Tuesday, May 29, 2007
It’s not Einstein’s cosmological constant blunder or fruitless pursuit of a theory of everything that is Einstein’s error.
It’s his relativity “proof” that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light; the idea that mass becomes infinite when one approaches the speed of light and thus makes travel over 186,000 miles per second (299,792,458 meters per second) impossible.
Of course Einstein allowed for perturbations in his theory but the light constant became an idée fixe that is in error.
Quantum particles can travel faster than light, as can “information,” but what about matter that is overt?
Depending upon one’s location in the Universe, one will find light traveling at varying speeds, and very likely faster than 186,000 miles per second.
Moreover, Einstein’s concept of warped space – the curvature imposed upon it by gravitational force – allows the possibility that a space traveler can go from Point A to Point B, following the curve of space faster than a space traveler going from Point A to Point B along a linear path, with time being equal in both instances (since time is not altered by the curvature or straight-line travel (in a vacuum).
Here are some papers (in PDF format) outlining various theses or speculations about faster than light parameters:
As you can see, Einstein’s concept has to be re-configured, just as Newton’s theories needed to be reconfigured by Einstein’s ruminations.
This is the way it is in physics (and science generally): the “facts” of an era will be changed, inexorably, by new discoveries that show up every time new tools (not new thoughts!) become available – such as the Hubble telescope or the WMAP and Planck satellites.
Einstein’s formulae helped create the atom bomb, but limited conjecture about space travel to the farthest galaxies; Einstein’s proscription about the light limit squelched any practical considerations about exploring the Universe, and even tamped down travel within our Solar System.
While we admire – even adulate – Einstein, he was, like the greats before him, in error, about the limit on faster than the speed of light travel.
(Also see Joao Magueijo’s book, Faster Than the Speed of Light, Arrow Publishing, 2004.)
Thursday, May 24, 2007
While quantum mechanics and the theories that pertain insist that, at the micro-level of reality, observations (measurements) of events alter those events, and the outcomes are uncertain (Wigner, Wheeler, and Heisenberg), the same holds true for the macro-world.
That is, if one observes (measures by experiment) something, anything in the overt world, everyday life or the Universe even, that something is altered by the observation (the measurement, the experiment).
Therefore, when cosmologists attack, by theory and/or observation, Dark Matter, Dark Energy, black holes, novae, and anything else in the Universe, the thing observed or theorized about is altered, in some way, by the theorizing or observation.
Thus, we contend, that if the Universe is, in its totality, the Ineffable God – the ultimate Singularity (despite the many disparate elements) – is observed/measured, it, the Universe or God, will be affected by that distinct conscious effort directed towards it.
This is why we’ve always maintained that Herman Melville’s monumental masterpiece Moby Dick is the greatest work of literature as it discloses the exact nature (essence) of God, the Universe in our reckoning.
Moby Dick is oblivious to mankind, cloistered, usually, in the depths of the immense voids of the seas.
However, when Moby Dick is sought out, as he is in the [theological] tome, by Ahab and his whalers, that seeking (observation, measurement) causes Moby Dick’s nature to come full force into the “upper world” where the Evil essence of the Great White Whale is made manifest. (See our previous post about Dark Matter/Energy and its Id-like construct.)
Melville isn’t alone in discerning the Evil nature of God (the Universe), but he is the only writer who makes the Evil palpable, and with a poetic metaphor that clarifies for some what we as human beings are dealing with existentially.
But what does this have to do with cosmology, or the pursuit of quantum and macro-realities?
Our continuing point is that scientists (physicists, cosmologists, astronomers, et al.) alter reality when they measure (observe) it, or even think about it, by using mathematics or other conscious hypotheses.
Measuring and mapping the background microwave radiation of the Universe, using the WMAP and Planck satellites, alters that radiation, so that its absolute essence is disturbed, at least to the mappers.
Just as space-time is relative, reality is relative, and quantum experimentation verifies that relativity.
