PHYSICAL SCIENCES

Physics


MY MATRICULATION PHYSICS

I had one critical experience that defined the direction I was to go in for my five years of post-secondary school, university and college years. That critical experience defined whether I was to go into the sciences or the arts, medicine or law, or just carry-on doing one or more of the kinds of jobs I had had each summer for a decade: 1953 to 1963.  That experience was my unsuccessful effort to grasp matriculation physics. From early September to some time in November 1962, I tried to disentangle the mysteries of physics in the grade 13 course in Ontario's secondary school system. The difficulties associated with acceleration due to gravity, speeds of 32 feet per second per second, et cetera, were beyond me. I must have spent an average of an hour each night in my homework sessions for nearly three months doing the physics 'problems' assigned by my grade 13 physics teacher.  By mid-November, I realized that if I kept the physics subject I would fail, and I would have to spend another year in high school before continuing to university.

By November 1962 I knew that I was not going to pass physics, if I stayed in that course, so I switched to history several weeks before the Christmas exam. I got the highest mark in the class in history, an 80, and I never attended one class. This seemed to confirm to me that the arts, and not the sciences, was the direction of my career.  I entered university eight months later in September of 1963 in an arts degree program.   Without physics in my grade 13 exam results, when they came out in June 1963, for that matriculation year in Ontario, the entire world of the sciences, medicine and law, were just not available for me to pursue due to the entrance requirements which I did not and could not meet.

A review: "The New Atheism, Reconsidered,"  Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston

Settings/Ron/Documents/History-Writings/God_Delusion_Review

A USEFUL PHYSICS ONLINE SITE

This is a useful link to physics on the web: http://www.physics.org/index.asp

COSMOLOGY AND ELEMENTARY PARTICLE PHYSICS

Part 1:

In the past fifty years two large branches of physical science have each made a historic transition. I recall both cosmology and elementary particle physics in the early 1960s as cacophonies of competing conjectures.  By now in each case we have a widely accepted theory, known as a “standard model.”  Cosmology and elementary particle physics span a range from the largest to the smallest distances about which we have any reliable knowledge. The cosmologist looks out to a cosmic horizon, the farthest distance light could have traveled since the universe became transparent to light over ten billion years ago, while the elementary particle physicist explores distances much smaller than an atomic nucleus. Yet our standard models really work—they allow us to make numerical predictions of high precision, which turn out to agree with observation. Up to a point the stories of cosmology and particle physics can be told separately. In the end, though, they will come together.

Scientific cosmology got its start in the 1920s. It was discovered then that little clouds, always visible at fixed positions among the stars, are actually distant galaxies like our own Milky Way, each containing many billions of stars. Then it was found that these galaxies are all rushing away from us and from each other. For decades cosmological research consisted almost entirely of an attempt to pin down the rate of expansion of the universe, and to measure how it may be changing. 

Cosmology is the study of the origins and eventual fate of the universe. Physical cosmology is the scholarly and scientific study of the origin, evolution, structure, dynamics, and ultimate fate of the universe, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order. Religious cosmology, or mythological cosmology, is a body of beliefs based on the historical, mythological, religious, and esoteric literature as well as traditions of creation and eschatology. For more on this subject go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmology For more on these subjects go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/nov/07/physics-what-we-do-and-dont-know/

Part 2: PARTICLE PHYSICS

Particle physics is a branch of physics which studies the nature of particles that are the constituents of what is usually referred to as matter and radiation. In current understanding, particles are excitations of quantum fields and they interact following their dynamics. Although the word "particle" can be used in reference to many objects; for example, a proton, a gas particle, or even household dust, the term "particle physics" usually refers to the study of the fundamental objects of the universe. This involves the study of fields that must be defined in order to explain the observed particles. They cannot be defined by a combination of other fundamental fields. The current set of fundamental fields and their dynamics are summarized in a theory called the Standard Model; therefore particle physics is largely the study of the Standard Model's particle content and its possible extensions. For more go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Particle_physics

ONE MAN'S VIEW OF CONTEMPORARY PHYSICS

Part 1:

The significance of Merleau-Ponty’s thinking in relation to contemporary physics is found below. Maurice Merleau-Ponty(1908-1961) was a French phenomenological philosopher, strongly influenced by Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. The constitution of meaning in human experience was his main interest; he wrote about perception, art and politics.  He was on the editorial board of Les Temps Modernes, the leftist magazine created by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1945. For more on this philosopher go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Merleau-Ponty

The point of departure for his views on physics is his 1956–57 Lectures on Nature given at the Collège de France. His reflections on the crisis in modern physics also appear in his book, The Visible and  the Invisible. This book contains the unfinished manuscript and working notes of the book Merleau-Ponty was writing when he died. The text is devoted to a critical examination of: Kantian, Husserlian, Bergsonian, and Sartrean method, followed by one extraordinary chapter, 'The Intertwining - The Chiasm, ' that reveals the central pattern of Merleau-Ponty's own thought. The working notes for the book provide the reader with a truly exciting insight into the mind of the philosopher at work as he refines and develops new pivotal concepts.

Part 1.1:

Developments in theoretical physics after his death, in the last half-century, are then explored and a deepening of the crisis is disclosed. The upshot is that physics’ intractable problems of uncertainty and subject-object interaction can only be addressed by shifting its philosophical base from objectivism to phenomenology. This was Merleau-Ponty's main point.  Merleau-Ponty’s allusion to “topological space” in The Visible & the Invisible provides a clue for bridging the gap between “hard science” and “soft philosophy.” This lead is pursued in the following paper by employing the paradoxical topology of the Klein bottle.  This will all be new to readers here.  His hope was that, by “softening” physics and “hardening” phenomenology, the “two cultures”, which were the concern of C.P. Snow, can be wed and a new kind of science be born. For more in relation to this subject go to: http://www.cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/viewFile/373/590

NEWTON AND MAX PLANK

Max Planck: The Tragic Choices by Freeman Dyson is a review(22/10/'15) in The New York Review of Books of Planck: Driven by Vision, Broken by War by Brandon R. Brown(Oxford University Press, 260 pages, 2015). Dyson begins: "In the summer of 1946, as soon as possible after the end of World War II, the Royal Society of London organized a celebration for the three hundredth birthday of Isaac Newton. Newton was born on Christmas Day 1642, laid the foundations of modern physics with his masterpiece, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, in 1686, and served as president of the Royal Society from 1703 until his death in 1727. The birthday party had been postponed because of the war. Surviving in the ruins of defeated Germany were many distinguished scientists, all of them loyal to their country and many of them tainted by active collaboration with the Nazi regime. The Royal Society invited only one man to represent Germany at the celebration. The chosen representative, serving as a symbol of the glorious past and the tragic downfall of German science, was Max Planck." Dyson contines:

