The Instigator
kevin.moseley
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Rational_Thinker9119
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points

Quantum Mechanics has debunked Materialism

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Rational_Thinker9119
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/22/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,601 times Debate No: 34981
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)

 

kevin.moseley

Pro

I will argue that various experimental results from Quantum Mechanics show that physical reality as we experience it is only data that is being experienced by our Consciousness, and the physical reality is, in fact, a very high fidelity simulation.

First round is for acceptance only. This is my first debate here, forgive me if I don't know the local customs.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
kevin.moseley

Pro

Thank you.

Much of this post is coming from a whitepaper I have written previously on this topic.

I will start by explaining, briefly, exactly what I mean by the idea that our reality, our universe and everything in it, including your body (but not your consciousness) is virtual. It is essentially an MMORPG, only instead of being outside of it controlling our characters with plastic devices, we're experiencing it from within, and we've forgotten the fact that it"s not real. Such a thing is not really much different from other philosophies. Many religions tell us that we live here, temporarily, before moving on to a permanent spiritual place. The Buddha spoke of non-reality, and one of the greatest minds to ever walk the planet, the man who gave us Special and General Relativity, Albert Einstein, famously said "Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one."

Let's get into the science. I'm going to outline several experiments and facts about our universe that make sense and are explainable under the digital reality hypothesis, that are mind-boggling or downright impossible under the objective physical reality one in which just about everybody currently not only simply believes, but simply knows is true.

After all, we know that once you"ve eliminated the impossible, whatever's left, no matter how unlikely, must be the right solution. And what if an objectively physical universe is exactly that? Literally Impossible?

First up- The famous double slit experiment.
First performed in the early 1800's, the double slit experiment was an effort to determine if light was made up of little tiny particles of matter. It"s actually quite a simple and elegant experiment, and is based upon the theory of wave interference. Young passed simple sunlight through a single slit, to get it "coherent", and thence through a double slit, to create, if it was waves as he suspected, an interference pattern on the observation screen. And that is exactly what happened, it looked much like the diagram below.

http://upload.wikimedia.org...

So far, nothing earth shattering. Young proved what was suspected all along, that light was waves, and the above diagrams show exactly what was expected if that supposition was correct. At the time it was done, the experiment was almost anticlimactic, as it simply proved what was already suspected.

But then things got interesting.

Somewhere along the line, someone decided to try the experiment not with light, but with matter. Electrons. H2O molecules. Even molecules as bag as C60 "Buckyballs", a molecule big enough to "almost" be considered macro, and is, to date anyway, the largest molecule used in the experiment.

Strange things started to happen. Matter has mass, and the expected result was a clump of particles on the observation screen directly in line with the two slits.

While that"s what they expected, it's not what they got.

Instead, they found themselves with an interference pattern. We know, from both deductive reasoning, as well as previous experimental results, that waves create interference patterns. We expect particles to create vertical lines, but instead we get interference patterns, implying that someway, somehow, they are propagating (traveling) as though they were waves, going through the slits, interfering with each other (how exactly do particles interfere?), and giving us, experimentally, an interference pattern.

This defied all logic, all common sense, all expectations, and all laws of physics as we understand them. It led physicists to essentially punt, label it "wave-particle duality" (which is code for we haven't got a clue"), and they moved on.

But a physicist named Tonomura had an idea. He decided to slow down the particles so that they"re passing through the slits one at a time, a situation where they could not possible interfere with each other, and see what happens. You can see the results below.

http://upload.wikimedia.org...

As you can see, at first the resulting locations of the electrons, sent through the apparatus one at a time seems completely random, but over time (the bottom image was just shy of 4 hours into the experiment) they built up in a NON-random fashion and showed a clear interference pattern.

How could this be?? How can electrons moving through an apparatus one at a time, seemingly interfere with themselves, individually, and given enough time create what is clearly a non-random interference pattern? It's odd enough that they do so when projected en masse, but for an individual electron to interfere with itself, it must, somehow, become two electrons, pass through both slits, interfere with itself, and then collapse back into a single electron. However, this suggestion is literally impossible, as an electron cannot become two electrons (conservation of mass).

Such an outcome is simply, literally, physically impossible. Somehow, the electron was leaving the source as a particle, becoming a wave, propagating as a wave, and ultimately arriving at the screen as a particle again.
I'm going to spend more time later in the article explaining more about the digital simulation hypothesis, but for the moment let me offer it as a simple, elegant explanation, which explains the behavior of the electrons in this experiment: Particles don't physically exist until they are observed (measured). Until such times they exist only as "waves of probability" and their motion and behavior is calculated, as opposed to being actualized physically. The resulting location is pseudo-random. An experiment repeated with but a single electron will result in what appears to be completely random results, it's only over time when more and more electrons are allowed to build up that the probability distribution creates the interference pattern. There is NO explanation of which I am familiar that explains how an objectively real physical particle can behave in such a manner. But more on this later.