So how can one know what the true essence of the Universe (or God) is?
At this point, no one can. The Universe is “ineffable” – incomprehensible for all practical purposes, as we keep noting.
Then what is the point, of scientific inquiry particularly? It satiates curiosity, but doesn’t produce much more.
Yet, in the absence of other serious mental gymnastics, scientific methodology isn’t so bad, but its lack of integration with non-scientific disciplines, such as mythology, theology, and aspects of mysticism makes it a poor step-sister to the pursuit of truth, the real reality, hinted at by Plato, and engaged in by such dignitaries as Meister Eckhart, Gurdjieff, Carl Jung, and even William James, among others.
As promised, that’s where we’ll be going next….
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Let’s assume that the Ineffability (God) is the Universe (pantheism) or is the integral force, maybe the controlling force, within the Universe (panentheism).
This shouldn’t aggrieve physicists, especially those of an atheistic bent, nor should it irritate those who believe in God generally. It might, however, disturb those who have faith in a personal God, and His offspring, Jesus/Christ.
But all that aside, we conjecture that the Ineffability is real, tangible, the Totality of existence, and evidenced as the Universe.
Whether or not the Ineffability is conscious, in the way we understand consciousness, that is another matter (which we shall address again upcoming).
But what is the exact nature of the Ineffability, the essence, which transcends existence?
Dark Matter and Dark Energy are intrinsic elements in the nature of the
And it’s those elements we’ll deal with here for now, delineating the other aspects, the less dynamic aspects of the Ineffability later on.
Probing Dark Energy using Bayesian “evidence” (as some physicists suggest) or applying a new cosmological constant doesn’t tell anyone what the true nature of Dark Energy is.
The analogy might be a palm-reader providing “insights” to one’s fate and psyche when a psychoanalyst is really required.
Bouncing theories and mathematical equations off the reality of Dark Matter and/or Dark Energy does nothing but establish a veneer that is superficial in the extreme.
Yes, the façade of both Dark Matter and Dark Energy are addressed by cosmological meanderings but the actual nature of each mysterious structure – and they are structures, even though they appear amorphous to observation – is not discerned by mathematical wizardry.
Let’s use psychoanalytic constructs to make our point…
The Universe – the Ineffability – is made up of 4% visible matter and energy, Michio Kaku tells us, 23% Dark Matter, and 73% Dark Energy.
In psychoanalytic parlance the visible matter/energy would be the superego (4%), Dark Matter the ego (23%), and the Id (73%), which coincides with our “hypothesis” that God, the Ineffability, is pirmarily primitive, or Evil – using Evil in the theological sense as the absence of Good.
This would explain the crushing plights that afflict mankind: childhood disease and death, terminal illnesses for the mature, old age, and ultimately death, among others.
(Wars, genocide, murders and the like are not natural occurrences so one can’t blame God or nature for them.)
Now if Dark Energy is likened to the Id, one can approach its nature much as a psychoanalyst would conduct a session with a neurotic individual.
(Psychoanalysis can’t address psychosis, practitioners say, so if God – the Ineffability – is psychotic as Dawkins intuits, the metaphorical psychoanalytic quest would be futile; but let us proceed as if psychosis is not the underlying nature of the Universe, or God.)
The Id is uncontrollable said Freud, and Jung concurred pretty much. But both thought that it could be ameliorated, by various techniques, all of which wouldn’t work with the Universe obviously but do provide a template for understanding the inherent nature of the Universe.
Dark Energy, the Universe’s Id, can barely be avoided, but it can be, to some extent, by ignoring it, as Melville suggests in Moby Dick when the White Whale (Evil God) is innocuous until hunted down by Ahab.
Can the nature of the Universe’s Id be understood completely? We think so, if one applies the analogy we provide here: the Id is primitive, Evil, but for all practical purposes benign as far as humankind is concerned.
