Mad Teddy's website - Science, scientific method, and ZPE: some thoughts

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Science, scientific method, and ZPE: some thoughts

This page added on Friday, 10th July 2009

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"Red sky at night..."

On the evening of Monday, 9th February 2009, there was a magnificent sunset over Launceston. You know me - I just had to go and grab my old Mavica camera before it ended (you only have a few minutes!), and take some shots over to the west, up the hill behind our home. The picture you see above is the most spectacular one I was able to get.

As always, I was pleased to obtain a good series of weather photographs - but on this occasion, the usual buzz I get when I manage to pull off something like this was tinged with more than a little sorrow, because that was the worst day of the horrific bushfires which wrought devastation in the state of Victoria, several hundred kilometers north of where I live.

Please understand that I know I'm treading on dangerous territory by mentioning this tragedy in connection with what many may see as my "hobby horse" - i.e. zero-point energy as a major part of the solution to the problem of climate change. However, may I make the following points:

1. As far as "tub-thumping" about my own interests is concerned, of course I'll admit to having a strong hobby interest in the kind of material I'm presenting here. However, that in no way detracts from my sincere belief that what I am engaged in is a genuine attempt to help make the world a better place. (If I didn't believe that, do you really think that I'd have put anything like as much energy and commitment into building this large website over some four years for no financial gain?) This site has been from its inception, and continues to be, a labour of love.

2. Just a few weeks ago, my first grandchild - a little girl - was born. I am extremely concerned that she, any siblings and cousins she may have, and their entire generation will inherit a world fit to live in. Unless people of goodwill do whatever they can to ensure that this happens, it may well not happen. (To that extent, I do consider myself to be such a person of goodwill.) In fact, I hereby seize the opportunity to dedicate this website to my little grand-daughter and any further grandchildren I may have.

Having (hopefully!) thus established my sincerity, I'll proceed:

As mentioned in that Wikipedia article whose link appears above, there are many who see climate change as at least part of the cause of the disaster. We've had twelve years of drought down here, and the bush was tinder-dry - and for those few days the weather was very hot and windy. There were news reports suggesting that south-eastern Australia was very probably the hottest place on earth during that time, with temperatures well up into the forties. Everyone knew that bushfires were a strong possibility; what nobody could predict, however, was their sheer ferocity.

It was an inferno. In some parts, the fires were driven by northerly winds blowing at something like 60 kilometres per hour. In certain instances where cars were burnt out, some metal components actually melted (click here to see an example; also scroll up two pictures to see another).

Update, Saturday, 27th May: over the last few days, the Royal Commission (see below) has been informed that there were cases in which the wind speed was around double that figure. It appears that the fires were actually creating their own local weather conditions. Click here to read more.

In the days immediately after the fires, there were television news reports in which we saw residents of those country towns venting their anger at nattily-dressed visitors from Melbourne - the big city - who, with their "green" credentials, were asserting that it was all caused by climate change. Some of the locals had their own ideas about the cause, one of which concerned the laws preventing land-clearing around their homes. In the aftermath of the horror, what they didn't need was some city-based stranger preaching to them about environmental issues. From my perspective, their outrage and frustration are perfectly understandable.

Just one more link to click on (added on 18th Feb. 2011). Note in particular from the paragraph just below the map of Victoria just how nasty some people are, and be stunned at how they can treat their fellow human beings with such contempt.

I don't want to say too much more about it here. As I write this (Sunday, 17th May 2009), there is a Royal Commission in progress which will hopefully address all the issues, with a view to trying to prevent anything similar happening again. I'll be most interested in its findings, when it's all over.

However, just over the last few weeks we've seen something very similar happening in California - and summer hasn't even begun there yet!

At around the same time as the Victoria bushfires, the good people of north Queensland were enduring an entirely different problem: torrential rain, resulting in widespread flooding (also click here to read more).

Update, Tuesday, 26th May: The rain and flooding in north Queensland has, over the last few days, extended into the southern part of the state and even down into New South Wales. It's just starting to clear up now. Also, in Australia's dry centre, Lake Eyre - which is normally just a huge salt pan - has begun to fill up as the floodwaters from Queensland slowly make their way south and west. It's the first time in nine years that we've seen anything like it. Click here to see a report from the ABC's Paul Lockyer (this link added on 15th September 2011).

Clearly, our world is going through a turbulent time. Although we still get occasional letters to the editor in our local newspaper to the effect that climate change is all just about scaremongering, most people are now taking the matter seriously and are very concerned about the future.

However, in recent times, we've heard a whole new series of questions being asked:

Is climate change caused by human activity, or is it just part of a natural cycle?

Either way, can we really do anything about it? - and if it is merely a natural occurrence, should we even try?

I'll admit to a certain exasperation when I hear things like this. I'll be frank: as far as I'm concerned, with this being the only world we've got, if we are silly enough to let it go quite literally to hell, it will serve us right when it does. Whether or not the planet's present condition is "our fault", if we can do something about it but choose not to do so (for whatever reason - even the most "politically correct" of reasons) then we will, at the very least, be incredibly stupid. As the only species in the world with enough intelligence to attempt to take the matter on, from my perspective it will be nothing less than criminal negligence on our part if we don't.

Hence this website. I'm doing whatever I can, in my own way, to try to make a difference.

I've become convinced that we can't rely on most of our politicians to lead the way. (There are exceptions, of course - we've had some excellent Aussie politicians down the years who have had real vision; but generally their ideas tend not to be adopted to any great extent, or over a long enough time, to do any lasting good.) Modern politics is far too much concerned with economic "fixes" to grasp the scale of the current problem, and any possible real solutions to it, without the public - you and I - assuming a leadership rôle.

As I've mentioned here and there in other pages within this site, I believe that any solutions will have to be fundamentally technical in nature. Of course, I don't belittle the problems we face from the worst aspects of human nature: greed and arrogance, which (I firmly believe) have brought our world to its present sorry condition. No amount of technical know-how can fix what may be described as a "spiritual" problem. But we have to start somewhere, and simply do whatever we can, because time is short. If there are any possible (even partial) solutions to the problems of human nature, we'll just have to hope that they will appear along the way, as those of us who can address the technical problems just get on and do so.

To be fair, there are some hopeful signs that we have a chance. Since the recent elections in Australia and the US, both countries now have leaders who, in principle at least, are addressing the issue of education in the scientific arena, in what seems to be a sincere attempt to reverse the "dumbing down" which has characterized the neo-conservativism of the past several years.

However, as I've also mentioned here and there in other pages, there is an inherent problem within the mainstream scientific community itself which could well hamper our best attempts to come up with the best possible solutions for our world's current difficulties.

Please - humour me while I take yet another trip down memory lane.

As a youngster in primary school, I was already fascinated by what would be described later - in high school - as "science". I remember vividly being intrigued by the fact that water was composed of two gases, and trying to form a mental picture of the atoms and molecules involved, wondering how their combination could be a liquid. I was even more fascinated to learn that two atoms of the gas oxygen could combine with an atom of a solid substance - carbon - to form yet another gas - and, more amazing yet, a colourless one, even though carbon is black!

I didn't know then that diamonds, which are also colourless (the really good ones!), were also made from carbon; and of course another form of carbon, magenta-coloured buckminsterfullerene, was yet to be discovered - along with other, related forms of carbon - beginning in the 1980's.

So I was eager to start "doing science" at high school. It was a source of puzzlement to me that most of the other kids didn't share my enthusiasm - indeed, found science to be boring.

I now know - having learned about it a year or so ago - that this is one aspect of Asperger's Syndrome (which I definitely do have; see my On the spectrum page for more about this). I was always fascinated by ideas, even to the detriment of relationships - whereas, it appears, most ("normal"?) people are the exact opposite in that regard.

School science is basically about learning facts - at least in the early years. Fair enough, I suppose - you need to have a basis on which to build further learning, in any subject. But I was one of the minority of school-kids who wanted much more from science. I wanted to know not only what, but also how - and even why.

It's all a bit of a blur for a new high-school kid. For example: as far as chemistry is concerned, one of the first things to be noticed in a science lab is a large chart on the wall, with the grand title "Periodic Table of the Elements" (or something very similar). At first, it's a matter of learning just a few of the more obviously "important" elements - carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur, iron, sodium and chlorine, to name a few, and some of their better-known compounds.

It was only in later school years, and into Matriculation College, that we began to learn about the structure inherent in the table, and even to appreciate some of the history behind it. Its obvious importance with regard to valencies, chemical formulas and equations became clear. At this point in their scientific education, students are learning not just what, but also something about how. (Of course, the situation is similar in the other sciences, such as physics and biology.)

Along with the facts - including things like physical constants (the speed of light, Avogadro's number, the universal gravitational constant etc.) and physical laws (often expressed in equations such as  E = mc2 ,   F = Gm1m2/r2 ,   or   2as = v2-u2 ) - there were mentions of something called "scientific method", probably beginning at Matric. and definitely continuing into university. It was around that time that alarm bells began to ring in my head.

On the face of it, scientific method is basically about ensuring that scientific work follows certain agreed procedures in order to allow scientists to repeat and verify other scientists' work. One of its most prized attributes is objectivity - the idea that a scientist should not allow his or her own opinions or values to cloud the research, but adhere strictly to accurate reporting of factual experimental data.

But is it really that simple? Click here to see the Wikipedia article on scientific method, and read through it carefully (or at least, enough to get the gist of it, as it is quite a long page.)

As I write this, that article begins with the following stern-sounding remark:


This article's factual accuracy is disputed. Please see the relevant discussion on the talk page. (March 2009)

The "talk page" mentioned above is here.

Oh, my goodness gracious me! That page is a lot longer than the actual "scientific method" page itself, and is composed of an animated discussion involving lots of points which, I venture to suggest, at least appear to have more to do with semantics than with actual content or meaning. Plenty of "loaded" phrases there - for example, under the part of that page headed "Hypothesis testing", the phrase "narrow-minded crank" makes an appearance. (In all fairness, in context that phrase was probably well-deserved - it referred to the actions of someone involved in judging school science fairs who managed to get up the noses of others involved in the process; click here to read the story.)

