If you didn’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

The philosophical question "If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?" may not be so philosophical after all. Quantum physicists seem to have proven that reality doesn’t exist if you aren’t observing it:

Markus Aspelmeyer, Anton Zeilinger and colleagues from the University of Vienna, however, have now shown that realism is more of a problem than locality in the quantum world. They devised an experiment that violates a different inequality proposed by physicist Anthony Leggett in 2003 that relies only on realism, and relaxes the reliance on locality. To do this, rather than taking measurements along just one plane of polarization, the Austrian team took measurements in additional, perpendicular planes to check for elliptical polarization.

They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. "Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics," Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. "You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism."

So if a tree falls in the forestand nobody is there to hear it, then perhaps the tree doesn’t actually exist.


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