If Kaku’s (among others) hypothetical proposition that perhaps cultures trillion of years old, from other Universes – he posits many Universes existing in parallel with this one – mastered the way to intrude on our Universe (to escape the ultimate death of their Universe), then their must be an Ineffability (God) that is their Universe, or is an integral part of it, the controlling part.
(Mormon theolgy claims that each Latter Day Saint, if virtuous – or not – will become a God for some part of the Universe; not just symbolically but in total, tangible reality.)
So we’re dealing with the Ineffability (God) of this Universe to which we are tethered. And our Ineffability (God) has a major component that is Dark (or Evil), as the Gnostics believed, and as historical evidence seem to indicate also.
God is impotent perhaps in that He or It cannot thwart physical disasters that have plagued mankind since the beginning of creation.
Or God is malevolent and purposefully wrathful.
Dark Matter and Dark Energy either represent a malevolent force or a benign but perhaps ultimately dangerous force.
Searching for clues to the nature of Dark Matter and Dark Energy lies not in science but mythology, religious revelations, and historical occurrences which are not attributable to man (such as natural disasters).
However, science has made obvious the Dark Nature of the Universe (our Ineffability or God).
Thus, it now becomes necessary to address that Dark Nature, if possible, in such a way as to alter it or to find ways to avoid it, and its potentially disastrous denouement.
To do that we’ll have to go into the mystical realm. (Science and its incantations, mathematical gyrations, are mystical in their own way, just not useful for humankind, except in the abstract, which isn’t beneficial to physical life, on Earth, now.)
And that’s where we’ll go next….to the mystical realms, with help from some physicists who do not find mysticism anathema to science. Michio Kaku is one….
Monday, May 21, 2007
If Universe is God (pantheism), and if God contains, as Jung suggests, an evil or malevolent nature, then Dark Matter, Dark Energy, even Black Holes, are attributes of that malevolent aspect of God.
Michio Kaku approaches this in his book Parallel Worlds [Doubleday, NY, 2005] but Kaku doesn’t succumb to theological conjecture, merely outlining what some theologians and God-devotees believe.
However, the “fact” that physicists haven’t a clue as to what Dark Matter and Dark Energy are, as Kaku admits, indicates that the God-Enigma isn’t any stranger than the Dark Matter/Dark Energy enigmas, and each enigma is grist for evaluation, with the Dark enigmas getting attention from cosmologists and scientists only because they have tools and mechanisms (such as mathematics) to address the Dark enigmas but no tools or mechanisms to address the God-Enigma.
No reasonable person would tackle a seemingly insurmountable problem, such as that which posits an unfathomable supreme being who is hidden from view and ratiocination.
Whereas the nature of Dark Matter and Dark Energy seems open to scrutiny, even though how that scrutiny is to be employed remains a mystery also.
Here are several papers [PDFs] about Dark Matter and Dark Energy, showing the perplexity (for physicists) of the mysterious entities – Click to read:
Dark Matter and Dark Energy
Dark Matter and Dark Energy: The Critical Questions
Dark Energy: Mystery of the Millennium
Insights into Dark Energy: Interplay Between Theory and Observation
Towards a Natural Theory of Dark Energy…
Dark Energy and the Preposterous Universe
The Fate of (phantom) Dark Energy Universe with String Curvature Corrections
A Phantom Menace?
Phantom Energy and Cosmic Doomsday
How do we connect Dark Matter and Dark Energy with the “hidden” and Evil side of the Godhead?
We’ll go into that, next……
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The esteemed polymath Arthur Koestler wrote this [in the late 60s]….
The citadel of science…rests on a number of impressive pillars, but some of them are beginning to show cracks and turn out to be hollow, or reveal themselves as monumental superstitions. The most important among them I have called “the four pillars of unwisdom.” They represent the doctrines:
(a) that biological evolution is the result of nothing but random mutations preserved by natural selection;
(b) that mental evolution is the result of nothing but random tries preserved by reinforcements;
(c) that all organisms, including man, are nothing but passive automata, controlled by the environment, whose sole purpose in life is the reduction of tensions by adaptive responses;
(d) that the only scientific method worth that name is quantitative measurement; and, consequently, that complex phenomenon must be reduced to simple elements accessible to such treatment, without undue worry whether the specific characteristics of a complex phenomenon, for instance man, may be lost in the process.
