesting article…
    When i was in high school, somebody proof to me that this physical world was an illusion, just by reasoning. I was like wow.
    Many years later i have learn that true by my life experiences.
    Each and one of us see the world in a unique way, in a way we create our unique reality. One of the jobs of scientists (using the tools of science) is to make every one see the same way the scientists are seeing whatever phenomenon they are trying to explain.
    we have conceptual realities that we need and use in our daily lives, like electricity, mathematics, etc. It’s easy to accept this two, cause we used them all the time. But they don’t exit, they are just concepts. These exist in the physical world cause humans have the capacity to bring them foward.
    Depending the point of reference, this universe doesn’t exist, but it does. A rock is dead compare to us, but it lives, one dollar is nothing to a billionaire, but it is to a poor man.
    our rational mids can dig and see dip into this phenomenon world and realize that compared to our existence is like non existence, but it does exist.
    Thank you for your article, which from time to time is good to see it to make me realize what is most important in our lives,.. each other.

  • gary oraniuk

    Whether or not “reality” is an illusion or not is irrelevant. We all make, and share, a “reality” that is of our own making, and this is surely the point. The things we “see” in the “reality” of our world are only pointers, and the realty of our individual worlds only become “real” when we enter into them and engage them.
    Thus it is only by actively engaging with anything that these “things” become real.
    That is the way to make anything REAL.

  • Jai

    Cool stuff.

  • katesisco

    I am wondering if the substance of a human, the chemical make up of a human but not alive would have the same impact?
    This has to be a result of monoatomic elements, which science cannot identify, they do not bond, have no valences therefore are invisible, so even humans would have these monoatomics as part of their makeup. They would interact with the experiment.

  • Mimi

    Now! Would someone explain all this to me??? 💭 💭 💭

  • The electrons propagate by interacting with opposite charges (positive charges in a conductor OR positrons). The rotation and forward motion forms the observed wave motion, similar to photons.

  • Sagren

    Quantum mechanics does not follow the “rules” of this physical dimension. Matter exists in its basic forms because our senses which are perceiving it is also made up of the same stuff. We are trapped in this 3rd dimension similar to a fish in a fish bowl. Quantum operates in a dimension above the 3rd and observervation of its behaviour by 3rd dimensional matter (our senses/ devices) is almost impossible. The scientific community has to take the “leap of faith” of incorporating consciousness because attempts at using the classical scientific methodology has proven futile.

  • Norman Mixon

    Wow, how about knowing that each Soul is preoccupying separate time in space and their reality is different in scope! We all are spiritual beings but are on different levels spiritually. You will perceive things according to your expansion in CONSCIOUSNESS! You cannot separate the spiritual from the material they are intertwined. The spiritual animates the material or the material would have no existence!

  • The binary rotational structure of the photon also applies to electrons (and positrons) in circuits where the conductor provides the opposite charge, resulting in a wave motion. Check out electron-positron pair formation (as well as “annihilation”) for examples of this mechanism.