The Mysteries of the Universe

Introduction to Epistemology

Higher Perspective is the Key to Understanding

Herein, the word “mystery” means something that was previously hidden or unknown, but is now being revealed.  This introductory chapter is a series of narratives followed by a dialog between a curious “virtual reader” and the author.    Within each story are clues to one or more mysteries.  Each clue, like an inch sized piece to a puzzle; by itself, doesn’t mean much.   However, the series and sequence fit together in meaningful ways.   You will become aware of new distinctions and you will start to recognize patterns.  As you stand back, you’ll see a picture form, a divine work of Art which will reveal more mysteries about this universe than you might expect.  For in every masterpiece the artist reveals a little something about himself.

What exactly is “The Holy Grail of Physics”?

First, the term “Holy Grail” refers to the chalice, or “cup”, that Jesus drank from at the Last Supper the night before he would go to the cross.   Over time, folklore exalted this “cup” to “idol status” ascribing miraculous powers to the Holy Grail.

In physics, all attempts to achieve a single, self-consistent, core understanding of physical reality have failed.  The two best theoretical systems: Relativity Theory and Quantum Physics cannot be reconciled with each other.  The quest continues for this allusive “Holy Grail of Physics” with a place in the history books reserved for whoever succeeds in revealing the true and complete explanation of the very nature of physical reality.  This core understanding must exhibit almost miraculous explanatory powers.  It must be able to explain everything from the sub-microscopic quantum size-scale, even smaller than a single electron and tiny time scales approaching 10-44 of a second.    And it must describe everything up to scales of black holes, galaxies; clusters of galaxies and it even reveal the true nature of the totality of space-time geometry.

 Einstein’s contributions to this quest had already exalted him to “idol status” for his papers on his Theory of Special Relativity (1905), Theory of General Relativity (1915), and again in 1921 being awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for discovering the law of the photoelectric effect".[1]  His intuitive insights took him on a lifelong quest for his “Unified Field Theory” which was hoped to be his final crowning achievement.

Imagine if you could have met and talked with Albert Einstein. (Here is how I met someone who did!) 

One day my friend Craig said, :You won’t believe how awesome my new job is.  You have got to meet Wally.  He is a real live scientist, with a Masters in Physics and PhD in Chemistry.”  So that evening he drove me over to Garden Grove.  We walked onto the Schnitger Family’s 6.5 acre property and proceeded towards an area behind his house.   At first, all we saw were flashes of light, but we were unable to see past the HUGE diesel generator atop a semi-trailer, as we walked by the generator I could see his employees faces glowing orange-white – mesmerized by what they saw.   The roaring diesel engine, now at high throttle, made talking difficult.

Craig shouted one phrase with each breath, “They had to get this generator.”  “Last week they tried this.”   He points to a scorched power pole,   “They BLEW the power transformer!”

I stepped out from behind the shadows into the center of the clearing.  Wally was wearing some kind of protective bulky thermal overalls, thick gloves that went past his elbows, and heavy over-sized mask with a thick rectangular window, like something from a 50’s Sci-Fi movie!   From a HUGE induction heater as tall as the house, Wally, using a pair of tongs as long as I was tall pulled out a glowing crucible that appeared to contain a sample of “liquid Sun”.  The Heat radiated with such intensity that from about 10-12 feet the little hairs on my hands started to melt, backing away we watched.  When he finished Wally came toward us, removed his ominous mask revealing a whimsical smile.

Craig said, “Wally I’ve got a friend I’d like you to meet.  This is John.”

He withdrew his arm from the glove and reached out to give me a warm welcoming handshake.

That handshake marked the transition of science being just a keen interest to become an adventurous pursuit.  Working for Wally made science very real and fun.  His sense of humor was designed to get you to look at things in ways you hadn’t thought of.   On many occasions he kept us captive for hours with stories about his scientific adventures.  One, of those stories, which I’d like to share, is of the day he met Albert Einstein.