The common element in these four fallacies is the philosophy of Reductionism…which holds that all human activities can be reduced to (explained by) the elementary responses” displayed by lower animals (such as the psychologist’s laboratory rat) and that these responses in turn can be reduced to elementary physico-chemical laws.*
* Pages 200-201 in The Encyclopedia of Delusions (Nothing but….?), Edited by Ronald Duncan and Miranda Weston-Smith [A Wallaby Book, Simon and Schuster, NY, 1979]
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Heini Halberstam, in the Chapter “Some Unsolved Problems of Higher Arithmetic” [Pages 191-203 in The Encyclopedia of Ignorance, Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1977], writes this:
“Turning to numbers that are the sums of two squares, these are only a littlem ore common than the primes…, and very little indeed is known about their finer distribution. For example, it is almost trivial to see that there is always such a number between n and n + n¼, yet literally nothing better is known…” [Page 201]
And this [ibid]:
“We know that, in a certain precise sense, most numbers are transcendental, yet the problem of deciding whether a given number is transcendental is profoundly difficult.” [Page 201]
Roger Penrose, in the same book, Chapter “Is Nature Complex?” [Page 160] writes:
“Though Nature [sic] is undoubtedly subtle, she is surely not malicious. This, at least, we have on the authority of Einstein…
That Nature can be usefully described, at least to a considerable degree according to the laws of number, has been in evidence for many centuries. But what is not so familiar to those without a mathematical background is that are several different kinds of number, many of which are nevertheless subject to the same arithmetical laws.”
Arithmetic (mathematics), in all its permutations, represents a reality that is as abstract and intangible as the theology of Jesuits. But it has “proofs” which theology does not.
Pi is infinite, and can be (almost) proven to be so. God is infinite, but there is no proof, so far, that can establish that “fact of faith.”
Mathematicians, and their lackeys (which we mean descriptively not pejoratively), including physicists, resort to the “provable” abstractions of arithmetic to resolve issues of physical reality that belie the meta-reality, even though it appears – and we use the word “appears” advisedly – that physicists, cosmologists, and their ilk, are dealing with the meta-reality. (They are not.)
Psychiatry would call the mathematician’s province that place where they (mathematicians) go to escape from the world. It’s not just an escape from the practical reality of life – the vicissitudes of daily living; it’s an escape into a contrived reality that pretends to cope with profound issues affecting mankind.
But what are mankind’s ills that physical laws address? Hunger? Poverty? War? Disease? What?
When theologians tackle the idea of God and/or morality, they are net with opprobrium by scientists, generally.
But when science addresses issues that are not biological, geologic or in ways that are not beneficial to the plight of humankind, such as quantum physics, string theory, and all the other subsets of physics, no one (or rarely anyone) reproaches them, and they win Nobel and other prizes.
We don’t deny that the study of the transcendental ether is important -- some saying that it may even lead to the discovery of God.
But it seems strange that so many scientists, who don’t believe in God or a hereafter, would spend so much time and effort on the curiosities of the Universe which, for them, has bearing on their eventual physical mouldering….unless….unless they, deep down, want to prove that there is a God, or a life after this one, or something more than what we perceive as the human, sensory reality. (But that for another time.)
When one studies the laws of harmony and musical theory itself, the end result may end up being a Beethoven symphony or a Beatle tune.
When one studies art – color, perspective, form, et cetera – one may produce a painting, as that by Monet, Titian, or Hockney.
And if one studies literary manuals, one might even create a work of fiction (or non-fiction) like that of Shakespeare, Gogol ,or Updike.
