If you look up the technicalities of lightning, you'll find that electricity from the upper atmosphere creates steps to the ground in sections called 'leaders', and when contact is finally made with the earth a lightning bolt appears.
This process is not dissimilar from the way earthly leaders come to power. They chart a course through a series of unique steps from their past-before-politics to the point where they find themselves at a country's helm. Once there, what goes on in their lives becomes a complete mystery and most will not divulge details even after their term is complete.
Today I visited Ackeelover Chronicles, where Peter Williams writes, simply because I'm a big fan and I like to see what he's thinking from time to time. Peter is the man behind Stargate's famed bad guy Apophis, highly favoured System Lord, who struck me down with unbearable delight when he became Quantumology's 100th follower.
In his post Buffalo Soldier, Peter alludes to a faint likeness between Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela. Now I can see his point, to a point, but his reference to a "fascinating arc on the global-collective timeline" was what brought me to this train of thought. In keeping with the general swim of universal forces, patterns are created under the leadership of cause and effect, and one of the patterns I've been noticing over the past couple of decades is the speed with which world leaders go grey. This pair of photos shows what happened to Obama in just five years. The same thing happened to John Major, Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown, and it's happening to David Cameron.
Now it's clearly not in Quantumology's quarter to be making comments on politics, so I'll stick to the electromagnetic spectrum instead. There are synergies to be found. In the making of white light, all the colours we can see (and a couple we can't) converge to make a colour that isn't really a colour, it's an amalgam of every colour that is. We see this amalgam as 'white' because this array of colours is reflected, producing an optic of very bright appearance. The opposite optic, black, is exactly the same only in reverse. Instead of reflecting all the colours known to man, black absorbs them.
At the centre of our country's political hearts, we have what are known as 'seats of power'. These power bases are not in the places where politicians gather to debate issues of the realm, but in armed and guarded fortresses where ultimate decisions are cast in stone. The men at work within these fortresses are not public figures, they're not elected and we've no idea who they are. Our public icons take their information from that source. It's fairly evident that some of what our leaders learn is not particularly pleasant, but that's the price you pay for being a country's President or Prime Minister. You don't get to choose what you do when you're supposed to lead a country. They know where you live.
In the USA, you have the White House. In the UK, we have Whitehall. Where aspersions are cast to be whiter than white, it's a fair assumption that the shadows beneath mirror the darker aspects of truth. Such burdens of truth to be carried by elected leaders may be heavier than we can possibly imagine, given that in all disciplines, including science, illusion is all we have to work with in determining reality.
In the last few weeks, physicists made a remarkable discovery. For decades, they pinned their calculations of particle behaviour on Feynman's diagrams, simple yet potentially complex structures which gave them a basis on which to work out how particles scattered and what they might do. You might conclude that particle interaction largely rests its case on the Uncertainty Principle, most crucial of universal laws in safeguarding uniqueness and stabilising mass individualism.
The Amplituhedron (or Amplutihedron in some articles) puts paid to the need for constructing Feynman's diagrams, because its structure allows for all directions to be equally valid at the same time. It has no back or front or sides. While the image here looks as though it has corners, the object is multifaceted in higher dimensions, so it's not constrained to our version of geometry. Clicking on the image itself will take you to the article explaining this.
What it represents for us ordinary people is an important step forward in recognising and validating our existence in many dimensions at once. We are after all parts of a cosmic system which involves particle interaction on a continuous basis - the fact that we move about and have an electromagnetic field means ultimately that we are scaled-up versions of the most active quantum particles. Electrons and photons are doing their stuff in our bodies, brains and minds all the time. It matters not that we've yet to establish what 'mind' actually is; what matters is that we have one, along with a vast contingent of other things - the range of which is also yet to be defined, a paradox known as the quantum mind-body problem. Mind constitutes the faculty of an observer, and the perspective of an observer can vary wildly, but in subscribing to the Uncertainty Principle, each perspective is unique, giving us independent, individual life paths (world lines) and personalities.
Image courtesy of SciBlogs NZ - Neutrino Interaction
The Amplituhedron is potentially a window to the wider scale of quantum interactivity, a model without limits in the sense science has become accustomed to using them. Constraints and constants don't belong in the arena of the amplituhedron. This is one jewel which nestles safely in the darkness of places we may one day understand, but we have a long way to go before we can safely say we have reached some satisfactory conclusions.
To discuss this and other paradoxical topics please join the Group, where a safe place to think outside the box has attracted physicists and non-physicists alike to explore such lines of enquiry.