"Planck was then eighty-eight years old, devoting the last years of his life to the rebuilding of German science. When he entered the auditorium at the Newton celebration, the leaders of British science gave him long and emotional applause. He had laid the foundations of quantum theory with his masterpiece, the paper “On the Theory of the Energy Distribution Law of the Normal Spectrum,” in 1900, and had served as president of the Prussian Academy of Sciences, the German equivalent of the Royal Society. In that paper he had explained the observed intensity of light of various colors emitted from the surfaces of hot objects at various temperatures. His explanation involved a new and revolutionary idea: that energy could move around only in little packets rather than continuously. The little packets were later called quanta, and Planck’s idea was called quantum theory. Planck’s quantum theory and Einstein’s theory of relativity became the twin foundation stones on which the science of the twentieth century was built." For more go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2015/oct/22/max-planck-tragic-choices/


PHYSICS AND TIME

What is time? Nothing but a fourth dimension, after length, breadth, and thicknesS. The geometry taught in school needs revision. “Now, it is very remarkable that this is so extensively overlooked…. There is no difference between Time and any of the three dimensions of Space except that our consciousness moves along it.”  H.G. Wells didn’t make this up. It was in the air, the kind of thing bruited by students in the debating society of the Royal College of Science. But no one had made the case as persuasively as he did in 1895, by way of trying to gin up a plausible plot device in a piece of fantastic storytelling.

Albert Einstein was then just a boy at gymnasium. Not till 1908 did the German mathematician Hermann Minkowski announce his “radical” idea that space and time were a single entity: “Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.” So spacetime was born. In spacetime all events are baked together, a four-dimensional continuum. Past and future are no more privileged than left and right or up and down. The time dimension only looks special for the reason Wells mentioned: our consciousness is involved. We have a limited perspective. At any instant we see only a slice of the loaf, a puny three-dimensional cross-section of the whole. For the modern physicist, reality is the whole thing, past and future joined in a single history.

The sensation of now is just that, a sensation, and different for everyone. Instead of one master clock, we have clocks in multitudes. And other paraphernalia, too: light cones and world lines and time-like curves and other methods for charting the paths of light and objects through this four-dimensional space. To say that the spacetime view of reality has empowered the physicists of the past century would be an understatement. For more on this theme in a review of Lee Smolin's book: Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe in the 6 June 2013 issue of The New York Review of Books go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/jun/06/time-regained/





EVERYTHING AND NOTHING



On 10/05/2014 Everything And Nothing was broadcasted on SBS2.  The first part, Everything, sees Professor Al-Khalili set out to discover what the universe might actually look like. The journey takes him from the distant past to the boundaries of the known universe. Along the way he charts the remarkable stories of the men and women who discovered the truth about the cosmos and investigates how our understanding of space has been shaped by both mathematics and astronomy. 

Jim Al-Khalili OBE(b. September 1962) is an Iraqi-born British theoretical physicist, author and broadcaster. He is currently Professor of Theoretical Physics and Chair in the Public Engagement in Science at the University of Surrey. He has hosted several BBC productions about science and is a frequent commentator about science in other British media. In 2014 Al-Khalili was named as a member of RISE, Recognising Inspirational Scientists and Engineers. He is also the leader by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). For more on Al-Khalili go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Al-Khalili

Nothing is the second part, Part 2 of 2 of this BBC doco.  In this intriguing documentary Professor Jim Al-Khalili explores science at the very limits of human perception, where we now understand the deepest mysteries of the universe lie. Jim sets out to answer one very simple question - what is nothing? His journey ends with perhaps the most profound insight about reality that humanity has ever made. Everything came from nothing. The quantum world of the super-small shaped the vast universe we inhabit today, and Jim can prove it.  You, too, can watch the latest and all other episodes of Everything And Nothing now online, broadcasted on SBS 2. For more details go to:http://docuwiki.net/index.php?title=Everything_and_Nothing#Further_Information

MICHAEL FARADAY

Michael Faraday(1791-1867) was an English scientist. As a chemist, Faraday discovered benzene, investigated the clathrate hydrate of chlorine, invented an early form of the Bunsen burner and the system of oxidation numbers, and popularised terminology such as anode, cathode, electrode, and ion. Faraday ultimately became the first and foremost Fullerian Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, a lifetime position. He also contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include those of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis. Although Faraday received little formal education he was one of the most influential scientists in history.

It was by his research on the magnetic field around a conductor carrying a direct current that Faraday established the basis for the concept of the electromagnetic field in physics. Faraday also established that magnetism could affect rays of light and that there was an underlying relationship between the two phenomena. He similarly discovered the principle of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism, and the laws of electrolysis. His inventions of electromagnetic rotary devices formed the foundation of electric motor technology, and it was largely due to his efforts that electricity became practical for use in technology.

Faraday's 6 volumes of letters, 1811 to 1867, make an interesting backdrop to his work in the sciences. The Correspondence of Michael Faraday Vol. VI, 1860-67 by Frank James was published in 2011. At 919 pages it completes the set of 6 volumes. The dominant topic of the 1860s, covering nearly 40% of the letters, is Faraday’s involvement with the lighthouse service. It was this service as it related to his advice to Trinity House and the Board of Trade. The matters of concern were electric light and the controversial issue of fog signals. Also detailed in these letters is the complex process by which his various posts were transferred to John Tyndall.  Similar issues existed with Faraday’s gradual withdrawal from his duties at the Royal Institution, including the misguided attempt to make him President. Running through many of the letters are comments on his declining health and impending death in the 8th year of that decade, the 1860s. For more on Faraday go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Faraday

HOW SMALL IS THE UNIVERSE?

A series of science documentaries, hosted by John Hannah, was published by the BBC and broadcasted as part of BBC Horizon series in 2012. I watched one of the series, a doco on 13/1/'14 at 8:30 p.m. on SBSONE TV.  It was called: How Small Is the Universe? This doco plunges down the biggest rabbit-hole in history in search of the smallest thing in the universe. It is a journey where things don't just become smaller, but they also become a whole lot weirder. Scientists hope to catch a glimpse of miniature black holes, multiple dimensions and even parallel universes. As they start to explore this wonderland, where nothing is quite what it seems, they may have to rewrite the fundamental laws of time and space.

Elementary particles are particles with no measurable internal structure; that is, they are not composed of other particles. They are the fundamental objects of quantum field theory. Many families and sub-families of elementary particles exist. Elementary particles are classified according to their spin. Fermions have half-integer spin while bosons have integer spin. All the particles of the Standard Model have been experimentally observed, recently including the Higgs boson. For a list of the different types of particles found, or believed to exist, in the whole of the universe, see the individual pages at this link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_particles

For a series of related docos: Richard Hammond Builds a Planet, How Big is the Universe? Wonders of the Universe, Hubble: A Look into the Universe, The Expanding Universe, The Elegant Universe, A Tour of the Universe, and Extreme Universe...go to:http://docuwiki.net/index.php?title=How_Small_is_the_Universe%3F#Related_Documentaries

THE OBSERVABLE UNIVERSE

The observable universe consists of the galaxies and other matter that can, in principle, be observed from Earth in the present day because light (or other signals) from those objects has had time to reach the Earth since the beginning of the cosmological expansion. Assuming the universe is isotropic, the distance to the edge of the observable universe is roughly the same in every direction. That is, the observable universe is a spherical volume (a ball) centered on the observer, regardless of the shape of the universe as a whole. Every location in the universe has its own observable universe, which may or may not overlap with the one centered on Earth.

