- In 1982 a remarkable event took place. At the University
of Paris a research team led by physicist Alain Aspect performed what may
turn out to be one of the most important experiments of the 20th century.
You did not hear about it on the evening news. In fact, unless you are
in the habit of reading scientific journals you probably have never even
heard Aspect's name, though there are some who believe his discovery may
change the face of science.
- Aspect and his team discovered that under certain circumstances
subatomic particles such as electrons are able to instantaneously communicate
with each other regardless of the distance separating them. It doesn't
matter whether they are 10 feet or 10 billion miles apart.
- Somehow each particle always seems to know what the other
is doing. The problem with this feat is that it violates Einstein's long-held
tenet that no communication can travel faster than the speed of light.
Since traveling faster than the speed of light is tantamount to breaking
the time barrier, this daunting prospect has caused some physicists to
try to come up with elaborate ways to explain away Aspect's findings. But
it has inspired others to offer even more radical explanations.
- University of London physicist David Bohm, for example,
believes Aspect's findings imply that objective reality does not exist,
that despite its apparent solidity the universe is at heart a phantasm,
a gigantic and splendidly detailed hologram.
- To understand why Bohm makes this startling assertion,
one must first understand a little about holograms. A hologram is a three-
dimensional photograph made with the aid of a laser.
- To make a hologram, the object to be photographed is
first bathed in the light of a laser beam. Then a second laser beam is
bounced off the reflected light of the first and the resulting interference
pattern (the area where the two laser beams commingle) is captured on film.
- When the film is developed, it looks like a meaningless
swirl of light and dark lines. But as soon as the developed film is illuminated
by another laser beam, a three-dimensional image of the original object
- The three-dimensionality of such images is not the only
remarkable characteristic of holograms. If a hologram of a rose is cut
in half and then illuminated by a laser, each half will still be found
to contain the entire image of the rose.
- Indeed, even if the halves are divided again, each snippet
of film will always be found to contain a smaller but intact version of
the original image. Unlike normal photographs, every part of a hologram
contains all the information possessed by the whole.
- The "whole in every part" nature of a hologram
provides us with an entirely new way of understanding organization and
order. For most of its history, Western science has labored under the bias
that the best way to understand a physical phenomenon, whether a frog or
an atom, is to dissect it and study its respective parts.
- A hologram teaches us that some things in the universe
may not lend themselves to this approach. If we try to take apart something
constructed holographically, we will not get the pieces of which it is
made, we will only get smaller wholes.
- This insight suggested to Bohm another way of understanding
Aspect's discovery. Bohm believes the reason subatomic particles are able
to remain in contact with one another regardless of the distance separating
them is not because they are sending some sort of mysterious signal back
and forth, but because their separateness is an illusion. He argues that
at some deeper level of reality such particles are not individual entities,
but are actually extensions of the same fundamental something.
- To enable people to better visualize what he means, Bohm
offers the following illustration.
- Imagine an aquarium containing a fish. Imagine also that
you are unable to see the aquarium directly and your knowledge about it
and what it contains comes from two television cameras, one directed at
the aquarium's front and the other directed at its side.
- As you stare at the two television monitors, you might
assume that the fish on each of the screens are separate entities. After
all, because the cameras are set at different angles, each of the images
will be slightly different. But as you continue to watch the two fish,
you will eventually become aware that there is a certain relationship between
- When one turns, the other also makes a slightly different
but corresponding turn; when one faces the front, the other always faces
toward the side. If you remain unaware of the full scope of the situation,
you might even conclude that the fish must be instantaneously communicating
with one another, but this is clearly not the case.
- This, says Bohm, is precisely what is going on between
the subatomic particles in Aspect's experiment.
- According to Bohm, the apparent faster-than-light connection
between subatomic particles is really telling us that there is a deeper
level of reality we are not privy to, a more complex dimension beyond our
own that is analogous to the aquarium. And, he adds, we view objects such
as subatomic particles as separate from one another because we are seeing
only a portion of their reality.
- Such particles are not separate "parts", but
facets of a deeper and more underlying unity that is ultimately as holographic
and indivisible as the previously mentioned rose. And since everything
in physical reality is comprised of these "eidolons", the universe
is itself a projection, a hologram.
