TED Conversations

Murshid Salam

Program Controller, Ericsson India Global Services Pvt. Ltd.

This conversation is closed.

In double slit experiment of Thomas Young, why do electrons (particles) behave like waves when we aren't observing them?

In double slit experiment of Thomas Young, electrons (particle) behaves like a particle when they are under observation. But how they suddenly behave like a wave when we do not observe them.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jul 24 2012: It sounds like a radical assumption but what if our 'consciousness' had a slight effect on how they acted? Has that been tested?
    I was once walking home questioning the same thing, but I thought...
    "What IF someone completely believed they could alter how these 'particles' acted simply by thinking?"
    Would, or could that change how they acted?
    I found it strange that when we observed, they acted like we expected them to, BUT is that because we 'expected' them to? And our consciousness had some effect on how they acted?
    Who is to say humans brainwaves don't have unknown 'powers', it's a controversial subject I know, but the evidence behind a 'sixth sense' is overwhelming in many fields of study.

    Just a thought.
    • Jul 27 2012: There is a "field" of study regarding this called noetics. They seek to quantify the weight and cosquence effect of thought. Dan Brown recently wrote a book incorporating these principles for whatever that is worth. You might want to check out Stuart Hammeroff's work online as well. Chek out bbc 4 "the atom". For a informative documentary including the implications of the double slit experiment and Schroeder's cat in a box experiment.
      • thumb
        Jul 29 2012: Wow, thank you for this :) I will be sure to further educate myself in this field. It definitely interests me!
        • Jul 29 2012: I'm obsessed with it. Bring it up with me if you have questions or just to share in the bewilderment. Also check out the following if you like what you see.
          Some mind blowing stuff for you viewing and reading pleasure:

          BBC 4 - Dangerous knowledge (on YouTube)
          The Atom
          M- theory
          PBS Nova (on you tube)
          -Hunting the Hidden Dimension (fractles)
          -The Elegant Universe (series of 3 or four shows related to the bbc material but older-optional but simply explanitory)

          (all of the below available on YouTube)
           (hokey but thought provoking)
          Holographic Universe (Part 1) 

          Introduction and Illustration on the Holographic Principle
          -explains the role of black holes and potential information storage

          Quantum Consciousness, Quantum Mind STUART HAMEROFF (P.1)
          (also check out his website by the same title for a little light reading)

          Check out on Ted.com -
          Lucianne Walkowicz: Finding planets around other stars

          Aaron O'Connell: Making sense of a visible quantum object

          Andrea Ghez: The hunt for a supermassive black hole

          Sean Carroll: Distant time and the hint of a multiverse


      • thumb
        Jul 30 2012: What is your email? i'd love to discuss this with you in more depth :)
    • Jul 29 2012: There are some limited results indicating that people's thoughts can effect the results of random number generators running in computers. You might want to check this out:

    • thumb
      Jul 31 2012: As it turns out, consciousness does not have any intentional effect on physical world.

      That is to say, no matter how many people are thinking or how hard they think, physics goes on, entirely undisturbed.

      They idea that anyone's thoughts effect the outcome of the double slit experiment (or any other experiment or physical event) is an unfortunate misunderstanding that results from the use of the word 'observer'.

      When physicists say that they 'observe' a particle in the double slit experiment they do not literally mean that someone actually looked at it, or thought about its location during experiment. In fact, there is no 'observer' at all in the sense of the term where observer means conscious agent (like a scientist, for example). Instead, the 'observer' is actually a detector that is part of the experimental apparatus. In order to make an observation though, the detector must interact with the particle as it travels along. Imagine being blind; the only way to 'observe' the location of, say, the remote control would be to touch it to discover its location. The touching, crucially, is the observation without which nothing could be definitively known. In the same way, any detector must 'touch' the particle to find out something about it: like how fast it's moving or where it is or what slit it went through. Crucially, however, by doing this, by 'touching' or 'observing' the particle, the particle's state is irrevocably changed (like leaving fingerprints on the remote) thereby altering the outcome of the experiment.

      While admittedly bizarre, the way in which these experiments play out, both observed and otherwise, is completely and thoroughly explained by quantum mechanics.

      Non-intuitive and difficult to understand? Yes. Sixth sense? Not so much.

      This is rather interesting if you're interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-slit_experiment
      Read it carefully.
      • thumb
        Jul 31 2012: Informative and persuasive, thank you for that.
        But, in my defense:
        I, nor anyone alive fully understands the nature of consciousness, and it's spectrum of capabilities.
        • thumb
          Jul 31 2012: You're welcome.

          And yeah! Definitely.
          Consciousness is rather bizarre and no one's figured it out completely. Yet!

          But when it's all said and done, I'd place my bets on consciousness being an entirely physical phenomenon. I feel that a lot of people may find that idea rather disenchanting but I think it's lovely, imagining everything that I identify as 'me' as just a curious consequence of the very universe I'm a part of.
      • Jul 31 2012: Check the Ted homepage Michael. Femto photography is observation enough I think. What do you think?j

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.