M.P.: Where does the electron get energy in order to respond to this information?
HILEY: It comes from within, but it can also come from the vacuum (holomovement).
If there is a stationary state, total energy is conserved and there is swapping of energy between the kinetic energy, the classical potential energy and the quantum potential energy - taking one kind of energy and giving back another form. But that all comes from within the electron itself. In a way it is like a self-organization. Electron is organizing itself, because the field which is part of the electron, is inseparable from the electron itself. So we are suggesting that self-organization is present at a very basic level.
M.P.: You are introducing also a second new notion - superpotential (governed by a Schroedinger superwave equation) that is in instantaneous (i.e. non-local) contact with all particles. What does this mean?
HILEY: We naturally have to extend non-relativistic QM into the relativistic domain, otherwise it would be just a partial explanation. The challenge was to describe photons, for example. There is a big difference between the way de Broglie describes them and the way Bohm does it. We (with Bohm) found that treating photons as particles through non-relativistic QM will not work. So we were forced in the case of bosons to go to field theory. It turned out that we could in field theory use similar sort of principles that we use for particle theory.
In field theory, we have a field and we have a wave function of that field; so we have a wave functional. This wave functional is a solution of a Schroedinger-like equation. In some sense the photon is the feature, not of the wave function of the field, but of the field itself. So we are beginning to get two levels here. The discrete manifestation of the electro-magnetic field, the photon, is coming out of the classical field, which is controled or which is guided by a superfield. This superfield satisfies the super-Schroedinger equation giving rise to a super-quantum potential. So the quantum potential controls the field and the photons are actually aspects of the field. So, we have two-level-control of the photons.
M.P.: You want to avoid special role of the observer in the quantum theory. Why? What do you propose instead?
HILEY: The reason why one thinks the observer should not play such a prominent role as some interpretations of QM have given to it, emerges by considering the cosmological problem. We now believe that the Universe came out of some quantum event. If we want to discuss the evolution of that quantum event, then there are certainly no observers around at that time. We cannot use a theory which depends on observations. An observer should not come into the description of quantum processes. QM was introduced to explain the stability of matter. If the quantum theory depends upon the observations then the stability of this table depends on the observer. That is crazy! The earth was here before the humans who observed it! Therefore, why do we have a theory which depends so crucially on the observer?
You asked what do I propose instead. Quantum transitions should be something in which the observer plays no role. There should be no need for the observer. If we use the notion of information, we have novel qualities, which we called active information, passive information or inactive information. Active information is acting on a particle at a particular time; passive information is not accessible to the particle at that moment. But in a two-slit experiment eventually the information that the other slit being open will reach the particle and it will act on the particle producing the corresponding effect. So information becomes active at a later time. Inactive information is information, which because of some irreversible process, gets lost and the particle can never access it again. With the concept of inactive information we can actually explain measurement without introducing the human observer at all. In the presence of a measuring device, the information has become inactive and it can no longer be processed by the particle. That is equivalent to the "collapse of the wave function" in the conventional approach. Here the wave function has not collapsed; this information just is not accessible to the particle.
M.P.: But who decides which information will be active and which inactive?
HILEY: Nobody decides it. To see what happens we have to look at the equations... Let us look at the "Schroedinger cat paradox". The photon goes into a box, which has a possibility one half to be transmitted and one half not to be. If it is transmitted, it triggers a gun which shoots the cat. When you work out the quantum potential for the case when the gun has fired, you have to work it out at the positions of the gunpowder, the trigger etc. when in the fired position. If you use the same positions for the unfired case, you get zero. The quantum potential objectively does not act, because of the macroscopical movements of the particles involved in the device. Thus the quantum potential turns out to be zero. So, nobody decides it. It is zero and it is in that sense that it becomes inactive. So, no human intervention acquired at all.
There is a possibility of retrieving all this by reversing all the positions of all the particles involved, but if you do that, you need another device to return them all. Because of the second law of thermodynamics, the entropy is increased, so you cannot reverse everything. If you have irreversible processes, the information becomes totally inactive forever.
M.P.: There are various answers to the question of the "collapse of the wave-function". Would you agree that this is a question of the level of description: globally or holistically there is no "collapse", locally or "individually" (after breaking the quantum whole into separate parts - observer and observed, for example) there is a "collapse"?
HILEY: I think I have essentially explained that before. There is not a collapse, because the information is still there, but it is inaccessible to the particle. So, if you have a group of particles and you make a measurement on several of them, then the measurement process breaks the correlation implicit in the wave function, so that the information of these particles cannot be communicated to the rest of particles. The information becomes inactive, and this breaks the system up into two separate parts.
M.P.: It seems that two descriptions on two levels are proposed. In the first, the physical system is described by the Schroedinger equation, and it is then "collapsed" by mind. This "collapse" is not describable by the Schroedinger equation. On the global level, the physical system plus measurement plus mind or cognition are described by the Schroedinger equation, and here no discontinuous "collapse" is needed. Can these two levels coexist?
HILEY: This comes out by looking at the von Neumann and Wigner approach of QM. By bringing in the collapse you are then assuming that the wave function is the most complete description of the state of the system. Von Neumann argument was that first you can apply Schroedinger equation to the system, then you apply QM to the measuring instrument plus the system, then to the eye plus measuring instrument plus system, then to the optic nerve etc., and so you can take it further and further back into the mind. Then he has to admit that finally there is a state that the subject perceives. So in a sense this is a kind of dualistic approach. That is what happens in the mind, whatever it is, happens outside of physics. In this approach, von Neumann and Wigner would say, you cannot analyze it further, you have to make a cut. You cannot analyze the mind. It is something totally beyond our scientific experience. Well, now this is changing very much. People are trying to understand the mind and consciousness. Therefore people are not satisfied with the present state of the QM, because they think that the mind has to be a part of quantum equations as well... I do not think that QM is consistent at this level.
