Chapter 2 The foundations of
science are shaking
The way we think about almost all subjects in our society today is pretty much influenced by our scientific understanding of the world around us.
Darwinism has had a major impact in our belief that life is mostly about the survival of the fittest. We see this belief reflected in our capitalist system where companies struggle to be the fittest. The struggle to survive is the motivation for companies to ever strive forwards and beat the competition.
Our society, by definition is always lagging behind scientific understanding. It takes a long time before old worldviews, old beliefs and old habits die. However at the turn of the century Darwinism itself is dying. Biologists like Lynn Margulis no longer believe in the survival of ‘selfish genes’, others are already calling Darwinism the biggest blunder of science ever.
In this chapter we will see that the fundamentals, the paradigm, the holy sacraments of science itself; causal determinism and objective reality, can no longer be defended. Science is firmly rooted in the belief that for every effect there is a cause. The effect is preceded by a cause that can be determined. This concept is called ‘causal determinism’. Science rules out the possibility of a God consciousness being a causal factor in nature! Another holy sacrament is the strict segregation and independence of object and subject. The scientist (subject) by studying nature does not influence nature (object) itself by his observations. This concept is called ‘objectivity’.
These very roots of science ‘objectivity’ and ‘causal determinism’ have affected our way of thinking about our world immensely. Science has annihilated the possibility that consciousness plays a role in nature altogether and has therefore driven us into a blind belief of materialism.
Now let’s delve into the history of physics and see how these very old and firm convictions of science started to tumble to give way for a much grander vision.
Isaac Newton (1642-1727) is regarded as the founder of modern western science that prevailed for at least 200 years until the early 20th century when Einstein finally ended the hegemony of Newtonian physics with his general and special relativity theory.
René Descartes who bifurcated our world into the domains of spirit and matter later inspired Isaac Newton. Due to René Descartes and Isaac Newton, the view that God was the only causation of physical phenomenon in the outer world was finally abandoned and a science devoid of the burden of theological dogmas was born.
The premise of Newtonian physics is causal determinism. What this means is that it is assumed that nature can be studied and determined just like we study the working of a machine. Let’s say we want to understand how a clock ticks, the thing we need do when we want to know all there is to know about the clock is to examine every cogwheel of the clock and finally we will understand the working of the entire clock. This is how nature was studied in the days of Newton and thereafter.
In Newtonian physics, the atom is regarded to be a point particle in space. If we want to understand the inner structure of the atom, we must take it apart and study its inner parts. When we’re done and discovered the last smallest sub particle, the smallest cogwheel of the clock so to speak, we will have finally come to understand all there is to know about the atom.
Science has always followed exactly this approach. They have built huge particle accelerators such as the one at CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche nucléaire), the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland to study matter and take it apart. In the particle accelerator matter is bombarded with particles that are accelerated to close light speed. After an atom is hit by an accelerated particle, it breaks like fine china, rendering debris of smaller particles that are studied in a vapour trail chamber to reveal the inner structure of the atom.
Science has discovered a whole bunch of particles that make up the atom, we have the electrons, the neutrons, the protons, in turn neutrons and protons consist of quarks. The long list of particles goes on and on, and seems limitless. Physicists are still discovering new particles in their particle accelerators; these discoveries don’t make headlines any more! They have discovered and catalogued around three hundred subatomic particles already!
According to Newtonian physics, the outer physical world is strictly objective, meaning that scientific experiments are not dependent of the observer performing the experiment. In this sense science formulated a protocol under which all scientific experiments must be performed before they are accepted. This protocol stipulates that experiments must be reproducible by other scientists anywhere in the world.
Newtonian physics states that all phenomena in the outer physical world must have a material cause; measurable forces or fields of energy interacting with the physical object must cause them.
Consciousness is also believed to have a material cause. In Newtonian physics consciousness is the epiphenomenon or secondary effect of the chemical and electrical processes going on in the human brain. Hence it is simply a by-product of the physical brain, it has no cause in itself.
