Philosophical Society of Washington

Complementarity and Non-Locality: The Non-Local Universe

Menas Kafatos
George Mason University

1977th Meeting Abstract
Friday, April 12, 1991 at 8:15 PM


A generalized principle of complementarity is pervasive not only in physical theories such as cosmological models of the universe, but also in the construction of human realities in general. In cosmological views of the universe, non-local effects may be a manifestation of the underlying quantum nature of the cosmos arising from the principle of indeterminacy, in which case complementarity should also feature a central role in these views.

The complementarity principle of quantum mechanics states that physical phenomena may be described either in terms of particle motions characterized by a momentum p and an energy E or in terms of waves characterized by a wavelength, λ and a frequency ν. The particle and wave characterizations are connected by the equations: p = h/λ and E = hν, where h is the Plank constant.

The indeterminacy principle, established by Heisenberg, asserts that in the simultaneous determination of two complementary parameters (e.g., position and momentum), the product of the smallest possible uncertainties in these values is of the order of the Plank constant. A non-local universe arises when, for example, the momentum of a particle is known to a high degree of precision. The consequence is a huge uncertainty in its position. The particle is non-local in that it may exist virtually anywhere.

The speaker will explore some possibilities of a more unified view of the universe based on a generalized complementarity paradigm.

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