God’s Footprint–The Quasi-Physical Event Aspect Chapter Two

God’s footprint, grounded as it is in the Logos of Existence, is shaped like a piece of pie, the edges of which meet where the observer’s edge of the pie and the opposite edge of the pie (the physical event edge) come together. The pie crust separates the observer from macro level physical events. In other words, without macro level physical events human intelligence would cease to exist (no piecrust, — no pie piece, no determinism, — no human intelligence). The comprehensibility of a micro level event is different from the comprehensibility of a macro level event because, in the same universe, the physical duality that constitutes micro level comprehensibility is different from the physical duality that constitutes macro level comprehensibility. Events on the macro level of the universe are more deterministic than events at the micro level of the universe because the entire universe is comprehensible by people who can comprehend—you, me, and the scientist. In quantum mechanics the loss of space time localization coupled with the realities of wave/particle phenomena have forced some physicists to abandon the concept of a deterministic universe. However, when viewed from the perspective of God’s footprint, one does not give up anything. Just like in the physics of relativity where yardstick lengths and rates of ticking clocks are tied to the observer’s frame of reference, so to, in God’s footprint, the comprehensibility of universe is tied to the frame of reference of different dualities— e.g., ~~b (wave/particle duality), ~bb (accommodation/assimilation of living creatures duality), and, b~b~bb (the physical event/human intelligence duality).

As I was saying in the beginning chapter of God’s Footprint, the physical event/quantum side of the pie piece is embedded in the aesthetic continuum, — or the feeling/sensing side of experience as opposed to the cerebral experience where we encounter the “ideal meanings” that get used in the interpretation of the phenomena that we ascribe to nature according to law. How this translates into the physical event/quantum side of the pie piece is contained in the ongoing story of what can loosely be called “the strange behavior of quantum phenomena.” In order to get a better idea of what is entailed in the quantum event, I’ll let another dialogue (written a while back) speak to this issue. In this half-imagined conversation, three strangers meet at a California state campground. In this conversation, Don, the skeptical university student, Jade, the newly graduated science teacher, and me, the vagabond bicycler, are discussing Fritz Capra’s book, Tao of Physics.

“What are you guys talking about anyway,” said Don, “Catch up to what? How can a scientist catch up to science?”
“Catch up to the universe,” I said. “Science–the scientist– has to catch up to what’s happening in the universe. There’s no going back to Kansas anymore. That’s what Capra was telling us in his book. We just don’t live in a world divided up into the squeaky clean categories of mass and energy anymore, not to mention cause and effect.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Don. “It sounds like you guys, Capra included, have been smoking too much of that hookah weed stuff.”
“Not really,” Jade replied, “Capra is a well respected physicist who just happens to be on the cutting edge of new age thinking. He really knows what he’s talking about.”

Jade’s right,” I said, “The new physics has turned waves into particles and particles into waves. Hell, we don’t even know for sure if the world exists separate from the way we look at it. According to Capra, at the quantum level, the universe looks and behaves differently from the way we typically perceive it. At the level of the very small, we loose track of independently existing things. Physical phenomena appears, at that level, to show signs of being interconnected, which means that we are interconnected with everything else, which means that the sages of the East were right all along. Ultimately, we are all part of some mystical ‘Oneness,’ but we just don’t know it. In reality, we’re just one big happy family.”

“Quantum physics says all that,” replied Don, “I don’t mean to be a party pooper fellows, but didn’t anybody ever tell you that the splitting up of that “small stuff” is what resulted in the ‘now you see ‘em, now you don’t’ cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I mean the family that bombs together doesn’t necessarily stay together, let alone live in bliss!”
“Well, yeah,” Jade replied, “I guess it doesn’t hurt to keep a perspective on things. I think what is being said here is that the world that gave us a better bomb, on a fundamental level, just doesn’t exist anymore. It exists locally, yeah, but even so, we still can’t go back to Kansas. Everything has changed.”
“Like what exactly,” replied Don.

