On Quantum Mechanics and the Implicate Order. Part 2

an Interview with Dr. BASIL J. HILEY
interview conducted by Mitja Perus
National Institute of Chemistry, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Basil J. Hiley
is of the Physics Department, Birkbeck College, University of London
and is the co-author of the ontological interpretation of quantum theory
with the late Professor David Bohm

From: http://www.goertzel.org/dynapsyc/1997/interview.html

There is a wholeness in quantum processes which we cannot explain. There seems to be a contradiction between particles being together and yet apart in space. So, if we have a situation where we require some sort of holistic description, then we have to start with some sort of basic elements which we cannot subdivide further. Because if we are going to subdivide them by saying a process is made of subprocesses which, in turn, are made of subprocesses etc., then you are just going on the reductionistic route again. It is not possible to analyze a fundamental process in terms of anything deeper without changing it radically. That is why Niels Bohr told us that there was no sharp distinction between the observer or the observing instrument and the observed. If you try to interact with it to get more information about it, you change the whole experimental conditions and therefore you change the phenomena. So we have to stop trying reductionistic explanations of quantum processes.

M.P.: It borders me here that you are emphasizing the holistic nature of holomovement, but at the same time holomovement is a notion that replaces vacuum. It seems that what was completely empty for us before is now filled with something. Are we responsible for this - for breaking the symmetry of the vacuum - in measurement, but also conceptually?

HILEY: This is a very deep question: if we are in a holistic nature, how can we have partial views, how do we split this whole into a situation where we can actually talk about it at all. In order to handle this within the notion of implicate order David Bohm introduced idea of explicate order. Within implicate order it is always possible to find special types of explicate orders which display certain aspects of the holomovement. Then it is no longer possible to display "everything".

The observer becomes one "pole" and the process another "pole", but this is only an approximation; really they are still parts of the same total process.

M.P.: What is the role of algebras in mathematical formalising the notion of implicate order?
HILEY: Being a theoretical physicist I feel very unhappy with general concepts unless I can find some mathematical structure in which I can handle these concepts. When we were exploring how to find mathematics for implicate-explicate order relationships I was many years ago directed to a paper by Hamilton with a title "Algebra as pure time". In reading that paper it seemed to me that algebraic elements are the elements by which you can describe process. Grassman had a similar approach. He said: mathematics was about thought. It was about the FORM of thought, not its CONTENT. When you are talking about thought you are talking about becoming, not about being. How does a new thought arise: is it independent from the old thought or does it have a trace of the old thought? Does the old thought have the potentiality of the new thought? This process between the old and the new thought is continuous and you cannot make a subdivision. Grassman began to develop a mathematics using two-point entities. This investigation finally lead to what we now call Grassman algebras. In Clifford's hands algebra became associated with active movements - rotations, translations and so on. Algebra is catching the essence of movement and while looking at different aspects of algebra you might be describing PROCESS rather than things moving in space and time. QM can be completely put into an algebraic form. That is the Heisenberg matrix approach. This is why I am interested in algebras and it seems to be very promising.

M.P.: You say that the wave function is not a state function. Why not?
HILEY: All problems with the interpretation of QM arise because of the attitude that people adopt to the wave-function. If you regard it as a state of something, we have all the paradoxes - the "Schroedinger cat" paradox, the collapse of the wave-function etc. If I adopt an ontological standpoint, I will say that psi is really something I can attach to the object I am looking at. But it does not describe the object completely - it is the most complete description of the state of the system we can find.

What surprised me is that Bohr never mentions a measurement problem in any of his writings. If you read him carefully, he does not regard psi as a state-function. For him it is merely a part of an algorithm from which we can calculate the probable outcomes of given experiments. You see why he did not want to associate wave-function with the state of the system, because he said, you cannot separate the observed system from the observer. What does it mean to attach the label to something which you cannot distinguish from a background? If you then say that this is merely a part of an algorithm, then there is no collapse problem, because there is no STATE-function. That is why I said earlier that Niels Bohr has the most consistent interpretation of QM. But there are problems with Bohr, because he assumes that classical world exists. In modern cosmological theories, where the cosmos was created in a quantum event, there is no classical world. Therefore a reexamination of what QM really means is necessary.

In Bohm's ontological interpretation there is a different attitude adopted towards psi. There it is considered to be a REAL field or two coupled real fields. In this case all the quantum paradoxes disappear! You do not get the measurement problem, you do not get the "Schroedinger cat" paradox etc. Each of these three interpretations has its own sets of problems. Which is the correct one? Are any of them correct? All three are inadequate in some way and we will have to go beyond them. We have not got right categories in which to understand quantum phenomena and we should all be searching for new categories. One proposal is through implicate order.

M.P.: What is a particle due to your opinion?
HILEY: On what level?

M.P.: Would you compare the ontological level and the epistemological level, with emphasize on ontological level, because epistemological is known better?

HILEY: In the Bohm's ontological interpretation, which has been well worked out, it is assumed that the particle has some centre, some kernel. There is some local centre to this whole process which we describe by means of a field and a particle. Using the implicate order idea we could think of the particle as some sort of outward manifestation of some total unfolding-enfolding process. Particles would merely appear to be as "ripples on the surface of water". We just see the "surface". You once said that we just "see the top of the ice-berg". But really they have a lot of structure underneath. Those "ripples" are what would be particles in the holomovement. They have not been further analysed. They are some quasi-stable semiautonomous features of this background process.