'You'll never get your head around how big the universe is,' warns astronomer Pete Edwards of the University of Durham in this film about measuring astronomical distances. 'There are as many stars in the universe as there are grains of sand on the Earth.' So how far is a light year? And supposing our galaxy were the size of a grain of sand, how big would the universe be? Go to this link for a visual, a video, of this subject:http://www.theguardian.com/science/video/2013/feb/11/how-big-universe-sand-video1 For more on this subject go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observable_universe

BIOCENTRISM

Part 1:

A book titled Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the Nature of the Universe has stirred up the Internet. This stirring is due to the fact that the book contained a notion that life does not end when the body dies, and it can last forever. The author of this publication, scientist Dr. Robert Lanza who was voted the 3rd most important scientist alive by the NY Times, has no doubts that this is possible.

Lanza is an expert in regenerative medicine and scientific director of Advanced Cell Technology Company. Before he has been known for his extensive research which dealt with stem cells, he was also famous for several successful experiments on cloning endangered animal species. But not so long ago, he became involved with physics, quantum mechanics and astrophysics. This explosive mixture has given birth to the new theory of biocentrism which the professor has been preaching ever since.  Biocentrism teaches that life and consciousness are fundamental to the universe.  It is consciousness that creates the material universe, not the other way around.

Part 2:

Lanza points to the structure of the universe itself, and that the laws, forces, and constants of the universe appear to be fine-tuned for life, implying intelligence existed prior to matter.  He also claims that space and time are not objects or things, but rather tools of our animal understanding.  Lanza says that we carry space and time around with us “like turtles with shells.” meaning that when the shell comes off (space and time), we still exist.

The theory implies that death of consciousness simply does not exist.   It only exists as a thought because people identify themselves with their body. They believe that the body is going to perish, sooner or later, thinking their consciousness will disappear too.  If the body generates consciousness, then consciousness dies when the body dies.  But if the body receives consciousness in the same way that a cable box receives satellite signals, then of course consciousness does not end at the death of the physical vehicle. In fact, consciousness exists outside of constraints of time and space. It is able to be anywhere: in the human body and outside of it. In other words, it is non-local in the same sense that quantum objects are non-local.

Lanza also believes that multiple universes can exist simultaneously.  In one universe, the body can be dead. And in another it continues to exist, absorbing consciousness which migrated into this universe.  This means that a dead person while traveling through the same tunnel ends up not in hell or in heaven, but in a similar world he or she once inhabited, but this time alive. And so on, infinitely.  It’s almost like a cosmic Russian doll afterlife effect. For more go to:http://www.spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com/scientists-claim-that-quantum-theory-proves-consciousness-moves-to-another-universe-at-death/

HUMAN UNIVERSE: WITH BRIAN COX

Human Universe is a British television series broadcast on BBC Two, presented by Professor Brian Cox. For a detailed outline go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Universe Brian Cox  This 5-part series reveals how the wonderful complexity of nature and human life is simply the consequence of chance events constrained by the laws of physics that govern our universe. But this leads him to a deeper question - why does our universe seem to have been set up with just the right rules to create us? In a dizzying conclusion Brian unpicks this question, revealing the very latest understanding of how the universe came to be this way, and in doing so offers a radical new answer to why we are here. Professor Brian Cox also asks where are we in the Universe? What is our destiny and that of our planet? How did the human brain arise and why did we develop consciousness? Will our search for alien life be successful, or are we alone? The answers revealed in this landmark series offer an original new perspective on human life, combining dramatic specialist photography with innovative CGI all set in spectacular locations across the world as we explore the ultimate wonder of the universe – us.

Beginning in Ethiopia, Professor Brian Cox discovers how the universe played a key role in our ascent from apeman to spaceman by driving the expansion of our brains. But big brains alone did not get us to space. To reveal what did, Brian heads out of Africa to the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, where he unpicks the next part of our story – the birth of civilisation – and then on to Kazakhstan, where he witnesses the return of astronauts from space and explains what took us from civilisation to the stars. I have also placed this topic and this series in the evolution sub-section of my website at:http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/Evolution.html


THE BULLETIN OF THE ATOMIC SCIENTISTS: an autobiographical context

Soon after World War II some physicists founded a journal called The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. These physicists had been involved in the Manhattan Project, a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb,  The journal was aimed at promoting arms control. The logo on the cover of The Bulletin was a clock, the closeness of whose hands to midnight indicated the Editorial Board’s judgment on how precarious the world situation was. Every year or two, the minute hand was shifted, either forward or backward.  It was closest to midnight at the time of the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962 in the second month of my matriculation, the year to determine my university entrance, while I was trying quite desperately to understand the subject of physics.

In the summer of 1965 I had a job with the Canadian Peace Research Council in Dundas Ontario as an abstractor. Each day I had to take one issue of that journal, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and summarize on a card each of the articles and letters in that issue.  Although I had had little success in matriculation physics, and although I had studied physics in only one other course, and that was in grade 11, in 1961-62, I became more than a little familiar with issues involving atomic physics in that journal. The skills I needed to do that job were literary. I needed to be able to grasp the historical and political, psychological and sociological aspects of atomic physics. Most of the field of physics itself was not contained in those many articles I summarized that summer.

It was my first job as an abstractor, a role which has some similarities to the role of editor.  I was not to have a job as an editor until 1979 and, then, it was only for several months at what is now the University of Tasmania.  By August 1965 I had completed that abstracting job. I finished my jobs that summer at Stelco, now a part of the US Steel Canada, a steel company in Hamilton, as an electrician's assistant. My father died in May of 1965.   In August 1965 I left my home in Dundas for the second time. I moved above The Dundas Restaurant just around the corner from where I had lived with my parents until that summer after my father died.  My mother moved down the same street, and I had dinner with her occasionally that year.

WONDERS OF LIFE

Wonders of Life is a five-part television documentary series presented by physicist Professor Brian Cox. The series was produced by the BBC and the Chinese state television network CCTV-9.  The series began to be aired on 27 January 2013 on BBC Two, and on ABC1 in Australia five months later on 27/6/'13. 1.  Part 1 is entitled "What is Life?" 
Professor Brian Cox journeys to Southeast Asia to see how life began on Earth and how the flow of energy created and supports life.  In Part 2, the "Expanding Universe" Cox travels to the U.S. to showcase how the laws of science allowed senses to arise. For more details on this program-series go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonders_of_Life_%28TV_series%29   I could, and maybe I will, place this item in the chemistry and biology sub-sections of this website since the subject matter is relevant to all three disciplines.

