A magazine of discovery, fact and opinion relating to current affairs, and
explorations into the integration of modern science and non-dualistic
*A short popular summary of my paper "The Non-local Vacuum: A Door to New Physics” which is being currently (2/12/24) edited by the Institute of Physics (U.K.)
for peer review and possible publication in their journal
*A brief note on nuclear fusion inspired by the "scientific break even" milestone achieved at NIF on December 5, 2022 ----
*An article that discusses the implications of observations of the Cosmos and the quantum world on my personal worldview ----------
* I was recently asked to officiate at a same sex wedding. As part of the ceremony I offered the following -------
*A presentation of some of the facts convincing many environmentalists and opponents to become advocates for nuclear power and the exciting
new reactor designs that solve the safety and address the nuclear waste problems of the existing generation of power reactors-----------
*An introduction to the subject of my blog
(newdarshan.com): the description of a world view that is
consistent with the observations of modern science and incorporates a non-dualistic spirituality.-----------
*An introductory treatise on the nature, presence, detection, dangers
and uses of ----------
*Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
produced by the 3 billion people yet to be born before 2050;
the scale of the problem of providing their energy needs using renewables; is there
a role for nuclear power? --------------------
anthropomorphic theologies will have to evolve to accommodate the discovery that "We are not alone". How a Cosmic Spirituality
might celebrate --------
Santa Fe, New Mexico
February 12, 2024
An Alternative View of the Big Bang and the Vacuum That Opens the Door to New Physics
Experiments in quantum physics over the last several decades
have established beyond a doubt the existence of non-local
physical reality in the form of quantum entanglement. “Non-local” means a reality that is not subject to the constraints
of causality as prescribed by Einstein’s laws of relativity. Causality requires time (causes precede
effects) so one way
to understand non-locality is that it corresponds to a physical reality that is timeless.
Analyses of measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) have led cosmologists to understand that the expansion
of the local universe could not have occurred beginning from the single point of a big bang singularity. The degree of
observed present day homogeneity in CMB requires that the universe had reached a size of at least 0.5x10-78
before normal Hubble spacetime expansion began
. This supposition is called the theory of
Cosmic Inflation  
but there is no explanation
of how or why this very rapid (presumably faster than the speed of light) inflation occurred. This inflated state is sometimes called
It is an embarrassing fact that the experimental and theoretical values for the energy density of the vacuum differ by
as much as 120 orders of magnitude
. This situation, known as the “vacuum catastrophe” or the “cosmological constant
problem”, has been characterized as the “largest discrepancy between theory and experiment in all of science.” Like the
Big Bang or the center of the cosmos the vacuum is everywhere so the question is: How could there be such an enormous
energy density everywhere without creating any observed distortion of gravity? It appears that this question has been
largely ignored and simply referred to as a “problem” or a “catastrophe”.
In trying to make sense of these issues I developed a simple logical/numerical model of cosmology that: defines a non-local physical
reality; predicts the existence and properties of the “inflaton”; and completely eliminates the cosmological constant
The standard cosmological model (ΛCDM) defines the Big Bang as a singularity at t=0; i.e., the Big Bang corresponds to
the beginning of time and hence, the reality of spacetime. However, as you trace time back to the Big Bang you run into
the quantum world at the incredibly small distance of 10-35
m. This is the Planck region of pure Heisenberg uncertainty
that, as a consequence, is outside of the observable universe. But is, nevertheless, a region of intense study by the
theoretical community. This is because the Planck region is where the quantum world and the fundamental forces of gravity
and electromagnetism are unified. So this is where many important theoretical physicists hope to find the grand unified
Theory of Everything. The unobservable Planck region is the focus of research over decades that have led to theories
like String Theories, 11 dimensional M- theory, and parallel universes.