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Recent discourse on the demise of Deep Impact, the probe sent by NASA to smash into comets in efforts to learn more of what they're made of, moots the subject of survival on this planet and a need-to-know regarding the nature of our 'adversaries'. A fair approach, perhaps, on the premise that a comet smashing into Earth could likely destroy our entire ecosystem. Viewing the comet as a foe, however, strikes me as akin to an attitude commonly portrayed in science fiction as a precursor to unnecessary war. Many episodes of everything from Star Trek to Stargate have brought up the subject of 'fire first, ask questions afterwards', and warned that the aftermath is necessarily not pretty. Overwhelming evidence has been amassed that comets seed life on planets, and if you look closely you can almost see the allegory of sperm and egg on a galactic scale.
We are very close to a general acceptance that the definition of 'life' as humans have defined it is far too restrictive, and that everything from electrons to suns could be said to have sentience in some form. The unexpected death of Deep Impact could therefore be a random feat of cosmic roulette, or it could be the result of some pretty bad publicity from the injury caused to Tempel 1 when Deep Impact struck the unsuspecting celestial on 4th July 2005 - Independence Day, no less. Comet Ison seems to be a force to be reckoned with, and if life has indeed spread its parameters far wider than we have previously thought, Ison could be said to be a character of note.
While scientists and sci-fi writers ponder over the implications, Comet Ison wings its way between us and the Sun later this year. If - and it's a big If - Comet Ison has had anything to do with Deep Impact's sudden silence, I'd be among those to congratulate it on teaching us Earthlings a lesson. Unfortunately, the matter is unlikely to be settled as there is no possibility of gathering evidence to support a case one way or the other. The article linked at the start of this Post does go some way towards a graphic description of Deep Impact's attacks on celestials, and we could be forgiven for suspecting that some steps for Mankind are maybe just a little step too far.
Image courtesy of Andrew Girdwood, In Pure Spirit
Under a blue moon this night the shadows fall in restlessness
Somewhere in a silent valley running water stills
Deep within the granite rocks the spirit of a temptress
Who calls to all who listen with a song of stifled wills
Wherever the water flows, she beckons and will find us
Wherever the breeze may blow she knows the melody
In our blood and in our bones a history lies behind us
Wherever the future led our knowledge to a tree
Once upon an age ago the written word has told us
Of the things we know and should be learning without fail
Somewhere in the depths of habit traps are set to hold us
Coins and carnage hand in hand reach for an empty grail
Listen for the perfect song which echoes through the valley
Ringing from a night sky carried on a solar wind
There will be rejoining when we find the heart to carry
The burden of a past we all must shed for to rescind
In the dusky dawn awaits the promise of beginning
Casting out the desolation we have wreaked before
To make the choice we need to know our heart is in the singing
For all of us the gift of new life waits upon the shore
What the world needs now is love, according to Burt Bacharach's song, and never a truer word was said. But while we face a threshold of transformation which could go one way or the other, the love that's needed is a fusion of energy, a force to be reckoned with in the fight against fear. Love is a powerful commodity, driving a lot of things from success to supplication, but the Powers That Be sorely misrepresent it. Commerce would have us believe that love of objects, face cream and entertainment is what makes the world go round and keep us happy. But these trinkets are drugs we've been seduced into depending on, and as another song tells us, the drugs don't work. We still live in fear, discord, tension, and the apathy of helplessness. Meanwhile, our planet rollercoasters towards a dismal end-zone of wasted deserts that were rainforests, and slurried cesspits that were seas.
Why, we wonder to ourselves, doesn't somebody do something?
I have a thought to share here, but wish to tread carefully. Quantumology has a healthy number of high-profile followers and the last thing I'd want to do is alienate them. They are, as far as I can gather, all inclined to tell it like it is and put their pledges out there where they believe a difference needs to be made. But my experiences with social media have revealed a darker side to the status of celebrity. Many are not prepared to step beyond the golden zone of cosy red carpets and oxo kisses, waving to fans behind tickertape and demonstrating love for their own kind in the comfort of a well-established communication framework. They prefer to stay clear of the commoners and enjoy the gilded life of scented lilies with each other.
If you're a celebrity, you have love status automatically bestowed to you, by virtue of the fan base you've amassed. Anything you say is likely to count for something to a lot of people, a double-edged sword exploited mercilessly by the media. For the rest of us, the power to sweep a hand of influence across such a broad net is a distant dream, a reality we wish we had. And as we all tentatively agree, time is running out for humanity. The planet can't cope with the scale of wanton destruction besieged upon it in the name of gain. Greed and corruption have gone a long way beyond mere inconvenience, to the tipping point we've now reached from which we might never be able to return.