- In addition to its phantomlike nature, such a universe
would possess other rather startling features. If the apparent separateness
of subatomic particles is illusory, it means that at a deeper level of
reality all things in the universe are infinitely interconnected.
- The electrons in a carbon atom in the human brain are
connected to the subatomic particles that comprise every salmon that swims,
every heart that beats, and every star that shimmers in the sky.
- Everything interpenetrates everything, and although human
nature may seek to categorize and pigeonhole and subdivide, the various
phenomena of the universe, all apportionments are of necessity artificial
and all of nature is ultimately a seamless web.
- In a holographic universe, even time and space could
no longer be viewed as fundamentals. Because concepts such as location
break down in a universe in which nothing is truly separate from anything
else, time and three-dimensional space, like the images of the fish on
the TV monitors, would also have to be viewed as projections of this deeper
- At its deeper level reality is a sort of superhologram
in which the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously. This suggests
that given the proper tools it might even be possible to someday reach
into the superholographic level of reality and pluck out scenes from the
- What else the superhologram contains is an open-ended
question. Allowing, for the sake of argument, that the superhologram is
the matrix that has given birth to everything in our universe, at the very
least it contains every subatomic particle that has been or will be --
every configuration of matter and energy that is possible, from snowflakes
to quasars, from bluü whales to gamma rays. It must be seen as a sort
of cosmic storehouse of "All That Is."
- Although Bohm concedes that we have no way of knowing
what else might lie hidden in the superhologram, he does venture to say
that we have no reason to assume it does not contain more. Or as he puts
it, perhaps the superholographic level of reality is a "mere stage"
beyond which lies "an infinity of further development".
- Bohm is not the only researcher who has found evidence
that the universe is a hologram. Working independently in the field of
brain research, Standford neurophysiologist Karl Pribram has also become
persuaded of the holographic nature of reality.
- Pribram was drawn to the holographic model by the puzzle
of how and where memories are stored in the brain. For decades numerous
studies have shown that rather than being confined to a specific location,
memories are dispersed throughout the brain.
- In a series of landmark experiments in the 1920s, brain
scientist Karl Lashley found that no matter what portion of a rat's brain
he removed he was unable to eradicate its memory of how to perform complex
tasks it had learned prior to surgery. The only problem was that no one
was able to come up with a mechanism that might explain this curious "whole
in every part" nature of memory storage.
- Then in the 1960s Pribram encountered the concept of
holography and realized he had found the explanation brain scientists had
been looking for. Pribram believes memories are encoded not in neurons,
or small groupings of neurons, but in patterns of nerve impulses that crisscross
the entire brain in the same way that patterns of laser light interference
crisscross the entire area of a piece of film containing a holographic
image. In other words, Pribram believes the brain is itself a hologram.
- Pribram's theory also explains how the human brain can
store so many memories in so little space. It has been estimated that the
human brain has the capacity to memorize something on the order of 10 billion
bits of information during the average human lifetime (or roughly the same
amount of information contained in five sets of the Encyclopaedia Britannica).
- Similarly, it has been discovered that in addition to
their other capabilities, holograms possess an astounding capacity for
information storage--simply by changing the angle at which the two lasers
strike a piece of photographic film, it is possible to record many different
images on the same surface. It has been demonstrated that one cubic centimeter
of film can hold as many as 10 billion bits of information.
- Our uncanny ability to quickly retrieve whatever information
we need from the enormous store of our memories becomes more understandable
if the brain functions according to holographic principles. If a friend
asks you to tell him what comes to mind when he says the word "zebra",
you do not have to clumsily sort back through ome gigantic and cerebral
alphabetic file to arrive at an answer. Instead, associations like "striped",
"horselike", and "animal native to Africa" all pop
into your head instantly.
- Indeed, one of the most amazing things about the human
thinking process is that every piece of information seems instantly cross-
correlated with every other piece of information--another feature intrinsic
to the hologram. Because every portion of a hologram is infinitely interconnected
with evey other portion, it is perhaps nature's supreme example of a cross-correlated
- The storage of memory is not the only neurophysiological
puzzle that becomes more tractable in light of Pribram's holographic model
of the brain. Another is how the brain is able to translate the avalanche
of frequencies it receives via the senses (light frequencies, sound frequencies,
and so on) into the concrete world of our perceptions. Encoding and decoding
frequencies is precisely what a hologram does best. Just as a hologram
functions as a sort of lens, a translating device able to convert an apparently
meaningless blur of frequencies into a coherent image, Pribram believes
the brain also comprises a lens and uses holographic principles to mathematically
convert the frequencies it receives through the senses into the inner world
of our perceptions.
