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THE SECOND QUESTION THAT NEEDS AN ANSWER: WHO AM I?

There can be no life without answers to the first question that needs to be answered; yet the question is so primordial, so fundamental, that no organism can even wonder about it! Evolution has ways to take this question in charge and let the species find appropriate and often remarkable answers to this crucial question: “How to live?

Long ago enthusiastic naturalists discovered the wonderful creativity of life whenever it faces challenges; even the most primitive organisms can show astounding adaptations. Relations between populations of different species, interactions with their natural habitats, research for food or shelter, reproduction strategies… and resourcefulness when conditions change, all these behaviours are so well adapted that naturalists were convinced for a long time that they had been wilfully created with specific goals.

Living seems so natural that it’s difficult to imagine how arduous it is really. Myriads of interactions between innumerable different molecules have to integrate to form one well adapted organism that behaves in a characteristic way of living and as a unit in a specific environment. After the germination of a seed or the hatching of an egg, each living organism is able to thrive in spite of the tremendous complexity of the process, and mostly without any help. Whatever scale we look at, beginning with intracellular molecules through populations and societies, everything seems to work according to highly successful and smart plans. It’s only when something looses its sophisticated regulations that we begin to become aware of what we lost. In a normal state, everything runs so smoothly that we’re not aware of it.

1: SMART BACTERIA.

After the naturalists’ discoveries about whole species, molecular biologists in the 20th century’s discovered the subtle adaptations of primordial life mechanisms to physical and chemical laws. Life creates highly improbable molecules that build and animate organisms, yet it obeys exactly the same laws that govern the inanimate material world.

Even very primitive bacteria are able to actively look for nutrients and express smart behaviour when they have the choice between more or less profitable ones. Microbes can even regulate their mutation rate to accelerate evolution when needed. Stress in harsh environments triggers molecular mechanisms that let more mutations appear; some of which could, by chance, be helpful in hard times. Some species can live alone or, when conditions deteriorate, choose to build communities of different species that share genetic properties to increase their potential adaptability. They can even change completely their physiology, fix on a surface and interact tightly with other species to form a new supra-specific entity: wastes from one species become nutrients for another… a poison to one is detoxified by another… Biologists working in the microworld are as amazed by these adaptations as naturalists by the ones they describe from the macroworld.

These discoveries are discussed at school and Darwin showed elegantly and convincingly how to answer questions related to amazing species’ adaptations. We can even understand how intelligent behaviour appears in ants’ or termites’ nests and actively adapts to a changing environment; we can make models that explain how bacteria choose the best answers to difficult situations without any brain.

We begin to understand how each organism answers the first crucial question since birth. And the human species with its specific faculties becomes able to understand why and how the first crucial question is answered.

2: THE SECOND CRUCIAL QUESTION: THE MOST IMPORTANT FOR PSYCHOLOGY.

Surprisingly – but sadly – it isn’t the subject we’re trained to work on at school. When we think about it, it becomes obvious that nothing could be more important than the answer we should thrive to find: this answer has great effects on ones life and behaviour. The question is: “What are we? »

Our behaviour would be drastically different if we perceive ourselves as made of matter only, inexorably subject to decay, or as part of an entity that transcends matter. Biology already replaces us in a larger context than the individual organism. Each living entity is nothing outside innumerable interactions that gave it life nearly 4 billions years ago; interactions that participate every second in its existence. Is our consciousness linked only to the matter we’re made with, or is it able to transcend it?

3: FROM DOGMA TO EXPERIMENT.

Religions or cosmologies from different cultures often try to impose an answer without inviting each one to enquire for oneself. Here we’re taught that we’re created by God who gives us a body which is made out of matter and a soul which isn’t. But since the beginnings of Science we learned to put dogmas in question and try to find rational and understandable answers to our questions. For four centuries Science has shown the power of its tools to convince every one who gives oneself the necessary material and intellectual means, to become personally and rationally convinced of the pertinence of answers to questions arising from the world and life; questions that are specifically relevant to us as human beings. We aren’t like other animals who build their world’s image from instincts and experience, but we modify our views through our cultures and reflections. Science invites us to take ownership of a culture without buying passively its dogmas. Unfortunately, Science can itself become dogmatic when it is inappropriately applied; this danger was especially great at the end of the 19th century, but the revolutions in modern physics revitalised the Scientific Methodology and the philosophical reflections induced by its results.

4: MATERIALISTIC REALISM

Are we made out of matter only? Four centuries of outstanding scientific successes led our western culture to give a positive answer to this crucial question! But it is maybe a collateral damage of Science rather than a reality. The great majority of scientists forget the prejudice chosen by the creators of the Method: they built tools specific to give answers to questions on MATTER and on matter only; questions linked to the spiritual realm were confined to philosophy and theology. With time and the immense successes of this pragmatic philosophy, philosophers became scientists and convinced themselves that only matter is real. Due to working only on matter, due to stunning results accumulated for so long, due to outstanding practical applications coming from researches on the nature of matter, it is not surprising that the people responsive for transforming the world for four centuries convinced themselves they could answer every question by questioning matter only! And we all forget that it is only a postulate that originated well after the beginning of Science!

But this postulate is no more compatible with last century’s physics: its results continuously show that the intimate nature of matter isn’t understandable with common sense: the other pillar on which physics stands, besides mathematics. Modern physics sometime leads one to imagine that even consciousness could mysteriously influence the results in experiments defined to reveal what is matter. The Universe isn’t anymore this immense meaningless and cold object imagined by 19th century’s positivists. Since the beginning of the 20th century It becomes “participative” according to John Wheeler and “begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine” according to Sir James Jeans.

5: BACK TO THE ORIGINS.

Why not follow many physicists on their way back towards the original philosophy that gave birth to Science? The road is to find personal answers when interested, either by doing experiments or by replicating the ones done by others. It is not only about analysing and learning from results described by others: it is about doing the actual experiment whenever possible. This is the best road to a rational and personal conviction which is the major goal of Science. It is not always necessary to access a heavy technology: sometimes thought experiments are sufficient to reach surprising results.

Too often today rational conviction is acquired through critical analysis of material created by others and sometimes, unfortunately, this confidence can be lazily accorded to dogmatic personalities. When confronted by complex questions, it becomes necessary to delegate one’s own work to experts able to master specialised domains. But it isn’t always simple to assess the objectivity of such experts who should remain sufficiently open and able to re-evaluate their own convictions. That’s why personal experience is the best way to acquire knowledge, as long as it remains affordable of course.

So how could we look for the answer to the question: « What are we? » and the related ones: « Are we only flesh and bones? »; « How could I know what I am, if part of it is unconscious? »

6: CAN WE DO WITHOUT MATTER?

If we’d like question the postulate that gives reality to matter only, we should obviously work with something that is immaterial, like information: we could, for instance, look if information can be transmitted without the help of matter-energy, through mechanisms that use neither atoms, nor waves. If we could be rationally convinced that we’re able to receive informations that isn’t related to matter as we perceive it, then we could make some progress towards a better understanding of our true nature.

In an ideal experimental protocol we should try to receive informations that is linked neither to matter nor to our memory, whether conscious or even unconscious. With these restrictions in mind, an ideal choice would be an information that comes from the future and that couldn’t be related with whatever we know about past and present: in this way we could be sure that our memory can’t be responsible for it! It is maybe worthwhile to open a little parenthesis here for an important fact about time: in every mathematical formula physicists discovered, time remains reversible! In other words, when mathematics only are analysed – not our common sense – physicists find that their formulas don’t forbid informations going in both directions: towards future OR past! Therefore, even if receiving informations from the future seems a crazy idea for common sense, it isn’t completely so according to physics’ formulas!

The information presumably coming from the future should be clear, precise and free (without a goal other than a philosophical one), in order to become rationally convinced that it isn’t explainable only by coincidence, subconscious deductions or buried memories.

Several protocols could be imagined for this quest. Intuition – the mysterious source of emotions without conventional sources of knowledge – is probably too difficult to work with for this experiment. But we could adapt the works of a British engineer in aeronautics who published in 1927 An Experiment with Time where he describes his views on time and his personal experiences that led him to work on the nature of time.

7: EXPERIMENTING WITH TIME.

dunneJ.W. Dunne – a renowned engineer in aeronautics – worked for some years on dreams after he had several perplexing ones that seemed premonitory. He decided to analyse thoroughly his dreams as a scientific minded person. The trigger was a moving dream made a few days before a great disaster in a French island of the Caribbean: the eruption of Mount Pelée, on the 8th of May 1902 which killed 28,000 people living in St Pierre de la Martinique, the town down the volcano.

Dunne dreamt he was on a volcanic island beginning to tear apart; gas and smoke leaking from the soil. His dream-body felt anxious as if he was walking on a huge pressure cooker that was about to explode. He tried to alert the French authorities governing the island, without success: the mayor was absent for lunch and his secretaries asked him to come back on next day! His dream-body was looking how he could avoid the 4,000 victims he anticipated when Dunne woke up shouting “Look mister mayor! Four thousand people will be killed unless…”

Dunne’s analytical mind understood it couldn’t be a simple coincidence when he read, a few days later in the newspaper, what happened in this French colony. Too many specific details like the nationality of the authorities, the reluctance of the mayor to evacuate the island (the true reason was that an election was taking place on the 11th, 2 days after the eruption)… The engineer took advantage of his scientific training to elaborate a protocol and find out if he could really experience premonitory dreams. He created a theory about the nature of Time that didn’t survive until today but his protocol is still useful.

8: PREMONITORY DREAMS.

As for Dunne, some of my dreams seemed awkwardly premonitory. I decided therefore to apply Dunne’s protocol and registered many ones that confirmed their reality: much too many “coincidences” to explain, if premonition isn’t possible! (see below for some illustrations)

There are many difficulties to overcome; some are discussed below with the way Dunne resolved them.

But one shouldn’t forget we don’t know what is the purpose of dreams! It probably doesn’t try to convince us of its premonition capacities, but rather to trigger emotions. Maybe Dunne’s dream about the eruption took advantage of images taken from his future memory that were able to arouse the same emotion the dream-organiser (whoever it is!) wanted Dunne to feel. Therefore it is difficult to share precognition experiences in dreams: they won’t trigger the same emotions in everybody! And personal experience becomes necessary to be really convinced about their reality.

