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Series of Experiments Shed Light on the Role of Consciousness

by Dean Radin

Is consciousness generated by the activity of the brain or is it a fundamental property of the universe? The IONS research team has been studying this question for several years using various kinds of optical systems. Our latest experiments, published recently in the journal Physics Essays, confirm our earlier findings. This line of research suggests that consciousness may play a key role in how the physical world manifests. This does not mean human consciousness literally "creates" reality, but it does suggest that there is more to consciousness than is implied in today's neuroscience textbooks.

Double-slit experiment

For these studies, which focus on the possibility of mind-matter interactions, we are using double-slit optical systems because, as the Nobel Laureate physicist Richard Feynman famously said, "[The double-slit experiment] has in it the heart of quantum mechanics. In reality, it contains the only mystery."

Feynman's mystery involves what it means to "observe" or to measure a physical object. When we observe an everyday object, meaning an object that can be adequately described using classical physics, the act of observation does not influence the object's properties. This is not the case when observing a quantum system. Quantum objects are exquisitely reactive to the act of observation; this sensitivity can easily be seen whenever a quantum object is measured. The measurement causes the quantum wave-like behavior to change into particle-like behavior. A controversial interpretation of this effect—that consciousness itself is responsible for "collapsing" the quantum wavefunction—was proposed by mathematician John von Neumann and supported by other prominent physicists. Much has been debated about this "quantum measurement problem" from philosophical and theoretical perspectives; we are taking a more pragmatic approach by explicitly testing von Neumann's idea.

In our latest paper, we report the results of three experiments: two involving double-slit optical systems that people attempted to mentally influence in our lab, and one involving a similar test conducted online. All three experiments showed results consistent with von Neumann's proposal and with our earlier work. We are continuing to explore this mind-matter interaction phenomenon, and we will report the results of those studies in future publications.

Download the full paper »
Try the double-slit experiment online »
Dr. Quantum animated overview of double-slit experiment »
The Quantum Measurement Problem »

  • NoetPoet Mar 25, 2014

    Birds start chirping in the morning and then shortly afterwards the sun rises. This sequence of events occurs every morning. Therefore the chirping of the birds must cause the sun to rise. We can’t even begin to postulate a plausible mechanism to explain *how* the chirping of the birds causes the sun to rise, let alone formulate an experiment to test whether such a mechanism actually exists. But surely the fact that the chirping of the birds and the rising of the sun seem to coincide with such impressive regularity is sufficient to embrace post-hoc reasoning and take the rest on faith. Especially if we do enough fancy statistical hand-waving to make the numbers seem impressive.

  • Anonymous Icon

    robwillcarp Mar 31, 2014

    Really ?
    You think these guys aren't capable of properly taking causality vs correlation into consideration ?
    You're basically accusing some of the top minds in the field of being unable to conduct an experiment with the most basic Physics 101 statistical considerations.
    Really ?

  • marcusantonio91 Apr 01, 2014

    I'm sorry noetpoet, but that's a non-sequitor. What relevance do birds responding to the approaching rise of the sun have to do with the apparent effects of human minds on this experiment? In addition, it's a pretty bad form to accuse the experimenters of essentially fudging the numbers, which, unless I'm mistaken, is what you are doing.

  • Hellseer May 11, 2014

    The thing about the dawn and the birds is interesting as there is a wave or pulse which is very beautiful to feel and the birds all wake and sing when that pulse passes through.

    Is one separate from consciousness, even if one is unconscious ? Why not consider the issue at a simpler level such as what is one being conscious of ? Is one conscious of the base chakra, the heart chakra, the toast burning or perhaps being late for work ?

  • Anonymous Icon

    RealityOverScience May 28, 2014

    In *higher reality,* there is no delineation between mind and matter! Those are "objects" to convention, with life breathed into them via "the stories they tell themselves," but, Consciousness wise, you have to ~ transcend ~ convention's use of language (and all those stories) to *process* Universal Reality. Science inadvertently objectifies everything, and then spends billions and soooo much wasted "time" trying to figure out how to UNobjectify what they mistakenly objectified in the first place!

    There is One Process throughout, and everything, everybody, every event, the weather, etc., are all SHARING that One Process!

    It is all *translucent energy,* and you have to get beyond convention's obsession with physicality, because everything is relative, and there is no relativity going on when you trap everything in stasis!

    The reason people, scientists included, can't process or understand this is because it is clearly far more highly evolved than they are in a position to process, but also because language is basically the product of the collective unconscious convention, and as such only serves to conveniently support conventional reasoning/more convention.

    The more Conscious one becomes, the more time and space are altered, or (relentlessly) redefined, which is what creates/establishes "dimensions." Dimensions are not "physical" objects, they are *realizations!"

    Now you can see why telepathy is the mathematical "language" of the Enlightened. Extraordinary to experience!

    Hope this helps! :)

  • Anonymous Icon

    RealityOverScience May 28, 2014

    Consciousness/Enlightenment, btw, is the fluent *processing* of translucent *energy!*

  • NoetPoet Jul 03, 2014


    I'm not saying they're not capable, I'm saying they don't *want* to.


    It's not a non-sequitur at all. The point I am making is that you can't just assume that correlation equals causation. Especially when you have generous interpretations of what qualifies as correlation and use shoddy experimental procedures like online tests for god's sake. How is it bad form to make such an accusation? They experimenters have clearly gone into this experiment assuming what they intend to prove - THAT is bad scientific form. They squint hard enough, they see a correlation which they can't/refuse to consider other explanations for, and concluded that it must therefore be due to psi.


    Have you got any evidence of this "wave-pulse" other than your own subjective (imagined) experience?

  • Anonymous Icon

    suryadeva Jul 04, 2014

    @NoetPoet Jul 03, 2014

    In an area without birds the sun does not rise!

  • Anonymous Icon

    Philip Jul 11, 2014

    Noetpoet- did you read the abstract? Further, did you read this or any other of the many, many peer-reviewed papers covering all of the aspects and prior findings upon which this study was based/extended upon? The fact that you would dismiss any results because you say they were produced over the internet demonstrates something. That is for certain. The relevance you seem to place on "the internet" being a basis for dismissal shows that you apparently missed a great deal if not all of the conditions and protocols in the abstract. Distance from observer to target is what is relevant and not the fact that responses by the observer are transmitted over the internet vs telephone, telegraph, very loud shouting, etc is what is relevant. Plus, you apparently dismiss the many trials where the observer is in immediate proximity to the interferometer protocols,too which are statistically significant by themselves. But, everyone here kind of knows what significance to grant your comments and I will leave you to your highly informed, educated, and intelligent responses.

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