For a time Einstein worked at CalTech (Dec’1930 ~ Dec’1932).  Wally, who had been interested in science from his youth, he had an opportunity to visit CalTech.  He had heard that Einstein would often take walks to think while the wind would blow through his hair.  Wally would say, “Now you know how his hair got that way!”  We spontaneously broke in to laughter.  He’d smile and continued relating this story from when he was about 8 years old.  He set out walking through a neighborhood next to CalTech’s campus. He turned down one of the streets, and there was Albert Einstein walking towards him.

Wally: “Hello Albert Einstein, sir, my name’s Wally.”  He reaches out and they shake hands.

Albert: “Hello,…  Wally.”

Wally: “Sure a nice day.”  he paused, looked at us, and changed his tonality saying,

            “Relatively speaking!” 

               We spontaneously broke into laughter; Wally admitted he didn’t actually say that.”

Albert: “Yes, it is, indeed.”

Wally:  While wondering what to say, he looks around and points out a few vines.   “Isn’t that interesting, how the vines grow and wrap around these trees?”

Albert: “I see,” he observes a little closer, “Hmm, notice how some of the vines grow clockwise while the others grow counter-clockwise!”

Wally: “Yea!  Oh, Look! Do you see the inchworms on these vines!

Albert: “What curious creatures! Look at how they climb with their backs curled, an inch-at-a-time.”

            They both stood there awhile and watched.

Wally: “Yeah!   Hey!  Some of them are clockwise inchworms, and the others, counter-clockwise inchworms!”

They both laughed awhile.  Then continue on walking and talking a ways before parting.

   (John Wsol: The inchworms represent spirally polarized photons.  More will be explained in Chapter 4.)

For a time Wally served as a mentor to me.   Looking back now I wonder if all those times he was joking around: did he know something profound?  Did he have an intuition?  Or was he Divinely inspired!        

He would never just hand someone the answer and spoil the joy of discovery. 

 

I sometimes wonder: when was it that Albert Einstein originally wrote the following quotes:

The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
One cannot help but be in awe 
when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity,
of the marvelous structure of reality.  
It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend
 a little of this mystery every day.
Never lose a holy curiosity.

 

If I have seen farther than Newton, 
it is because I have been standing on the shoulders of Giants.[2]

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants?

Isaac Newton Albert Einstein attributed part of his success to the fact that he built upon the successes of Sir Isaac Newton Notwithstanding Isaac Newton’s scientific fame, the Bible was Newton's greatest passion.  He devoted more time to the study of Scripture than to science saying,

"I have a fundamental belief [3]
in the Bible as the Word of God,
 written by those who were inspired.  
I study the Bible daily."

(Bolton, Sarah K. Famous men of Science, NY Tomas Y. Crowell & Co, 1889)

 

In a 13th century stained glass of the south transept of the Chartres Cathedral, the tall windows under the Rose Window show the four major prophets of the Hebrew Bible (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel) as gigantic figures, and the four New Testament evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) as ordinary size folks sitting on their shoulders. The evangelists, though smaller, "see more" than the huge prophets (they saw the Messiah about whom the prophets spoke).  I have heard it suggested more than once that Newton borrowed the image from Chartres.

Newton had attempted, unsuccessfully, to find hidden messages within the Bible.  Delving into “The Mysteries” within the original Hebrew text will show that Newton looked too deeply for “Biblical Codes”.  The LORD cleverly hid the core understanding of creation just below the surface text within the Hebrew root word meanings. 

Scientific Inheritance

Past generations of scientists observed physical reality and contemplated the very nature of existence, hoping to discover its secrets.  Occasionally these scientists get a glimpse of understanding and describe their discoveries by building mathematical toolboxes of formulae. (This is plural for formula.)  Subsequent generations inherit and apply these tools to interpret their own measurements and data, or use them to aid in designing a new invention. 

How many students, do you think, question the perceptions of the previous generation?  Not that there would be a mistake in the math itself, but I mean to question the perceptions of reality that those mathematical formulations intend to model.

Perceptions?  But science deals with just facts and knowledge!

Somewhere along the generations, philosophers and scientists began to “think” of humanity’s progress like “inchworms” climbing the tree of “Scientific Knowledge”.   Many people mistakenly equate “knowledge” with “true understanding.”  Not everything that we “think” we know is true.   And not everything we know with certainty do you really understand.   A “fact” is what actually happened.  Until the introduction of Relativity theories we thought we had an absolute reference frame to directly perceive facts. 

