Quantum Physics


Quantum Physicists Catch a Pilot Wave

In October 1927, some of the greatest minds in physics gathered for the Fifth Solvay International Conference to debate the troubling implications of the then-nascent theory of quantum mechanics. A particularly contentious topic was the perplexing “wave-particle duality,” in which objects we typically think of as particles—like photons and electrons—exhibit wave-like properties as well, and things we think of as waves, like light, sometimes behave like particles.

The French physicist Louis de Broglie proposed a means by which a photon or electron could behave like both a particle and a wave, complementary aspects of the same phenomenon. He reasoned that the particles could be carried along by what he dubbed “pilot waves”—fluid-like ripples in space and time—much like a buoys bobbing along with the tide.

Image: Flickr user Jon McGovern. Adapted under a Creative Commons license.

De Broglie won the Nobel Prize in Physics just two years later, but it wasn’t for pilot waves. His contemporaries largely dismissed his explanation for the dual nature of subatomic particles. Now, more than 80 years later, a series of experiments on the behavior of oil droplets bouncing along a vibrating liquid surface have provided a macroscale analog of de Broglie’s pilot waves, replicating some of the stranger properties of quantum mechanics.

Quantum mechanics seeks to describe nature at the level of individual atoms and the particles that comprise them. But when physicists began delving into this strange new realm at the dawn of the 20th century, they discovered that the old, deterministic laws of classical physics no longer apply at that scale. Instead, uncertainty reigns supreme. It is a world governed by probabilities, and many physicists found this disquieting, to say the least. Hence Albert Einstein’s famous declaration at the Solvay conference that God does not play dice with the universe, prompting Niels Bohr to counter, “Einstein, stop telling God what to do.”

At the heart of the discomfort is the question of uncertainty. Flip a coin, and it will land either heads or tails; in principle, with complete information about the coin, the hand doing the flipping, and the movement of air molecules around the flip, it is possible to predict the outcome. In the quantum world, things hover in a fuzzy, nebulous cloud of probability called a wave function that encompasses all potential states, with no prospect of gaining further information. Flip a quantum coin, and it is both heads and tails until we look. Things become definite only when an observation forces them to settle on a specific outcome.

To Einstein, the notion of observation dictating the outcome of an experiment was ridiculous, since it denied the existence of a solid underlying reality. Even Schrödinger, inventor of the wave function, was deeply disturbed by the implications of what he’d helped create, memorably declaring, “I don’t like it, and I’m sorry I ever had anything to do with it.”

De Broglie’s alternative pilot wave theory was an attempt to restore that underlying solid reality. Instead of the wave function, de Broglie’s pilot wave theory employs two equations, one describing an actual wave and the other describing the path of an actual particle and how it interacts with, and is guided by, the wave equation. It is deterministic, like a classical coin flip. In principle, at least, we can glean sufficient information to plot a particle’s path, something that is not allowed in Bohr’s interpretation of quantum mechanics.

While the idea of pilot wave theory never really caught on, it stubbornly refused to die. A physicist named David Bohm proposed a modified version in the 1950s that also failed to gain much traction. But perhaps the pilot wave’s time has come at last.

The latest resurgence of interest began in Paris about ten years ago, when Yves Couder and Emmanuel Fort of Diderot University started experimenting with oil droplets bounced off a vat of vibrating liquid. The droplet’s impact causes waves to ripple outward, like tossing a pebble in a pond. If the liquid in the vat vibrates at just the right frequency, usually quite close to the droplet’s natural resonant frequency, the droplet interacts with the ripples it creates as it bounces along, which in turn can affect its path. That’s eerily similar to de Broglie’s notion of a pilot wave. Such a system turns out to be a fantastic means for simulating weird quantum effects like the dual nature of light and matter.

The 19th century physicist Thomas Young demonstrated this with his famous “double-slit” experiment. In the double slit experiment, a series of photons or electrons strike a screen with two slits in it before landing on a detector behind the screen. If you consider photons and electrons to be particles, you would expect the detector light up along the path through the slits and nowhere else. But that’s not what Young found. Instead, Young discovered an interference pattern of alternating light and dark bands, suggesting that the would-be particles were acting like water waves passing through a barrier wall with two openings. But if one places detectors near the slits to “see” which slit each particle went through, then the interference pattern disappears—the waves start acting like particles. It is the essence of quantum weirdness.

