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The Laws of Causality and… Synchronicity

21 Jun

Human opinions are children’s toysHeraclitus

All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and hold this must minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a consciousness and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter. – Max Planck, Nobel Prize speech in 1944.

Oswald Spengler (1880-1936) gave a vivid account of the causal thinking that we, humans, are proud of.

 With his hand, his weapon, and his personal thinking man became creative. All that animals do remains inside the limits of their genus-activity   and does not enrich life at all. Man, however, the creative animal, has spread   such a wealth of inventive thought There is already activity in the existence of the animals, but deeds begin only with Man.   Nothing is more enlightening in this connexion than the story of fire. Man   sees (cause and effect) how a fire starts, and so also do many of the beasts. But Man alone (end and means) thinks out a process   of starting it. No other act so impresses us with the sense of creation as this one. One of the most uncanny, violent, enigmatic phenomena   of Nature — lightning, forest fire, volcano — is henceforth called into   life by Man and action all over the world that he seems perfectly   entitled to call his brief history “world-history” and to regard his entourage as “humanity,”   with all the rest of Nature as a background, an object, and a means.The act of   the thinking hand we call a deed. himself, against Nature. What it must have been to man’s soul, that first   sight of a fire evoked by himself! – Oswald Spengler [1]

The discovery of fire is the first instance when humankind understood the cause and effect kind of law, and from that moment this law serve as a guide to us. Quite interestingly, fire was discovered by human species well before what previously was thought. Researchers recently discovered evidence of human use of fire dating back about 1 million years ago, in the Wonderwerk Cave, in South Africa, a massive cavern located near the edge of the Kalahari Desert.

Every problem contains its own solution, and it is part of human life to be repeatedly confronted with sources of difficulties that requires a solution. In fact, these situations are the ones that keep us alert, sharpens our senses and challenges our rational mind.

We live in a materialistic world bound by a narrow logic, and constrained “physical laws” that restrain the appealing of the mysterious in us.

The usual causal thinking follows a linear trail, where events A,B,C follow one after the other, C takes place because of B, and B is due to A. Jung hypothesized that causal effects have place with transmission of energy from cause to effect. However, there are some effects that apparently occur without Exchange of energy, and the event was called acausal by Carl Jung. A well-known physical effect representing an acausal effect is the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen effect, which is also a non-local effect.

I am therefore using the general concept of synchronicity in the special sense of a coincidence in time of two or more causally unrelated events which have the same or similar meaning…Synchronicity therefore means the simultaneous occurrence of a certain psychic state with one or more external events which appears as meaningful parallels to the momentary subjective state-and, in certain cases, vice-versa. – Carl Jung, p. 251 Ref. [3].

Chinese philosophy thought occurrence of events differently from us. We usually ask: what causes this? Classic chinese texts ask: what likes to occur with what?…

But there is mysterious and inexplicable coincidences in our lives that we feel are full of meaning, although we don’t understand if we follow the stringent logic of reason, as teached by Aristotle and others in the West. These coincidences are what Carl Jung called “meaningful coincidences”, James Joyce’s “epiphanies”, and those that experienced them (and we all did) feel as they are occasions when a bridge are formed in order to connect the inner and outer worlds. We quote now the very funny text wrote by James Joyce and entitled “Stephen Hero” where he gave his definition of epiphany {FN1}:

He [Stephen Hero] was passing through Eccles’ St one evening, one misty evening, with all these thoughts dancing the dance of unrest in his brain when a trivial incident set him composing some ardent verses which he entitled a “villanelle of the Temptress.” A young lady was standing on the steps of one of those brown brick houses which seem the very incarnation of Irish paralysis. A young gentleman was leaning on the rusty railings of the area. Stephen as he passed on his quest heard the following fragment of colloquy out of which he received an impression keen enough to afflict his sensitiveness very severely.

The Young Lady-(drawling discreetly) … 0, yes … I was … at the … cha … pel …

The Young Gentleman- (inaudibly) … I … (again inaudibly) … I …

The Young Lady-(softly) … 0 … but you’re … ve … ry … wick … ed .

