Wave Function And Holism : A Million Dices

  • the origin of new, original concepts from nothing is a property of emergence
  • classical physics can have few emerge properties, but quantum physics is dominated by emergent scenarios
Does anything really new ever come about in physics? Are properties or characteristics of things ever created or evoked “from nothing”? Emergence is a view that holds the answer to these questions to be, in some very important sense, yes. Emergence is the rise of a system that cannot be predicted or explained from antecedent conditions. George Henry Lewes, the 19th-century English philosopher of science, distinguished between resultants and emergents–phenomena that are predictable from their constituent parts and those that are not (e.g., a physical mixture of sand and talcum powder as contrasted with a chemical compound such as salt, which looks nothing like sodium or chlorine). The evolutionary account of life is a continuous history marked by stages at which fundamentally new forms have appeared: (1) the origin of life; (2) the origin of nucleus-bearing protozoa; (3) the origin of sexually reproducing forms, with an individual destiny lacking in cells that reproduce by fission; (4) the rise of sentient animals, with nervous systems and protobrains; and (5) the appearance of cogitative animals, namely humans. Each of these new modes of life, though grounded in the physicochemical and biochemical conditions of the previous and simpler stage, is intelligible only in terms of its own ordering principle. These are thus cases of emergence.A property is said to be emergent if it cannot be defined or explained in terms of the properties of its parts or if it is not reducible to these properties and relations. Classical physics is reductionist. But, quantum entities have emergent properties. Things like position and energy simply do not exist until they are measured or observed (i.e. until the wave function collapses). They exist as potentialities, but can not explain the properties of the actualities.



  • the wave function contains a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts
In this sense, quantum entities have a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. And the reverse is true, that nothing can ever be wholly reduced to the sum of its constituent parts.


  • holism is a philosophy that the whole is primary and often greater than the sum of the parts
  • a holist is concerned with relationships not the pieces
  • quantum physics is difficult to reconcile with reductionism, requires a holistic view of Nature
  • the particle or wave aspect of a quantum entity requires a dialogue with the environment
This is the holistic nature of the quantum world, with the behavior of individual particles being shaped into a pattern by something that cannot be explained in terms of the Newtonian reductionist paradigm. Newtonian physics is reductionist, quantum physics is holistic. Holism as an idea or philosophical concept is diametrically opposed to atomism. Where the atomist believes that any whole can be broken down or analyzed into its separate parts and the relationships between them, the holist maintains that the whole is primary and often greater than the sum of its parts. The atomist divides things up in order to know them better; the holist looks at things or systems in aggregate and argues that we can know more about them viewed as such, and better understand their nature and their purpose.The early Greek atomism of Leucippus and Democritus (fifth century B.C.) was a forerunner of classical physics. According to their view, everything in the universe consists of indivisible, indestructible atoms of various kinds. Change is a rearrangement of these atoms. This kind of thinking was a reaction to the still earlier holism of Parmenides, who argued that at some primary level the world is a changeless unity. According to him, “All is One. Nor is it divisible, wherefore it is wholly continuous…. It is complete on every side like the mass of a rounded sphere.”

In the seventeenth century, at the same time that classical physics gave renewed emphasis to atomism and reductionism, Spinoza developed a holistic philosophy reminiscent of Parmenides. According to Spinoza, all the differences and apparent divisions we see in the world are really only aspects of an underlying single substance, which he called God or nature. Based on pantheistic religious experience, this emphasis on an underlying unity is reflected in the mystical thinking of most major spiritual traditions. It also reflects developments in modern quantum field theory, which describes all existence as an excitation of the underlying quantum vacuum, as though all existing things were like ripples on a universal pond.

Where atomism was apparently legitimized by the sweeping successes of classical physics, holism found no such foundation in the hard sciences. It remained a change of emphasis rather than a new philosophical position. There were attempts to found it on the idea of organism in biology – the emergence of biological form and the cooperative relation between biological and ecological systems – but these, too, were ultimately reducible to simpler parts, their properties, and the relation between them. Even systems theory, although it emphasizes the complexity of aggregates, does so in terms of causal feedback loops between various constituent parts. It is only with quantum theory and the dependence of the very being or identity of quantum entities upon their contexts and relationships that a genuinely new, “deep” holism emerges.

Every quantum entity has both a wavelike and a particlelike aspect. The wavelike aspect is indeterminate, spread out all over space and time and the realm of possibility. The particlelike aspect is determinate, located at one place in space and time and limited to the domain of actuality. The particlelike aspect is fixed, but the wavelike aspect becomes fixed only in dialogue with its surroundings – in dialogue with an experimental context or in relationship to another entity in measurement or observation. It is the indeterminate, wavelike aspect – the set of potentialities associated with the entity – that unites quantum things or systems in a truly emergent, relational holism that cannot be reduced to any previously existing parts or their properties.


