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The Non-Local Universe: The New Physics and Matters of the Mind [Paperback]

Robert Nadeau , Menas Kafatos
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Mar 2001 New Physics and Matters of the Mind
, Nadeau and Kafatos offer a revolutionary look at the breathtaking implications of non-locality. They argue that since every particle in the universe has been "entangled" with other particles, physical reality on the most basic level is an undivided wholeness. In addition to demonstrating that physical processes are vastly interdependent and interactive, they also show that more complex systems in both physics and biology display emergent properties and/or behaviours that cannot be explained in terms of the sum of the parts. One of the most startling implications of nonlocality in human terms, claim the authors, is that there is no longer any basis for believing in the stark division between mind and world that has preoccupied much of Western thought since the seventeenth century.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; New Ed edition (1 Mar 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195144082
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195144086
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Classical physics states that physical reality is local—a point in space cannot influence another point beyond a relatively short distance. However, In 1997, experiments were conducted in which light particles (photons) originated under certain conditions and traveled in opposite directions to detectors located about seven miles apart. The amazing results indicated that the photons "interacted" or "communicated" with one another instantly or "in no time." Since a distance of seven miles is quite vast in quantum physics, this led physicists to an extraordinary conclusion—even if experiments could somehow be conducted in which the distance between the detectors was half-way across the known universe, the results would indicate that interaction or communication between the photons would be instantaneous. What was revealed in these little-known experiments in 1997 is that physical reality is non-local—a discovery that Robert Nadeau and Menas Kafatos view as "the most momentous in the history of science."
In The Non-Local Universe, Nadeau and Kafatos offer a revolutionary look at the breathtaking implications of non-locality. They argue that since every particle in the universe has been "entangled" with other particles like the two photons in the 1997 experiments, physical reality on the most basic level is an undivided wholeness. In addition to demonstrating that physical processes are vastly interdependent and interactive, they also show that more complex systems in both physics and biology display emergent properties and/or behaviors that cannot be explained in the terms of the sum of parts. One of the most startling implications of non-locality in human terms, claim the authors, is that there is no longer any basis for believing in the stark division between mind and world that has preoccupied much of western thought since the seventeenth century. And they also make a convincing case that human consciousness can now be viewed as emergent from and seamlessly connected with the entire cosmos.
In pursuing this groundbreaking argument, the authors not only provide a fascinating history of developments that led to the discovery of non-locality and the sometimes heated debate between the great scientists responsible for these discoveries. They also argue that advances in scientific knowledge have further eroded the boundaries between physics and biology, and that recent studies on the evolution of the human brain suggest that the logical foundations of mathematics and ordinary language are much more similar than we previously imagined. What this new knowledge reveals, the authors conclude, is that the connection between mind and nature is far more intimate than we previously dared to imagine. What they offer is a revolutionary look at the implications of non-locality, implications that reach deep into that most intimate aspect of humanity—consciousness.

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"Nadeau and Kafatos supply plenty of food for thought: the apparently recondite concept of non-locality, they suggest, has consequences everywhere."—

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In the strange new world of quantum physics we have consistently uncovered aspects of physical reality at odds with our everyday sense of this reality. Read the first page
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple yet technically superb 21 Sep 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anyone interested in the area of quantum mechanics should read this book. It is easy to understand, yet detailed and technically superb - explaining the various different interpretations that are available. This book is particularly impressive in bridging the knowledge gap that most books on the subject leave - the gap between quantum mechanics and what it implies for the human mind and our everyday lives. For anyone that thinks quantum mechanics has nothing (or very little) to do with reality - think again!

The main strength of this book is its uncompromising tenacity in explaining and staying with the facts. Where little is known, the authors explain the various thories that are around and their likely implications. For me, this book is the best available explanation of quantum mechanics and its unexpected possibilities.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars important and well written - perhaps flawed 17 July 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sometimes the language of this book, with its long flowing sentences and abstract ideas sounds a little Hegelian, but the vast majority of it is down-to-earth, well thought out and sticks to the task of describing some of the most difficult conceptual areas in science. Quantum Mechanics can never be easy because it is not visualisable as such. There may be some flaws in the argument however (why I marked it down!). The author's explanation of entanglement is solely in terms of non-locality. However they seemed to have ignored the alternative of retro-causality. They actually describe an important retro-causal experiment, but do not seem to incorporate it into their arguments. A further problem seems to occur when they go on to extend the idea of complementarity beyond physics (following Niels Bohr). They describe how `biological reality' might be affected by the same measurement difficulties as physical reality at the micro level. But biology is far too complex, in my opinion, to be able to isolate such an effect. It seems an unwarranted generalisation.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not really what I was expecting 29 Nov 2008
By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER
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From the blurb and the title I was expecting a book that would help deepen my understanding of quantum mechanics, and give me new and subtle insights into the implications of the Aspect/Gisin quantum entanglement experiments, possibly including some implications for thought and consciousness, a-la-Penrose. This turns out not to be the book's purpose at all however. It's hard to determine who the intended audience is. While the discussion on Quantum Mechaincs is pitched at layman's level, the discussion around it would seem more aimed at academics in the arts and humanities. It is a wide-ranging book touching on far more than QM. I found the book, informative, provocative, irritating, and in the end, rather moving. I'm glad I persisted with it though I can't say I agree with everything in it.