In developing my model I began with the understanding of the great theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler that the
most fundamental element of reality is information (“it from bit”)
. From this perspective, the Planck region is a
qubit – a quantum bit of probability and the singularity is where the amount of information in all of physical reality,
=0. The second element of the model is the hypothesis that the Big Bang singularity represents the opening of a white
hole and that the interior of the expanding white hole is the non-local (timeless) vacuum filled with Planck sized
qubits. Because the vacuum is non-local all the qubits in the vacuum are entangled. The white hole horizon separates
the non-local and local realities so it is on the horizon that time and therefore spacetime is born. The energy density
of the vacuum is inversely proportional to the number of qubits within it. So, as the vacuum expands the energy density
within it decreases.
The model is made quantitative by assuming the energy density of the vacuum is currently equal to the experimental value embodied in
the standard ɅCDM cosmology which is very close to the critical energy density required for a flat universe. This
critical energy density is 4.84 GeV/m3
where a GeV is approximately equal to the mass/energy of a single hydrogen atom.
The vacuum would have this energy density when it contains on the order of 10121
The model is tied further to observation by the connection between information and entropy. Egan and Lineweaver have
published a budget for the entropy of the observable (local) universe
. Expressed in terms of bits of Shannon entropy
their result for the local entropy is of the order of 10105
bits. This means that for every bit of local entropy there
are on the order of 1016
qubits in the vacuum. The volume of 1016
Planck sized qubits is of the
order of 10-78
, in excellent agreement with the volume of the inflaton as required by the theory
of Cosmic Inflation. There are substantial
uncertainties associated with the Egan and Lineweaver’s entropy budget. Using those errors, if new measurements or
analysis of the CMB required an inflaton volume less than 7.2x10-81
, this model would be falsified by 5σ.
The model uncertainties using the Egan and Lineweaver budget uncertainties are too large to be of any value in comparing
the model to observation. However, if we assume that the error on the vacuum energy density is the same as the error on
the ɅCDM value (1%), then the model predicts that the Hubble constant H0
would be 67.87 ± 0.38 km/s/Mpc. This is in good
agreement (0.7σ) with the value of H0
measured by the Planck collaboration in 2018: H0
= 67.39 ± 0.54 km/s/Mpc
The Planck collaboration measurements of H0
were derived from the CMB anisotropies and therefore are indicative of the
Hubble flow in the early universe. An alternative measurement of H0
has been carried out by Adam Reiss and his colleagues
on the SH0ES team using IR data from the Hubble Space Telescope
. This measurement is derived from measurements of the
red shifts of extra-galactic Cepheids and other astronomical objects and is therefore indicative of the Hubble flow in
the late universe . The SH0ES measurement yielded H0
= 74.03 ± 1.42 km/s/Mpc. The SH0ES and Planck values for H0
here differ by about 4.4σ. Both teams have examined their error budgets and insist that this difference is real. This has
led Adam Riess and others to conclude that the H0
measurements provide strong evidence for the need for new physics beyond the ΛCDM model.
Riess has even been quoted as saying that cosmology is now in crisis
. This situation is what is known as the Hubble tension.
My model can resolve the Hubble tension by introducing new physics in the form of a new cosmological parameter, P, which
is the ratio of the vacuum energy density to the local energy density. The model prediction for H0
agrees perfectly with
the SH0ES measurement by setting P=1.09±0.05. In the early universe spacetime expanded according to the parameters
established by the standard ɅCDM model. But by the age of the Cepheids, some 100 million years later, ρvac
>ρ so P>1.
It seems plausible that P > 1 resulted in an acceleration of the Hubble flow and that P > 1 corresponds to the ”dark
energy” postulated to explain the observed acceleration. Possible explanations for how P could be greater than one involve changes in the
fundamental constants c or G or the relative strengths of the fundamental forces of gravity and electromagnetism over
the 100 million years.
In terms of information, the 2nd
law of thermodynamics implies that information is indestructible and this in turn
implies that the separation (space) among the non-local qubits is maintained. The most likely physics for this
separation would be a balance between the attractive gravitational force and the repulsive electrostatic force.
This physics essentially describes the creation of flat 3-D (Euclidean) space that fills the interior of the
timeless vacuum. The invariance of the vacuum speed of light and the gravitational constant are natural because they
are a property of space alone and not of spacetime. However, the possibility that P>1 implies that the nature of space might
change over time most likely due to feedback from the local to the non-local through the vacuum horizon.