Couder and Fort replicated Young’s experiment by steering their bouncing droplets toward such a screen with a slit, helped along by the pilot waves created by the vibrating liquid. While they appear to scatter randomly as they pass through the slit, over time, wavy interference patterns emerge. “Guided” by the pilot waves, the droplets appear to be drawn to those regions where the wavefronts add together, and steer clear of those regions where the wavefronts cancel each other out. Disturbing the pilot wave destroys the interference pattern, much like measuring the path of particles as they hit the screen does.

Last year, pilot wave theory received another boost when MIT physicists Daniel Harris and John Bush used a similar fluid system to mimic a “quantum corral,” in which electrons are trapped within a ring of ions. Harris and Bush made a shallow tray with a circle-shaped trough in the center to serve as the walls of the “corral.” They filled the tray with silicon oil and mounted it on a vibrating stand tuned to a frequency just shy of that required to produce pilot waves spontaneously, without the droplet, according to Bush. Above that threshold, the roiling sea of waves will interfere with the droplet’s walk. Below it, the surface remains smooth except for the waves produced by the bouncing droplet. The closer one tunes the vibrations to that threshold, the more robust and long-lived the generated pilot waves will be.

When the bouncing droplet produced waves, those waves bounced off the walls and interfered with each other, producing pretty interference patterns. They also affected the trajectory of the droplet. At first it looked like it was bouncing along randomly, but over time (around 20 minutes), the droplet was far more likely to drift towards the center of the circle, and increasingly less likely to be found in the rippling rings spreading out from that center. That probability distribution for the single droplet proved very similar to that of an electron trapped in a quantum corral.

The droplet experiments provide an intriguing analogue or “toy model” for de Broglie’s pilot waves, but there is still no direct evidence of pilot waves at the quantum scale. “Time will tell whether the quantum-like behavior of the walking dropets is mere coincidence,” Bush told me via email. Also, the theory is currently limited to describing the simplest interactions between particles and electromagnetic fields. “It is not by itself capable of representing very much physics,” Oxford University physics philosopher David Wallace told Quanta earlier this year. “In my own view, this is the most severe problem for the theory, though, to be fair, it remains an active research area.”

Nobody is claiming that quantum mechanics is wrong; there is too much experimental evidence that the equations do make accurate predictions about how things work at the subatomic scale. But the implications of the standard interpretations remain troubling. The pioneers of quantum mechanics came up with the most plausible theory they could, given the resources they had, and they transformed modern physics in the process. Contemplating the possibility of pilot wave theory might lead to a fresh interpretation of quantum weirdness, one that prompts physicists to rethink their longstanding assumptions about the true nature of the quantum world. Another transformation could be lurking in the wings.

Go Deeper
Author’s picks for further reading

Cocktail Party Physics, Scientific American: The Photon Has Two Faces
Jennifer Ouellette on quantum interference, the wave-particle duality, and that “cheeky over-achieving upstart” Thomas Young.

Quanta: Fluid Tests Hint at Concrete Quantum Reality
Natalie Wolchover on macroscale analogs for pilot wave physics.

Tell us what you think on Twitter, Facebook, or email.


Jennifer Ouellette

    Jennifer Ouellette is the author of four popular science books, most recently Me, Myself, and Why: Searching for the Science of Self (2014). She maintains a blog called Cocktail Party Physics atScientific American, featuring her avatar altar-ego/evil twin, Jen-Luc Piquant – also her Twitter handle. Ouellette is a co-host for Virtually Speaking Science, a weekly conversation with a prominent scientist or science writer hosted by the Exploratorium in Second Life and aired as a podcast by Blog Talk Radio. She holds a black belt in jujitsu, and lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband, Caltech physicist Sean (M.) Carroll.

    • PsiKick

      Maybe reality is what we all agree it is. Maybe science and physics works now because we all have learned to agree it does over the past few hundred years. Maybe magic did work before that when we all thought it did.