This trivialit*y made him think of collecting many such moments together in a book of epiphanies. By an epiphany he meant ‘ a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phase of the mind itself. He believed that it was for the man of letters to record these epiphanies with extreme care, seeing that they themselves are the most delicate and evanescent of moments. He told Cranly that the clock of the Ballast Office was capable of an epiphany. Cranly questioned the inscrutable dial of the Ballast Office with his no less inscrutable countenance:

-Yes, said Stephen. I will pass it time after time, allude to it, refer to it, catch a glimpse of it. It is only an item in the catalogue of Dublin’s street furniture. Then all at once I see it and I know at once what it is: epiphany.


-Imagine my glimpses at that clock as the gropings of a spiritual eye which seeks to adjust its vision to an exact focus. The moment the focus is reached the object is epiphanised. It is just in this epiphany that I find the third, the supreme quality of beauty.

-Yes? said Cranly absently.

What we see here, is the apparent lack of rational explanation in terms of the usual methods that are currently teached in school, in terms of causal links and connections that hide a fabric of underlying patterns where the mental and the material coincide in what seems to be connectors with potential to transform our lives. The transformative power of synchronicities led the outstanding physicist Wolfgang Pauli to explore the deep connections between the psyche and matter in the book “Resurrection of Spirit within the World of Matter” [2]{3}.

Why a great physicist, as Wolfgang Pauli was, become interested in Synchronicity and the role of the psychic life, may be found in the tragedy that attained him when his mother committed suicide, after knowing about his father’s infidelity. This tragedy accompanied Pauli all his entire life, and the series of dreams that so much have perturbed him, lead him to Carl Jung, and from the therapeutics sessions he had with Jung, it followed an intense collaboration and sharing of thoughts about these matters, that culminated in Jung’s book “Psychology and Alchemy”. One recurrent dream that Pauli had, called “The World Clock”. Pauli recurrently saw two clocks with a common axis, but one clock was at 90 degrees with other, connecting two different patterns of movement, and apparently showing a link between the real time and the complex time, since complex numbers can be represented since Euler, Wessel and D’Argand in a kind of Cartesian frame where the Ox axis represents real numbers and the Oy axis the complex numbers (see Complex Plane).

Wolfgang Pauli 45's birthday.

Wolfgang Pauli 45’s birthday.

Pauli’s mind was full of strange dreams that reflect his deep interest about all this world we are living in. He was deeply interest in a dimensionless constant of physics that is near the cabalistic number “137” (the fine-structure constant representing the coupling of light to matter). We may say here that Pauli was na outstanding physicist, maybe greater than Albert Einstein, but instead to be willing at the front with other succesful physicists, he choose to stay behind, thinking and giving ideas to others. He died in a hospital room number 137…

Another strange dream that was reported about Pauli involves a Persian figure. Pauli asks: “Are you my shadow?” The Persian replies: “I am between you and the light, hence you are my shadow. Not the other way around.” Pauli: “Are you studying physics?” The Persian: “Your language thereof is too difficult for me, but in my language you would not understand physics.”{4}

As David Peat wrote in his inspiring book “Synchronicity: the Bridge between Matter and Mind and the Resurrection of Spirit in the World” [4]:

The universe was perceived not so much in terms of separately distinct objects connected by forces but through sympathies, influences, humors, resonances and patterns that belong together. It was not that movements of the planets causally influenced events on earth, but that an essential harmony was maintained between the patterns of heaven and earth. Within such a world-view, synchronicity is perfectly natural.

The concept of Causal relationships implies a linear concept of time, introduced with the rise of banking and commerce, when lending money implies accumulating interest. With the Renaissance, all other concepts of time (including the idea of a circular time, the eternal return) were definitively banned, and replaced with a “time” used for prediction, control, accumulation rates, and wealth. With this time it followed the concept of biological evolution (Krishnamurty and David Bohm they don’t believe on this concept, see important interview), and the general idea that pervades our societies that linear time lead us all to progress.