For example on June 22, 1799 the French Academy of Sciences had researchers measure the arc from Dunkirk, France to Barcelona, Spain.  Dividing this distance by a factor they recorded the resultant distance on a platinum-iridium bar, defining it as the standard meter.   In Boulder, Colorado at the National Institute of Standards an atomic clock that counts out seconds with an accuracy of about 60-millionths of a second per year!  The scientists in charge of the clocks accuracy have gone through great efforts to ensure this clock is ticking at a constant rate.  

They believe a meter remains a meter and the second remains a second as long as they maintain a constant velocity and elevation in Earth’s gravitational field.  But, it turns out; the 3rd Relativity theory would say that the meter-bar and the clock rates both spread forth.  The natural consequence of time IS that the length of meter and the duration of a second continually grow in proportion to each other.  The rate of growth is the reciprocal of the age of the volume of space the bar and the clock occupy.

So the scientists who think they “know for a fact” the length of a meter and the duration of a second are wrong!  They only believe they know – but they don’t know it’s only a belief!    . Humanity’s quest for knowledge is more like climbing a tree known as a Tree of Epistemology.

“Tree of Epistemology?”

It’s a tree with B-shaped leaves called B-liefs.  Epistemology trees grow in the land of Philosophy, in any “Field of Inquiry”.  The inchworms that specialize in this “Field of Inquiry” spend all of their time searching and cataloguing the branches and stems of the Epistemology trees, hoping to discover all that is knowable.  These inchworms must not forget to ask the really root-imentary[4] questions.   Like:

1.      What are the limits of what we can know?

2.      How is it that we have come to know that which we know?

3.      Do we really know what we think we know?

Occasionally an adventurous inchworm dares to break out of one particular mindset and will backtrack to the trunk to explore another branch without fear.  They know they can come back to a familiar branch even after learning from perspectives made possible by a new branch, or even another tree. (The idea here is of discovering truth that already exists, but not yet known in our minds.)  Occasionally, one will discover a branch or tree full of foundational truths and return to their old familiar branch to invite other inchworms to share in their new discovery or revelation.

Epistemology trees have many branches that go to many different beliefs.  Most of the wayward branches lead to dead ends.   Many inchworms are taught to climb only with their group, and to follow the crowd, believing that just by exploring further out along “their” branch will eventually discover the “Holy Grail”.  But only one epistemology tree is the “Tree of Truth” and only one of its branches holds THE “Holy Grail”.

This very long, and coveted, branch is the only way to cross the river to Paradise.  Attached near the end of this branch is a vine, with D-shaped leaves.  This D-vine bridges the gap over to the “Tree of Life” on the Paradise side.  Once an inchworm reaches Paradise, all searching will be done, all questions will be answered for, it is said, Eternity is within view.”

Will scientists, philosophers and theologians ever agree? 

Now that’s a loaded question!  Do any of these groups agree among themselves?   The answer will require each group to be willing to consider each other’s viewpoints, clearly communicating precise definitions for the words exchanged.  

Isaac Newton was not the only prominent intellectual who believed in the God of the Bible. There are many other deep thinkers in history like Michael Faraday, James Clark Maxwell, Noah Webster, and Benjamin Franklin to name a few. 

Theologians have mainly focused their efforts on (1) defining the attributes of God and (2) defining the highest aspirations of being human and, with that lofty goal in mind, how to nurture and minister to the human soul. 

Many secular scientists have lost respect for the Bible because they think it’s just a mythical story.   The Truth of the matter is that the depth of God’s understanding is so far above that of mankind that it has taken thousands of years of scientific discovery before we even grasped some of the pieces to the Cosmic puzzle. 

It’s only in this generation that the gap between the superficial adolescent understanding of modern science and the true depth of understanding contained within the Hebrew text of scripture could be bridged.  Quantum Mechanics speaks of quantum wave-functions.  Starting in Genesis 1:2 scripture speaks of the Spirit of God “moving upon the waters”  -- by recognizing patterns between this idea of quantum wave-functions and interpreting the Heavens “Shamayim” as being filled with this elastic fluidic medium (the “mayim”) waters – the rest of this core understanding falls into place.  Simply by constructing this model, animating it in our minds or mathematically with a computer we can then ask this model to explain any of the following:

•   What is the true nature of space-time?