Before this see-saw finally clunks onto desolate ground, and the event horizon of inevitability is crossed on the wrong side, a random chance remains that we can pull back from the brink. To do this, we need influential guidance from people setting examples, people who can put their names to causes needing effect. Whatever the cause, if there's love behind it, the effect of high-profile support is going to make a positive difference.
I hope Quantumology's aim to forge active links between quantum behaviour and social empowerment does go some way towards encouraging better ways of living, more fairness in human endeavour, and more motivation for everyone to enjoy in the certainty that we are privileged pieces of universal intellect. With a glittering plethora of influential celebrities out there, I hope too that politicians and power merchants can finally expect a run for their money, and will be forced to tear their veils of duplicity against a surging demand for proper conduct. As far as I can see, there is nothing to stop people from voicing fair expectations of decency in how we treat our world.
I only wish more voices would come ringing from the halls of fame.
We don't have to look very far to see what's going on. But from a distance, things look very serene, with blue oceans and green lands. An observer from this distance might not suspect anything much was happening at all. That this planet has all the properties necessary to support life would be a no-brainer, but what's happening beneath the atmosphere would be a complete mystery.
We have TVs to look at and papers to read, all full of the genocide, infanticide, suicide and pesticide seething in the layer we occupy for ourselves. Down here, at grass roots level, it all looks pretty sick. Blood pours out of open wounds on some creature somewhere every moment of every day, most of it shed for money. We've reached a point now where we're all beginning to feel the guilt.
To distract ourselves from what is going on, we're busily stuffing ourselves with delicious food and great entertainment, watching people in important places doing things which affect our global existence. Scientists are labouring over hot hadron colliders while in boardrooms there's the plotting of the next profitable assault. We know they're out there. We don't know what they're going to do, but in the meantime we believe we can do nothing about it and go on eating our fish and chips.
It pays to look quantum. That's where we are. On the cosmic scale, we're small fry, and the Universe can't be said to care one way or another what happens here. If Fermi's Paradox is shown to favour the likelihood that civilisations simply reach a point of inevitable self-destruction, we are simply failing to recognise the possibility that we could buck the trend. The longer we fail to learn from the sums of possible histories, the closer we come to the event horizon. From there all that's left to be met with is our own singularity.
One wonders if we have to answer to it.
Somewhere in the recess of our collective soul, we identify with Darth Vader. The epitomy of evil in a black cloak, he has feelings. We know he has feelings, just like every other sentient thing does. Inhuman features take nothing from his human characteristics, and we all have some of his dust in us.
Right now, across the scientific world, the hunt for Dark Matter is hotting up. The Higgs Boson discovery keeps unleashing more surprises, not least of which is an uncanny link between the God Particle scam and a recent episode of Stargate SG1 on Pick TV - just before Atlantis took the crew a step too far.
Other surprises are a complete change of character - just a little while ago the Higgs was described as 'vanilla' - in particle physics-speak this means boring, ordinary and bog-standard. But flavours of the month do suddenly change, and researchers found that the Higgs could be a portal to other dimensions, not your run-of-the-mill average particle at all but a very colourful character. This could contribute to the unravelling of the Dark Energy mystery (Dark Materials are dark, of course, so naturally are also elusive).
Darth Vader is a force to be reckoned with. He is perfectly serious in his quest to get there first. Knowledge is power, and knowledge of Dark Materials is going to give the recipient a lot of clout out there in the human network. Understanding what makes our fragments of Vaderism tick is going to be gold worth having.
Pictures from the telescopes and space stations dotted around the planet keep getting better at showing us images of Dark Matter illusions, created by bounding different photon wavelengths off the radiation signature The Dark is said to leave behind.
My reference to The Emperor of Dark Materials shall be restricted to "Imperial One" when such notation is appropriate in the context of delivery. My Lord Apophis must retain his beloved form of address, and to no other would I dream of bestowing it.
The images now are brazen and bright, pausing the possibility of a teeming seething soup of Darkness which overrides everything in and between every Galaxy and Intergalactic Neighbourhood, a stuff which speaks its own language, lives by its own rules, and works in its own mysterious ways.
Only we don't want to see it as being Dark, so we are trying very hard to shine a light on it and illuminate it with pretty pictures like this one. At the same time as we are being shown these candyfloss treats, billions of global currency is being poured into major high-physics projects like this one - the ILC.
We must think on. The Dark is a highly valued prize. The cover story you can read in the link above to the ILC. But there's more, much more. I have visited a lot of conferences and spoken to a lot of people who will not speak with me.
Oh yes, Imperial One. My hand is small I know but it's not yours, it is my own and we are never broken.