I followed Dunne’s protocol and became absolutely convinced our dream- consciousness can take advantage of our future mind states to transmit whatever it looks to. I registered 48 clear premonition dreams on a decade. It is an underestimated number because I recognised their premonition features only if the recognised event happened in the following days. Many could be classified as precognitive while reading old registered dreams. But I avoid doing so to minimise coincidence as explained below.

Obviously the first step in the protocol is to learn how to remember one’s dreams. A learning period is usually necessary. One has to be genuinely interested to remember one’s dreams. Each night, just before sleep, one should forcefully remember this intention and prepare some items (notebook and pencil) at hand’s reach.

Usually dreams fade out on awakening, more so when the body moves. To remember dreams one should remain motionless and repeat them to oneself, reordering the images that are remembered as some of these trigger the remembering of new ones. In doing this it seems that we could transpose the memory of dreams from a region in which they can’t be accessed by our awakened consciousness, to another one from which they can. One should avoid any interpretation of the dreams since imagination could severely interfere. If interested in their significance, one should do that later, while reading the accounts made on awakening.

Once the key images are remembered, one should take the notebook prepared at hand-reach, in the dark, with as few movements as possible. A spring-type notebook is a good choice since turning pages is easy and a pencil can be tied to the spring.

The notebook in the left hand (for right-handers), place the left index up the spring then reach it with the pencil. One can write a first line whilst the right-hand’s little finger senses the end of the page. When it’s reached, the left index should go down a few centimetres to write a second line that won’t mix with the first, and so on.

One shouldn’t write a novel of course! Just a few words that would trigger the remembering of the dream’s images and their associated sceneries; details are very important since it’s them that are usually precognitive. Once finished, the page should be turned and the notebook prepared for an eventual other record.

The next morning the dreams should be written in great details; this is not very difficult if the intention to remember them is powerful. While experimenting with time, one should avoid trying to find interpretations of the dreams and shouldn’t compare them to real scenes experienced in the awakened life. The description should be completely separated from interpretation to avoid unconscious interferences with memory.

9: EXPERIMENTAL PROTOCOL.

When dreams are regularly remembered and recorded, it is time to begin the experiment. One should choose a period covering a dozen days or so in which, preferably, your normal routine would be broken: holidays, trips… are good choices. New and unusual dream images become more easily recognisable.

Each night you should read all the records taken since the beginning of the defined period for the experiment, and analyse them in order to find situations or images that our personal dream-organiser could have borrowed from our life’s experience. After experimenting, Dunne was convinced that our dream’s-organiser could present us images taken from our past OR FUTURE life! in order to communicate whatever message it chose to share. Ask yourself if the dream’s situations read each night could have been picked from the past or from the days that follow the dream. Are they sufficiently rare and detailed to be significant and not just coincidences?

For this experiment to work, one has to tackle some problems that Dunne has well described and answered.

As stated before you should not try to link real events with dreamed ones. It seems that dreams use only mental states and not the precise events that happened. Dunne took fifteen years to discover that he made in his life-changing dream exactly the same error that he did some days after his dream when he read the article in the Daily Telegraph. He confused ” 40,000 victims” as it was written in the newspaper with ” 4,000 victims” and his dream took the latter in his precognition. Dunne found in many instances that the dream- organiser used mostly mental states induced by events (emotions, feelings, memories…) rather than the objective situations. But it is not stopped by time and can choose past or future mental states as well without being bothered by what really happened: only the subjective world seems to be important for the dream-organiser!

While reading your notes you should therefore look for mental states that could arouse dreamlike images from the past and… for the near future after the dream.

One should keep in mind that a dream can integrate details originating from different events, in one image only. If you followed some sport event with a friend, you could dream of your friend wearing this sport’s kit, even if s/he never practiced it! To look for a hit, you should analyse details separated from each other and not the integrated mixture.

10: COINCIDENCE OR PREMONITION?

Our limited perceptions are at the core of our common sense. There is therefore a danger to unconsciously keep oneself unable to accept experiences that could be destabilising for our world’s image. When this happens, one simply doesn’t see the precognitive images! To avoid this problem, Dunne recommends to read your records each night while imagining that you’re discovering the dreams that you WILL dream about the events that happened in the day you just lived.

Next, you should limit the experiment to a few days only. This is meant to diminish the interference with coincidences, the effect of chance only on what could be a precognition. If for instance, you dream of an airplane crash without many details, it’s very probable that one would happen in the year after your dream. But if you dreamt it the night before it takes much more importance of course.

When finished with the time period chosen for the experiment, it’s a good idea to ask a friend to read your notes with a critical eye, just to see if you didn’t forget an interesting event or, on the contrary, if you tend to take simple coincidences for precognitions. You should then try to estimate the probability that the event that was dreamt before happening could be a mere coincidence. Unfortunately in most cases this is very difficult if not impossible. In these situations one should rely on one’s feelings to appreciate the power of the dream’s-organiser to forecast future mental states.

11: AN ANSWER THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING!

Suppose that you earn from this experiment a personal and rational conviction on the reality of precognition! What important changes in your philosophy of life you could expect from this! What important reflections in your world’s image and your image of yourself could you deduce!

So we could have access to informations coming from the future, without engaging our physical perceptions, without interactions with inert or living matter as physicists or biologists described it until the beginning of the 20th century. Part of ourselves could be outside space and time then interact, at least through dreams, with our mind, which is the result of our brain’s working according to the laws of classical physics, chemistry and biology.

At first sight it seems that Descartes was right when he described the world as dualistic: material and spiritual. But the discoveries Science made since the beginning of the 20th century show that it may be possible to build a bridge between these two realms: but this is another story!

To experience our own spiritual nature puts into question the profoundly materialistic cosmology we inherited from the 19th century. We’re no longer made of matter only; matter that wears out, cells that age; our core personality isn’t only derived from this reality that is perceptible by our physical senses. It has the needed properties to detach from it, to situate itself outside space and time. We’re led to conclude that the soul is real; we must only learn how to communicate with it!

APPENDIX:

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE ON PRECOGNITIVE DREAMS

Maybe some of them could be useful to others than me, even if they can’t trigger the “Wow” impression I lived. The dream-organiser doesn’t seem interested in objective events, but on subjective emotions, and therefore a dream can’t be shared with the emotions it triggered.

Below is a translation of some paragraphs of my book in which one of the characters – Matt – describes a dream I had and was part of the ones that convinced me.

– Dunne’s protocol has the merit to give a clear frame to ideas, to create a rigorous structure necessary when one works with subjective psyche.

– So you were able to obtain interesting results? asks Axel with interest.

– Yes, many times. But please remember they are difficult to share because I can’t transmit the emotion, the shock felt when one discovers this faculty. Feelings should be part of the experience.

– Try nevertheless!

– Ok then. I’ll choose one: an experience full of emotions and significance. I don’t know how it will affect you but I ascertain I was deeply stricken and convinced of the interest the phenomena deserves.

“Here it is… My mother passed some months ago, after a long and disabling illness difficult to live for both of us. Because of her independence, her strong personality, she couldn’t live outside her home. But she needed help, she was obliged to rely on others.

“One afternoon her nurse called me because she was very tired. Her physician was on vacations and his substitute clearly explained to me she was far from agonising, even if very disabled. This remark was important because my mother was tired with this life and her faith only forbad to actively put an end to it. Her nurse who knew her well, confirmed the physician’s diagnosis. Therefore I went back home to look after my family, relieved to know that a nurse was staying with her all night.

“In the middle of the night, at three a.m or so, a physician phoned and told me she passed, though nobody thought it could be probable. Stunned, I took rapidly some clothes without choosing them and rushed to sit with her for the rest of the night.

“While sitting near her I was overwhelmed with different feelings, one of them being culpability because I wasn’t near her when she died. After some hours I discovered I had my notebook on my knees; I must have taken it unconsciously. I found it weird because I usually take it only when attending lectures or when I think I could have time to work…

“I opened the notebook and was shocked! In front of my eyes were some notes taken four months ago while on vacations in Italy. It was a registering of a dream made according to Dunne’s protocol. In the dream, an unknown person was coming in my room to announce my mother’s death.

– You should admit there’s nothing very weird about it since your mother was very ill! Florian says in agreement with his critical mind, and even if he promised to trust us.

– That’s true! I felt culprit being on vacations, far from her as she wasn’t in good shape! But that isn’t all about the dream. In it, I wore rapidly beige trousers and a polo shirt of the same colour and, in a logic characteristic of dreams and perfectly illogical in the real world, I felt I was responsible of her death because of my choice of the polo shirt!

– I’m in admiration of the details you remember but they don’t convince me at all! mutters Florian.

– Wait! While reading my notebook I realised I was wearing exactly the same clothes than in my dream, four months ago!… And I was feeling culprit, as in the dream!

Florian seems pensive. “I understand why you said the experience should be personal. It could be understood like a series of coincidences, except if you live it yourself.”

This happened in reality, followed by many synchronicities. While going back home, in my car, a singer with the name of my mother – actually a rather rare one – was on radio, followed by a concerto with choir, orchestra and harpsichord written in the 17th century and that caused scandal because it introduced music instruments in a church and was joyful instead of sad. It was meant to bring about comfort after funerals because it was seen as the beginning of a new life. The concerto’s name: “Lessons of Darkness”!… Other synchronicities as powerful as these were experienced at the funerals…

Here are some other dreams registered while experimenting Dunne’s protocol.

Eastern 1996:

Dreamt of an artificial hen on which a man sticks real feathers.

The following day I discover this hen in a baker’s shop window.

Dreamt of a train accident.

The following day I read about a train accident in the newspaper.

April 23th 1996:

Dream. The late French president François Mitterrand is wearing black clothes and a black hat. He walks along my village’s cemetery. It is night. A beautiful woman with some grey curls comes in and bring documents assembled to increase Mitterrand’s power after his death.

Next morning the radio and the newspapers announce the publication of the president’s posthumous memoirs by a woman: Odile Jacob.