PHYSICS, HEISENBERG AND THE BOMB

Did the German physicists make no atomic bombs during the Second World War because they wouldn’t or because they couldn’t? This is the question which Powers addresses in his extensive study of German atomic research: a question finally answered by the recent publication of the secretly recorded conversations between Heisenberg and the other German atomic physicists interned at Farm Hall, near Huntingdon, in the summer of 1945.

Heisenberg’s leading role among German physicists stems from the revolutionary mathematical theory which he formulated at the age of 24. Heisenberg was born in 1901 in Würzburg, the university town where Röntgen had discovered X-rays a few years earlier and where Heisenberg’s father was professor of Greek philology. Heisenberg shone at school, especially in mathematics and physics. True to the geneticist André Lwoff’s dictum, ‘L’art du chercheur, c’est d’abord de se trouver un bon patron,’ he began his career in physics as the pupil of Germany’s greatest teacher, Arnold Sommerfeld. For more go to: M.F. Perutz's review in the London Review of Books, November 1993. His review is entitled "War on Heisenberg". The books he is reviewing are: Heisenberg’s War: The Secret History of the German Bomb by Thomas Powers, 600 pages, April 1993, and Operation Epsilon: The Farm Hall Transcripts introduced by Charles Frank:
 Institute of Physics, 500 pages, May 1993.


WHY DOES THE WORLD EXIST?

Section 1:

Whether framed philosophically as “Why is there a world rather than nothing at all?” or more colloquially as “But, Mommy, who made God?” the metaphysical mystery about how we came into existence remains the most fractious and fascinating question of all time, at least for some. If we want to follow in the footsteps of Christopher Hitchens, Roger Penrose, and even Stephen Hawking, we can read Jim Holt. His book emerges with an engrossing narrative that traces our latest efforts to grasp the origins of the universe.  Holt takes on the role of cosmological detective, and this brilliant yet slyly humorous writer contends that we might have been too narrow in limiting our suspects to God vs. the Big Bang.  Whether interviewing a cranky Oxford philosopher, a Physics Nobel Laureate, or a French Buddhist monk, Holt pursues unexplored and often bizarre angles to this cosmic puzzle. The result is a brilliant synthesis of cosmology, mathematics, and physics—one that propels his own work to the level of philosophy itself. Go to this link for more:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-roth/review-of-jim-holts-why-d_b_2661060.html

Section 2:

Jim Holt is an American philosopher, author and essayist. He has contributed to The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The American Scholar, and Slate.  For more on Holt go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Holt_%28philosopher%29#Publications  Faced with the primal question that animates this book — why is there something rather than nothing? — many serious people turn to math too, or to physics, philosophy or God. They too, it sometimes seems, wish to avoid breaking down in public. William James called this question “the darkest in all philosophy.” Sir Bernard Lovell, a British astrophysicist, said it could “tear the individual’s mind asunder.” Mr. Holt reports that “psychiatric patients have been known to be obsessed by it.” In “Why Does the World Exist?” Mr. Holt picks up this question about being versus nothingness and runs quite a long and stylish way with it. He combines his raffish erudition with accounts of traveling to tap the minds of cosmologists, theologians, particle physicists, philosophers, mystics and others. For more go to:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/03/books/why-does-the-world-exist-by-jim-holt.html

THE GRAND DESIGN


The Grand Design is a book by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow. Based on this acclaimed new book with science writer Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design, Professor Hawking draws on more than 40 years of his own research and a recent series of observations and theoretical breakthroughs to reveal an original and controversial theory. He argues that scientific obsession with formulating a single new model may be misplaced; Hawking holds the position that by synthesizing existing theories, scientists may discover the key to understanding the universe's deepest mysteries.  Benedict Cumberbatch's inimitable style serves him and us well--as Narrator. For more on this book and this video, TV series, go to:http://thetvdb.com/?tab=series&id=259980



100 YEARS OF THE ATOMIC NUCLEUS


Last year physicists commemorated the centennial of the discovery of the atomic nucleus. In experiments carried out in Ernest Rutherford’s laboratory at Manchester in 1911, a beam of electrically charged particles from the radioactive decay of radium was directed at a thin gold foil. It was generally believed at the time that the mass of an atom was spread out evenly, like a pudding. In that case, the heavy charged particles from radium should have passed through the gold foil, with very little deflection. To Rutherford’s surprise, some of these particles bounced nearly straight back from the foil, showing that they were being repelled by something small and heavy within gold atoms. Rutherford identified this as the nucleus of the atom, around which electrons revolve like planets around the sun.
........

We are now waiting for results from a new accelerator at CERN that we hope will let us make the next step beyond the Standard Model. This is the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC. It is an underground ring seventeen miles in circumference crossing the border between Switzerland and France. In it two beams of protons are accelerated in opposite directions to energies that will eventually reach 7 TeV in each beam, that is, about 7,500 times the energy in the mass of a proton. The beams are made to collide at several stations around the ring, where detectors with the mass of World War II cruisers sort out the various particles created in these collisions. For more on this topic go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/may/10/crisis-big-science/

PHYSICS ON THE FRINGE

Physics on the Fringe describes work done by amateurs, people rejected by the academic establishment and rejecting orthodox academic beliefs. They are often self-taught and ignorant of higher mathematics. Mathematics is the language spoken by the professionals. The amateurs offer an alternative set of visions. Their imagined worlds are concrete rather than abstract, physical rather than mathematical. Many of them belong to the Natural Philosophy Alliance, an informal organization known to its friends as the NPA.

Margaret Wertheim’s book
Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons, and Alternative Theories of Everything discusses her encounters with the natural philosophers. She is interested in them as characters in a human tragedy, with the seriousness and dignity that tragedy imposes. Her leading character is Jim Carter, and her main theme is the story of his life and work. Unlike most of the philosophical dreamers, Carter is a capable engineer and does real experiments to test his ideas. He runs a successful business that gives him leisure to pursue his dreams. He is a man of many talents, with one fatal flaw. for more on this book go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/apr/05/science-rampage-natural-philosophy/

THE FABRIC OF THE COSMOS

The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality (2004) is the second book on theoretical physics, cosmology, and string theory written by Brian Greene, professor and co-director of Columbia's Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics. For a detailed outline of the contents of this book go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fabric_of_the_Cosmos 

The book was made into a four part series on television. The series had the same title, The Fabric of the Cosmos. The series takes viewers to the frontiers of physics to see how scientists are piecing together the most complete picture yet of space, time, and the universe. Go to this link for the videos:http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-fabric-of-the-cosmos/  With each step, audiences will discover that just beneath the surface of our everyday experience lies a world we’d hardly recognize – a startling world far stranger and more wondrous than anyone expected. Brian Greene is going to let you in on a secret: We’ve all been deceived. Our perceptions of time and space have led us astray. I have spent my life, nearly 70 years now, listening to people say: "I only believe what I can see", "what you see is what you get," et cetera. The sensory input is only one criteria for establishing truth of either the factual-sensory world or, indeed, the abstract world in its many forms: ideas and beliefs, values and attitudes, inter alia.