The worldview that is sketched above by Newtonian physics is by many still the most popular view today; it is how the majority of the modern western world views their world at large. No wonder since Newtonian physics applies perfectly to the macrocosmic world of material objects that we observe with our senses. It is how we expect the world to function when we wake up in the morning and open our eyes to go about our daily lives.
Newtonian physics is the physics that most of us were taught in secondary school and it is still valid for the macroscopic world. For instance, the orbital laws of the planets by Johannes Kepler are still used today by NASA to calculate the orbits of their spacecrafts and are based on pure Newtonian physics.
In 1905 Albert Einstein changed the prevailing worldview of Newtonian physics for good with the introduction of his special relativity theory, followed in 1915 by the general relativity theory.
He proved that the Newtonian laws of physics were by no means static, but that they are relative to the observer and the observed. Depending on the difference in speed between the observer and the object under observation, space starts to either shrink or expand and time starts to slow down or speed up.
Strict objectivity of the physical reality that is the premise of Newtonian physics is maintained if the relativistic effects are taken into account that play a role between the observer and the observed.
Einstein concluded in his relativity theory that space and time cannot be seen as two separate things any longer, but that they must be regarded as one unified thing. He called it the space-time continuum.
Relativity theory supports the principal of locality, which means that all physical phenomena must take place in a limited time and in a limited space. Actions at a distance take time to travel through space as no material thing or force can exceed the speed of light.
The founder of quantum physics is Max Planck. In 1900, he studied the spectral lines, the colours of heat emitted by a blackbody. A blackbody is an object that completely absorbs all heat radiation, reaches temperature equilibrium and next radiates the absorbed heat again. Planck discovered that heat radiated by the blackbody was not a continuous flow of energy but that the energy was transmitted in equal and finite bursts of energy packets with a distinct frequency. Planck assumed that the vibration of the atoms in the black body was the source of the radiation. The discrete lines in the energy spectrum could only be explained if the atoms were excited into a higher energy state due to absorption of heat. Next the absorbed energy is released again and radiates electromagnetic energy packets when the atoms return to their ground state. These energy packets are called quanta and the energy of the packet is proportional to the frequency of the radiation.
Planck’s concept of energy quanta conflicted with the classical electromagnetic theory of Maxwell that predicted that electromagnetic energy moved in waves that could assume any small amount of energy and was certainly not quantified. It took years before the impact of Planck’s discoveries were finally fully accepted and grasped. Planck always expected that someone else would come up with a better explanation for the quanta than himself, however Einstein confirmed the quanta of electromagnetic energy radiation in experiments with the photoelectric effect and called the light quanta photons. What Einstein proved was that light consists actually of particles, the photons. He received a Nobel Prize for his work on the photoelectric effect.
In 1905 Rutherford discovered the nucleus of the atom and in 1913 Niels Bohr who had been working with Rutherford, proposed a model of the atom similar to a miniature Solar System in which the electrons orbit the nucleus like our planets orbit the sun. The electrons like the planets orbit the nucleus in spherical layers called the electron shells at discrete distances from the nucleus. The electron shell was Bohr’s answer to the discoveries made by Max Planck, he conjectured that an atom could exist only in a discrete set of stable energy states. He explained that electrons can only orbit the nucleus in a given shell but they are free to make a quantum leap from one shell to another. When the electron jumps (quantum leap) from a higher shell to a lower shell a photon of a distinct wavelength is emitted. The electron does not travel through the space in between the shells, it can only leap frog from one shell to another.
Bohr explained the mystery why electrons don’t crash into the nucleus by saying there is a lowest shell that cannot be trespassed. To this day quantum physics has never been able to explain why the electron is forced to orbit in a given shell, the answer is simply this: it’s the magic of quantum physics!
Louis de Broglie in 1924 raised the question in his doctoral thesis ‘Recherches sur la théorie des quanta’ (Research on the quantum theory) whether electrons could actually be waves as well? It was the introduction of the wave-particle duality in quantum physics. De Broglie proposed that particles (electrons) could be observed as solid objects and in other cases behaved like waves.
