This post takes a critical look at one of the popular theories for how quantum states become classical states in a way that creates the reality we experience.
What is really real? Despite all the great success of science, it seems the more we dig into that question the more difficult it becomes. It’s hard to imagine our savannah dwelling ancestors wondering if that lion stalking them is actually real or just an illusion created in our minds.
There are a great many mysteries in science today, but one of the most perplexing is the gap between what we know of the universe at the smallest levels — quantum mechanics — and the world we experience everyday — the classical world. How do the perturbations of energy in fields which exist in superposition until observed create the world we know, or think we know?
We can take an idealist position, including the Vedantist view of Erwin Schrödinger as we just reviewed in the last few posts, but somehow the chair we sit on, the computer we write on, and the bullet that kills appear to be very, very real. Being killed by that bullet is no illusion, no mere appearance, no maya.
But, if that bullet is reduced to perturbations of energy in relation with other such perturbations all potentially scattered far and wide and simultaneously existing, here, there and over there, with properties that could be one thing or their opposite, then how can that indeterminate, insubstantial, superpositioned thing do anything real, like end a life? One might say the life it ends, like the bullet, is an illusion. But, if that life contains consciousness, only a physicalist might say that consciousness too is an illusion. Even a Vendantist would have to agree that the transition from conscious awareness of oneself into the blissful deep sleep that Schrödinger describes is a real form of death.
Enter Quantum Darwinism
There seem to be few interpretations or possible answers to the question as to how quantum realities create classical realities. But one possible one is called Quantum Darwinism. My purpose here is to try to understand and evaluate it from a thoroughly non-scientific perspective, hoping that it can help answer the question about what is real.