I've been reading Norman Friedman's 1997 book The Hidden Domain: Home of the Quantum Wave Function, Nature's Creative Source. One of the interesting things about this book is that Friedman, in addition to relying on standard sources, takes advantage of insights provided by Seth, the discarnate entity channeled by Jane Roberts. Friedman finds Seth's interpretation of ultimate reality to be useful in making sense of subatomic phenomena, which is perhaps noteworthy in light of the common complaint that channeled material never contributes anything to the understanding of science.
In any event, I'd like to excerpt a few passages from Friedman's book and briefly comment on them in light of the scenario I sketched out in my earlier post about M-space, N-space, and mind. I'd also like to include a few excerpts and ideas from a fascinating online essay by Brian Whitworth, "The Emergence of the Physical World from Information Processing," arguing that the universe can best be understood as a virtual-reality environment.
Incidentally, the Friedman excerpts presented below do not owe anything to Seth, whose influence comes later in the book. Here, Friedman is relying only on mainstream sources.
Friedman, page 23:
Einstein ... rejected Newton's notion of an absolute space, at rest and immovable, relative to which all objects in the universe are moving. Einstein suggested that this description of space be discarded because any observer, in whatever frame of reference, could say that he or she was at rest at all else was moving relative to them.
M-space, or what we call the "physical world," is a projection of a virtual reality tailored to the point of view of our particular consciousness. Therefore, each of us is the focal point of our own private M-space, and from our point of view, everything else is in motion relative to our fixed vantage point. By analogy, the VR environment of a computer game typically moves relative to the point of view of the user's avatar.
Freidman quotes a private communication from physicist Jack Sarfatti, page 34:
Einstein's original four-dimensional space-time is now understood to be a projection, or a shadow, of a larger higher-dimensional space called the "fiber bundle." The elementary particles and nongravitational forces are then interpreted as geometric structures in the higher dimensions beyond Einstein's space-time.
M-space is a projection or shadow of the larger higher-dimensional N-space. Elementary particles areinterpreted as informational structures in N-space.
Friedman, page 45:
The uncertainty principle leads to the idea that one electron (or any particle) is in principle indistinguishable from any other.
The best comment on this is from Whitworth's essay, linked above:
Quantum equivalence: All quantum entities, like photons or electrons, are equivalent. Digital equivalence: Every digital "object" created by the same code must be equivalent.
Or as Whitworth put it in an earlier version of his essay (I'm paraphrasing): Every digital symbol calculated by the same program is identical to every other, just as every photon is identical to every other photon because each is created by the same digital calculation.
Friedman, page 49:
Thus, it would seem that we live in a world of at least two levels: the wave function is on one level and correlates with object of affection in the other level, which is ordinary three-dimensional reality.
N-space, corresponding to the wave function, is one level, and M-space is what we call three-dimensional reality.
Friedman on the two-slit experiment, page 254:
If we duplicate this experimental arrangement throughout the world with many experimenters, each firing just one electron at a given prearranged time, with each individual photographic plate showing the arrival of the one electron, and the results from all the plates are added together, then, amazingly, the interference pattern shows up again! These experiments are arranged so that no signal can travel between them at less than the speed of light, so there can be no physical communication between the electrons. Just how does each electron know where to strike the plate so that in the interference pattern appears?
The electrons know where to strike the plate because the calculations have already been performed in N-space. The fact that the experiments are being carried out in different labs is irrelevant, since N-space is nonlocal. Since it is all one experiment (albeit broken up into different parts), the outcome is determined by a single set of calculations in N-space.
Friedman, page 56:
An explanation for this strange wave-particle duality, called the Copenhagen interpretation, was presented by Bohr in 1927 at the fifth Solvay conference in Brussels. The simplest statement of Bohr's view is this: the quantum world is not real. Bohr recognized that the quantum world is completely different from our normal everyday world governed by the familiar laws of classical physics. Though we have mathematical formalisms to describe it, the unreal world of the quantum relates to the real world only by an act of measurement.
I would prefer to flip this around and say that M-space is not fully real, while N-space – the underlying information realm – is what is ultimately real. However, it depends on how you look at it. The key point is that the two dimensions of "reality" are qualitatively different, and that N-space can be understood only in terms of "mathematical formalisms," which makes sense given that it is a realm of pure information and information processing.
Friedman, page 58:
In classical physics, mathematics is used to represent the attributes of a system. The formulae are taken at face value and assumed to be actual descriptions of the evolution of the system. In quantum theory, the situation is quite different. Here the mathematics is an algorithm for calculating the results of experiments, at least as far as the Copenhagen interpretation is concerned. Actuality is no longer considered, but has evaporated into the mists of the mystical.
I would look at this differently, and say that N-space is the actuality, while our three-dimensional "physical" world is, in a sense, part of the "mists of the mystical" – in the sense that it is a projection of consciousness.
Friedman describes his own point of view on page 62:
It is our thesis that the wave function is not merely a symbol to be used in a calculational procedure. Rather, it has real meaning and describes a hidden domain that is the creative source of our three-dimensional world.
This, unlike the views quoted earlier by Friedman, is essentially the same as the M-space/N-space idea. N-space is the "hidden domain that is the creative source of our three dimensional world," and "is not merely a symbol to be used in a calculational procedure." Rather, the calculational procedures are the basis of what we call reality.