1. This article is a short popular summary of my paper "The Non-local Vacuum: A Door to New Physics” which is currently (2/12/24) being
edited by the Institute of Physics (U.K.) for peer review and possible publication in their journal Reports on Progress in Physics
2. B. Hensen et al., Loophole-free Bell inequality violation using electron spins separated by 1.3
kilometres, Nature 526, 682 (2015), arXiv:1603.05705 [quant-ph].↩
3. M. Giustina et al., Significant-loophole-free test of Bell's theorem with entangled photons,
Phys. Rev. Lett 15 (2015), published on-line December 16, 2015, arXiv:1511.03190 [quant-ph]. ↩
4. L. K. Shalm et al., Strong loophole-free test of local realism, Phys. Rev. Lett 15 (2015),
published on-line December 16, 2015, arXiv:1511.03189 [quant-ph].↩
5. Kolb, Edward; Michael Turner (1988). The Early Universe. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 978-0-201-11604-5.↩
6. A. H. Guth, Inflationary universe: A possible solution to the horizon and flatness problems, Phys. Rev. D 23, 347 (1981).↩
7 A. D. Linde, A new Inflationary universe scenario: A possible solution of the horizon, flatness, homogeneity, isotropy and primordial monopole problems, Physics 1, 389 (1982).↩
8. R. J. Adler, B. Casey, and O. C. Jacob, Vacuum catastrophe: An elementary exposition of the cosmological constant problem, Am. J. Phys. 63, 620 (1995).↩
9. C. W. Misner, K. S. Thorne, and W. H. Zurek, John Wheeler, relativity, and quantum information, Phys. Today 62, 40 (2009).↩
10. C. A. Egan and C. H. Lineweaver, A larger estimate of the entropy of the universe, APJ 710,1825 (2010), arXiv:0909.3983 [astro-ph.CO].↩
11. Planck Collaboration, Planck 2018 results. VI. Cosmological parameters, arXiv:1807.06209.↩
12. A. Riess, S. Casertano, W. Yuan, L. M. Macri, and D. Scolnic, Large Magellanic Cloud
Cepheid Standards Provide a 1% Foundation for the Determination of the Hubble Constant
and Stronger Evidence for Physics beyond ΛCDM, The Astrophysical Journal 876, 85 (2019),
13. Richard Panek, A Cosmic Crisis, Scientific American 322, 31 (March, 2020).↩
Santa Fe, New Mexico
September 20, 2022
AN INTEGRATIVE WORLDVIEW CONSISTENT WITH RECENT OBSERVATIONS OF THE COSMIC AND THE QUANTUM
I am a retired experimental particle/nuclear physicist with a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and a long standing interest in
theology and matters of the Spirit.
For my undergraduate work I attended a Great Books college (St. Mary’s College of California) where I was introduced to
scholastic philosophy and St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica
. My attraction to the contemplative life led me to enter
a Dominican Novitiate where I experienced living for a time in the manner of a medieval monk. It was here that I was
introduced to the mystical core of orthodox Christianity which I still value.
Attractions of another sort led me to marriage and starting my family while still an undergraduate. With the priests warning me
about excommunication, I soon came into conflict with Catholic Canon Law regarding a reproductive morality which went against
my own sense of responsibility. I left the human institution of the church and over time began to seek spiritual wisdom from
other sources. This took me to Jungian psychology, Tibetan Buddhism, the Upanishads and other derivatives of Vedic teachings
as well as some modern Hindu Gurus.
By the time I entered graduate school I had two daughters and two years experience working in the physics of nuclear power reactors
for the General Electric Company. After the usual course work and examinations I was invited by one of my examiners, Professor and
Nobel Laureate, Emilio Segré to join his research group doing experiments in particle physics. I left Berkeley for my first post-doc
job at the University of Chicago with a family now including three daughters, and a passion for research and the awesome experience
of scientific discovery.
