This one is mostly for fun and out of curiosity as to what comes into reach when Descartes’ mind/matter split is put on hold for a while.
Did you see some of the footage on UFOs recently released by the Pentagon? If not, see for example this one. The flying objects have no visible kind of propulsion, nor do they have wings. They make seemingly impossible accelerations and sudden sharp course changes that suggest they are not hindered by the inertness of mass and centrifugal forces. In short: they defy the laws of Newtonian physics. But do they defy the laws of quantum physics as well? Below is a 9 step argument that could in principle explain the outlaw behavior of UFOs:
Now as always, I can hear Schrödinger’s cat making objections that she is not a quantum phenomenon and that the same goes for aircrafts, no matter how strange their movements. She is arguing that quantum reasoning should be reserved for the world of the micro level and that macro objects such as herself and aircrafts are Newton’s territory. But instead of letting this be the show stopper it usually is, let us stick to the argumentation just a bit longer.
Consider the option that micro and macro are relative concepts: what you find big, depends on how small you are, and vice versa. This makes it hard to agree on an absolute definition of micro and macro and an absolute demarcation of the quantum world from the Newtonian world (dankeschön, Albert). Now, consider a more constructivist approach to this dilemma: what defines micro and macro is the degree of influence you can exert over it. Macro phenomena exist and develop outside your span of influence, more specifically the influence of your observation. If there is nothing about your observation that can control or manipulate a phenomenon, it is safe to call it a macro phenomenon. Just like the life and death of Schrödinger’s cat does not depend on you looking inside the box it is in. Micro phenomena exist and develop within your span of control. Just by making an observation you can create pieces of reality that would not have been there if you had not observed. As in the case where light manifests as either a particle or a wave following your choice of observation instrument.
What’s more, acknowledging a relative aspect in defining micro/quantum and macro/Newtonian leaves room for an effect of the relative ‘magnitude’ of the observer. Imagine an observation by a being with more and better senses than yourself. Or a being who’s brain has x times more computing power and clock speed than yours. Or a being that is much wiser and knows better how and what to observe. For this being the demarcation of micro and macro would probably differ from yours. Perhaps even, its show would not be stopped just as easily by the Schrödinger cat argument.
Physics does offer some corroboration of the relativity hypothesis in the above. A concept which seems to apply here is the quantum Zeno effect: rapid successive observations cause the observed part of reality to freeze, to stay fixed. The more rapidly you make your successive observations, the more stable the experienced outcome. Thus, the Zeno effect offers a tool for manipulating bits of reality and the interactions between them. In other words, to create complexity and, in other words, to create meaning. If somehow you could increase your speed of observation and the number of bits of reality you can simultaneously observe you would in fact increase your capacity to create meaning.
Obviously the human capacity for making observations is limited, given our sensory and neuronal equipment. Which is why Schrödinger argued we cannot cause a (macro) cat to live or die just by looking in the box that contains it. But this should not trick us into thinking that what is micro and what is macro can be defined on grounds of the bandwidth of the human sensory apparatus. That is an anthropocentric fallacy, just like thinking that the earth is flat because you are too small to see the whole picture.
Another crucial link in the chain of arguments which I propose, is that quanta of energy are the basic stuff of which reality is made (see the prior essay which elaborates on this). Matter is not basic or final, it is one of the possible manifestations of the underlying finality which is energy. This leaves room for the idea that matter is not the only bit of reality that has a mass. Other phenomena can have a mass as well since they consist of the same basic stuff as matter. In other words: it is energy that has a mass, so anything that is ‘made of energy’ could have a mass. As I argued in the above, meaning is made of quanta of energy, hence meaning could have a mass. In principle then, mass (such as that of an aircraft) could be manipulated by creating meaning.
So, if I accept that Schrödinger’s cat is not per sé macro and that mind aspects of reality can have a mass, I can see two ways in which objects such as aircrafts could be propelled by meaning:
- we somehow find a way to amplify our Zeno effect and thus our ability to create meaning;
- some being is capable of making observations much more rapidly and complexly than us humans and is thus capable of creating a lot more meaning than we can.
TB January 29 2022