- An impressive body of evidence suggests that the brain
uses holographic principles to perform its operations. Pribram's theory,
in fact, has gained increasing support among neurophysiologists.
- Argentinian-Italian researcher Hugo Zucarelli recently
extended the holographic model into the world of acoustic phenomena. Puzzled
by the fact that humans can locate the source of sounds without moving
their heads, even if they only possess hearing in one ear, Zucarelli discovered
that holographic principles can explain this ability.
- Zucarelli has also developed the technology of holophonic
sound, a recording technique able to reproduce acoustic situations with
an almost uncanny realism.
- Pribram's belief that our brains mathematically construct
"hard" reality by relying on input from a frequency domain has
also received a good deal of experimental support.
- It has been found that each of our senses is sensitive
to a much broader range of frequencies than was previously suspected.
- Researchers have discovered, for instance, that our visual
systems are sensitive to sound frequencies, that our sense of smell is
in part dependent on what are now called "osmic frequencies",
and that even the cells in our bodies are sensitive to a broad range of
frequencies. Such findings suggest that it is only in the holographic domain
of consciousness that such frequencies are sorted out and divided up into
- But the most mind-boggling aspect of Pribram's holographic
model of the brain is what happens when it is put together with Bohm's
theory. For if the concreteness of the world is but a secondary reality
and what is "there" is actually a holographic blur of frequencies,
and if the brain is also a hologram and only selects some of the frequencies
out of this blur and mathematically transforms them into sensory perceptions,
what becomes of objective reality?
- Put quite simply, it ceases to exist. As the religions
of the East have long upheld, the material world is Maya, an illusion,
and although we may think we are physical beings moving through a physical
world, this too is an illusion.
- We are really "receivers" floating through
a kaleidoscopic sea of frequency, and what we extract from this sea and
transmogrify into physical reality is but one channel from many extracted
out of the superhologram.
- This striking new picture of reality, the synthesis of
Bohm and Pribram's views, has come to be called the holographic paradigm,
and although many scientists have greeted it with skepticism, it has galvanized
others. A small but growing group of researchers believe it may be the
most accurate model of reality science has arrived at thus far. More than
that, some believe it may solve some mysteries that have never before been
explainable by science and even establish the paranormal as a part of nature.
- Numerous researchers, including Bohm and Pribram, have
noted that many para-psychological phenomena become much more understandable
in terms of the holographic paradigm.
- In a universe in which individual brains are actually
indivisible portions of the greater hologram and everything is infinitely
interconnected, telepathy may merely be the accessing of the holographic
- It is obviously much easier to understand how information
can travel from the mind of individual 'A' to that of individual 'B' at
a far distance point and helps to understand a number of unsolved puzzles
in psychology. In particular, Grof feels the holographic paradigm offers
a model for understanding many of the baffling phenomena experienced by
individuals during altered states of consciousness.
- Creation - Holographic Universe - 2
- In the 1950s, while conducting research into the beliefs
of LSD as a psychotherapeutic tool, Grof had one female patient who suddenly
became convinced she had assumed the identity of a female of a species
of prehistoric reptile. During the course of her hallucination, she not
only gave a richly detailed description of what it felt like to be encapsuled
in such a form, but noted that the portion of the male of the species's
anatomy was a patch of colored scales on the side of its head.
- What was startling to Grof was that although the woman
had no prior knowledge about such things, a conversation with a zoologist
later confirmed that in certain species of reptiles colored areas on the
head do indeed play an important role as triggers of sexual arousal.
- The woman's experience was not unique. During the course
of his research, Grof encountered examples of patients regressing and identifying
with virtually every species on the evolutionary tree (research findings
which helped influence the man-into-ape scene in the movie Altered States).
Moreover, he found that such experiences frequently contained obscure zoological
details which turned out to be accurate.
- Regressions into the animal kingdom were not the only
puzzling psychological phenomena Grof encountered. He also had patients
who appeared to tap into some sort of collective or racial unconscious.
