Via Conor Friedersdorf blogging for Andrew Sullivan, here’s a short Bloggingheads TV discussion on the Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics:
“100 years ago physics began encountering things a little bit on the intelligible side.” And: “at a quantum level sometimes reality in a certain sense doesn’t take firm shape until its measured.” If you’re wondering what that means, see our more in-depth discussion with physicist Dylan Casey, here.
Frank Wilczek’s rejection of the role of consciousness as “fringe” doesn’t seem entirely on point to me (I’m not entirely clear if he’s trying to characterize the Copenhagen interpretation, so I’m not sure). The point of the Copenhagen interpretation is not that reality at its most fundamental level is altered by consciousness. It’s that at the quantum level the notions of position and velocity are intelligible only in the context of of measurement and the contribution of consciousness a the phenomenal level. This is to say they are something like Kantian phenomena, or Lockean secondary qualities (“red” as opposed to the primary quality of wavelength). We are cut off from the underlying real state of things, a level at which the paradox would, presumably, vanish. The Copenhagen interpretation may not be right, but I think I’m giving the correct account of the position here. See 1:08:30 of the podcast for more on this, including a direct quote from Heisenberg.
By: Wes Alwan