September 2000:

Dream. A helicopter fell on a tennis yard near a commercial centre: many injured.

The following day the newspaper show pictures of a helicopter that fell on a football yard.

August 29 2001:

Dream. I’m part of a group of people unknown to me, somewhere in the Swiss Alps. We admire the valley when a huge cloud of dust rises in the air: The left part of the mountain in front of us just collapsed! Some people are afraid but don’t move. Sometime later the right part of the mountain collapses in turn. This time everybody is afraid and rush for shelter.

Some days later: 9.11.2001!

September 9th 2001:

Two terrorists rush in the hall of a skyscraper. They are heavily armed.

A couple of days later: 9.11.2001!

I never dreamt of terrorists neither before nor after!

February 3th 2006:

Dream. I put some clothes on to visit a geriatric hospital. I’m not at ease because I wear trousers with braces on a naked torso. Would have preferred a T-shirt!

Encounter with an old lady with blue hair; she seems mentally abnormal. Her daughter comes to visit her; she has red hair.

The following day I watch a video where a woman with blue hair explains she is alcoholic. The newspaper publishes an article about 2 physicians that made an error in a geriatric hospital where an old man died. In the same newspaper there is a picture about an opera – Don Giovanni – in which the main character wears trousers with braces and his torso is naked!

Finally I’m convinced that coincidences only can’t explain all these facts! They can’t explain synchronicities either! But this is another story!

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WHAT IS THE NATURE OF LIFE?

1: JAMES LOVELOCK AND THE VICKING PROBES .

In the early 1960s, NASA decides to build two Vicking probes in order to study an eventual life on Mars. The engineers hire a biologist and a biochemist to help them choose some experiments that could help answer their question: is there life on Mars?

Dian Hitchcock – the biologist – suggests many experiments but the biochemist remains critical because he considers them too close to what we know on Earth; another form of life wouldn’t be detected! Experiments that should let us know if life exists elsewhere from Earth must necessarily explore the question in a very fundamental way and not remain limited on earth-like features. The biochemist asks the biologist to imagine experiments based upon the definition of life and not on its expressions as we know them on Earth.

The biologist is puzzled… there is more than one hundred definitions of life… not any is consensual! The biochemist is dismayed to learn that biologists didn’t succeed to define the object they are interested in! And begins to think about this question.

James Lovelock is a free-lance biochemist since he created the gas chromatograph. He journeyed around the world in a sailboat and measured all sorts of gas. He found human imprints everywhere around the globe, but humans aren’t alone to change the composition of the atmosphere! For unknown reasons, strange very reactive gas are emitted by primitive algae. He finds that some of these can have an influence on the local climate and trigger rainfalls. He discovers also that the rainfalls triggered by the plankton fertilises the oceans with nitrogen that is useful for vegetal then animal life!

More comprehensive researches let him find unexpected links between the soil getting eroded, the ocean, the atmosphere and life; vast biogeochemical cycles seem to support the conditions that are necessary for life everywhere on the Earth. Even minerals essential to life as oligo-elements are recycled by micro-organisms in a very curious way. Mercury erodes from the lithosphere, reach the oceans then is transformed by life in methylmercury which is volatile. This form of mercury can be recycled above the lithosphere and participates in maintaining concentrations that are compatible with life!

2: THE GAIA HYPOTHESIS

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Disappointed by the incapacity of biologists to reach a consensual understanding of the fundamental nature of life, Lovelock decides to put himself in the skin of an extra-terrestrial who is homing towards Earth and asks himself if the planet hosts life. He is an expert on gases and quickly finds a significant anomaly in the atmosphere’s composition.

It is clearly in a dynamic equilibrium: chemical reactions are continuously going on and are the signature of cycles engaging the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere and… mechanisms that can maintain an auto-regulation. Lovelock suggests to consider these as the signs of life.

Our atmosphere reminds him the mix of gases that enters in a thermic engine. It contains at once oxygen and methane that destroy themselves and are transformed in stable gases – carbon dioxide and water – exactly like the vapours of gas that react with oxygen in an engine and are transformed in exhaust gases. One has to infer a continuous regeneration in order to understand how the composition of the atmosphere remains stable and he suggests that the sources of this regeneration are living organisms.

NASA doesn’t appreciate his findings! In these days methane has not yet been found on Mars; its atmosphere seemed completely inert… exactly like exhaust gases from an engine. Lovelock concludes that there isn’t life on Mars and therefore it becomes useless to send specialised probes to discover it! Nevertheless two Vicking probes will be sent to Mars but the results have been very deceptive and ambiguous! It seems that Lovelock was right!

Lovelock understands that life is an ecological phenomenon which involves the atmosphere, the lithosphere, the hydrosphere in a web of interactions that are in favour of life. He becomes convinced that these interactions are essential for keeping stable the conditions necessary for life on all the planet. He finds that life cannot be a local phenomena, somewhere on a planet, but must cover all the planet very quickly in order to ensure its survival.

«Life has to be a planetary phenomenon. You could no more have a partially occupied planet than you could have half a cat or half a dog.»

He knows that the solar energy have risen (25%) since the birth of life four billions years ago while the climate remained amazingly stable and compatible with life. He realises that if the Sun’s power suddenly lost 25% today, all life would disappear on a planet completely frozen! How can one explain that life was born when the Sun didn’t emit as much energy than today?! The answer is to be found in the composition of the early atmosphere: it was much richer in greenhouse gases than it is today in such a way that the climate was compatible with what was needed for life. He understands that life and the geosphere have evolved together as an interacting system all along its history in such a way to preserve a biocompatible climate in spite of the large fluctuations of its primordial source of energy! He considers that it is life that acts actively on the climate to keep it biocompatible! Automatically, without a need to perceive, analyse and decide concerted actions, of course! One of the unrecognised capacity of life seems to be the capacity to regulate itself largely beyond the individual and the species… but on the level of the planet as a whole. And Lovelock suggests to name it metaphorically “Gaïa”: the name of the greek goddess of Earth, in order to promote an appropriate reflexion on the system.

Gaïa represents the sum of the compartments that participate in the anatomy and physiology of Earth, added to the very rich web of interactions that auto-regulates the whole.

3: THE INDIVIDUAL.

If we didn’t find a consensual definition for life, the reason lies perhaps in the question that would have been put in the wrong way! We give too much importance to the parts at the expense of the whole. The individual seems to us as the fundamental unit of life, more so than the social group or the species. But it is only a dispensable link in a web weaved by very rich interactions that we maybe should qualify as alive! As our knowledge gets richer we find that our cells are the result of very old bacterial symbiosis, and this complicates seriously the idea we have on our own identity! We harbour more bacterial genes than human ones; many millions different genes are found when we analyse our total genome, when around 24’000 only are found in the nuclei of our cells! The new concept of SUPER-ORGANISM takes progressively the place of the individual when one studies life’s physiology! Does a comparable future awaits the study of the Biosphere?

4: THE ECOSYSTEM.

The tree hides the forest and prevents us to understand that life is an ecological phenomenon! No species is autonomous, by itself! Yet, to be potentially qualified as alive, an entity must show at least a specific identity, relatively stable through time and an autonomy relative to the modifications of its environment. An autonomy expressed through appropriate reactions to events, instead of a static immunity to them.

Let’s imagine a molecule of DNA, isolated from its background: can we consider it as alive?

It is clearly the result of life processes but it can’t be considered as alive by itself. In the same way, we can’t attach the qualities a computer has, to an USB key or a hard-drive! Isolated from an adequate environment, an object meant to store information will not be able to express the information it stores. A DNA molecule, without its cellular environment will be lifeless.

A human cell will not survive without its environment that gathers innumerable cells, organised in tissues, organs, sophisticated systems… It can’t really benefit from enough autonomy to represent the unit of life, as it is the case sometimes.

And a unicellular organism, as a multicellular one, will not really be more autonomous, by themselves. To stay alive, to express the many qualities we give to life, as perceptions, analysis and reactions, metabolism as utilising and transforming energy in order to build oneself, to resist to wear and tear, and to reproduce… All these depend entirely and continuously on interactions with the material and the biological environment. No species is really autonomous, by itself.

Maybe ecosystems could be seen as autonomous enough to be considered as alive by themselves. But they are dependant on one another, in relation to their geography and their specificity. Terrestrial ecosystems cannot be considered independent from aquatic ones, that themselves…

Finally, this analysis leads to Gaïa: the Biosphere in its totality. She only can express the highiest autonomy and depend only on a source of energy; energy that she can even find in herself with geothermy.

So ecosystems interact and allow life to bloom on all the planet, in the best possible way. And this is the root of the “Gaïa hypothesis”: a heuristic metaphor! To consider all the planet as a living organism able to auto-regulate leads to discover unrecognised phenomena.

«I know that to personalise the Earth System as Gaia, as I have often done and continue to do in this book, irritates the scientifically correct, but I am unrepentant because metaphors are more than ever needed for a widespread comprehension of the true nature of the Earth and an understanding of the lethal dangers that lie ahead.»

«It’s only when we look at our planet as a living entity that we can understand (maybe for the first time) why agriculture has an abrasive effect on the alive fabric of its epidermis and why pollution poisons everything and us as well.» James Lovelock

Ecosystems diversify in multitudes of ecological niches that become more and more specialised and where each species has a role in the concerto of the fundamental interactions that make life possible. Each species, each individual makes sense in the perennial working of life and its adaptive evolution. Our belonging to a species determines our role in the Biosphere; our individuality determines our role on the adaptive evolution of our species; therefore there is a meaning for our biological history as a species and as an individual.

5: SO WHAT IS LIFE?

SIMPLICITY

Biocycle

COMPLEXITY

Life is a huge chemical enterprise powered by energy which comes essentially from the Sun.

The Sun emits high-quality energy that is utilised by all life processes after being harvested by a class of species able to transform it in chemical energy and to store it in molecules useful for all the rest of species that, in turn, fulfil other roles in the ecosystem. That is how perennial groups are built on very long periods of time: the ecosystems that connect an environment with a whole lot of species that are functionally inter-related. Each species has a role in the web, in a way. If it disappears it’ll be replaced by another which will do the job, according to chance and necessity, through natural selection.