M.P.: Could we say that "all parts of the Universe are collapsing the wave-function of all the other parts"? (We can use the word "collapse" in your sense.)
HILEY: I agree with you that there is a problem when you start with quantum cosmology and everything is connected with everything else. You have to explain how the classical world arises. If you want to explain this, you have to consider sub-totalities, sub-wholes. The processes in these sub-totalities are responsible for the "collapse of the wave function". So/P> in that case, every part of the Universe is, in a sense, collapsing the wave function of everything else. In our book "Undivided Universe" we tried to show that it is possible for a classical world to emerge from the quantum whole, but the details still concern me.
M.P.: Would you compare the "collapse of the wave-function" and reconstruction of a three-dimensional image from a hologram?
HILEY: In what sense do you mean?
M.P.: I mean that the "collapse of the wave function" is analogical to the recall of an image from the hologram. While reconstructing the image from a hologram we send the reference beam once again through the hologram and then we get this particular image from it. In both cases there is some sort of transition from the implicate to the explicate order - from many possible states we get one out.
HILEY: Well, you are really asking a much more general question, which is how does the explicate order arise from the implicate order. I do not think I have a satisfactory answer at this stage. There are many different explicate orders, so how do we decide which have to be made manifest at a given time. This seems to require another process, a process of explication. This ties ultimately with the question, how does the classical world emerge. Because, when the classical world starts to emerge, you can use it to explicate different features of the holomovement.
M.P.: Penrose says that gravity "collapses" the wave-function. Wigner and von Neumann said that consciousness "collapses" the wave-function. How would you define supergravity, supersymmetry, consciousness, and what relation or distinction is there between these notions, including vacuum or better holomovement?
HILEY: Oh, this is really a big question, for which we could spend hours discussing. I will give some indication. I have already explained the position of Wigner and von Neumann. Let us have a look at the Penrose position. Penrose has a very interesting idea that exploits a very peculiar feature in general relativity. In general relativity energy cannot be localised. He feels that this nonlocal feature in general relativity is related to quantum non-locality. Therefore he is suggesting that it is gravity which is responsible for the collapse. And if this is the case, then that would be great, because it would provide an objective way of looking at the collapse. But this approach assumes that the wave function is the most complete description of the state of the system. This is an assumption I have questioned.
Supersymmetry is a way to combine fermionic and bosonic structures. Here you could transform fermions into bosons and bosons into fermions. That has, to my knowledge, not been very successful, because it predicts many different particles, none of which have been seen. Supergravity comes out of that, because for the first time there seems to be gravitons appearing in some representations of these supersymmetric groups. Again, that is a large extrapolation and I am not sure whether this is a serious proposal at this stage, although it is very interesting.
How consciousness is related to all this is an extremely difficult question. Certainly consciousness has been introduced by Wigner, but then there is no explanation of consciousness here, because he is using consciousness to explain the "collapse of the wave function". In other words, Wigner feels QM needs consciousness. On the other hand Penrose feels that consciousness needs QM, because he feels that the unity of consciousness can be captured by either this holistic view of nature or the fact that there is a coexistence of all the many branches of the wave function. If one can get gravity to "collapse" one branch, then somehow these things are related to consciousness. He says, you cannot make an artificial intelligence model of consciousness and that something else is involved. He uses the idea of non-computability. He feels, that the collapse is the place where you computability stops. When you can have consciousness and collapse tied together, then you will have something that is not computable and therefore something that goes beyond strong artificial intelligence. But he did not give a clear explanation to me, when I spoke to him. He did not explain how gravity collapses the wave function. His book "Shadows of the Mind" goes more deeply into these questions.
M.P.: He actually says that there is a critical amount of neurons which causes a sort of phase transition similar to "collapse of the wave function".
HILEY: Yes, you need enough energy for creation of a graviton...
M.P.: Why is the "collapse of the wave-function" so mysterious? Can we really avoid it, also conceptually? If we would say that the wave-function "collapses" to one eigenstate and so realizes it explicately, but simultaneously all the other eigenstates are still present implicately (and also potentially), would that be right?
HILEY: You can certainly put it that way. But, once again, there are several different levels. If you take the ontological interpretation, there is no problem with the "collapse of the wave function". The reason why one particular branch remains active, but all the others become passive, is contingent upon the initial conditions. What we can not do in the ontological interpretation, is to control the initial conditions precisely. So, depending upon what initial conditions you have got, you can know, for example, that the "Schroedinger cat" is definitely dead or alive. It is the contingency of initial conditions in the ontological interpretation that is uncontrolable and unpredictable.
M.P.: Would you now please describe your notion of prespace and how you try to abstract space-time and matter from the basic underlying holomovement?
HILEY: If you succeed in quantizing the gravitational field, it will fluctuate in the same way that the quantized electro-magnetic field has fluctuations in it. If we assume that general relativity is the way to discuss gravity, then we know that it is the metric tensor that is potential for the gravitational field. The metric tensor tells us about measure properties of space. So, if the gravitational field is fluctuating, then the metric tensor is fluctuating, which means that measure properties of space are fluctuating and that space-time is fluctuating. What does fluctuating space-time mean? One way is to put a lot of different space-times in a linear superposition, but this is confusing the issue... This is actually a question of categories. Here you still maintain the Cartesian categories. Our suggestion is that when we start with the PROCESS (we should definitely not start with the space-time), then space-time will emerge from it as a kind of explicate order. Prespace is that aspect of the holomovement, from which we can abstract space-time in the form of some explicate order.