Those endeavors please the senses, and bring pleasure to an existence which is sometimes fraught with horrors of subtle or unimaginable kinds.
But what about mathematics, sometimes elegant in their construction? What sensory pleasures to they provide?
Yes, they stimulate the mind, so we give them that. And such stimulation can be quite as wonderful as that which one gets by looking at a Van Gogh painting, hearing a Verdi opera, or reading a Eco novel.
But is mathematical stimulation as glorious as sensory stimulation? For some it is, but for the rest of us, it isn’t.
Thus, we see the pursuit of mathematics and physics, not so much as a useful mental endeavor but, rather, as an escape into and from the delectabilities of things mundane, but oh so very delicious mundanities.
And so we’ll address here, some of those delights that assuage the humdrummery of everyday life, and even the stilt of mathematics that afflicts us, and almost everyone else we know….so that we might pursue the ultimate question: Not what does reality consist of but why are we here?
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Richard Dawkins’ insightful book The Blind Watchmaker aside, believers in an Intelligent Designer of the Universe, and mankind (God apparently) have to concede that creation has been not only murky but also a bit psychotic.
The process of creation begins with the Big Bang (estimated to have taken place 13.7 billion years ago) and really gets underway for the eventual residents of Earth when the Earth is formed (about 4.57 billion years ago).
With the origin of bacteria and archaea 3.8 billion years ago, life on Earth began.
The “evolution” of life -- various plants, insects, mammals, and dinosaurs – took various paths that Darwin’s Origin of Species recounts, and the hominid ancestors of man appeared (Sahelanthropus tchadensis: Toumai), 7 million years ago.
Now the question to ask is what were all the permutations about? What Designer, intelligent or otherwise, would hem-haw around so diligently, seemingly experimenting with life-forms, before coming up with the species (man) that is supposedly the Designer’s masterwork?
But let’s go back a bit….
Dawkins and his ilk give enhanced purposefulness (Chance by any other name) the accolades for the Big Bang and subsequently the evolution of life on Earth, culminating in man.
The theory that Darwin proposed and his supporters tout is fascinating but contrived. Yes, the process of evolution is scientifically sound, but putting all of the processes in place, from the Big Bang through the dynamics of the geologic ages, to man, is really a stretch. Too many things had to adapt to too many natural vicissitudes to make sense.
That’s why Creationists and fellow travelers (proponents of Intelligent Design) still get text-book space in some quarters.
However, believers in an Intelligent Designer have to admit (or should) that the folly of their Designer is palpable, if one examines the evidence, and we’re not taking about the fossil evidence.
What, for example, was the purpose of the dinosaur eras, and the eventual extinction if the Designer had some ultimate plan in mind?
Either the Designer is operating with a plan that was and remains an enigma to rational beings, or the essence of the Designer is madness. (Yes, we mean essence, in the Thomistic sense.)
Dawkins’ proposal [The God Delusion] that the God of faith was (and is) a psychopath goes to the heart of the matter.
Either we have Darwin’s quasi-rational explanation for life (evolution) or we have an Instigator (God or the Intelligent Designer) that has created in fits and starts, indicating that the Mind of the Instigator is overly convoluted or seriously flawed.
How can reasonable people come together, philosophically, when their choices or belief systems are contrary in ways that seem insurmountable?
The Intelligent Designer is quirky, maybe even insane, while Darwin and his supporters maintain evolution is the only way that life can be explained.
The clue may reside in a the mystery of DNA, which forms life on its own, and was put in place by a prime mover, one with consciousness, or one without.
But that for another time….
Friday, May 11, 2007
The concept of the lucky coin, as Philip J. Davis and Reuben Hersh dub the coin-flip in their book, The Mathematical Experience [Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1981, Pages 163-8, and online] bumps up against order and chaos, and Chaos [ibid, Pages 172-9].
The mathematics of probability, and the mathematics of Chaos Theory, are contrivances, as all mathematical constructs are. The mathematical edifice helps some thinkers create a manageable universe, an ordered reality that they can cope with, psychologically more than anything.
