Nature Loves to Hide: Quantum Physics and Reality, a Western Perspective

By Shimon Malin | Go to book overview

II

"Nature Makes
a Choice"

Continuing our exploration of the process of collapse, we raise and
respond to the following questions: Why does a collapse occur? When
does it occur? What brings it about? Paul Dirac's response to the last
question is "Nature makes a choice." The idea that nature makes choices is
reminiscent of Plotinus's idea that nature contemplates. The suggestion
that during a collapse nature makes a choice indicates that in the context
of the collapse objectivation fails: Nature cannot be treated merely as a
collection of objects.

Nature, which they say is without imagination and without reason, has con-
templation in itself, and produces what it produces by the contemplation
which it "does not have."

—Plotinus


1. Keeping It Simple

In the previous chapter we became acquainted with the concept of the collapse of quantum states. We discussed the structure of the collapse, as well as its atemporal character. We are ready now to go deeper, and address the following three questions: First, what is the function of the collapse; why does it occur? Second, when does it occur? Third, what brings it about?

These questions have been the subject of intense research since the I920s. The main proposed solutions are summarized in Appendix 3. As the discussion there shows, all of them are seriously flawed. The present chapter explains my own responses to these questions. These responses are based on a conversation I had with Paul Dirac back in 1976 (see Section 2).

Why does the collapse occur? Consider, once again, an electron moving toward a TV screen. Before it impinges on the screen it is a set of potentialities, i.e., a collection of all the possibilities for hitting each and every place on the screen. In other words, before impingement, the quantum state of the electron is a superposition of all the states that correspond to all the possibilities for hitting each and every place on the screen. All of these possibilities are somehow added together, or "superimposed." The quantum state includes them all, and then, in the atemporal process of collapse, one of them is singled out.

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Nature Loves to Hide: Quantum Physics and Reality, a Western Perspective
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Nature Loves to Hide *
  • Nature Loves to Hice - Quantum Physics and Reality, a Western Perspective *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Introduction *
  • Part One - The Quandary *
  • I - Mach's Shadow *
  • 2 - Einstein's Dilemma *
  • 3 - The Call of Complementarity *
  • 4 - Waves of Nothingness *
  • 5 - Paul Dirac and the Spin of the Electron *
  • 6 - An Irresistible Force Meets an Immovable Rock *
  • 7 - "Nature Loves to Hide" *
  • Part Two - From a Universe of Objects to a Universe of Experiences *
  • 8 - The Elusive Obvious *
  • 9 - Objectivation *
  • 10 - In and Out of Space and Time *
  • II - "Nature Makes a Choice" *
  • 12 - Nature Alive *
  • 13 - Flashes of Existence *
  • 14 - The Expression of Knowledge *
  • 15 - A Universe of Experience *
  • 16 - The Potential and the Actual *
  • Part Three - Physics and the One *
  • 17 - Levels of Being *
  • 18 - Our Place in the Universe *
  • 19 - Physics and the One *
  • ∼ Epilogue *
  • Appendices *
  • Notes *
  • Bibliography *
  • Index *
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