The introduction announces a post-modernist malaise in the academic humanities, rooted, the authors claim, in the removal of mind from the material world by Cartesian Dualism. This was surprising for me because, as a reader in Cognitive Science and Philosophy of Mind, I know that the modern scientific currency is reductive materialism. I had no idea that there was a community of folks out there who presumed dualism, and deduced pessimism.

The first half of the book then gives a layman's (non-mathematical) description of quantum mechanics. It's a bit sloppy. Terms are introduced without definition. Conclusions are drawn from premises without explanation. Schrodinger's cat is trotted out again, as usual, without qualification, so yet more credible folks will come away thinking that there is something magical about conscious observerhood that collapses superposed quantum states. The dual slit experiment is explained pretty well.
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65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Non-locality is implicate at all scales 7 July 2000
By David G. Yurth, PhD - Published on
Non-locality and quantum entanglement are neither delicate nor rare events. Quantum non-locality is not rare and does not disappear. The Universe operates according to the principles of complementarity at all scales - Kafatos and Nadeau established the particulars of this verity with extraordinary adroitness in their watershed book "The Conscious Universe." The concept of non-locality as an implicate attribute of the material world is borne out by three pieces of impeccably documented science which are only now becoming generally known. Nicolas Gisin and his colleagues at CERN proved that Bell's predictions regarding non-locality were precisely correct. The positron-electron pairs they separated with a Potassium Niobate crystal and shunted through 15 kilometers of fiber optic cable, automatically re-oriented spin and polarity instantaneously to maintain net-spin values of zero when one of the particle-pair was accelerated through an electromagnetic field, to seven decimal points, in repeated trials. The effective rate at which the information transfer occurred between the particles is calculated to be at least 10 to the nine times faster than the speed of light. Second, Vladimir Poponin has demonstrated in his work with the DNA Phantom Effect that every molecule of DNA exerts a non-local field effect on the material locale surrounding it, which persists for up to 30 days after the DNA molecule source has been removed. The importance of Poponin's work is that it proves unequivocally that among living organisms, non-locality operates simultaneously with chemo-synaptic neuronal processes at all scales and in all living things. Finally, Donald Eigler's work at IBM's Almaden Lab's proves that non-local holographic field effects operate in all things as an intrinsic attribute of matter at atomic and sub-atomic scales, regardless of whether the materials are organic or not. In "The Non-Local Universe," Kafatos has simply opened the lid to this Pandora's box by providing an epistemological model which is carefully thought out, clearly articulated and reasonably constructed. His model is absolutely right on the mark and deserves to be read by anyone who is willing to look at this aggregation of unimpeachable evidence with clear scientific detachment.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Non-Local Universe: Beyond Postmodernism 28 Nov 2000
By James F. Andris - Published on
Even though I found Nadeau and Kafatos' The Non-Local Universe" a challenge to absorb, I couldn't put it down. In this book, the authors do much more than just rehash some much pondered over points about the implications of the Gisin and Aspect experiments that verified Bell's Theorem. For those of you who haven't checked out what's happening in modern physics in the last 50 years or so, "The mathematical statement derived by Bell in his theorem is known as Bell's inequality, and it is predicated on two major assumptions in local realistic theories-locality and realism." (p. 69) Aspect and then Gisin figured out a way to measure paired subatomic particles which refuted the locality assumption. Although Nadeau and Kafatos never make this exact point, one way to understand the refutation of localism is that in their wave structure, subatomic particles are extended infinitely throughout space and time (highly improbable, but nevertheless finitely probable). Hence in this sense, every particle/wave overlaps every other particle/wave and therefore, "We are all connected."
Nadeau and Kafatos are at great (sometimes, too great) pains to show how slowly and laboriously many physicists have given up the assumption that mathematical models of external reality can have a one-to-one correspondence with that reality. They even imagine Einstein still living and contemplating the Aspect experiments, agreeing that he was wrong and Bohr was right. They spend a comparable amount of effort in painting a non-picture of our non-local universe, as their book title might imply. The reason I say "non-picture" is the fact that a central point of theirs is that we can not adequately visualize a more than three-dimensional universe. While the "non-picture" that they paint is at times fuzzy and not well worked out, a mere blueprint for further investigations, they propose that it is free of metaphysical assumptions (including the one-to-one correspondence theory).