A VIDEO ON PHYSICS: THE BRAIN AND NEUROPLASTICITY; SELF-AWARENESS AND SELF-ESTEEM

Neuroplasticity is a word that comes form neural, pertaining to the nerves and/or brain, and plastic meaning moldable or changeable in structure. This is also known as brain plasticity; it refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses which are due to changes in behavior, environment and neural processes, as well as changes resulting from bodily injury. Neuroplasticity has replaced the formerly-held position that the brain is a physiologically static organ, and explores how - and in which ways - the brain changes throughout life. The beginning part of the video is just a warm up. The middle part of the video is quantum physics / time.space.relativity. And the last section explains Athene's theory.

As Dries Leysen says, C=hf and its fundamental repercussions for how we see spacetime (discussed in the last 15-20mins) changes everything about our fundamental view on classical and quantum physics. However, it is presented in a way that is very tied into known concepts, because if you want to convince the scientific community, you gotta lay it out in detail and point out how it fits with known frameworks.

Neuroplasticity occurs on a variety of levels, ranging from cellular changes due to learning, to large-scale changes involved in cortical remapping in response to injury. The role of neuroplasticity is widely recognized in healthy development, learning, memory, and recovery from brain damage. During most of the 20th century, the consensus among neuroscientists was that brain structure is relatively immutable after a critical period during early childhood. This belief has been challenged by findings revealing that many aspects of the brain remain plastic even into adulthood. This video has scientific basis, but relates this science to psychology, beliefs, self-esteem, and personal behaviour. For more on this subject go to:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbh5l0b2-0o

SOME THINGS ABOUT QUANTUM PHYSICS


"In the late 1910s and into the early 1920s several physicists arrived at the basic premises of quantum theory," writes Thomas Jackson Rice, a Professor of English.  In 1927 the Copenhagan interpretation of quantum theory was formulated. It maintained that there is no deep reality only a description of it.   This deep reality only exists when it is being measured and observed.(1)  The act of observation affects the nature of what is observed and there are limits to what is observable: this was Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. This was a new idea in physics and it amounted to a different view of reality. 

During this same period, from the late teens through the twenties into the 1930s a national and international consciousness and practical principles for the implementation of Baha'i administration and World Order were established as the Baha'i movement became fully organized and unified in doctrinal matters. This was a new idea in religion and, by 1936, the Baha'i Faith could turn its energies toward worldwide expansion.(2)   -Ron Price with thanks to (1)Thomas Jackson Rice, Joyce, Chaos and Complexity, University of Illinois Press, Chicago, 1997, p. 152; and (2) Loni Bramson-Lerche, "Some Aspects of the Development of the Baha'i Administrative Order in America: 1922-1936," Studies in Babi & Baha'i History, Vol.1, editor, Moojan Momen, Kalimat Press, 1982, p.295.

I think the tree exists even
when noone sees it fall
in the middle of the forest.

But, insofar as this poetry
is concerned, there are limits
to my observation and analysis
and this writing seems to confer
special qualities on the things
of existence, created things,
seems to define the world.

So it was that he gave shape,
form, an architecture to ideas
that had been put down on paper
for decades before: observations
affecting the observed
and affecting the new creation.
29/11/02


MORE ON QUANTUM PHYSICS

Recent developments in this branch of physics have lead to astonishing results. Even a regular textbook on Quantum Mechanics, like the one written by Alastair I.M. Rae for example, ends in a chapter which indicates that Quantum Mechanics raises the question of ontology, the question: ‘what is reality.’ This book leaves the answer open and concludes “that there are still some real problems in the grey area where physics and philosophy meet.” There are several theories about the ontological meanings of physics as it evolved. They all try to find a new philosophical basis for the findings of this new research, which has certainly put to rest the old Newtonian, mechanistic and materialistic worldview that was prevalent in science before.

Other physicists are more courageous and try to find conclusions that include not only physics but also human conscience. The most elaborate description of this point of view is the book by Evan Harris Walker, The Physics of Consciousness, Quantum Minds and the Meaning of Life. In
this book the question of God is raised, after a thorough description of Quantum Mechanics and an ongoing discussion about the philosophical and systematical implication of the different theories of this new science. So he says: “We have examined the world, the physics of particles, the nature of mind and will, and the things that tie it all together.” He clearly distances himself from any materialistic worldview of the old physic when he says: “But it has only been with the advent of quantum theory that we have discovered proof that we exist as something more than pieces of matter.”

He states that he started out as a “most ardent student of objective science,” and that he was led to this new understanding in his pursuit of scientific search: “The tools of science permit us to question, test, and dispute atheistic doctrines posing as scientific principle.”59 And he speaks of the consequences to religion of this scientific theory. Consequently, he speaks of the unity of all religions in an interesting development of his physical theory of Quantum Mechanics when he states: We need a better way to seek out truth, to assimilate the jewels of all our religious teaching into one universal faith founded in knowledge that we can verify as we do the facts of science. I hope that the discoveries recorded in this book are the beginning of such a mission. No one who believes in the truth of any of the world’s great religions should fear losing any essential part of that faith by testing its truth against against what we can learn with this new science. Evan Harris Walker, The Physics of Consciousness, Quantum Minds and the Meaning of Life, Basic Books, Perseus Books, NY, 2000. For more of this paper go to:http://irfancolloquia.org/pdf/lights8_klebel.pdf

BIOGRAPHIES OF PHYSICISTS

Part 1:

Biographies and articles about physicists are now burgeoning in cyberspace. The following 200 pages are in this category, out of 4,446 total. Go to this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Physics_biographies_articles For starters, readers wanting quality biographies of physicists might enjoy this review in the London Review of Books( Vol. 34, No. 24, 20 December 2012) Inside the Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Ray Monk(Cape, 820 pages, November 2012) The review contains the following paragraphs: "J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist in charge of the Manhattan Project and hence ‘father of the atomic bomb’, was never openly remorseful. But he was nothing if not ambivalent, as Ray Monk makes clear in his superb biography. When the fireball burst Oppenheimer remembered the words from Vishnu in the Bhagavad Gita: ‘I am become death, destroyer of worlds.’ It was his own idiosyncratic translation, and it became his most famous remark.