NOH8 (No Hate) is a five-year-old campaign to end sexually-related hatred and prejudice, promoting relationship rights and equality throughout the social matrix. The goal of NOH8 is to enlist support from all quarters, including many high-profile figures, which is extensively publicised. Wikipedia explains, "Through education, advocacy, social media, visual protest, and the use of famous celebrities as spokespersons, this campaign raises awareness of marriage equality and anti-discrimination on a global level, incorporating almost 30,000 faces with support continually growing." The campaign has gained significant ground, now with over half a million followers on Twitter alone.
Their election to follow Quantumology suggests a recognition of human universal evolution as an important part of the process in eradicating prejudicial judgement. A movement of this kind tests the values of society as they currently stand. Boredom with conventional government policy and ineffectual political promises has led to growing support for groups which are geared towards more liberal thought processes, and the success of NO H8 reflects this, demonstrating as it does the sway away from separatist tendencies towards a unification of empathy and respect.
Every person is an individual - we are all aware that civilisation has placed unreasonable burdens of distress and distrust on the people at its heart. The problems of corruption and self-preservation have led to unprecedented levels of inequality in every available respect, from sexual orientation to mental health. In acknowledging our own weaknesses and limitations, we find ourselves better able to accept and empathise with the weaknesses and limitations of others. From this, we develop greater strength in discovering that we can make positive changes to the way we think which in turn positively affect other people. This is the ripple of cause and effect at work in human society, no different to the waves of change which swirl out across the cosmos. Our power to be true to who we are and trust ourselves to grow accordingly, lends weight to our desires to be free spirits, to love and evolve together in recognition of our individualism and our being One and the same. We are like electrons, jumping up and down on our energy trampolines with good days and bad days, fears and loves randomly tipping the balance of cause and effect. We have more chances to be harmonious when we discover we all want the same things.
Thanks to NO H8 for recognising Quantumology as an ally to its non-prejudicial cause. Wherever we find ourselves able to develop in tune with love and genuine unity, we strengthen our cause a little bit more in our efforts to secure a better world for our children to inherit when we leave this dimension behind. Love is an energy which demands no rights and cannot be used as a weapon. We all need, want, value and strive to secure love. Fear constrains the freedom of this energy; fear isolates and divides. When we know what we fear, and choose to change our minds, the energy we connect with is the one we all seek.
Tonight a documentary was screened by the BBC in the guise of Simon Schama, a Jew who takes his history to heart. What had ultimately led to the secularism of followers of his faith, I was surprised to learn, was a fundamental difference of viewpoint with Christianity. This being that sin was not a burden to be absolved by some great being who - God forbid - could return one day and there was sure no point in waiting for him. It was irrational to hold anything else to account for what you did with life. No, sin was to be taken personally, as a personal responsibility for which the singularity was solely responsible.
This basic, most fundamental of differences led the Christian King of Spain to rule that Jews be evacuated forthwith from a Kingdom they had built over four centuries. The naughty, naughty proposition that the self could have power was a fact too powerful to be tolerated by a King.
Here we have a picture of the Kings' New Clothes.
Simon's tale drew back to the Barcelona Disputation, the beginning of a swift end to Jewish glorification. Since then, I didn't need really to watch more of the programme to see history repeating itself, again and again. The Old Testament takes the reader round in circles of tribes spoiling each other's tents, feeling guilty, asking forgiveness, being granted it, and repeating the whole cycle as soon as they get bored with what they've got. Shekels of silver and fattened bullocks could not, it seems, prevent Man from making war on its own kind (and the rest of the planet's inhabitants) for the sake of what he doesn't have. It seemed to me, in looking at the possibilities which lay behind the ghetto walls, that Jews might just be on to something. Like, well, how to live.
In 1492, Gerona in Spain had become the capital of Judaism, until that year when all of their kind were expelled. This came 101 years after the massacre of 4,000 Jews in Seville, so the Jewish population of Gerona moved out swiftly. Jewish memory is connective through its people as Simon mentioned on TV, and deeply epigenetic - it makes sense that Jews take lessons with them. Many places across the 'civilised' nations welcomed the flight and the bountiful abundance brought with its participants. But some sites were Trojan horses, promising fruits and delivering bread. Venice was one of these, and the voyagers arriving from their fugitive trek were herded into stalls at the northern edge of the town, away from the sea and the sobriety of orthodox living. This, the most cliche town in Italy, is where the first ever 'ghetto' was created.
