The sea of possibilities


In her site Janet Ossebaard strikingly put into words what it is about quantum mechanics.

In quantum mechanics it is for long an accepted point of view: you affect your world by means of your observation.


In quantum mechanics for decades is known that researchers influence the outcome of their experiments by their observations, and that a wave of light changes in a particle at the moment it is observed. Reality is described there as a set of countless potential possibilities.


The quantum soup - the most elementary level of our reality.


We have arrived in a world where particles (constituting all of our material world) are no particles but an endless set of potential possibilities.


Our potential is in our observation: only when we observe it, a potential particle gains right of existence in our reality.


They refuse to believe what holds for atomic particles also holds for you and me. Somewhere in the line from subatomic particle to atom, to molecule and finally to you and me this reality stops, they say. But in the end nobody can point to where that happens. Nobody can really pinpoint and ground when the moment is there - from micro to macro - that our daily reality is no longer an endless oasis of potential possibilities that we manifest by means of our observation or intention.

In my own words I would put it like this. Suppose, you have a process that can take place in more than one way, each way described by a wavefunction in quantum mechanics. Then it is as if each of the possible ways in which the process can take place, is drawn out on a transparent sheet of paper. All sheets are stacked upon each other and are put in a box and the box is closed. You cannot see how the process works.

As long as you don't open the box, the process outcomes behave as if the processes on the sheets were simultaneously working, all of them. The wavefunction of the process is the sum, the superposition, of the wavefunctions of the processes on each sheet.

That is strange. You plan to perform a measurement to see through all the sheets, to see how all possible ways the process can evolve, work at the same time.

But when you open the box by means of an observation, all sheets but one disappear, just before you could have been aware of them. That one is an arbitrary choice out of the stack of sheets, out of the superposition. The superposition has gone now, gone with the wind, leaving you to one single way how the process works.

Erasing the information gained by the measurement - provided you can do this - puts the process back in the box and the superposition returns. The process outcome behaves again as if all possible ways the process can take place, indeed ARE taking place, at the same time and at the same place, right through each other but without seeing each other, without being aware of each other in any way at all.

We are back at the state we started with and the sequence can start over again, the sequence of the collapse of the wavefunction and its subsequent restoration.