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Objective Reality Doesn't Exist Says Quantum Physics

Dmitriy Rybin / Shutterstock.com

Dmitriy Rybin / Shutterstock.com

Humans have a bit of a problem with reality. 

For all we know, we could be trapped in a holographic cave. Or there could be a mirror universe, with antimatter-based reality, diametrically different from our own.

We could be just brains artificially suspended in vats, pretending to be living independently and consciously.

But let’s put the simulation argument and other theories that challenge our perception of reality aside. Let’s talk about what we experience as objective reality.

In simple terms, objective reality is a reality that exists independently from us and can be verified objectively by anyone.

Although it may seem so solid and irrefutable, objective reality may not exist, at least not in the way we think it does.

Is Objective Reality Real?

Objective reality is essential for a healthy rapport with the world we live in. But in “reality,” there might be no such thing as objective reality, a new quantum experiment says.

You wouldn’t expect a group of physicists to deny the existence of objective reality. Yet this is the result they came to with their research.

The researchers at Heriot-Watt University (Scotland) based their study on a thought experiment famous among theoretical physicists.

Proposed by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Eugene Wigner in 1961, the thought experiment is known as Wigner’s friend. The experiment describes how two observers of the same photon could come to two valid objective readings.

The team validated Wigner’s experiment, concluding that quantum observers may be entitled to their own facts. Their test, instead of a photon, involves a “quantum coin.”

Imagine a person inside a closed room tossing a coin.

It could either fall on its “head” or “tails,” as compared to a photon’s horizontal or vertical polarization. From the outside, we don’t know on which side the coin falls, and we have to assume both outcomes are possible.

However, the person inside already knows the definite outcome. This brings us to a seeming paradox where the fact established inside is different from that concluded from the outside.

Massimiliano Proietti, lead author of the study, and his team used four observers implemented on a small photonic quantum computer. The experiment, which also involved six entangled light particles, revealed that under some assumptions, the inside and outside observers really cannot agree on what happened in the experiment.”

But that’s only true for photons and the subatomic world. Our objective reality is safe, right? Proietti added:

“The insight we gained is that quantum observers may indeed be entitled to their own facts. If we insist that this shouldn’t be the case for “classical” human observers, the challenge now is to pin down where the two domains depart from each other. It may, for example, hint at quantum mechanics not being applicable to big, everyday objects — something that is allowed by textbook quantum physics.”

Read More: Quantum Darwinism, a New Theory on the Nature of Reality

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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