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Apr 27, 2009

The Observer – changing our reality

The Observer | Videos | Posted by Scully
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The Observer

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A fantastic correlation between quantum physics and The Observer has been brought to light by pr3sidentspence.  His original comment really got me thinking…

“In quantum mechanics there is a phenomenon where by observing the behavior of a system affects the outcome.

I think that the observer is directing chance/fate simply by observing the pattern.

OMG, I just realized that the same thought experiment used to explain this to students – the double slit experiment – produces what is called “the fringe pattern.” FRINGE – PATTERN!”

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I asked for a little background on the science of it, and he responded with this…

“It’s intro QM and the experiment is called the “Double Slit Experiment.” The pattern is called a “fringe pattern” or an “interference pattern” and each line in the pattern is called a fringe.

Pattern looks like this | | | | |||| | | | |

The setup is as follows:

You put a particle emitter on one end, it can emit photons or electrons. You place a solid plate with two vertical slits in it in the path of the particles. You place a detector screen after the slit plate. You will observe this fringe pattern on the detector. This can be easily explained if you assume that the particles aren’t particles but waves, then the two slits become synchronized wave emitters themselves and the fringes can be explained by wave interference. You can also perform this in a tank of water and see the same thing.

Now here’s the funky bit. If you make the particle emitters emit one particle at a time, they can’t go through both slits like a wave front can. They can only go through one. And you see one hit on the detector. But if you repeat this single emission many times and superimpose all the hits, the fringe pattern re-appears! It’s a little harder to explain why this happens.

Now, if you decide you want to know which of the slits each particle is going through, you can close one of the slits. You might think that if you close one or the other at random (not just once, but for each particle) or alternate which one is open, that this really wouldn’t change the result. The particle either goes through the open one or does not arrive at the detector. You’d think that maybe it would take twice as long to show the pattern. But if you do this, you find that the pattern never forms. The act of measuring, observing, or knowing which trajectory the particles take destroys the pattern.”

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Here is a video explaining the phenomenon:

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OMG!  That’s all I could think to say.  So basically, simply by observing the ‘pattern’ events, he is changing the outcome.  So, an experiment (‘pattern event’) with an infinite possible outcomes could be controlled by someone (The Observer) with the right knowledge and skills.  In other words, the reason the Observer is watching these events is because he is here to change things.

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Let’s assume for now, that the Observer is not an alien, but rather a traveler from another universe or dimension.  A world that has followed a similar path to ours, but due to infinite possibilities, has reached a different outcome.  One theory might be that their outcome was undesirable and the Observer is here to correct or change a path that our world is on, to help us avoid a similar outcome.

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Another theory might be that, if these alternate universes are connected in some way, that a destructive path we are on, is affecting their world, and so, the Observer is here to change things for the sake of their own world.  Whatever his motives, he is changing our reality.

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What about the blue lights?  My theory had always been, that the blue lights were an indicator of someone moving in and out of our world (be it alien or not).  Let’s say that the blue lights are also indicating change.  Our path of possible outcomes, being or has just been, altered in some way.

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The Observer in "The Arrival"

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Perhaps there are certain people in our dimension that have the same effect as the Observer and don’t even realize it.  Mr. Jones with his teleportation device might be an example of this.  Olivia getting information from John Scott in the tank, might be another example.  These events seem to surrounded by blue lights as well.

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Mr. Jones and Olivia

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I would like to thank pr3sidentspence for his amazing theory as well as all of the research he did to back it up.  I look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts on this.

32 Responses to “The Observer – changing our reality”

  1. Di

    erm..yeah, that sounds about it. that’s why it always come handy to keep a quantum-instructed person around :P Amazing catch pr3sidentspence!

  2. Jeff

    I liked … seems logical … good post.

  3. pr3sidentspence

    I must have a prediliction for this typo, but any time you see “fring” in my post, it should read, “fringe.”

  4. pr3sidentspence

    Ohaha! I didn’t bother watching the whole youtube video I suggested until now. I picked it because it was the top youtube result for the search “double slit experiment.” But, it fits the observer theory so well I couldn’t have asked for better! Serendipity.

  5. pr3sidentspence

    So I did manage to get my wife addicted to Fringe and caught up, we just watched 117.

    In the scene where Walter, Olivia, and Peter discuss William’s cortexiphan experiments. In it, Walter mentions how a number of people have “all focused on one, single elementary truth: perception is the key to transformation.”

    One of the people Walter says focused on this is Heisenberg. Heisenberg was the physicist who explained the fringe pattern using quantum mechanics rather than wave theory. He supposed that you could only know the combined momentum and location of a particle to a certain limit. If you knew the location precisely, you could not know anything about it’s momentum and vice-versa.

    For example, if you call the direction length of the slits in the double slit experiment X, and the direction of the width Y. You know very precisely (the width of the slit) the position of the particle traveling through the slit in the Y dimension. As you know very precisely the Y component of the position, you can not know much about the y component of the momentum after that “measurement.” This uncertainty in the Y-momentum is what causes the unexpected spread in the path of the particles (i.e., why you don’t get two and only two fringes at the detector).

