The one thing you have to always remember is that every interaction in the universe is the result of physical touch. All of our senses are touch. One physical thing touching another. There is no force outside of this. There is only one object touching another object.
Even our sight is nothing more than our experience of the physical objects of the world emitting photons (which are physical particles) which then physically touch and are absorbed by the electrons in our retinas. Even sight is touch.
1) Collapsing the Wave Function
So, when we say that the act of observation collapses the wave function, this is really all we are saying. What we mean when we say “observation” – is that when one physical object (a photon, for example) touches another physical object (another photon, for example), the objects necessarily fall into their corresponding eigenstates. In other words, when two objects touch one another, they react.
It is no mystery that when I look at a photon I should affect its behavior once we admit that what I did when I “looked” at it was to smash into it with another photon. It is as if to look at a bus I had to ram into it with a truck and then claimed that the act of observation had an affect on the bus as if this were not obvious.
Even if we accept the wave function to be a real thing (as opposed to what it is – a mathematical description of an abstract thing representing the potentialities of a process), then the paradox of observation – the “measurement problem” – is simply a description of the behavior of matter “condensing” out of the energy field as a result of some interaction with some other matter.
Yes, quantum mechanics reveals that the world that we see is only a small part of the world that is, but the measurement problem is nothing more mysterious than the fact that when we “see” the world, what we really mean is that it literally “touches” us.
We often think of light “bouncing” off of objects and then landing on our retina like a baseball coming off a bat, but on closer inspection, the photon is first absorbed into the atom of the object (thus being transformed into matter). The object processes this, consumes some free energy from that photon, and expels a different photon – one with a different frequency, different energy. This new photon – a piece of physical matter broken off from the object – is what strikes our retina, the atoms of which then processes the event (physicists speak now of “computing” such events), then consumes the free energy, and transfers it (the photon? the data?) to the back of our brain at which point the experience of “sight” is created.
In other words, the light was transformed into matter and exchanged for new light, which was emitted and absorbed. The emission and absorption of light (aka photons) between electrons of atoms is the sum of all physics in the universe. Nothing else than this happens, ever.
Therefore, when we “see” the world, we are experiencing the world spitting out pieces of matter, which physically touch us. “Seeing” is touching, as is all of our senses, as is every interaction in the universe.
2) The Twin Slit
The fact that we only ever detect the photon going through one slit when we know from the interference pattern that it must go through both, can only mean that we did NOT detect the whole photon! Yes, we affected the outcome of the experiment by observing the photon because the only way we can observe the photon is, by necessity, to affect it. This idea of the innocent bystander is false on its face.
This does not make this less interesting, but the direction it points us in is an acknowledgement that we do NOT really have a complete theory of the photon. The twin slit experiment says nothing else to us more clearly than this.
This idea that the photon takes all paths at once is merely a mathematical methodology of deriving a solution – it is NOT a physical description of what is happening.
Clearly, the photon is interfering with itself, which means there is some “invisible” part of the photon that we are not detecting. It is this “invisible” part that is causing the unexpected results.
The entangled photons are in reality one thing that throws twin shadows on the fabric of space-time. We are not witnessing two separate particles dancing in unison, we are seeing one particle from two different perspectives in space-time.
Again, this is perhaps even more amazing than the idea of spooky action at a distance; however, it does not violate the laws of physics – I am quicker to add dimensions to the universe than to violate her laws.
And if the two photons are in fact two, then they must be “connected” in some non-spatial dimension, suggesting that all points in the universe are possibly intersected in a higher dimension.
4) Zero Point Energy and The Universe is Expanding Problem (aka the Alvy Singer Syndrome)
Perhaps virtual photons are in fact popping in and out of existence because they are indeed caught in a closed spacetime curvature. Were such a closed circuit to exist, then a feedback loop could have the effect on space such that space itself would get sucked in one side only to come pouring out the other side, repeatedly, without end.
Imagine a very tiny such circuit – a wormhole if you will – where space is sucked in on one side and comes spewing out the other. Then imagine that each new “molecule of space” has the same loop built into its core such that an exponential, infinite expansion of space creation ensues. This would explain why space is expanding faster and faster and why at every point we find the constant zero point energy and virtual particle fluctuations that we do.
5) What is Time
Anything outside of the light cone is neither in the past, present or future relative to anything inside the light cone. To speak of time is necessarily to speak of the boundary of a particular light cone. We therefore must conclude that most of the universe exists “outside of time” as far as we are concerned. To speak of “when” something occurred – if it occurred outside of our light cone – is to babble nonsensically without any possible meaning.
The observation about tachyons, therefore, is that they exist “outside of time,” or put another way, they are able to move in and out of time, or perhaps out of one time and into another and back. This can be thought of as a sort of Lorentz transformation (or Poincare transformation?) where the tachyon is rotating, or accelerating through a second time dimension. Stephen Hawking speaks of “imaginary time” … not sure if this would correspond? But if you recall what an imaginary number is, it is a number of higher dimension, one that does not live on the number line, but on the number plane. The analogy to the time “line” is obvious, I hope.
Update 6/28/11: I saw on the Science Channel (I think it was Steven Weinberg) the idea that a second dimension of time could solve the nonlocal problem in quantum mechanics. Instead of a particle being “spread out” occupying no address in space until the wave function is collapsed, it rather does have an address but not necessarily in our time.