It is progressively clear that Science is not serving humanity the way it should. Since the Atomic Bombs and the horror provoked in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Cold War and its sequels, the use of science (including fractal geometries) to finance that ultimately led us to the bankruptcy, and the end of the dream, the use of technology to submit man to powerful people who the only good they seek is money and power, is not a good asset for our future. Scientists must depart in a new journey, developing a new Science where the soul and qualities are treated  equally, finishing with the general mechanistic view, and thinking about what kind of Science is good for all of us. Otherwise, Science risks to become a real danger, or at minimum no more an interesting subject with important outcomes for Society (for example, David Bohm and even Einstein, they wouldn’t choose the same profession, if reborn). In a way, I believe that a new Era for humanity is already beginning, scientists (including me) are committed to explore new paths, aiming to serve humanity, helping us to more deeply what means to be a human being, and for what purpose we are here on this little planet.

We recall here Pauli, again, as reported in his autobiography by the brilliant Dutch theoretician H.B.G. Casimir who discover an important proof of the existence of the vacuum as having an internal structure: “We are living in curious times. Christianity has lost its grip on humanity. Other times should come. I think that I know, what will come. I know it quite certain. But I won’t tell anyone, because otherwise they will think that I am crazy.”


[1] Oswald Spengler, Man and Technic

[2] David Peat, Synchronicity

[3] Jung and the Postmodern: the interpretation of Realities, by Christopher Hauke

[4] “Synchronicity: the Bridge between Matter and Mind and the Resurrection of Spirit in the World”, by F. David Peat, Edited by Robert jon Religa

[5] H.B.G. Casimir, Haphazard Reality: Half a Century of Science, 1984, Harper Collins.


{1} Hot Find! Humans Used Fire 1 Million Years Ago, Charles Choi, LiveScience Contributor

{2} Excerpt of James Joyce’s Stephen Hero.

{3} Listen to Sting, singing together with The Polices, the theme Synchronicity

{4} Towards One World

Field Physics

23 Jan

When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible he is very probably wrong – Arthur C. Clarke’s First Law.
Natural science, does not simply describe and explain nature; it is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves. – Werner Heisenberg


In the period 1820-30, Oersted, Ampère and Faraday have shown that electricity and magnetism are two faces of the same coin, they are interrelated phenomena. Their experiments showed that an electric current produced a magnetic field, and that a magnet in motion generates a current flow in a coil of wire.

The science of electromagnetism probably begins when Hoang-ti, the mythical founder of Chinese Empire, construct in 2634 B.C. the first magnetic compass.

Emperor Huang-ti, or the Yellow Emperor. Image credit: wikipedia

Although this invention is often credited to the Chinese, it may be well invented by Northern Europe sailors,

Chinese compass. Image credit:

since this device is first described in 1180 by Alexander Neckham, an English monk (1157,1227) [1]. Neckham was born at St. Albans, studied in Paris, and spent the rest of his life at the Augustinain Canos at Cirencester. During his life he compilled a lot of knowledge through the readings of Pliny, Solinus and Cassiodorus. He was a good observer of natural phenomena and wrote numerous books, showing the results of his own observations and moralizing thoughts, one of them is named “Of the Natures of Things”. Neckham was the kind of man that «had no use for war and intrigue» at the second half of the twelfth century, times of development of our intellectual maturity and literature, times when the romance form was born. While the wars rage in Languedoc and Frederick Barbarossa was strugling to unite a patchwork of more than 1600 individual states, each rules by its won prince, others, like Neckham, led their quiet lives, sheltered in some monastery.

Magnesia. Image credit:

Lodestone. Image credit:

The word magnet is due to the accidental discovery made by a shepherd that lodestones found near the city of Magnesia, in Asia Minor, had the property to attract metals.

Also, the history tells that Thales of Miletus who lives in 600 B.C., considered one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece, observed that when amber is rubbed with a nonconducting fabric it produced an electrical effect. The golden amber was named electron by the Greeks for its sunlight luminosity and was used for jewelery from the earliest times. In 300 B.C., Theophrastus make the following note: “Amber is a stone. It is dug out of the earth in Liguria and has a power of attraction. It is said to attract not only straws and small peces of sticks, but even copper and iron, if they are beaten into thin pieces”. These experimental findings led to distinguish between two kinds of electric charges, the positive (or, in outdated terminology, vitreous, because resulting from electrical phenomena excited by friction on glass), and the negative charges (or resineous, due to friction on sealing-wax). The former explanation of electrical phenomena was based on the hypothesis of the existence of an electrical fluid. Benjamin Franklin (1706,1790), one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, proposed the single fluid theory, that supposes electricity to be a subtle imponderable fluid, existing in all bodies in definite quantities. In order to evaluate the fragility of this explanation, we may add that, according to this view, if a body remains undisturbed, it remains neutral; if by friction or any other process, this quantity is increased, the body is said to be positively electrified, or negatively electrified if, instead, this quantity is diminished. Another outdated theory was the double fluid theory, proposed by Charles Du Fay (1698,1739), a French chemist.