One of the matters addressed in that "talk page" is the definition of science itself. This raises the question: Who has the right to define it?

Should scientists, Wikipedia article authors, zero-point energy enthusiasts, or any other special interest group be given the sole right to do so? I think not. The word has been around a lot longer than arguments about what constitutes "correct" scientific method. As far as I'm concerned, the Concise Oxford Dictionary (Eighth Edition, 1990) has as much right as anyone to give a working definition. It's too long to quote here in its entirety (it goes on from the basic definition to deal with various particular applications of the word to specialized fields such as "political science"), but it begins (with that basic definition) and ends (with an etymology) as follows:


science n. 1 a branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles involving the systematized observations of and experiment with phenomena, esp. concerned with the material and functions of the physical universe (see also natural science). ... [ME f. OF f. L scientia f. scire know]


From my point of view, the most important thing to note from this is the fact that the very word "science" originates with the Latin word scire, meaning "to know". (I once read somewhere - and I can't remember where, sorry - that it actually means to know in the fullest sense. The word "understand" carries something of the meaning.)

That concept implies certainty. However, "science" (in its modern form, at least) is about theories which can be falsified, i.e. shown to be wrong - so that, far from any sense of absolute knowledge of anything, the whole process is characterized by the idea of doubt!

Please - don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that we can fully know everything - perhaps anything - about the natural world. So a worthwhile way to view science is as an attempt to move toward such an ideal, unattainable though it may be. In that sense, the idea that a theory can be modified - or even overthrown - by continued investigation is perfectly legitimate.

The point I'm making here is that we human beings are a contentious breed, and that if something is not certain, you can guarantee that people with axes to grind on particular topics are going to attempt to push their own angles, albeit with every possible appearance of rationality and inevitability (and, of course, no doubt that same accusation can be levelled against me and my championing of zero-point energy within this website).

The way I see it, it's when self-opinionated people start laying down the law about precisely how scientific research should be carried out that we have a problem. It's then that the whole process can become very skewed.

For example, refer again to the "talk page" whose link appears above. Once we get beyond the introductory note at the top of the page and into the discussion proper (on the subject of scientific method), the first thing we find is a heated argument about the use of the definite article - i.e. the word "the" - in connection with the idea! The contention is that the term "The scientific method" should be used instead of simply "scientific method"! Dear oh dear...

I'm relieved to see from the ensuing discussion in that page that there are plenty of top scientists (Richard P. Feynman among them) who take issue with the notion that there is just one "correct" way of "doing science".

I think that there is perhaps no better way of emphasizing my point than by presenting here the same link as is presented within that "talk page" which points to a page containing the text of a speech given by Richard Feynman (1918-1988). Please, do visit that page and read the text of Feynman's speech:

http://www.fotuva.org/feynman/what_is_science.html

Dr. Feynman's style of speaking and writing (I have a number of his very entertaining and informative books) was very simple - even childlike. However, within that disarming style, and with his cheeky sense of humour, the content of what he had to say was often very profound. He had a gift for "putting it across".

A quote from that speech, summarizing his views on what science should be about:


...And that is what science is: the result of the discovery that it is worthwhile rechecking by new direct experience, and not necessarily trusting the [human] race['s] experience from the past. I see it that way. That is my best definition.

Another quote from that speech, which I think absolutely drives home the point I'm trying to make here:


I think we live in an unscientific age in which almost all the buffeting of communications and television--words, books, and so on--are unscientific. As a result, there is a considerable amount of intellectual tyranny in the name of science.

If Dr. Feynman were still alive, I wonder what he'd make of all the huff and puff about "scientific method" within those Wikipedia pages mentioned above. Not much, I suspect!

Note also from that Feynman speech that he uses the word "pseudo-science" to refer not to research into new and controversial areas, but to "the kind of tyranny we have today in the many institutions that have come under the influence of pseudoscientific advisers". [Shortly, I'll have more to say about "pseudoscience" and other pejorative - even insulting - terms which are frequently bandied about (by people whose motivations are quite different from Feynman's) to pour scorn on research which doesn't follow the "rules".]

If you'd like to read more about Richard Feynman, visit this Wikipedia page (which I do heartily endorse!). In particular, have a careful look and think about what he had to say on the subject of string theory.

So that's precisely the sort of thing that I found worrying as a young student. The sense of excitement that I'd had about "science" as a child apparently now had to take very much a back-seat to certain quite restrictive rules of procedure. (Frankly - no wonder so many youngsters are "turned off" by science!)

For years, I thought (wrongly) that scientific method itself was the problem. Having had plenty of time to mull over it, I now see that there's nothing at all wrong with the basic idea that science should be done in a careful manner so that scientists can check each other's work (and, of course, there should be absolutely no tolerance of deliberate scientific fraud). However, it's all the bluster, bombast, petty one-upmanship, and other unfortunate paraphernalia that can so easily accompany the legitimate process that are really the problem.

Of course, part of that has to do quite simply with "office politics". In his memoir "I.Asimov" (Chapter 65, page 197-8), Isaac Asimov told the story of how, while working as an Associate Professor in an academic institution, he managed to annoy his superiors - who were putting pressure on him to do more research - by explaining that on the one hand, he found research difficult and uncomfortable, whereas on the other, he was outstanding as a writer - and that therefore he should be allowed to specialize in academic writing rather than research. In his own words:


... as a science writer, I am extraordinary. I plan to be the best science writer in the world and I will shed luster on the ... school. As a researcher I am merely mediochre and ... if there's one thing this school does not need, it is one more merely mediochre researcher.

OOPS! On the face of it, at least, that appears to be all about losing one's temper. (As I've mentioned elsewhere in this website, I personally know something about this - and it's not a good way to make a point.) However, in Dr. Asimov's case, he knew he could get away with being - shall we say - direct, because he'd already made a name for himself as a writer - so he would still be able to earn a living, come what may (and, of course, that's exactly what he did!).

They tried to force him out of the school, but by then he had tenure, and he stood his ground and won; even though he did lose his income from the institution, he nevertheless was able to keep his title.

- Which brings me to my next point.

I'd like to begin this section by asking you to please visit the Wikipedia article entitled "Publish or perish".

On the face of it, it's very simple: if untenured academics don't publish the results of their research, it doesn't reflect very well on their educational institutions - hence the pressure to do so. But there's more to it than that.

In the current way of doing things, in order to get research published you have to go through the process of peer review. In the Wikipedia "Scientific method" page mentioned earlier, this matter is addressed. (You can either revisit that page and scroll down to the part headed "Peer review evaluation", or simply click here to go straight to it.)

Observe the use of the terms "unscientific" and "crackpot" in the text. (I'll return to this matter later.)

Ostensibly, the idea is to impose some kind of "quality control" on what gets published. Academic institutions don't want their credibility to be tarnished by anything that is not in some way "up to scratch"; and, equally, journals don't want to publish material which brings them into disrepute. So both parties have an interest in having submitted papers checked by other workers in the field, which all seems fair enough - again, on the face of it.

But is life ever that simple?

Please, also read this Wikipedia page which deals specifically with peer review. In particular, scroll down to the part headed "Criticisms of peer review" (or simply click here to go straight to it). Also, do please read the following section in that page headed "Allegations of bias and suppression".

UPDATE, Thursday, 17th June 2016

Having just clicked on those Wikipedia links, I find that some changes have occurred (as is always possible with Wikipedia), so that the "Criticisms..." content seems to have been edited out at some stage. However, a bit of Googling has turned up this page:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholarly_peer_review

- which (as far as I can see) contains the original text from the earlier link.

Humour me again while I tell my own story of peer review.

I won't mention names; but I was once employed in an educational institution in which there was a peer-review procedure in place for staff promotion. I wasn't there for long enough for it to apply directly to me - but I was privately asked to answer questions by a colleague on at least one occasion (if I recall correctly, there were two such occasions), the answers to which were to be used as part of a process which would determine another colleague's "suitability" for promotion.

I found the whole thing extremely distasteful, for a number of reasons:

1. I disliked the pressure being put on me to be possibly disloyal to a colleague.

2. I wouldn't like anyone to go behind my back in a similar way should I be applying for promotion.

3. In such a system, where does the person under investigation go to appeal against an adverse finding basically made by his/her own colleagues under a cloak of secrecy?

4. After such an event, how could one ever trust one's colleagues again?

As far as I'm concerned, the very idea of peer review is flawed. People are human, and human nature can be spiteful. There are all sorts of ways for petty office politics to hold sway in such a setting.

Even allowing for a best-case scenario, where the respondents are totally "professional" and consciously avoid "back-stabbing", in an academic situation there is always the possibility of self-interest gaining a toe-hold.

Suppose a senior academic ("A") has built a career on his/her theory, which has gained enough respectability over time to have become part of "accepted wisdom". Then some young upstart ("B") lands a position at the same institution, proceeds to shoot the old theory full of big, ugly holes, and wants to get published. What will happen?

In an ideal world, "A" will gracefully admit having been wrong and wish "B" all the very best in his/her academic career, enthusiastically recommending publication of the new theory. Right?

But as you and I both know, this is far from an ideal world.

Even if "A" is gracious enough to do this, what about other senior colleagues - indeed, the very institution itself? There may be at least a perception that the employing institution might be tainted by allegations of "bad research" by one of its long-standing employees. There are others' reputations to consider, after all...!

So, if "B" wants to keep the position, it will almost certainly be in his/her own interest to avoid "rocking the boat". The result is that a good, new, exciting theory doesn't get published - and the world is the poorer for it.

The only employees who can afford to publish truly ground-breaking new research, especially if it will cause embarrassment to colleagues, will be those with tenure and long-established reputations as good researchers. So fresh, young minds don't get a chance to shine, while comfortable old theories - even wrong theories - remain entrenched.