      • warr40

        Not to rain on your parade, but that’s a rather absurd notion. Science and physics worked (experimentally) long before the majority of the population accepted them. Think of Copernicus, for example.

        • mpc755

          It’s the opposite today. Physics is completely screwed up. Physicists aren’t even able to understand the particle always detected traveling through a single slit in a double slit experiment is evidence the particle always travels through a single slit.

          Mainstream physics is a religious cult. The Big Bang and Many-Worlds are shared hallucinations.

    • Catchlite

      I haven’t seen this question but maybe I’ve missed it.

      Has anyone thought about the possibility of resurrecting some version of the aether in this context? It seems we would need a medium to support the pilot waves if this were a true picture of quantum behavior. I’ve always thought that the Michelson-Morley experiment was insufficient to prove the aether didn’t exist. What a strange turn of events if this leads to a deterministic understanding of quantum behavior.

      • Tony Budz

        The medium would most likely be a parametrically configured emitter to synchronize a nano-metallic wave across a surface to both collect it’s own kinetic energy and direct what it doesn’t need for propulsion.

      • Jeffrey J Puhalka

        The Higgs Boson seems to fill the requirement of a field as what we detected in the LHC were only particles of that field.

      • ExcellentNews

        You win the prize for a cogent comment, so here is a “semi-cogent” reply.
        The MM experiment did not prove or disprove the existence of aether. It stunned the world of physics by showing that the speed of light is invariant (a result nobody expected at the time). This finding led to the demise of the absolute space/time concept that underpins Newtonian physics (and “common-sense” intuition). Relativity is the theoretical framework that explains the MM experiments, dispenses with absolute space and time (and explains tons of other experiments that would be otherwise unexplainable). With relativity, the concept of aether becomes largely irrelevant.

        Like at the end of the 19th century, we today have lots of data and hints that something else we consider fundamental is not so. In particular, the relativistic spacetime that underpins quantum mechanics and relativity may not be a fundamental entity, but an emergent property of something more fundamental (like temperature being an emergent property from the motion of individual particles).

        As to what this fundamental something may be, we have no proven theory or good experimental data. Some theoretical physicists posit that spacetime is an emergent property of an informational transaction graph – this is known as Quantum Loop Gravity (a serious physics theory, not some crackpot idea). Other candidates are various flavors of string theory which contain an emerging spacetime from the topological structure of the string interconnections… Anyway, maybe our descendents will find out.

        • sferios

          Ether theory has come back into contemporary physics in a way that does not contradict general relativity. http://arxiv.org/ftp/physics/papers/0610/0610067.pdf

        • Catchlite

          Thanks. I usually avoid discussing whether something is “real” unless we first decide what “real” means in practical terms. Not a trivial exercise as I’m sure you understand.

          Ether has become a popular word but like most of those, there is no clear definition so various people use it to mean various things. My first problem with any form of luminiferous ether comes from the fundamentals of relativity. I see those as settled science for the moment. So any ether that carries the proposed pilot waves must carry photons at the speed of light for all observers. I have trouble imaging that. It is created by the various rates of the passage of time for the various observers depending on their motion and gravitational circumstances. Maybe I will get there but I do fully grasp it yet in the case of pilot waves. I think it will work but I’d like to see how others think about it.

          I have a fragile grasp on the mathematics of Einstein’s space and time dilation. It is fundamentally different from the other “space” we had talked about throughout history as defined by the Euclidean coordinate system. I still find myself inadvertently switching back to my Euclidean intuitions while I’m thinking of relativity. It seems many people experience that, often without being aware of it. The rubber sheets and heavy balls on TV don’t really help much since they depend on real, everyday gravity to shape the sheet. They give people a false sense of understanding. Our problem is often not what we know, but the things we know that are wrong. Nothing prevents learning like thinking you already know.

          Sorry, I digress. I just wanted to thank you for your comments.

          • ExcellentNews

            Yay – finally, the internet is being used for intelligent conversation !!!

            It’s very hard to grasp modern physics “intuitively”. Our intuition has evolved to help us with things like tracking and hunting antelopes with rocks and arrows, not grasping how the laws of the world work on large or small scales.

