Loading Events

« All Events

Discovering Multiple Possibilities in Quantum Theory

  • This event has passed.
Event Series Event Series: Multiple Universes

October 16, 2021 @ 6:00 pm 8:00 pm CEST

Buy the recording

Discovering Multiple Possibilities in Quantum Theory

with Ruth E. Kastner

Saturday October 16, 2021
9:00 PDT | 12:00 EDT | 17:00 BST  |  18:00 CEST

2-hour session

If you are unable to attend the live session, the recording will be available.

In her presentation Ruth will discuss the need for a paradigm change in the way we think about the world. When she says ‘we,’ she means primarily the Western scientific tradition and its attendant metaphysical and epistemological background assumptions, which have led to intractable problems in making sense of quantum theory. Among the assumptions leading us into this cul-de-sac are the empiricist notion that anything real must be tangible, and the Democritan notions that (1) a container called ‘spacetime’ is the delimiter for all real objects and that (2) real entities are separable, localizable ‘things’ that move from place to place in a local manner (as opposed to processes). A further Western background assumption is the notion that all dynamical action occurs in a unilateral fashion: e.g., that a physical quantity (e.g. energy) is emitted by one entity that does all the work and ends up at another spacetime point as a purely passive, secondary effect. The latter can be understood as a ‘Yang-only’ view of interactions, where Yang-type processes are generation, initiation, and creation. In contrast, Yin-type processes include reception, response, and dissolution. The Western paradigm neglects this latter aspect, and one consequence is that it has for many years overlooked an approach to field propagation that could shed new light on the physical meaning of quantum theory.

Ruth will also connect our current quantum conundrum to the insights of physician/psychologist Iain McGilchrist, who has argued that Western culture has emphasized left-brain thinking (based on separation, analysis, and control) and neglected right-brain thinking (based on holism, synthesis, and intuition), which is equally valid and necessary. This holistic aspect includes the mode of possibility, while the analytical, left-brain component sees only actuality. Hans Reichenbach (expressing a minority view among philosophers of science) insightfully remarked that ‘the flow of time is a real becoming in which potentiality is transformed into actuality.’  The paradigm change required by quantum theory includes the recognition that potentiality, or possibility (the intangible level described by quantum states and processes) is just as real as actuality (tangible spacetime phenomena). Thus, quantum theory opens the door to an understanding that the phenomenal level of our experience rests upon a vast ocean of possibility from which creativity and the manifest level of life and experience emerges.

To see the Full Multiple Universes Program

Ruth E. Kastner earned her M.S. in Physics and Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Maryland. Since that time, she has taught widely and conducted research in Foundations of Physics, particularly in interpretations of quantum theory. She is the author of 3 books: The Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Theory: The Reality of Possibility (Cambridge University Press, 2012; 2nd edition forthcoming in Fall 2021), Understanding Our Unseen Reality: Solving Quantum Riddles (Imperial College Press, 2015); and Adventures In Quantumland: Exploring Our Unseen Reality (World Scientific, 2019).  She has presented talks and interviews throughout the world and in video recordings on the interpretational challenges of quantum theory.


October 16, 2021
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm CEST