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Once, there existed a theory that reality doesn’t exist. Such was the suggestion of an old, old experiment, one that has a mouthful of a name: the Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment.
Conducted back in the late 1970s, the said quantum physics experiment was all about light, which is made up of photons or particles representing a quantum of light or any other electromagnetic radiation, being able to sense the present apparatus in the controlled laboratory environment, which would cause it to change its behavior.
The Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment, put simply, found out that photons behaved differently if nobody was watching them. In other words, photons were not the particles that scientists knew them by heart when they were not being observed or measured. The reality, in short, does not exist if you are not looking at it.
A Game-Changing Experiment
Because the said experiment was conducted at a time when technological advancements available were not enough to push the boundaries of laboratory experiments and discoveries, no further world-changing results were obtained.
That is, until in 2019 when an experiment rattled the scientific world by turning theory into a fact that is backed by all the right kinds of evidence. Basically, the recent investigation was pretty much like Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment that took place over 40 years ago. This time around, however, the measurement of light was carried out with the use of more sophisticated technological devices.
It was conducted by physicists from the Heriot-Watt University in the United Kingdom. The said experiment proved the fact that two people could observe the very same thing but still witness two different things. In other words, one’s reality looked different from the other’s reality, and it all had something to do with them simply making observations.
So what happened during the 2019 experiment that proved that reality doesn’t exist was this? Well, two people observed a single photon. In this particular experiment, they observed the smallest quantifiable unit of light, which can act as either a particle or wave, depending on the condition.
This is basically what Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment years ago found out. When it was recreated using lasers and beam splitters as opposed to slits, however, an astounding conclusion was reached by the Heriot-Watt University physicists.
Reality is in the Eye of the Beholder
Here’s a nifty move done by the scientists involved with the recent experiment: the two people that they commissioned to observe the photon were not aware of each other’s presence. Through this, they would be able to prove whether different realities could exist at once, thus proving that reality could only go as far as one’s observance of it. Well, the experiment was able to in fact prove that reality, as everyone knows it, doesn’t exist.
In the experiment, one participant (let’s call him or her Person A) was asked to observe a single photon. Person A was instructed to quietly determine the tiny light particle’s alignment. Then there was also another participant (let’s call him or her Person B) who was also asked to analyze as well as to measure the same photon’s alignment.
However, Person B was unaware that Person A was also carrying out observation and measurement of the same photon at the same time. Similarly, Person A was uninformed of the participation of Person B.
Earlier, we mentioned that a photon exists as either a particle or wave, but it doesn’t exist as both at the same time — until the 2019 quantum experiment happened. You see, Person A witnessed the photon in a different state, and Person B witnessed the photon in yet another state. Do take note that they observed the same photon at the same time. This means that the photon appeared as either a particle or wave all at once, depending on who’s looking at it.
What’s really amazing about this experiment is that it concluded that the photon under observation decided whether it was going to act as a particle or a wave only before someone decides to observe it. The moment right before someone makes an observation and determines the form of a photon is known in the quantum physics realm as a particle that exists in a superposition, which means that all possible outcomes could still happen to it.
Because everything around you, or all things in existence, is made up of particles such as photons, then one’s reality may be different from that of the other. Just like in the said experiment, one person may see reality differently from how you see it. Needless to say, reality doesn’t exist as you know it.
This is a complete game-changer because all this time we thought that all of us are living on the same planet and experiencing the same everyday happenings but, thanks to the shifting behavior of a photon, apparently reality exists in a way that’s different from one observer to the next.
By the way, various experiments such as this one were also conducted since word about the findings of the Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment came out. However, most of them were only partially successful in pulling it off.
This time around, however, with the combined smart minds of the physicists from the Heriot-Watt University in the UK and a laboratory setup consisting of far more advanced scientific tools than the ones used before, it was the first time that group of scientists pulled off the study.
Reality doesn’t exist — this is according to a 2019 experiment conducted on a single photon. How about you, does, or does reality exist? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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