Furthermore, it's not just a matter of embarrassment. If an institution gains a reputation for backing theories which cause financial backers - whether government or private enterprise - to become concerned, there is a real risk that grants for research will diminish, thus harming the institution economically. How can an institution allow that to happen?

- And why should the providers become concerned?

In the case of government funding, politicians will shy away from spending "public money" on anything which may be seen as risky. Worse: if there is even a perception (however misplaced) that new research in some way poses a threat to national security - whether economic or military - do we really believe that governments won't actively try to suppress it - or, at the very least, regulate it?

As far as a corporate backer is concerned, if an institution is seen to be involved in reasearch which undermines the backer's "bottom line", the funding will dry up very smartly. (Are you getting my drift - particularly with regard to the energy scene?)

Hence the only research that junior scientists in a mainstream academic institution can realistically expect to get published is that which basically affirms "accepted wisdom", rather than seriously challenging it. (Indeed, in the scenarios outlined in the previous two paragraphs, even senior researchers with ground-breaking ideas may well be warned to fall into line.) The result is that, rather than being an exciting, vital process of discovery about the universe, science takes on the appearance of a body of knowledge - the very outcome that Richard Feynman decried in his speech mentioned above.

Last night (as I write this, Tuesday, 2nd June, 2009), the ABC television programme "Australian Story" featured Dr. Maarten Stapper, an advocate for biological (i.e. chemical-free) farming, who left his employment at an Australian scientific institution over a matter of principle, and now makes a living giving talks to farmers on how to farm successfully using less chemicals. Another story of someone taking on "accepted wisdom". Click here to read more, and watch the program. (8th Feb. 2012: Here's a most interesting YouTube video featuring Dr. Stapper explaining his views on genetically-modified crops - well worth a look. There are links there to other videos by him also.)

UPDATE, Friday, 6th May 2011

Today, while browsing through my web-page about quasars - basically to make sure that the various outside links still work (they do, fortunately!), I followed one of those links and found this page which makes some very similar points to those I've just made. (So it's nice to know that I'm not alone. ) Please, do visit that page and seriously consider its author's arguments.

So - is there a solution? Is there a way to beat the "Three P's" (Pride, Power and Politics) I've mentioned earlier in my original Zero-point energy page?

As I've already said on numerous occasions in various pages within this site, I believe there is. If we are ever going to get zero-point energy taken seriously as a viable energy-source, thus allowing our battered old world a real chance to regain its equilibrium, it's going to be up to the citizens - you and me - to make it happen.

The internet has finally made it possible for ordinary people to get their work published without having to go through the humiliating ordeal of peer review. There are plenty of experimenters posting the results of their own research into ZPE on the web, to the point where there is now a real community of such original thinkers, bouncing ideas off each other, pooling their intellectual resources freely, trying to make a difference - and I'm glad to be a participant. The main thrust of this website is to try to inspire as many other people as possible to get involved in the same way - and I'm hoping that you may be one of them.

If enough people succeed in building their own working models illustrating that this enormous store of non-polluting energy is available and accessible, and post their results on the web, then - sooner or later (hopefully sooner) - mainstream science, government, and business will have to realize that the tide can't be turned back, and will thus finally get involved - and we may then succeed in fixing our world's overarching environmental problem before it really is too late.

This is a frame from an mpeg movie showing my first monopole motor operating. I used a book to push the electromagnet/LED assembly on the sloping pillar over to the right and hold it there, while it drew sufficient power from the rotating wheel's magnets to light the LED.

The book is "The Field" by Lynne McTaggart, published by HarperCollins, 2001 and 2003.

Click on the picture to watch the movie. Note how the motor slows down as the electromagnet approaches the
wheel. At the end I switch the motor off. (The clicking sound audible after it stops is the wall clock ticking.)

The small print just below the book's title (some of which can be seen in the picture) is a quote from the late Arthur C. Clarke:


This important book stretches the imagination... We are on the verge of another revolution in our understanding of the universe.

I bought the book from a Sydney bookshop in April 2007, when I was up there as a member of the studio audience for an episode of the ABC television series "Difference of Opinion". The episode was entitled "Cool Heads In A Warm World", and dealt with the burgeoning topic of climate change. (Visit my History, terminology and motivation page and scroll about three-quarters of the way down to read more.)

I'd first heard about this book from a family friend a few months earlier. (The word "Field" in its title refers to the "zero-point field" - so, as you can imagine, I was immediately interested to obtain a copy.)

I'll be honest: I didn't find it an easy read. As you may expect, I was hoping to find references to research about practical energy generation by harnessing the zero-point field - but, in that regard, I was disappointed.

I suspect that part of the problem is that I'm sufficiently old and crusty that, if an idea is really revolutionary, even rebellious old Mad Teddy can struggle with its implications. (After all, when I first was first getting to grips with the basic concept of zero-point energy about a decade ago, I wasn't sure if it might not all just be a big leg-pull, at first.)

You don't have to read very far into the book to realize that a large part of its subject matter has to do with quantum mechanics. The first mention of quantum physics occurs on the fourth page of the Prologue: "The Coming Revolution" even before we get to Chapter 1: "The Resonating Universe".

As a student, I'd always found the concepts of quantum mechanics difficult to grasp. In fact, I thought that it must all be a colossal mistake. The very suggestion that "cause and effect" doesn't seem to "work" at the atomic and molecular level was a real problem. Such things as Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, Schrödinger's cat, and the EPR paradox - not to mention the astonishing implications of the double-slit experiment - can leave one scratching one's head. (An inability to grasp and deal with these concepts may well be part of the reason that I struggled as a physics and chemistry student at university in the 1970's.)

Just before going on: of the four quantum-mechanical phenomena mentioned above, the double-slit experiment is perhaps the easiest to relate to, because the experiment itself is so graphic and the results are so surprising. I've found a web-page which describes it very well using interactive graphics; click here to see it and play with the effect. While you're there, look at the "previous" and "next" pages. In fact, have a look around the whole site - it's brilliant! (and, best of all, its style is somewhat similar to my own site, with big fonts to help people like myself whose eyesight isn't all that great).

Here's another one which addresses the matter; and here's another. Note the following two comments in the second of these, in the part which deals with the fact that the effect is exhibited not only by light (photons), but also by electrons:

“Evidently, when we look at what is going on at the slits we cause a qualitative and irreversible change in the behavior of the electrons. This is usually called the "Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle."”

“The path of the electron from the electron gun to the screen is not knowable when we see the interference pattern. As Heisenberg said, "The path [of the electron] comes into existence only when we observe it."”

Here's an interesting page on Tom Bearden's website in which he addresses the matter in his own style, introducing more phenomena into the discussion.

Now: to drive the point home and add what must surely be the weirdest aspect of all, watch this YouTube video. Note the final conclusion, which I'll come back to shortly:

“The observer collapsed the wave function simply by observing.”

That'll do for now! (but there are plenty more web-pages about it which you can find by Googling if you're interested).

It's worth mentioning that plenty of other people have battled with the concepts of quantum mechanics. In his memoir "I.Asimov", the late Isaac Asimov tells the story (in Chapter 44, page 132-3) of how, when he returned to chemistry to continue work on his Ph.D. thesis after a stint in the US army toward the end of World War II, he was taken aback to find how things had changed:


... while I had been gone, there had been a revolution in chemistry with the application of quantum mechanics to it, something brought on largely by the work of the great Linus Pauling.

I had not kept up with that change and was appalled to find that chemistry had turned into Greek for me. Fortunately, I had taken all my course work before leaving for Philadelphia and there was no need for me to do anything but research. This was incredibly fortunate, for there was now scarcely a course that I could reasonably have needed to take that I would have had any perceptible chance of passing.

- And, of course, he did indeed go on to get his Ph.D..

So I'm in good company! If such a luminary as Dr. Asimov struggled with the weird world of quantum mechanics, there's no shame for me if I do also.

[It's worth noting that Asimov also mentions in his memoir that, as a student, he went OK in mathematics until he got to calculus. He could handle differential calculus all right; but when he came up against integration, he hit a brick wall (Chapter 30, near the bottom of page 90). He also mentions (Chapter 41, page 124) that, much to his chagrin, he was never any good at games - even intellectual games, including card games like bridge, or (worst of all) chess! (I can understand his frustration, because I'm not all that good a chess-player myself.) So you don't have to be a dumbo to have difficulty with complicated ideas - a fact which I find very reassuring!]

Back to our main theme...

So when I first read, years ago, that zero-point energy had something to do with quantum mechanics, I thought "Hmmmmm..." and tried to put the idea to one side.

However, Lynne McTaggart's book not only makes that connection, but a whole lot more besides. We're being asked to seriously consider such matters as ESP, telepathy, homeopathy, and remote healing - very "new-age"-ey stuff; and I'm not a "new-age"-ey person! So this time, it was more like "Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm..."

Have a look at this review of the book, and see what you make of it all.

Are you still there? Or have you decided already that it's just pseudo-scientific (or unscientific), crackpot stuff?

Please - remember that Arthur C. Clarke endorsed the book as well worth reading, and that his endorsement is right there on the front cover for all to see. (If you've seen my original Zero-point energy page, you'll have noticed several references to Clarke in which I've mentioned his impeccable scientific credentials, as well as his endorsement of another unusual book. Also, do please visit my page about quasars in which there are more references to Clarke and his thoughts.)

So - sure, if you like, you can join many other people who simply write off Lynne McTaggart and her books (she has written others along similar lines since) as rubbish. (If you do a Google search on "Lynne McTaggart crackpot", you'll find that there are plenty of people who do just that.)

Or you can remember that Galileo, Olaus Roemer, Michael Faraday, and plenty of other researchers - including Nikola Tesla, of course! - who made ground-breaking scientific discoveries were also basically regarded as "cranks" or "crackpots" in their time (or worse - Galileo was branded by the Inquisition as "vehemently suspect of heresy", a very serious legal matter in those times); and then perhaps you can keep an open mind, at least until you've taken the trouble to actually check these matters out with a degree of sincerity.

