Memory, physical phenomena and quantum Waves
Organização:  Department of History and Philosophy of Science of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Atenas
03 / 12 / 2022

Philosophical problems involving memory have been dealt with primarily from a human psychological perspective. This view tends to consider memory as a consciousness associated property that serves its role in relation to the behavior of the brain or, in a deeper metaphysical sense, relating to the reality of the spirit, as Bergson put it in Matter and Memory [1]. On the other hand, one can further deepen the relation between memory and the physical world, trying to conceive it in a broader sense, as it can play some major part in the world. The idea that a kind of natural computation occurs in physical processes has been widely explored for decades. This conceptual path has begun with the foundational works of Landauer [2, 3, 4], Wheeler [5, 6], Feynman [7], Zuse [8], Fredkin [9] and Deutch [10], stressing an ontological relation between either energy and information or physical dynamics and computational effective procedures, most notably leading to quantum computation. More recently, the concept of multiple realizability, bearing to the functionalist thesis of early Putnam’s view [11] and Fodor [12], has spread from a description of how the mind works to a pan-computationalism like in Piccinini [13]. This overall view on how nature works tentatively tries to apply to every physical and biological system. This time, stressing the possibility that computation itself is fully ontological, metaphysically surpassing a mere formal equivalence between information processing and physical phenomena. Even so, all the above leads aside the more stringent problem of knowing if the world itself has a kind of universal memory structure embedded in it. That is to say, a physical fundamental memory storing ontological information about the behavior of things, both influencing such behaviors and being informed by old and new behaviors as time deploys. This topic has become rather stringent owing to the recent development of the Hydrodynamic Quantum Analog (HQA) experiments, initiated by Couder and Fort [14, 15] and developed by Bush [16] and several other experimenters. This new experimental field looks up to 1927 Louis de Broglie’s thesis [17, 18] proposing that quantum particles and quantum waves do exist at all times, and that the later guide the former, thus called the pilot-wave interpretation of quantum mechanics. In HQA setups a bath of oil is vibrated at low frequency and a droplet is then thrown to its surface. At a threshold frequency a wave field is then generated by the bouncing droplet that in turn pilots the trajectory of the droplet. As it happens, the field can encode the prior locations of the droplet as its sequential bouncing produces more and more waves that can overlap. That is, the pilot wave field acts as an ontological memory for the behavior of the droplet. Several situations analogous to quantum phenomena have been experimentally obtained, from the double slit HQA experiment to a droplet trapped in an orbital trajectory, by means of the piloting field produced.
In this talk, I intend to give a short notice of the HQA experimental research and its significance for the meaning of the concept of a physical memory, already present there. From this, I will suggest that the adoption of a realistic Pilot-wave version of quantum mechanics can be made free of contradictions, if one assumes the possibility that quantum waves do, in fact, encode ontological information about the behaviors of particles. This ontological commitment to the informational powers of realistic quantum waves means that possible trajectories and, therefore, the structure of spacetime, may obtain from more fundamental structures, prior to spacetime itself. As suggestive support for this claim I will introduce a set of generalized uncertainty relations from Croca [19] that can be used to represent either the quantum indeterministic case or the Newtonian deterministic one for momentum and position relation [20]. Finally, I will comment on the way that this conceptual stand can pave the way to extend the pan-computationalism thesis, as it complements computational processes with a possible embedded memory in the world.

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