Is Reality Really Real?

A recent experiment by researchers at ANU (Australian National University) into the quantum behaviour of particles seems to suggest that reality appears not to exist until it is actually measured. According to [Associate Professor Andrew] Truscott, the results mean that if you choose to believe that the single atom really did take a particular path (or paths), then you have to accept that a future measurement is affecting the atom’s past.

In short, they have shown that reality does not actually exist until it is measured – at atomic scales, at least.

Why, then, do we see the same road every day when we travel to work? And why do our colleagues see that same road every day? Why does the probability wave/function always collapse to the same state irrespective of the observer? And if it always collapses to the same state, then isn’t its interpretation therefore fixed? And if it is fixed, is everything predetermined or recorded ahead of time? If our future measurement affects the atom’s past, is this like skipping to the last page of a book to read the denouement – the story remains the same even if we haven’t read it? Does this mean there is no free will? Or are we some form of Kobayashi Maru running in some otherworldly system?

There is a lot of credence being given to the idea of a holographic universe, one where we are a record being played out much like a film or song would play from a recording. But theories change as time passes, so could this just be a case of “the shoe fits” at this stage of our evolution as we seek for answers beyond ourselves to try to determine our place in the cosmos?

As a former student of physics and cosmology, the big questions intrigue me. I don’t presume to have answers, but by asking questions we may collectively reach the conclusion (if we last that long). What do you think? Feel free to comment below.