A few weeks ago, when I started researching for this page, at some point I typed something like "McTaggart 'The Field'" into Google. One of the pages that turned up - the first one, I think - was a Wikipedia page which unceremoniously labelled the book as "pseudoscientific". Basically, it was just a rant. (Okay - I've written some rants in my time; but I always make an attempt to justify my position. This was different.)

So - just a few days ago, when I started Googling again, I was surprised (pleasantly, I may say) to find that that page seemed to have disappeared! Instead, I found this Wikipedia page. It's short and to the point; but most importantly, there is no hint of the gratuitous rudeness of the earlier article. So I live in hope. Do have a look at it.

Next, have a look at this YouTube video which features an interview with Lynne McTaggart.

She mentions "science and spirituality" in a single sentence, just like that. So how do we take this? Do the two concepts go together? Can they co-exist - or are they diametrically opposed?

I'll come back to this - but first, I'd like to draw attention to a particular section of "The Field" which I found most interesting.

Dr. Hal Puthoff features very large in the book, much of which deals with the researches of him and his colleagues. (I've made mention of Dr. Puthoff in my original Zero-point energy page.) One particular topic is what Dr. Puthoff would come to call "remote viewing". (This is first mentioned on page 190 of "The Field", in Chapter Eight: "The Extended Eye".)

Please visit this Wikipedia page about Hal Puthoff; and in particular read the section headed "Secret government work". [If you like, you can go straight to that section by clicking here to read about "Project SCANATE" (later "STARGATE",) which involved remote viewing.]

In her book, Ms. McTaggart goes into considerable depth about this. Remote viewing is, as you might suspect, the ability to "see" from a distance - a very considerable distance!

On page 191, we read that shortly after Dr. Puthoff had circulated his paper on early experiments into the phenomenon, he had a visit from two "blue-suited" members of the CIA, "waving the report in hand". It seems that the CIA was becoming concerned about the fact that "the Russians" were conducting experiments - funded by the Soviet security forces - into parapsychology. (This was back in the early 1970's, long before the collapse of the former Soviet Union.)

I remember having seen, heard or read something about this in my younger days. I always wondered what the big deal was. Were "the Russians" going a bit barmy, playing around with goofy touchy-feely stuff like ESP? - and if so, why should anybody else be worried about it? - Or, to put it bluntly: so what?

"The Field"'s narrative continues:


From the resources they were pouring into it, it seemed as though the Russians were convinced that ESP could unlock all the West's secrets. A person who could see and hear things and events separated by time and space represented the perfect spy. ... Many senior staff at the CIA thought it was high time that the USA looked into it [i.e. ESP] as well; the problem was that they were getting laughed out of most labs. Nobody in the American scientific community would take ESP or clairvoyance seriously.



WELL!!!

No wonder the blue-suited spooks were worried!



Eventually the CIA found what they were looking for in Hal Puthoff, then at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). As Lynne McTaggart goes on to say (on page 192):


The agency had been scouring around for a small research lab outside academia* that might be willing to carry out a small, low-key investigation. SRI - and Hal's current interest - seemed perfect for the job. Hal even checked out as a good security risk since he'd had experience in intelligence in the Navy and had worked for the National Security Agency.

* emphasis added

Finally (on this topic) please click here to read Dr. Puthoff's own report on the outcome of his collaboration with the CIA. (Note that much of what is said here is also reported on in "The Field".)

It must be said that "The Field" is a thoroughly-researched book. The main part of the book - the narrative - goes to page 298; but there are many superscripted notes and references to other publications throughout the text, and these are elaborated upon - often in considerable detail - in the "Notes" section which runs from page 301 to page 326. This is followed by an extensive Bibliography which runs from page 327 to page 351. An Index, from page 352 to page 357, completes the book.

Depending on your particular bias, you may perhaps consider "The Field" to be "unscientific", "pseudo-scientific", or "crackpot" simply on account of its subject-matter (which I intend to address in greater detail shortly). Either way, however, I venture to suggest that - by any realistic standards - this is, at the very least, a scholarly work.

Importantly (as already mentioned) there are several references in the book to quantum mechanics - and I feel that it's necessary to discuss this topic here in order to make my main point. So, fasten your seat belt...

I know that this is becoming a very "bookish" page, with lots of quotes - but please, bear with me while I bring yet another book into the discussion.

Currently (Tuesday, 2nd June 2009), I have out of the Launceston lending library a copy of "The Ghost in the Atom", edited by P.C.W. Davies and J.R.Brown (Cambridge University Press, 1986; this is a 2000 reprint).

It's an attempt to bring to a non-specialist audience an account of quantum mechanics. On the back cover, a New Scientist reviewer is quoted as describing it as "one of the clearest short expositions of quantum theory I have ever read".

There is a Foreword by both editors; then Chapter 1, entitled "The strange world of the quantum", gives an overview of the subject matter. The remaining chapters, 2 to 9, are edited interviews by one of the editors (Paul Davies) with a number of quantum mechanics researchers: Alain Aspect; John Bell; John Wheeler; Rudolph Peierls; David Deutsch; John Taylor; David Bohm; and Basil Hiley. Then there's a Glossary, a bibliography ("Further reading"), and an Index. All up: about 160 pages. Click here to see a Cambridge University Press page introducing the book.

It's very difficult to know where to begin, when deciding what to refer to in this book. Basically, the best thing I can suggest is that you borrow or buy a copy yourself, if you can find one, and just read it. But I'll try to extract a few points from it which might set the scene reasonably well.

Some quotes from the Foreword:

“... according to [Neils] Bohr's interpretation of the theory, the existence of the world 'out there' is not something that enjoys an independence of its own, but is inextricably tied up with our perceptions of it.”

(Did you look earlier at the "Dr. Quantum" YouTube video about the double slit experiment? If not, please do so now - here's the link again for your convenience. If you only click on one of the many links within this page, that should be the one you click on.)

“Ironically, having played a significant part in the early development of quantum theory, Albert Einstein became its foremost critic. Until his death in 1955, he was convinced that an essential ingredient was missing from the formulation of quantum theory...”

It goes on to say that, although Einstein and Bohr were friends, Einstein repeatedly tried to demonstrate the theory's incompleteness - but that Bohr was always able to deal elegantly with his criticisms. (Einstein is famous for having insisted that God does not "play dice" with the universe.)

“But today the quantum controversy is far from over. In recent years a series of experimental tests has been carried out ... tests which promised to cast new light on the Bohr-Einstein debate.”

It was the resurgence of interest in quantum mechanics in the 1980's that prompted John Brown (the book's other editor) to discuss with Paul Davies the possibility of producing a radio documentary on the subject. Several interested physicists were interviewed by Dr. Davies; only small portions of the interviews could be used in the radio programmes, but they were later published in fuller form in this book.

In the Foreword's penultimate paragraph, the comment is made that

“some of the contributors ... expressed the view that there is now no real doubt over how quantum theory should be interpreted. At the very least, we hope this book will show that there is little justification for such complacency.”

I'm sure that Richard Feynman would agree - and so do I!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In Chapter 1: "The strange world of the quantum", under the heading "origins", the point is made that quantum theory originated in 1900 with a paper by Max Planck about the distribution of various wavelengths of heat emitted from a hot body. Five years later, the matter was taken a step further by Einstein who accounted for the photoelectric effect - in which electrons are displaced from the surface of metals by light - by considering the light beam to be made up of discrete particles, which eventually came to be known as photons.

Thus the "wave-particle duality" of quantum mechanics arrived. Until then, since Thomas Young's original two-slit experiment in 1801 right through to the development of James Clerk Maxwell's electromagnetic theory in the 1860's and 1870's, light had been considered as a waveform to account for the various observed phenomena. But it didn't stop there; physicists were concerned that electrons orbiting atomic nucleii - in curved paths - should, according to Maxwell's theory, radiate energy away and thus ultimately spiral into the nucleus.

Quantum theory dealt with the fact that this clearly doesn't happen by considering that electrons are not just particles (the fact that they can be viewed as particles had been proved by J.J.Thomson's cathode-ray tube experiments) but that they can also be viewed as waves, existing within atoms in certain discrete standing-wave patterns corresponding to particular energy levels around the atomic nucleus (see this page for a good depiction; scroll about two-thirds of the way down to the section headed "Wave-particle duality and the Bohr atom"). Then, if an electron moves between such energy-levels, radiation (in the form of photons) does indeed occur.

Further research showed that all sub-atomic particles exhibit wave behaviour. By the mid-1920's, Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger had independently developed quantum mechanics to account for the observed wave-particle duality.

Chapter 1 goes on to point out that the theory has been extremely successful, and that no known experiment since has shown it to be false. But it then goes on to say:


Yet this magnificent theoretical edifice is founded on a profound and disturbing paradox that has led some physicists to declare that the theory is ultimately meaningless.

The problem, which was already apparent in the late 1920s and early 1930s, concerns not the technical aspects of the theory but its interpretation.

- Or, to put it in terms which I used earlier, it's not so much about the how as the why.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To cut a long story as short as possible:

Chapter 1 then goes on - under the heading "Waves or particles?" - to describe experiments involving the effect on individual photons of polarizing material (the kind of thing you find in polaroid sunglasses, for example). From the waveform point of view, if a light wave's polarization matches that of the polarizing filter, it will get through with its intensity undiminished; whereas if they are at 90o to each other, the light will all be blocked. Between these two extremes, the intensity is proportional to cos2ø , where ø is the angle between the light's polarization and that of the filter. In particular, if the angle is 45o, then the intensity is halved, as cos245o = ½ .

[You can at least get an idea of this by playing with two pairs of polaroid sunglasses: line them up one behind the other so that you can look through one lens of each of them, and twist them around with respect to each other while doing so. The light which gets through the first polarizing filter (or polarizer) - i.e. the lens further from your eye - consists largely of light whose polarization matches that of the lens; thus much of this light (dependent upon the cos2ø factor) is polarized in one plane. Then this somewhat polarized light is further filtered by the second polarizer - i.e. the lens closer to your eye. This setup at least approximates what would happen to perfectly polarized light encountering the second polarizer.]