Quantum physics was able to mould this strange dualistic behaviour of matter into a consistent mathematical model, however they were never really able to explain why an electron or photon for instance behaves like a particle in one situation and as a wave in another. When an electron or photon is observed as a particle it is contained in a confined space, however when observed as a wave it is everywhere since the wave spreads out in space. Try to imagine this for yourself it’s utterly impossible! They came to call this wave-particle like atomic matter wavicles indicating their dualistic nature.
Quantum physics is the weirdest of physics that ever faced this world. It was discovered that at the level of subatomic particles nature ceased to be deterministic. Up until this time Newtonian physics assumed that all properties and behaviour of our physical reality could be determined, since it was assumed that all physical reality at all levels abides to well known physical laws of which there are no exceptions.
Quantum physics proved this assumption to be wrong for elementary particles, at the microcosmic level. At the microcosmic level, nature starts to behave fuzzy and is by no means deterministic anymore. Absolute certainty about the exact state and properties of a particle cannot be determined any longer, it can only be calculated in terms of a statistical probability. This principle has become known as the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, named after Werner Heisenberg.
It is paramount to understand that the non-deterministic nature of subatomic particles is not due to the lack of accuracy of measuring instruments but an inherent property of nature itself. At the quantum level, electrons jump into higher orbits of electron shells in the atom for no apparent reason at all. When they fall back to their ground state, a photon (electromagnetic light energy) is released. This behaviour is noticeable in all of our electronic equipment such as an electronic amplifier as noise. The random behaviour of nature at the quantum level shocked and puzzled scientists since they had always believed in the Newtonian axiom that nature abides to well predictable laws. Physicists now had to live with the uncertainty principle of quantum physics. Einstein who couldn’t believe it once said; God doesn’t play dice!
What is causing these quantum fluctuations of energy at the quantum level that cannot be predicted?
Erwin Schrödinger worked out the equation which determined either the speed (momentum) or the exact location of an electron in an electron cloud. Because of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle it is not possible to know both speed and location at the same time: if you know its speed its location will be uncertain and if you know its location its speed will be uncertain.
To solve the paradox of the dualistic nature of a wavicle, a particle that can be both a particle and a wave, quantum physics says that the wavicle only exists in an imaginary form as a superposition of all possibilities. As soon as an observer, in most cases the scientist in his laboratory, measures the wavicle its quantum state collapses. The superposition of all possibilities is said to collapse into just one physical state, one physical reality. In other words the wavicle does not exist in the real world until the observer observes it. Before observation it exists in a transcendental realm of possibilities. When it is being observed it freezes, or condenses out, into just one of those possibilities.
This has become famous as the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics and was proposed by Niels Bohr. The Copenhagen interpretation says that the act of conscious observation by the observer is causing the collapse of the quantum wave, the quantum superposition of all possibilities. Hence what quantum physics is saying is that our physical reality is subjective, the observer plays an active role in what nature is manifesting. In the quantum realm of subatomic particles we are co-creators of our own reality!
Einstein once said ‘I’m not sure the moon is still there when I turn my head’. What he meant by this is that quantum science assumes that our physical reality only exists when it is being observed (particle state) and that matter returns to pure energy when no one pays attention (wave state).
Quantum physics meant the end of the Newtonian objective and causal determinative reality since the conscious observation of the scientist plays an active part in physical observations.
Today this knowledge is being used to develop quantum encryption technologies for information transfer. The interception of a message can be detected by the act of observation alone since the unauthorized reader will have to some extent changed the contents of the message.
Quantum science predicted the existence of so called non-local effects. Non-local effects are effects that take place instantaneously between physical objects that are separated in space-time. In this case there is no time involved between the cause and the effect. This is strictly against Einstein’s theory that nothing can exceed the speed of light in the universe. Einstein when he first learned that quantum science predicted the existence of non-local effects called these effects ‘spooky action at a distance’. He just didn’t believe it.
