What Is Wigner’s Friend’s Paradox?

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Wigner’s paradox of his friend is a quantum physics mental experiment conceived in 1961 by the physicist Eugene Wigner, who demonstrates the role of consciousness in the quantum mechanics measurement process.

It can be considered an extension of the famous paradox of the cat of Schrödinger, as it places the overlapping of states as the cornerstone of its statement. Specifically, Wigner imagines that a friend of his will carry out the experiment of the cat of Schrödinger, measuring the state of overlap between live cat and dead cat, and thus causing the wave function of one of the Then another subject (in the specific case Wigner himself), in turn, measures the data already observed by his friend in the adjacent laboratory, without knowing the result. This approach generates two distinct systems: the “box” system, which contains the cat of Schrödinger, and the “lab” system within which we find Wigner’s friend. The paradox lies in the fact that Wigner’s friend, opening the box containing the cat, becomes observer of that given event, bringing the same box system to admit two possibilities (“live cat” and “dead cat”). And considering that the uncertainty of the state of the “lab” system is due only to the uncertainty of the “box” system, it is also possible that the state of the “lab” system should collapse before Wigner can make his observation, in contradiction

The central point of the paradox is the relativism of reality itself, and the understanding of whether the two observers see the same thing. The experiment then questions the existence of an objective reality, independent of the observer and personal free will. Wigner developed this paradox in relation to the mind-body problem inherent in quantum mechanics, to reflect the apparent incompatibility of deterministic and non-deterministic quantum theory.

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