            Consider the applicability of the word “real”, often used by real physicists so casually :) Take an object you know is real, like the table. You know it’s real because you can touch and feel it. In “reality”, what truly happens when you do that is that some electrons “on the table” exchange low-energy photons with the electrons “in your hand”. In fact, any experience is simply an exchange of photons. This kind of considerations are bringing more physicists to posit that physical laws and reality really derive from some form of information processing and that information is the “basic stuff” from which everything else is made….

      • JO

        Exactly my same thoughts as I was re-reading Hawkin’s Brief History of Time. As we dig deeper into the sub atomic particle universe it seems as if we need to rethink, reconsider and rearange all our previous conceptions.

      • Michael Ball

        The aether has been disproven. Look it up. It’s history. Space itself is the medium. This is how the Theory of Relativity (gravity) works.

        • Anonymous

          Yes, but even more recently we’ve learned that space is not empty, that space is something, not simply the absence of things. It is permeated by the Highs field. So in a sense we are back to aether.

          • Michael Ball

            The Higgs field does permeate all of space. However, it only affects specific particles and endows them with mass.
            You need to take a look at Supergravity and Loop Quantum Gravity.

        • sferios

          Only a very specific type of ether has been disproven; that is, a preferred inertial frame. Ether theory is back again in contemporary physics, resolving paradoxes without violating general relativity. http://www.amazon.com/Ether-space-time-cosmology-concepts-relativity/dp/1873694105

          • Michael Ball

            In the Michelson-Morley experiment, the goal was to discover how light traveled from one place to another. Traveled in the sense of, say, a boat has a medium: water.
            Take the electro-magnetic field; this field is infinite and encompasses the entire (known) universe. But, it only affects certain aspects of the universe.
            The recently discovered (proof) concerning the Higgs field concerns and only concerns mass. Nowhere in the theory (the math) is there a suggestion that it is also a medium.
            I started reading hard science at seventeen and am now sixty-five. During that time I’ve read a huge number of theories. The majority of them have never been proven. They are interesting to read and consider. But, a theory has to be experimentally proved and backed up by independent tests.
            As far as a “preferred inertial frame” goes, it has no relation to the aether; inertial frames of reference are in a constant state of rectilinear motion in respect to each other; an accelerometer moving with any of them would detect zero acceleration. You’re going to be dealing with Galilean or Lorentz transformations. Your frame of reference may refer to a coordinate system used to measure properties of objects, such as position and orientation.
            Inertia: the tendency of a body at rest to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force, bla, bla, bla…
            In any event, the finial word on physics is not in and probably won’t be for a long while.
            Meanwhile, take these theories for an exercise in imagination and nothing more. Past that, reality requires hard proof: then you can celebrate.

            • sferios

              Thanks Michael. I’m relatively new to physics (pun intended). What’s your take on this article? http://arxiv.org/ftp/physics/papers/0610/0610067.pdf

            • Michael Ball

              My take is that we have a writer that used references trying to explain the properties of matter (particles) moving through space in a manner that caused many readers to make assumptions.
              Water is a medium depending on your frame. However, it isn’t the medium that’s important, it’s the waves and the frequency that acts on moving objects.
              The de Broglie-Bohm theory is an ‘interpretation’ of quantum theory. In space, it postulates an actual configuration that exists even if no one makes an observation. This is despite the fact that there is a wavefunction on the space of all configurations. Time is a factor because the wave function changes over time: position of all particles. Now we toss in Schrodinger’s equation. The pilot-wave theory is explicitly nonlocal. Known laws of physics are all local. When you include nonlocal interactions with relativity, these lead to casual paradoxes. That’s unacceptable to many physicists.
              This is a theory only and is not tied to the aether in any manner. At least in any factual manner. Make no mistake, there are many individuals with good backgrounds in math and physics who strive to make connections between many different aspects of physics: they are just creating an artifact. A product of their imagination that may have no real connection to the real world.
              Now, my head hurts.

