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# Reality doesn't exist if you don't look at it

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To follow up on Harte's post, and add a bit more detail: The most complete description of a physical system, that we know of, is the wavefunction for the system.

A system will always have a definite wavefunction.

Taking the simple case of one object in one dimension, IF that wavefunction is:

exp(i(kx- wt)),

where exp() represents an exponential, and i is the square-root of -1, x is a spatial coordinate, t is a time coordinate, k is proportional to the momentum, and w is proportional to the energy (constants of proportionality in both cases are the reduced Planck's constant), THEN that object is a wave (with a fixed momentum k).

IF the wavefunction is:

delta( x - x0)exp(-iwt),

where delta() represents the Dirac delta function, THEN the object is a particle (with a fixed position x0).

However in general the wavefunction can be almost any other mathematical expression. Take note that wavefunction of an electron orbiting a hydrogen atom is neither of these two expressions, and is something rather more complicated.

I'm wondering if the quantum state of a quantum system, or the superposition of a quantum system as described by a wave function (a matematical expression not describing wave/particle duality) is a description of the real quantum system, or just what the observer knows about the quantum system?

In other words, what is reality? Is the mathematical description of the quantum state of an atom the real atom, for instance? "What we know" may always be a description only of "what we know", and not of actual reality, whatever that may be.

The wavefunction is the most complete description of a system that we know of. Using this wavefunction to predict measurable properties of the system almost always works - although often the results of a measurement can only be predicted with a certain probability, measuring many systems prepared in an identical manner produces results that are consistent with these probabilities.

Of course that does not mean that a wavefunction is real. It could be just a convenient mathematical trick.

Personally, I believe that a wavefunction is real.

But the discussion on this issue is as old as quantum mechanics (and these debates are just a subset of the much older debates on the philosophy of science, and how theories relate to reality). See here.

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If you want to know what "reality" is you get yourself into the realm of psychology... I don't think we want to get there.

Your "reality" is different from "my reality" due to experience, training, education and the mental "deformation" (in lack of a better word) each of those bring with it.

It is better to define the actual state into "known" and "unknown".

But the discussion on this issue is as old as quantum mechanics (and these debates are just a subset of the much older debates on the philosophy of science, and how theories relate to reality)

Psychiatry aside, yeah, there's no end to this speculation. I console myself with the belief Reality doesn't exist at all. This is conveinient for me in that it does away with these bewildering debates I sometime worry about. Of course, this belief of mine is still part of the debate. I think this is the impetus for Existence (whether it is Real or not) to appear to exist.

In other words, Existence is a mystery that exists because it is a mystery. It's sort of a diabolical and clever self-referential ruse that exists as an illusion to itself. It's hard to explain what I mean. I think the very fact that I can't explain it is the essence of the thing, which is, of course, not a thing at all.

If we could explain or understand all the "unknown's", as questionmark puts it, I think Existence would disappear immediately, like pricking a baloon. What we consider as Existence would be too embarrassed to have been found out that it's just a lot of hot air with no real substance to it, and that its been fooling us all this time.

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Reality seems pretty real to me

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Reality seems pretty real to me

That is why we call it reality

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In other words, Existence is a mystery that exists because it is a mystery. It's sort of a diabolical and clever self-referential ruse that exists as an illusion to itself. It's hard to explain what I mean. I think the very fact that I can't explain it is the essence of the thing, which is, of course, not a thing at all.

Your post reminds me of the book I am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter.

He talks mostly about conciousness, rather than reality, but some of his arguments are similar to yours.

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Your post reminds me of the book I am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter.

He talks mostly about conciousness, rather than reality, but some of his arguments are similar to yours.

Reality could be the result of a closed timelike curve or strange loop. Existence creating itself without a first cause,

It is more plausible to start with a ground state which is the minimum of what physically can exist. According to this view an absolute nothingnes is impossible. There is something rather than nothing because something cannot come out of absolutely nothing, and something does obviously

exist. Thus, something can only change, and this change might be described with physical laws. Hence,

the ground state is almost nothing but can become thoroughl something.

https://web.archive....01/VAASTIME.PDF

In other words, the ground energy state or true vacuum has no first cause, it has always existed, and the origin of our universe was just a blip of quantum potential that has risen above the lowest possible energy state. This would be similar to a closed timelike curve or strange loop in that there is no deterministic cause, only a random quantum fluctuation that creates the universe.

