No Single, Concrete Reality

In 2005, a student working in the fluid physicist Yves Couder’s laboratory in Paris discovered by chance that tiny oil droplets bounced when plopped onto the surface of a vibrating oil bath. Moreover, as the droplets bounced, they started to bunny-hop around the liquid’s surface. Couder soon figured out that the droplets were “surfing on their own wave,” as he put it — kicking up the wave as they bounced and then getting propelled around by the slanted contours of the wave.

As he watched the surfing droplets, Couder realized that they exactly embodied an early, largely forgotten vision of the quantum world devised by the French physicist Louis de Broglie.

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