            • sferios

              Thanks again. It’s refreshing to discuss this with someone who is both 1) knowledgeable, and 2) recognizes all these theories are mostly exercises in imagination. It’s amazing to me the level of confidence (arrogance) so many authors express when writing about physics and cosmology. I think we really haven’t even scratched the surface in our understanding. Take the big bang, for example. There’s a theory discussed by most as if it were a proven fact. Yet we have Arp’s redshift anomalies and other factors that call it into question. Especially with an aether, cosmological redshift may not be recession velocity at all. But to question this interpretation; to question big bang theory, makes people accuse you of sacrilege.

              I have a question related to this. Maybe you can answer it. I recently read Helge Kragh’s seminal book, “Cosmology and Controversy.” It seems from my reading that big bang theory came about after Hubble discovered the proportionality between redshift and distance, and that this provided an answer to the missing force needed to counteract gravity to explain why the matter in the universe hasn’t collapsed into itself (his “cosmological constant”). When Hubble discovered that there was a relationship between the distance of far away galaxies and their redshift, this made some people postulate the redshift was recession velocity (not Hubble, though. He never bought into that interpretion, from what I understand). That interpretation provided a nice explanation for the force behind Einsten’s cosmological constant. And big bang theory was born.

              Is this correct? Historically speaking, that is. And if so, what I don’t understand is why it was assumed (by Einsten) that the visible matter in the universe was all there is. If the universe is infinite, and there is infinitely more matter beyond the visible universe, that gravity would be balanced, and there would be no reason to postulate a cosmological constant at all. Right? If that is true, then cosmological redshift may have something to do with the dissipation of energy as light waves move through the aether. I don’t understand why the “tired light” theories are so readily dismissed today. And on an intuitive level, it makes much more sense to me that the universe is infinite, and that we are only able to see the part of it close to us. At least I haven’t yet found any good reason to be so confident the current interpretation. People like Brian Greene, who speak with such confidence and authority about it, raise red flags to me.

            • Michael Ball

              The Big Bang theory takes what we know as facts and attempts to create what we see by mathematical models. The problem is that some issues stand out. The theory also includes inflation as ‘the’ explanation of why the universe is so smooth. Then again, there are models that do not need inflation to explain what we see.
              When you look at the redshift, there are components that have to be separated out. One of those is sidereal movement. Some galaxies may be moving in directions toward, or away from us from our point of view.
              The loss of energy (light) due to the expansion of the universe has (on solid ground) been disproven.
              Early on, observation of the matter in the universe (bosons) agreed with mathematical models of the Big Bang. There were obviously energy fields not taken into consideration at that time. Dark Energy being one. Proposals abound trying to explain what Dark Energy is.
              Our universe is very close to being flat, but that does not mean it’s infinite. Infinity is a concept very difficult to grasp, but then again, a closed system is too.
              A Mobius strip can be described as infinitely long. But, it still has boundaries.
              Now, I would suggest you forget about the aether. In discussions between physicists, it is a non-subject. Instead, invest some time in reading about Loop quantum gravity.
              It’s another attempt to blend QM with Relativity.
              As far as Kragh’s book goes, the cosmological constant may exist. Pinning down what Dark Energy is may be an answer to what the constant is, how it works and may provide details that directly influence models.
              Are there other dimensions? Do other universe’s exist? Why are the laws (constants) of our universe what they are, and why?
              I think I’ll go bang my head on a piece of wood: maybe answers will appear if I shuffle the quantum matter of my brain around a little.

      • mpc755

        Aether has mass. Aether physically occupies three dimensional space. Aether is physically displaced by the particles of matter which exist in it and move through it.

        The Milky Way’s halo is not a clump of stuff traveling along with the Milky Way. The Milky Way is moving through and displacing the aether.

        The Milky Way’s halo is the state of displacement of the aether. The Milky Way’s halo is curved spacetime.

        A moving particle has an associated aether displacement wave. In a double slit experiment the particle travels through a single slit and the associated wave in the aether passes through both.

        In a double slit experiment it is the aether that waves.

        • sferios

          mpc755 can you share any links to go with your interesting comment here? Thanks!

          • mpc755

            The following two articles are referring to the same phenomena I am.