“Like we can’t think of the universe as just a collection of objects anymore,” Jade responded. “Rather, it’s more like a complicated web of relations. Some physicists even go as far as to say that it is a complicated web of relations between the various parts of a unified whole. And that is what Dave meant when he said that Eastern mystics were there first. In fact, Capra is saying the same thing. According to him, even the language used by physicists and the language used by mystics is starting to sound the same. Nagarjuna, a second century Buddhist, preached that things were nothing in themselves; instead, they derived their being from a mutual dependence with other things. A particle physicist might use those very same words to describe the results of a cloud chamber experiment that records the trajectories of colliding particles. Under certain conditions, an elementary particle is no more than a set of relationships that reach outward to other things. The world, on that level, is no more than a complicated tissue of events that determines the texture of the whole.”

“Big deal,” snapped Don. “So what the hell is all that supposed to mean? Physicists still do physics don’t they? They still make weapons that kill don’t they, weapons that when sold produce mega bucks for the seller. Who cares where destruction comes from; it’s still destruction, right!”

“Wait a minute.” I interrupted. “We need to start over, I know what you’re getting at Don, and I totally agree. And I know Jade does too. That’s why I said that it takes time, lots of it, for the implications of new concepts to be fully digested. Maybe a hundred years for all I know, but digested they will be, and when it happens the world will be better off. That’s all I’m trying to say. What’s happening in physics today is a far cry from what happened in the past, and its telling us new and exciting things about the universe, and maybe even about ourselves! This new vision does not exclude, it includes, and therein lies the hope. When humanity is brought into the mix with everything else, a whole new ballgame arises. The center of balance shifts, and overtime, possibilities open, even if in the short run, the rules remain the same. If you ask me, humanity will be in for immense benefits if this new vision catches on. Think about it. What’s happening in science today is the rediscovery of our lost identity, and that can’t be all bad.”

“How many beers are left?” said Don.
“If we’re gunna start over,” Don replied, “and if you’re gunna get metaphysical on me, I need to know just how patient I want to be. So how many beers patient will I be?”
“Well,” said Jade, after checking the twelve pack, and handing everyone another beer, “I’d say about two or three, depending of course on how patient you want to be!”
“That sounds about right,” Don said. “Educate me. I’m ready now.”
“Jade, you’re the science teacher. You start,” I said.
“You don’t need me,” Jade shot back, “you need Neil’s Bohr or Warner Heisenberg.”
“That sounds good,” I said. “Start with those guys. Think of it as practice. After all, in the classroom you won’t have such a patient audience. We won’t heckle. Go for it.”

“All right already, enough,” Jade said. “As best I can remember, it all started with Max Planck’s black body radiation experiments at the turn of the century. He discovered that radiation or light propagates in discrete packets. Those packets are called the quantum of action. The energy in a quantum of action varies, but its discreteness doesn’t. That discreteness is known as Planck’s constant. Particles in classical physics evolve in a continuous manner, and in three dimensions of space, but in atomic physics that just doesn’t seem to be the case. With the discovery of the quantum of action, there was a merging of the dynamic state of the elements under study with their localization. The particles’ independence dissolved, as it became impossible to simultaneously determine position and momentum, an impossibility for which the uncertainty relations of Heisenberg became the precise expression. After the uncertainty principle, Cartesian space and time co-ordinates ceased to be applicable, and physicists were forced into learning new rules for a new game. In fact, all the conjugate variables of analytical mechanics–energy, time, momentum, position, had to be dealt with as approximations; they had to be dealt with in terms of statistical analysis. Ultimately, with the loss of space and time localization, physicists were forced to abandon their concept of a deterministic physical universe.”

“Oh yeah, and what about Einstein,” Don said. “Did he abandon the concept of determinism? What happened to his space and time?”
“Well, not exactly,” Jade replied. “His space and time are still there, only it’s not just his space-time any longer, it’s everybody’s.”
“I’ve always wanted to know about relativity. Fill me in why don’t you.” Don said.