In an effort to further understand just what the heck was going on under the covers, a decision was made to put detectors at the slits, so that we"ll know for every individual particle whether or not it went through the left slit, the right slit, or seemingly impossible, both.

The results, once again, were baffling. The interference pattern disappeared, and they got the results they were expecting in the first place. An accumulation of particles directly in line and behind both slits. While that was, in fact, the original expected result, why does merely observing which slit cause the change? Under the objective physical reality hypothesis, which is our default, it's once again illogical. But when viewed through the lens of the virtual reality one, it has an elegant answer. As outlined above, since the particle itself does not physically exist until it's measured, when the initial measurement comes at the screen, all possible paths are calculated, resulting in a wave-like interference pattern. When it's measured at the slit, the possibility of it going through both is reduced to zero, thus there is no calculated path possible except a straight line from the slit to the screen.

It gets even stranger. Additional experiments have shown that the data can be collected, and a decision made after the fact to access or destroy the "which slit" data will determine whether or not an interference pattern emerges on the screen.

I have run out of room. The above is only part of my paper, depending on the nature of your reply, I'll get into more in the next post, or have a dialog with you.

Enjoy!
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

I thank my opponent for starting this debate. However, I believe his position is misguided.

Relevant Definition Of Materialism

Pro asserts:

"I will argue that various experimental results from Quantum Mechanics show that physical reality as we experience it is only data that is being experienced by our Consciousness, and the physical reality is, in fact, a very high fidelity simulation." - Pro

This means, that the definition of "materialism" relevant to this debate as described by my opponent is:

"The position that entails the negation of the notion that physical reality as we experience it is only data that is being experienced by our Consciousness, and the physical reality is, in fact, a very high fidelity simulation."

The above is essentially how materialism is defined based on the wording of my opponent's introduction to the debate that I accepted, and the resolution itself.

Argument In The Form Of A Syllogism

Hopefully I am not straw-manning. but I feel like it will be easier to attack my opponent's opening argument if it was presented in the form of a logical syllogism:

P1: The external world is either real and non-physical, or the external world is not real and non-physical
P2: Quantum experiments demonstrate true conclusions which could not be true if the external world is real and physical
C: The external world is not real and non-physical

The syllogism is logically valid; the conclusion follows necessarily from the preceding premises. If we take a look at premise 1, it seems like a reasonably true-dichotomy. I do not feel the need to contest it. What I am going to do is contest premise 2 of the syllogism, and show that my opponent has not proven that physicalism is false in light of certain quantum experiments.

Premise 2

My opponent presents a lot of useful and intriguing information, however it does not tie in together with the resolution sufficiently. To support premise 2, Pro says:

"It's odd enough that they do so when projected en masse, but for an individual electron to interfere with itself, it must, somehow, become two electrons, pass through both slits, interfere with itself, and then collapse back into a single electron. However, this suggestion is literally impossible, as an electron cannot become two electrons (conservation of mass)....Such an outcome is simply, literally, physically impossible." - Pro

The problem with the above is the fact that there is no violation of the conservation of energy. It is simply not true that it takes two photons or electrons to, in essence, "cancel each other out". In reality, it truly only takes each one. For example, each photon will act as a wave and interfere with itself to create the interference pattern. This means that the energy of the photon is never really lost, contrary to what my opponent believes. This means that the double slit experiment does not actually cast any serious doubt on physicalism.

However, lets say such a scenario does involve two photons or electrons in context, would this still really violate the conservation of energy? I would say, no. This is because energy can be both positive and negative. This means, that as much new energy can be created without violation of any physical laws as long as there is enough negative energy to balance it out. The universe most likely has a total energy of zero[1]. This is because if you added up all the positive energy (motion, matter ect.) and the negative energy of gravitational attraction (and just simply stored in space), they would cancel each other out. Negative energy has even been experimentally verified between two Casimir plates[2].

Either way you look at it, my opponent has not established the conclusion that double-slit experiments negate physicalism. My opponent goes on to say:

"There is NO explanation of which I am familiar that explains how an objectively real physical particle can behave in such a manner." - Pro

This is an appeal to ignorance[3] logical fallacy. Even if we had no other explanation, it would not follow from this that your hypothesis is a fact. Pro said that his burden was to show that, and I quote:

"physical reality is, in fact, a very high fidelity simulation." - Pro

Pro has not shown that it is a fact that the universe is a simulation.

