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Quantum Identity


Before some days I read about a quantum experiment. Scientists were able to separate a particle from it’s properties and send the particle via one route and the property via another route till they merged at some point again. The most commonly cited anology was that of a Cheshire cat from the story Alice in wonderland. In that story the cat vanishes but it’s smile remains visible.

Another poor anology was cited at some other places was that of an airline passenger being separated from his luggage. I don’t think that’s appropriate because luggage is not the property of the passenger.

I think the more appropriate example is, let’s say if someone was able to separate your height from you and pack it in a box. Until that box opened, no one would be able to know your height. You travel via some route and the box travels via another route. On the way, no one is able to measure your height until you are separated from the box. But once you reach the destination and the box arrives as well via different route, you open the box and voila! Now suddenly you and everyone around you can know your height.

That sounds bizzare, right? Welcome to the world of quantum mechanics.

Now that makes me think. What if we separate multiple properties of the particle. What if we separate all observable properties of the particle and send all the properties by route A and the particle without properties by route B. What is really traveling by route B? Does the particle have any existence without all it’s properties? What is a particle if it does not have mass, volume, density, speed, etc. etc.?

If I see one particle here and if I see another exactly same particle there, all I know is that they have same observable properties. But what is beyond these properties that is same or different?

Applying the same logic, if I see a friend pass me on my way to work, and if I see exactly the same person pass me again a little further down, I will conclude that the second one cannot be my friend. May be his look alike. Because my friends already passed by me some time back. But if I cannot rely on observable properties to be associated with their owner, what is really same in same things? And what is really different in different things? If a particle’s identity cannot be fixed, how can we fix the identity of things made of such particles?

I pin the external identity to observable properties. I pin the internal identity (which I am only able to experience for myself) on a state of consciousness that contains continuity of memories. Since I can never know anyone elses’ consciousness, what am I left with if I don’t have properties to rely on?

It’s just an identity crisis on a whole new dimension.

May be I understand quantum mechanics. Or may be I don’t. 🙂 🙂

One Response

  1. This reminded me on the Anicca concept in Buddhism. It breaks down anything that we think is proprietary to a human being, like material form, feeling, perception, mental formation and consciousness, and prove one by one that none of them is constant or reliable, therefore, we are stripped of any quality that would define our existence. That’s another identity crisis

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