Individuals with little or no education suddenly gave detailed descriptions
of Zoroastrian funerary practices and scenes from Hindu mythology. In other
categories of experience, individuals gave persuasive accounts of out-of-body
journeys, of precognitive glimpses of the future, of regressions into apparent
- In later research, Grof found the same range of phenomena
manifested in therapy sessions which did not involve the use of drugs.
Because the common element in such experiences appeared to be the transcending
of an individual's consciousness beyond the usual boundaries of ego and/or
limitations of space and time, Grof called such manifestations "transpersonal
experiences", and in the late '60s he helped found a branch of psychology
called "transpersonal psychology" devoted entirely to their study.
- Although Grof's newly founded Association of Transpersonal
Psychology garnered a rapidly growing group of like-minded professionals
and has become a respected branch of psychology, for years neither Grof
or any of his colleagues were able to offer a mechanism for explaining
the bizarre psychological phenomena they were witnessing. But that has
changed with the advent of the holographic paradigm.
- As Grof recently noted, if the mind is actually part
of a continuum, a labyrinth that is connected not only to every other mind
that exists or has existed, but to every atom, organism, and region in
the vastness of space and time itself, the fact that it is able to occasionally
make forays into the labyrinth and have transpersonal experiences no longer
seems so strange.
- The holographic prardigm also has implications for so-called
hard sciences like biology. Keith Floyd, a psychologist at Virginia Intermont
College, has pointed out that if the concreteness of reality is but a holographic
illusion, it would no longer be true to say the brain produces consciousness.
Rather, it is consciousness that creates the appearance of the brain --
as well as the body and everything else around us we interpret as physical.
- Such a turnabout in the way we view biological structures
has caused researchers to point out that medicine and our understanding
of the healing process could also be transformed by the holographic paradigm.
If the apparent physical structure of the body is but a holographic projection
of consciousness, it becomes clear that each of us is much more responsible
for our health than current medical wisdom allows. What we now view as
miraculous remissions of disease may actually be due to changes in consciousness
which in turn effect changes in the hologram of the body.
- Similarly, controversial new healing techniques such
as visualization may work so well because in the holographic domain of
thought images are ultimately as real as "reality".
- Even visions and experiences involving "non-ordinary"
reality become explainable under the holographic paradigm. In his book
"Gifts of Unknown Things," biologist Lyall Watson discribes his
encounter with an Indonesian shaman woman who, by performing a ritual dance,
was able to make an entire grove of trees instantly vanish into thin air.
Watson relates that as he and another astonished onlooker continued to
watch the woman, she caused the trees to reappear, then "click"
off again and on again several times in succession.
- Although current scientific understanding is incapable
of explaining such events, experiences like this become more tenable if
"hard" reality is only a holographic projection.
- Perhaps we agree on what is "there" or "not
there" because what we call consensus reality is formulated and ratified
at the level of the human unconscious at which all minds are infinitely
- If this is true, it is the most profound implication
of the holographic paradigm of all, for it means that experiences such
as Watson's are not commonplace only because we have not programmed our
minds with the beliefs that would make them so. In a holographic universe
there are no limits to the extent to which we can alter the fabric of reality.
- What we perceive as reality is only a canvas waiting
for us to draw upon it any picture we want. Anything is possible, from
bending spoons with the power of the mind to the phantasmagoric events
experienced by Castaneda during his encounters with the Yaqui brujo don
Juan, for magic is our birthright, no more or less miraculous than our
ability to compute the reality we want when we are in our dreams.
- Indeed, even our most fundamental notions about reality
become suspect, for in a holographic universe, as Pribram has pointed out,
even random events would have to be seen as based on holographic principles
and therefore determined. Synchronicities or meaningful coincidences suddenly
makes sense, and everything in reality would have to be seen as a metaphor,
for even the most haphazard events would express some underlying symmetry.
- Whether Bohm and Pribram's holographic paradigm becomes
accepted in science or dies an ignoble death remains to be seen, but it
is safe to say that it has already had an influence on the thinking of
many scientists. And even if it is found that the holographic model does
not provide the best explanation for the instantaneous communications that
seem to be passing back and forth between subatomic particles, at the very
least, as noted by Basil Hiley, a physicist at Birbeck College in London,
Aspect's findings "indicate that we must be prepared to consider radically
new views of reality".