Theories of the Universe
The Importance of Wholeness
The quantum potential is a field that exists below the quantum level and is therefore subquantum. It pervades all of space, but unlike gravitational fields and magnetic fields, doesn't weaken with distance. Its effects are subtle, but equally powerful everywhere. Bohm published his alternative interpretation in 1952 and as expected, received a very negative response from the physics community. But he was unswerving in his convictions and even ended up publishing a book that addressed the shortcomings of science's response to new ideas.
After Bohm developed his initial theory of quantum potential, he continued to refine it. Out of this refinement came the realization that wholeness was a significant part of the theory. In classical science, the state of a system as a whole is just the result of the interaction of its parts. But in the quantum potential, the behavior of the parts was actually organized by the whole. So this took Bohr's assertion that subatomic particles are part of an indivisible system one step further by suggesting that wholeness is in many ways the more primary reality. And it's at this point that we bring the aspect of nonlocality back into the theory. Because at the level at which the quantum potential operated, location ceased to exist. The idea of anything being separate from anything else was not part of the field, it was a wholeness.
This nonlocal aspect of the quantum potential theory also explained the connections between twin particles (as in the Aspect experiment) without violating special relativity's ban against anything traveling faster than the speed of light. Let me give you an example of the analogy that Bohm used to explain this.
Although I introduced the Aspect experiment and nonlocality previous to this discussion of Bohm's quantum potential, which contains the aspects of wholeness and interconnectedness, these experiments and the later insights gained by nonlocality came after the development of Bohm's theories. They were actually conducted to see if his theories were correct. And as the results have shown, they validate his ideas to a high degree.
Imagine an aquarium containing a fish. Imagine also that you have never seen an aquarium or a fish before (that's a big stretch, but bear with me). The only direct knowledge you have about it and what it contains comes from two television cameras, one directed at the front of the tank and the other directed at its side. As you look at the two television monitors, you might assume that the fish on each of the screens are separate entities. After all, because the cameras are set at different angles, each of the images will be different. But as you continue to watch the fish, you eventually become aware that there is a certain relationship between them.
When one turns, the other also makes a slightly different but corresponding turn; when one faces the front, the other faces toward the side. If you remain unaware of the full scope of the situation, you might even conclude that the fish must be instantaneously communicating with one another, but this is clearly not the case. There is really no communication taking place because at a deeper level of reality the two apparently different fish are one and the same. According to Bohm, the apparent faster-than-light connection between two subatomic particles is really telling us that there is a deeper level of reality we are not privy to, a more complex dimension beyond our own that is analogous to the aquarium. We view objects such as subatomic particles as separate from one another because we are seeing only a portion of their reality.
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Theories of the Universe © 2001 by Gary F. Moring. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.