Life began with simple entities, describable with much less informations than the species we see today. Each time a cataclysm severely diminished the biodiversity, it recovered, each time faster than before. As if it became more and more resilient, richer in useful solutions to recover! Life is getting rich with time… the quantity of informations needed to describe it increases… So what is life? It seems to be a process that creates information able to last without any limit in time, by getting more and more complex and sophisticated, continously!

SCIENCE AND SPIRITUALITY

1: SOME VERY STRANGE SIMILARITIES!

The mystic knows… but doesn’t understand! The physicist reasons… but doesn’t understand! Both deal with an aspect of reality that is absolutely ineffable! Only intuition for the mystic, or mathematics for the physicist, unable a philosophical enquiry on the fundamental nature of the world! Under no circumstances the world’s image inherited through our perceptions alone could let them understand the nature of the reality they discover. Both struggle to see beyond physical appearance, but it isn’t the same appearances.

The mystic tries to figure out (not to understand) the reality that is beyond appearances and, for him, this reality is the divine that is everywhere. The physicist tries to understand (but not to know intuitively) the reality that, for him, is the material world around him. This reality is actual; it has its own reality that doesn’t depend on his own existence in any way. But he knows that this reality is much more rich and complex that what our perceptions only can show. To the physicist, the appearances he tries to overcome is the world our perceptions reveals; he tries to build a world as he perceives it through his technical and intellectual tools that vastly enrich the image our biology can give.

The curious layman must acknowledge that the fundamental nature of reality is incomprehensible, even for the people who discover it. They must satisfy pre-requisites; the physicist must be at ease with mathematics: the “language of the universe”; the mystic must cope with his psychology and overcome his ego:

« Reality is such that it cannot be directly and immediately apprehended except by those who have chosen to fulfil certain conditions, making themselves loving, pure in heart, and poor in spirit. Why should this be so? We do not know. It is just one of those facts which we have to accept, whether we like them or not and however implausible and unlikely they may seem! » Aldous Huxley; Perennial Philosophy.

It’s as if an intuitive understanding of the fundamental nature of reality needs some sort of an anaesthesia of the mind that continuously interprets our perceptions in order to integrate us in the best possible way in the perceived world and not in the underlying reality. Billion of years of selective evolution of perceptions and their analysis in order to ensure immediate survival, left their mark on our mind. Understandably, it gives priority to our adaptation to the external world and, occasionally only, does it become interested in intuitions emerging from our interior world. Self-consciousness appeared late and seems to be on the edge of the exploration of our interior world.

Quantum Physics and Relativity changed fundamentally the world’s image that science built arduously until the end of the 19th century. Physicists discover a world that makes no sense!

«Quantum Theory (…) describes nature as absurd for our common sense. But it perfectly sticks to the results from experiments. Therefore I hope you accept nature as it is – absurd! » Richard Feynman.

Nearly all quantum physics theoreticians ( N. Bohr, W. Heisenberg, E. Schrödinger. D. Bohm, M. Born…) were interested in eastern philosophies because they suggest a world’s image that is compatible with their discoveries!

«For a parallel to the lesson of atomic theory… (we must turn) to that kind of epistemological problems with which already thinkers like Buddha and Lao-Tseu have been confronted, when trying to harmonise our position as spectators and actors in the great drama of existence.» Niels Bohr.

«The plurality that we perceive is only an appearance; it is not real. Vedantic philosophy… has sought to clarify it by a number of analogies, one of the most attractive being the many-faceted crystal which, while showing hundreds of little pictures of what is in reality a single existent object, does not really multiply that object…» Erwin Schrödinger.

«The important contribution of Japan in Theoretical Physics since the last war, indicates maybe a kind of kinship between traditional eastern philosophies and the philosophical substance of Quantum Theory.» Werner Heisenberg.

In the 1970s a physicist – Fritjof Capra – decides to make use of metaphors from Vedanta and Taoism as illustrations of a textbook on quantum physics, with the hope to make it easier for students to memorise (not to understand: they are not understandable with our common sense) these discoveries so strange to classical visualisation.

«Eastern spirituality offers a coherent and harmonious frame that can be helpful for our most advanced theories about the physical world.»

The textbook is so successful that he publishes an essay intended for a larger audience: The Tao Of Physics” that popularises an amazing similarity of concepts between ancient eastern philosophies and modern physics!

At first glance there can’t be any correspondence between the paradigm we inherited from 19th century’s physics and eastern concepts about the true nature of reality.

To the physicist that lived before 1900:

1: Space and time exist as the great scene on which objects exist and transform. Different observers see the same objects in the same place, at the same time.

2: The universe is made out of matter. The spiritual realm, if it exists, is not part of the material one.

3: The universe is made out of real objects: they exist by their own and do not need consciousness to become real. The Moon is in the sky, even if nobody is looking at it!

4: Objects are defined by their objective properties, notably by their position in space and time. They can’t be in two places at once. Their objective properties (lenght, mass…) are independent from the observer.

To the eastern mystic:

1: Multiplicity is an illusion. It’s the perception of Maya (the perceived material world which is manifested) that hides the underlying unity, which is not-manifested.

2: The world is organic: it can’t be made of independent parts What we think are parts are only fragments that have no proper reality if they are separated from the whole. Objects are interdependent and therefore have no existence by themselves.

3: The world is dynamic and composed of ceaseless movements of energy. What we perceive as real objects are only whirls (hindu vrittis) of 3 types of energy (hindu gunas) displayed on the screen of consciousness that gives an illusion of an external reality.

4: The void is full of creative energy that gives life to the manifested world.

Now modern physics shows that:

1: Space and time are not absolute but relative! They aren’t perceived in the same way by every observer but depend notably on speed, gravity… They are manifested in relation to circumstances.

2: Matter is dual: it has an undefined nature that is only partly describable by the mathematics of waves, and a nature that we perceive as particles. These two natures are incompatible of course, and never perceived at the same time. The wavy nature underlies the particle one. This is reminiscent of the duality of some eastern philosophies: the not-manifested, which is only specified, and the manifested which is perceived.

3: Matter is a form of very condensed energy; it doesn’t exist outside energy fields that take different aspects (electric, magnetic…). It is locally manifested as wave packets.

4: When we study the wave nature of the world we find it is organic; no object is really separated from the other objects in the universe. Separation is an illusion.

5: The world is dynamic; it is impossible to measure at once the exact position and the speed of an object.

6: The void is full of energy and creates continuously virtual particles (not-manifested) that can become real (manifested) when they borrow energy.

As many physicists suggest nowadays, it is relevant to look for parallels between the new physics and eastern concepts, while waiting that physics discovers a new world’s image compatible with its results since the paradigm we inherited from the 19th century is no more pertinent today. Moreover, it’s sometimes difficult to decide whether a quote comes from a physicist or a mystic! (Take the quizz at the end of this post.)

2: REASON OR INTUITION?

Science appreciates intuition but relies on reason only. Eastern philosophies appreciate reason but highlights intuition only! The Upanishads claim that the rational mind and analysis gives “inferior knowing” only; “superior knowing” comes from deep intuition. For Buddhism “relative knowing” comes from the mind and reason when “absolute knowing” comes from intuition. In western cultures the opposite is true: reason is the master and intuition is its servant!

Vedanta claims that it is ignorance that makes us perceive the objects in the universe as separate and each with its specific reality. Spirituality emphasises on this illusion that comes from ignorance and an inadequate perception of reality. “To see correctly”… teaches the Buddha. To see correctly is not possible with the eyes, neither with the rational mind, but maybe with intuition. One can only partly “see correctly” with the mind. Quantum physics can’t be understood with our world’s image; only mathematics can help to understand its logical structure but not its materiality. Only its spirit can be approached but not in a specific aspect that is essential to reach a real understanding that includes our common sense.

3: IS INTERDEPENDANCE THE ROOT OF REALITY?

Quantum physics shows that the objects we perceive have no objective existence of their own. Their properties are the result of continuous and universal interactions. And these interactions are themselves connected in such a way that it is not possible to separate completely objects from one another (see the quote from Erwin Schrödinger previously).

«One cannot separate what happens somewhere from what happens elsewhere. In a way, events must be described jointly.» John Bell.

Physics discovers that there is no separate objects: objects’ properties result from global interactions that take place in a space and time that transcend the one we live in. The world is no more a huge mechanical clock made of parts but an indivisible whole made from interactions that include the observer. When one breaks a complex object to study its parts, actually one makes only fragments that loose an important part of their significance in the whole! The reductionism we inherited from Descartes is no more the powerful tool it has been until today, when science was convinced that understanding parts would lead to a direct understanding of the whole. The emergence of a specific reality from indefinite interactions and probabilities is a proof of this.

Each particle that interacted with another one remains correlated until the next interaction. But the whole universe is composed of particles that are related through a seminal event: the Big Bang. In theory the universe could be described mathematically with one only wave function!

Modern physics suggests that reality doesn’t exist concretely outside a consciousness that observes it. Eastern philosophies postulate that reality is a projection of a Collective Consciousness. Some physicists take the leap and think that consciousness is fundamental and matter is not!

« It is almost as though the modern conception of the physical world had deliberately left room for the reality of spirit and consciousness. » Sir Arthur Eddington.

«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. » Max Planck.

Relativity shows that quantifiable properties that Galileo defined as “primary” like length, mass… can take different values for different observers and have lost their objective quality Galileo thought they had. A motionless observer measures a length and a mass that are different from the ones measured for the same object by an observer that moves rapidly. Which observer is right? Both! since there is no absolute reality. Reality becomes a projection in a consciousness. Only interactions remain; they create the objects’ properties in the universe!

«The universe does not exist ‘out there,’ independent of us. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to be happening. We are not only observers. We are participators. In some strange sense, this is a participatory universe. Physics is no longer satisfied with insights only into particles, fields of force, into geometry, or even into time and space. Today we demand of physics some understanding of existence itself.» John Wheeler.

In meditation «The material object becomes (…) different from what we actually see, not an object separated from its background or from its environment, but an indivisible part – and even in a subtle way, an expression of the unity – of whole what we see.» Sri Aurobindo.