“I’d really like to except it’s all a little fuzzy for me, too,” replied Jade. “I really don’t understand much about it. That’s a whole different physics, one that doesn’t fit in well with quantum mechanics. That was the problem that haunted Einstein his entire life. He never stopped trying to solve it. And if he couldn’t do it, don’t expect help from me. You’re right, though; Einstein never did give up his belief in a deterministic universe. In his physics, determinism was preserved, while everything else fell apart.”
“So tell me about it,” Don said. “If a ball is still a ball and we can calculate its velocity and position in Einstein’s universe, then what do you mean ‘everything fell apart?’”

“Basically,” replied Jade, “relativity doesn’t come into significant play until you’re working with velocities at close to the speed of light. When those speeds are approached, compared to say, the speed of a bullet, space and time measurements become radically different when measured relative to each other. In Einstein’s Special Theory Of Relativity the space and time measurements of the system under study are tied to the frame of reference of the observer. A yardstick and a clock traveling at close to the speed of light will measure thirty-six inches and identify twelve o’clock to an observer in that reference frame, but when the same yardstick and clock are measured against other frames of reference, say like here on earth, earth clocks will run slow and yardsticks will measure less than thirty-six inches. Sir Isaac Newton’s absolute space and time collapsed under the weight of Einstein.”

“Oh yeah, now I understand,” replied Don. “Bullets are small compared to the sun, so their length is measured with a short yardstick while sun spots are large compared to bullets, so they’re measured with long yardsticks, right!”
“That’s not exactly what I said, Don. Measuring rods traveling at close to the speed of light,” said Jade, “when compared to measuring rods here on earth measure short, and the same goes for clocks, they run slow. And, vice versa, when earth clocks are compared to clocks traveling at close to the speed of light, then those clocks run slow. I don’t know why. I’m not an Einstein. I guess it has something to do with the constancy of the velocity of light, but other than that it’s a mystery to me, just like it must be a mystery to you. Look, I can see we’re not getting anywhere here, especially since I’ve already admitted I don’t know much about Einstein’s theories. Let’s just say that by using Einstein’s equations, a person can figure out how to measure both the length and speed of an earth bullet and the length and speed of a bullet traveling at close to the speed of light and then communicate that knowledge to an alpha centurion—provided that the alien understands the equations. Once again, I don’t now how that can be done, but I do know it has something to do with Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which further develops the concept of the space-time interval. A space-time interval, when measured relative to different reference frames, does not vary, but don’t ask me to explain that because I can’t.”

“Fair enough,” Don replied. “Don’t explain.”
“Now that I think of it, though,” said Jade, “I need to put just a little perspective into what I just said.”
“Do you really?” said Don.
“Have another drink, Don,” Jade replied.
“Determining the change of change in different reference systems,” Jade continued, “is no small accomplishment, but there is something even more amazing going on here. Einstein’s equations let us in on an astounding universe, a universe absolutely different from the one that Euclid mapped out for us a couple millenniums ago. The universe discovered by Einstein even astounded Einstein, but it wasn’t the oddness of it all that astounded him, it was the simple fact that it could be discovered in the first place! He said, ‘The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.’ If you ask me, that statement says it all.”

“If that’s true,” Don interrupted, “then Einstein must have died a pretty frustrated man because based on what you’re telling me here, nobody is even close to comprehending a universe that is free of contradictory laws. What’s comprehensible about that?”

“We don’t know everything, Don,” Jade replied, “but we do know a hell of a lot more than we used to. We are beginning to understand ‘who and what we are’ in a whole different light. It’s true that our knowledge is limited by statistical analysis at the quantum level, but it works, and it works well. That, according to Bohr and Heisenberg, was pretty important all by itself. According to the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics, the model attributed to Bohr and Heisenberg, it doesn’t matter what’s going on at the quantum level, what matters is that in all possible experimental situations we can, within certain limits, predict the outcomes. Understanding reality, according to the Copenhagen Interpretation, lies beyond the capabilities of rational thought. The laws governing individual events are, at the quantum level, completely discarded. Only mathematical laws governing aggregations apply. According to quantum mechanics, it is not possible, even in principle, to know enough about the present to make a complete prediction about the future. Even with the best possible measuring devices, it is still not possible.”