•   What are the properties of the vacuum of space?

•   So called “Particle-Wave Duality”, Is matter made from solid particles or waves?

•   What makes protons positive and electrons negative?

•   What is different about photons that they, apparently, have no mass, whereas, most other particles do?

•    How and why do the forces of nature work?

It can easily explain all these things at a level comprehensible to a high-schooler!  (Unless the student is the product of the sabotaged U.S. educational system.) 

Consider one of these epistemology trees: the scientist inchworms on this tree label it “The Tree of Scientific Knowledge” though the philosophers would call it the “Tree of Scientific Beliefs”, defining two perspectives of the same tree.  

This “Tree of Scientific Belief/Knowledge” has three major branches: the Newtonian Branch, the Relativity Branch and the Quantum Branch.   The Newtonian inchworms with their toolboxes of Newtonian equations quietly calculated their way along.  But one day a very fast thinking inchworm, named Albert, who came along with the idea of doing “thought experiments”.  Racing ahead in his mind, approaching the speed of light, he could see that the Newtonian branch could not reach as far out as his mind wanted to go.

When major breakthroughs have happened, like Albert Einstein’s Relativity Theories, it was not about building upon the consensus of scientific BELIEFS, but by asking more fundamental questions?  The Newtonian and Relativity branches start out almost parallel, but the further and faster you go, the more they spread apart. 

Until Einstein had come along, no one had questioned the fallacy that time flows forward at one second per second everywhere in the universe.  This was considered “fact” to everyone, even among the most scientific minds.  This continued until Einstein postulated “more fundamental” questions:   Is space linear?  Is time absolute?  What is mass?  He was the first inchworm on the Newtonian branch to backtrack to the tree trunk and boldly venture out to where no inchworm had gone before: the Relativity Branch.

The Quantum branch is the smallest, lowest, and most shaky branch on the tree.  Only sub-microscopic inchworms called Quanta-worms can climb down there and it’s a mystery, even to them, how they manage at that size.  At best these Quanta-worms know which way they are going (momentum) –or– they know their position (location), but not both at the same time!  Although these Quanta-worms understand statistical mathematics very well, but they are stuck in that mindset, and can’t relate their probabilistic formulae to anything that is tangible nor can they apply it to bigger problems. The inchworms on the Relativity branch face a similar dilemma; their math doesn’t work on the Quantum branch.

How can we solve it?

 We don’t, we simply resolve it!   Part of the problem is to realize our current attempts at partial solutions IS part the problem. 

What’s the difference?

 To seek a solution means to precede further out on the branch and then proceeding along a twig in the general direction of the solution will reach closer toward the answer, but there is still the gap between the end of that twig and where the solution really is.   The resolution that leads to true understanding is found on an entirely different branch.  To resolve it means to realize a wrong turn had been taken somewhere.  Asking “more fundamental” questions enables our thinking to backtrack to a different branch, or possibly even a different tree!

What did Albert Einstein miss?

There are 3 types of relativity theories.  Einstein’s discovered the first two.  Special relativity relates to moving objects, especially at high velocities approaching the speed of light.  General Relativity deals with the effect that matter has on the slowing space-time expansion.  The third form of relativity deals with the “metric” of space and the “metric” of time BOTH change as the universe expands with time.  By metric I mean to say that “rulers”, “meter-sticks”, “pendulums”, planet “Earth” all expand with time and all forms of measuring time: “Earth rotations”, “pendulums”, “quartz-crystal clocks” all slow as a function of the absolute age of the volume of space that the object occupies.  This will be explained more in Chapter 7.



[1] http://nobelprize.org/physics/laureates/1921/einstein-lecture.html

[2] Isaac Newton said he “saw further than Descartes” in a letter written (2/5/1676) to fellow scientist Robert Hooke.  
http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/28/messages481.html

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton

[4] Root-imentary – a play on words combining “Root” & “Rudimentary” meaning questions so basic, so fundamental that they are foundational, in fact, so foundational they are underground.