My alarm clock in autumn is the hour before sunrise. When I had a horse, I loved to ride at this time of day, at this time of year, when dawn is reachable after human night-life. Few of us sleep at dusk. When the dawn promises to be beautiful, I want to be there, and this season is short so I like to make the most of it. Sunlight is never more glorious than when summer is done and winter is yet to wake up to itself.
This morning, my walk took just under an hour, on a route I'd never taken before on foot.
In a stubble field a flock of whitefront and greylag geese had gathered. As I walked, more geese calling from a distance flew in to join them. Stillness was broken from time to time by geese arriving in small flocks from all different directions to join the growing clan in the field, and each time they landed, squarks of greeting (and probably insult) filled the air for a moment. I wondered what drew these geese to congregate in this field from many different locations. Geese fly in straight lines, little wings versus huge body mass pushing them to spend as little time in the air as possible. Geese aren't built like buzzards, you don't see them floating on thermals having a cruise. Flying is tough, hard work, worth it. They get where they are going as swiftly and efficiently as possible.
I wondered if they were congregating to fly south across the sea, as is likely at this time of year, or whether they had simply decided that fresh stubble filled with grain made for a good breakfast. Whichever is true, they had plenty of fields to pick from. They'd all chosen this one. I was lucky, I guess. How they had reached the collective decision would remain a mystery. When the sun rose, it was spectacular and golden, taking its time emerging from a froth of cottonpuff cloud to a clear sky, where it blazed like a freshly-cast bell.
Simon's script carried a line I wrote down, for it seemed worthwhile - I had forgotten the geese that late in the evening, intent instead on the story he was telling. "Venice," he said, was the place
"where the birds in flight from Spain came to rest."
<There, at the heart of a misunderstood community, a haven is built to commemorate beauty, in a way people can understand, if they like that sort of thing. Clearly in Simon, the awe almost made him cry, probably a horrid thing to do in front of a camera - for a bloke, anyway. I cried when I walked into Durham Cathedral, but I would hardly call my self a Christian. My heart is with the Sun.
Although I've never met him, Frank Close strikes me as a kind and thoughtful man. His writing has a gentle, pragmatic quality about it, full of wonder at questions to be begged. In the early hours of this morning, while blogging on another site about another scientist whose writing could not be more different, I found that Frank had posted a Radio 4 news item on John McCarthy's hostage years and his relationship with numbers. John had apparently found solace in numbers during his long confinement, and the BBC commissioned an interview in which John and Frank discuss the subject of numbers in relation to faith.
Yet another bridge exists here between science and religion. There are countless examples of numbers and numerology used in religious contexts all over the world. Every version of a Book of the Word is stuffed with them.
Whichever god is your god, he's bound to be building his boats and manufacturing his metaphors around the digits 1 to 9. Here, zero is the one thing which differentiates the scientist from the scholar. To a religious man, O's an addition which makes things bigger. To the physicist, it carries the threat of infinity.
Numbers and synchronicity seem to have strong connections, and although the BBC offering is yet to be aired I wouldn't mind betting that this crops up in the telling of the tale. Numbers have the power to convey abstract connections to us and forge links to ideas. You don't have to be a formula merchant to appreciate this fact. All numbers have meanings; the way I was given to understand it, every sum renders down to one of the 9, and follows a sequence of a cyclic nature:
1 - Birth
2 - Development
3 - Strength
4 - Learning
5 - Change
6 - Dark
7 - Light
8 - Unity
9 - Completion
I must confess not to have studied numerology, so there may be connections to be found between this sequence and others. Whatever you make of the meaning, or indeed whether you make anything of such meaning at all, numbers are important in the shaping of our worlds. Mathematics has been described as 'art' and 'language' - its lovers will make of the truths found within it whatever they choose to make, some of which will be fleeting as sacred art is deigned to be. Such is the nature of the Universe, of which we are humble parts. Creation is the key to progress, and to create, things must be destroyed. John McCarthy will have faced destruction many times during his engagement with living hell, and right now the forums of physics are debating the imminent annihilation of Supersymmetry, along with (quite possibly) the beloved Standard Model. Such inevitabilities lead to greater things, as the loss of social belief in a flat world made way for public knowledge that our planet is part of a greater orbital system. My incredulity knew - and still knows - no bounds on learning that cosmologists believe the Universe is flat. Yes, I've been told I don't understand the topography. I do, but I don't buy it, that's all. Beating the Universe down to a paper sheet strikes me as something of a retrograde step, with deep echoes of time waves from a retarded past. There is so much more to be opened of our presents, so why pore protectively over dusty boxes of ancient history?
Kathy is the author of Quantumology. She met up with quantum mechanics in 1997, pledging allegiance to its sources thereafter. These are her personal thoughts and testimonies.