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Published: Jun.9.2011

Consciousness and the double-slit interference pattern: Six experiments

Dean Radin

Abstract: The hypothesis that consciousness collapses the quantum wavefunction was tested using a double-slit optical system. The principal measurement was the ratio of double-slit to single-slit spectral power associated with the interference pattern. The consciousness collapse hypothesis predicted that this ratio would decrease when participants focused their attention towards the optical system, as compared to when they withdrew their attention.

Six experiments were conducted to test various aspects of the hypothesis. Each study consisted of 40 counterbalanced attention-towards and attention-away periods, with each period lasting from 15 to 30 seconds. Results combined over a total of 250 test sessions indicated that the ratio decreased in accordance with the hypothesis (z = -4.0, p < 0.00004). Two hundred calibration sessions run without observers present tested hardware, software, and analytical procedures for potential artifacts; those data showed no difference in the spectral ratio (z = 0.12, p < 0.60). Attention training, electrocortical measurements, and psychological variables associated with the modulation of attention and perception correlated in predictable ways with changes in the interference pattern. The results suggest that the human mind interacts with a double-slit interference pattern in a way that is consistent with an interpretation of the quantum measurement problem, that consciousness collapses the wavefunction.

Bio: Dean Radin, PhD is Senior Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Psychology at Sonoma State University. His original career track as a concert violinist shifted into science after earning a BSEE degree in electrical engineering, magna cum laude and with honors in physics, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and then an MS in electrical engineering and a PhD in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. For a decade he worked on advanced telecommunications R&D at AT&T Bell Laboratories and GTE Laboratories. For over two decades he has been engaged in consciousness research. Before joining the research staff at IONS in 2001, he held appointments at Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, University of Nevada, and several Silicon Valley think-tanks, including Interval Research Corporation and SRI International, where he worked on a classified program investigating psychic phenomena for the US government.

He is author or coauthor of over 200 technical and popular articles, a dozen book chapters, and several books including the bestselling The Conscious Universe (HarperOne, 1997) and Entangled Minds (Simon & Schuster, 2006). His technical articles have appeared in journals ranging from Foundations of Physics to Psychological Bulletin, he was featured in a New York Times Magazine article, and he has appeared on television shows ranging from the BBC’s Horizon and PBS's Closer to Truth to Oprah and Larry King Live. He has presented over a hundred invited lectures at universities including Cambridge, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Virginia Tech, and University of California at Davis, at industrial facilities including Google headquarters, and for US government organizations including DARPA and the US Navy. In 2010, he spent a month lecturing in India as the National Visiting Professor of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research, a program in the Indian government's Ministry of Human Resource Development.