I think in this sense, Reality just is, and it has no antecedent. An intrinsicly unfathomable mystery. In my view, this kind of Reality can be considered an illusion. Can something that is essentially self-referential, like M. C. Escher's 'Drawing Hands', be considered Real?

Edited by StarMountainKid
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So a TREE does NOT make a sound if it falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it?

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Could this be used to argue that we live in a simulation? Looking at a simple example like a video game where landscape and objects are only rendered as needed and deleted from the scene when out of scope or range of the player.

My thoughts exactly Red October, the Holographic Universe theory or the Langoliers, take your pick.

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Reality doesn't work any other way than it does, whether the way it works makes any sense or not. Plain observation is better than theorization, it's just the method of observation you need to cultivate.

I'm always delighted to hear about these new measurements, but also always take anyone saying "now we got how it really works" with a big, big grain of salt.

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All we know is what is in our own brains. Our thoughts and experiences and theories.

I could be the only real being .... and all the rest I see and experience is only real when I see or interact with it.

Then when I die.... all is gone.

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It's the little blue men that run around and create reality the second before we see it...old Twilight Zone truth!

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Followed by the Langoliers once we move forward.

Harte

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Hmmm... so if you're blind, reality doesn't exist?

It would make sense, in a bizarre way.

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All we know is what is in our own brains. Our thoughts and experiences and theories.

I could be the only real being .... and all the rest I see and experience is only real when I see or interact with it.

Then when I die.... all is gone.

That is starkly and deeply depressing.

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Hmmm... so if you're blind, reality doesn't exist?

It would make sense, in a bizarre way.

I thought the debate was on the quantum level? Perhaps quantum physics doesn't exist? I'm being sarcastic... or am I?

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If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one to hear it, does it make a sound?

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If Helen Keller fell over in the woods, would it make a sound?

Harte

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59 Posted by Barkinghorse on 9 June, 2015, 8:31

All we know is what is in our own brains. Our thoughts and experiences and theories. I could be the only real being .... and all the rest I see and experience is only real when I see or interact with it. Then when I die.... all is gone.

lightly said: then how did you get here? If there will be nothing after you... there was also nothing before you?

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I thought the debate was on the quantum level? Perhaps quantum physics doesn't exist? I'm being sarcastic... or am I?

What kind of reality is it that exists on the quantum scale? Can we call this quantum weirdness reality at all? I realize it's the foundation of the Reality of the universe, and it's our human perception of the dichotomy of the classical and quantum scales that makes events on the quantum scale seem weird to us, but if the quantum scale is the real world, it's our macro scale of reality that is unreal.

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We discussed this in class after our professor was just killing time.

Like out in the ocean if you're

laying back on the beach with your girl are the tides there or is it your imagination .

Seriously is anything real ? does a tree man

make a sound if you're not there to hear it.

I feel sometimes we all are controlled by higher intelligence

who knows maybe they have sat us in a corner somewhere

making us imagine people around us when actually nothing exists

someone ,something must be aware. Without "awareness"

Edited by Waziya Sioux
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Hmmm... so if you're blind, reality doesn't exist?

It would make sense, in a bizarre way.

No one is saying that reality ceases to exist if you don't look at. The headline is a complete misreading of the science, and one of the oldest mistakes in the quantum book.

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Reality could be the result of a closed timelike curve or strange loop. Existence creating itself without a first cause,

https://web.archive....01/VAASTIME.PDF

In other words, the ground energy state or true vacuum has no first cause, it has always existed, and the origin of our universe was just a blip of quantum potential that has risen above the lowest possible energy state. This would be similar to a closed timelike curve or strange loop in that there is no deterministic cause, only a random quantum fluctuation that creates the universe.

I think in this sense, Reality just is, and it has no antecedent. An intrinsicly unfathomable mystery. In my view, this kind of Reality can be considered an illusion. Can something that is essentially self-referential, like M. C. Escher's 'Drawing Hands', be considered Real?

I'd like to address this one sentence in what you have quoted that is, imo, contradictory, SMK.

"In my view, this kind of Reality can be considered an illusion."

At the start of the quote, it speaks of Reality in an objective sense. Something that exists, but not by the 'grace' of having any observer be witness to that existence. The highlighted sentence then suddenly changes that perspective to the subjective. When it references 'illusion' it can only be implying the existence of that something which it calls Reality as witnessed from perception of an observer.

