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I Need an Explanation


TheRedneckProfessor
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As y'all know, I'm a biological scientist.  As such, physics of any kind is not my field.  It all seems to weird, with its cat's that are dead but not dead, and fucking particles that are actually waves, but not really.  god damn physics.  Nevertheless, can anyone help me decipher what the fuck this article is talking about?  Or, if not, at least provide conjecture or a learned theory (layman's usage)?  Hell, I'd be happy with an opinion, at this point.

 

https://bigthink.com/13-8/quantum-mechanics-buddhism/

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Did you post this just to get us to read the article?

 

I gleaned from it there is a lot of "fluff" attempting to buttress Buddhism by claiming a particular interpretation of quantum mechanics is THE correct interpretation of quantum mechanics.  This interpretation also shares strong parallels with the Buddhist concept that we cannot divorce what existence _is_ from our perception.  I.e. there is no objective viewpoint (the no God's eye statement).  Buddhism and this interpretation of quantum mechanics both essentially say to observe reality is to affect reality - hence why Schrodinger's equations fail to operate as predicted when observed.  Observation itself appears to be a kind of involvement, altering the outcome.

 

The author states the attempted combining of two fields is wrong headed especially because there are other, competing interpretations of quantum mechanics.  Some of which, if prove more accurate, will be hostile to current Buddhist thought.

 

I liked the article and think he's basically saying "don't count your chickens before they hatch."

 

This is layman's opinion and I may be entirely incorrect, but you did say you'd be happy with an opinion :)

 

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1 hour ago, Krowb said:

Did you post this just to get us to read the article?

No.  I seriously don't understand enough about physics, or Buddhism, for that matter, to make any sense out of what he's trying to say.

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1 hour ago, Krowb said:

This interpretation also shares strong parallels with the Buddhist concept that we cannot divorce what existence _is_ from our perception. 

So this is just a fancier way of saying cogito ergo sum?

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1 hour ago, Krowb said:

Buddhism and this interpretation of quantum mechanics both essentially say to observe reality is to affect reality - hence why Schrodinger's equations fail to operate as predicted when observed.  Observation itself appears to be a kind of involvement, altering the outcome.

This is where I'm completely lost.  How am I going to *affect* something simply by looking at it?  Sure, if I give Ms. Professor an angry look, it will have an effect, may even affect me in return.  But that is an intentional rather than a passive observation.  The goal of Buddhism, as I understand it is to observe without affecting.  Or am I confused?

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8 hours ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

This is where I'm completely lost.  How am I going to *affect* something simply by looking at it?  Sure, if I give Ms. Professor an angry look, it will have an effect, may even affect me in return.  But that is an intentional rather than a passive observation.  The goal of Buddhism, as I understand it is to observe without affecting.  Or am I confused?

 

This other thread crosses over into similar territory: 

 

 

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9 hours ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

This is where I'm completely lost.  How am I going to *affect* something simply by looking at it?  Sure, if I give Ms. Professor an angry look, it will have an effect, may even affect me in return.  But that is an intentional rather than a passive observation.  The goal of Buddhism, as I understand it is to observe without affecting.  Or am I confused?

 

To borrow a phrase from Fish, "this is the mystery . . . " (I.e. proves God)

 

You're in good company because everyone is confused by it.  Hence the author's admonishment to not tout one theory over the others and definitely don't try to mix it with Buddhism.

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It seems convoluted to me.  Shrodinger intended to refute the Copenhagen interpretation via his cat experiment.  Meaning, as I understand it, that it was ridiculous to think the cat was both alive and dead until the experimenter opened the box.  How does that tie in with the Buddhist idea of passive observation?  Is he attempting to interpret Buddhism in terms of Shrodinger's cat?  Like existence/reality can literally be anything until we perceive it,  and then it becomes whatever we perceive?  Much like the cat would either be dead or alive based on whichever we perceived it as?  If so, I'm not sure my mind is deep enough to understand the correlation.  I can only go so deep as to say existence/reality is what it is, disirregardless of my perception. 

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From my reading the author is saying to not conflate the two.  There are others who are treating the Copenhagen interpretation as a validation of their Buddhist worldview.  In his opinion this is a wrong approach.

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Okay.  That part I can agree with.  I guess my question or confusion is why would anybody try to conflate the two to begin with.

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Here's something that is probably related. 

 

https://courseinconsciousness.org/

 

The "dialog" link is the tldr version. 

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This sort of thing was quite fashionable in the 70s. See for example Frtizjof Capra's "The Tao of Physics". I think, in layman's terms, the point is that reality is affected by the act of our observing it, based on the behavior of subatomic particles, whose observation changed the measurement of either their location or position during physics experiments.

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@TheRedneckProfessor,

 

The Tao of Physics was a best-selling popular book. Even some quantum physicists showed interest in this book at the time.  Yeah, I remember this book when it came out, from my reading 1975. Believe me that the book is entirely based upon some of the ridiculous assertions of quantum theory and is entirely BS. 

