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Monday, January 15, 2007

Advaitism in terms of Quantum Physics

Does the Universe Exist if We're Not Looking?
Eminent physicist John Wheeler says he has only enough time left to work on one idea: that human consciousness shapes not only the present but the past as well
By Tim Folger
Photography by Dan Winters
DISCOVER Vol. 23 No. 06 | June 2002

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Wheeler relishes the profound and the paradoxical. He was an early advocate of the anthropic principle, the idea that the universe and the laws of physics are fine-tuned to permit the existence of life. For the past two decades, though, he has pursued a far more provocative idea for an idea, something he calls genesis by observership. Our observations, he suggests, might actually contribute to the creation of physical reality. To Wheeler we are not simply bystanders on a cosmic stage; we are shapers and creators living in a participatory universe.

Wheeler's hunch is that the universe is built like an enormous feedback loop, a loop in which we contribute to the ongoing creation of not just the present and the future but the past as well. To illustrate his idea, he devised what he calls his "delayed-choice experiment," which adds a startling, cosmic variation to a cornerstone of quantum physics: the classic two-slit experiment.

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And we see only a tiny portion of that cosmos. Wheeler suspects that most of the universe consists of huge clouds of uncertainty that have not yet interacted either with a conscious observer or even with some lump of inanimate matter. He sees the universe as a vast arena containing realms where the past is not yet fixed.

Wheeler is the first to admit that this is a mind-stretching idea. It's not even really a theory but more of an intuition about what a final theory of everything might be like. It's a tenuous lead, a clue that the mystery of creation may lie not in the distant past but in the living present. "This point of view is what gives me hope that the question— How come existence?— can be answered," he says.
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Linde believes that Wheeler's intuition of the participatory nature of reality is probably right. But he differs with Wheeler on one crucial point. Linde believes that conscious observers are an essential component of the universe and cannot be replaced by inanimate objects.

"The universe and the observer exist as a pair," Linde says. "You can say that the universe is there only when there is an observer who can say, Yes, I see the universe there. These small words— it looks like it was here— for practical purposes it may not matter much, but for me as a human being, I do not know any sense in which I could claim that the universe is here in the absence of observers. We are together, the universe and us. The moment you say that the universe exists without any observers, I cannot make any sense out of that. I cannot imagine a consistent theory of everything that ignores consciousness. A recording device cannot play the role of an observer, because who will read what is written on this recording device? In order for us to see that something happens, and say to one another that something happens, you need to have a universe, you need to have a recording device, and you need to have us. It's not enough for the information to be stored somewhere, completely inaccessible to anybody. It's necessary for somebody to look at it. You need an observer who looks at the universe. In the absence of observers, our universe is dead."

The original article is here http://www.discover.com/issues/jun-02/features/featuniverse/

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This blog is an offshoot of a website that I had conceived as a result of the spiritual grace and resultant inspiration during Shivaratri Y2K (http://www.jyotirlinga.com) on the joy of Shiva Bhakti and my quest for spiritual progress. Not finding the time (yep, bad excuse!), this blog suits me fine in quickly adding content... my spiritual forays and thoughts - helps log them too. My spiritual journey started with Hinduism and it's simple stories/ teachings as far back as when I was a 2nd grader, with Lord Shiva and has now found convergence with Advaitism / Duality. The Advaitism gurus like Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi, Nisargadatta Maharaj; they have provided that spiritual boost of energy in many lagging moments and have tremendously influenced me ... little baby steps at a time... that will hopefully all lead upto a final crescendo. The merits of satsangh are many!

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