This was the beginning of a wonderful career that has included taking me to a number of particle accelerators in the US and
Europe doing experiments in fundamental physics. At the Argonne National Laboratory I helped design and
carry out an experiment that discovered a new “elementary” particle. At CERN in Geneva I worked on experiments to determine
if time was irreversible in the quantum world and to look for a new state of matter (a resonance) created in the process of
the annihilation of protons and anti-protons. At Los Alamos I worked on an experiment (almost 40 years ago!) to determine if
neutrinos, the most abundant particle in the universe, had mass. And, more recently, I helped design the Los Alamos source of
Ultra Cold Neutrons (neutrons in a bottle) that is currently being used to look for physics beyond the Standard Model.
I have spent much of my retirement trying to make sense of what I have learned from the discoveries of science and from my
searches for spiritual wisdom. Much of this personal research has been documented in various pages of this website. At 86 years
old it is time for me to summarize and bring to conclusion these efforts.
In this article I present a synopsis of my research in the form of a worldview that incorporates a model of physical reality
that includes a non-local (timeless) reality. This leads to a metaphysical prototype for a model of human consciousness that
includes local and universal consciousness. It is this universal consciousness and our relationship to it that I find to be
the common denominator among all the spiritual traditions I have looked at. It is the source of spiritual Oneness and
non-duality. This world view incorporates the possibility that the Big Bang that gave rise to our Cosmos was a conscious act of creation.
And, furthermore, that the growth of consciousness resulting from awareness is a discernible purpose of human evolution.
Science does not preclude the existence of a Universal Consciousness.
The observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) and the explanation of those observations by the laws of
General Relativity lead to the inescapable conclusion that time had a beginning in the event known as the Big Bang
that occurred 13.79±0.02 billion years ago. Scientifically, the question of what went “before” time began is a nonsense
question in the same vein as what is bigger than infinity, or, what is smaller than zero? So the question of what
“caused” the Big Bang is scientifically unanswerable.
Science cannot, therefore, answer the fundamental existential question of how does something come from nothing? That
does not preclude metaphysical hypotheses about things like the nature of nothingness, the existence of negative
time or multiverses. But the principle of Occam’s razor says that among competing hypotheses the simplest one is the most likely
to be true. To me, the simplest metaphysical explanation of the big Bang is that something came from nothing through
an act of creation.
The first bit of something emanating from the Big Bang was a quantum state known as the Planck region. The Copenhagen
interpretation of quantum mechanics is that the “its” of reality proceed from the “bits” of probability (wave functions)
through conscious choices. In this spirit, the act of creation that initiated the Big Bang would have been a conscious
choice. And the Creator in this sense is the Universal Consciousness whose choices make up the laws of Science that
govern the evolution of the physical universe.
The Universality of this Consciousness is supported by the fact, for example, that Einstein’s laws of General Relativity
have been found to accurately describe the expansion of spacetime/matter throughout the entire observable universe. These
laws are derived (in part) from the Cosmological Principle that states that at very large scale the universe looks the same
in all directions and at all distances from any observer. The observations of Science are therefore consistent with the idea
that we live in a single universe with a single Creator that is the Universal Consciousness.
It may seem surprising that we individual observers of the universe are able to discern these universal laws of nature and
become aware, for example, of the age, size and mass of the entire observable universe. Or, that we can now modify our own DNA.
But my Occam’s razor hypothesis for this is simply that it is because our own individual consciousnesses conform with and derive
from the Universal Consciousness of the Creator. To me, this is the deeper meaning of the Abrahamic teaching that we are made in
the “image and likeness” of our Creator.
Statistically, there are very likely other conscious observers throughout the Cosmos.
Scientific proof of the existence of other conscious (intelligent) beings in the Cosmos will present a challenge to anthropomorphic
religious dogma and sectarianism in general. At the moment there is no such proof but there are strong statistical indications
that we are not alone in this immense Cosmos.
| The Kepler Space Telescope.
| (Image by NASA.)
The Kepler Space Telescope was launched in 2009 and was designed to detect the existence of planets orbiting around distant
stars in our galaxy. From the Kepler measurements it is possible to estimate the size, density and orbital parameters of the
planets. These data can be used to determine if a planet had conditions that could support liquid water on its surface and was
therefore potentially habitable. The statistics found by Kepler were that about 2.8% of the stars were orbited by potentially
habitable rocky planets. Extrapolating from the number of stars in the Milky Way it is estimated that the observable universe
contains about 200 billion trillion (2x1023
) stars. So, the Kepler data imply that there could be as many a 6 billion
) habitable planets in the universe.