In other chapters in their expansive book of modest size (240 pp.), they trace literature that rejects the narrow Darwinian interpretation of evolution and replaces it with an ecological view of the earth's biota as a self-regulating organinism (Ch. 6), trace the evolution of humans as symbol-using creatures and the emergence of self-consciousness, not as isolated in a separate mental realm, but rather as "[deriving] its existence from embedded relations to [the larger whole of biological life]. (Ch. 7,.p. 144) and offer a critique of classical economic theories, showing how building an economic theory using the emerging ecological paradigm can account for and ameliorate overproduction based on a solely competitive model. (Ch. 10)
One of the threads of insight woven through each of these chapters is what Nadeau and Kafatos call the "logic of complementarity." They are building on Bohr's conception of the complementarity of wave and particle. One of the implications of Quantum Theory is that a complete view of subatomic structure must rely on its being viewed as both wave-like and particle-like. When subatomic structure is not being observed it is wave-like, when it is being observed, it is particle-like. We also see in Einstein's general theory of relativity the complementary nature of time and space. They suggest "that the logic of complementarity could be the logic of nature and that the use of this logic as a heuristic could serve to better explain the character of other profound oppositions in the natural process." (p. 103)
In various places in their book, they also trace the history of Western philosophical and scientific thought leading up to, through, and beyond Bohr's Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory, and they trace the development of the Postmodernist movement as a reaction to the Classical Realist metaphysics implicit in much of earlier math and physics. In doing so, they are really trying to solve a communication problem for academics in C. P. Snow's two camps: "Another of our large ambitions here is to demonstrate that our new understanding of the relationship between parts and wholes in physical reality can serve as the basis for a renewed dialog between the two cultures of humanist-social scientists and scientists-engineers." (p. 13)
In tracing the Postmodernist literature from roots in Nietsche and Husserl to more contemporary writers like Lacan and Foucault, they identify three major assumptions of Postmodernist metatheory and assert that "the resulting view of human consciousness is an extension of Cartesian dualism and not in accord with our current scientific world view." (p. 165) Nadeau and Kafatos in no way intend to denigrate the work of the postmodernists, which they say "has, in general, made us a more humane society and served as a source of liberation for large numbers of individuals." (p. 164) Their point is rather that "since the postmodern view of the relationship between mind and world is one of the primary sources of our contemporary dispair and angst, the prospect that it could be displaced by an alternate and much more positive view is certainly worth considering."
Toward the end of the book, they sketch Capra's "ecological world view," which is distinguishable in terms of five related shifts of emphasis, and "which is entirely consistent with the understanding of physical reality revealed in modern physics." (p. 213) Here is a sketch of the core of this idea: 1) properties of parts must be understood as dynamics of the whole, 2) every structure manifests a fundamentally dynamic web of relationships, 3) human observers and their processes of knowledge must be embedded in knowledge descriptions, 4) phenomena exist as mutually consistent relationships; knowledge is an interconnected network of relationships founded on self-consistency and agreement with fact, and 5) the whole constituting webs of relationships cannot be represented by our necessarily approximate descriptions.
I can tell you this much about "The Non-Local Universe." Even though I had a passing acquaintance with the writings of visionary physicists, before I read this book, I felt like a body trapped in a time sequence. Now I have a different view of myself, connected to other beings and to the Universe, past, present and future....
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nonlocality-- A fact of nature 22 Sep 2000
By David J. Kreiter - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If Albert Einstein had lived long enough to witness the results of Alain Aspect's experiments at the University of Paris-South in 1982 he would have had to concede that quantum theory is a self-consistent theory and physical reality is non-local. The Aspect experiment, and the 1997 Nicolus Gisin twin-photon experiments, validated John Stewart Bell's non-locality theorem to a substantial distance. These experiments confirmed that the physical universe is holistic and indeterminate, a fact that many physicists call the most profound discovery in all of science.
This is the premise of a thoroughly enlightening book by Nadeau and Kafatos, who by virtue of clear and concise writing, entice the reader into taking a journey into the new world of non-locality. The authors state that in order to embrace their premises one must be committed to metaphysical and epistemological realism. Metaphysical realism assumes that physical reality is real or has an actual existence independent of observation, and epistemological realism assumes that progress in science requires strict adherence to scientific methodology. This seems to be a bit of an inconsistency since one of the main premises of their book is that metaphysical realism is invalid.
Einstein, who was himself a contributor to quantum theory, and whose theory of relativity demonstrated that space, time, and motion are relative concepts, was none-the-less not ready to give up on the idea of deterministic principles and objective reality. His debates with Bohr concerning whether quantum theory was a complete theory was never settled during their lifetimes. In his most famous thought experiment, called EPR, devised with the help of two colleagues, he made his most brilliant effort to once and for all put the matter to rest by saving classical causal reality. The purpose of EPR was to show that both the position and momentum of a particle could be deduced in violation of the indeterminacy principle making quantum theory incomplete.
