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Few concepts of quantum physics have taken hold in the popular
imagination, but one of them is this: perception matters. According to
a widespread interpretation of a 1935 thought experiment, the act of
observing something actually affects what you see. (This is obviously a
simplification. For a far more thorough explanation, read up on the
debate surrounding Schroedinger's Cat.)
This idea is similar to a central concept of postmodernism--that
"objectivity" is deceptive, and truth is often a matter of perception. Are the ideas
Appropriately enough, it depends whom you ask. ArtsJournal asked the tantalizing, long-debated question after reading this passage from a Salon review:
of the debate between Einstein and Bohr revolved around Einstein's
intuitive rejection of the implication of the Copenhagen interpretation
- which is that objective reality, independent of any observer, doesn't
really exist. Bohr, by contrast (and sounding a lot like Wittgenstein),
insisted that physics isn't concerned with what is but solely with what we can say about it.
Is quantum physics in fact "responsible for postmodernism?"
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is a Beijing correspondent for Agence France-Presse.
He has written for Rolling Stone
, the New Republic
, and Esquire