The deeper mystery of matter

Forget particles and waves. When it comes to the true guise of material reality, what’s out there is beyond our grasp

So says Anil Ananthaswamy in the New Scientist article ‘Quantum Shadows’ (2013). The problem under consideration is the way light behaves in the double-slit experiment: it can be like a photon or a wave, depending on how it is observed.

There has been a lot of work exploring this behaviour, and some recent research by Peruzzo et al (2012)raises ths issues again. Specifically, they explored Wheeler’s  delayed-choice thought experiment, where a photon passes through a double-slit experiment, and only after its passage does an observer decide whether to measure it as a wave or a particle. They replaced the delayed choice of the observer with nonlocal entanglement. They concluded that they ‘observed strong nonlocal correlations, which show that the photon must simultaneously behave both as a particle and as a wave.’

There has been quite a buzz about this on the blogs. Generally people infer from the experiment that hidden-variable solutions are non-viable. However this is incorrect: all that this particular experiment shows is that nonlocality occurred. Well, that’s not a surprise. One is welcome to infer from that the photon ‘must’ be both a particle and a wave, but doing so is simply a matter of belief.

There is another way to interpret these results: that reality might be better described by a non-local hidden-variable solution (as opposed to the zero-dimensional point idea of QM).

All the results only limit local hidden variable solutions, not non-local hidden-variable (NLHV) theories. This is not contentious, though often overlooked. It is worth picking up on this, if only because the greatest opportunities for breakthrough are in the margins which others have rejected because of their tacit assumptions. Specifically, it is still possible that non-local hidden-variable (NLHV) solutions might exist, including some that are different to the de Broglie-Bohm theory. Our Cordus conjecture is such an example.

The gist of the argument from orthodox physics is  that the photon must be both a wave and particle, and is highly unlikely to  have internal structure. However from our perspective we show that  there is a solution with one particular NLHV structure. It gives natural explanations to many problematic phenomena in fundamental physics, including wave-particle duality, entanglement, and contextual measurement (which is the problem explored in this New Scientist article). It offers explanations for many other effects too, such as asymmetrical baryogenesis (i.e. why the universe is made of matter rather than antimatter).

You can read our paper on the resolution of wave-particle duality here, or the preprint here We call this unorthodox idea the Cordus  conjecture.

The photon is proposed to have two ends, each of which goes through a slit.

The photon is proposed to have two ends, each of which goes through a slit.

Coming back to the NS article, if the cordus explanation is correct, then  the photon is neither a particle nor a wave, but rather a specific structure with discrete fields. We can explain why its behaviour depends on how it is observed, which is also fascinating.  When looked at from the Cordus perspective, the behaviour of the photon is perfectly natural. The weirdness is not because reality is weird, but only because quantum mechanics is not a true description of reality: it simply does not have the necessary concepts. We now think we have both the words and the concepts to express what the photon really is. At least at the next deeper level of physics below QM.

Read the paper and tell us whether you think we have got this right or wrong.


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