            ‘Comment on the higher derivative Lagrangians in relativistic theory’

            “Einstein theory of gravitational fields and this gives a new perspective on the Mach principle revisiting the “absolute” acceleration concept as a natural motion in space-time deformed by the matter-energy contained therein. We refer the reader to the paper of Einstein on a related topic [9]. The relativistic theory of an Aether was discussed several time, see for e.g. [8], [9]. In this paper, our hypothesis is different and gives a relativistic theory of the deformation of continuous media (for which the geometry is described by the metric field).”

            The Milky Way’s halo is the deformation of continuous media.

            The Milky Way’s halo is the defromation of spacetime.

            The Milky Way’s halo is the state of displacement of the aether.

            What is referred to geometrically as deformed spacetime is the state of displacement of the aether.

            ‘From the Newton’s laws to motions of the fluid and superfluid vacuum: vortex tubes, rings, and others’

            “The superfluid medium represents a ’fluidic’ nature of space itself. Another name for such an ’ideal fluid’ is the aether … This medium, called also the aether, has mass and is populated by the particles of matter which exist in it and move through it”

            Aether has mass and is displaced by the particles of matter which exist in it and move through it. A moving particle has an associated aether displacement wave. In a double slit experiment the particle travels through a single slit and the associated wave in the aether passes through both.

            ‘Hubble Finds Ghostly Ring of Dark Matter’

            “Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope got a first-hand view of how dark matter behaves during a titanic collision between two galaxy clusters. The wreck created a ripple of dark matter, which is somewhat similar to a ripple formed in a pond when a rock hits the water.”

            The ‘pond’ consists of aether. The galaxy clusters are moving through and displacing the aether, analogous to the bow waves of two boats which pass by each other closely. The bow waves interact and create a ripple in the water. The ripple created when galaxy clusters collide is an aether displacement wave.

            ‘Galactic Pile-Up May Point to Mysterious New Dark Force in the Universe’

            “The reason this is strange is that dark matter is thought to barely interact with itself. The dark matter should just coast through itself and move at the same speed as the hardly interacting galaxies. Instead, it looks like the dark matter is crashing into something — perhaps itself – and slowing down faster than the galaxies are. But this would require the dark matter to be able to interact with itself in a completely new an unexpected way, a “dark force” that affects only dark matter.”

            It’s not a new force. It’s the aether displaced by each of the galaxy clusters interacting analogous to the bow waves of two boats which pass by each other.

            ‘The Milky Way’s dark matter halo appears to be lopsided’

            “Basically, the emerging picture of the dark matter halo of the Milky Way is dominantly lopsided in nature.”

            The Milky Way’s halo is not a clump of dark matter traveling along with the Milky Way. The Milky Way’s halo is lopsided due to the matter in the Milky Way moving through and displacing the aether. The Milky Way’s halo is the state of displacement of the aether. The Milky Way’s halo is curved spacetime.

            ‘Offset between dark matter and ordinary matter: evidence from a sample of 38 lensing clusters of galaxies’

            “Our data strongly support the idea that the gravitational potential in clusters is mainly due to a non-baryonic fluid, and any exotic field in gravitational theory must resemble that of CDM fields very closely.”

            The offset is due to the galaxy clusters moving through and displacing the aether. The analogy is a submarine moving through the water. You are under water. Two miles away from you are many lights. Moving between you and the lights one mile away is a submarine. The submarine displaces the water. The state of displacement of the water causes the center of the lensing of the light propagating through the water to be offset from the center of the submarine itself. The offset between the center of the lensing of the light propagating through the water displaced by the submarine and the center of the submarine itself is going to remain the same as the submarine moves through the water. The submarine continually displaces different regions of the water. The state of the water connected to and neighboring the submarine remains the same as the submarine moves through the water even though it is not the same water the submarine continually displaces. This is what is occurring as the galaxy clusters move through and displace the aether.

            Dark matter is now known to fill what would otherwise be considered to be empty sapce.

            ‘Cosmologists at Penn Weigh Cosmic Filaments and Voids’

            “Dark matter … permeate[s] all the way to the center of the voids.”

            ‘No Empty Space in the Universe –Dark Matter Discovered to Fill Intergalactic Space’

            “A long standing mystery on where the missing dark matter is has been solved by the research. There is no empty space in the universe. The intergalactic space is filled with dark matter.”