"While that was, in fact, the original expected result, why does merely observing which slit cause the change? Under the objective physical reality hypothesis, which is our default, it's once again illogical." - Pro

Pro has not showed that any logical laws are being violated. His charge of "illogical" is unjustified. There is a difference between something being:

(i) Bizarre and counter-intuitive
(ii) Illogical

Pro is taking something bizarre and counter-intuitive and calling it illogical. There is no warrant for this. He claims that other experiments support his case, but he did not really go into detail or provide any sources in favor of this.

Conclusion

Pro did not show that materialism is false by use of quantum mechanics. He assumed this burden. Thus, the resolution has been negated according to the debate outline.

Sources

[1] http://arxiv.org...
[2] http://www.universetoday.com...;
[3] http://www.nizkor.org...;
Debate Round No. 2
kevin.moseley

Pro

Con States:
Hopefully I am not straw-manning. but I feel like it will be easier to attack my opponent's opening argument if it was presented in the form of a logical syllogism:

P1: The external world is either real and non-physical, or the external world is not real and non-physical
P2: Quantum experiments demonstrate true conclusions which could not be true if the external world is real and physical
C: The external world is not real and non-physical

I would modify P1 as follows: The external world is either real and PHYSICAL or, the external world is not real and not physical. I am not sure if that has any substantive point, however.

Con states:
The problem with the above is the fact that there is no violation of the conservation of energy. It is simply not true that it takes two photons or electrons to, in essence, "cancel each other out". In reality, it truly only takes each one. For example, each photon will act as a wave and interfere with itself to create the interference pattern. This means that the energy of the photon is never really lost, contrary to what my opponent believes. This means that the double slit experiment does not actually cast any serious doubt on physicalism. -Con

The experiment is much more interesting when talking about matter than light. A particle of matter has mass, and should (though quantum physics clearly shows that it is not) be at a specific, definable place. When matter, shot through the double slit apparatus one at a time shows wavelike behavior, that it because it doesn't physically exist during the time it is traveling. Rather it's travel is calculated and rendered on demand. Which is why if you concluded the experiment after but a single electron, you'd have an electron in what appeared to be a completely random location.

Furthermore, that explains why the experiment changes when detectors are put at the slit. With detectors, the probability-wave cannot go through both slits, because it has to be rendered to be measured. Once it's rendered, it's future travel is calculated from that point forward, resulting in clumps instead of an interference pattern.

Con States:
This is an appeal to ignorance[3] logical fallacy. Even if we had no other explanation, it would not follow from this that your hypothesis is a fact. Pro said that his burden was to show that, and I quote:

"physical reality is, in fact, a very high fidelity simulation." - Pro

My use of the phrase "in fact" was probably overstating the case. I should have moderated it.

Rather than take up the space trying to fit the rest of my whitepaper, I will link it here. I probably should have done that in the first place. Because I tried to fit it where it doesn't fit, I only got one out of a number of examples listed, though the DSE is the grand-daddy of them all.

My entire whitepaper may be found here: http://randommusingsbykevin.blogspot.com...
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

"I would modify P1 as follows: The external world is either real and PHYSICAL or, the external world is not real and not physical. I am not sure if that has any substantive point, however." - Pro

If my opponent would have read the comments of this debate, he would have seen that I already pointed out this typo on my behalf.

"When matter, shot through the double slit apparatus one at a time shows wavelike behavior, that it because it doesn't physically exist during the time it is traveling."

My opponent has provided no evidence or sources to back up the claim that the matter does not exist during the time it is travelling. First of all, my opponent has to assume a Copenhagen like interpretation to even begin to derive his desired result in the first place. This means his whole argument begs the question against deterministic interpretations of quantum mechanics (which are realist). This puts a huge question mark over my opponent's entire argument.

My opponent also completely ignored my argument with regards to the zero-energy universe which shows that there is no violation of the conservation of energy even if more energy is produced.

Conclusion

My opponent has engaged in misconduct by trying to bypass the character limits unfairly. Also, his argument begs the question against other interpretations of quantum mechanics, as his argument relies on one specific interpretation. Additionally, he ignores my argument with regards to a zero-energy universe. The resolution has been negated.


Debate Round No. 3
kevin.moseley

Pro

kevin.moseley forfeited this round.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

My arguments stand. I urge a vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
I meant "the external world is either real and physical..."

I made a typo in my first round.
Posted by JonathanCrane 3 years ago
JonathanCrane
Isn't the conservation of mass and energy a principle of classical mechanics anyways?
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
The last two links were broken in the "sources" section. Here are the working link on negative energy as the Casimir effect:

http://en.wikipedia.org...

Here is the one on appeal to ignorance:

http://www.fallacyfiles.org...
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by johnlubba 3 years ago
johnlubba
kevin.moseleyRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: FF