M.P.: What does the notion of "field" means to you, and what is the connection between the field and the particle?
HILEY: A conventional physicist might say, we can get rid of particles - really everything is done through fields. My worry is that this is the very thing that has caused all the troubles in general relativity when we tried to quantize it. To describe the field, we need the space-time manifold and we need it to be classical. Now general relativity shows deep connection between the gravitational field and the space-time manifold. If the gravitational field is quantized, the field fluctuates, therefore space-time fluctuates. What is the meaning of the field, if the very structure in which we place the field is fluctuating and "tearing"? The notion of field disappears in that context. Therefore even field theory is not sufficient and we have to go to processes, not processes in space-time, but the process from which space-time will be abstracted.

M.P.: It seems that a particle, let us say an electron, is a very complex structure. In what sense? Internally - as a complex system (or "configuration") of "hidden variables" or "beables"? And externally - as an element which is involved in a complex collective behavior of the field as a whole, and is so co-determined by its environment which acts as a complex system?
HILEY: Most physicists take electron as being a point-like particle. In experiments which have been made to find the radius of the electron they assume that it has an internal structure which they describe by a form-factor. They do scattering experiment and then they see what this form-factor is. They find no structure. So, if the electron has a radius, it is less than 10e-15 cm. The natural assumption is that it is point-like.

But it seems very difficult to understand how a point can process the information of its own field coming back from environment. Therefore in the ontological interpretation we postulate that there should be some structure between 10e-15 cm and 10e-33 cm which is the Planck length. This is where people think that space-time will break down (I feel it may break down before that). There are many orders of magnitude between present-day experimental limitations and the Planck length, so there is room for a deeper spatial structure. But then we go to the implicate order where the electron is viewed as some form of coming together of energy which dissolves again, comes together again and so on. This is not in space-time. You can have a structure in electron without being extended in space-time. But the question as to what this structure is, is something for future research.

M.P.: I mentioned in the question also another possibility, that properties of an electron are given by his role in the whole system...

HILEY: I think that is true. The particle is a much more complex structure which involves both the environment and itself. It is a correlation between these two aspects that is important.

M.P.: How do you see the bootstrap theory?
HILEY: That is Jeffrey Chew's idea which is in some way related to the last question that everything determines everything else. If you have a holistic situation and if you make one part of it explicate, then the other part becomes implicate, but with this you can explicate another aspect... There is a kind of bootstrapping in this.

Chew's idea was that every particle is a composite of all the other particles. There are no fundamental particles. In general terms, it is the same idea; but in particular, the bootstrap theory of particle physics was just trying to question whether there is any set of basic particles. It is not a relevant question for the implicate order, because it is fundamentally about PROCESSES. The invariances in this process are the particles. Particles are not made up by another particles, but are invariant features of the holomovement. So, they would not be made of each other, they would be aspects of this general process. There are some similarities, but there are also some differences with the bootstrap theory.

M.P.: Quantum potential depends on the quantum state of the whole system in a way that cannot be defined simply as a pre-assigned interactions between all the particles. It depends on the many-body wave-function which evolves according to the Schroedinger equation. How does the quantum potential depend on the whole many-body system?
HILEY: If you presuppose subquantum medium (in spite of problems which we were talking about before), then you might be able to transmit non-local interactions through this subquantum medium. You might say that whenever a particle or a set of particles were at some particular positions in space-time, then some disturbance of this medium is responsible for coordinating the movements of particles involved in this many-body wave-function. But by saying that you cannot have a pre-assigned wave-function, we mean that you may have another set of particles with another non-product wave-function in the same region of space as the first set of particles, and they have an entirely different behaviour. It is not possible to find a subquantum medium that could produce an effect so that both sets of particles behave in a different way. In the same region of space-time one set of particles behaves in a totally different way from the behaviour of the other set of particles. That is why you cannot have a field, which is correlating the particles, as a pre-assigned function of position... Because they are at the same points, but they behave differently at those points in space. There is no pre-assigned function that will do that.

The quantum potential comes out as being non-local, simply because the wave-function is non-local. The wave-function is a function of a particle at position one, position two, position three etc. at the same time. The quantum potential can be calculated from that, therefore the quantum potential must be at position one, two, three etc. at the same time! This particular description makes it non-local, instantaneous. In the deeper theory the quantum potential arises as an appearance from the deeper levels - implicate order and holomovement.

M.P.: You claim that the quantum potential is an information potential. What is here the difference between force (or interaction) and information?
HILEY: In classical physics the amplitude of a field, which gives rise to a potential, is directly related to the intensity of the force. While swimming in the sea, if the waves are very small, then you experience a very small effect. But if the waves have very high amplitudes, you will experience very big effect. So, the amplitudes of the wave determines what will happen. That is classical pushing and pulling.

On the other hand, the force that you get through the quantum potential is independent of the amplitude of the field. This means that you can have a very big amplitude and a very small force, or you can have a very small amplitude and a very big force. Small amplitudes are used in radio-signals, for example: the audio-frequencies are carried on radio-wave. Very small signals are then amplified by the radio-set, and out comes the normal sound. By the radio-signal we carry information.

We are suggesting that the electron processes the information on the wave by looking at the rate of the rate of change of the amplitude. So there is no need for the force to fall off as an inverse square of the distance (as is true for many classical forces). This wave can carry non-locality, because it requires only very little amplitude to carry these signals. We are suggesting that the field that gives rise to the quantum potential is an information field. This is not an information field in the way that the radio-signal is information for us, rather one has to look at the actual meaning of information. It means literally to form from within - to "in-form". The energy for the loudspeaker comes from the battery (here we can still use analogy with the radio), from within the radio itself. In the case of an electron, this energy comes from the electron itself, so that it can change its motion and respond to the information in the signal. We are using the quantum potential as a carrier of information, rather than a classical push-pull force. So it is not only a different force, but it is also a radically different quality of force. It should be stressed that this information is not the Shannon information that is used in communication, it is a different kind of information.