Dr. Charles T. Tart on August 12th, 2009

I spent the last few days at the annual convention of the Parapsychological Association, held at the University of Washington in Seattle this year. Next year will be Paris. Busy, busy, busy! The PA is the scientific professional association of the (too few) scientifically trained researchers in this field, and papers are sometimes exciting, but always solid as they are refereed by experts before being accepted.

The most exciting paper to me was one by leading parapsychologist Dean Radin (see his webpage at www.deanradin.com), “Consciousness and the Quantum Wave Function: Experiments with an Optical Double-Slit System, “done with colleagues Paul Wendland and Robert Rickenbach. You have probably all heard of the classical double-slit experiment in physics which helped create modern quantum theory. You fire a stream of subatomic particles (light, electrons, etc.) through a very narrow slit with detectors behind it. Sometimes, depending on the final observation conditions of the experiment, they come through as if they were individual particles, sometimes as if they were a wave. This led to the idea that observation, consciousness is critical at the quantum level, and that until phenomena are observed they exist only as a cloud of probabilities rather than something definite. I can’t explain it well, but it’s a fundamental experiment in physics.

So with all this fuss made over the role of consciousness in terms of how the experimental outcome is observed, what happens if you deliberately put more consciousness into the system by having people think about the slit?

A massive shift in the outcome occurs…..

I hope Radin can overcome the prejudice against parapsychology and get this published in a mainstream physics journal, as it’s revolutionary.

Don’t ask me to explain it more clearly, I know how little physics I know!

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One Response to “Parapsychological Association meeting in Seattle”

  1. Tor says:

    Dr. Tart, do you know if Radin’s recent paper will be published soon?

    I’ve been following his work for some years, and the line of research he is doing now is what I find the most intriguing. Part of the reason is that I encountered the problem of observation (the measurement problem) in quantum mechanics quite early on when studying physics myself. I felt it said something profound. To my surprise almost all the students and professors didn’t see anything profound at all. We were thought the “shut up and calculate” version of QM, so I guess that stops any deep thinking in most people.

    I remember going to an invitational seminar on quantum mechanics that was supposed to be held by a a well known British physicist. One of his colleagues in the same research group came instead, but the presentation he held was the same as the original guy intended. At the end of the presentation he basically said that QM show us that it is our consciousness that collapse the wave function and thus we participate directly in creating the world we see. I thought that this would give rise to a heated debate as I by this time had started to see that there was a serious taboo related to consciousness in the physics community. I was wrong. No questions was raised about this at all. Even students I talked to afterward hadn’t gotten hold of what had been said. It was like people had just filtered out the good stuff from the presentation!

    Anyway, it’s ironic that one of the biggest issues facing the foundation of modern physics (the measurement problem), is being experimentally probed closest to it’s core by someone outside the physics community! But it’s not surprising.
    Other physicists are doing good work on this too (one group being led by Anton Zeilinger at the University of Vienna), but where they are more showing that the world is non-local and in some esoteric way dependent on observation to exist at all, Dean Radin’s work is more direct and “in your face”, relating it all to mind and consciousness. Of course, probing the results and conclusions of the Vienna group it’s hard to come to any different conclusions than what Radin have, but it’s camouflaged nicely enough to be published in Nature. Sometimes I wonder if they really see what their own results are saying. (I can’t stop associating this whole thing with the tale of the emperors new clothes :)

    Radin and Nelson published in the journal Foundation of Physics about the global consciousness project a few years back. So it’s not impossible to get in touch with the mainstream. If it happens through Science or Nature I will be quite surprised (in a positive way).

    -Tor

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