Until not long ago, the notion that consciousness can arise from the confluence of components of physical reality has been associated more with medieval magic than with sober science. But quantum science, with its experiments, tells us that the reality we perceive emerges through the act of measurement that we exercise on it.
Such an assumption seems to call into question the nature of the reality in which we believe we move and suggests that consciousness affects matter, while it may be the conscience itself that, for us, determines the physical elements of our reality and not to the inverse, as has been classically thought.
One of the strangest and most fascinating questions that quantum physics can generate is the possibility that the world we experience is being generated by our perception of it, of the external attributes to ourselves that make it up. In other words, it is possible that reality does not exist if it is not being observed.
Therefore, it could be said that the observer affects the observed. When the behavior of a particle is measured by observation, it is influencing its natural state and the measurement may not be accurate.
Thus, when observing the behavior of light, we will verify that it will act as a physical particle or photon, if you stop observing it, or it will behave like a wave that moves in space, if the observation does not occur at a discrete moment weather. This wave-corpuscle duality constitutes one of the bases of our quantum knowledge.
Quantum jumps, abrupt changes in the physical state of a system almost instantaneously, can be found in your favourite bar and in the local supermarket.
Is the reality we experience generated by our perception of it?
The possibility that the world we experience is being generated by our perception of it is, for many, a debate as complicated as it is interesting. There are many beliefs and classic scientific postulates that are at stake.
There is a striking philosophy behind these scientific observations, which point to physical phenomena manifesting in this or that form according to the act of measurement through which they are observed. And it is that until these phenomena are not measured, until the gaze does not rest on them, they seem to remain in a kind of state of indefinition that defies logic as human beings tend to understand it.
In this state of quantum uncertainty, physical phenomena are and are not, they are alive and dead, they are waves and particles. Put another way: they do not exist and they are all at the same time.
This notion so characteristic of quantum physics has been demonstrated experimentally on more than one occasion. The groundbreaking principle of conception of reality would be, in other words, that, in some way, reality does not exist until we measure it. At least not the reality in a quantum scale that, although minuscule, is the minimum level at which the matter that constitutes all the things of the universe is reduced.
What has been conceptually done experimentally is to prove that when our mind perceives an object, it could behave as a wave or as a particle, regardless of how it is measured and, in addition, simultaneously.
However, and as it appears in published experiments, quantum physics predicts that in this perception does not seem to influence in the matter the fact that it behaves as wave or corpuscular; everything will depend on how, in the final perceptive act, the measurement or recording of the reality to be perceived was made.
Is consciousness a constitutive property of the universe?
The strange nature of reality, which changes conceptually as science advances, can cause us to question many of our beliefs about how the universe works. Explaining said operation seems extremely complex and at the moment it seems to be highly speculative.
However, one of the explanations that generates more traction is the possibility that consciousness is a constitutive property of the universe. That is to say, that consciousness exists for itself in the universe and exists by the mere fact that the univers itself exists.
This postulate would imply that consciousness also existed at the quantum level. And this, in turn, would support the narrative that it is the mind that generates the effect on matter, at the perceptual level, and not the other way around. However, the notion that consciousness may be related to the formation of physical reality has been associated more with new age ideas, to which it has tended to give little credibility, than with sober science.
Since the experiments that analyze these questions are difficult to find in the academic field of physics, it might seem that for the career of a scientist it is better to avoid relating to so apparently dubious subjects of study.
In fact, the taboo that surrounds this topic is so great that until recently it was extensive to all treatises on the foundations of quantum theory. In fact, for more than 50 years this type of experiment has come to be considered inappropriate for a ‘serious’ researcher.
In spite of everything, it seems that quantum physics, already supported by the verification and validation of its hypotheses in the laboratory, is finally opening a door towards a new way of understanding our consciousness, reality and the world. At least, and for now, science has already seemed to dismantle the prejudice of a pre-existing objective reality.
And if you think you are like any being, like anything, you are all beings, all things. You are the universe…
“In this treacherous world
nothing is true or is a lie,
everything is according to the color
of the glass with which one looks”.
-Ramón de Campoamor-