In a paper released in 1935 by Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen, together they proposed the so-called Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) correlation for quantum-entangled particles. Two particles are entangled when the quantum states of the particles are coupled. Quantum entangled particles react as one body, there seems to be no separation. When the quantum state of one particle collapsed into a classical state, so does the other in exactly the same state. In order for this to happen it requires that the communication between the two particles is instantaneous in other words non-local. In the EPR proposal however Einstein tried to disprove the non-locality of quantum entangled particles stating that quantum science must be incomplete and he came up with and alternative of ‘local hidden variables’. In 1964 John Bell in theory proved that the non-local effect of quantum-entangled particles was real after all and this became known as Bell’s theorem.
So communication between the entangled particles was again assumed non-local and thus instantaneous. If the state of one entangled particle changes, so does the other to reflect the same state.
Engineers at IBM as of 1993 have been working on quantum teleportation using quantum entanglement as their cornerstone. Quantum teleportation is a technique whereby matter is dematerialized in one location and ‘faxed’ in a quantum state to another place to be reassembled locally. Although we’re not expecting Star Trek science fiction scenes in the near future where Scotty is beamed up to the mother space ship U.S.S. Enterprise, the fact remains that the phenomenon is real.
What the researchers at IBM are working on is not the actual teleportation of matter itself, but its quantum state properties. Teleportation was long considered impossible since the measurement, the scanning of the original would cause the collapse of the quantum state and hence destroy the original, degrade it to a classical state. However, the IBM scientist proposed a trick in which scanning takes place not fully in the quantum state but in a half classical, half quantum state such that the quantum uncertainty principle is not violated.
In April 2004 the BBC News reported breakthroughs in quantum teleportation that were achieved by researchers in Austria. These researchers successfully teleported quantum entangled photons over a distance of 800 m across the Danube River near Vienna using fibre-optic wires. This event was the first time that quantum teleportation was demonstrated outside of the laboratory.
Quantum teleportation is a major feature that is required in the development of a new super type computer using quantum computing. Our current computers use binary states in memory called bits to store data. A bit can take on the value of either one or zero. In quantum computation the classical bits are replace by quantum bits or qubits. Qubits when in their quantum state take on the superposition of both the one and zero value at the same time. While in the quantum state the computation takes place. Quantum teleportation is the feature by which data (qubits) is moved form one place in memory to the next, just like what happens in our current computers. At the end of the computation the quantum state of the computer’s memory collapses into a classical state. All qubits in memory now will have a classical bit value of either one or zero! The advantage of quantum computers, provided they can be constructed will be that they can achieve an almost infinite degree of parallel computing that will render them extremely efficient and fast.
Non locality and quantum entanglement only existed in theory until Alain Aspect of the Institute of Optics at the University of Paris in 1982 first proved the very existence of these effects is his laboratory. He managed to produce a series of twin photons that were sent in opposite directions. The quantum entangled twin photons travelled in their quantum state, meaning they have an infinite number of spin directions all at the same time as a quantum possibility. When one of the photons was intercepted and measured, the quantum state of spin of the photon collapsed into a classical spin state that could be determined. At exactly the same time with zero time difference, the other twin photon was measured, the photon collapsed in exactly the same classical spin state as the first photon, no matter the distance between the two photons. The experiment proved that a non-local communication must have taken place between the two photons, how else was the photon to know the exact spin of its twin?
This discovery rocked the scientific community to the core. If non-local effects are real than there must be either other hyperspace dimensions, other physical planes of existence outside our physical world where this non-local communication is taking place, or Einstein’s assumption is wrong that no local effect in our universe can travel at a speed greater than light speed.
After Aspect’s discoveries, University of London physicist David Bohm came up with a completely different explanation. What we see as two separate photons may be illusionary; the photons may be united at a hitherto unknown level as one. He assumed that our universe could be holographic in its nature. He explained this beautifully with an analogy. Suppose we place to cameras near an aquarium, one in front and one at the side. Suppose we show the separate images of the two cameras recording a swimming fish to a spectator on two separate video screens. What our spectator may conclude after studying the images from the two screens intensively is that although he sees two fish swimming, their moves are synchronized (entangled) since the other fish reflects every move of the first fish. What David Bohm is suggesting with this analogy is that at a deeper level of reality the two photons may not be separate after all. He proposed an implicit order of the universe, a oneness at a deeper level that is folded outwards as separate things.
