Question 1: The Schrodinger wave function represents the ‘wave’ aspect of the wave/particle duality as postulated by de Broglie. A prerequisite for the Schrodinger wave function is that it must be a standing wave. To be a standing wave it must be enclosed within some type of ‘wall’. We saw the electron wave function operates within an atom. But the atom is also a wave, so where are ‘walls’ for the atom – you might say the molecule. But the molecule is also a wave function, so where are the ‘walls’ for the molecule. As you keep moving from micro to macro, you can keep asking the same question for every macro object in this universe. Where is the
‘wall’ for the standing waves of the objects in this world?
Question 2: Besides the ‘wall’, there are many other questions one can ask about the wave function
– What are the waves made of? Nobody has seen a wave, but it must be made of something, it cannot be made of nothing. Some physicists say that there are no ‘waves’, only the Schrodinger wave equation represents the wave function.
– The waves need some sort of medium to propagate. What is this underlying medium? At one time, scientist speculated that there is some sort of ‘ether’ in which the light waves travelled. Experiments have proven that there is no ‘ether’ underlying this universe. So what is the medium through which waves travel?
– Where do the waves reside? ‘Out there’ or ‘in here’? One thing is clear: it cannot be within the particle object, because the particle objects only shows up when the wave function collapses in the presence of the observing system. The wave comes first and then the particle, therefore the wave cannot exist within the particle.
Question 3: Quantum physics provides very little understanding of the observing system. In the double slit experiment, it is suggested that the photographic plate is the observing system. The photographic plate interacts with the incoming light wave and this wave function collapses at the photographic plate. Science assumes that the photographic plate is the observing system. If you examine this closely, does a man-made photographic plate have the capacity to collapse a wave function to become a particle? What unique quality of the photographic plate allows the wave function to collapse? Another question to ask is – what is the exact meaning of the statement “collapsing wave function”?
If you take the broader viewpoint, you will realize that the photographic plate itself is matter and therefore it also has a wave function. So what observing system collapses the wave function of the photographic plate? The logical answer would be your eyes. Butthe eye is also matter and therefore it also has a wave function. So what observing system collapses the wave function of the eye? The answer would be your brain. Then brain is also matter and therefore it also has a wave function. So what observing system collapses the wave function of the brain? I think that at this point, science has come to the end of the road; it cannot explain what, or which observing system collapses the wave function of the brain.
If we understand Vedanta properly, most of these questions can be answered. In the coming sections we will try to explain some of the key teachings of Vedanta that help answer these questions.
Multi – Universes
Quantum Physics also speculates that there are multiple universes. This speculation is based on the collapsing of Schrodinger’s wave function. We saw earlier that the probability wave
function has all possibilities. However, in the presence of the observing system, the probability
function collapses into only one of the possibilities. When this happens, then the probability of all the other possibilities becomes zero. The question Quantum physics asks is – what happens to the all the other possibilities which were inherent in the probability wave function? They could not just disappear. Quantum physics speculates that the all the other possibilities also collapse but not in this universe but in other parallel universes. For this reason physicists think that there are multiple universes. If a probability wave function has 100 possibilities. When this wave function collapses, one of the possibilities happens in this universe and remaining 99 possibilities happen in 99 parallel universes. In the Schrodinger Cat example, the probability wave function had two possibilities the cat being ‘dead’ or ‘alive’. When you open the trap door in this universe and see the cat ‘alive’ then the speculation is that in the parallel universe the cat would be ‘dead’.
Quantum physics definitely has a point, if one of the possibilities collapses over here, what happens to all the other possibilities? In the Schrodinger cat example there were only two logical possibilities, there are other wave functions that have an infinite number of possibilities. What happens to all these possibilities? We shall be discussing this later on. Every living being creates their own unique universe and each one of them collapses the probability wave function differently. If there is infinite number of living beings, then there would be infinite number of universes being created. This is the multi verse or parallel universes which quantum physics talks about, but Quantum Physics makes it sound almost mysterious.
Understanding t (time) = 0
To interpret quantum physics properly, it is important to understand what we mean by t (time)
= 0. So, we can say that t=0 means that it is not the past, not the future but the present. It means it is ‘now’. Anything t = 0+ or t = 0- is not ‘now’ but it is the future or the past.. Even a nanosecond more or less than t = 0 is not ‘now’; it would be past or future. For your information, based on the Plank constant, the smallest possible time unit is t = 10-44. Even the passage of this extremely small time unit would mean the event is not ‘now’, but the past or the future.