There are no real objective objects that different observers would perceive in the same way and which would exist if there were no observer! The properties of objects aren’t intrinsic but relational!

«One is led to a new notion of a continuous reality invalidating the classical idea on the composition of the world with parts that have separate and independent existence.»

«The analysis of the world as made of objects has been replaced by its analysis as events and processes.» David Bohm.

«Quantum theory showed that nature hasn’t intrinsic reality.» Michel Bitbol.

4: IMPERMANENCE: THE DYNAMICS OF THE WORLD.

Matter is a condensed form of energy, Einstein discovered. Matter has a wavy nature, reveals Schrödinger. A wave is dynamic by nature; constantly changing.

Physicists write:

«In modern physics the world is now divided, not in different groups of objects but in different groups of connections (…). The world thus appears as a complex fabric of events in which different sorts of connections alternate, partially overlap or combine, and define the framework of the whole.» Werner Heisenberg

«The quantum interconnection of the universe in its whole is the fundamental reality and parts that seem relatively independent are only particular and fortuitous forms inside this whole.» David Bohm.

Mystics discover:

«Buddhists see the object as an event and not as a thing or a substance.» Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki.

5: THE VOID IS FULL!

The “quantum void” is full of energy! Werner Heisenberg’s “Uncertainty Principle” shows that the more one bounds a restricted area, the more its energy increases. And this energy doesn’t remain inactive: it creates continuously particles and anti-particles for very short times but sufficient to mediate interactions.

Physicists write:

« For the field theory, a material particle as an electron, is simply a little part of the electric field in which the energy takes very high values, indicating that much energy is concentrated in a very small space. Such a node of energy, that isn’t clearly delimitated from the rest of the field, moves through void space as a wave crossing the surface of a lake; there is no unique substance out of which the electron would be made at every moment.» Hermann Weyl.

«The existence and the disappearance of particles are only dynamic forms of the field.» Walter Thirring.

Mystics discover:

«When one knows that the great void is full of CH’I, one knows that nothingness doesn’t exist

«The void is the field of possibilities. Reality comes from the void from which every thing emerges then fades, out of an infinite and non-dual source.» Zhang Zai.

«The Tao is empty, but inextinguishable. (…) It appears as the ancestor of the ten thousand beings. (…) It seems to exist since eternity.» Tao Te Jing 4.

6: WHAT TOOLS TO READ SCIENCE AND SPIRITUALITY?

For more than two millenaries we think with an aristotelian logic which is dualistic: true or false. Quantum physics introduce a new logic: quaternary! True, false, true and false, neither true nor false.

«If we ask for instance: does the electron remain in the same place, we must answer “no”; if we ask does the electron moves when time flows, we must answer “no”; if we ask is the electron still, we must say “no”. Buddha gave similar answers when he was asked questions about the human condition after death; but they aren’t familiar to the tradition of 17th and 18th centuries’ science.» Robert Oppenheimer.

«Within discussions on hindu philosophy some of quantum physics ideas that seemed to us completely absurd, began to become meaningful.»

«I think modern philosophy definitely gives reason to Plato. Indeed, the smallest material objects are not physical objects as we may imagine them; they are forms, ideas that can’t be expressed without ambiguity outside mathematics.» Werner Heisenberg.

7: THE NEW SCIENTIFIC DUALISM AND THE OLD MYSTICAL DUALISM.

When we analyse deeply the ultimate reality of matter, we find it evaporates in a mathematical realm instead of a material one; the intuition of greek philosophers like Plato or Pythagorus become justified in a way; reality is dualistic. The perception we have of it is only superficial.

«There must exist, beyond mere appearances … a ‘veiled reality’ that science does not describe but only glimpses uncertainly. In turn, contrary to those who claim that matter is the only reality, the possibility that other means, including spirituality, may also provide a window on ultimate reality cannot be ruled out, even by cogent scientific arguments. Bernard D’Espagnat.

«Quantum entanglement supports the idea that the world is deeper than the visible, and reveals a domain of existence, which cannot be described with the notions of space and time. In the nonlocal quantum realm there is dependance without time, things are going on but the time doesn’t seem to pass here.» Antoine Suarez.

The first physicists knew they worked only on a relative reality. But their successes led them to forget it; today they know again that they work on shadows only!

« The very advance (of quantum and relativistic physics) does not lie in the world of physics itself having acquired this shadowy character; it had ever since Democritus of Abdera and even before, but we were not aware of it; we thought we were dealing with the world itself Erwin Schrödinger.

« We have learnt that the exploration of the external world by the methods of physical science leads not to a concrete reality but to a shadow world of symbols, beneath which those methods are unadapted for penetrating. Feeling that there must be more behind, we return to our starting point in human consciousness – the one centre where more might become known. There we find other stirrings, other revelations than those conditioned by the world of symbols.»

« The world we study with physics became a world of shadows.» Sir Arthur Eddington.

« Everybody knows today that Science isn’t a statement of reality but a language in order to express a sort of experience of objects, their structure, their mathematics, (…) nothing more. Matter itself is something (…) of which we superficially know the structure as it appears to our mind, our perception and some tools (…) but nobody knows more than that .» Sri Aurobindo Ghose.

8: THE END OF CERTAINTIES!

Physicists are aware that the paradigm we inherited from the 19th century has to be deeply rethought.

«I realise experiments today essentially to show the strangeness of quantum physics. Most physicists are very naive: they still believe in real waves or real particles.» Anton Zeilinger.

« Philosophers have said that if the same circumstances don’t always produce the same results, predictions are impossible and science will collapse. (…) We cannot predict whether a given photon will arrive at A or B. All we can predict is that out of 100 photons that come down, an average of 4 will be reflected by the front surface. Does this mean that physics, a science of great exactitude, has been reduced to calculating only the probability of an event, and not predicting exactly what will happen? Yes. That’s a retreat, but that’s the way it is: Nature permits us to calculate only probabilities. Yet science has not collapsed! » Richard Feynman.

9: SHALL POETRY RESCUE SCIENCE?

« The laws which nature obeys are less suggestive of those which a machine obeys in its motion than of those which a musician obeys in writing a fugue, or a poet in composing a sonnet.» Sir James Jeans.

« The language of images and likenesses is probably the only way of approaching the “one” from more general domains. If the harmony in a society rests on a common interpretation of the “one”, the unitary principle behind the phenomena, then the language of poetry may be more important here than the language of science Werner Heisenberg.

« Science…means unresting endeavour and continually progressing development toward an aim which the poetic intuition may apprehend, but the intellect can never fully grasp.» Max Planck.

10: LOOKING FOR A NEW PARADIGM.

The world’s image we have to build should let us understand notably:

– the new dualism: the fundamental duality of matter and energy that is, at once, wave and particle;

– the fundamental nature of phenomena that direct what we interpret nowadays as objects whose properties stay undefined as long as they aren’t observed (quantic superpositions) or the “collapse of the wave function” that attributes one only of a multitude of probable quantities when an object interacts with another, as when it is measured;

– the links between matter and consciousness;

– phenomena that are considered today as abnormal, like Near Death Experiences that suggest that consciousness exists even when the brain is completely inactive, transpersonal communications that take place without any implication of our biological organs of perception and that transcend space and time…

A group of scientists gathered in 2014 in order to explore the difficulties we find today when applying our classical paradigm to modern science. They summarised the observations that our world’s image can’t explain and that should be understood with a new one. Their reflexions are published here.

QUOTES FROM PHYSICISTS AND MYSTICS

Tick the right answer if you think that a Physicist or a Mystic is the author of the quote

P/M

1) “The world is given to me only once, not one existing and one perceived. Subject and object are only one.”

2) “This life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of the entire existence, but is, in a certain sense, the WHOLE; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. This, as we know, is what the Brahmins express in that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear: TAT TVAM ASI, this is you. Or, again, in such words as “I am in the east and in the west, I am below and above, I AM THIS WHOLE WORLD”.

3) Thus you can throw yourself flat on the ground, stretched out upon Mother Earth, with the certain conviction that you are one with her and she with you. You are as firmly established, as invulnerable, as she – indeed, a thousand times firmer and more invulnerable. As surely as she will engulf you tomorrow, so surely will she bring you forth anew to new striving and suffering. And not merely, “some day”: now, today, everyday she is bringing you forth, not ONCE, but thousands upon thousands of times, just as every day she engulfs you a thousand times over. For eternally and always there is only NOW, one and the same now; the present is the only thing that has no end.”

4) “There is obviously only one alternative, namely the unification of minds or consciousnesses. Their multiplicity is only apparent, in truth there is only one mind.”

5) “The plurality that we perceive is only an appearance; it is not real. Vedantic philosophy… has sought to clarify it by a number of analogies, one of the most attractive being the many-faceted crystal which, while showing hundreds of little pictures of what is in reality a single existent object, does not really multiply that object…”

6) “Nirvana is a state of pure blissful knowledge… It has nothing to do with the individual. The ego or its separation is an illusion. Indeed in a certain sense two “I”‘s are identical namely when one disregards all special contents — their Karma. The goal of man is to preserve his Karma and to develop it further… when man dies his Karma lives and creates for itself another carrier.”

7) “I assert that the nature of all reality is spiritual, not material nor a dualism of matter and spirit. The hypothesis that its nature can be, to any degree, material, does not enter into my reckoning, because as we now understand matter, the putting together of the adjective “material” and the noun “nature” does not make sense.”

8) “The stuff of the world is mind-stuff.”

9) “If I were to try to put into words the essential truth revealed in the mystic experience, it would be that our minds are not apart from the world, and the feelings that we have of gladness and melancholy and our yet deeper feelings are not of ourselves alone, but are glimpses of a reality transcending the narrow limits of our particular consciousness – that the harmony and beauty of the face of nature is, at root, one with the gladness that transfigures the face of man.”

10) “That faculty which perceives and recognizes the noble proportions in what is given to the senses, and in other things situated outside itself, must be ascribed to the soul.(..) which does not think discursively,(..) and is thus not peculiar only to man, but also dwells in wild animals and the dear beasts of the field.”