The implications of quantum physics are mind boggling; it is showing us that we are co-creators of our own physical reality at least at the microcosmic level of reality since the observer plays a part in what is being observed. Niels Bohr, cofounder of quantum science once said, ‘Every one who’s not shocked by quantum physics, didn’t understand it’.
We will provide abundant prove in this book of the fact that the effect of human consciousness in quantum physics is not limited to the microcosmic realm, but also applies to our macrocosmic world. Human thoughts, emotions and intention have a far greater effect on reality than ever assumed possible.
Quantum science is still to this day a prevailing science; it can explain many physical phenomena, except for gravity!
In an attempt to unify both Einstein’s relativity theory and quantum physics, according to mainstream physics, the Holy Grail of physics today is ‘string theory’. String theory should deliver Einstein’s unification theory that is supposed to bind the four existing force fields (strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetism and gravity) into one unified theory of everything (T.O.E). In string theory, the building block of matter is a vibrating string that can either be a loose end or a one-dimensional closed loop. Depending on the various spins and frequencies of the vibrating string, different subatomic particles manifest. In string theory there is only one fundamental cause, the vibration of a string, but it is the note that is being played on the string so to speak that accounts for the different type of particle.
The string itself is so small that it is impossible to imagine its existence! Now I want you to think in ratios; the string is said to have the size of an atom, if presumably the atom had the size of the Earth! This means the string is unbelievably small. If the theory ever works, it’s a question if scientists will ever be able to prove the existence of these strings in their laboratories!
Non-locality in quantum science suggests that there must be higher planes of existence, other dimensions besides our physical world since no information can travel faster than the speed of light in our dimension. String theory predicts the existence of at least 10 or more dimensions. Physicists all over the world now agree that this physical dimension alone cannot explain our physical reality.
The problem with string theory is that there is more than one string theory needed to get the model working and these string theories have become so complex that only a few of the most brilliant scientist are able to understand it, such as professor of physics at Princeton University Edward Witten.
In the seventies of the 20th century, a new science emerged out of the blue, chaos theory! Where quantum science reveals that at the nuclear level objectivity doesn’t hold true, chaos theory goes even one step further in disappointing Einstein who believed that God doesn’t play dice.
Chaos theory reveals that the unpredictability, the uncertainty of quantum science is also true for what was believed to be predictable events. According to chaos theory scientists have been fooling themselves for centuries! By ignoring small deviations in measurements, calling them measurement errors, they had missed the point altogether! Predictable systems that could be fully explained with Newtonian physics such as the swinging of a pendulum of a clock and the orbits of the planets behaved in a chaotic way instead of being perfectly predictable.
The new reality revealed by chaos theory is that there is chaos, unpredictability even in the swinging of a pendulum! Our universe does not abide to strict laws of physics at all. Physical laws only operate within certain boundaries, giving them a degree of freedom. Chaos theory showed that our universe by no means is deterministic; it is creative and eternally evolving. Chaos in Greek mythology is regarded as the cosmic force that creates form from emptiness, nothingness.
Physical laws themselves may not be predetermined but may evolve over time. In this respect a better term for physical laws would be physical habits, the natural habits that have evolved in billions of years to become just the way the universe works. The universe can be regarded as an evolving system of habits. Physical laws are more or less a universal memory of how to do things.
Chaos theory continues to explain that although events may seem totally random at first sight, there still exists order at a deeper level! Examples of random events with chaotic order are the irregular dripping of water drops from a tap, the crystallization of ice crystals.
Although the sequence of drops that will be falling from a water tap is completely unpredictable even by chaos theory, there is still a deeper order, a pattern to be discerned! Ice crystals are all similar but not identical, it’s impossible to predict what the ice crystals will look like when they crystallize. However chaos theory is able to demonstrate that ice crystals have a common hidden order.