            There is no such thing as dark matter clumped to matter. Aether has mass and is displaced by the particles of matter which exist in it and move through it.

            • sferios


      • sferios
        • mpc755

          ‘Ether and the Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein’

          “According to the general theory of relativity space without ether is unthinkable”

          “the state of the [ether] is at every place determined by connections with the matter and the state of the ether in neighbouring places”

          The state of the aether at every place determined by connections with the matter and the state of the aether in neighboring places is the state of displacement of the aether.

      • Tenth Dimension

        Good Day;

        I have taken an oath not to discuss any relevant issue with any human being, for I have found deep perception wanting; but this very much respected, deeply dreaded web-site impels me to say something, to break my solemn oath, to reply to your post. All is transient. Reflect upon that for a while and you shall touch the face of the first mover.

      • Peter M

        Yes, there is such a theory. Just Google “Aspden’s Theory” and go to his website. But it wasn’t published as a pilot wave theory, rather as an aether theory. I have extended the theory to account for the electroweak mixing angle. If you send me a mailing address will forward you a CD.

    • molly

      I think It’s kinda how ufo’s work lol

      • Johnny Fiver

        I believe you may onto something

    • Tony Budz

      I really love it when someone explores the technological applications behind a fluidic drive system.

    • Robert Carroll

      Nature of reality? I get the feeling that some are believing that a “true” reality is some sort of probability subtrate. Our own language created Schrodinger’s Cat. Language itself, like the influence of observation, should be counted as a substrate itself.

      • bubsir

        In this case the language is mathematics and as the “substrate” it has a very large influence on what can be represented

        • Anonymous

          I agree, bubsir, that math is our most precise language, but it is still a language. And scientists have cautioned equating math with reality. At the turn of the last century there was a movement in philosophy called logical positivism/analytical philosophy. It’s goal was the elimination of hidden bias and assumptions in communication via the intense study of language. Its belief was, in a sense, that such analysis would be a guiding light and make the right decisions clear or eliminate midunderstanding all together. I think that one could argue that advances in math and theoretical physics sometimes come about when scientists become aware of assumptions and can break free of them. (Logical positivism went the way of determinism in the early twentieth century…just as Newtonian physics gave way to quantum physics). Reality turned out to be much more complex. But the efforts gave us great methodologies that continue to bear fruit in a host of disciplines.

          So the caution is to never be too certain that all assumptions have been teased out of a theory no matter how precise is the language you use to describe them.

          An interesting assumption that has been tossed around on this site has been that we humans tend to assume that equations which describe fundamental aspects of reality will be simple and elegant like E=mc^2 when they may not be.

      • Laura Cordova-James

        The observation does not influence the out come. The observation interferes with the wave function. I just don’t understand why this is going over some people’s heads when its clearly stated in our updated understanding of particle physics.

        • Anonymous

          But the wave function represents a set of possible outcomes each with their own probability of occurrence, right? So is the distiction that the act of observation causes an outcome to happen but does not determine which outcome?

    • disqus_lRhQeYrsS2

      “They filled the tray with silicon oil and mounted it on a vibrating stand tuned to a frequency just shy of that required to produce pilot waves spontaneously, without the droplet, according to Bush.” So they have a vibrating stand to create the pilot waves, but what creates them in nature? And what if nature’s generator gets out of tune? ;-)

      • Laura Cordova-James

        This is just a “simulation” in a controlled experiment to explain what we can’t see in the Faraday Wave function math formula. That’s all this is. its not a literal way that quantum mechanics work, its a way to explain that the wave function may be deterministic and not a probability.

        • disqus_lRhQeYrsS2

          I realize that. I wasn’t asking about the experiment. I was asking what generates these waves – the actual waves – in real life, in nature, in space, whatever you want to call it. And the proper tuning seems important in the experiment, so what if the frequency of the actual waves in nature changes? These pilot waves exist according to theory, so what generates them and what if their frequency changes?

          • mpc755

            Aether has mass. Aether physically occupies three dimensional space. Aether is physically displaced by the particles of matter which exist in it and move through it.

            In a double slit experiment it is the aether that waves.