    This is known as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and basically means that the more closely you observe one aspect of a system, the less you can know about the other aspects. Observation changes the system. For example, if you Observe momentum closely, you change the path of the particle.

    Now back to Water’s statement: the root word of perception is perceive, which is a synonym for observe, and transform is synonymous with change. So, “Observation is the key to change.” Which goes back to the Observer changes reality, changes the way the experiment concludes, and destroys the pattern.

    Ugh, I have to get back to writing a paper, but I think next up I’ll write on wave-functions and a cat, a dead cat, and the superposition of the two, with my old friend Schrodinger.

    -Mike

  6. pr3sidentspence

    PS – Thanks Di, my physics degree didn’t go to waste afterall.

  7. pr3sidentspence

    Correction above, I wrote that:

    “For example, if you Observe momentum closely, you change the path of the particle”

    That might not be true, I’d have to go back to my textbook from 12 years ago. But if you observe the momentum accurately you can’t know accurately know where the particle is, and if you measure accurately where the particle is, you can’t know it’s accurate momentum (typically it’s path).

  8. Scully

    - “Ugh, I have to get back to writing a paper, but I think next up I’ll write on wave-functions and a cat, a dead cat, and the superposition of the two, with my old friend Schrodinger.” –

    OK, that one I know from SG-1. Sad but true, I learn more from TV then I ever did in school.

  9. ZFT - Helping or Hindering? | Fringe - 118 Midnight | Observers Are Here

    [...] am bouncing this theory off of the Quantum Physics theory about parallel universes.  Could it be possible that ZFT is actually trying to help the human [...]

  10. pr3sidentspence

    Aha! I knew it wouldn’t be long before I was talking Schroedinger.

    So, from the previews (Spoiler warning). Today’s episode will involve the “many worlds” theory of quantum mechanics. Walter is explaining it to Liv using a branching tree on a blackboard. The theory basically says that whenever something can happen, it does, in at least one reality.

    For example, in another reality, there may have not been sufficient neurotransmitters conveyed to that last neuron that tipped the balance to make me stay up to write this, and instead in that other world I went to bed.

    Some people use this as a way of thinking about the probabilities that things will happen, and how observing the experiment makes things turn out one way. Like in the double slit experiment, and observed particle can no longer take both paths, but only one. This “collapses the probability wave” into only one possibility.

    Now usually this is regarding particles, but a physicist named Schroedinger came up with a gedankenspiel (I love that word, it means thought experiment) where you trap a complicated system into a probability wave by preventing an outside observer from seeing what’s going on.

    He started with a random event. He said that a sample of radioactive matter has a probability, P, of one of its atoms decaying in some period of time and releasing a particle in the process. He said that if you put this sample in a box and don’t look at it that the atoms in the sample are neither decayed or not, but exist as a superposition of both states, until you observe it.

    He used the following to explain just how weird this is: Now add a particle detector to detect if an atom decays, and use it to trigger the release of a deadly gas, and put all of this in the box with a living cat. The hole system in the box, the sample, the detector, the vial, and the cat cease to be in one state or another. The cat is both alive and dead, until an outside observer opens the box to look, at which point one of the possible states is fixed as the one that happened.

    In the many worlds theory, observing doesn’t collapse the wave function into one of the possibilities. Instead, every possible outcome happens and the universe splits into many universes.

    In one universe a particle decays and the cat dies, in another it lives, and in another is escaped while you weren’t in the room, and in a, say, 10^23 universes, the cat is dead and this one particular atom, and not that one was the one that decayed.

    So basically the universe is constantly splitting into an infinite number of similar but slightly different universes.

    My next prediction, is that Fringe uses this idea in the future to explain how you can go back in time and kill your own great-great-grandfather without causing a paradox (if you assume that when you time travel into the past you also switch universes (or timelines)).

    See, physics is weirder than most things you can imaging.

    As usual, here is a video explaining this better than I can:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KN6a8inOF8

    Also, as a PS: quantum entanglement sounds a lot like the link between Liv and Nick:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gQrqukNOek

  11. Scully

    Once again, I’m blown away with your knowledge of physics and how it relates to the show. Thanks, I love this.

    I wonder if this might explain the tombstone and why the dates don’t match up on it.

    http://observersarehere.com/the-tombstones/2008/10/

  12. pr3sidentspence

    See, I knew the ten years and the near nervous breakdown to finish my physics degree was worth it.

    Oh, BTW, finished the paper finally. Now I have a degree in Anthropology, too. Anyone want to hire a physicist/mathematician/anthropologist/archaeologist who’s not really qualified to do any single one of those? I think engineering might be next on the list.

  13. Di

    hahahahaha quite impressive. but i would disagree on the physicist qualifications. you seem to have that down pretty well.

  14. Scully

    A professional schoolboy…nice.

