[extropy-chat] Is Many Worlds testable?

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at gmail.com
Sat Dec 30 09:47:10 UTC 2006

On 12/30/06, John K Clark <jonkc at att.net> wrote:
> Have you ever tried this? If you really destroy the record you will get a
> surprise. Place a polarizing filter set at 0 degrees over one slit, and
> one
> set at 90 degrees over the other, the interference pattern disappears
> because there is now, in effect,  a record of what photon went through
> what
> slit. Now place a third filter set at 45 degrees one inch in front of the
> film and 10 light years from the slits. The interference pattern comes
> back because the record is now destroyed, even though you didn't decide
> to put the filter in front of the film until 10 years after the photons
> passed the slits! Quantum Mechanics may or may not be a good idea
> but one thing is certain, it's the law.

Right, yes, if you _really_ destroy the record like in the above, the
interference pattern comes back.

I was thinking along the lines of: put a detector at each slit to check
which one the particle went through, but instead of displaying the result on
a screen, record it to flash memory without looking at it. Interference
pattern stays gone. Erase the flash memory stick, throw it into an
incinerator, feed the vapor into a black hole [1], the interference pattern
still stays gone even though no conscious observer saw which slit the
particle went through. Therefore whatever causes the apparent collapse of
the wave function, it isn't consciousness.

The many worlds explanation for this is that the particle became entangled
with a record that in a sense wasn't truly destroyed, because more than kT
energy had been irreversibly (thermodynamically) dissipated, thus causing

[1] Given that the consensus now, as I understand it, is that black holes
don't act as quantum erasers of information.
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