The randomness of the Universe is palpable. Luck, whatever it is, seems bidden to hit haphazardly, affecting all kinds of persons, with no rhyme or reason, and without a nod to virtue, vice, or any other human characteristic.
But scientists – cosmologists, physicists, and others (as we continue to note here) – seek to provide order, by using mathematical theorems and symbols. Or at least they wish to heap the mantle of order on the mess that is reality.
The Greeks thought they had reality down pat, but it was only Plato who understood that a real reality existed that we humans could not actually see (looking a glass darkly as St. Paul had it) or experience.
St. Thomas Aquinas got a peek, and gave up writing his theological treatises (Cosmic Consciousness as Richard Maurice Bucke elucidates in his famous book by that title, without citing Aquinas’ incident however).
Mathematics won’t and can’t accommodate that other, real reality. Math, as we keep writing, is its own reality, but has nothing to do with the Platonic reality, nor the Jungian reality (which we’ll address later on here).
But back to the Coin of Tyche, the lucky coin.
If one tries to impose order on coin tosses, even hoping that chaos will eventually produce that order, they will have an eternal wait on their hands.
The universe doesn’t work (and hasn’t worked) that way, ever.
The Copernican/Newton system(s), even the great Einstein’s theory of how things are, cannot broach the luck, good or bad, that the Goddess Tyche represented.
Gravity, for instance, works at local and galactic levels. But gravity may not (and probably does not) work in the recesses of black holes or the universes they (may) lead to.
Quantum mechanics provide an environment to Plato’s cave in The Republic, where hints at the ultimate reality are quirked by uncertainty and local and non-local quantum repercussions.
But it’s the luck of the draw, not mathematics, that will open the door to that ultimate reality, just as the apple falling led Newton to formulate the quasi-reality of gravity.
And that luck is not predictable or calculable.
As for the long-range order out of chaos, who has the time or patience to wait it out?
It’s not a matter of wanting instant gratification. It’s a matter of “life is short.”
Math is a plaything of scientists, no matter how couched the processes and formulae are in the usual pedantic overlay.
Math can’t help us, scientists and everyone else, understand the reality that Plato envisioned or that Aquinas actually experienced.
Scientists can pretend that math is the doorway to the truth of existence but that is a monumental canard, ballyhooed by persons who can’t face the prospect of a meta-incongruity – in the universe, in physical laws, in life itself.
(Maybe that’s why they take it out on a deity who has been no help either.)
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Charles Ives’ pithy philosophical musical construction, The Unanswered Question, sums up mankind’s existential predicament.
Ives does, in six minutes or so, what Aristotle, Kant, Heidegger, Sartre, Einstein, Bohr, Sutton, Smolin, Dawkins, et alii have not done: explain the human condition as it simply is – man is mysteriously marooned on Earth with no map telling him where he really is, where he is going, and why (or why not).
The questions posed by humans go unanswered, by the gods (as Ives intimates) and unanswered by the sages of our time and those of the past.
What is the purpose of being?
What is consciousness?
Does man have immortality, in some form?
What is the nature of the Universe?
Is there a God?
Is there no God?
What are the ultimate components of reality?
(Who wrote Shakespeare’s plays?)
What are strings? And do they matter?
Speaking of matter, what is Dark Matter?
What is Dark Energy?
What causes Black Holes? (We mean what really causes Black Holes?)
Where’s the Missing Link?
(What happened to Amelia Earhart?)
(What happened to Ambrose Bierce?)
Where does the Universe End, “geographically”?
When does the Universe end, time-wise?
Why are quantum particles (or waves) uncertain?
Did the Big Bang occur or not?
Well, the questions go on and on, as Ives’ little opus harmonically states.
And there have been and are no answers, none readily available anyway. But the scientific and philosophical poseurs continue to seek them, and for that we are grateful, are we not?