Ambar. Image credit: purajoia.blogspot.

But these theories are referred to as action at a distance theories, because these theories do not speculate about how forces are transmitted thorough space. In addition, as there is any hypothesis about the mass these electric and magnetic fluids might have, they are referred as imponderable fluids. They are similar to the caloric fluid, supposedly responsable by thermal phenomena and the working of thermal machines.For a large number of centuries this knowledge remained without practical consequences, mostly because of the strong authority that Aristotle had on the intellect of the Western world until new ways of thought start to recognize that need to go beyond the metaphysical speculation and entering the realm of the physical investigation.Surprisingly, the contributions of physicians was decisive, with Galen and others using the electric shock provided by the torpedo fish for therapeutic purposes, in particular curing of gout and headaches; William Gilbert (Elizabeth’s physician) is currently considered the founder of electrical science; and we may also add the discovery of Galvani of Bologna.

Michael Faraday, the most extraordinary experimentalist of all times. Im. credit: wikipedia

Michael Faraday, the most extraordinary experimentalist of all times. Im. credit: wikipedia

Action at a distance theories do not provide us with a clear picture of electromagnetic phenomena, but Michell Faraday (1791, 1867) introduced the idea of electric and magnetic fields of force, which improved our ability to understand.

Michael Faraday representation of lines of force in one of his experiments. Image credit:

When James Clerk Maxwell’s theory gained worldwide approval after the experiments made by Heinrich Hertz, the idea of these fields become one of the most fruitful in theoretical physics.


Circa 460 B.C., the Greek philosopher Democritus, asked himself: if I break any piece of matter in half, and keep doing this operation, it will end at some point when we cann’t go no further. This last bit of matter, Democritus called atoms. We should not blame Aristotles because he considered worthless the idea of atom, until John Dalton (1766-1844) in the 1800’s showed through a series of chemical experiments that matter was made of elementary bricks [2].

Elementary particles are organized in groups according to one of their fundamental properties, the spin, which represents an internal rotation and we may figure it as reminescence of the spinning of a billiard ball.

From atoms to quarks…Image credit:

Particles associated with matter all have spin 1/2. For example, electrons, quarks (which constitute protons and neutrons, the elements of the atomic nuclei) all have spin 1/2. We call them fermions.

Particles associated with forces (electromagnetic, weak, strong forces) have spin 1, the exception is the graviton which has spin 2. They are called bosons.

But how do particles interact to each other? Classical electromagnetism describes this process in terms of a potential or field with source on charges, and this field permeates all the space around the source. Our modern view is that what happens is an exchange interaction, that is, particles interact because they exchange a certain kind of object which carries momentum from one charge to the other; the rate of exchange of momentum is what Newton defined to be the force:

An image of this process that we may give to the layman is the one of two ice-skatters sliding initially in parallel trajectories; when they start to exchange a ball (here, the analog of a boson) to each other, their trajectory starts to diverge, as if a repulsive force was acting on them (see Fig.).

Pictorial explanation for the “repulsive” force between two ice-skaters.

Table 1 shows the four fundamental forces together with their coupling strengths, type of gauge boson, its mass, ranges, and typical interaction time [3].

Properties of Fundamental Interactions.

We may notice that the stonger is the force the bigger is the coupling strength.

PART 2- To be continued…


[1] Alexander Neckam, De Naturis Rerum, Libri Duo, with the Poem De Laudibus Divinae Sapientiae (Longman, London, 1868)

[2] John Dalton and The Rise of Modern Chemistry, by Sir Henry E. Roscoe (Cassel and Company, Paris, 1901)

[3] Quang Ho-Kim and Xuan-Yem Pham, Elementary Particles and their Interactions (Springer, New York, 1998)

[4] Karl Friedrich Gauss, General Investigations of Curved Surfaces of 1827 and 1825 , Translated with notes and bibliography by Morehaead and Hiltebeitel (Princeton University Press, 1902)

Do neutrinos move faster than the speed of light?

