In short, the criticism I receive from other Engineering or Physics undergrad. majors when presenting the Double Slit Experiment with the conclusion that our reality is subjective,
Yes, reality is subjective. An objective reality does not behave differently depending on whether we have which path information about it or not.
being influenced by our consciousness is that this is a misinterpretation of the experiment itself.
It's not a misinterpretation. It's a fact. The interference fringes can be influenced by conscious intent. See:
Radin, D. I., Michel, L, Wendland, P., Rickenbach, R., Delorme, A., Galdamez, K. (2012). Consciousness and the double-slit interference pattern: Six experiments. Physics Essays, 25 (2), 157-171.
Radin, D. I., Delorme, A.., Michel, L., Johnston, J. (2013). Psychophysical interactions with a double-slit interference pattern: Experiments and a model. Physics Essays. 26 (4), 553-566.
Radin, D. Michel, L., Delorme, A. (2016). Psychophysical modulation of fringe visibility in a distant double-slit optical system. Physics Essays. 29 (1), 14-22.
Radin, D. Michel, L., Pierce, A. Delorme, A. (2015). Psychophysical interactions with a single-photon double-slit optical system. Quantum Biosystems. 6 (1), 82-98.
Radin, D. Michel, L., Delorme, A. (2015). Reassessment of an independent verification of psychophysical interactions with a double-slit interference pattern. Physics Essays. 28 (4), 415-416.
In short, they say, any sort of measuring has to be a physical action, thus, at a subatomic level interfering with the data. In other words, it's the physical act of measuring and not our consciousness that influences the data, and thus reality is still objective.
Of course it's not about "interacting with the systems" or "the act of measuring" that causes the interference to appear or disappear, which is nonsense. There are many experiments that have shown interference can be created or destroyed without touching the particle involved.
What they do here is basically control the interference pattern by manipulating a completely unrelated path/particle: "It is important to understand that the attenuator, A, introduces path distinguishability for the signal photons without interacting with them."
Thus "measurement causes wave function collapse" is not a fact. It's an unproven, biased opinion. It only appears
true under some specific experimental setups. Like if you have a basic double slit with a detector at the slits. But then, you may modify the experiment to have a detector placed long after the slits. Now our interaction hypothesis begins to break down. If I have a situation in which it seems perfectly reasonable to say that "interaction causes wave function collapse", and another situation where interaction clearly does not cause the wave function to collapse, it is then only logical to conclude that there is something more fundamental than mere physical interaction which is causing the phenomena.
If the solution were that easy, there would have never been a measurement problem in the first place. In reality nobody (in mainstream science) knows for sure what a "wave function" really is or if it even exists. So it would then seem absurd to make these kinds of statements that have not (and cannot) been empirically proven. The situation becomes more complicated, and cannot be reduced to such a simple explanation the further one looks into things. The defense of a "consciousness does not cause a collapse" statement is to show a picture of any given quantum experiment and say "see, all this happens and works just fine with no conscious observer around". This is a naive/unscientific view, as you really cannot prove or find good evidence that anything happened inside these enclosed experiments before a person arrives and checks the results...in fact you cannot prove anything happened inside the experiment even then. That's just an assumption, that there was a photon and it traveled around inside the apparatus striking various mirrors and detectors. That all that actually happened is a naive belief
...because we can never know it for sure. However, when I say "measurement does not cause wave function collapse", that is because there are many experiments that would not work if that was false.
If it were false, no delayed choice quantum eraser would ever work. But we can see that it is irrational even in the basic double slit setup. You place the camera that detects the photons after the slits watching one slit at a time, and photons traveling the opposite slit that is not being watched still form a clump pattern. If there is an interference pattern because the "wave function" travels through both slits and interferes with itself, then that happens at the slits, and the camera placed after the slits should have no influence on what happened in the past at the slits. If the camera causes wave function collapse, it is sending information back in time to the slits telling the photons to behave like particles. Not possible. The "wave function" "collapses" when there is some information in this universe that a particle went through one or the other slit/path. Nothing more.