  15. p3sidentspence

    @Di

    Oh I bet a physics professor would be groaning while reading my hackjob explaining things. :)

  16. Scully

    I’ve learned more about physics in the last few weeks, than I did in five years of high school. No I didn’t fail a year, I’m just THAT old.

  17. Di

    i’m a lawyer.. [i think that pretty much sums it up]

    guess we should be sending J.J. a fruit basket or something, we’re getting too much education out of this :P

  18. pr3sidentspence

    Ok…one more nugget about tonight’s episode.

    In 117, Bad Dreams, Walter is explaining how perception can transform things.

    Peter steps in and says, “Reality is both subjective and malleable. If you can dream a better world you can make a better world.”

    Walter jumps in and says, “Or perhaps travel between them.”

    Peter looks at Walter, shocked, and says, “What did you just say?”

    Olivia continues on about Nick and cortexiphan though, so it’s never gone over in depth.

    Anyway, this also seems to apply to tonight’s show.

  19. Scully

    Sometimes when Peter reacts like that, I wonder if it’s not so much surprise as it is recognition. Like it was on the tip of his tongue (so to speak) and Walter’s comment jogged it. I’ve always believed that the connection between Walter and the Observer isn’t exclusive.

    SPOILER ALERT:

    I think Peter has a connection with him as well, and I wonder if it will be Peter who figures out where Walter has disappeared to.

  20. ariannejean

    that video is pretty awesome at explaining things in laments terms.

    I don’t think that was the first time Walter mentions traveling between worlds/reality… or maybe my sense of deja vu was just that.

  21. pr3sidentspence

    Well, they’ve also talked about another world a lot. Actually, it’s going to be interesting how they balance the idea of infinite worlds with the “two worlds” at war described in ZFT.

  22. Di

    peter and his recognition..i told you guys he knew more than we’ve been let into. i wish we got episodes just on him, seriously. when olivia mentioned cortexiphan he told her straight up ‘but you weren’t treated with that, were you?’. if that’s not knowing, i don’t know what it is.

  23. Mic

    This link http://observersarehere.com/promo-pics-for-fringe-118-119-120/2009/04/#more-3763 is to a spoiler so use it at your own risk, but it’s interesting to me how similar the pattern and colors in the picture of Olivia at the map are to what happens in the video pr3sidentspence links to at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KN6a8inOF8

    Just another reason to think you are dead-on about this theory…

  24. pr3sidentspence

    It does remind me of that, too. Somehow I think it’s a might be a coincidence, though.

    Notice the colours: red, blue, yellow and green.

  25. Scully

    Di: Yeah, Peter did react like he KNEW that Olivia wasn’t tested, and not like he was just protecting her. But she was tested, we’re sure about that, aren’t we. So was Peter lied to about it, or was there another testing venue that Peter was at, and subconsciously, he knew she wasn’t there with him?

  26. pr3sidentspence

    Remember that when Liv first asked Nina, she was told it there was only one trial and not in Jacksonville. She might have shared that with Peter. Then when she found out that there was another, she might have kept that to herself.

  27. Di

    olivia and peter are the same age? i’m sorry, but that can’t be a coincidence. i’m starting to feel bad for these kids. do we know anything about olivia’s family besides her sister? what about her parents? she grew up on a military base, i think it was mentioned she was an army kid. i’m sorry, but which parent would give a daughter up for these kind of things..unless the father was somewhat involved..walter and bell were, after all, doing work for national security and the military. geez who’s olivia’s dad?! could she be bell’s daughter?! [ok i know, that's too far off. but still]

  28. Scully

    I have a feeling it wasn’t either of her parents. I think it was her Uncle. Remember in her dream sequence in the Pilot when she saw the kayak…it had the Aleph symbol, the green-green-green-red dots and the word Zeno on it and Olivia said ‘That’s my Uncle’s kayak.’

  29. Mic

    @ pr3sidentspence– It’s either coincidence regarding the colors or maybe the writers are using the same research you are. I still think you right on with this though.

    @ Di– That’s right, Olivia did grow up in a military family. Maybe all the test subjects are kids of parents in the military? It may not be that the parents knew what was going on, they could have just been told it was free daycare.

  30. pr3sidentspence

    Are they the same age? Do we know that?

  31. Di

    i had to go to our dearest scully’s character bio’s section to confirm. i thought peter was older, he might be. but even if it’s ‘?’ and pending confirmation, it would seem the youngsters were born in the same year. checking the cortexiFAN site, the PB and the OD experiments have a 3 year difference though. might mean [if indeed the site is not completely bogus] that peter is a little older. or simply that as he was closer to the lab the experiments started with him at a younger age. it would still make sense, because we know peter was born in ’78, the test starting on 1980 would mean he was 2, which matches the cortexiphan description we got from God knows who [i can't remember] regarding tempering with newlyborn children before the environment started to ‘limit’ them. olivia been tested on 83 would mean either that she’s younger than peter, or that she was considerably older, which would also explain why she was not so young on walter’s tape [by 83 she'd be around 5].