2 Oct

Quite recently, 23 Sept. 2011, CERN issued a press release reporting an anomaly in the time-of-flight of neutrinos.

The experiment, called Oscillation Project with Emulsion-Racking Apparatus (OPERA), aims to detect neutrinos obtained by smashing fast particles againts protons from the Europeans particle physics laboratory. The detector consists in a 1300-metric-ton particle detector.

Neutrinos travel underground from CERN to Grand Sasso in Italy along 732 km.

«As the particles hardly interact at all with other matter, they stream right through the ground, with only a very few striking the material in the detector and making a noticeable shower of particles.

Over 3 years, OPERA researchers timed the roughly 16,000 neutrinos that started at CERN and registered a hit in the detector. They found that, on average, the neutrinos made the 730-kilometer, 2.43-millisecond trip roughly 60 nanoseconds faster than expected if they were traveling at light speed. “It’s a straightforward time-of-flight measurement,” says Antonio Ereditato, a physicist at the University of Bern and spokesperson for the 160-member OPERA collaboration. “We measure the distance and we measure the time, and we take the ratio to get the velocity, just as you learned to do in high school.” Ereditato says the uncertainty in the measurement is 10 nanoseconds.»

Antonio Ededitato, a physicist at the University of Bern and the spokesperson of the 160 collaborators of the OPERA project, is prudent. He said “I would never say [that relativity is wrong]”. You can access the relevant papers published in the frame of the OPERA project in this site.

The problem of measuring speed is that we both need distance and time-of-flight. For the last one quantity the experimenters used the time given by Global Positioning System. The common GPS source of errors are:

  • Ephemeris errors: they occur when the satellite doesn’t correctly transmit its exact position in orbit;
  • Ionosphere conditions: when satellites travel through this region above the Earth their signal are slowed down due to the plasma medium that constitutes the ionosphere;
  • Troposphere region: it affects the signla propagation due to the variations of temperature, pressure, and humidity;
  • Timing errors: they may occur if the GPS receiver clock is not an atomic clock;
  • Multipath erros: the satellite signal can be reflected from any hard surface, sucg as buildings) and delay the travel time of the signal;
  • Poor satellite coverage.
Time and distance are measured by means of triangulation with 4 satellites. Diferent sources of errors are inherent to the method. Read here to learn more.

Science attempts to improve our vision of Nature and its working, and the speed of light is considered the maximum speed with which any meaningful signal may propagate in space. The apparent possibility that any object can travel faster than light reminds me of the famous mathematician Grothendieck, Field medal (the Nobel prize of mathematics), who disapeared sudenly in 1970 somewhere in village of the Pyrennés.

One story goes that Alexander Grothendieck is “convinced that the Devil is working to falsify the speed of light”.  Grothendieck told to Leila Schneps, wife of Pierre Lochak, both mathematicians at the Université de Paris-Jussieu, that he was willing to share his research into physics with her if she could answer one question: ‘What is a metre?’ …He refuses to work in physics sustaining that physics made possible the horror of Hiroshima. Alain Resnais made a dramatic and beautiful movie about the horror of it in his movie “Hiroshima, mon amour”, based on the work of the French writer Marguerite Duras. We always endure a catarsis when watching this movie (trailer here).

Grothendieck great contribution to mathematics  was to enlarge our concept of “geometric point”. This concept goes back to Leibniz for who the constituents of all things (material or spiritual) are monads without internal structure and it is their relationship that make the “structures”. Grothendieck concept of “point”. For this understanding we need the concept of space X: A space X described using the notion of topos T(X) of sheaves over X. A given point a is a point of X.

Despite the possible errors due to the method of measurment itself, or the methaphysical problems intrinsically related to the knowledge of the working mechanisms of nature, already some tentative explanations are advanced to explain the supraluminal effect, for example see this paper from Robert Alicki attempting to explain the effect on statistical grounds.

It is expected much ado about this effect, but for one thing I am sure, physics is well behind the development of mathematics and not taking due advantage of its progress.

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