I completely agree. Has anyone done two slit experiments with a human eye instead of a screen? Seems simple enough. That alone could tell us something unexpected. Light takes place on your retina. We know this. It is a screen and it is an observer. What does it look like when you close one eye and shoot a laser at it through two slits? Does it need to be in a vacuum? Maybe a camera works just as well?.
Just because it's wholly astounding to me - I have to say: yes. The very first time this experiment was done, it was done completely manually, with poor, horrifically overworked interns playing the role of observer.
*Grins* Hey, if you can't get an unpaid intern to do something mindnumbingly boring for weeks on end -
But, yup. All of these permutations, and dozens more besides, have been tried. The nature of the observer is immaterial - and the concept of observing the observer is also immaterial. To try to make that make sense: just the virtue of having a camera trained at the right place even if the feed of that camera is utterly unwatched and unrecorded
causes the probability waveform to collapse rather dramatically.
It sure as heck ain't humans that are important. We just noticed.
I could imagine maybe some experiments using transcranial magnetic stimulation - basically do quantum mechanical experiments inside a living, conscious human brain. Any volunteers?
There are a couple going on like this now - mostly by behavioral psychologists who have discovered that application of magnetic stimulation across certain areas of the brain can short-circuit morality... among other things. The ramifications there, of course, are that 'moral consciousness' is a function of brain structure, which is intriguing in its own right, and exceedingly damaging to the idea that morality flows from God exclusively.
One more Gap.
So far, they haven't done anything crazy like shut down optic nerves, but it would be intriguing. Not sure how you could use that in an observational sense.
hit on one of the more intriguing problems in physics - which roughly translates into "why does one proton, one neutron, and one electron make such a huge difference?" There's a quantum explanation I don't have my head around yet - but the difference between, say, Carbon (6) and Nitrogen(7) is rather extreme. In a way, this is what you're addressing - what makes Carbon have its 'carbonness'? is it really just the energy state of the atom?
(the answer, oddly enough, really is 'yes'. Visually, it's difficult to tell one carbon atom from one nitrogen atom, but that missing electron on the carbon atom allows structures that are not possible to the Nitrogen atom. And, since, basically, both of those materials are starstuff... well, it's just neat.)
There also may be an anthropomorphic fallacy in the mix here. Carbon doesn't have a 'perception' - in fact, it has far less perception than even the simplest virus, though both respond at a chemical level to the reality around them. Until one can define 'consciousness' and show how it applies to atoms, you're going to have difficulty. After all, all evidence points (right now) to the notion that Consciousness is not at all separate from the brain, and is in fact a function of the brain itself. Your uniqueness has to do with your cranial wiring, and your curiosity about yourself is a function of evolution.
Until 'brain' and 'consciousness' can be divorced, there will be trouble with saying an electron has some kind of 'awareness', even one as dim as presented.
Thanks for the comments though. I don't know ultimately if there is a way around observer ambiguity. I think there is a 'Law of Conservation of Mystery' which may keep the interior phenomenon partitioned existentially from the exterior, such that the subject must always choose which side of the fence they are on for themselves.
Define 'interior' and 'exterior' phenomenon? If interior phenomenon relate to consciousness - like, for instance, a sense of 'oneness', then that's quite biochemical in nature, and oddly well understood (even if the root reasons and causes are not quite yet in the bag). You are, after all, a chemical slave to your brain - a misfiring neuron will have you seeing people that aren't there. Is that an internal or external phenomenon?
The voluntary aspect, the gamble of perception may be an immutable characteristic of the fabric of subjectivity itself while the subjective surrender to exterior evidence is an act of nontrivial consequence in any possible experiments. The placebo effect is a requirement for this level of cosmic integration.
I see the words. I see how you fit them together - but I'm not entirely sure I grok here. "gamble of perception?" The "fabric of subjectivity itself?" "Subjective surrender to exterior evidence?" If I read this correctly, it translates to the fact that you wish people to be able to surrender their internal disbelief in the face of incontrovertable evidence to the contrary.
I like that. People should do that. Creationism would get the heck out of schools then.
But I have a feeling we're not on the same page there.