Duality or complementarity ?


In quan­tum phy­sics, wave-particle dua­li­ty means that all phy­si­cal objects seem to have a dual nature, both as waves and par­ticles. This is only obser­vable at the quan­tum level. Light, for example, can be des­cri­bed in terms of wave­lengths or par­ticles, cal­led photons.

In 1927, the Danish phy­si­cist Niels Bohr enun­cia­ted the prin­ciple of quan­tum com­ple­men­ta­ri­ty. According to him, waves and par­ticles represent two aspects of the same rea­li­ty. Like Yin and Yang. His coat of arms was even ador­ned with this sym­bol, accom­pa­nied by the text « oppo­sites are com­ple­men­ta­ry ».

This prin­ciple is in line with the thin­king of the Copenhagen school. The lat­ter not only consi­ders that at the ato­mic level, it makes no sense to talk about objects inde­pen­dent­ly of any mea­su­re­ment, but that the effect of the mea­su­ring device on the object can­not be neglec­ted. In other words, the obser­ver, through his mea­su­ring device, has an influence on the result of the measurement.


The importance, or not, of the observer

Before we look at the obser­ver, let’s take a clo­ser look at waves and particles.


What is a wave ?

When we think of a wave, we often tend to visua­lize a sinu­soid. And, per­so­nal­ly, ever since high school phy­sics, that’s how I’ve always think of it. But to think of a wave like that… is equi­va­lent to think that the Earth is flat !

Because a sinu­soid is just a 2‑dimensional repre­sen­ta­tion of a 3‑dimensional vor­tex (yes, we live in a 3‑D world!). Throw a stone into the water, and you will be able to observe on the sur­face  a-vortex-of-waves-and-particles a move­ment that forms, the wave that we are used to ima­gine as such. But do you know that there are things hap­pe­ning under the sur­face of the water too?! When the stone sinks, it forms a vor­tex. A vor­tex made up of water par­ticles – mole­cules – that self-organize. A vor­tex at the source of the wave motion pro­pa­ga­ting to the surface.

This simple obser­va­tion shows us, at our scale, that the wave and the par­ticle are com­ple­men­ta­ry and inseparable.

What does this have to do with the quan­tum scale, you may ask ? It appears when we won­der what a par­ticle is.


What is a particle ?

99.99999% vacuum.

But what is vacuum ? This issue is dis­cus­sed in detail in the article on the frac­tal and holo­gra­phic uni­verse. Let’s just say here that vacuum is full of ener­gy and that there is a kind of constant dia­logue bet­ween vacuum – the quan­tum scale – and matter.

Electrons that make up mat­ter – the water mole­cules in the pre­vious example – inform the quan­tum vacuum of their expe­rience at each « quan­tum ins­tant ». In par­ti­cu­lar, they inform the vacuum of their loca­tion in space and time. On the quan­tum scale, they are influen­ced by the expe­rience of all the other elec­trons, which them­selves inform the vacuum. Then they go back to inform mat­ter, modi­fied by the infor­ma­tion they have just been in contact with.



In doing so, they mate­ria­lize at new coor­di­nates, howe­ver close enough to the pre­vious ones so it creates an appea­rance of conti­nui­ty at our scale. In this case a wave-like move­ment on the water sur­face (see also the article Movement and per­cep­tion).


Therefore waves and par­ticles are not always what they seem to be, and the way they are obser­ved depends… on the observer !


What about the observer ?

Two dif­ferent obser­vers will be able to observe the waves in two dif­ferent ways : in 2 dimen­sions or in 3 dimen­sions. They will also be able to observe the par­ticles in two dif­ferent ways : mat­ter or vacuum. And a third obser­ver will be able to see a dua­li­ty bet­ween the wave and the par­ticle, while ano­ther will see a com­ple­men­ta­ri­ty.

In this sense, the obser­ver is essen­tial because his inter­pre­ta­tion influences the way in which we conceive quan­tum phy­sics (in this case). Interpretation that is direct­ly rela­ted to the conscious­ness of the obser­ver at the moment of obser­va­tion.

On the basis of the uni­fied field theo­ry, conscious­ness is an infor­ma­tio­nal feed­back bet­ween inner and outer world. This means that the obser­ver does have an influence on what he observes. And that in return this obser­va­tion influences the state of conscious­ness of the obser­ver. In other words, « we create rea­li­ty and rea­li­ty creates us » [1], via the quan­tum vacuum.


The obser­ver, through his self-awareness and the inter­pre­ta­tions he makes as a result of his obser­va­tions, has an influence on the advan­ce­ment of com­plexi­ty and conscious­ness in the uni­verse. In return, eve­ry­thing that is mani­fes­ted in the uni­verse has an influence on him.

