Is Reality a Hologram?
Abstract: Over two decades ago, a team of physicists made a startling discovery: Subatomic particles communicate instantaneously over vast distances. This discovery, though it reinforces the concepts of quantum nonlocality and quantum interconnectedness, raises serious questions about the nature of reality by introducing the possibility of faster than light speeds. Physicist David Bohm purposed the solution to faster than light signaling between particles by suggesting the holographic "whole in every part" model for reality. This page introduces these concepts, diagramming Bohm's analogy of "the nonlocal fish and interconnectedness".
More than a few great minds boggled when Alain Aspect’s team of physicist at the University of Paris' Institute of Optics discovered that subatomic particles could instantly communicate with each other at faster than light speeds. This phenomenon conflicts with Einstein's theory of Special Relativity, which expressly forbids speeds exceeding that of light. Einstein said this would allow for time travel, a notion he considered too paradoxical to consider. (Universe as hologram,2005)
But if particles are not sending signals at faster than light speeds , it means that something even more bizarre might be going on. Michael Talbot (1993, p.145) points out in his book Mysticism and the New Physics that, in light of Aspect's findings, we must consider that "some of our most cherished and accepted notions about reality are in error.”
What cherished notions? Objective reality, for one. On the subatomic level, the distinction between observer and object disappears. Time flows both forward and backward symmetrically, location becomes 'nonlocality", indeterminate, and ‘matter’ is mostly empty space. What we 'see' has more to do with our consciousness than anything that might be 'out there'. (Goswami, 1995, p. 107)
Physicist David Bohm (1917-1992) said that reality doesn't even exist. He suggested that the universe, in spite of its tangible appearance, is one huge hologram.
Bohm explains the analogy of the "nonlocal fish" to demonstrate: Pretend you are from another universe and have no idea what a fish is and have never seen an aquarium. You are shown a fish in a tank only you are in another room, observing the fish via two TV cameras set at different angles, transmitting their images onto two separate screens. There is only one fish in the tank, but you see two. When one moves the other moves immediately in a different, but concurrent way, as if they were communicating instantaneously. Bohm suggested that this is what is happening on the subatomic level in Aspect's experiment. We see two particles when actually there is only one.
And this is explained with a hologram? Remember, a hologram is no ordinary projection. It creates a three dimensional image when illuminated by a laser. Probably the most interesting thing about a hologram is that if you break it down into segments, each separate bit will still, when illuminated, project an image of the whole original picture.
If you had a hologram of a blue fish, for example and you broke it into twenty little pieces, each piece, when illuminated, would still project the entire fish image.
Bohm believed that this explained the mystery of nonlocality. He says it’s not due to faster than light signals but due to the fact that separateness is an illusion. At a deeper level of reality, there is only one fish. This is the nature of Bohm's universe, a seamless quantum interconnectedness.
What does this mean?
"Bohm believes it means that when we try to divide the universe up into things like electrons and photons and so on, we are only performing an abstraction. 'Out there', the universe is always a seamless and indivisible whole and hence electrons exist only as ideas in our minds. The world does not yield to us directly. A description of the world always stands in between, and all too often when we think we are analyzing a phenomenon, we are really only analyzing a concept and therefore the use of a word." (Talbot 1993 p.147)
Bohm is not alone in his theory of the holographic universe. Neurophysiologist Karl Pribram has also worked with the holographic nature of reality and applies it directly to the brain. He believes that memories are not encoded in neurons but in patterns of nerve impulses that interconnect in the brain the same way a hologram contains information in every part of its whole. Pribram believes the brain is itself a hologram and his theories are gaining support among other scientists.
The brain as hologram offers solutions to puzzling problems , for example, memory retrieval and association. If someone says to us the word sky our brain doesn’t sift through some alphabetical storage to find a file cabinet with the letter S, then wade through it to find the 'posts' containing relevance to sky . When we hear the word sky , it instantaneously sweeps through all our thoughts and memories associated with sky simultaneously. This is what makes creativity possible, that every thought is contained in every other thought. (Talbot 1993 p. 41)
Uncanny ? Yes, definitely. Plausible? Yes, that too. As Neils Bohr said, "Those who are not shocked when they first come across quantum theory cannot possibly have understood it." (Bohr 1971)
© Copyright 2005 Kim Falconer
by Kim Falconer
The designers of the zodiac denoted (ARIES) by the symbol of the ram, noted for the ‘directional force’ of its headlong charge. Yet curiously in some old zodiacs the ram is shown not charging, but with its head turned to look back on itself, and the direction from whence it has come.
This gesture seems to tell us something important about the relationship of consciousness and self-awareness to the forward movement of the universe, namely that awareness is oriented in the reverse direction to the thrust. Mysteriously, consciousness and will face different ways.” --Dennis Elwell 1987
Dennis Elwell (my hero) goes on to discuss what boils down to our orientation in time and space. The point being, awareness doesn’t necessarily travel from the past into the present into the future. Possibly, it is quite the opposite.
The old physics, Newton's mechanistic laws, said that (a) precedes (b), and that (a) is the cause of (b). The quantum view, however, states that (a) does not necessarily precede (b) nor is (a) necessarily the cause of (b). Our concepts of time and causality may be Newtonian, but reality, at least on the quantum level, begs to differ.
