Ferber, R; Branover, H. 2002.
BH 13:39-54. CELD ID 21424
|The observer and the system of reference: A unified view|
Is our picture of the physical world dependent on the condition of our observation-or, more specifically, on our choice of a particular system of reference used to describe the physical world? This question will be discussed from the points of view of (1) traditional Jewish opinions based on the Torah and (2) contemporary trends in physics. Although Einstein's General Relativity Theory is based on the postulate that all physical laws in all systems of reference are equal, the problem of choosing the reference system that gives the "truest" picture of the universe still remains. There are two different ways to choose a system of reference. According to the first approach, the system of coordinates in which a phenomenon is described by simpler mathematical expressions gives its "real" (or even the "correct") expression. For example, the equations describing the motion of the Earth are simplest when the system of reference is attached to the sun. This easier calculation may incline one to think that the heliocentric picture is the ultimately true picture of reality. Indeed, in contradiction to the Torah view, Newtonian science considers the sun the center of the universe. The second approach consists of choosing a reference system connected with an observer. This approach plays an exclusive role in the interpretation of quantum mechanics, one of the most important and successful theories of the twentieth century. Key quantum physicists such as John von Neumann and Eugene Wigner uphold the view that the conscious observer has a central role in sustaining physical reality. Their concept that our conscious selves are the most important things in the universe, moreover, is in full agreement with the opinions expressed in the Torah and the literature based on the Torah.