When you say the word 'quantum', you will soon hear the word 'observation'.Thats it! Quantum mechanics(QM) is popular because of 'yap yap observer creats the world yep yep',...and nothing much more! It is often said that QM confirms eastern mysticism where the world we see is a 'dream' all created by the power of mind and its 'observation'. But do QM realy teaches such things? Did physicists( or eastern mystics for this matter) somehow observed the world without observing it to check how it is when it is not being observed? Why don't they observe vacuum and creat money when they need them? Alright you have guessed well, it is nothing of the sort. If you are among those who have in mind only the 'yap yap quantum yep yep observations' then welcome to some lessons in QM.
If you have searched further you might have seen how ridiculous physicists behave when handling this matter. They say that when a quantum system is yet to be observed, it is impossibly in a superposition of states such as 'both a life and dead' and that only after observation do nature make up its mind as to whether the cat is dead or alife! Then they conveniently deny latter that this is in fact what they said! This is not a surprise. Like a religion, QM has myriads of sects and cults. So you must be care full when reading about QM or otherwise you will get hopelessly confused. Ironically the most confused guys are the physicists themselves. They are the worst victims of their own vodka.
At the heart of confusion in physics is their habit of not completely abandoning 'wrong' theories in the guise that they can make good approximations of observed world.You will hear of 'relativistic QM' vs 'non relativistic QM' as if these two theories can coexist in the same universe. In reality though, these theories are mutually incompartible. In Quantum Field Theory (QFT), particles must be seen as 'point size' because of relativistic stipulations. But the 'collapse of wavefunction' is said to 'connect QM maths with observations'. This is ironical since point sized particles, whatever that mean, cannot possibly be observed. So what are these non point like entities we observe and term them 'particles', e.g in a bubble chamber? At some point, you will be forced to say that we actually observe tiny wave packets. So the 'collaps' don't happen (since the collapsed state is the zero sized, unobservable particle ). This contradict the earlier picture of QM where the particles are 'created' from waves via 'observation'. Despite this, physicist teach QM to laymen ( and sometimes to thenselves) as if QFT don't introduce any changes in the concept of particle because of the mis perception that'QM is also correct as a non-relativistic theory'. The world is either relativistic or not, never both. Physicists cannot be allowed to switch back and fort to fully cover their asses.
So ridiculous enough, we are left wondering if quantum state actually 'collapses' upon observation yet this was all what QM was trying to teach! The problem gets compounded this way: 'observation' is thought to be a classic event. This means that observation necessarily involves myriads of particles, e.g those forming your brain. But the particles themselves are supposed to be the quantum. So if we think that the classic world is composed of collapsed quantum particles, then we need an ensemble of collapsed particles( the brain ), to collapse the quantum particles (via observations). We have an egg-chicken paradox.
There is realy no need for this 'paradox' at all. Quantum decoherence does solves the so called 'measurement problem', and here I will explain it.
In a single particle QM, we have a wave. The amplitude of this wave gives the probability of finding a point-like particle at a given region. This is called Born's Rule. But in a multi-particle QM, the Born's rule must be re-interpreted so that the amplitude of the wave now gives the total number of particle at a region, or the amplitude gives the density at that region, if the substance is dense enough.
Now during 'observation of a single particle', the wavefunction of the single particle suddenly enters a far denser place, i.e. a place full of myriads of other waves emanating from the ensemble of particles forming a classic object. The classic object here can be, but is not limited to, a measuring device. Then the wavefunction for the in-comming 'single particle' intermingles with the other waves and summs up to form a 'wave-packet'. The wave-packet is tiny, and looks like a single particle, but in reality, they are many particles. Indead an eye can never see a single particle. Infact the particles are thought to be zero dimensional, hence obviously cannot be seen! The wave-packet's amplitude is the density or the number of particles in the region.
You can now see that the measurement 'problem' comes from a fundamental error of trying to force in a meaning to a 'observation of a single particle' when in reality, we can never observe a single particle! The wavefunction simply doesn't have to 'collapse' for us to 'observe' the particle, simply because we are not actually observing the very particle but rather the exited particles in the classic device that is 'detecting' the particle . The point is that the same same wavefunction that describes a single particle can also describe myriads of particles but now with the meaning of amplitude having been redefined from 'probability of finding a single particle at a region' into 'the number of particles at the region'. This redefinition immediately happens as the wave joins other waves of the classic world, before the wave 'collapses', obviating the need for 'collapse' altogether!! So there is no 'problem' to solve! We simply cannot solve a 'problem' by regarding what created the problem in the first place as though to have been a perfect theory! It wasn't!! It erred in demanding a Meaning to a meaningless concept!!
The 'new age' teaching is erroneous is two main ways. One is to suppose that 'observation' creats a paeticle. The other is that it all happens in one's consciousness. Thus in 'new age' thinking, there is no objective reality! New age idea is, in fact solipsism. This theory is unfalsifiable and as such, is not part of QM. According to QM, uncertain is the particle's momentum,position, spin etc, not the particle's existence. Then consciousness is theoretically unnecesary in making these certain. Only interaction with classic world in general. Thus the world exist even without our awareness of it.
However, this doesn't mean that consciousness necessarily plays no part in the 'collapse'. It only means that a personal consciousness causing reality, i.e. solipsism is erroneous. Furthermore, an additional theory of 'quantum mind' is necessary. This also moves some of the domain to biology, as part of 'bio-physics'. Here I will attempt such a theory.
Consciousness can be brought in only by understanding that there is no clear boundery between a conscious entity and a non-conscious one. The brain, for instance, is connected to everything else, including the measuring instruments in the laboratory. There is a subtle medium that interconnects everything. The theory of 'quantum mind' relates interaction to concious decisions. Indead we don't even need quantum mechanics to understand that the 'collapse' can be influenced by a distant mind! We link the mind with the brain. This is the first 'mind-matter' link. Then we link the brain to the external world. Then you note that the particles are so small that the consciousness can 'collapses' them even from remort! To 'collapse' a wave, all you need are myriads of waves of varying wavelengths. But the particles in the brain are, themselves, waves already. These waves extends to the whole universe and influenced the 'collapses'! When two molecules superimposed on the same place are vibrating 180 degrees out of synch, then their waves cancels. Howevery if you take them abit further a by only a fraction of their wavelength, which is at a range of billionth of millimetre, something the brain can easily do, it can begine to generate a significant wave. Such waves, when they extend from the brain can help in 'collapsing' wave functions even from remort! It is in this sense that awareness can affect collapse at a distance.