Frontier Sciences Inch Toward Mysticism
We could subtitle this article “From Jupiter to Uranus and Beyond.” Jupiter symbolizes our search for TRUTH in the form of a belief system which lets us set our priorities and make choices based on what we believe is the nature of reality, life, and appropriate ethics. We can search for meaning in life through faith in a traditional religion, or through logic with philosophy, or through experimentation with science, or we can combine several approaches in our own eclectic mixture (my preference). We never achieve Final Truth. Jupiter is the journey that never ends. We can keep adding to our store of knowledge, enlarging our vision of life and the cosmos. But “Absolutes” are not susceptible of proof. They always require a leap of faith after we have done our best to analyze experiences (our own and those of others). Uranus symbolizes the life urge which drives us to go beyond traditional, conventional ideas.
Our church continues to explore the offerings of science at the same time that we encourage individuals to seek experiences which science largely ignores. It is always a delight to find an institution and a publication of, by, and for scientists, which are not afraid of venturing beyond “orthodox” science. A few months ago, I received the Fall/Winter 1991 issue of a journal called Frontier Perspectives. It says it is Volume 2, Number 2, and it is available for $25 a year from The Center for Frontier Sciences, Temple University, Ritter Hall 003-00, Philadelphia, PA 19122.
The range of articles in the journal is quite remarkable, from the possible health effects of electromagnetic fields, to consciousness compared to time, to cranial osteopathy, to matter and consciousness etc. An author named David Peat suggests that mind and matter are different ways of perceiving the same reality, different aspects of it which we perceive using different tools and techniques. Peat is a scientist but he writes as do the mystics that everything is connected at all times and it is partly our language which produces the sense of separation, which reifies thoughts and concepts, turning them into “things” when our experience is of a “stream of consciousness” as William James phrased it. Peat suggests that we need to accept that there are multiple, potentially useful models, to stop trying to force all experience into one model, to tolerate some paradox, ambiguity and uncertainty. (No wonder I like the article. I’ve been saying that for years.)
The most fascinating article in the journal, to me, was the one by Harold Puthoff, formerly of SRI (Stanford Research Institute) but now a senior fellow in physics at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Austin, TX. Puthoff is one of the originators of the technique for demonstrating psychic ability which is called “remote viewing.” He tested Uri Geller at SRI, and despite the claims of lying professional magicians like Randi, no one has been able to duplicate what Geller did under controlled conditions. Puthoff is also one of the authors of two excellent books on his work in psychic research, Mind Reach and Mind Race. But the material on physics in his article in this journal is really new to me, even though I read Science News regularly when I am not travelling or meeting a writing deadline.
Puthoff’s title is “Quantum Fluctuations of Empty Space: A New Rosetta Stone of Physics?” He suggests that despite all efforts to ban the “ether” as a pervading medium which fills space, what is called the “vacuum” of space is not really empty but is something which fluctuates on quantum principles. He quotes physicist John Wheeler as saying that “vacuum physics” are the starting point for a description of nature, that elementary particles (such as quarks) are not really the base of matter-energy but are a “first-order correction” to vacuum physics. The concept is very reminiscent of pantheism which conceives God as present everywhere. Of course, modern science has to make it sound materialistic to make it respectable. Human beliefs have moved from pantheism (which was and is totally widespread among primitive people everywhere), to the concept of the omnipresent ether in early materialistic science, to thinking that space was really an empty vacuum or void with separate matter-energy particle-charges in it, to the new view of vacuum physics which describes space as “a sea of dynamical energy where virtual particles are continually being created and then dropping back into an unobservable state.” p. 19
According to Puthoff, the vacuum acts as a dynamical background determining the states of matter and their interaction. The most fundamental quantum concept is that the vacuum is fluctuating at a zero-point energy level, the ground state for vibration of an harmonic oscillator. According to Puthoff, the main characteristic of quantum theory is that everything is in this state of at least low level agitation. The amount of energy associated with that fluctuation is very small but the sum-total of all the energy associated with all of the possible modes and frequencies is enormous “and can be shown to derive from the quantum fluctuation motion of charged particles distributed throughout cosmological space.” p. 19 The so-called “spontaneous emission” of atoms in normal space is really stimulated by background fluctuations. Without that, we would not see anything. When atoms are confined in specially constructed cavities, their so-called “spontaneous emission” times can be increased up to a factor of 42 or reduced by a factor of 500. Atomic structure and everything else is sustained by the background fluctuations of the so-called vacuum of space. The energy of the fluctuations is continually being absorbed and re-emitted by atoms.
In the light of these relatively new ideas, Puthoff even tackles the mystery of gravity which eluded Einstein and continues to baffle the physicists who are seeking a unified theory to explain matter-energy. Puthoff says that the great Russian physicist Sakharov suggested in 1968 that gravity is not a fundamental force but is due to the unbalanced zero-point fluctuation of forces which arise in the vacuum in the presence of matter. This concept can explain the one-way nature of gravity and our inability to shield against it as we can shield against electromagnetic and atomic forces.
The article includes much more technical explanation of the preceding statements, but this may be enough to give the picture. The mystics’ void is the scientists’ vacuum, a sea of power that is essentially infinite potentials which come into actual manifestation and disappear again into the unobservable potentials. Where forces balance each other, there is stability. Where there is a slight imbalance, there is action. We need only go beyond the language of materialism and say where there is desire, there is life which comes into manifestation when conditions permit. Life can also be defined as Mind, consciousness including the unconscious. As it evolves in complexity, it becomes increasingly self-organizing, self-regulating, self-renewing, and self-transcending but always it is connected to its ground of being and through that, to all other manifestations whether we call the source or ground God or a fluctuating vacuum. One of my favorite metaphors is that the cosmos is like an infinite computer program which is everywhere and everywhen. We, along with other life manifestations, are like little terminals who tune in to the program to the extent of our capacity, seeking always to expand our capacity. I think that desire is the basis for manifestations of life. When people speak of “will” as somehow superior to desire, I suspect that they are just re-naming “long-range” desire in contrast to “immediate” desire. Neither one is inherently better. They can only be judged by their results.
If we had only the preceding material from Puthoff, it would be just an interesting theory which rephrased what the mystics have always claimed. But science is based on experimentation, and the theory is being tested and supported by results! One area of testing is called “condensed charge” technology which is being used in modern electronic devices. Normally, like charges repel each other, but when they are forced together, a new situation develops called “charge clustering.” Similar results can be obtained under controlled conditions in the laboratory which explain what is sometimes seen in welding and lightning strikes. A variety of devices are under development for radar, for flat screen TV, etc. One of the most exciting is a hand-held device using condensed charge technology which is as effective as a large x-ray machine. A hypodermic needle penetrates the skin, goes to a tumor site, and then irradiates the tumor directly with lower voltage x-rays instead of killing the patient on the way to treating a tumor. The device is both simple and economical. Do you think the Cancer Establishment will be any more thrilled with it than they are with shark cartilage? (see News Notes)
What comes after Uranus? Neptune—the void (renamed vacuum) which is the source and connecting ground of everything.