That's the "classical" point of view. But suppose we reduce the intensity of the light beam so that only one photon at a time encounters the polarizer. The issue then becomes: which individual photons get through, and which don't? Since all photons in a light beam have the same energy, it becomes a matter of chance: with a 45o angle, the probability of a particular photon getting through is ½ . We can't predict in advance which ones will get through, and which ones won't! As the book goes on to say, "Generally we cannot know until an observation has been made what the fate of a given photon will be."

The book then proceeds to point out that this kind of uncertainty in the world of sub-atomic particles is what prompted Heisenberg to come up with his uncertainty principle in 1927 (at the tender age of 25!). It then goes on to discuss the afore-mentioned two-slit experiment, in all its weirdness; a modified version of the two-slit experiment proposed by John Wheeler (the delayed-choice experiment); the EPR experiment (also mentioned earlier); and Aspect's experiment.

It also addresses the "Schrödinger's cat" issue (also mentioned earlier). (This is about a cat trapped inside a metal box with a bottle of poison gas which may get broken depending in some way on whether a particular atom in a sample of radioactive material decays, and raises the question of whether it makes any sense to ask whether the cat is alive or dead at a given time without actually having a look.) The point is made that the problem becomes even more acute if the cat is replaced by a human being. The text continues:


If the experimenter opens the box to discover that the subject is still alive, he can then ask his friend how he felt prior to this, apparently crucial, observation. Obviously the friend will reply that he remained 100% alive at all times. Yet this flies in the face of quantum mechanics, which insists that the friend is in a state of live-dead superposition before the contents of the box were inspected.

The paradox of the cat demolishes any hope we may have had that the ghostliness of the quantum is somehow confined to the shadowy microworld of the atom, and that the paradoxical nature of reality in the atomic realm is irrelevant to daily life and experience.

Perhaps it helps, to put it in more everyday terms (since most of us - hopefully - don't make a habit of playing fast-and-loose with any of the nine lives of some unfortunate cat), if we think about how mercury or sodium street-lights (purplish or orange respectively), with which we are all familiar, utilise quantum effects (photons emitted by electrons moving between energy levels within atoms) to brighten our neighbourhoods at night.

Or, consider the fact that transistors - of which there are millions in your computer's RAM chips - rely on quantum-mechanical principles for their operation, and make it possible for you to read this on your monitor - which, whether an old-fashioned cathode-ray tube or CRT (like mine ), or a more modern liquid-crystal or plasma-screen type, itself also relies on quantum mechanics!

As the book then goes on to say:


Following the logic of quantum mechanics to its ultimate conclusion, most of the physical universe seems to dissolve away into a shadowy fantasy.

Among others, Einstein could never accept this logical extreme. Surely, he once asked, the moon exists whether or not somebody is looking at it? The idea of making the observer the pivotal element in physical reality seems contrary to the whole spirit of science as an impersonal, objective enterprise. Unless there is a concrete world 'out there' for us to experiment on and conjecture about, does not all science degenerate into a game of chasing mere images?

Having thus set the stage, the book then asks what the solution is to the “paradox of measurement”, setting the scene for the interviews between Dr. Davies and the contributors in subsequent chapters - but first, it presents some possible positions individual scientists may take:

1. The pragmatic view - in which physicists (most of them, apparently) don't push the logic of the theory to its "ultimate extreme", assuming that at some point quantum physics somehow "turns into" classical physics, in which such things as Einstein's moon and other everyday objects actually exist.

2. Mind over matter - the idea that the observer's mind in some way actually influences the observation on a quantum system, causing the abrupt collapse of the wave function to a specific observed state - so that the mental state and the physical state interact with each other (raising the question as to whether a human mind is required; or whether Schrödinger's hapless cat, or a lesser life-form such as a cockroach - or even something as lowly as an amoeba - will suffice as the observer...!).

3. The many-universe interpretation - the notion that every measurement causes the universe to "branch". In the case of Schrödinger's cat, the cat may be alive or dead when observed - and to allow for this to occur, the idea is that the universe branches into two "parallel universes" at that point, one containing a live cat and the other a dead one - with the experimenter not being consciously aware of the fact that he/she has somehow wound up in one or the other of these two universes!

[The concept of parallel universes has been used many times in science fiction. Isaac Asimov used it very effectively at least three times: in "Living Space" (one of the short stories in the collection "Earth Is Room Enough"); in the novel "The Gods Themselves"; and in a time-travel setting in an earlier novel, "The End of Eternity". (I realize that it's debatable whether this last of these is really about parallel universes, because there is a sense in which any time-travel story is somewhat about parallel universes; but, in this case, because of the way the main theme of the story is developed, it really does have the parallel-universes feel about it - at least, to my way of thinking.) Apparently, some physicists give credence to the idea that something like this can actually happen!]

4. The statistical interpretation - in which the physicist simply chooses not to consider the question of what actually happens when a quantum measurement is made, preferring instead to use the language of probability to make statements about many measurements. (One objection is that this merely sidesteps the problem of measurement, instead of addressing it.)

5. The quantum potential - This is quite complicated, and I don't feel confident to address it in a few sentences here. You may like to click here to see the Wikipedia article about it.

The book mentions that there are other interpretations also - but stops at that point, because enough has by then been given in the way of background regarding how the eight contributors view the matter. As mentioned, Chapters 2 to 9 present the actual interviews with the contributors. I don't want to get into details about these; but just a couple of points:

Firstly, although there are definite, quite strong disagreements, the discussion is civilized. Words like "unscientific", "pseudoscience", and "crackpot" do not feature in the interviews (although one contributor did use the term "bizarre" in connection with the many-universes interpretation). Clearly, these are highly intelligent people trying to make sense of a very difficult and challenging situation, agreeing to disagree when necessary without resorting to childish name-calling as they seek to understand how the universe "works".

Secondly, zero-point energy is mentioned twice: in the interview with Basil Hiley (Chapter 9, the final chapter); and in the Glossary.

The Glossary defintion is as follows:


Zero point energy. An irreducible quantity of energy which, according to quantum mechanics, always resides in a system that is confined in some way. Its existence can be regarded as a consequence of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.

To me, that sounds somewhat vague - and quite unlike the thoughts on the matter that I've been finding on the web, and discussing here in my own site for some time. To put this matter in context, please have a careful look at the Wikipedia article on the zero-point field, whose link is here. In particular, note the following quotes from that page:


The electromagnetic zero-point field is loosely considered as a sea of background electromagnetic energy that fills the vacuum of space. It is often regarded as only a curious outcome of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle measurement problem. ... However, there is a global scientific consensus developing that the quantized electromagnetic field exists independently of the statistical uncertainty involved in the non-commutative act of measurement, and that it is also fully consistent with changes in the field that are coincident with the act of measurement.

- and -


In recent years, it has been suggested that the electromagnetic zero-point field is not merely an artifact of quantum mechanics, but a real entity with major implications for gravity, astrophysics and technology. This view is shared by a number of researchers, including Boyer (1980), McCrea (1986), Puthoff (1987) and Rueda and Haisch.

The other reference to ZPE in "The Ghost in the Atom" occurs in the final chapter (Chapter 9), which features an interview with Professor Basil Hiley, Emeritus Professor of Physics at Birkbeck College, University of London. At one point in the interview, Paul Davies and Professor Hiley were discussing how to interpret the way electrons move in a zig-zag path - if it's simply a random process, or whether something (the quantum potential is mentioned) in some way causes the motion. The discussion proceeded as follows (with Dr. Davies' questions in italics):


We always have the zero point energy. We know the vacuum state is actually full of energy, and the orthodox theory exploits that energy.

Yes. That's hard to push through in detail though, isn't it? For example, you would expect there to be a difference between neutrons and protons, and yet their quantum mechanical behaviour is very similar.

But I'm not thinking of this in terms of the electromagnetic background, because the quantum potential arises from a field that is not like an electromagnetic field. It seems to be very different; it seems to be much subtler than that.

So this zero point background that you're talking about is some sort of background of the quantum potential field rather than the zero point energy associated with other types of more familiar fields like electromagnetic fields?

That's right.

...

As I said before - get hold of a copy of the "The Ghost in the Atom", and read it and try to understand these very difficult concepts - it's worth the effort! UPDATE, Thursday, 9th July 2009: Just yesterday (8th July) I finally obtained my own copy, having ordered it some weeks ago from a Launceston bookshop. So now it shares a shelf with Lynne McTaggart's "The Field"!

So where does that leave us? How can we relate the more traditional views about quantum mechanics to the emerging interest in zero-point energy and its possible practical applications (which this website is very largely about)?

Please - bear with me while I wax a bit philosophical...

I don't know whether there's any significance in the fact that this year, 2009, marks 200 years since the birth of Charles Darwin - at least as far as this website is concerned. Probably not directly - but it does at least give me a lead-in to what I want to say here.

As a young evangelical Christian in the 1970's, I took an interest in the burgeoning "Creation Science" movement. I'll admit to having been somewhat bemused by the passions it stirred on both sides: the champions of the movement on the one hand; and the opponents, from the world of what may be loosely described as "atheistic science", on the other.

The extreme creationist position was that it was essential for Christians to hammer home that doctrine, because it was seen as absolutely fundamental: the claim was that if we couldn't embrace the biblical account of creation - pretty much verbatim - then our faith had no foundation and we had no message for a spiritually needy world.

On the other side, the extreme elements of the "atheistic" position took great delight in pouring huge scorn on the "unscientific nonsense" of the religious mob. So the battle lines were drawn.

I had what I still firmly believe was the good sense not to get involved to any great extent. However, I maintained an interest - and, for some years, I subscribed to a creationist magazine (whose name I won't mention) and thus kept in touch in a quiet way.