The next day, though, his mood was anything but sombre as he jumped out of a jeep at Los Alamos base camp. His friend and fellow physicist Isidor Rabi said: ‘I’ll never forget the way he stepped out of the car … his walk was like High Noon … this kind of strut. He had done it.’ His colleague Enrico Fermi ‘seemed shrunken and aged, made of old parchment’ by comparison. Yet his euphoria passed, and he sank into second thoughts, despondent about the calamitous consequences awaiting the Japanese. He walked the corridors mournfully, muttering: ‘I just keep thinking about all those poor little people.’ Racial condescension aside, he meant what he said, and during the days following the test his secretary said he looked as though he were thinking: ‘Oh God, what have we done!’ For more go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n24/jackson-lears/oh-god-what-have-we-done

Part 2:

Ray Monk is a British philosopher. He is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southampton where he has taught since 1992. He won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the 1991 Duff Cooper Prize for Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius. His interests lie in the philosophy of mathematics, the history of analytic philosophy, & philosophical aspects of biographical writing. His biography of Robert Oppenheimer, mentioned above, was published in 2012. For more on Monk go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Monk  Biographies of scientists, and reviews of those biographies, across many disciplines in addition to physics can also be found in cyberspace. Here is another at the London Review of Books (Vol. 21 No. 6, 18 March 1999). It's a review of Thomas Edison entitled: Edison: A Life of Invention by Paul Israel(Wiley, 550 pages, 1998). For an interesting read go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v21/n06/tim-radford/a-tentative-idea-for-a-lamp

ROBERT HEINLEIN: PHYSICS IN FICTION


Part 1:


The following paragraphs draw on a book review by Bruce Kratofil. It is a book review of Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. The content of this book is fiction and not to be confused with physics. But many sci-fi books, of which this is a classic example, play with ideas in physics. The review was found in Blogcritics.org on 29 June 2005. JFK's speech pledging to reach the moon within the decade was given on 12 September 1962 approximately one year after the book was released.  It could certainly be a reasonable assumption, though, that Heinlein could have envisioned a moon landing by about 1970.  If we could make it to the moon by 1970, then a reasonable SF writer may assume that by 1980 a lunar colony would have been established. (After all, why expend all that effort to get to the moon, and then just ignore it? That would be foolish.) The first trip to Mars was eight years after the colony was established, so now we are approximately up to 1988. The second trip to Mars was 25 years after that - part of the interruption was caused by World War III. So that brings us to 2013, approximately eight years into the future from now, as one estimate of when the events took place. By being more optimistic on the project to the moon, or the establishment of a colony, you may even be able to get the envisioned time frame of the book to approximately now. A little bit pessimistic, and it is further out. But I think it's safe to say that the events in the novel take place within our technological ballpark.

So, how good was Heinlein's vision—or looked at another way, have we kept pace with his vision? Let's look at the technology first. Well, we made it the moon eight years after the book was published, but we are nowhere close to establishing a colony. It would probably take a major effort over five or ten years just to go back and stand in Neil Armstrong's footsteps, much less start a colony. And that's if we could generate the political will to want to do it. In fact, at this moment, Americans can't even get into low-earth orbit. That's not because of a failure of technology; however, it's because of fear. And Mars? Forget about it. Heinlein's first Mars voyage took place using technology somewhat similar to what we have now; he said it would take 285 days each way, plus a wait of a little more than a year while on Mars to wait for a good planetary alignment. By the second trip, which would be taking place around this time, a new technology (he called it Lyle drive, instead of warp drive or hyperdrive) had shortened the trip to 19 days each way. In other words, we're not even close.

Part 2:

How about earth transportation? Flying cars, buses, and taxis are the norm in Heinlein's book. They are even unpiloted—you just punch in your destination and off you go. Well, we have cruise control and OnStar, and DVD players for the kids in the back seat. Reality is still lagging behind. Instead of TV, there is sterovision. There's no real detail, but I'm assuming that the stereo part means a three-D image or holograph, instead of a TV with surround sound. Since it is also referred to as a tank, or is disguised as an aquarium, it's probably the former. So we are somewhat lagging here, but big screen HDTVs probably keep us close. And phones have telescreens in the book—you can make video calls. We could do that now—but speaking as a typical home office worker, that would mean getting dressed and presentable before making calls. Not all advancement is an improvement.

The one place technologically that puts us far ahead of the book is in computer technology and the Internet. Nothing close to the Web is in the book; you can get books that are recorded electronically in some fashion, and that project their text and allow high-speed scanning, but it appears that you have to get a physical copy of the text. We are far ahead in digitalization of information.  Technologically, Heinlein was more optimistic than reality. How about some of the political and cultural trends?

Politically, there is a World Federation, led by a Secretary General, that presumably morphed out of the UN, and it has the real political power in this country along with most others. There's some distinct totalitarian undertones to the police force, although they have to operate out of the glare of publicity to do their dirty work; this is not a dictatorship. Obviously, this is nowhere close to taking place in the real world; in fact, Europe just took a big step back from this last month in the French and Dutch elections. Whether this means we are more advanced or less advanced than the book depends on the individual.

Part 3:

There was a World War III in the book, while we haven't moved past II; some commentators may say that the current conflict between some of the Western democracies and Islamic extremists is in fact a world war, although one of low intensity. There's some large organized religions, with some shady business practices, that wield power in the book. One, the Church of the New Revelation (Fosterite) would probably make Tom Cruise feel right at home.  There are still traveling carnivals with side shows in the book. In reality, they withered out long ago. Looked at it another way, we still have the sideshows, they just get piped right into the living room via Jerry Springer, the Michael Jackson trial, Fear Factor, etc.

In the book, the wife of the Secretary General of the Federation relies heavily on an astrologer, and uses advice from the astrologer to help mold her husband's actions. Yeah right, like that could really happen. One thing that was somewhat disconcerting is that some of the dialog seemed to rely heavily on a 1950's pattern or slang, especially in some of the man-woman date scenes. It's natural, since that's how people talked when the book was written, but the slang seemed a little odd, projected into the future. Another way this shows up—some newspaper columnists are referred to as "winchells" while some others, considered more prestigious, are called "lippmans". To many readers today, these terms would be mysterious; but Walter Winchell was a famous gossip columnist while Walter Lippman was a more prestigious columnist who wrote about foreign affairs and politics.

Even if you don't want to use the book to give a grade to our civilization, it's still a highly worthwhile read. In fact, a whole lot of Heinlein books have been added to the "must read" list of many sci-fi enthusiasts. Bruce Kratofil blogs on bugs and other things that can go wrong with your computer.

Part 4:

Stranger in a Strange Land was the first science-fiction book to become a national best-seller—readers who as a rule did not read SF books were interested in Heinlein's philosophy, as expressed in that novel, which transcended what was seen as the usual scope of such novels at the time, preoccupied with robots, flying saucers, and bug-eyed monsters.  After his discharge, Heinlein attended a few weeks of classes in mathematics and physics at the University of California, Los Angeles, dropping out either because of his health or because of a desire to enter politics, or both. He also worked in a series of odd jobs, including real estate dealership and silver mining. Heinlein was active in Upton Sinclair's socialist EPIC (End Poverty In California) movement in early 1930s California. When Sinclair gained the Democratic nomination for governor of California in 1934, Heinlein worked actively for the campaign (which was unsuccessful). Heinlein himself ran for the California state assembly in 1938, which also was unsuccessful (an unfortunate juxtaposition of events had Konrad Henlein making headlines in the Sudetenlands). While not destitute after the campaign—Heinlein had a small disability pension from the Navy—he turned to writing to pay off his mortgage, and in 1939 his first story.”