 

"Taoism is a religion and philosophical tradition that originated in China around 550 B.C. and is based on the philosophical ideas of Lao Tzu. It now has approximately 20−30 million followers, mostly in China, Korea, and Japan.
 
 
In Chinese philosophy, the absolute principle underlying the universe, combining within itself the principles of yin and yang and signifying the way, or code of behavior, that is in harmony with the natural order. The interpretation of Tao in the Tao-te-Ching developed into the philosophical religion of Taoism."
 
The book the Tao of Physics, by Fritjof Capra, is an exploration of the parallels between modern physics and eastern mysticism. It primarily concerns ideas of quantum mechanics and quantum theory that are no more than pure BS, therefore the book is no more than pure BS. The book is essentially saying that some of quantum physics might be explainable by mysticism, eastern religion, and magic.
 

Jeremy Bernstein, a professor of physics at the Stevens Institute of Technology said, chastising The Tao of Physics:

At the heart of the matter is Mr. Capra's methodology – his use of what seem to me to be accidental similarities of language as if these were somehow evidence of deeply rooted connections. Thus I agree with Capra when he writes, "Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science but man needs both." What no one needs, in my opinion, is this superficial and profoundly misleading book.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/24/2021 at 10:19 PM, TheRedneckProfessor said:

How am I going to *affect* something simply by looking at it?  

I'm a bush-league physicist myself, but my understanding of observational influence---from a standpoint of bare-bones physics---has to do with Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, which states [as I remember it] that you can't simultaneously measure the location and the trajectory of a subatomic particle.

 

Say, for example, you want to look at an electron to see which way it's moving. To see the electron, you have to illuminate it. Iluminating it means throwing light onto it, which means bombarding it with photons, the particle-unit in which light comes. When you flood the electron's environment with light, the photons bang into the electron like pool balls and knock it out of its original path. So by simply trying to observe the electron's movement, you end up changing its direction.

 

Another part of observation has to do with the old question, "If a tree falls in the forest with no one to hear it, does it make a sound?" The answer is "no". The tree falling sends vibrations through the air, but those vibrations aren't sound. Sound is an *interpretation* of such vibrations by a brain which they enter by way of an auditory nerve. Outside of our heads, it's completely silent.

 

Same thing with sight. What does an object look like when no one is looking at it? Nothing. It has no appearance until the light reflecting from it enters an eye and traverses an optic nerve into a brain which then interprets the light as the object's appearance. So when you close your eyes, you're still seeing what everything around you looks like.

 

May seem weird, but it's commonsense weirdness.

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    We cannot say anything about reality outside our perceptions. You may no, we can use machines. No, WE perceive the measurements of the machines. We cannot even say reality "exists" beyond our perceptions because "existence" is a concept formed by our minds.

     There is nothing "passive" about observation. It is an activity. To be able to observe you means there is a contact. The contact changes the objects. Like if you touch a glass of cold water to measure its temperature, you instantly change the temperature because of the hear exchange. This can be neglijable when talking about objects of a certain size, but in the microcosmos everything is huge. In a way measurement as we understand it is impossible. You can't see an atom, so to speak, only perceive a certain image production because you cannot see without light and light is already a particle. In a weird way like you cannot see your own face, only a mirror image.

     And why does the "Tao of physics" have a Buddha statue on its front cover? Does the Bible have quranic calligraphy on its first page? 

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  • 10 months later...

Tao of Physics, What The Bleep..., The Dalai Lama's The Universe In A Single Atom. Sounds cool at first, but then you investigate further and realize that both are far too complex and interesting for their marriage to be anything more than a brief, yet entertaining, distraction that often just leaves you scratching your head.  

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On 11/20/2022 at 8:10 PM, Rev R said:

Tao of Physics, What The Bleep..., The Dalai Lama's The Universe In A Single Atom. Sounds cool at first, but then you investigate further and realize that both are far too complex and interesting for their marriage to be anything more than a brief, yet entertaining, distraction that often just leaves you scratching your head.  

 

Howdy Rev R,

 

The Tao of Physics was a popular book.  I read it.  It was written because the field of Quantum Mechanics (quantum physics) is full of BS and has similarities to mysticism like Taoism -- because those that invented it didn't understand what they were doing IMHO. I forgot I answered this before :)

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20 hours ago, pantheory said:

 

Howdy Rev R,

 

The Tao of Physics was a popular book.  I read it.  It was written because the field of Quantum Mechanics (quantum physics) is full of BS and has similarities to mysticism like Taoism -- because those that invented it didn't understand what they were doing IMHO. I forgot I answered this before :)

Yeah I read it years ago. It's around the house somewhere. 

I'd say it's that quantum physicist don't know how to communicate it in prose to those without the right math knowledge without resorting to mystical sounding concepts. Just like Taoist and Buddhist concepts can be hard to explain to folks without grounding in South and East Asian thought. But we all have to acknowledge that the real reason these books exist is to move money from one pocket to another.  :) 

 

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