So, where is the t=0 for the universe? Science tells us that the big bang is the t = 0 for the universe. I do not think this is correct. The big bang is 13.7 billion years old, which means the t = – 13.7 billion years for the big bang. Only the location of ‘now’ can be t = 0. Therefore the big bang cannot be t=0. It may have been t = 0 at the time of the big bang, but right now the big bang is 13.7 billion years old. It is an event from the past. So how do we explain t = 0?
Any perception process must have the following two elements
1. Subject or Observer
2. Object or Observed
Without these two elements, the perception process would be incomplete. Even the physical system for the Schrodinger wave function must have an observed system and anobserving system.
In the following sections we will analyze and show where we can locate the t = 0 for the Subject/Observer and the Object/Observed. The proper understanding of t = 0 will go a long way in explaining many of the shortcomings faced by science and quantum physics.
Where is t = 0 for the Observer/Subject?
Even before we start understanding t = 0 for the Observer/Subject, the question which must be answered is – what do we mean by an Observer?
1. All perception takes place only in the mind. Even science agrees with this – the outside image falls on the retina, which is converted into an optical signal and sent to the brain for processing. Science never explains what happens after that but it does state that the final perception takes place in the mind. Also, science never explains who the observer of the image within the mind is. Who is watching the movie being played in the mind?
According to Vedanta, Atma is the Observer which witnesses everything that is happening in the mind and we know the mind is full of activity. This Atma is the Real ‘I’ and it is our underlying reality. Atma is merely an Observer and it never influences, neither is it affected by what is happening in the mind. It is like a witness to a movie which is running in your mind. Though in real life a sad movie can make someone cry, in the case of Atma, it is never affected by the movie running in the mind.
2. To locate the t = 0 for Atma/Observer let us study the external objects out there. If we can see a faraway star, say, 5 million light years away, it takes light from that star 5 million years to reach us. Now we see the sun, the light from the sun takes 8 min to reach us. We look at the moon; light takes 3 sec to reach us. We look at the plane flying in the sky, at 30,000 feet; light takes about 300 milliseconds to reach us. As the distance of the object being viewed is reduced, the time taken for light to reach us is much smaller. I now look at the tree outside the window; the time taken for light to reach me is 10 microseconds (10-6). I am looking at the computer screen 1 foot away while typing this article, light takes about 1 nanosecond (10-9) to reach me. You even watch your thoughts, they too take some time to form; they are not instantaneous. As the distance reduces the time taken for the light to reach our eyes, reduces. If you extrapolate this backward, the only logical location for t to be equal to 0 is in the Observer, who is watching all these objects. Atma is the Observer, so Atma is t=0 within you. This t=0 is beyond time, it is always ‘now’.
If you or anyone else looks around at the objects in the universe and uses the same reasoning as above, each one will reach the same conclusion: that the Observer within us is the t =0. Everyone will have their own t=0, which is within themselves. This will apply to every living being in the universe. It would therefore seem that I have my own t=0, you have your own t=0 and every living being in the universe has its own t=0. The only way to understand this is that each and every living being creates their own universe and also the t = 0 for each and every one of them. Does this mean that there are multiple t = 0, one for each and every living being? Vedanta teaches us that Atma is the common Observer/Subject for every living being and therefore there is only one t = 0.
3. So how does Atma create the illusion of being a different Observer within each and every living being? To explain this, the classic example given by Vedanta is the example of buckets filled with water. Picture the sun shining over an unlimited number of buckets filled with water. What would you see? The sun reflected in each and every bucket. You will not see a partial image of the sun, but the complete image of the sun in each and every bucket. Now imagine the bucket represents our body and the water in the bucket is our mind. There are an unlimited number of living beings with a mind in this universe. The shining sun is the Atma. This one, and only one, Atma is reflected in the mind of each and every living being. So, you can see how, Atma/Observer within each one of us is the t = 0.
Where is t = 0 for the Observed/Objects?
If you look closely, you would agree that whatever we see out there is all dated or past stuff. The far way star is 1 million years old, the sun is 8 min old, the moon is 3 sec old, the plane in the sky is 300 milliseconds old, the tree outside my window is 10 microseconds old, and the computer in front of me is 1 nanosecond old. We do not see any ‘now’ objects where t = 0, we only see ‘memory objects’, which are no longer current. The universe is only made up of
‘memory objects’. It is just impossible to find a ‘now’ object in the physical universe. It must be understood that ‘memory objects’ means both living and nonliving objects.