On Earth we observe that life is ubiquitous: it is found everywhere – in caves, the deep ocean, even the atmosphere and, of course,
everywhere on the surface where there is moisture. One of the other conditions for life on earth is the existence of the
magnetosphere that protects life from the radiation emitted by our star, the Sun. How many of the potentially habitable rocky planets
have a magnetosphere? That is not yet known. But, of the four rocky planets in our own solar system, Mercury and Earth both have
magnetospheres; Mars may have had one in the past and Venus is rotating too slowly to produce one. It seems reasonable to assume that
at least one in six rocky habitable planets have a protective magnetosphere. This would mean there are at least one billion trillion
) planets in the universe that could support life.
On Earth, it has taken about 3.8 billion years for life to evolve the current human (somewhat intelligent) civilization. The first
stars appeared in the universe about 13.7 billion years ago.
| James Webb Telescope image - a birthplace of stars.
So there has been plenty of time for intelligent life to evolve on
some of these planets. If this happened on only 1% of the planets, that would still mean there could be as many as 10 million
) intelligent civilizations in the universe.
This is only a statistical inference from the Kepler Telescope data and our knowledge of biological evolution on earth. The new James
Webb Space Telescope (JWST) currently observing the universe has instrumentation that can detect the existence and chemical composition
of atmospheres of extraterrestrial planets.
On the basis of the statistics, I confidently predict that within the lifetime of the JWST
| The James Webb Space Telescope.
| (Artist image - NASA/Goddard.)
(the next 5.5 to 10 years) methane will be detected in an alien atmosphere accompanied by carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide in the
ratios that will provide almost certain evidence for the existence of alien life. This will help focus the search for extraterrestrial
Even without the success of SETI, convincing evidence for the existence of alien life will be a challenge to sectarian earthly religions.
These are the religions that preach that they are a divinely chosen tribe or people, or that they have divine rights to a chosen land,
or think that the Earth must be somehow a chosen planet. Evidence for the existence of alien life will also directly challenge any
religious description of the Creator in purely human terms. Michelangelo’s depiction of the Creator as a bearded old male human sitting
in a cloud of humanoid angels may be useful religious allegory but is literal misinformation. It makes no more sense to literally think of the Creator
as some kind of super human being than as some kind of a super extraterrestrial being.
So, how should we think of the Universal Cosmic Creator?
The Universal Consciousness of the Creator sustains all existence but the Creator is more than Creation
The doctrine of pantheism is that the universe as a whole is
the Creator. But there is another doctrine called panentheism
which asserts that the universe is contained within the Creator. The worldview being presented here is akin to panentheism
because it identifies creation as a process and an incomplete one at that.
The fact that creation continues to evolve and that we conscious observers continue to make choices that contribute to that evolution1
means that Creation is a process. To me, the simplest explanation for this is that the Creator is as much a process as a Being. What
could be the process of creation? A clue to this might be found if we conscious observers could discern a purpose in creation.
The hypothesis I am advancing is that the purpose of creation is to create life (throughout the universe) that continues to evolve to
greater and greater states of Awareness. The essence of Life is Awareness: all living things are aware; when life stops, awareness
stops and when awareness stops, life stops.
Science has not yet understood the origins of life on Earth. Chemistry may eventually be able to explain how the amino acids that make up
the proteins basic to life and the lipid molecules making up the membranes of living cells could have been formed from inorganic
materials. But can that explain the intelligence and awareness manifested by even simple cellular membranes?
The hypothesis that I am advancing is that Awareness/Life is a mystery introduced into creation by the process that is the Universal Consciousness. So the
Creator is in this sense a pure Spirit that is the source of Life/Awareness throughout the universe as well as Consciousness.
But what is the dynamic – the energy- driving the Universal Consciousness to create? The clue to that may be found in our own local
(time ordered) consciousness.