John Stewart Bell sounded the death knoll to any hope that Einstein could be correct in his effort to save objective reality. Bell's theorem is predicated on two major assumptions: Locality (signals or energy transfers between regions separated in space and time cannot occur faster than the speed of light) and realism (physical reality exists independently of the observer). As Nadeau and Kafatos put it, both of these assumptions may be invalid. While Bell's theorem in no way violated Relativity's ban on information traveling faster than light speed, it did clearly demonstrate that there is an indeterminate and instantaneous connection between systems. Since the connections are indeterminate and subject to the laws of probability, there is no way to transfer information in a meaningful way under these random circumstances; therefore, Relativity itself remains intact. Bell's theorem clearly proved that realism could not exist at the deepest levels or reality. Quite simply, if nonlocality is a fact of nature, indeterminacy is also an indisputable fact of nature.
The demise of realism also puts to rest the paradox of the well-known Schrodinger Cat Experiment. Since there is no one-to-one correspondence between physical theory and reality, and, since only measurement or observation determines reality as Bohr clearly maintained, we cannot assume that systems, either the particle or the cat, have any reality in the absence of measurement. Therefore, nothing can be said about "the cat in a state of limbo." Since no measurement has been made, there exists no reality to this unobserved situation.
Despite the fact that realism has been shown to be invalid, Cartesian dualism, the reigning scientific paradigm since the seventeenth century, remains steadfast among many scientists today. Dualism has found form in the post-modern rationalist ontology of positivism. Adherents of this philosophy believe that certain truth about physical reality resides only in the mathematical description, and contend that a one-to-one correspondence exists between every element of physical theory and every aspect of the reality it describes.
Neither dualism nor positivism can be considered valid in light of the new reality of nonlocality for a variety of reasons: First, as we noted earlier, the positivist contention of an objective reality is inconsistent with principles of indeterminacy. Physical laws and theories have no independent existence and are human creations useful only in coordinating observations with experience. By definition, an objective reality suggests a consciousness separate and distinct from the rest of reality. This arbitrary distinction is invalid in a holistic universe. If nonlocality is a property of the entire universe, then we must also conclude that an undivided wholeness exists at the most primary level of physical reality.
Second, science can claim knowledge of physical reality only when the predictions of a physical theory are validated by experiment. In a non-local universe the indivisible whole cannot be measured or observed, and nothing can be said about the character of this reality. Quantum systems it seems behave in such a holistic state. The wave and particle are the total reality of the situation--they are complimentary. The system is determinate when left alone, but upon observation it behaves indeterminately according to the laws of probability. Only one aspect of the whole can be observed at any one moment in time. Interestingly, as science has progressed in this century, more and more complementarities have been found. In special relativity, mass and energy as well as space and time were found to be complimentary; in mathematics real and imaginary numbers are complimentary; in biology, Bohr himself realized that organic and inorganic matter are constructs that need to be applied in a complementary way to describe the phenomenon of life. Life appears to be holistic, as any attempt to isolate its parts for scientific study tends toward a reductionist approach which only makes for inconguencies in the study of the whole. The whole is not built from the parts; rather, the whole bifurcates into the parts. This new understanding of the relationship between part and whole in biology mirrors nonlocality in physics.
The authors conclude by making the philosophical argument that since consciousness is an emergent process of the brain, and the brain, in turn, is an emergent process of the undivided whole, it is not unreasonable to believe that the universe is conscious.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Teachers Sometimes Use Turgid Prose 20 July 2001
By Lihot - Published on
I am not a scientist. I have never read clearer explanations than in this book about the Michelson-Morley experiements, or the Double-Slit experiment, or Bohr's atom, or finally, the concept of non-locality. If you are a fan of Michio Kaku, or John Gribbin, or Brian Greene, et. al., and if you are patient and work hard, you will love this book. But the authors, unlike Gribbin and Greene, do unfortunatly use the proverbial turgid prose. They never use a one-syllable word when a four syllable word will do. They would be an English teacher's nightmare. I could easily see them describing a "cow" as a "lactating bovine mammal." In the end, though, their ability to teach is so strong, their exposition (if not their prose) is so clear, I highly recommend this book.
32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clarity for the Non-specialist 4 April 2000
By Meredith B. Handspicker - Published on
This book is far superior to such popularizations as "The Tao of Physics." It is clearly written, is not tendentious, and modest in its proposals. What is really refreshing is their sticking so closely to a really realistic epistemology. Their essay into the way a complementary approach illumines other areas of science as well is again careful, modest and convincing. For one who IS a metaphysician it is refreshing to see they do NOT make moves in that direction but stay within the limits of their own discipline.
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