Bohm's ontological interpretation of quantum physics rejects the assumption that the wave function gives the most complete description of reality possible, and thereby avoids the need to introduce the ill-defined and unsatisfactory notion of wave-function collapse (and all the paradoxes that go with it). Instead, it assumes the real existence of particles and fields: particles have a complex inner structure and are always accompanied by a quantum wave field; they are acted upon not only by classical electromagnetic forces but also by a subtler force, the quantum potential, determined by their quantum field, which obeys Schrodinger's equation. (Bohm & Hiley, 1993; Bohm & Peat, 1989; Hiley & Peat, 1991 )
The quantum potential carries information from the whole environment and provides direct, nonlocal connections among quantum systems. It guides particles in the same way that radio waves guide a ship on automatic pilot_not by its intensity but by its form. It is extremely sensitive and complex, so that particle trajectories appear chaotic. It corresponds to what Bohm calls the implicate order, which can be thought of as a vast ocean of energy on which the physical, or explicate, world is just a ripple. Bohm points out that the existence of an energy pool of this kind is recognized, but given little consideration, by standard quantum theory, which postulates a universal quantum field_the quantum vacuum or zero-point field_underlying the material world. Very little is known about the quantum vacuum at present, but its energy density is estimated to be an astronomical 10^108 J/cm3 (Forward, 1996, pp. 328-37).
In his treatment of quantum field theory, Bohm proposes that the quantum field (the implicate order) is subject to the formative and organizing influence of a super-quantum potential, which expresses the activity of a super- implicate order. The super-quantum potential causes waves to converge and diverge again and again, producing a kind of average particle-like behavior. The apparently separate forms that we see around us are therefore only relatively stable and independent patterns, generated and sustained by a ceaseless underlying movement of enfoldment and unfoldment, with particles constantly dissolving into the implicate order and then re-crystallizing. This process takes place incessantly, and with incredible rapidity, and is not dependent upon a measurement being made.
The possible existence of subtler planes interpenetrating the physical plane is at any rate open to investigation (see Tiller, 1993), and this is more than can be said for the hypothetical extra dimensions postulated by superstring theory which are said to be curled up in an area a billion-trillion-trillionth of a centimeter across and therefore completely inaccessible, or the hypothetica' baby universes and bubble universes postulated by some cosmologists which are said to exist in some equally inaccessible dimension.
The hypothesis of super-physical realms does not seem to be favored by many researchers. Edgar Mitchell (1996), for example, believes that all psychic phenomena involve nonlocal resonance between the brain and the quantum vacuum, and consequent access to holographic, nonlocal information. Ir his view, this hypothesis could explain not only PK and ESP, but also out-of-body and near-death experiences, visions and apparitions, and evidence usually cited in favor of a reincarnating soul. He admits that this theory is speculative, unvalidated, and may require new physics.