However, the obser­ver’s influence is limi­ted, in the sense that the mate­rial world is crea­ted whe­ther we observe it or not. Because its crea­tion depends not on the obser­ver but on the feed­back bet­ween mat­ter and quan­tum vacuum.


The importance, or not, of observation

In this frame of refe­rence, the way in which « waves/particles » exist and mani­fest them­selves is not a ques­tion of obser­ver strict­ly spea­king. Rather, it is a ques­tion of the rela­tion­ship bet­ween the obser­ver and the obser­ved.

This rela­tion­ship is high­ligh­ted by the French phi­lo­so­pher Michel Bitbol. It takes up the Copenhagen inter­pre­ta­tion, consi­de­ring that wave and cor­pus­cu­lar pro­per­ties are not intrin­sic to micro-objects. Thus, accor­ding to him, the wave-particle dua­li­ty reveals nothing about the nature of things. It sim­ply teaches us that « waves/particles » take on dif­ferent appea­rances depen­ding on how we observe them… or not.

This last point is cru­cial, because if obser­va­tion or non-observation does not have conse­quences in this context at our scale, the situa­tion is dif­ferent at the quan­tum level. Indeed, clas­si­cal objects behave in a regu­lar and pre­dic­tive way, giving us the right to think, for example, that if we leave a room, the objects it contains will always be there when we will come back. It’s as if things conti­nue whe­ther we observe them or not. However, on a micro­sco­pic level, we can’t say that. When we do not observe, there is a lack of know­ledge, and then, as in the example of Schrödinger’s cat, states of super­im­po­si­tion take place. As soon as we observe, the super­po­si­tion col­lapses, giving way to a single reality.


But are we sure what we’re observing ?


waves-and-particlesThe way we observe things raises ano­ther pro­blem at the quan­tum level : are we sure of what we are real­ly obser­ving ? Are those waves ? Particles ? None of this ? According to Michel Bitbol, we can­not have the proof that we observe waves from dif­frac­tion and inter­fe­rence pat­terns, because these pat­terns can also be obtai­ned without the waves :


« It would be true that dif­frac­tion and inter­fe­rence prove the exis­tence of waves if there were no alter­na­tive expla­na­tion for the exis­tence of dif­frac­tion and inter­fe­rence than waves. And this is not the case (…). There are phy­si­cists who have found alter­na­tive expla­na­tions sho­wing how you can have inter­fe­rence pat­terns or dif­frac­tion pat­terns without the waves. » [2]


And this is also trans­po­sable to par­ticles. Therefore, in the end, we can­not know what is real­ly in the infi­ni­te­ly small. All we know is that there are phe­no­me­na.

In quan­tum phy­sics, these phe­no­me­na depend on a mea­su­re­ment context. Thus waves and par­ticles are not the intrin­sic pro­per­ties of micro-objects. However, they are to be rela­ted to cer­tain types of mea­sures. Some mea­su­ring devices will pro­duce wave-like effects, while other devices will pro­duce particle-like effects. The only les­son that can be drawn from all this is that the kno­wer and the known appear depen­dent­ly.


Particles without intrinsic existence

Michel Bitbol reminds us that in clas­si­cal phy­sics, we can always dis­tin­guish two objects even if they are iden­ti­cal because they can­not be in the same place at the same time. Moreover, in quan­tum phy­sics, par­ticles are indis­tin­gui­shable, they can inter­pe­ne­trate, inter­lock, or occu­py the same volume. Then he makes the fol­lo­wing hypo­the­sis : for such a thing to be pos­sible, per­haps par­ticles do not exist as such. He quotes Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond and Bernard d’Espagnat, for whom « par­ticles have the mode of exis­tence of a rain­bow » [3], that is, not the mode of exis­tence of some­thing solid, but a rela­tio­nal mode of exis­tence. A rain­bow is the result of a rela­tion­ship bet­ween the sun, the drops of water, and an obser­ver. Likewise, par­ticles do not have an abso­lute exis­tence, but an exis­tence that is part of a rela­tion­ship bet­ween a mea­su­ring device and an observer.


What about consciousness ?



Some inter­pre­ta­tions of quan­tum phy­sics argue that the role of the obser­ver’s conscious­ness is to deter­mine the final state of the par­ticles – and thus our rea­li­ty – by cau­sing what is cal­led the reduc­tion of wave func­tion. It is the col­lapse of the func­tion of a pro­ba­bi­li­ty, so the state of a phy­si­cal sys­tem redu­ced enti­re­ly to that which has been mea­su­red. That was what Schrödinger was trying to explain with the expe­rience of the cat, whose state is super­im­po­sed until the box is opened.


