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**These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"**

The US physicist
David Bohm believed in an "undivided whole"
even before John Bell's theorem. His
idea was that the whole universe is entangled in one gigantic wave. One of Quantum
Theory's most direct consequences is indeterminism: one cannot know at the same
time the value of both the position and the momentum of a particle. One only knows a probability for each of the
possible values, and the whole set of probabilities constitute the
"wave" associated with the particle.
Only when one does observe the particle, does one particular value
occur; only then does the wave of probabilities "collapse" to one
specific value. Bohm’s "ontological"
interpretation of Quantum Theory (“A Suggested Interpretation of the Quantum
Theory in Terms of Hidden Variables”, 1952) almost resurrected determinism at
the quantum level. Bohm’s bold assumption was that the quantum “wave” is a real
wave, due to a real potential. Bohm assumed that the wave function does not represent just a set of
probabilities: it represents an actual field. A particle is always accompanied
by such a field. This field is a real field and acts upon particles the same
way a classical potential does. (Bohm resurrected an interpretation of Quantum
Theory that de Broglie had abandoned, the theory of an ordinary wave guiding an
ordinary particle). The beauty of
this assumption is that, with the introduction of this additional potential,
something momentous happens to the equations of Quantum Mechanics: position and
momentum of a particle are no longer incompatible, they can be measured
precisely at the same time, and Heisenberg’s principle is defeated. The behavior of
the particle in Bohm’s theory is
determined by the particle's position and momentum, by whatever force is acting
on it, and by the quantum potential. For Bohm, particles do exist and are
always accompanied by a field. An electron is neither a particle nor a wave
(field), it is a particle plus a wave (that cannot be separated). But Bohm's
wave is not Born's wave: Born's wave is only a function of probabilities that
helps compute the particle's position, whereas Bohm's wave is a real wave that
guides the particle (therefore also referred to as the “pilot-wave”). Everything is
both a particle and a wave, and is acted upon by both a classical potential and
a quantum potential (the "pilot wave"). Basically, the wave-function
provides an additional potential that, once inserted in the traditional
Hamiltonian of classical Physics, yields a well-determined trajectory for each
particle (but since the initial position cannot be known, we still can't
predict the path of a particle, only notice that there exists a well-determined
path prescribed by nature). Bohm had found an interpretation of Quantum Theory in terms of
particles with well-defined position and momentum. What Bohm had done with his assumption was, basically, to add
some "hidden variables" (the quantum potential) to the equations,
precisely what Einstein had suggested to restore determinism in
Physics. (Bohm, incidentally, was dismissed equally by Bohr, who did not believe in hidden
variables, and by Einstein, who believed in hidden variables). Back to the beginning of the chapter "The New Physics" | Back to the index of all chapters |