I hope I will be forgiven for starting with an examination of my own consciousness. I find that I have a natural Platonic appetite
for the good, the true, and the beautiful. And that these things inspire in me a sense of love. I recognize that the drives of my
higher nature, my better angels, all derive from love. This is love not just as an emotion or feeling but as an impulse toward union, sometimes, even rapture.
I believe that love is the light and the force driving much of conscious human creation. This may simply be because human creation
embodies the same dynamic process of creation manifested by the Universal Consciousness.
So this is , essentially, a new darshan: a new integrative world view that includes a vision of Universal Consciousness. The basic hypothesis of
this new darshan is that Universal Consciousness is the dynamic process
of the co-inherence of Awareness/Life, Creation/Truth, and Love.
This darshan is a direct descendant of the ancient Vedic understanding
that Brahma, the Creator, is Sat-Chit-Ananda: Being- Consciousness-Bliss
. Interestingly, it is also compatible with the Christian concept of
the Holy Trinity, where the one Creator is the co-inherence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, by generalizing that to be the
co-inherence of Consciousness, Truth and Love
1. This is what the great theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler captured by his aphorism that “we live in a participatory
Scientific evidence is not compatible with Determinism or the religious doctrine of Predestination.
The time ordered classical world in which we live and make our observations has its roots in the quantum world of total uncertainty
and pure probability. Time itself emanates from this indeterminate quantum world. As described in the previous section, we conscious
observers participate in creating the “its” of actuality by our choices of the indeterminate “bits” of quantum probability. It is
inconsistent to believe that our choices among the indeterminate possibilities are themselves determined.
A case can be made that the true opposite of Love in human relations is not indifference but constraint: the use of power to strip
away another’s exercise of their own free will. It is completely consistent that if the Creator of our consciousness is Love, our
consciousnesses are unconstrained and we have free-will.
This freedom includes the ability to choose to lie and suppress the truth, to not cooperate with the Creator’s design of evolution
by inhibiting the growth of awareness, and to not bring the divine into the world through acts of love. The people who make these selfish destructive
choices are responsible for so much of the suffering and evil that has plagued humanity throughout history. It seems that many of
these people have tried to mask their destructiveness within the rationales of the Earth’s sectarian religions. But all these selfish people
represent a real danger to the survival of human civilization and perhaps even to the habitability of the planet Earth for human life.
But the point of the new darshan is that this evil is not preordained. Every human has the freedom to make choices in accordance with
the light of love and their connection to the Universal Consciousness.
The scientific evidence of quantum entanglement implies the existence of non-local reality.
We live in classical world where causes precede their effects in time and the laws of Relativity limit those effects to a local region
of space defined by the speed of light2
. This property is called “locality” and the world of the classical Cosmos in which we live
represents all of local physical reality.
Fifty years ago, experiments on quantum systems discovered the phenomenon of entanglement whereby, for example, two entangled quantum states become
un-entangled when measurements are made on one of the states no matter how far away its entangled partner is located. This is the
famous “spooky action at a distance” (non-local behavior) that made Einstein (and many others) believe that quantum theory must be
incomplete. A series of theoretical loop-holes were proposed to explain entanglement without non-locality. But, in 2015 a series of
“loop-hole free” experiments were completed that established without a doubt the existence of quantum entanglement as a non-local
physical reality. A great deal of scientific R&D is being currently devoted to exploiting this non-local reality in areas like
quantum computing and quantum cryptography.
My own personal model for how quantum entanglement might be related to local reality is described in my paper
The Non-local Vacuum: A Door to New Physics.3
|A schematic of the Horizon Model.
|The Model predicts that space had instantaneously inflated to a size (dia) of 1.3+0.6-0.4 x10-26m before time (spacetime) began.
|(Taken from my paper on the Non-local Vacuum.)
This model envisions the Big Bang as the opening up of a white hole and that the interior of this white hole is the vacuum which
is a non-local region filled with Planck-sized binary qubits that inflated from the white hole singularity.