I grew very uneasy when that magazine - and other elements of the creationist camp - began to respond in kind to the smears and just plain rudeness of the opposition. Cartoons lampooning the "scientific" side, and snide little articles doing much the same, began to appear - and quite soon after that I allowed my subscription to the magazine to lapse.

Worse: it was (I think) in 1982 that I attended a creationist seminar in Hobart, and was further disillusioned by what I saw and heard there. The final session I attended, before I quite simply lost interest in the proceedings, featured a speaker whose subject was what was claimed to be the exponential decay of the earth's magnetic field, thus (if I remember rightly) providing evidence for the relatively young age of the planet. I knew something wasn't right, because I was a keen reader of magazines such as "Scientific American" and "New Scientist", and what was being said didn't square at all with what I'd read.

At the end of the talk, questions from the floor were invited. I put my hand up and referred to what I'd read about the evidence from seafloor spreading that the earth's magnetic field has in fact reversed several times over the ages - so that, far from being an exponential decline, any lessening in strength of the field may well simply be an example of a continuing periodic reversal - and asked the speaker to respond.

(Please understand that I wasn't trying to cause trouble. I was essentially sympathetic to the creationist point of view; but I thought - and I still think - that Christians can't afford to be ignorant of clear scientific evidence and thus invite ridicule when they stick their big feet in their big mouths. So I was actually trying to help.)

The speaker appeared to be completely flummoxed by my question. At that point, a geologist from the University - who was (if my memory serves me correctly) of the classic type, with the sports shirt, the shorts, the beard, the spectacles, and the cocky attitude - stood up at the back of the hall and proceeded, loudly and arrogantly, to completely demolish the speaker and his talk, ultimately labelling it (again, if I remember correctly) as "utter rubbish".

The meeting then broke up in disarray - and I left in dismay. This wasn't what I'd wanted to happen at all!

(In recent years, I haven't taken any real interest in the "debate", especially since it has disintegrated even further, now that creationism has become a major part of the platform of the "religious right" - which I regard very much as the "religious wrong".)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For all these reasons, it has been with some trepidation that I've taken on the task of writing this page, knowing that I'm far from expert in the mysteries of quantum mechanics and that I can't allow myself to refer to anything "metaphysical" without being extremely careful.

I'm not particularly concerned for myself. Having spent my early years as an Aspergian youngster, I've developed (of necessity) a fairly thick skin; and insults and put-downs - if they still occur at all - are now really no more than "water off a duck's back". (As one form of the old saying goes: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me".) However, I am concerned that what I say here should at least do no harm to my main cause of trying to promote ZPE technology to help mend a damaged world.

So why have I taken the risk of writing the page at all, if there's a chance it may invite the very response I don't want?

Precisely because I believe that I do have what I consider to be a valid point of view, and that somebody needs to take the risk of presenting it, come what may.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Since Darwin's time, the battle lines have been drawn between those who continue to believe in a divine creation, and those who consider that science and scientific method (with or without the definite article!) have made any belief in a God - or gods, or indeed anything of a "superstitious", "paranormal", or "metaphysical" nature - unnecessary. On the one hand, as mentioned, members of the latter group often delight in using unflattering terms like "unscientific", "pseudoscience", and "crackpot" to ridicule the former group - who may in turn use terms guaranteed to raise the ire of the latter group: "scientism" and "scientistic".

It's worth having a look at the Wikipedia article on scientism; click here.

(I'll admit to having used the word "scientistic" on at least one other occasion in this site. The Wikipedia article is correct: it is a pejorative term, and perhaps I could be criticized for being a little intemperate in its use. However, on the very sound principle that one is allowed an occasional stamp of the foot, I'm not going to take it out! )

Basically, it's an expression of frustration with the perceived arrogance of the scientific community when it insists that real knowledge about anything of any real importance can be acquired only by strict application of ["the"] scientific method, thus ruling out anything of a remotely religious or philosophical nature. The implication is that such considerations are of little or no consequence in the grand scheme of things.

(Until very recently, economists and right-wing politicians have - in somewhat similar manner - emphasized the importance of "the economy" over everything else; hopefully, with the spectacular demise of the unfettered global economic system, at least that can finally begin to change...!)

The point I wish to make here is that, quite clearly, even the best physical scientists are uncertain of what to make of the intricacies of quantum theory. The fact that books such as "The Ghost in the Atom" exist (and are even fairly popular, at least in some circles) testifies to the interest with which such matters are viewed - not to mention the recent appearance of books such as "The Field", which issue a fairly clear challenge to scientific "accepted wisdom".

[Then, of course, there is now plenty of material along these lines on the web. Some of these are previews of other books - for example, may I encourage you to visit this page which contains a preview of "Beyond Einstein: The Cosmic Quest for the Theory of the Universe" by Michio Kaku and Jennifer Thompson, and take the trouble to read through it. Even though I personally don't believe that string theory holds the answers (I have more to say about this below), this publication has the merit of giving a clear introduction to the topic - so that the reader may be inspired to read further on these weighty matters, and thus decide for him/herself whether it all "rings true" - and I can recommend it for that reason.]

I venture to suggest that there is room for thinking other than the purely scientific on the questions posed by quantum mechanics. I have my own thoughts on the matter, which I'd like to present here. I'm not seeking to dignify them by calling them a theory, or an hypothesis; instead, I'd rather adopt more of the barrister's approach - as to a witness in a court case - and offer them as suggestions.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I suggest that Einstein and Bohr each had part of the answer.

Einstein's General Theory of Relativity presents a vision of the universe as a kind of four-dimensional trampoline (see the preview of Kaku and Thompson's book, above), on which large objects "sit" and make "dents" of curved space-time, producing the effect of gravity which thus draws the objects together. Einstein saw things on the big scale.

NEWSFLASH, Thursday, 11th June 2009: On tonight's ABC-TV "Catalyst" science programme, it was reported that the results of an experiment which was begun in 2004 are now in. (Click here to see a page about an earlier Catalyst programme which went to air back then.) It seems that two major aspects of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity have finally been proved correct: the geodetic effect and "frame dragging" actually do occur as Einstein predicted. (I'll update this page with an appropriate extra link when one becomes available.) Now we have to think through what the implications of this are...

UPDATE, Saturday, 8th August 2009: I should have attended to this before now, but better late than never! You can view the programme on-line by clicking here. If you'd like to download it as a vodcast, click here (it's the first half of Episode 17: "Gravity Probe - Uranium Minerals", 11/06/2009).

Bohr - and the other quantum theorists - saw things on the small scale, the scale of sub-atomic particles.

In more recent times, there have been attempts to apply quantum mechanics to the entire universe. This has given rise to what is now known as "quantum cosmology", which is particularly concerned with such matters as the origin of the universe. Have a look at some or all of the following links to get a flavour of the subject:

http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/gr/public/qg_qc.html

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/quantum.html

http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Hangar/6929/h_kaku2.html

http://www.lcc.gatech.edu/~xinwei/papers/texts/linde/linde_brief.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loop_quantum_cosmology

I'd just love to be able to produce my own "Grand Unified Theory", or GUT. I don't think I'm up to the challenge of doing that, however; what follows are just some speculative thoughts in that general direction, which I present in the hope that researchers into quantum cosmology might consider them as possibly worthy of consideration - provided such researchers are scientists in the sense of being practitioners of science (i.e. knowledge in the fullest sense), rather than in the sense of being adherents to the false religion of scientism.   


“Brekky time, and the Teddy is hungry. Need some toast, and a nice hot cuppa tea,
Too much butter, and a big dob of VegemiteTM - then ready to take on the day I think I'll be.”
(With apologies to George Gershwin; this bit of nonsense added Friday, 28th May 2010.)
>>> Back to business: <<<

I suggest that Einstein may well have been right about the universe being four-dimensional, but with the fourth dimension representing not "time" but "energy" - specifically, zero-point energy. {Given mass and distance as fundamental quantities, we can have either time as another fundamental quantity - so that energy then becomes a "defined" quantity with dimensions of mass times distance-squared over time-squared [J = kg.m2/s2]; or (as one possible alternative) we can have energy as a fundamental quantity - with time then "defined" as distance times the square root of mass-over-energy [s = m.(kg/J)½]. I find the latter very appealing.}

In Chapter 3 of Stan Deyo's "The Cosmic Conspiracy", entitled "Constructs of Reality", the author says:


'Time' is not an absolute dimension in reality. The only absolute is energy. The distribution of energy within the various levels of the hierarchy of existence creates the phenomenon called, 'time'.

- which is pretty much in line what I'm saying here (in fact, if I'm honest, that's almost certainly where I got the idea from in the first place! )

Further, inspired by the ideas of Tom Bearden and others, I suggest that the four-dimensional universe is quaternion in structure, with the "real" dimension corresponding to the energy dimension just described, and the three "imaginary" dimensions corresponding to the familiar three-dimensional vector space in which we live. (See my web-pages about quaternions to read more; the first of the three - in which I give a lead-in to the subject matter - is here, and the second - in which I actually introduce the quaternions - is here.)

I'm prepared to consider the possibility that the universe is eight-dimensional rather than four-dimensional, preferring an octonion algebraic structure - with well-defined, non-ambiguous division - to a biquaternion structure, where such division fails. (Presumably, in such a scenario, the other four "imaginary" dimensions would then account for certain subtle aspects of the behaviour of the universe which would only become evident under careful scientific scrutiny, while remaining undetected by most of us in the realm of everyday experience.) I've dealt briefly with the octonions and biquaternions toward the end of my third page about quaternions.

[I can't see any justification at all for "string" or "superstring" theory, with its ugly choice of 10, 11, or 26 dimensions; to my mind it violates the principle of Occam's razor - and, of course, there is still not a shred of physical evidence for string theory. Click here and/or here to read the comments of some eminent scientists - including Richard Feynman - on this matter.