“You talk as if Bohr and Heisenberg are gods,” said Don. “To me they’re just two more scientists, two among many, doing their job! I’m sure there are different opinions out there. Einstein certainly didn’t agree. One day another Einstein will come along and see through it all, and on that day the Copenhagen Interpretation, or whatever you call it, will be no more. What are you suggesting anyway, that all progress stops because you want it to? I don’t think so, and I’m glad.”

“You could be right,” Jade responded, “but overcoming all the history that’s still building in quantum mechanics is a daunting task for anyone. Einstein wasn’t the only physicist who disliked the theory. Many have tried to dislodge the Copenhagen interpretation. In every instance, however, the physical world has intervened and said, ‘Your questions are meaningless.’ No physicist likes being told that. When a wave behaves like a particle and a particle behaves like a wave, the concepts that used to define the physical world no longer apply. Nature now requires a marriage of ideas that in the past were designed to live apart. Neil’s Bohr just got tired of fighting the inevitable. That’s when he started seeing things in a complimentary light.”

“Complimentary what?” said Don.
“That was Bohr’s big contribution to quantum mechanics,” replied Jade. “He basically said that there are no waves out there. There are no particles running around, either. That strange animal that interacts with the experiments, the quantum of action, is all there is. Because Bohr believed that, he introduced the idea of complementarity. He considered the particle picture and the wave picture as two complementary descriptions of the same reality, each description being only partly correct and having a limited range of application. For Bohr, the entity ‘electron,’–just like the other elementary entities of physics—had two irreconcilable aspects, which must be invoked in order to explain, in turn, the properties of the entity. To give a full description of atomic reality, each picture is needed, and both descriptions are to be applied within the limitations given by the uncertainty principle. In fact, when the queen of England knighted Bohr for his work in physics, he was forced to pick a family coat of arms, and so he picked the Chinese symbol of Tai-chi. Because he believed that reality had to be visualized in both its complimentary and contradictory aspects, but not at the same time, he felt that, at least at the level of the quantum of action, the basic idea of Eastern mysticism’s yin/yang reality had been confirmed.”

“Yeah, that sounds about right,” I said, “I remember reading somewhere, maybe in Capra, that in the Buddhist relationship between form and emptiness, cooperation exists. That relationship cannot be conceived as a state of mutually exclusive opposites because it represents two aspects of the same reality. From one perspective it appears to be contradictory, but from another perspective it becomes the unifying aspect of that very same reality. Just like at the quantum level, where an event, in order to be wholly an event, exhibits both contradictory and complimentary aspects, so too in Buddhism, the void and the forms that are created from it, exist in a dynamic unity. But, there’s something that still bothers me. What about that observer-generated reality stuff that Capra talked about in his book? How does that fit in with the quantum of action? What’s that all about, anyway?”

“That’s just another aspect of how phenomena manifests at the quantum level,” responded Jade. “The classical notions of space, time, causality–objective reality, break down at the quantum level. Remember there are no waves propagating. According to most physicists, the wave function is not quite a thing, it is more like an idea that occupies a strange middle ground between idea and reality, where all things are possible but none are actual. An electron is not a particle either, it is more like a process, always forming, always dissolving. It can’t be detected until it interacts with a measuring device and even if it does interact we don’t know if it interacts with the device per se, or if it interacts with the last link in the chain of events that define the experiment—the consciousness of the human observer. The physicist, Erwin Schrödinger, devised a thought experiment to illustrate that point.

