» Copenhagen Interpretation and Beyond (CIB) Conference Abstracts

A New Approach to Quantum Mechanics
Yakir Aharonov, Ph.D., Professor, James J. Farley Professorship in Natural Philosophy, Chapman University

In my talk, I will discuss a reformulation of quantum mechanics in which each quantum system, at any time is described by two Hilbert space vectors rather than one. One of the vectors propagates from past boundary condition towards the present and the other propagates back to the present from a future boundary condition. I will show that this reformulation uncovers a host of fascinating new physical phenomena; for example, Weak Measurements and Weak Values. This allows us to make sense of the double-slit paradox in which deterministic properties in the Heisenberg picture are viewed as primitive instead of the wavefunction, which remains an ensemble property. We see how the particle goes through one of the slits.

Where Does Quanta Meet Mind?
Jose Acacio De Barros, Ph.D., San Francisco State University

The connection between quantum physics and the mind has been debated for almost a hundred years. There are several proposals as to how quantum effects might be relevant to understanding consciousness, including von Neumann’s Consciousness Causes Collapse interpretation (CCC), Penrose’s Orchestrated objective reduction (Orch OR), Atmanspacher quantum emergence theory, or Vitiello’s field theory. In this paper, we examine the CCC, in particular Stapp’s theory of interaction of mind and matter, and discuss how this imposes constraints to possible brain structures. We then argue that those constraints may allow us to identify a possible locus of the interaction between mind and matter, if CCC is true.

Copenhagen Interpretation: An Enhanced Orthodox Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Director of CEESMO, Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor of Computational Physics, Chapman University

We briefly review the Copenhagen Interpretation. The original Copenhagen Interpretation of approximately a century ago was enriched with the work of von Neumann and is now referred to as the Orthodox view. The issue of evolution of a quantum system in light of measuring process in this Orthodox interpretation has been extensively developed and a comprehensive thought system of understanding has been written by Stapp. In our view, an enhancement of the work to date allows for a novel understanding of the role of observation in quantum systems.

Quantum Paradoxes: To Resolve or To Acquiesce?

Ruth E. Kastner, Ph.D., Research Associate, University of Maryland, College Park

At the dawn of the Quantum Age, Ervin Schrodinger presented his Cat Paradox as a reductio ad absurdum of the problem of measurement in quantum theory in its standard formulation.  Not long after, Eugene Wigner accentuated the paradox by considering himself and a Friend as among the correlated systems allegedly described by quantum theory but lacking any principled account of the conclusion of a 'measurement.' This basic problem facing the standard formulation has never gone away. Instead, it has recently been brought to head by the latest, most grotesque version of the same paradox by Frauchiger and Renner.

This situation entails two basic options for researchers: (1) to regard the problem of measurement as inevitable, as something to which we should acquiesce as a feature of some 'appropriate lesson' of quantum theory; or (2) to regard it as a symptom of a fundamental, but curable, problem afflicting the standard formulation of quantum theory.  This talk briefly critiques option (1) and explores option (2), in concert with Paul Arden's observation that "If you can't solve a problem, it's because you're playing by the rules." It is proposed that the simplest and most elegant solution has been overlooked due to deeply seated metaphysical and cultural ground rules that are overdue for critical examination.

Bohr, QBism, and Beyond

Ulrich Mohrhoff, Ph.D., Sri Aurobindo International Center of Education, Pondicherry, India

After discussing the reasons for Bohr's alleged obscurity, I present in outline the brilliant fabric of his thought. After a cursory evaluation of the period between the passing of Bohr and the advent of QBism, during which interpreting quantum mechanics became a growth industry, I present QBism as a promising solution to the resulting quagmire. If Kant's theory of science was the first great stride in human understanding and Bohr's insight into the contextuality of phenomena was the second, QBism is the third. It affords a first empirical glimpse into the mysterious relation between the world of science and what QBists refer to as "the world as it is without agents" (Kant's thing in itself), and it does this without positing a correspondence between the two worlds, without interposing an evolving ontological state between observations, and without attempting to explain correlata in terms of their correlations. Finally I attempt to amplify the nature of this relation. Its essential characteristic is an atemporal process of manifestation. By entering into reflexive relations, a transcategoreal Existent (Kant's thing in itself) presents a world to itself. Subatomic particles, atoms, and molecules are neither parts nor constituents of this world but structures instrumental in the progressive transition from the unity of that Existent to the multiplicity of this world.

Complementarity in Biological Systems: A Complexity View
Neil Theise, Ph.D., Professor, Dept of Pathology, New York University School of Medicine

Niels Bohr and Max Delbruck believed that complementarity, such as exemplified by wave–particle duality, was not limited to the quantum realm, but had correlated in the study of living things. Biological complementarity would indicate that no single technique or perspective allows comprehensive viewing of all of a biological entity’s complete qualities and behaviors; instead, complementary perspectives, necessarily and irrevocably excluding others at the moment an experimental approach is selected, would be necessary to understand the whole. Systems biology and complexity theory reveal that, as in the quantum realm, experimental observations themselves limit our capacity to understand a biological system completely because of scale-dependent ‘‘horizons of knowledge,’’ a form of biological complementarity as predicted by Bohr and Delbruck. Specifically, observational selection is inherently, irreducibly coupled to observed biological systems as in the quantum realm. These nested systems, beginning with biomolecules in aqueous solution all the way up to the global ecosystem itself, are understood as a seamless whole operating simultaneously and complementarily at various levels. Thus, selection of an observational stance is inseparable from descriptions of biology and is in accordance with views of thinkers such as von Neumann, Wigner, and Stapp that even at levels of scale governed by classical physics, at biological scales, observational choice remains inextricably woven into the establishment, in the observational moment, of the present conditions of existence. These conceptual shifts will not only have theoretical impact, but may point the way to new, successful therapeutic interventions, medically (at the scale of organisms) or environmentally/economically (at a global scale). Implications for posited relationship between the universe as a self-organizing complex system and consciousness will also be explored.