UPDATE, Thursday, 26th September 2013

Earlier today, someone close to me sent me an email drawing my attention to a very clever YouTube video entitled "A Capella Science - Bohemian Gravity!". It's a "send-up" of Queen's 1976 mega-hit "Bohemian Rhapsody", which was probably the main initiating factor in that rock band's enormous popularity over many years. It's put together by a physics graduate student who has a sense of humour (and who looks - to my mind, at least - somewhat like Dave Grohl of Nirvana/Foo Fighters fame! ), and pokes a bit of good-natured fun at some of these cosmological concepts such as 10-dimensional string theory, gravitons, M-Theory etc.. Here's the link. Go on - have a chuckle, and admire the guy's extreme creative talent and incredible attention to detail! (I think Freddie Mercury would have been highly amused...)]

I suggest that the universe may well be "trampoline-like" - but not, perhaps, in quite the way Einstein envisioned it. I have a vision of a universe teeming with enormous amounts of zero-point energy in such a way that every action, no matter how small, sets off a wave-like reaction which is felt everywhere, with the zero-point field acting in some way as the "medium" (somewhat as the traditional "ether" was long considered to be the medium through which light travelled).

I suggest that "mind" does indeed play an important part in that, when a waveform is experienced or "focused upon" by a sentient being, it "collapses" to a specific observation - as the evidence of quantum mechanics definitely shows.

Note that this provides a possible explanation for the apparent randomness which appears to be inherent in quantum mechanics. With many minds (including yours and mine) active in the universe - each affecting, and being affected by, the trampoline-like zero-point field as it (i.e. each mind) plays a small but very real part in "vibrating" that "trampoline" - perhaps it's possible to replace Einstein's "God playing dice" with a multi-partite contribution to a very deterministic universe, thus giving the appearance of randomness.

Note also that, in a very real and practical sense, this makes all of us responsible for the welfare of each other and our environment ("...love thy neighbour..."). Perhaps each of us has a far greater capacity for good and evil than we realize!

I suggest that gravity is not a cause, but an effect. I suggest that the idea of its being a kind of long-range effect, similar to the short-range Casimir effect, makes a lot of sense - especially in view of the fact that (as in the case of the "strings" of string - or superstring - theory) there is no physical evidence for the existence of so-called gravitons, which - apparently - are "required" in order to make string theory "work", as described in this page.

I am astonished - and delighted! - that, finally, some in the mainstream science community seem to be seriously considering the idea of a long-range Casimir effect to account for gravity - for example, have a look at this page, and also this related page, which contains the following very compelling statement:


If this interpretation is correct it has a broad range of implications. Our view on the fundamental concept mass is altered; our view on the expansion of the Universe may change.

(If I'm reading that right, it seems to be possibly issuing a challenge to the "Big Bang" theory, about which I'll have more to say shortly.)

Stan Deyo, in "The Cosmic Conspiracy", developed much the same idea in Chapter 3 (see the link above) but used the concept of the old-fashioned ether, rather than the zero-point field. He had more to say about it in Appendix 5, "Einstein's Relativity Error". In that article, he really stirred the pot (or perhaps the tea-cup is a better metaphor here! ). Note that here, he's again referring to a fluid ether, as he did in Chapter 3. Either way - with an actual ether or a zero-point field - I'll admit that I'm well out of my depth in this case, and thus I'm neither affirming nor denying what he has to say in Appendix 5!

Also, in Appendix 6: "Electro-Dynamic Propulsion" (which is fascinating and great fun to read), Deyo quotes Leonardo da Vinci who, on page 624 of Volume 1 of his Notebooks, said (but not in English, of course!):


Gravity comes into being when an element is placed above another more rarefied element. Gravity is caused by one element having been drawn into another element... A light thing is always above a heavy thing when both are at liberty. The heavier part of bodies is the guide of the lighter part.

- which emphasizes the idea of understanding gravity in terms of specific gravity, or density.

I suggest that, eventually, the postulated "dark matter" and "dark energy" will be seen as "unnecessary" as the zero-point field becomes better understood.

I used to believe in the "Big Bang" theory, partly because it at least appears to provide a mechanism for a divine creation of the universe as a particular, specific event. However, about three years ago, I came across some information which caused me to change my mind; see my page about quasars to read more.

Although I no longer take an active interest in the creation-versus-evolution debate, I nevertheless do consider the question of the origin of the universe to be well worth pursuing. Having decided against the "Big Bang", and seeing no particular merit in the Steady State theory originally proposed by Fred Hoyle and others in 1948, I find it worthwhile to look in the biblical Genesis account to see if there are any clues there that may be of value in trying to arrive at a "scientific" explanation of how it all started.

I can already hear the howls of "crank!", "crackpot!" - even "fundie!" (which I assume means "fundamentalist") - along with accusations of "pseudo-science", "absolute nonsense", or "utter rubbish". That's okay - as I've already mentioned, I'm not fazed by insults and name-calling. If that's how some people get their kicks, well - let 'em! "Sticks and stones..."

My point is that I seriously question whether "science" - by its own lights - is really capable of coming up with a fully coherent account of the universe's existence.

Consider: science needs to be about falsifiability. A scientific theory is not a "flight of fancy", or mere speculation. To be worthy of the tag, it has to be subject to testing by other scientists, employing [the ] scientific method. In that sense, a scientific theory is a model of observed reality; if the model can be shown to have serious inconsistencies, the theory fails.

This in turn means that experiments used to justify a theory have to repeatable by other scientists, in order to assess its validity. If experimental results consistently fail to be the same as - or very similar to - those claimed, the theory is at least seriously questioned. So everything remains objective.

The problem with cosmology - whose main focus of interest is the origin of the universe - is: how do we repeat the experiment?

On one hand, if there is a supreme being who in some 
way created the universe, the only way to fully test the
  matter is to do it again! Are there any contenders for the
      job? Any would-be "supreme beings" out there?   
Click =>

On the other hand, if there is no supreme being, and either the universe has always existed (as per the "steady state" theory, for example) or it came into existence as the result of a spontaneous event such as the "Big Bang" - again, how do we repeat the experiment? (Indeed: in the first of these two cases, there is - by definition - no experiment to repeat; and in the second - well, science isn't about spontaneity, is it?!)

So, as I see it, the problem is quite simply too big for science, in the strictest sense, to tackle on its own. If we are going to consider the matter at all, at some point we have to allow for some speculation to enter the picture - albeit with as much scientific reasoning as possible involved along the way, to ensure that our thinking is at least self-consistent.

What kind of speculation? It's probably a matter of personal choice; in my own case, coming as I do from a basically Christian background, I think it's reasonable for me to consider the biblical account of creation. Click here to read Genesis Chapter 1, verses 1 to 5. (Alternatively, you may like to click here to view a well-produced YouTube video which begins with those same words.)

I don't hold with the ultra-creationist view that, even though the Bible doesn't set out to be a science textbook, "it is one anyway". As I see it, that leads to very woolly thinking. (For example, with the entire universe being created out of nothing, I can't see how we can reasonably ascribe a literal 24-hour day to what must have been a pretty chaotic situation, at least initially!)

The pivotal part of the story seems to be the creation of light, which appears to have made everything else fall into place. At that level, I can catch a vision of what might have happened.

Since the work of Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell and others (in the mid-to-late 1800's), we have a fairly clear picture of what light is: a form of electromagnetic radiation. In fact, even parts of the EM spectrum we humans can't see directly are often referred to as "light" - for example, infra-red and ultra-violet (parts of which some animals can see directly; also click here.)

Even X-rays, with higher frequencies and shorter wavelengths than ultra-violet (UV), can be viewed as a form of light which could pass through some materials (such as human soft tissue) which are opaque to light at other frequencies.

Then again, radar - which operates on microwaves or radio waves, with lower frequencies and longer wavelengths than infra-red (IR) - can perhaps be viewed as a way of "seeing" by machine; and of course technology is now available which makes it possible for humans to see in the dark by electronically detecting infra-red radiation and thus rendering heat-sources visible. Also, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a very powerful medical tool, utilizes various aspects of electromagnetism to "see" details which can't be seen adequately by other means.

Wavelength (m)
   103      102      101      100      10-1     10-2     10-3     10-4     10-5     10-6     10-7     10-8     10-9     10-10     10-11     10-12    
Radio waves                                    Microwaves             IR                UV                    X-rays              Gamma rays

                                     VISIBLE
  106      107      108      109      1010     1011     1012     1013     1014     1015     1016     1017     1018     1019     1020    
Frequency (Hz)

Thus, following the lead of James Clerk Maxwell, we can reasonably extrapolate the idea of "light" to refer to electromagnetic radiation at any frequency. To put it in a nutshell, light is energy. So when the Bible, and other ancient writings, refer to "light" as being an important part of creation - why should we not understand it to refer to the creation of energy?

I suggest that "let there be light" refers to the creation, in the "real" dimension of quaternion (or perhaps octonion) space, of what we now refer to as zero-point energy, which has found its way into the other dimensions - the "imaginary" dimensions in which we have our being (shades of "The Matrix"? ) in the form of electromagnetic radiation with which we are all familiar.

If an older (pre-1990's) television is tuned to an unused channel, you see "snow". A small fraction of this is caused by cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, which - according to orthodox theory - is the gradually cooling radiation left over throughout space from the Big Bang. (Click here to read more.)

I suggest, instead - somewhat tentatively - that the CMB has directly to do with ZPE which is interacting with the "imaginary" dimensions of the universe and finding expression as relatively low-frequency electromagnetic radiaton, i.e. microwaves.

   I'm not alone - click here and here to see examples of how others are pursuing similar ideas!

I suggest further (also somewhat tentatively) that the earth was initially "without form, and void" because, prior to the creation of ZPE, there was no gravity to make things "attract" each other - but that thereafter, the "long-range Casimir effect", manifested as what we call gravity, caused matter to coalesce into "lumps", including the more-or-less spherical earth, sun, and other planets and stars, moving "in tune" with the so-called music of the spheres.

(For some very interesting thoughts on the relationship between ZPE on the one hand, and gravitation and inertia on the other - with a possible application to space travel - see this page.)