The founder of chaos theory is Benoit B. Mandelbrot. Employed as a mathematician at IBM in New York, Mandelbrot discovered that there is a hidden mathematical order in the seemingly random order of price fluctuations. He studied the price of cotton, a commodity with a vast amount of price data, dating back hundreds of years. Mandelbrot found a pattern in the price fluctuations that was quite revolutionary to say the least. It baffled economists, who couldn’t believe that something like the price of cotton could be predicted. What Mandelbrot discovered was what he later termed a fractal.
A fractal is a recursive geometric pattern that is repeated at different scales indefinitely. The most famous fractal is the Mandelbrot fractal. Fractals are often used in screen saver software of computers. They keep on repainting the screen eternally with an increasing complexity of geometric patterns.
The ‘order’ in the Mandelbrot chaotic fractal is quite simple it’s a formula:
z -> z² + c, whereas z is a complex number and c is a constant.
The formula is recursive; each new value of z is fed into the formula again and determines the next value. The initial value is 0. Z is a complex number that consists of a real part and an imaginary part. The real and imaginary values of z can be plotted in an x-y diagram rendering these amazing pictures. Different values for c will render different fractals and gives the fractal its degree of freedom.
Fractals were found everywhere in nature, for instance in the arteries and veins in the vascular system of the body and the bronchi of the human lungs. Plants have fractal symmetry; broccoli is a beautiful example, but also a mountain landscape is fractal. When we zoom into an object that is fractal, we see the pattern of the object at macro level repeated at the micro level, no matter how much we zoom in.
Chaos theory has discovered the existence of four basic cosmic attractors, the point, cycle, torus and strange attractor. We will not go into detail about the differences but mention that an attractor can best be described as the force in nature that creates order out of chaos. The chaos is drawn to the attractor creating a hidden order.
The four types of attractor work at every level of reality, creating our universe out of chaos. The world is not totally organized by fixed physical laws as formally believed but it is self-organizing and the fourfold type of attractors organizes it. Chaos theory also makes an end to a centuries old physics law, the second law of thermodynamics, the law of entropy that states that all order in the universe will eventually decay to disorder. The attractors of chaos theory prove that negentropy (negative entropy) creating order out of chaos must exist in the universe. In fact it seems to be the rule and not the exception!
The attractors of chaos theory completely reverse the idea of cause and effect. Causality is based on the idea that every effect must have a cause that in time is prior to the effect. However in chaos theory, the cause is the attractor, the unseen force in the future that draws the effects, the current and past time events to it.
The attractor in chaos theory is a force that Greek philosopher Aristotle called entelechy, the goal that draws the events of change to it.
At the turning of the millennium it became more and more obvious that science is loosing its very foundations of objective reality and causal determinism.
The illusion of objectivity was removed by quantum science that showed that the influence of human consciousness plays a role in the quantum realm of subatomic matter. Quantum scientists have always had problems with the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum science. The idea that consciousness has a measurable effect on reality just didn’t fit into the established framework of science. Descartes and Newton founded science with the assumption that consciousness doesn’t have any effect on reality; consciousness itself was shoved aside to the domain of religion! This has lead to a blind belief that the universe could be explained like clockwork, a blind faith in materialism. No one ever doubted it in the 19th century. It was believed that everything in nature could eventually be explained by science in mechanical terms, the universe was regarded as one huge mechanical clock.
Causal determinism already damaged by quantum science’s uncertainty principle in the quantum realm was finally tackled by chaos theory! Chaos theory simply states that all events in nature are chaotic and unpredictable and that physical laws can only operate within confined boundaries giving them room for creativity and spontaneity. Cause and effect are reversed with the fractal attractor as the cause drawing the effect towards it. Chaos theory lends credit to the idea that there must be purpose in the universe!
But how strong is really is the effect of consciousness on reality?
Is it limited to the quantum realm of subatomic particles such that it remains forever hidden from our personal experience or does it also play out in the macroscopic world of our daily experience as well? Let’s have a look at what science has to say about consciousness in the next chapter.