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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Double-slit experiment

I just finished reading an interesting paper about quantum physics and consciousness. The lead researcher, Dean Radin,  works at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, California.  The research team did six experiments focusing on how meditation can affect light as it passes through two small slits.  But first, let's look at some history.

Isaac Newton in 1687 proposed that light is made of very small particles called photons. In the early 1800s Thomas Young did an experiment with light and small slits and showed that light consisted of waves. In the early 1900s similar experiments to Young's was done and demonstrated that light can behave as either particles or waves depending on how the experiments are done. And then a little later, in the 1920s, physicists discovered that electrons act like waves when no one is watching and act like particles when someone is watching.  Click here!

Nobel laureate and one of the leading physicists of the 20th century, Eugene Wigner concluded that "The content of consciousness seems to be the ultimate universal reality."  And the Father of Quantum Mechanics Max Planck said, "Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature because we ourselves are part of the mystery that we are trying to solve."  So it looks like reality is a product of consciousness.

Now, getting back to the experiments done by Radin and his team.  They used a polarized laser beam as their light source and pointed it at two slits etched through metal foil. The slits were 10 microns wide (smaller than a human hair) and 200 microns apart. A 3,000 pixel camera was used to record the results.

They found that experienced meditators can influence the beam of light as it travels through the slits significantly greater than what nonmeditators could. "Meditators produced effects 2.5 times larger than those produced by nonmeditators. They could mentally block one of the slits in a contemplative way, or mentally 'push' the laser beam to cause it to go through one of the two slits rather than both." 

They did another experiment that is even more baffling. They set up the experiement in a sealed room and let it run without anyone present. Three months later they had meditators focus on the slits as they did before. They then looked at the video and discovered the beam of light going through one slit not both.  Think about that for awhile.

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