11) “The past has no existence except as it is recorded in the present… The universe does not exist out there, independent of all acts of observation. Instead, it is in some strange sense a participatory universe”

12) “The universe can be best pictured, although still very imperfectly and inadequately, as consisting of pure thought, the thought of what, for want of a wider word, we must describe as a mathematical thinker.”

13) « Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real. »

14) “One is led to a new notion of a continuous reality dismissing the classical idea of a world made of parts that exist separately and independently.”

15) “The material object becomes (…) different from what we actually see, not an object separated from its background or from its environment, but an indivisible part – and even in a subtle way, an expression of the unity – of whole what we see.”

16) “Objects derive their existence and their nature from mutual dependence and are nothing by themselves.”

17) “The universe does not exist “out there,” independent of us. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to be happening. We are not only observers. We are participators. In some strange sense, this is a participatory universe.”

QUOTES FROM PHYSICISTS AND MYSTICS

Tick the right answer if you think that a Physicist or a Mystic is the author of the quote

P/M

1) “The world is given to me only once, not one existing and one perceived. Subject and object are only one.”

SCHRODINGER

P

2) “This life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of the entire existence, but is, in a certain sense, the WHOLE; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. This, as we know, is what the Brahmins express in that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear: TAT TVAM ASI, this is you. Or, again, in such words as “I am in the east and in the west, I am below and above, I AM THIS WHOLE WORLD”.

SCHRODINGER

P

3) Thus you can throw yourself flat on the ground, stretched out upon Mother Earth, with the certain conviction that you are one with her and she with you. You are as firmly established, as invulnerable, as she – indeed, a thousand times firmer and more invulnerable. As surely as she will engulf you tomorrow, so surely will she bring you forth anew to new striving and suffering. And not merely, “some day”: now, today, everyday she is bringing you forth, not ONCE, but thousands upon thousands of times, just as every day she engulfs you a thousand times over. For eternally and always there is only NOW, one and the same now; the present is the only thing that has no end.”

SCHRODINGER

P

4) “There is obviously only one alternative, namely the unification of minds or consciousnesses. Their multiplicity is only apparent, in truth there is only one mind.”

SCHRODINGER

P

5) “The plurality that we perceive is only an appearance; it is not real. Vedantic philosophy… has sought to clarify it by a number of analogies, one of the most attractive being the many-faceted crystal which, while showing hundreds of little pictures of what is in reality a single existent object, does not really multiply that object…”

SCHRODINGER

P

6) “Nirvana is a state of pure blissful knowledge… It has nothing to do with the individual. The ego or its separation is an illusion. Indeed in a certain sense two “I”‘s are identical namely when one disregards all special contents — their Karma. The goal of man is to preserve his Karma and to develop it further… when man dies his Karma lives and creates for itself another carrier.”

SCHRODINGER

P

7) “I assert that the nature of all reality is spiritual, not material nor a dualism of matter and spirit. The hypothesis that its nature can be, to any degree, material, does not enter into my reckoning, because as we now understand matter, the putting together of the adjective “material” and the noun “nature” does not make sense.”

Sir EDDINGTON

P

8) “The stuff of the world is mind-stuff.”

Sir EDDINGTON

P

9) “If I were to try to put into words the essential truth revealed in the mystic experience, it would be that our minds are not apart from the world, and the feelings that we have of gladness and melancholy and our yet deeper feelings are not of ourselves alone, but are glimpses of a reality transcending the narrow limits of our particular consciousness – that the harmony and beauty of the face of nature is, at root, one with the gladness that transfigures the face of man.”

Sir EDDINGTON

P

10)”That faculty which perceives and recognizes the noble proportions in what is given to the senses, and in other things situated outside itself, must be ascribed to the soul.(..) which does not think discursively,(..) and is thus not peculiar only to man, but also dwells in wild animals and the dear beasts of the field.”

Werner HEISENBERG

P

11) “The past has no existence except as it is recorded in the present… The universe does not exist out there, independent of all acts of observation. Instead, it is in some strange sense a participatory universe”

John Wheeler

P

12) “The universe can be best pictured, although still very imperfectly and inadequately, as consisting of pure thought, the thought of what, for want of a wider word, we must describe as a mathematical thinker.”

Sir James JEANS

P

13) « Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real. »

Niels BOHR

P

14) “One is led to a new notion of a continuous reality dismissing the classical idea of a world made of parts that exist separately and independently.”

David BOHM

P

15) “The material object becomes (…) different from what we actually see, not an object separated from its background or from its environment, but an indivisible part – and even in a subtle way, an expression of the unity – of whole what we see.”

Sri AUROBINDO

M

16)”Objects derive their existence and their nature from mutual dependence and are nothing by themselves.”

NAGARJUNA

M

17) “The universe does not exist “out there,” independent of us. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to be happening. We are not only observers. We are participators. In some strange sense, this is a participatory universe.”

John WHEELER

P

TOTAL: 15 quotes from physicists and 2 quotes from mystics! Modern physics is getting close to mysticism!

CAN WE FIND A PROOF THAT WE LIVE IN A VIRTUAL REALITY?

 

A scientific evidence, not a mathematical proof of course. Can we find convincing evidence, can we do observations or experiments that could show some properties of our universe that we would expect from a simulated, therefore a virtual one, instead of a real one?

Science piles up evidences; create models in order to give meaning to bunches of observations, analyses these images of reality to make predictions, then looks for confirmation or refutation of the models. Science can’t build logical and irreversible demonstrations as mathematics does, but it can build a conviction, a feeling that we understand part of the universe’s reality, when it leads to experiments that confirm its predictions.

For instance, the Theory of Evolution explains myriads of facts that wouldn’t have any meaning outside it. Darwin predicted already in the 19th century what was found more than a century later about the evolution of whales! The Theory of Evolution is a scientific model that helps us understand our world and ourselves and therefore, let us find appropriate behaviours and implementations adapted to the living world. In spite of all its positive effects it remains a scientific theory: a model constantly under critical analysis, that grows, develops, evolve…

Would it be possible to apply the scientific methodology, to imagine observations or experiments that would find evidence in favour of Simulism (living in a virtual reality) instead of Materialistic Realism that is widely accepted today? What would be some predictions that could be done if we were living in a virtual universe, predictions we could try to verify or show they’re wrong?

It isn’t difficult to program a robot to make it shout « ouch » when we hit it or « ummm » if we give it a pat! Let’s imagine a virtual being in a video game; let’s suppose we made huge progress in computer science and we’re able to provide it with an intelligence as ours and means to interact with its virtual environment. How could we know if it could feel emotions like us?

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Would it suffice to give it intelligence, awareness and emotions so that it (he?) would feel real?

Could it feel subjective sensations; the philosopher’s « qualia »? We could easily program it so that it could make an easy difference between red and yellow; but would it feel the same « qualia », our feeling when we perceive these colours? Impossible to decide since these are subjective personal experiences.

We could build robots that would behave as us, seen from outside. We could pursue Alan Turing’s suggestion when he was looking for a way to make the difference between a computer mimicking human’s intelligence and a real human who answers his questions. A robot could easily behave as us in reaction to colour perception, especially if its reactions were programmed as hardware, somewhat like our instincts, our emotions that seem genetically inherited instead of acquired through experience or the culture in which we’re born.

We could imagine a robot mimicking our psychological states. It would have a series of modules to perceive, analyse, react and evaluate the consequences. For instance, the perception of the batteries’ state, then of the reaction chosen from a databank and its result: charged batteries after the robot would have found a station, could result in upgrading the activity of a module measuring the robot’s « satisfaction » and downgrading in parallel other modules measuring states we could name « frustration », « hunger »… The synthesis of all these modules’ states could be a parameter we could name the « mood » of the robot… its « feelings » in a way! We could program it so its reactions would be subject to its « mood » and it’d become difficult to decide if it’d be able to feel qualia or not!

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Could we imagine a test like Turing’s one, to find out if a robot could fool us, let us think it is human and feels emotions?

Such a program, if successful, could be intriguing for a naive observer. With Turing’s test he could confuse a computer’s intelligence with a human’s one; here he could hesitate before deciding that no emotion could be felt by a robot!

It seems difficult to find objective means to make the difference between such an intelligent and sensitive machine… but virtual (a SIM), and an organism made out of flesh and bones! We’re led to think that, should we be SIMS, we won’t discover it if the program was efficiently realised! It’s not because we feel emotions that we’re real and not virtual! We must look elsewhere to find out!

Could we find an answer by analysing the nature of matter? Many indications point to matter as virtual (see “Is reality real?” : july 3: 2017 and “Some noteworthy anomalies” july 5: 2017 and “Simulism: an answer to quantum weirdness?” july 5: 2017); but hard evidence?

If matter is real it should keep at least some of its intrinsic properties through time, whatever the circumstances. Something concrete of it should remain through time’s flow. A complex object wears out but its atoms remain. Even if they engage in new chemical reactions they keep some of their fundamental properties like mass, but virtual matter’s properties are recalculated at each step of the computer’s clock that calculates the simulation. Even if the program is perfect and simulates a rich virtual reality that seems true, would it be possible to find a situation where some fundamental properties that shouldn’t change in a Materialistic Realism do change in a Simulated Realism?

Let’s imagine a fossil. In Materialistic Realism, its molecules are of the same age as the fossil. But molecules are made out of atoms that are much older since they were created in stars furnaces, long before our Solar system’s birth.

In Simulism reality is virtual; it’s not made out of concrete and permanent atoms but, as in a video game, objects are continuously recreated and displayed each time the screen is recalculated; usually 100 times a second on common screens. If true, what seem to us solid atoms and molecules would be virtual constructions calculated out of subsets that would have the properties we assign to atoms and molecules. Our video games are displayed on 2D screens but if Simulism is true we should imagine a sort of cellular automaton (described in a future post) in which we would live as SIMS evolve in a computer’s memory before being displayed in a 4D hologram. In our video games, SIMS evolve in a computer’s memory then their properties are calculated and transformed by a simulation program in a picture visible on a 2D display.

We could question now if it could be possible to find a difference between a fossil that remained as it was, concrete, without destructive interactions with its environment for millions of years, and a constantly « recalculated » fossil, at each renewal of the screen display; an object that would simulate an old one without being really old. How could we do the difference? Again, if the simulation program is highly efficient, it seems difficult to find a way to find out!