So, basically, I'm suggesting that ZPE, the "light" of the creation story, is the "driving force" of the physical universe - and the source of all energy with which science has been coming to grips over the last couple of hundred years.

• • • Finally, I'm suggesting that, having at last recognized ZPE's existence - and having begun to understand something of its nature - we will be absolutely stupid if we keep arguing and fussing about it, instead of just getting on with the task of putting it to work in the most effective way possible in order to give our badly damaged world a fighting chance of regaining its equilibrium!

- And that is what this website is very largely about.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I'm aware that this page has become very long (and it's taken me a long time to write it; it's now Monday, 15th June 2009). Please - bear with me just a bit longer; the end is in sight!

Just how serious is the situation?

Have a careful look at this web-page, which features some corresponce between Tom Bearden and an Australian businessman interested in alternative energy technology. It's very worrying.

It does take a certain amount of courage to get involved with this - but, as I've mentioned elsewhere, we each only get one life on this planet, and if we miss our chance to do something worthwhile, it won't come again. So by producing this website, I'm "going for broke".

This doesn't make me, or anyone else involved in the matter, anything special. I'm just concerned that for as long as the earth can continue to support human civilization - and especially so, now that I have my first grandchild - we need to do whatever we can to keep it liveable for as long as possible. As Tina Turner sang in "Mad Max - Beyond Thunderdome":

“We don't need another hero”

For more on this theme, please visit this web-page which features an article by one of the leading researchers into ZPE, Dr. Peter Lindemann, who examines why we don't all have access to this technology, even though the knowledge has been available for decades. He cautions strongly against anyone who finds out something about it becoming self-important and thinking that they might come to be viewed as some kind of "saviour" - thus becoming part of the problem, rather than the solution.

(For still further thoughts on the matter, as well as some fascinating insight about how - as Werner Heisenberg suggested - we could utilise permanent magnets as an energy source, may I recommend this most interesting web-page. Also, while you're there, have a look at the two quotes at the bottom of the page - especially the one about being a crackpot! )

Apart from any other consideration, it bears remembering that no less a visionary than Isaac Newton, co-discoverer of calculus and early researcher into "opticks" - among many other things (including the much-celebrated incident with the apple, of course!) - famously remarked that in order to make his own contribution, he had to stand "on ye shoulders of giants". Much more so, those of us who are involved in these late times in the field of ZPE research owe a similar debt to many who have paved the way, among the greatest of whom are Tesla, Maxwell, Faraday, and Newton himself.

Dr. Lindemann suggests - and I agree - that the only way we're going to beat what I've previously referred to as the "three P's" - pride, politics, and power - and get the knowledge to a needy world is by simply sharing what we know, by whatever means we find available (my means is via this website) without any attempt to take individual advantage of the situation. Making one's own working models, sharing one's experiences freely with others, learning more and more along the way, and refusing to give up: these are what, if anything, will eventually turn the tide.

We may succeed, or we may fail. The worst we can do is not to try. It isn't easy; but then, very few worthwhile things ever are.

What say you? Will you get involved?

If you have a "technical bent", may I encourage you to attempt to make your own working models, and find some way to "go public" (as I have done via this website). If not, you could still help by writing letters to newspapers and/or politicians, using other media, or simply telling people you know about it - anything, to get the message out and promote public awareness of the matter.

In my own country, what I'd like to see is the Australian government take the matter seriously and ask the nation's foremost scientific research organization, the CSIRO, to swallow its pride and commence real research into ZPE technology. (In Australia, it seems that the global recession is hitting us less hard than in other parts of the world; thus we may be ideally placed to play a leading rôle.)

If - instead of putting vast amounts of public money into misbegotten ideas like "geosequestration" (an ugly term for a process also known as "carbon capture and storage", or even "clean coal technology" - click here to see an article which addresses the safety issues surrounding this), or playing around with economic so-called "fixes" like "carbon taxes", "carbon credits" and/or "carbon emissions trading schemes" - governments cease their oh-so-trendy vilification of carbon (the element) as some sort of bad guy, put aside their small ideas, and promote real sustainable energy (especially ZPE technology) - then we could begin to repair our world quite soon. That's what we must encourage them - nay, require them - to do. So - will you help make it all happen?

I began this page by referring to the horrifying Victorian bushfires which occurred in February. Since that time, a Royal Commission has begun to throw a lot of light on what happened, including harrowing tales of communication breakdowns and insufficient preparations for such a disaster. Here's a link to one of several websites with continually updated news about the Royal Commission.

To my way of thinking, it is indeed a symptom of a world that seems to be spinning out of control that people have been caught unprepared in so many ways. Dreadful as these bushfires were, they're only one of many instances of natural disasters occurring around the world on what really does seem to be an increasing scale. These days, people who continue to deny that climate change is real and very dangerous are no longer taken seriously by most of the population.

So the matter is urgent, far more so that has hitherto been recognized - and the time for real, serious action to fix it is now. Although this website's preparation started out some four and a half years ago as a "hobby interest" - starting from such things as mathematics, physical science, poetry and music, and including political and economic comment - its main thrust has become climate change and sustainable energy, the best possible version of which I am firmly convinced is the most basic source of energy in the universe: that which is known as "radiant energy", "energy from the vacuum", or "zero-point energy". My hope is that, by becoming involved in this, I can help to draw attention to ZPE research and thus help focus public attention on what needs to be done, right now, while there is still time.

The photograph you see above was taken on the same day as the one with which I began this page - the evening of Monday, 9th February, when the "Black Saturday" Victorian bushfires were still raging.

I took it shortly after sunset, this time looking over toward the east, where the nearly-full rising moon could be seen somewhat hazily through the clouds. (I'm sure Einstein would have been delighted to know that it really was still there, whether anyone was looking at it or not! )

+      +      +      +      +

If you'd told me in 2005, when I began this website, that at some point I was going to have to address the very confusing subject of quantum theory - well, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

I'll admit freely that, when I began this page, I had almost no real understanding of what quantum mechanics was about - only the vaguest notions, gleaned with difficulty as a university science student over a third of a century ago. But while researching the subject over the last few weeks, I think that I've begun to see its significance. I certainly don't claim to really understand how it all fits together; but I think I can perhaps begin to glimpse something of the why.

I now see it in the terms I've used in the preceding paragraphs: the whole universe connected by a vast field of energy, which impacts upon - and is in turn impacted upon by - every living creature. Not the vague mumbo-jumbo of astrology, but the strong, vibrant concept of life's common heritage throughout creation (and yes, I use that term deliberately and carefully) - the vision that we are all active participants in that "light" which has characterized the universe since its beginning.

UPDATE, Friday 9-9-2011:

Just under three weeks ago (20-8-2011), I posted my Sixes and sevens page, in which I included a number of quotes from Albert Einstein. The one I'd like to mention again here is this one:

“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong.
What we have called matter is energy,
whose vibration has been so lowered as to be
perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”

Today, while Googling on the sentence "There is no matter", I found this page, which is about the "no-show" of the so-called Higgs boson (or "God particle"), and which contains the following very telling 1944 quote from Max Planck, one of the other early researchers into quantum theory:

“As a man who has devoted his whole life to the
most clear headed science, to the study of matter,
I can tell you as a result of my research about
atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All
matter originates and exists only by virtue of a
force which brings the particle of an atom to
vibration and holds this most minute solar system
of the atom together. We must assume behind this
force the existence of a conscious and intelligent
mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”

Visit this web-page to read more quotes from Max Planck - and be prepared for quite a surprise.

Am I "stirring the pot"? You bet I am - and I make no apology for doing so!

In April last year (2008) I bought a copy of Mike Oldfield's "Music of the Spheres", an essentially "classical" piece which draws its inspiration from the cosmic dance of such objects as the sun, the earth, the moon - indeed, every celestial body in the universe. Click here to read Mr. Oldfield's own thoughts on the work, and here to read a review.

"Music of the Spheres" contains a short but beautiful song entitled "On My Heart", sung by soprano Hayley Westenra. The lyrics are as follows:


On my heart, the nights are drawing in.
Above, the stars are spiralling -
And Heaven, Earth are roaming in a spin.

Memories of light and laughter,
Hope and peace from far here after -
Oh in heaven, wings of angels from a dream...

If you'd like to hear this song, click here. It all sounds very idyllic, doesn't it? - like something we may once have had long ago, but we've somehow since lost.

I don't claim that directly harnessing that universal energy source to power our world will bring us any kind of "paradise" or "heaven on earth". But I do believe it will at least give us a chance to stabilize what we do still have; and the experience of so doing may perhaps help us to value each other and our small home planet just a little more.

Almost there; just a couple more things to say.

In one sense, with the posting of this page, my website is now complete. That doesn't mean I shan't be posting more pages - for example, I still don't yet have pages on Tesla coils or Wimshurst machines! - and I'm also sincerely hoping to construct my own truly over-unity ZPE devices at some stage quite soon. If and when these materialize, they will all be posted here, along with any other odd poems or musical pieces that come to mind, more mathematical inspirations, or whatever. I still have lots of ideas running around in the back of my mind; so do keep coming back to check.

What I mean is that the site is now essentially structurally complete, in that I've made the main points I wanted to make when I started the project in early 2005. All the links, with lots of cross-references, are now in place.

But there's one more thing I need to add.

Since this website's inception, there has been a page about one particular huge injustice which I want to see put to rights - and I can't let this page end without drawing attention to the issue once more. Since 2005, a young Australian woman has been held in a foreign prison for a crime for which there is no evidence - because such evidence as initially existed was destroyed by the authorities before it could be used to prove her innocence. Please, visit my The quality of mercy page, if you haven't already - and do whatever you can to help. (As I've said in other pages on other matters, truth must always emerge eventually - but, in this case, let's do whatever we can to make it emerge sooner rather than later.)

- And now, late at night on Wednesday, 17th June 2009, I can finally draw this very complex page to a close.


Virtual ripple tank: double-slit experiment
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