The key to this model is
that the vacuum is non-local because it consists only of space. The qubits are naturally entangled within the vacuum because it is
non-local. Time, and therefore, classical spacetime, emerges not from the singularity or the first Planck region but from the event
horizon of the white hole. This has a nice symmetry about it because time that began on the white hole event (vacuum) horizon, appears to outside observers to end (stop) on the event
horizons of all the black holes in the universe.
The existence of non-local physical reality serves as a prototype for the new darshan’s concept of consciousness. Our individual local
consciousnesses emerge from and appear to end on the horizons of birth and death separating us from the timeless realm of Universal
Consciousness. But are we really separated?
The spiritual equivalent of quantum entanglement is the mystery of co-inherence. And, as in the discussion above about the Creator,
co-inherence is seen as the dynamic process of creation whereby Awareness/Life, Creation/Truth, and Love
are in essential relationship
as the one Universal Consciousness. So we, as part of the Truth, are somehow co-inherent with the Universal. Beyond the
horizon of death, all local consciousnesses are co-inherent with each other and the Universal. So at death our local consciousness
would not cease to exist but becomes non-local (timeless) and its essential individual relationship with the Universal becomes manifest.
My own local time-ordered consciousness cannot fathom or even imagine what consciousness without time would be like. (Though, I
sometimes wonder if that’s not how animals “think”.) But relationship, even with the Universal, is something I can speculate about.
Nancey Murphy (Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies
), a Christian theologian and neuroscientist, makes the argument that the human soul
is relational. Adopting this point of view, the new darshan would consider that the Soul is the sum of all the connections in love and
awareness that we have established over our lifetimes with other beings and with the Creator who is Love and Awareness itself. The
Soul is not something material so it is not subject to physical death. The Soul can therefore be considered a non-local product of
our local consciousness. Beyond the horizon of death our non-local (timeless) relationships must somehow depend on the state of our
Speculation about formation of the soul’s relationships and the consequences of the soul’s state both locally and non-locally are
issues of morality. This is an element of the larger realm of the social aspects of the new darshan that includes, as well as
morality: law and ethics; rational prayer/spiritual practices; symbolism/art; education; environmental, economic, and community policies;
governance, globalism and politics. Though I have my own ideas about some of the social aspects of the new darshan, I think these
aspects are best developed in conjunction with a broader community of people who are interested in exploring the social implications
of the new darshan. A possible forum for a broader discussion of the social implications of this world view might be my blog newdarshan.com
The purpose of this article has been to describe some of the physical science that is the foundation for the rational metaphysics
underlying the new darshan. There are other sciences beyond my own areas of competence that could contribute greatly to the
development of a rational new darshan. These include: studies of the roles of symbiosis, cooperation and epigenetics4
complexity science studies of how collective phenomena emerge from the networking of individuals; and, holistic studies of ecologies
from cellular to planetary scales including the ecology of the human body.
Some of the ideas presented in this article are explored in greater detail in an earlier article in this magazine
A New Darshan
There is a poem in the Waypoints pages of this website that encapsulates the essence of this worldview:
Acts of the Spirit
. I hope you will read it.
2. The laws of Einstein’s Special Relativity (well confirmed by experiment) dictate that nothing in the classical
(non-quantum) world,not even information, can travel faster than the speed of light, about 30 cm per nanosecond.
3. This paper has not yet been peer-reviewed. My attempts to register the pre-print on the arXiv server have been
unsuccessful because of their endorsement policies that prevent an outsider from publishing in established theoretical areas.
I have sent previous versions to a number of theoreticians and have received no responses. My professional background is in
experimental physics so I have no standing in the theoretical community. The model does predict the existence of cosmic inflation
of the magnitude expected by cosmologists and states that the virtual energy density of the vacuum is equal to the observed energy
density of the universe, eliminating the so called “vacuum catastrophe” – a difference between existing theories and experiment of
1023 ( 1 followed by 23 zeros!). The theoretical community currently has no explanation for cosmic inflation or the
4. The study of how environmental factors produce changes in DNA that can persist for multiple generations.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
February 11, 2022
HOMILY FOR A SAME SEX MARRIAGE
I am happy that I have lived to see the day where our society has decided that the supreme value in legal marriage is love.