But there is a way! It takes advantage of two well known phenomena: the expansion of the universe that moves away galaxies from each other since 13,7 billions years in the first place, and the most mysterious of the young Quantum Mechanics’ discoveries: the wave-particle duality! We could imagine an experiment that takes advantage of observation and experience, to predict results that would be meaningful if Simulism is true, but would be meaningless if we live in a real materialistic universe.

It’s amazing to find out that this experiment has already been imagined in 1983 by the physicist John Wheeler, but for a different purpose: to illustrate the incredible strangeness of the microcosm in which evolve elementary particles and especially photons! Today we could apply his thought experiment to find out if we live in a real world: a universe in which particles are immutable through time’s flow if they don’t interact with their environment, as the fossil just described. Or whether even without interacting for a very long time, we can find an evidence that the particle is recalculated and imitate an interaction impossible in a real world. A result that would defy well established physical laws but that become understandable if we live in a simulated universe that is recalculated at each step of it’s computer clock.

THE EXPERIMENT

The expansion of the universe combines with the limited light’s speed to allow a trip in the past. The farthest a galaxy is from us, the younger it is when we observe it! The farthest it is, the longer time its light has taken to reach us. When finally the photons thrown in space by its stars reach neurons in our eyes, we perceive the star that gave them birth as it was when they left it, sometimes millions or even billions of years ago! We perceive what we could name « fossil photons »!

Astronomers’ catalogs harbour « quasars »: quasi-stars. They are very powerful point-like light sources. They are so powerful that we can see them even at very long distances; we see them today as they were billions of years ago!

Let’s work with photons emitted by a well-studied quasar (QSO 0957+561AB) then deflected by a galaxy 3 billions years from now; a galaxy that is exactly in their way towards Earth. These photons remain as they were when deflected by the galaxy’s gravitational field that acted like a magnifying glass, bending towards us the photons that would otherwise be lost in space. The astronomer sees several images of the same quasar, depending on the way photons have been deflected to one direction or another. But what happens when photons arrive right on the obstacle instead of brushing a border? Is it invisible for us? Not always!

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Space is distorted by mass and light is deflected when it travels near an important mass.

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Photons emitted by a far away galaxy, at right, are deflected by the mass of a galaxy cluster that is on their way. They follow the white track but appear to us as if they were coming through the orange arrows. The image of the far away galaxy is doubled when it reaches Earth.

Here comes the wave-particle duality. It says that every quantum object has a double nature: it can be concentrated in an infinitesimal space – the particle – but also occupy a huge volume as a wave. When it doesn’t interact, the quantum object evolves through time as described by Schrödinger’s wave function. But when it’s detected, it’s observed at one only punctual place, after a mysterious transformation that makes it occupy only one of the many possible places where it could be, according to the wave function. Physicists are unable to calculate the precise location where it will be observed; it’s as if the wave function describes actually a probability of finding the particle somewhere: the only property physicists can calculate.

The importance of this wave-particle duality for our question is the following: One can force a quantum object to behave as a particle OR a wave depending on the experiment’s protocol. How then could we take advantage of this possibility?

John Wheeler published in 1983 a thought experiment that was impossible to do at that time, but that showed that we could build today a sort of time-machine to travel backward in time to act on a photon’s path 3 billions years before today! Wheeler wanted to illustrate the huge strangeness of the quantum world: its magic!

A photon, in its particle form, could be deviated either on the right side OR on the left side of the obstructing galaxy that is on its way to reach the Earth; the same photon, in its wave form, could reach the Earth after passing at once by the right AND by the left sides of the obstructing galaxy, like a wave can bypass an emerging rock!

Physicists are able to find out if a photon crossed an obstacle in its wave or particle form. Wheeler suggested to build an experiment in which the physicist could choose, today, if s/he wants to observe isolated photons that reach us after a 3 billions years’ journey, in their particle or wave nature. Quantum Mechanics says that:

If we build the experiment in order to observe the particle nature of the photons, then we could only see the ones that went through one OR the other border of the galaxy that is in their way. And this happened 3 billions years ago since it took the photon this time to reach us: it’s really a « fossil photon » in a sense since it must be now in the state it was in, 3 billions years ago.

But if we choose to build an experiment that would show the wave-like nature of the isolated photons, then we would find that they crossed the obstacle as waves, and, as such, travelled at once on the left AND on the right of the obstacle. Exactly as waves turn round a rock emerging from the surface of a pond.

We can conclude that the Laws of Physics let us decide TODAY under which form a photon crossed an obstacle 3 BILLIONS YEARS AGO!

From two possibility we must choose one:

Either what we decide to do today can influence what happened 3 billions years ago; clearly an unacceptable conclusion for Materialistic Realism and, as such, forbidden by the Theory of Relativity since no information could travel faster than light and backward in time.

Or we have no free-choice! And what seems to us a choice, is actually determined by our environment such that we can’t take any decision other than the one that will show the results that we find. And this with the powerful feeling that we are completely free to choose what we want to; clearly unacceptable for our feelings!

Clearly we can’t accept any of these explanations; yet these results are discovered again and again by experimental physicists!

But Simulism suggests a simple explanation of these weird results: the photon isn’t really a fossil that traveled through space for 3 billions years. It just looks like a real fossil, but it’s virtual! It didn’t really exist somewhere outside a computer’s memory for this time. It’s properties are calculated at the moment it is perceived by an instrument or an eye and the calculations are done according to what the simulation program provides for the actual experience and for the Laws of Quantum Mechanics! Space and time aren’t real entities neither, but parameters in equations calculated by the simulation program! This software manages parameters from photons, simple atoms or combined ones in molecules… and from space and time. Light’s speed is a limit, not because photons can’t go faster, but because the program in the computer can’t calculate faster!

The extreme weirdness of « Wheeler’s Delayed Choice Experiment » comes from the fact that an effect seems to have an influence on its cause, backward in time! The choice we do today seems to decide what the nature of a photon has been – wave or particle – 3 billions years ago. Actually this isn’t what happens because the true cause isn’t the one we think it is: the true cause isn’t the choice the physicist does when he prepares his experiment to measure a wave or a particle; the true cause is the interaction we initiate with the photon WHEN WE MEASURE IT, according to the actual experimental protocol we follow. The photon isn’t real in the sense that it passed 3 billions years traveling through space to reach us. It acquires its characteristics at the time of measurement on Earth, according to the rules provided by the simulation software.

It isn’t a fossil photon, but a virtual image of a fossil photon. And, as in video games, only what is displayed on the screen at each moment, is translated from equations to an object actually displayed in a specific and recognisable form. This translation from numbers to a specific form is what appears to us as the wave-function collapse postulated by the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Particles behave as waves able to superpose, without defined values but potentially able to take an infinite number of values, with different probabilities, until the moment where the game needs to display the particle. At that moment calculations are done and the wave « collapses » to give only one value calculated from the probabilities characteristic of its wave nature and according to the software rules and the past history of the particle.

What is the simplest explanation?

We are able to influence an event that already happened 3 billions years ago?

We haven’t any free-choice?

Or we live in a simulated universe that has no reality but is calculated at every step of the computer’s clock? A virtual universe in which only the objects that are displayed by the game at any time are calculated from their wave-function to be displayed with their particle nature. The objects that aren’t displayed remain in their equation form as numeric parameters in computer memories.

THE THIRD ONTOLOGY.

 

Is the universe deterministic? Einstein thought it was, and if true, then free will would only be an illusion of course. Except if we had a soul of another realm than the universe one.

Is the universe fundamentally random like Bohr and Quantum Physicists think? If true, then free will would be at the core of reality.

This video explores a third possibility. If the universe is the result of a language (thus only information!), then it won’t be completely deterministic nor completely random but somewhere in-between! THis is because a language is built upon symbols and syntax. The association between a symbol and what it means is determined. But the syntax lets one play with the order in which the symbols are organized and this order can change the overall meaning of the sentence, letting some randomness in the organization of the future. This third possibility explores “The Code Theoretic Axiom” and is very clearly introduced by Klee Irwin, at the head of “Quantum Gravity Research” group which gathers physicists and mathematicians interested by a Theory of Everything.

The axiom (a principle that cannot be proven) is that the basic stuff of the universe which is energy (Einstein proved that matter is a form of condensed energy), is INFORMATION.

But what is information?! It is MEANING described by SYMBOLS. A square is a geometrical symbol that describes an object which has 4 units of space, linked together with 4 identical angles, and which defines a hypothenuse etc… If one uses symbols to play with, one SIMULATES different meanings generated by the ordering of symbols. So reality would be a SIMULATION!

The idea explored here is that the hardware, the software and the simulation output (which is reality) is one and the same. The hardware would be a geometrical object in 8 dimensions. The software would be its projection in a 3 dimensions space and the output would depend on the movements of the object in its 8 D space. Moreover, if there’s a language, there must be a CHOOSER of the symbols and the syntax!

There’s much more in this video (consciousness, emergence, efficiency of codes…), some too technical for non-specialists, but always expressed in a very clear language, without reading a prepared file, which is rare. Another video on the same subject is much more illustrated and presented in a professional way. It’l maybe be introduced here later. It’s address is:

FUNDAMENTAL DUALITY

LIGHT AND MATTER ARE DUAL

In 1801 the english physician, physicist and optician Thomas Young imagines a simple experiment the results of which raise questions even today! Newton was convinced light was a stream of microscopic particles when Young inclined in favour of waves. But how could he force nature to answer?!

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He builds a screen with two slits very close and puts it in front of a stream of light. If Newton was right Young should find two bright spots on a screen just behind the slits. But if his intuition is right then the two slits should behave as two new sources of secondary waves

If light is a wave then the secondary wavelike disturbances behind each slit should interfere; troughs and bumps should add or subtract to form a pattern of alternate bright and dark stripes on the screen behind them. And this pattern would be the proof that light is a wave and this is what Young discovers. So light is a wave, an energy that vibrates a mysterious ether, until 1905.