“You put a cat in a box with some poison gas. When the gas is released, the cat dies. The release of the gas is triggered by radiation decay. The decay is totally arbitrary. In classical physics, the cat dies at the time of the decay, but in quantum mechanics the cat dies when the observation is made, when the last link in the chain of events that defines the experiment occurs. At the time of observation when the box is opened the wave function collapses and possibility becomes actuality. Of course, common sense tells us that can’t be true, but that’s precisely the point, common sense breaks down at the quantum level, things are ‘different’ at that level. So the question remains, ‘Is it, or when is it, necessary to include human consciousness in our descriptions of the world?’ Or, put another way, ‘what role does measurement play in an experiment?’ Does it provide a description of the world under study or does it actually create that world?’ Quantum Mechanics has a hard time answering questions like that.”

“Maybe one day that situation will be better understood,” I said. “But until that day comes, talk about ‘objectivity’ is probably best left to the Buddhists. They don’t have a problem with ‘independent reality’ because there isn’t any; for them, everything is interdependent. My subjective world and the objective world are, for an enlightened Buddhist, just words referring to mutually conditioned relations woven into one fabric; subject and object are not just inseparable, they are indistinguishable.”

“Funny you should point that out,” responded Jade, “I mean, that words interfere with reality, because many physicists believe the same thing. Many physicists believe that the wave function is not an accurate representation of what’s really going on ‘out there.’ Rather, they believe the wave function is an abstract creation whose manipulation somehow yields the probabilities of real events that happen in space and time. But that’s only part of the story, and perhaps a small part, too. In fact, the mathematician von Neumann, the same guy who developed a mathematical proof rejecting the notion of hidden variables in quantum mechanics, believed the problems surrounding quantum phenomena had nothing to do with nature, but, rather, they had everything to do with language. We impose, with our symbolic thought processes, the categories of ‘either-or.’ Language does not allow a mixture of A and not A. The boundaries of discourse, rather, are set by discriminating A from not A. Outside that boundary nonsense rules; where ‘separate parts’ are not applicable, language cannot go. Classical physics discriminates between A and not A, therefore, moving particles and waves can be analyzed. A pictorial description of nature is never a problem there. At the atomic level, however, it is not possible to visualize or describe waves because they are not there—they are purely mathematical constructs. Where things are not things, quantifiers like inside, outside, before, after, between, or connected are not applicable. Where language and logic do not apply, nothing more can be said.”

“It seems that physicists,” I replied, “at the quantum level at least, find the same road block that the Eastern sages discovered long ago; at that point, the language of neti neti, the language of not this not that–is all that’s left. At that level all investigations end, and we are left with mere words that say nothing.”

“Well, I wouldn’t put it quite so negatively,” Jade responded, “after all, at that level, something else comes into play; that is, if you are a sage—isn’t that where infinite wisdom and infinite creativity begins?”

“Okay, then maybe we’ve come full circle,” I said. “We’re back to the endless transformation of energy that the yin, yang symbol represents.”
“For sure, Neil’s Bohr would agree with that,” Jade replied, “but I think a little poetry is more appropriate here. After all, who better to entrust a description of the indescribable then the poet! If my memory holds, in some Upanishad it says, ‘He on whom the sky, the earth, and the atmosphere are woven, and the wind, together with all life-breaths, Him alone know as the one Soul.’”

“Yo! Fellows,” Don interjected, “We’re out of beer. No more beer, no more poetry, pleeease. Thanks for the beer, though. Don’t take offense, but somehow listening to you guys made me feel like I was waiting for Godet. If you ask me, it ain’t going to happen. Goodnight, see you in the morning!”


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One Response to “God’s Footprint–The Quasi-Physical Event Aspect Chapter Two”

  1. bwinwnbwi Says:

    I’m old now (very old), but after reading the above (including the couple beers it took me to get through it) I have to give myself kudos for being able to write a very concise state of the theoretical physics of the time. When I wrote the above, I wasn’t sure it was accurate, but now I have a whole philosophy/ontology that can intellectually defend the above–if you want to hear it you’ll have to catch me when I’m sober!

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