Few of us are conscious of our movement into the future; we are aware mostly of where we have been. I understand Elwell to be saying that what we consciously believe to be the “present” or even future may have already occurred. Consciousness lags behind!
Elwell uses the analogy of a locomotive. Consider for a moment that we are passengers on a train trip, all facing backwards from the engine! Out the window, images come into view and disappear. The current image is the present, the distant one the past, and the future is behind us! The engine's forward thrust bears us along, but in fact, it has already "been" before we are even aware of the present or the past. The future proceeds both!
What is yet to happen may be the source of our experiences, yet we think we owe our current moment to what lies in the past.We assume the images from the past are the “cause” of the present, where in fact, it is the locomotive in the “future” which is the “cause of all that is happening”.The ordinary distinctions we make between past, present and future have little bases in quantum physics. Einstein felt they were an illusion, even if a stubborn one!
At the quantum level, it is understood that “what the observer will do in the future defines what happens in the past.” –John Wheeler 1977
It is possible that history may exemplify this “isotropic” aspect of time. In Michael Talbot’s book, Mysticism and the New Physics, Penguin Arkana 1993, he talks about the Aztec’s long possessed legend that white gods had visited their land. The Aztecs even prophesied the moment of their return. With uncanny precision, the day prophesied was the exact day that Cortes landed in Veracruz!
The Mayan’s also had legends regarding the white god, Kulkulcan. They knew what year he would appear, and in that time frame, Montejo landed on their shores!
A stone aged tribe in the Philippines, completely isolated for millennia, was “expecting” Manuel Elizalde when he “discovered” them. Their traditional legends had told of his coming!
How can this be if time is linear?
The concept of Archetypes, so strongly used now in astrology, also carries a feeling of acausal connection from the future. What are these universal images that are found in all places, in all cultures in all times?
Carl G. Jung grappled with their source, changing his mind several times over the decades of his life. At first he felt they sprung from the collective unconscious, the deep roots of humanity that links us all together. Before he died however, he felt that archetypes were acausal connecting principles that might be explained by retrocausality or backward causation. He compared archetypes to “archaic remnants” or “primordial images” that were not only found in the human psyche but also reproduced in dreams, legends, myths, religious images and fairy tale. Jung said-
“They are without known origin; and they reproduce themselves in any time, or in any part of the world—even when transmission by direct descendent or “cross fertilization” must be ruled out.” Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols, Doubleday, NY, 1964
Is it possible that Archetypes exist universally because they are indeed from the future?
Quantum Physics shows us that reality, unlike Newton’s mechanistic laws, is indeterminate. On the quantum level, there is no causality, (a) does not necessarily precede (b), and time is not linear, if indeed it exists at all. The new Physics has the right properties to allow for backwards causation. Could the designers of the zodiac been reflecting this truth with their image of Aries, the ram that looks back on itself?
Aries rules the WILL and ACTION generated by self-direction. Could its effects be not so much on the future but in the present or even the past? Does our future WILL create the consciousness of our past? Consider Thomas Mann:
“As in a dream, it is our own will that unconsciously appears as inexorable objective destiny, everything in it proceeding out of ourselves and each of us being the secrete theatre manager of our own dreams with us all, our fate may be the product of our inmost selves, or our wills, and we are actually bringing about what seems to be happening to us.”
As Jung said, character is destiny. Because astrology so intricately portrays character, it models our fate as well. If the future will is indeed the source of our present experiences, looking to Aries in the natal chart may elucidate that future in ways we have never before dreamed! The problem of time is also exemplified in astrology. How is it that an eclipse, the noted "big gun" aspect in astrological events, can be "felt", (like a new or full moon), 4 days BEFORE the event, or even 30 days before the event? Consider Susan Miller:
A message brought to you by an eclipse is usually delivered within four days of the actual date of the eclipse, but not always. Yet you can sometimes feel a full moon lunar eclipse as early as two weeks prior to it or up to six months later when another planet is needed to trigger the news. (Most likely however, news will occur either at the eclipse or a month to the day later, plus or minus four day--that is your zone to watch if things don't happen immediately).
This becomes particularly interesting when you consider that 4 days before the eclipse or lunar event, the Moon isn't even in orb of the aspect but up to several signs preceding! If time is linear, how does that work? Again, the archetype of Aries—the will and action generated by self-direction that exists in all times, in all places and in all cultures, has its effects not necessarily on future events, but on the present and the past. The Ram looks forward, into what is yet to happen, or is that really backward, into what has already been?
Bohr, N 1971, Chapter 12. In Heisenberg, W, Physics and beyond, Harper and Row, New York.
Emmens, C 1990 Marine aquaria and miniature reefs, TFH Publications, Inc., New Jersey.
Goswami, A and Goswami, M and Reed, R 1995, The Self- Aware Universe, 2nd ed, Jeremy P. Tarcher,New York.
Talbot, M 1993, Mysticism and the new physics, 2 edn, Arkana Penguin Group, New York.
Universe as a hologram 1997. Retrieved June 09, 2005, from http://twm.co.nz/hologram.html