Tag Archives: Observer Effect

Marginalia, no.261

When one has weighed the sun in a balance, and measured the steps of the moon, and mapped out the seven heavens star by star, there still remains oneself. Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul?

~ Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

Quantum mechanics has it that the act of observing a system alters that system. Electrons, they say, are constrained by observation to behave like particles rather than waves. I don’t fully understand this, but I wonder about applying the “observer effect” more broadly. It may be that stars and planets droop with the gravity of a million gazes, that celebrities can’t help but make fools of themselves, and that introspection will get you no closer to self knowledge than watching reality TV.

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