Friedman, footnote on page 64:
Some scientists think the space continuum may actually be grainy, which implies a universal minimum length, usually estimated to be 10 [to the power of] -33 cm. Every gravitational wave in space has a zero-point energy and because of that, the lengths below 10 [to the power of] -33 become undefinable.
The universal minimum length in a virtual-reality universe would correspond to a single pixel on a computer screen, the smallest image that can be displayed. The universal minimum time would correspond to the length of time between screen refreshes.
Friedman, page 68:
We can conjecture that there are two types of time. One type describes a sequence of actual events brought about by the collapsing wave function, which is the time we are aware of in the three-dimensional universe. The other kind of time, used to create space-time in Einstein's relativity theory, refers to the evolution of possibilities in the Schrodinger equation. Since possibilities are not real events, that type has been called imaginary or virtual time.
The "time" that applies to N-space is qualitatively different from the "time" that we proceed in M-space. This is why precognition and retrocognition are possible; these abilities apparently involve tapping into N-space directly.
In what way are the mathematical formulae of N-space "rendered" into the multidimensional, multisensory images of M-space? Friedman discusses how the probabilties of the "hidden domain of the quantum wave function" can be translated into what we know as realities. This is a little complicated, so I will summarize in a series of steps.
1. Schrodinger's equation expresses the quantum wave function as a complex equation, i.e., a mixture of real numbers and imaginary numbers. This wave can be written as a sum of sine waves using Fourier's equations, but the sine waves are also complex functions (with imaginary numbers).
2. Imaginary numbers cannot be plotted as coordinates in physical space. Therefore Schrodinger's equation cannot tell us the location of the subatomic particle in space.
3. Is there any way to convert imaginary numbers into real numbers and thus locate the particle in physical space? Yes. If you multiply an imaginary number by its complex conjugate, the result is a real number.
4. What is the complex conjugate of the quantum wave function? All waves can be understood as "retarded waves," which travel forward in time, and "advanced waves," which travel backward in time. The advanced quantum wave is the complex conjugate of the retarded quantum wave; the product of these two waves gives us a wave function that can be expressed purely in real numbers, and which thus provides us with a location in physical space.
In terms of our scenario, we might think of N-space as consisting of complex equations - a mix of real numbers and imaginary numbers. What we call "rendering" would consist of multiplying these equations by their cognates. The result would be real numbers only, or "physical reality." Note that this process can be understood either in terms of mathematical calculations (multiplication) or wave interactions. N-space, then, could be said to consist of "complex equations" or of "quantum waves" - two different ways of lookingat the same thing. Equations relate better to the computer analogy, while waves relate better to the hologram analogy. The two analogies (or metaphors, or modekls) are very similar, since a hologram can be created entirely by a computer, and since the wave interference patterns on a holographic plate can be translated into data.
Friedman sums up the sequence of steps outlined above, page 73:
The basic tenet of Cramer's transactional interpretation of quantum theory (as it is called) is that every quantum event involves a kind of 'handshake' between the past and the future, so that in some way, the future is affecting the past.
In other words, the retarded wave and the advanced wave "shake hands" across time - something that's hard to visualize in our three-dimensional world (M-space), but easier to understand in the context of N-space, where time behaves differently.
Some additional points made by Brian Whitworth's essay. (The following are not verbatim excepts but paraphrases and abridgements.)
Processing load effects could explain relativity effects. Space and time arise from a fixed information processing allocation, so the sum total of space and time processing adds up to the local processing available.
In other words, time appears to expand and space appears to contract as you approach light speed because the information processing system is reaching the limit of its processing load. (See Whitworth's essay for details.)
The algorithmic simplicity of fundamental physical laws and constants is explained by the needs of the information processing system. In a virtual reality, the basic rules must be simple because they must be constantly calculated and recalculated.
If complementary object properties use the same memory location, the object can appear as having either position or momentum, but not both at once. (See the website The Bottom Layer for a step-by-step discussion of this point.)
In a VR universe, all object movement would be expected to be by state transitions.
Quantum jumps and quantum tunneling are known examples of state transitions - i.e., discontinuous movement, in which a particle shifts its energy level or its position or from one state to another without passing through the intervening state. This is difficult to explain in terms of objective reality, but easy enough to understand if the transitions reflect calculations taking place in N-space. The particle does not need to pass through the intervening states, because it simply shifts from one state to another as a result of a behind the scenes calculation. The new state shows up as soon as the virtual-reality screen is refreshed.
A virtual-reality system may start with a sudden influx of information as the virtual-reality universe boots up. This corresponds to the apparent origin of the universe out of nothing, as posited by the Big Bang theory.
Finally, Whiteworth asks:
Given the speed of light is a universal maximum, what is simpler, that it depends on the properties of featureless space, or that [it] represents a maximum network processing rate?
In this view, the speed of light as an absolute maximum simply indicates the maximum speed at which the information processing system can crunch the numbers. In the M-space/N-space scenario, the limit may also involve the maximum capacity of the render engine. Note that the rendering is done individually for each observer, so the render effects would be apparent only to an observer(s) who was approaching light speed in his particular M-space. The render effects would not be apparent to anyone not approaching light speed, because that person's unique M-space would not be under an unusually high processing load.