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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)

Detectors in Optical Astronomy

15 Oct

“Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards, and leads us from this world to another.” – Plato (4277-3477 BC), The Republic.

“Correctly understood, the stars were proof of a higher design in the Cosmos.”Plato, in Exploring Ancient: A Survey of Ancient and Cultural Astronomy, by David H Kelley, Eugene F. Milone, Anthony F. Aveny (Springer, New Yoork, 2011) 

Humankind always has sustained, since the dawn of times, a major interest in observing the sky and gaining new knowledge and insights on the working mechanism of Nature (and for some, a glimpse of God). For this reason astronomy is the oldest science developed by humankind and we have been using the discoveries made by the use of this science to improve our civilization, embedding this knowlegde in our culture, art, religion, and our present notions of space and time.

But, how can we access to this knowledge, understand how the universe looks like? The first mean we have is just the bare eye able to separate image details with about 3 minutes of arc. This is equivalent to to 1/10 of the moon diameter, or the airplane wing span (10 m) flying at 10 km high.


What is called angular resolution is the smallest detail detected by a telescope (or an eye), which is limited by aberrations and diffraction pattern (a series of concentric rings of light and darkness due to interference).

Fig. 1 -- Eye structure.

Why it is not possible to obtain an angular resolution with infinite value? Because unfortunately any optical detector (eye, telescope, camera,…) gives of a point light source a diffuse image of what it is called a diffraction pattern (Fig.2) caused by the light waves diffracted at the fringes of what is called the “apertures” (diaphragms that confine the circular beam area). Therefore, the view of the smallest point of the object emmiting light is limited by this pattern, which may be described by parameters such as the diameter of the inner structure (defined as the first zero of light intensity), and other parameters. But to simplify, usually it is prefered to use a new definition, actually a convention proposed firstly by Ernst Abbe in 1874:


Here, d is the size of the finest detail that can be resolved with a camera, lambda is the light wavelenght, and NA denotes the numerical aperture of the objective lens, which can be defined by the ratio:


This means that a telescope with 12 cm of diameter can separate at maximum stars distant one second of arc. The formula is this one:

AR(angular resolution)=250,000 x lambda/diameter

AR=250,000 x 6500Angstrom/0.12= 1.35 seconds of arc

We used for lambda the value 6500 angstrom=10^(-10) meters, a common value in the optical range. And what size eye (AR=1′, one minute) would you need to detect radio waves (lambda=0.1 m) ?

d=250,000 x 0.1/ 1’=450 m !

Sunset at the fingertips of my friend Americo Jones. The bridge links Lisbon to the South of Portugal and it is similar to the Golden Gate Bridge that cross San Francisco Bay.


That is, your eyes should be apart 450 meters to detect radio waves…, for which the atmosphere is transparent. Unfortunately, our eyes cannot strecht so much apart. Otherwise, human eyes, working together with the human brain, are extraordinary matural detectors in its range of color sensitivity, sensitivity to dim light and adaptability. Painters are highly sensitive to colors, see this article about impressionists French painters, and the eye was the principal help classical astronomers had before and served to observe planets and the most brilliant stars in the sky.


Hence, this represents a theoretical resolution, since atmospheric turbulence interposed between the star and the observer forbid this possibility. This is why telescopes are built at the top of mountains in order to gain a factor of 3 or 4 in this resolution. For example, at Mauna Kéa, Hawaii, at 4200 meters of altitude, it was built the world’s largest observatory for optical, infrared, and sub-millimeter astronomy. Among the equipment, France built a telescope 360 meters of diameter, so huge in order to increase the luminosity coming from the stars.

Mauna Kéa, Hawaii, tha world's largest observatory for optical astronomy. Image credit:

In the actuality, astrophysicists need more sensitive detectors to observe quantitatively very faint stars. But notice that at the end it is again the eyes that remain the ultimate detectors, since astronomers need to look at the pictures…


The next detector used in astronomoy is the analog camera. Although less sensitive than the eye, its advantage stays in the possibility to let the shutter open for a long time of exposure, it is simple to handle and possess a great capacity to stock information. But its main disadvantage is the difficulty to digitalize the image for computer analysis. For example a black-and-white roll film has one side more brilliant than the other.  The least brilliant side has an emulsion of gelatin with suspended array of silver halide crystals which determine the sensitive of the film to light exposure. The reaction taking place is the following:

Ag Br + h f -> Ag^+ + Br + e^- [when exposed to light with energy hf, Bromure is liberated and retained in the gelatine]

Ag^+ + e^- -> Ag  [the liberated silver atom is sequentially converted in metallic silver by electronc capture.]

In particular, the size of the grains determine the time of exposure necessary: larger grains needs faster exposure but gives a grainier appearance; smaller needs more extended time of exposure but the images are finer looking. The ISO factor traduces the graininess of the roll film, appearing as a multiple of 10 or 100. For example, lower ISO numbers produce finer grain but slower film, and vice versa.


However, nowadays the amateur and professional have acess to electronics registreurs, which has as precurseurs the electronographic camera invented by Prof. Lallemand and his team at the Observatoire de Paris in 1967. Although this detector was capable to detect just one photon and has a magnetic focalisation of the photo-electrons, it has a low performance. with the advent of integrated circuits (IC) and semiconductors, at 1970’s Williard S. Boyle (received in 2009 the Nobel Prize for this invention) and Smith invented a camera called CCD (charged coupled device) where successive metallic electrodes were capable to locally confine electric charge into silicium. See how it works here.

This operational mode allows that pratically each photon incident on the telescope can be enregistered and its properties made CCD cameras of great use in telescopes at the surface of Earth and in satellites.

After this short digression on the means to watch the sky by yourself, I invite you to watch these wonderful programs broadcast by BBC and presented by Sir Patrick Moore (here) along the great British traditions of scientific divulgation.

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