In 1921 Einstein becomes a Nobel laureate for one of his fundamental discoveries made in 1905; he explains light’s photoelectric properties and describes the photon: a particle of light. But how a particle could be also a wave at once?! The same year Einstein showed that light can convey energy in the void, without any mysterious medium! Is a photon a particle that behaves as a wave? No!…

Moreover one can’t say that a photon IS a wave or a particle! Science let us discover PROPERTIES, not the NATURE of the objects it studies! The latter is studied by the Philosophy of Science because it’s not about measurement of quantifiable properties but about reflecting on the interpretation of results, and therefore on subjective questions; yet only quantifiable objects can be studied objectively and can be described by Science.

In theory it could be that, mysteriously, photons interfere with each-other! That could explain at once, Young and Einstein’s results! Since it became technically possible one repeated Young’s experiment but with only one photon at once, to avoid any interference. The results are clear: the interference remains! As if the photon is able to cross through both slits at once, even if they are very far apart in relation to the photon’s size! Impossible, yet real!

Physicists try a new experiment, more sophisticated: they put detectors after each slit to confirm the crossing of a particle. The result defies any explanation that could be compatible with the materialistic and realistic paradigm, until today! By the way, it put into question one of the fundamentals of Science: objectivity, or the complete segregation between the object that is studied, and the subject that is studying it! Indeed, if the experimenter has a way to know through which slit the photon crossed the screen, then the photon behaves like a particle and crosses through one slit only, by chance: there are only two bright bands on the screen. But if one can’t tell which is the slit that was crossed by the photon, then it behaves like a wave and crosses through both slits, even if there is only one photon at once!

In a way absolutely incompatible with the current paradigm, the photon’s properties vary between those of a particle or those of a wave, according to what the experimenter can measure, and consequently know about its properties! Very sophisticated experiments showed just that: what’s decisive is the knowledge one can find on the photon! Nature loves to hide!

Niels Bohr foresaw this kind of findings, long before technology enabled the physicists to try these experiments! Again, it’s about perfectly logical concepts, deduced from sophisticated mathematics, but clearly incompatible with common sense and our world’s image.

Bohr tried to facilitate the physicists’ job with his concept of “complementarity”. It helps to avoid making a mental image of the fundamental object that builds matter and energy. It suggests to physicists to rely only on mathematics in order to evade a visual representation of the microcosm, as our senses let us do for the macrocosm. Particle’s physics is built upon complementarity: simultaneous belonging in two contradictory properties which the physicist can measure only one precisely. Quantum Mechanics defines a series of “conjugated properties” of which only one can be precisely measured; for instance speed and the position of a particle. The physicist has to choose which of these conjugated properties he’d like to measure precisely; the other one becomes all the more “diffuse” when the first is precisely measured.

Fortunately some objectivity remains in Science since any experimenter would find the same results about the photon’s properties. Nevertheless the photon will show wave or particle properties in relation to the interaction it’l have with the experimenter! S/he isn’t anymore a dispensable and insignificant character but s/he recovers a mysterious relation with the material universe that reminds of the one alchemists had with nature. They used to be in a symbiotic relationship between matter and psyche that could develop reciprocal qualities. They didn’t separate quantity from quality. Lead becomes gold when the alchemist finds the philosopher’s stone; a reciprocal transmutation was taking place between matter and psyche.

Wolfgang Pauli, one of the founding fathers of Quantum Physics, who was known for his intransigence about strict implementation of Science, understood that the Method came to a dead-end and tried to understand why. He studied Kepler’s biography who took his distance from the alchemists when he choose quantified mathematics only to understand the planets’ orbits.

In the “Kepler Essay” Pauli quotes the alchemist Fludd who blamed Kepler for his choice to study nature only quantitatively:

«It’s peculiar to ordinary mathematics to be stuck on quantitative shadows: alchemists and hermetists include the authenticity of nature’s objects.»

And Pauli hopes:

«The most satisfying would be that Physics and Psyche could be considered as two complementary aspects of one only Reality.»

The materialistic and realistic monism can no more be tenable since physicists discovered the wave/particle duality for all matter’s fundamental components and not only for photons or other types of energy. Indeed, how can an object be considered as real if it’s at once, localized in a very small space as a particle and in a huge space as a wave?! How can an object be considered as material if it’s also describable as purely energetic vibrations?! How could we support monism since nature is dual: wave and particle?!

Indeed, Quantum Physics describes two realities. Fundamental particles don’t belong to the same space and time as we do; they move about in an unclear a-local and a-temporal reality whose properties we can only partly calculate with waves’ mathematics and probabilities and not with common sense based upon our perceptions. In this fundamental reality out of which emerges ours, physicists describe a “quantum field” out of which emerge localized vibrations we perceive as material objects. Our biological senses describe another reality, one in which space-time is the stage on which objects seem to be separated, independent and real.

In the Middle-Ages the world was essentially spiritual; each object had a soul and matter was secondary, an expression of its soul created by God. Science elevated matter’s status when it defined matter/spirit duality; it gave a new importance to matter and worked only to find reliable knowings on its properties. Science was so successful for four centuries that the world became monistic, but materialistic this time! Nowadays matter only has all the properties necessary to explain the world: spirit became an emergence out of matter’s properties. But now it is Science that discovers its own limitations: the world becomes dualistic again, but it’s no more a separation between matter and spirit; it’s matter itself that looses its status when it becomes, at once, wave and particle and a very concentrated expression of energy!

«The great extension of our experience in recent years has brought light to the insufficiency of our simple mechanical conceptions and, as a consequence, has shaken the foundation on which the customary interpretation of observation was based.» Niels Bohr.

«The hope that new experiments will lead us back to objective events in time and space is about as well founded as the hope of discovering the end of the world in the unexplored regions of the Antarctic. Some physicists would prefer to come back to the idea of an objective real world whose smallest parts exist objectively in the same sense as stones or trees exist independently of whether we observe them. This however is impossible.» Werner Heisenberg

«Today, many scientists are victims of an unsuspicious realism and adopted unconsciously a materialistic and mechanistic metaphysics they consider as an expression of scientific truth. A good turn of Physics evolution for contemporary thinking is that it destroyed this simplistic metaphysics and highlights fundamental philosophic questions.» Louis de Broglie

WHAT IS THE NATURE OF MATTER?

A butterfly lands on your hand! Reality or hallucination? Your neighbours are as amazed as you are; therefore it’s a fact, even if it’s very rare! Your analytical mind reminds you that it isn’t an objective reality since perception is subjective and relies upon your nervous system. It’s the same for your neighbours. Only a consensus between many subjectivities can convince you that there is really a butterfly on your hand! Thus the importance of sharing results and of reproducibility in Science. It’s the only mean to be convinced of the reality of perceptions.

You decide you’ll put the Scientific Method in action to look for the nature of matter. You begin by reducing the complexity of the problem by questioning parts of it with the hope to find answers that could help you build a global image. It’s what Descartes proposed: reductionism. With the conviction that assembling partial answers will give you the global one.

You define three fundamental parts in the butterfly, each with secondary elements: eyes, legs, wings… You pursue the reduction of the insect and find physiological systems in charge of vital functions as digestion, mobility, reproduction… They are themselves made of different organs in which you distinguish specialised tissues to provide secretions, protection, mobility…

The analysis goes on and reveals an element with the attributes of a fundamental unit: the cell. Even if it is specialised according to the tissue it belongs to, it keeps a fundamental structure. Therefore you analyse the cell now, hoping that your discoveries will be generally applicable to all of the cells.

You find parts in charge of specific functions: a nucleus takes care of genetic information; mitochondrions reload molecules that distribute the energy needed by life… All these parts are made of giant molecules, extraordinarily varied but dispatched mainly in four families: proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and nucleic acids. Molecules are made of atoms that are perfectly identical with the atoms everywhere in the universe. Only their very specific order in every molecule seems to give its function to the blend, and you are able to reproduce the form and the function of a biological molecule with the atoms it is made with.

At this point you need to explore the nature of the atoms that make matter, and give its reality to the universe.

First surprise: an atom is essentially empty! Nearly all its mass is in its very tiny nucleus, 100 000 times smaller than its diameter! If an atom had the size of a football stadium, the peripheral electrons would circulate where the terraces are and its mass would be stuffed in a volume not bigger than a pinhead standing in the middle of the field!

Why does a hammer hurts when it falls on your foot instead of going through it, harmlessly?! For reasons our common sense find esoteric (repulsive electric fields without contact, exclusion principle that forbids two electrons having identical attributes…) but that only mathematics can help understand.

You pursue your analysis further.

New surprise: the electrons that equilibrate the nucleus’ electric charge are on precise orbitals; they can’t move at whatever distance from the nucleus. But they can move from one orbital to another in relation with the energy they carry, but they do that at once, without moving through space and time. They behave as if they dematerialise from an orbital to materialise suddenly on another one! This behaviour is incompatible with what we think about the nature matter should express! We’re convinced it is real and can’t disappear suddenly to reappear also suddenly elsewhere!

More surprising: a particle has at once properties we think are classical for a particle: a localised position in a very tiny space, and properties of a wave: a presence in a very vast volume of space! But it expresses one or the other of these contradictory natures, never the two at once!

Physics can’t calculate where to find the one electron of an hydrogen atom, but only the probability to find it at a certain place when the measure will take place. This probability depends on a mathematical function that follows wavelike properties.

More precisely, we can’t comprehend matter’s nature, we can only calculate some of its properties with the mathematics created to study waves. It is as if a particle exists in a specific volume with a probability that varies as the highs and downs of a wave and materialises instantly on one only of these possibilities when it interacts with a measurement or another particle… How is this possible? For reasons common sense can’t understand but only mathematics can calculate!

We can’t conclude that matter is really real when it doesn’t express the properties we’re convinced a particle should have, but evolve in a weird realm, very different from ours, a wavelike realm; when it hasn’t defined properties but a superposition of undefined properties that take precise values like 1 or 0, + or – … only after an interaction!

Moreover, the Method can’t show what is the nature of matter! It has been created for objective measurements only, to quantify objective events, and reflexions on the nature of an object is subjective, even when it follows objective measurements. It is the Philosophy of Science that has to take over in order to suggest qualities like the nature of an object!