      • chrisvh

        hyperdimensional spin generates the natural vibration . everything spins . EVERYTHING . if you extend your math system to accommodate 5th dimension hyperspace , you discover that there is a natural energy gradient that flows across our 3D + time construct …

    • fixitup

      And approaching the ‘Singularity’ in computing, at that point, we will find out. That’s if ‘it’ lets us know the answers………………….

    • bubsir

      As mentioned in the article, this doesn’t do much for “explaining” physics. For example the uncertainty principle leads to “virtual particles” and hence the idea that forces in nature are due to virtual particle exchange. So still quite a bit of work is needed with “pilot waves.”

    • kart_125cc


      Maybe it is pushing the conceptualization too far, but as described it seems that the “quantum particle” is a superposition of a “particle” and it’s wave interaction with a medium in which it travels.

      Now, we also conceptualize general relativity as a curvature in the “fabric” or medium of space-time.

      So could this be the same” medium” as in the “pilot wave” concept such that it could proved a means of unification of quantum mechanics and general relativity? That is, if it is the same medium in general relativity as is for the “pilot wave” that would provide an apparent linkage between the two? That would certainly make for added appeal to a “pilot wave” concept it that could be the case.

      • mpc755

        Aether has mass. Aether physically occupies three dimensional space. Aether is physically displaced by the particles of matter which exist in it and move through it.

        What is referred to geometrically as deformed spacetime is the state of displacement of the aether.

        A moving particle has an associated aether displacement wave. In a double slit experiment the particle travels through a single slit and the associated wave in the aether passes through both.

        What ripples when galaxy clusters collide is what waves in a double slit experiment; the aether.

        Einstein’s gravitational wave is de Broglie’s wave of wave-particle duality; both are waves in the aether.

        Aether displaced by matter relates general relativity and quantum mechanics.

    • http://www.pedlere.com wiseone.search

      What does this exactly mean? That all particles are the exact same substance when quantum superposition takes place. This still confuses me.


    • Johnny Fiver

      Reality may not be real any way

    • SCI FIER

      Whether “we” or anyone else observes natural occurrences they still happen. This is mumbo jumbo as Einstein concurred.

    • Broden

      You have to think opposite of the theories. Freeze time then interject the the next rotation of all subatomic particles. Energy exists in everything as potentialism even at the smallest existence beyond our thoughts. Again think of what you will never see nor understand in any fashion. The energy and movement from a frozen time to the next rotation opens up the threshold of time and the continuos movement through the imbedded potential energies. Thus everything is predictable and planned. The movement is not the challenge, the challenge is accepting the unknown and unseen. Once this is done the theories become a context of the answer. Hope this spurs your thoughts.

    • Dr Walker

      Thank you for a great article. As someone who participates in the effort of the walkers I am glad to see the growing coverage. MMX experiments are reconciled with walkers by Brady and Anderson (Cambridge) in a paper they published last year, at least the Lorentz contraction is seen as a *standing wave* feature. However, as the article points out, it is the possible re-interpretation of QM as a deterministic construct that is so fascinating to researchers. I run a blog (http://marcf.blogspot.com) exploring these walker issues. See “Schrodinger” post for a reinterpretation of some of the founding notions of QM within the walker system. The magical ‘superposition’ is replaced by the notion of intermittence which is precisely defined in chaos theory and decoherence/coherence signals dynamics dominated by the wave/particle interaction. We also operate on Facebook @dotwave.

    • http://TetryonicTheory.com/ Richard B. Anthony

      Anyone reading this needs to check out Tetryonics. It’s a fully deterministic understanding of Physics based on a single underlying postulate.

      It provides a Geometric basis built from the ground up. “If math is the language of physics, Geometry is the Grammar?

      Welcome to a new era in Scientific Understanding!


    • Laura Cordova-James

      Exciting. Love this information.

    • Brad T.

      I know this is not the same thing but while reading this it reminded me of bouncing room temp water droplets on a hot skillet. Too low a temp and the water droplets just splat and way too hot and they vaporize instantly but there is a Goldy Locks temp where the droplets will bounce repeatedly until the water heats up. Droplet size matters too.

    • seescaper

      Milo Wolff explains all of this very neatly. Google “beyond the point particle, Milo Wolff”