“What is real?” by Meinard Kuhlmann from “Scientific American” (August 2013)

Meinard Kuhlman
Dr. Meinard Kuhlmann

Physicists speak of the world as being made of
particles and force fields, but it is not at all clear
what particles and force fields actually are in the
quantum realm. The world may instead consist
of bundles of properties, such as color and shape.

Physicists routinely describe the universe as being made of tiny subatomic particles that push and pull on one another by means of
force fields. They call their subject “particle physics” and their instruments “particle accelerators.”

They hew to a Lego-like model of the
world. But this view sweeps a little-known
fact under the rug: the particle interpretation
of quantum physics, as well as the field interpretation,
stretches our conventional notions
of “particle” and “field” to such an extent that
ever more people think the world might be
made of something else entirely.

The problem is not that physicists lack a valid theory of the
subatomic realm. They do have one: it is called quantum field theory.
Theorists developed it between the late 1920s and early 1950s
by merging the earlier theory of quantum mechanics with Einstein’s
special theory of relativity. Quantum field theory provides
the conceptual underpinnings of the Standard Model of particle
physics, which describes the fundamental building blocks of matter
and their interactions in one common framework. In terms of
empirical precision, it is the most successful theory in the history
of science. Physicists use it every day to calculate the aftermath of
particle collisions, the synthesis of matter in the big bang, the extreme conditions inside atomic nuclei, and much besides.

So it may come as a surprise that physicists are not even sure
what the theory says—what its “ontology,” or basic physical picture,
is. This confusion is separate from the much discussed mysteries
of quantum mechanics, such as whether a cat in a sealed
box can be both alive and dead at the same time. The unsettled
interpretation of quantum field theory is hobbling progress toward
probing whatever physics lies beyond the Standard Model,
such as string theory. It is perilous to formulate a new theory
when we do not understand the theory we already have.
At first glance, the content of the Standard Model appears
obvious. It consists, first, of groups of elementary particles,
such as quarks and electrons, and, second, of four types of force
fields, which mediate the interactions among those particles.

This picture appears on classroom walls and in Scientific American
articles.  However compelling it might appear, it is not at
all satisfactory.

For starters, the two categories blur together. Quantum field
theory assigns a field to each type of elementary particle, so
there is an electron field as surely as there is an electron. At the
same time, the force fields are quantized rather than continuous,
which gives rise to particles such as the photon. So the distinction
between particles and fields appears to be artificial, and
physicists often speak as if one or the other is more fundamental.
Debate has swirled over this point—over whether quantum
field theory is ultimately about particles or about fields. It started
as a battle of titans, with eminent physicists and philosophers
on both sides. Even today both concepts are still in use for
illustrative purposes, although most physicists would admit
that the classical conceptions do not match what the theory
says. If the mental images conjured up by the words “particle”
and “field” do not match what the theory says, physicists and
philosophers must figure out what to put in their place.

With the two standard, classical options gridlocked, some philosophers of physics have been formulating more radical alternatives.

They suggest that the most basic constituents of the material
world are intangible entities such as relations or properties.
One particularly radical idea is that everything can be reduced to
intangibles alone, without any reference to individual things. It is
a counterintuitive and revolutionary idea, but some argue that
physics is forcing it on us.


When most people, including experts, think of subatomic reality,
they imagine particles that behave like little billiard balls rebounding
off one another. But this notion of particles is a holdover
of a worldview that dates to the ancient Greek atomists and
reached its pinnacle in the theories of Isaac Newton. Several overlapping lines of thought make it clear that the core units of quantum field theory do not behave like billiard balls at all.

Continue reading “What is real?” by Meinard Kuhlmann from “Scientific American” (August 2013)


Lincoln quoting Euclid from the movie “Lincoln”

“Euclid’s first common notion is this:  ‘Things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other.’   That’s a rule of mathematical reasoning.  It’s true because it works.  Has done and always will do.  In his book, Euclid says this is self-evident.  You see, there it is.  Even in that 2,000 year old book of mechanical law, it is a self-evident truth that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other.”

–Lincoln quoting Euclid in the new movie “Lincoln”


Edward Carpenter on the vaster self (via Hanz Bolen, H.W., M.)

Edward Carpenter (August 29, 1844 – June 28, 1929) on the left with his life partner George Miller on the right, was an English socialist poet, philosopher, anthologist, and early LGBT activist. A poet and writer, he was a close friend of Rabindranath Tagore, and a friend of Walt Whitman. Wikipedia

“Of all the hard facts of science, I know of none more solid and fundamental than the fact that if you inhibit thought (and persevere) you come at length to a region of consciousness below or behind thoughts…. and a realization of an altogether vaster self than that to which we are accustomed. And since the ordinary consciousness, with which we are concerned in ordinary life is before all things founded on the little local self, and is in fact self-consciousness in the little, local sense and the ordinary world, it follows that to pass out of that is to die to the ordinary self and the ordinary world.

“It is to die in the ordinary sense, but in another sense, it is to wake up and find that the ‘I’ , one’s real, most intimate self pervades the universe and all other beings…..  So great, so splendid is this experience, that it may be said that all minor questions and doubts fall away in face of it; and certain it is that in thousands and thousands of cases the fact of its having come even once to a man has completely revolutionized his subsequent life and outlook on the world.”

–Edwin Carpenter from his book The Drama of Love and Death


Gurdjieff on payment


“You shall not come forth until you have paid the utmost farthing.”