Observation and perception

In his days, David Bohm asked a lot of ques­tions about the rela­tion­ship bet­ween the obser­ver and the observed :


« My first encoun­ter with Krishnamurti’s work took place in 1959, thanks to the rea­ding of First and Last Freedom. What arou­sed my inter­est was above all the inci­sive and deep vision he had of the pro­blem of the obser­ver and the obser­ved. This ques­tion has long been at the heart of my own research in theo­re­ti­cal phy­sics, focu­sing main­ly on the impli­ca­tions of quan­tum theo­ry. In this theo­ry, for the first time in the his­to­ry of phy­sics, the idea that the obser­ver and the obser­ved object are inse­pa­rable was put for­ward as an indis­pen­sable notion for the unders­tan­ding of the fun­da­men­tal laws of mat­ter in gene­ral. » [4].


He will esta­blish with Krishnamurti that in true per­cep­tion, the dis­tinc­tion bet­ween the obser­ver and the obser­ved no lon­ger exists : « only per­cep­tion exists, the sub­ject who per­ceives does not exist » [5]. In fact, eve­ry­thing hap­pens as if the conscious­ness we are tal­king about in quan­tum phy­sics is assi­mi­la­ted to obser­va­tion and not to per­cep­tion. Perception is confu­sed with obser­va­tion. If to observe is to be conscious at a level more or less close to men­tal, to per­ceive implies a com­ple­te­ly dif­ferent level of conscious­ness. Perception is as if beyond observation.


A question of definition

It is to explore the pos­sible role of conscious­ness that I had ori­gi­nal­ly cho­sen to present quan­tum phy­sics. But in the end, I found myself ques­tio­ned by the very « defi­ni­tion » of conscious­ness. Perhaps in popu­la­ri­zing quan­tum phy­sics, we’re using the word conscious­ness a lit­tle fast. Because what conscience are we tal­king about ?

The one who believes in the vera­ci­ty of mea­su­re­ment ? The one that, being consi­de­red dis­tinct from the phy­si­cal world, would pro­vide the « inde­ter­mi­nis­tic » ingre­dient of mea­su­re­ment ? Or the one trap­ped in men­tal ? The one which, being trap­ped in men­tal, will have a limi­ted crea­tive and per­cep­tual influence in rela­tion to a conscious­ness ancho­red in pre­sence ? Or the one which, being trap­ped in men­tal, will sim­ply oscil­late bet­ween dif­ferent levels of unconsciousness ?


Towards quantum consciousness


There is lau­dable ques­tio­ning about conscious­ness in quan­tum phy­sics, the pro­blem is that there is no real defi­ni­tion of conscious­ness. All the inter­est and rele­vance of Nassim Haramein’s theo­ry is that it pro­poses and it is based on an expla­na­tion of what conscious­ness is. The dyna­mics of conscious­ness embo­dies both the contai­ner and the content of his theo­ry. And it applies to both quan­tum phy­sics and cos­mo­lo­gi­cal phy­sics (see also the article on quan­tum conscious­ness).

The uni­verse makes a feed­back loop on itself to observe itself, at all scales. The obser­ver and the obser­ved are one, whe­ther we are aware of it or not. Our obser­va­tions are not our own, because we do not observe the uni­verse from an exter­nal point of view. We are part of its own awa­re­ness pro­cess.


Key points

  • Waves/particles have a rela­tio­nal mode of exis­tence. They are vor­texes that some­times take the appea­rance of waves, some­times of par­ticles, depen­ding on how they are observed.

  • The mate­rial world is crea­ted whe­ther we observe it or not, because its crea­tion depends not on an obser­ver but on the feed­back bet­ween mat­ter and quan­tum vacuum.

  • We don’t observe the uni­verse from an out­side point of view. We are part of its own awa­re­ness process.




Notes and references

[1] HARAMEIN Nassim. (September 25, 2013). Nassim Haramein Complete [Podcast]
[2] BITBOL Michel. (January 18, 2013). Dissiper les pro­prié­tés intrin­sèques et l’existence intrin­sèque, In : Fleurs du dhar­ma, Mind and Life XXVI – Esprit, cer­veau et matière, p.7, free trans­la­tion
[3] LEVY-LEBLOND Jean-Marc, D’ESPAGNAT Bernard, quo­ted by BITBOL Michel, op.cit., p.8, free trans­la­tion
[4] KRISHNAMURTI Jiddu and BOHM David, Les limites de la pen­sée, Paris : Le livre de poche, 2006, p.9, free trans­la­tion
[5] Ibid., p.155, free translation



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