  • numerous experiments have shown that quantum interactions produce results that are not predictable by analysis of components
If two or more quantum entities are “introduced” – that is, issue from the same source – their potentialities are entangled. Their indeterminate wave aspects are literally interwoven, to the extent that a change in potentiality in one brings about a correlated change in the same potentiality of the other. In the nonlocality experiments, measuring the previously indeterminate polarization of a photon on one side of a room effects an instantaneous fixing of the polarization of a paired photon shot off to the other side of the room. The polarizations are said to be correlated; they are always determined simultaneously and always found to be opposite. This paired-though-opposite polarization is described as an emergent property of the photons’ “relational holism” – a property that comes into being only through the entanglement of their potentialities. It is not based on individual polarizations, which are not present until the photons are observed. They literally do not previously exist, although their oppositeness was a fixed characteristic of their combined system when it was formed.In the coming together or simultaneous measurement of any two entangled quantum entities, their relationship brings about a “further fact.” Quantum relationship evokes a new reality that could not have been predicted by breaking down the two relational entities into their individual properties.

The emergence of a quantum entity’s previously indeterminate properties in the context of a given experimental situation is another example of relational holism. We cannot say that a photon is a wave or a particle until it is measured, and how we measure it determines what we will see. The quantum entity acquires a certain new property – position, momentum, polarization – only in relation to its measuring apparatus. The property did not exist prior to this relationship. It was indeterminate.

Quantum relational holism, resting on the nonlocal entanglement of potentialities, is a kind of holism not previously defined. Because each related entity has some characteristics – mass, charge, spin – before its emergent properties are evoked, each can be reduced to some extent to atomistic parts, as in classical physics. The holism is not the extreme holism of Parmenides or Spinoza, where everything is an aspect of the One. Yet because some of their properties emerge only through relationship, quantum entities are not wholly subject to reduction either. The truth is somewhere between Newton and Spinoza. A quantum system may also vary between being more atomistic at some times and more holistic at others; the degree of entanglement vary. Where a reductionist believes that any whole can be broken down or analyzed into its separate parts and the relationships between them, the holist maintains that the whole is primary and often greater than the sum of its parts. Nothing can be wholly reduced to the sum of its parts.


  • the rules of the quantum world follow logic, but a logic of both/and rather than the logic of either/or of the macroscopic world
The highest development of quantum theory returns to the philosophy of Parmenides by describing all of existence as an excitation of the underlying quantum vacuum, like ripples on a universal pond. The substratum of all is the quantum vacuum, similar to Buddhist idea of permanent identity.Quantum reality is a bizarre world of both/and, whereas macroscopic world is ruled by either/or. The most outstanding problem in modern physics is to explain how the both/and is converted to either/or during the act of observation.

Note that since there are most probable positions and energy associated with the wave function, then there is some reductionism available for the observer. The truth is somewhere between Newton and Parmenides.

The Cosmological Constant And Einstien’s Real Blunder

If Las Vegas were taking bets on dark energy, the odds would favor a concept known as vacuum energy or the cosmological constant. In essence, it suggests that space itself produces energy, which is “pushing” the universe outward.

Albert Einstein invented the cosmological constant as part of his theory of gravity, known as General Relativity.

Particle Collisions

 1. Empty space. 2. Two particles suddenly appear. 3. Particles ram together and annihilate each other. 4. They leave ripples of energy through space.

Einstein’s equations showed that the gravity of all the matter in the universe would exert a strong pull, pulling all the stars and galaxies toward each other and eventually causing the universe to collapse. At the time, though, astronomers believed that the universe was static – that it was neither expanding nor contracting. To counteract this problem, Einstein added another term to his equations, called the cosmological constant, to balance the inward pull of gravity.

Within about a decade, though, astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding. Einstein discarded the cosmological constant, calling it his greatest scientific blunder.

When dark energy was discovered, though, many physicists began to think that Einstein’s only blunder was in removing the constant. This “repulsive” force could begin to explain the acceleration of the universe. In other words, it might be the dark energy.

Today, physicists explain the cosmological constant as the vacuum energy of space.

In essence, this says that pairs of particles are constantly popping into existence throughout the universe. These “virtual pairs” consist of one particle with a negative charge and one with a positive charge. They exist for only a tiny fraction of a second before they collide and annihilate each other in a tiny burst of energy. This energy may be pushing outward on space itself, causing the universe to accelerate faster.

One of the appealing elements of vacuum energy is that it could explain why the acceleration has only started fairly recently on the cosmic timescale.

In the early universe, all the matter was packed much more densely today. In other words, there was less space between galaxies. With everything so close together, gravity was the dominant force, slowing down the acceleration of the universe that was imparted in the Big Bang. In addition, since there was less space in the universe, and the vacuum energy comes from space itself, it played a much smaller role in the early universe.

Today – 13.7 billion years after the Big Bang – the universe has grown much larger, so the galaxies are not packed so close together. Their gravitational pull on each other is weakened, allowing the vacuum energy to play a more dominant role.

Vacuum energy has its own set of problems, though. It should be far too weak to account for the acceleration seen in the present-day universe, for example — by a factor of at least 1057 (a one followed by 57 zeroes), and perhaps as much as 10120 (a one followed by 120 zeroes). Yet it is the most complete scenario to date, so it leads the pack of dark-energy contenders.