The question is, does there exist a ‘now’ version of any memory objects, where t = 0 for the object? Intuitively you would think there should be a ‘now’ object somewhere. But where is this
Science adds to the confusion, when it talks about memory objects, it makes it seems as if they are talking about ‘now’ objects. When a planet is discovered 5 million light years away, it is referred to as if it is a ‘now’ object, but in reality it is a memory object. They are talking about an object which is 5 million years old, no one knows where that planet is ‘right now’. Does it even exist, has it already been destroyed by meteor. No one can be certain. One certainty is that the ‘now’ object cannot be in the same location where ‘memory’ object is 5 million years back.
It almost feels as if there are two different universes – one is the ‘now’ universe and the other is the universe of memory objects. We know where the universe of memory objects is – it is right in front of us. So the question is – where is the universe of ‘now’ objects? You will never find the ‘now’ universe by looking at memory objects, those are all in the past, with old content. You cannot extrapolate memory objects to the future to understand the ‘now’ objects/universe. In a way, memory objects and ‘now’ objects have no connection whatsoever. Therefore, I wonder if science is on wild goose chase when it is looking for the Singularity, by studying and analyzing memory objects.
So where is the universe where everything is ‘now’ and where there are no memory objects? This is just not possible in the space time framework as we know it. To be in the ‘now’ universe, every object in this universe must be at t=0. If t is not =0, then it is not a ‘now’ object, it is a memory object. We know the t = 0 for the Observer is within you, but where is the t = 0 for the ‘now’ object.
We know that the sun we see is 8 minutes old and it is a memory object. Let us play around with this. Now for whatever reason, the sun is only 3 minutes old; it would mean the sun has moved closer to the Observer (and much hotter). In the same way, if the sun is only 30 seconds old, it would mean the sun is extremely close to the Observer, but it’s still a memory object. If you keep extrapolating this and finally if t becomes 0 for the sun, it would only mean that the sun is within the Observer/Atma. We have seen earlier t=0 is the coordinate for the Observer/Atma. For the sun to be a ‘now’ object, it must be within Observer/Atma.
At t=0, the sun is a ‘now’ object, and this ‘now’ object is beyond the space time framework and is within Atma. The only way to understand that for anything to be outside the space time
frame work, it must be in its ‘un-manifest’ or ‘potential form’ or ‘seed form’. There is no actual sun, but there is only the potential to become the sun. Just Playdo used by kids has the potential to be manipulated to become different objects, in the same way Atma has the potential to become any object in the universe.
This reasoning and logic will be applicable to every memory object in the universe. The t=0 for all the memory objects in this physical universe is present within Atma/Observer in its
‘potential or seed form’. There is no actual universe within Atma, but the only the potential to become the universe. We are going to explain later on what we mean by ‘potential or seed form’
T = 0 Is Pure Awareness
We just saw that the t = 0 for the Observer is within each one of us. We also saw the t = 0 for all the ‘now’ Objects is also within us. At t = 0 both Subject and Object are the same. They are completely unified and homogeneous with no separation whatsoever. What does this mean? THIS is the singularity which Science talks about. It is the unity of the subject and object.
Vedanta teaches us that the essential nature of Atma is Self-Awareness; that is, it is aware of itself. If you look at Awareness more closely, you will realize Awareness must always have the following two elements.
1. If you are aware, then there should be someone who is aware. Awareness needs a subject
2. To be aware, there must be an object which you are aware of. Awareness needs an object.
Subject and object are needed to complete the Awareness process. To be Self-Aware, the subject and object must be within Awareness itself, with no separation. This is Pure Awareness. In our daily perception, we always feel that the subject is here, while the object is out there, there is separation; we are therefore not Self Aware.
Earlier, we saw that t = 0 has both the Subject and Object as non-separate from each other. The only conclusion we can reach is that t = 0 is not only Aware, but it is Self-Aware. Vedanta teaches us that Atma is Self-Aware. Therefore t = 0 is Atma, and this t = 0 is the underlying reality of the universe, including for every living being.
t = 0 is a concept which science can understand. If science does properly understand t = 0, it must reach the conclusion that t = 0 is no different from Atma, which is the underlying reality of this universe.