In suddenly, and irrationally, swapping perspectives it loses the meaning of the initial consideration that the universe/reality is an objective 'something'. This Reality is not an illusion. If there is any illusion, that is only what an observer may perceive Reality (including the observer itself, presumably) to be.

Yes, Reality is mysterious - because the observer cannot distinguish - separate - itself and it's capacity to observe from that Reality.

Edited by Leonardo
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In suddenly, and irrationally, swapping perspectives it loses the meaning of the initial consideration that the universe/reality is an objective 'something'. This Reality is not an illusion. If there is any illusion, that is only what an observer may perceive Reality (including the observer itself, presumably) to be.

Yes, Reality is mysterious - because the observer cannot distinguish - separate - itself and it's capacity to observe from that Reality.

That last bit is similar to Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem.

Another example of how Mathematics appears to coincide with reality for reasons unknown, and maybe reasons unknowable.

Harte

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I'd like to address this one sentence in what you have quoted that is, imo, contradictory, SMK.

"In my view, this kind of Reality can be considered an illusion."

At the start of the quote, it speaks of Reality in an objective sense. Something that exists, but not by the 'grace' of having any observer be witness to that existence. The highlighted sentence then suddenly changes that perspective to the subjective. When it references 'illusion' it can only be implying the existence of that something which it calls Reality as witnessed from perception of an observer.

In suddenly, and irrationally, swapping perspectives it loses the meaning of the initial consideration that the universe/reality is an objective 'something'. This Reality is not an illusion. If there is any illusion, that is only what an observer may perceive Reality (including the observer itself, presumably) to be.

Yes, Reality is mysterious - because the observer cannot distinguish - separate - itself and it's capacity to observe from that Reality.

I gladly accept your critique. I agree with your above statement as far as it goes. Let me see if I can clarify the statement you highlighted. I agree with you that the kind of Reality or Existence I postulated would be in one sense objectively real and not subjectively real an illusion.

I stated in my post,

I think in this sense, Reality just is, and it has no antecedent... In my view, this kind of Reality can be considered an illusion. Can something that is essentially self-referential, like M. C. Escher's 'Drawing Hands', be considered Real?

I support the above quote by the following: Escher's 'Drawing Hands' is real in the sense that we can pick the drawing up, the paper is real, the ink of the drawing is real... It's an objective reality in itself and a subjective reality as we observe it. The drawing is a part of the reality I postulate in my post, and I used that drawing as an analogy to a recurcive or self-creating Existence or Reality.

However, can 'Drawing Hands', although it is a real element of the above defined reality, be considered coequally an illusion? What the drawing portrays may only be considered an illusion subjectively, I agree. Without an observer, the drawing just exists as it is, an exclusively objective entity. But can it be an objective entity and an illusion or not an actual reality concurrently?

I think we should try to define Reality. In one sense, can an objective Reality exist without an observer, as a real thing, a solid existence? Only an observer can define Reality, because, as you say, an observer cannot distinguish itself from that reality of which it is an element. This definition my seem only subjective, but as an objective reality must exist for the observer to be an element of it and to have his subjective observation, this Reality must be both objective and subjective.

Subjectivity is inseperable from objectivity, as the subjective is a real manifestation of the objective.

This being the case, the essence of 'Drawing Hands' as an analogy to the essence of a self-creating Reality, the drawing is real and an illusion at the same time, if we agree the drawing does portray an illusion or a process that exists as a non-objective possibility in that objective Reality in which it exists.

My premise here is, we find ourselves in a situation similar to the liar's paradox. If there exists an element of a so-called real objective Reality that cannot be integrated into that objective Reality itself, then that Reality is an inclomplete objectivity, in that it contains non-objective elements (separate from observer-subjective elements which it does contain, but that do not limit its objective Reality). In my view, this Reality I'm defining is therefore in essense an illusion. Not an observer-subjective illusion, but fundamentally an illusion as an incomplete Objectivity.

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I believe that God created the physical universe for humans. It's made up of lots of space with infinitely small atoms with electrons whirling like a cloud around the nuclei... If humans did not exist to perceive the universe, the universe would cease to exist.

".Know ye that the world it like unto a mirage..."

Abdu'l-Baha' from the Loom of Reality. http://bahai-library.com/compilations/bwf/bwf8.html