Down the rabbit hole
Is anyone interested in taking a trip down a rabbit hole with me?
The journey started with a paper by physicist Lev Vaidman called All is Ψ.
It started before that, but never mind. I’m going through the paper, making notes. If you want edit access, let me know.
Now, here’s the story.
From ACIM to All is Ψ
I was reading A Course in Miracles (ACIM) with its grand, metaphorical visions of the universe, God, and humanity.
The thought arose: “I wonder if there’s anything written about the Universal Wave Function that would help me understand and communicate these ideas?”
(Where did that thought come from? We’ll get back to that later.)
I knew that the Universal Wave Function was tied to Hugh Everett’s Many-worlds interpretation (MWI) of quantum physics.
I Googled for papers and found a paper by Vaidman. I remembered (correctly, it turns out) that Vaidman had invented something that I remembered (incorrectly) as the Vaidman bomb detector. It’s actually called the Elitzur–Vaidman bomb tester. (I do seem to be losing it.)
The bomb tester was originally a thought experiment for a device that you could use to determine whether a bomb with a one-photon-trigger would explode when hit with a photon or would be a dud.
How do you run such a test?
Vaidman figured it out.
The good news: the device would never give you a false positive. If it said a bomb was a dud, it would be a dud. The bad news: the design would trigger half the bombs, yield no result for a quarter, but it would tell you, correctly, that the remaining quarter were live bombs.
The theory was confirmed experimentally. Improved versions were designed and tested. The current designs give no false positives, correctly detect close to 100% of all live bombs, and explode almost none of them.
Think about that for a minute.
You have a bomb that goes off if a single photon hits it. You want to see if it’s a live bomb without triggering it. How the hell do you do that?
Answer: quantum weirdness and human genius.
I knew Lev Vaidman was a genius and expected his paper on the Universal Wave Function was worth reading.
Understanding the paper
I pulled a copy of the paper, turned it into a Google Doc, and started reading.
I believe the quantum state is a reality. It is the reality. The only fundamental physical ontology is the quantum wave function.
“The only fundamental physical ontology” translates to “The only fundamental thing that actually exists.” A bold claim, but Mikey likes it.
I will present the view that all that exists is the wave function of the Universe, which evolves according to the Schrödinger equation and without collapses during quantum measurements.
This is the fundamental premise of Everett’s Many Worlds Interpretation.
The theory postulates that the only ontology is this Wave Function, which evolves in a unitary way…
Evolves in a unitary way?
Down the rabbit hole
So I go to find out what “evolves in a unitary way” means.
To do that, I need to understand Unitary transformation (quantum_mechanics)) and to do that, I have to understand the Hamiltonian (quantum mechanics)) and to do that, I have to understand Hamiltonian mechanics and to do that, I need to understand this sentence:
A Hamiltonian system may be understood as a fiber bundle E over time R, with the fibers Et, t ∈ R, being the position space. The Lagrangian is thus a function on the jet bundle J over E; taking the fiberwise Legendre transform of the Lagrangian produces a function on the dual bundle over time whose fiber at t is the cotangent space T∗Et, which comes equipped with a natural symplectic form, and this latter function is the Hamiltonian. The correspondence between Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics is achieved with the tautological one-form.
But I really want to understand Vaidman’s paper because I want to understand the Universal Wave Function.
Theory of the UWF
In case I die before I finish this research, here’s a sketch of where I am going.
Suppose that Vaidman is right, and reality is the wave function.
Since the UWF is all that is real, the UFW contains all the energy and all the matter there will be or has ever been.
One of the fundamental ideas (well tested) of physics is that information cannot be destroyed. Even when information gets sucked into a black hole, it can’t be destroyed.
So the UWF contains all the information that has ever been or ever will be.
Since knowledge is a kind of information, the UWF also includes all the knowledge there has ever been or has ever will be. (Knowledge can exist without a knower)
If the universe is a mathematical object described by Max Tegmark in “Our Mathematical Universe” (not just described by mathematics, but a mathematical object), that object can be self-referential. An ordinary physical object can't be genuinely self-referential. The internal model must be less precise than the outer model. But a mathematical system can refer to itself with full fidelity.
So the knowledge contained within the UWF is complete knowledge of the internal self-reference. Is that the same as saying the UWF has knowledge of itself? It might be. Is that the same as saying the UWF knows itself? It might be. Is that the same as saying the UWF is conscious? It might be.
If the UWF is conscious, then the UWF is also omnipotent and omniscient. It’s a pretty good approximation of the idea of God. Not God as defined by holy scripture, but God as implied by quantum physics.
If this is true, would the UWF “want” anything? Does a bacterium want to move? Does a bird want to feed its young? Does a ball want to roll downhill? They do those things. But do they want to? Does “wanting to” matter?
The behavioral implications of that idea are very much in line with those of A Course in Miracles.