Heinlein's manuscript is 220,000 words; Putnam's edition, stripped down by Heinlein "for salability" (as James Gifford puts it), is 160,000 words. This latter is still very long for a science fiction novel at that time. It took several years to gather momentum, begin finding its eventual huge readership. In the late 1980s and early 1990s I tried to write sci-fi and, in one effort, I got to 30,000 words. The exercise died a natural or, perhaps, an unnatural death. It died on my literary vine as I slowly adopted poetry and essay writing, autobiography and memoiristic writing. By 1993, twenty years ago now, I had given-up writing fiction of any kind.

Part 5:

The impact of Stranger in a Strange Land was considerable, leading many children of the 60's to set up households based on Michael's water-brother nests. Heinlein loved to pontificate through the mouths of his characters, so modern readers must be willing to overlook the occasional sour note ("Nine times out of ten, if a girl gets raped, it's partly her fault."). That aside, Stranger in a Strange Land is one of the master's best entertainments, provocative as he always loved to be.


THE NEUTRINO: A CONTEXT

The neutrino was proposed by Wolfgang Pauli in 1930, but it took 26 more years before the neutrino was actually discovered, detected is a better word. Pauli proposed the existence of the neutrino as a solution to a frustrating problem in nuclear beta-decay that was studied in the laboratory; namely, that examination of the reaction products always indicated that a variable amount of energy was missing. Pauli concluded that the products must include a third “almost invisible” particle, one which didn't interact strongly enough for it to be detected. Enrico Fermi called this particle the “neutrino” for the "little neutral one". In 1956 Reines and Cowan discovered the neutrino interactions in their experiments at a nuclear reactor. Reines was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1995.

Today, neutrinos are known to be tiny, possibly massless, neutral elementary particles, which interact with matter via the weak nuclear force. The weakness of the weak force gives neutrinos the property that matter is almost transparent to them. It is fascinating that the neutrino, which was “invented” to solve a laboratory nuclear physics problem, must also be invoked to explain energy production in our sun and in all other stars. We now know that nuclear fusion and decay processes, which occur within the stellar core, produce copious amounts of neutrinos. Since neutrinos rarely interact with matter, they pass through the sun and the earth--and us--virtually unhindered. One hundred trillion neutrinos pass through our bodies every second. Other sources of neutrinos include exploding stars, that is supernovae, relic neutrinos--from the birth of the universe--and nuclear power plants. The sun produces over two hundred trillion trillion trillion neutrinos every second; a supernova blast can unleash 1000 times more neutrinos than our sun will produce in its 10-billion year lifetime. About 65-billion neutrinos from the sun stream through every square centimeter on the Earth every second, yet we are oblivious to their passage in our every-day lives.

I have concluded this booklet of poetry with this concept of the neutrino, Chris, because so much of our life and our relationship is—like the neutrino and like the soul—unseen and uneducated—but it is going on every second of every day of our lives.-Ron

THIS IMMENSITY

The international pioneering experience often results, for pioneers, in a rediscovery and revaluation of their homeland. Obviously, this is not a new experience or one confined to Baha'is. The pilgrimage to Europe, what was once called the Grand Tour for perhaps two centuries, provided Russians, Americans, British and many other nationalities with a device for self-definition. So much of Canada is, like Russia, a "vast and terrible" country, as one Russian writer once described his homeland. "One must look on her from afar,"(1) he wrote. In pioneering to Australia, I have certainly had this opportunity of looking on Canada from afar. The confrontation with a distant country, in my case Australia, gives to the writing of this international pioneer something of its specific weight and gravity; its dignity and lightness; and perhaps more importantly at a time when the Baha'i Faith has been emerging from an obscurity that had enshrouded its history for a century and a half. -Ron Price with thanks to (1)Kireevsky in Tolstoy or Dostoevsky, George Steiner, Penguin Books, 1967(1959), p.37.

You move faster to that new potency:
world citizen when you embody in
yourself another land and make it home.

There may be some obscuring
idiosyncrasies and uncertainties
of taste as this vanishing frontier
becomes, so quickly, one world.

For, indeed, there is an immensity
that has emerged, it seems, since
the Guardian died, a wilderness
of defined and infinite space and
a more precise time-line going back
and back and back to time’s dawn.1

And I utter "Here am I. Here am I"
which Thy chosen ones have uttered
in this immensity and I gaze on Thy
beauty and observe what is in Thy Book.2

1 One month before the Guardian died the Russians sent up Sputnik(4/10/57) and in the last forty-five years science and astrophysics has given infinite space and time an immensely defined delineation and description.
2 Baha'u'llah, "Long Obligatory Prayer."

BAHA'I COSMOLOGY is NOT PHYSICS


Cosmology is another subject which is not physics, and needs to be seen quite separately. But often cosmologists skirt around the world of physics as I illustrate in what follows. "The Bahá’í teachings on creation correspond with many of the central ideas affirmed in the Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition, in Greek philosophy, and, in places, they parallel theories found in non-Western religions. Taken as a whole, they present a new synthesis of ancient and more recent cosmological teachings. Their importance to the history of intellectual thought derives in part from the fact that they appear in the form of a “prophetic revelation” at a time when modern Western ideas were also beginning to penetrate nineteenth century Iran and intermix with its enduring medieval conceptual milieu." These are the words of Kevin Browne from his link at: http://kevinbrowne.ca/ and his wordpress blog. Browne is keen to have his readers go to the Facebook page of Secret Hamilton. For anyone that has moved to Hamilton and has had friends ask “Why Hamilton?”, the new website SecretHamilton.ca is full of the “secrets” people might not know about that make Hamilton great. Having been born in Hamilton and lived in its hinterland for more than a quarter of a century: 1943-1971 I am a fan of Kevin Browne.

Kevin Brown wrote an article on the Bahai position on "evolution," but he omitted a great deal more background material. He could have included material which would have shown that Abbas Effendi, the leader of the Baha'i Faith, Browne's Faith, from 1892 to 1921, had a view of evolutionism which was not original and was nothing more than a watered down version of sophisticated theories propounded within sources of Iranian Islamic philosophy, particularly the School of Isfahan and the figure of Mulla Sadra Shirazi.  Mulla Sadra offered a sophisticated argument on the motion and ascension of substance through being based on 1) critiques of Avicennan concepts of being and motion, 2) critiques of Suhrawardian essentialism, while 3) dealing with the largely Sufi theosophical concept of the Unity of Being in more rigorous, analytical manner. Mulla Sadra offered the notion of transubstantial motion whereby all substances, that is, the 'stuff' of creation, are continually moving through higher and higher grades of being. But this argument is not evolutionism because the movement of substances, whether substantially or transubstantially, is occuring vertically through the hierarchies of realm-worlds. This is more a theory of "involution" whereby projections or emanations from the First Principle descend and coagulate into infinite substances and then reascend through finer and finer transubstantial tenuities until they fully return to the First Principle again. This is Neoplatonism, not Darwin. The subject of Neoplaonism is metaphysics not physics, but I post this here because some readers confuse the two.