–George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, also commonly referred to as G. I. Gurdjieff (January 13, 1866 – October 29, 1949), was an influential early 20th century Russian mystic, philosopher, spiritual teacher, and composer of Armenian and Greek descent.Wikipedia


Muhammad Ali on where the fight is won


“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

–Muhammad Ali (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016)  was an American professional boxer, generally considered among the greatest heavyweights in the history of the sport. Wikipedia



A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg: condign


adjective: Well-deserved, appropriate.
From Middle English condigne, from Anglo French, from Latin condignus, from com- (completely) + dignus (worthy). Ultimately from Indo-European root dek- (to take, accept), which is the ancestor of other words such as dignity, discipline, doctor, decorate, docile, and deign. Earliest documented use: 1413.

On Allen Ginsberg’s 90th birthday (by Gwyllm Llwydd)

(Allen Ginsberg – Gwyllm 2004)
Today would of been Allen Ginsberg’s 90th Birthday. I was blessed with meeting him (and Tim Leary) on a hot summer’s afternoon and having a long conversation when I was a young lad turning 16 in 1967. Their kindness and patience with me has stuck forever.
I am grateful for all of his works, and deeds, this poem, written short weeks before I ever met him ever stays with me.
Happy Birthday Allen!
–Gwyllm Llwydd
Wales Visitation – Allen Ginsberg
White fog lifting & falling on mountain-brow
Trees moving in rivers of wind
The clouds arise
as on a wave, gigantic eddy lifting mist
above teeming ferns exquisitely swayed
along a green crag
glimpsed thru mullioned glass in valley raine—
Bardic, O Self, Visitacione, tell naught
but what seen by one man in a vale in Albion,
of the folk, whose physical sciences end in Ecology,
the wisdom of earthly relations,
of mouths & eyes interknit ten centuries visible
orchards of mind language manifest human,
of the satanic thistle that raises its horned symmetry
flowering above sister grass-daisies’ pink tiny
bloomlets angelic as lightbulbs—
Remember 160 miles from London’s symmetrical thorned tower
& network of TV pictures flashing bearded your Self
the lambs on the tree-nooked hillside this day bleating
heard in Blake’s old ear, & the silent thought of Wordsworth in eld Stillness
clouds passing through skeleton arches of Tintern Abbey—
Bard Nameless as the Vast, babble to Vastness!
All the Valley quivered, one extended motion, wind
undulating on mossy hills
a giant wash that sank white fog delicately down red runnels
on the mountainside
whose leaf-branch tendrils moved asway
in granitic undertow down—
and lifted the floating Nebulous upward, and lifted the arms of the trees
and lifted the grasses an instant in balance
and lifted the lambs to hold still
and lifted the green of the hill, in one solemn wave
A solid mass of Heaven, mist-infused, ebbs thru the vale,
a wavelet of Immensity, lapping gigantic through Llanthony Valley,
the length of all England, valley upon valley under Heaven’s ocean
tonned with cloud-hang,
—Heaven balanced on a grassblade.
Roar of the mountain wind slow, sigh of the body,
One Being on the mountainside stirring gently
Exquisite scales trembling everywhere in balance,
one motion thru the cloudy sky-floor shifting on the million feet of daisies,
one Majesty the motion that stirred wet grass quivering
to the farthest tendril of white fog poured down
through shivering flowers on the mountain’s head—
No imperfection in the budded mountain,
Valleys breathe, heaven and earth move together,
daisies push inches of yellow air, vegetables tremble,
grass shimmers green
sheep speckle the mountainside, revolving their jaws with empty eyes,
horses dance in the warm rain,
tree-lined canals network live farmland,
blueberries fringe stone walls on hawthorn’d hills,
pheasants croak on meadows haired with fern—
Out, out on the hillside, into the ocean sound, into delicate gusts of wet air,
Fall on the ground, O great Wetness, O Mother, No harm on your body!
Stare close, no imperfection in the grass,
each flower Buddha-eye, repeating the story,
Kneel before the foxglove raising green buds, mauve bells dropped
doubled down the stem trembling antennae,
& look in the eyes of the branded lambs that stare
breathing stockstill under dripping hawthorn—
I lay down mixing my beard with the wet hair of the mountainside,
smelling the brown vagina-moist ground, harmless,
tasting the violet thistle-hair, sweetness—
One being so balanced, so vast, that its softest breath
moves every floweret in the stillness on the valley floor,
trembles lamb-hair hung gossamer rain-beaded in the grass,
lifts trees on their roots, birds in the great draught
hiding their strength in the rain, bearing same weight,
Groan thru breast and neck, a great Oh! to earth heart
Calling our Presence together
The great secret is no secret
Senses fit the winds,
Visible is visible,
rain-mist curtains wave through the bearded vale,
gray atoms wet the wind’s kabbala
Crosslegged on a rock in dusk rain,
rubber booted in soft grass, mind moveless,
breath trembles in white daisies by the roadside,
Heaven breath and my own symmetric
Airs wavering thru antlered green fern
drawn in my navel, same breath as breathes thru Capel-Y-Ffn,
Sounds of Aleph and Aum
through forests of gristle,
my skull and Lord Hereford’s Knob equal,
All Albion one.
What did I notice? Particulars! The
vision of the great One is myriad—
smoke curls upward from ashtray,
house fire burned low,
The night, still wet & moody black heaven
upward in motion with wet wind.
Bless you Allen for all the beauty.

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