This website is a portal to the Institute of Noetic Sciences online double-slit experiment, a study that is part of our research program exploring the role of consciousness in the physical world. During the experiment data from an optical system in our laboratory is streamed live to your web browser. We use a double-slit optical system 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."
The double-slit experiment is especially useful in the present context because it provides a way to empirically investigate the meaning of "observation" in the measurement of quantum systems. In particular, one interpretation of how quantum wave-like potentials become particle-like actualities is because consciousness "collapses" the quantum wavefunction.This controversial interpretation was proposed by John von Neumann and other prominent physicists, and while much has been written about this quantum measurement problem from philosophical and theoretical perspectives, we are taking an empirical approach.
The study design is based on two assumptions: (1) If information is gained about the photon’s path as it travels through two slits by any means – then the interference pattern will collapse in proportion to the certainty of the knowledge gained. This is known as gaining "which-path" information. (2) If we speculate that consciousness is a primordial, self-aware feature of the fabric of reality that extends throughout spacetime, and aspects of consciousness can be modulated through what we know as attention and intention, then focusing on a double-slit system with intent to gain which-path information may affect the interference pattern.
We have been conducting similar mind-matter interaction experiments using optical systems since 2006. An article describing our pilot results with a Michelson interferometer is available here. A more recent article describing our studies using the same double-slit system used in this experiment was published in 2012 in the journal Physics Essays.
To login or register for the experiment, please see the menu on the upper right side of this page.
For videos describing the experimental task, please visit this website.
This experiment streams data from the optical system in our laboratory directly to your browser. One test session takes about 12 minutes, and only one person can try the test and any given time. So if someone else is using the system when you attempt to access it, you may see a message informing you when the server will be available again.
The experiment has been tested on the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. It should work on nearly any modern PC and browser, including Android and other smartphones that can play Flash. It requires a Flash player version 10 or later. The internet bandwidth required is minimal. If you can play a YouTube video then this experiment should work.
Please note that while every effort is made to have the system up and running 24/7, it is possible occasionally to connect to the server and everything seems fine, but when you click to start the test nothing happens. This is a known bug that we are attempting to fix. If this happens, then wait a few minutes and try again. Most users have reported that most of the time the experiment works fine.
A number of previous experiments have used optical interferometers to investigate the possible role of consciousness in the quantum measurement problem. They involved a double-slit apparatus, a Fabry-Perot configuration, and a Michelson configuration.
Initial studies using a double-slit system were conducted at York University and at Princeton University. results in the predicted direction. Then we followed up that study with a series of six experiments using a The IONS laboratory conducted an experiment using a Michelson interferometer, which showed significant
Given the importance of the quantum measurement problem in the interpretation of quantum theory, and the potential of this type of experiment to inform it empirically, we designed the present online study to test whether results similar to those we have observed in the laboratory can be obtained when participants are located at a distance from the laboratory.