THE DRAMA OF INVISIBILITY

Part 1:

In 1959, Alfred Ayer, the foremost advocate of logical positivism, published an anthology of essays written by bright men earlier in the century who had committed themselves to reconstructing philosophy uncontaminated by metaphysics. The book was called Logical Positivism. In the next three years several books were published demolishing the pretensions of positivism. Karl Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions were two of these books. Philosophy swims in metaphysics like a fish swims in water. At the time, the years 1959 to 1962 being my first three as a Baha'i, I was beginning to swim in new metaphysical waters. I knew nothing of logical positivism or metaphysics, but I was clearly attracted to the poetry and the narrative I found in the Baha'i Faith. It was poetry and narrative that invited reflection on the nature of my culture and humanity itself. -Ron Price with thanks to Evan Cameron, "Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies," Philosophy and Literature, Vol. 21, No.2, pp.492-494; and Hayden White, "The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality," Critical Inquiry, Summer 1981.

Part 2:

The story was simply there,
like life itself:
international,
transhistorical,
transcultural---
not really a problem,
rather--a solution.
Helped me translate
knowing into telling
took my life, what I'd done
and fashioned a form,
structures of meaning,
but slowly, faintly, like a star.

The story was translated
into my world in southern Ontario
by the lake on Seneca Street
where I played baseball
without fundamental damage
to me or the story.

And so it was that I began that drama,
only possible with those whom
you share a common history,
a drama of the invisibility
of interior experience,
the place where feelings lie hidden
and we have few words, if any,
for what happens inside us,
where we feel defeat
at the problem's enormity,
where we have trouble naming what we see.

Ron Price
7 September 2001

SOME VIEWS OF EINSTEIN

Part 1:

Why more books on Albert Einstein? In 2005 it was the Year of Physics, celebrating the centenary of Einstein's great 1905 papers, including those on special relativity and the particle theory of light. There is a definitive scientific biography published by Abraham Pais in 1982. That Einstein had an interesting personal life, with many entanglements with women and at least one extramarital child, has not been news since Roger Highfield and Paul Carter’s The Private Lives of Albert Einstein and Dennis Overbye’s Einstein in Love, published in 1994 and 2000, respectively. His private letters continue to come to light, but do they really add anything to the portrait of Einstein’s character drawn so perceptively by Overbye? Go to this link for a discussion of some recent views of this famous physicist: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2007/jun/14/the-other-einstein/?page=1

Part 2:

On 3/2/'00 a review appeared in the London Review of Books entitled: "Bitter as never before" by David Blackbourn. It was a review of Einstein's German World by Fritz Stern(Princeton, 350 pages, 1999). The review begins: "On Einstein’s 50th birthday in 1929, the chemist Fritz Haber wrote to him: ‘In a few centuries the common man will know our time as the period of the World War, but the educated man will connect the first quarter of the century with your name.’ This salute from one German-Jewish Nobel laureate to another was written six months before the Wall Street Crash helped to make National Socialism a mass movement, and it introduces some of Fritz Stern’s central themes. For more of this review go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v22/n03/david-blackbourn/bitter-as-never-before

ASTRONOMY and PHYSICS


THE UNIVERSE
And then there was light….

Part 1:

The Universe
(1) is an American documentary television series which first appeared in the UK in 2007 and it continued to the end of 2011.  I did not begin watching the series in Australia until 2012.  Computer-generated imagery and computer graphics of astronomical objects, as well as interviews with experts in the fields of cosmology, astronomy and astrophysics make this series fascinating for people like me whose knowledge of these fields has always been minimal. Again, like sci-fi and cosmology, astrophysics is, at the most, a sub-field of physics. At my website, I have placed astronomy in another section:http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/Astronomy.html

I have had a fascination with the above subjects since the start of the space age in the late 1950s and early 1960s, since my becoming affiliated with the Bahá'í Faith back in the 1950s during my adolescence, and since having the influence of a maternal grandfather who was also interested in these fields.   It is difficult not to be interested in these subjects being in the first generation to see the movement of man into space in the last five decades.  But I have never followed-up that interest in any serious way other than: (a) to attend two or three of those planetariums that dot the landscape of the cities of the world, (b) to browse through a few books and (c) to listen and watch the occasional special on astronomy in the electronic media like the one to which I refer above.-Ron Price with thanks to 17TWO TV, 25-26 February 2012, 11:45 p.m. to 12:50 a.m. and The Universe(TV Series) at Wikipedia.

Now that I am retired from
the world of jobs, meetings
and what now seems like an
endless amount of socializing,
I can give myself to learning &
the cultural attainments of the
mind. I really got going with the
fields of astronomy, cosmology
and astrophysics in the year ’09:1

Part 2:

1 The International Year of Astronomy 2009 was a global effort initiated by the International Astronomical Union and UNESCO to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the Universe through the day-and-night-time sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery. In 2009 astronomy celebrated four centuries of its modern existence, beginning with Galileo in 1609. In December 2010 a National Geographic video-documentary was televised. It was entitled: Journey to the Edge of the Universe. I have written about this before.

In the first years of my retirement from FT, PT and most volunteer work, the years 2005-2012, there has been an increasing range of stimuli that have turned me toward astronomy of which the series I mention here, and that National Geographic video above, are but two sources.  It will be interesting to see the development of this interest of mine, an interest as I say going back half-a-century in these middle years(65-75) of my late adulthood, the years from 60 to 80 according to one model of human development in the lifespan.

The cosmic dark age, perhaps as long
as 150 to 800 million or more years, is
one of astronomy's great mysteries.(1)

(1) John Mather who won the Nobel prize for physics in 2006 said this. He is a senior astrophysicist at the U.S. space agency's, NASA's, Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland. He is also an adjunct professor of physics at the University of Maryland, College Park. What brought this cosmic dark age to an end was the birth of the first stars and galaxies. "Suddenly light was everywhere," says Abraham Loeb of Harvard's Centre for Astrophysics. "The Universe lit up like a Christmas tree."


The chronology of the universe describes the history and future of the universe according to Big Bang cosmology.  This is the prevailing scientific model of how the universe came into being and developed over time. This model uses the cosmological time parameter of comoving coordinates. The instant in which the universe is thought to have begun rapidly expanding from a singularity is known as the Big Bang. As of 2012, best estimates date this expansion from 13.7 billion years ago.  The Dark Ages are currently thought to have lasted between 150 million to 800 million years after the Big Bang. For more on these themes go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_of_the_universe#Dark_ages

Ron Price
29 February 2012