Consider the double slit eraser
. Particle S travels through the slits to a detector. Entangled particle P goes to another detector somewhere else. Now there is interference at Ds(detector S). Place QWPs at the slits to mark which path particle S takes, and interference disappears at Ds. Now while particle S is in flight, perform an erasure measurement on particle P. Interference again at Ds. Most importantly, wait until particle S strikes Ds, then (leaving QWP's in place) do your erasure measurement on particle P later. Interference pattern. This is conditional on the fact that it would not be an interference pattern if someone had looked at Ds before doing erasure on P: "In as much as our quantum eraser does not allow the experimenter to choose to observe which-path information or an interference pattern after the detection of photons (at Ds), it does allow for the detection of photon s before photon p, a situation to which we refer to as delayed erasure."
The time ordering of measurements does not matter.
The "result" may occur before the "which path measurement/erasure" and vice versa, and the result is still the same. So a simple statement of "measurement causes wave function collapse" is obviously wrong. Space and time do not constrain quantum effects. There is only a logic chain which is satisfied and consistently shown regardless of when the individual events in the experiment took place. A measurement that is made and never looked at is as good as no measurement. Really there is no particle or experiment. Just an if/then statement that determines the logical outcome as constrained by the experimental setup and displayed conditionally on when some person chooses to correlate the overall coincidence data.
Everyone is probably familiar with the slogans "interaction causes wave function collapse" and "you can't measure a particle without interacting with it". The former is false (or at least unproven), and the latter is obviously true. Thus, these statements are not equivalent and cannot be logically combined. In other words, you cannot combine them into one logical statment that if interaction happens, the wave function of a particle will collapse. The wave function collapsed, therefore interaction with the particle happened. This is a fallacy.
The question of what is causing the "wave function" to "collapse" to a particle is a bad one. There is no wave function and no particle. The behavior of a quantum is not determined by a single cause, but is dependent on three things: (conscious) observation, measurement, and information.
The first two are closely related, because you cannot make a measurement without an observer. Or equivalently, you cannot prove that a measurement took place if there was no observer there to see it. Information is separable from measurement because some measurements give no (which path) information (or equivalently, the measurements never happened). Also, interference may be destroyed without a direct measurement or interaction, while information (if information is some meaning a conscious being can derive from a data set) cannot be separated from conscious observation.
Ultimately we can see that, though all three ingredients are required and intricately related, information appears to be the most fundamental and the common deciding factor across every experiment in our virtual reality. Regardless of whatever the experiment looks like, what particles are used and where they "travel", or when/what kind of measurements are made, in the end logic and information is the key. Then we can see that according to the notion of information as 'meaning derived from an interpretation of data', that contrary to the prevailing beliefs out there, consciousness would appear more fundamental than measurement.
Now you might ask, given all of these facts, why do so many scientists and pseudoscientists make false claims that "measurement causes wave function collapse"?The reason is that anything other than that possibility makes them uncomfortable, because they do their best to remove all subjective elements from their theories and experiments. They believe
that every measured effect must
have a physical cause, just because. This belief is defended to the point of irrationality. Because they have irrational fears/beliefs that anything related to consciousness is fundamentally unscientific, they must deny its involvement at all costs. It also makes the rising group of new-atheists/laymen uncomfortable because of their belief that free will, and therefore consciousness itself, is not real. So to preserve these ideals they are forced to (lazily) make much more out of measurement than what is actually happening in reality, even though many experiments have shown that measurement and interaction doesn't really matter as much as they want to believe. It's required, but it does not cause apparent wave function collapse.
Some of them also add that it is a fallacy to generalize sub-atomic phenomena to our day to day lives.
It is easy to believe something is true with no evidence and denounce anyone and anything that contradicts that belief as a "fallacy" or a "crackpot". I have shown here quite clearly how your colleagues are wrong
, and that they are committing logical fallacies while having opinions that do not agree with facts (experiment).