In this society, love trumps gender, race, class, and religion. You can marry who you love! I know I will never live long
enough to see a society that puts love as the supreme value in all decisions. Can you imagine what a beautiful utopian world
it would be that valued love above everything in its policies.
But we as individuals have the glorious opportunity to make love the supreme value in all the decisions that make up our
marriage. I say “glorious” because I believe with all my heart that when you act from love you bring divinity into the world;
literally making the world a better place.
This belief is an ancient belief sung by the Vedic scribes at the birth of language and repeated by psalmists, popes,
theologians, gurus, saints and mystics throughout the world and throughout the ages saying simply that “The Creator is love”.
When you act from love you bring the power of creation into your world and your life into harmony with the divine purposes of
I know that, just as it is for society at large, it is sometimes hard for me to make love the supreme value in my actions.
We are here in the “Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi” and when things seem hard I find myself often
saying the Prayer of St Francis in order to focus on better intention.
You know the one, it begins “Lord make me an instrument of your peace: Where there is hatred let me sow love – “ and goes on
to ask “--that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; To be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love –“
There! That’s the key to a happy marriage and a happy life. To love is to bring light into your own soul. I don’t think it
really matters who or what you love, It could be another person, it could be an animal, a profession, an artistic creation,
a dance. What’s important is the intention and acts of loving. The light of loving illuminates the beauty of your soul.
Snatam Kaur sings a blessing that I want to offer to both of you and to all of us here and to all who may read these words:
| May the long time sun shine upon you;
All love surround you;
And the pure light within you
Guide your way on.
(Name) and (Name), the pure light within you is love. And if you let this light, shining bright within you, be your guide
I promise you will never lose your way and you will find your way home.
September 7, 2018
ATOMS FOR PEACE: FULFILLING EISENHOWER'S PLEDGE
On December 8, 1953, President Eisenhower delivered his historic
Atoms for Peace
speech to the United Nations. The president stated that the
United States knew "that if the fearful trend of atomic military build-up can be reversed, this greatest of destructive forces can be developed
into a great boon for the benefit of all mankind"
. He called for the establishment of an international atomic energy agency (IAEA) under the aegis of the United Nations
stating the belief
that if the "entire body of the world's scientists and engineers"
were given adequate resources to test and develop their ideas, "this capability would rapidly
be transformed into universal, efficient and economic usage"
. He expected that the international atomic energy agency would mobilize experts "to apply atomic energy
to the needs of agriculture, medicine and other peaceful activities. A special purpose would be to provide abundant electrical energy in the power-starved areas of the world".
Sixty-five years later, it's clear that the military-industrial complex (that Eisenhower also warned us about) prevailed and created industries in the US and USSR that produced
insanely large stockpiles of nuclear weapons and all the cold war apparatus required for the maintenance and delivery of such weaponry. The IAEA was established
but, rather than becoming the agency for international cooperation in the development of nuclear power and other peaceful uses of atomic energy, it became primarily a monitoring agency.
In the US during the mid to late 1950s the development of civilian nuclear power was taken out of the hands of the publicly financed national laboratories and given to
private corporations: in particular, to the General Electric
Corporations. In retrospect and in my opinion this was a serious mistake that set back the development of nuclear power that allowed the increased burning
of fossil fuels over the last 60 years that has had such grave consequences
for the planetary environment and public health. (WHO estimates that almost 7 million people now die annually from air pollution.) I believe the reason early privatization was a mistake was that the competing corporations brought to the power market a premature
and flawed technology of thermal-neutron light-water moderated nuclear reactors (LWRs).
The attempt to commercialize nuclear power in the 50's and 60's was premature because the public policy (political) issues associated with
the nuclear fuel cycle that these reactors depend on (particularly, the issue of waste disposal) had not been resolved. Indeed, they remain largely unresolved in the US to this day. Large quantities of spent fuel (the high-level nuclear waste)
continues to accumulate in the dry storage casks and "swimming" pools located on-site at the current nuclear generating stations.
The flaw in these
large scale LWRs is that they require an active system to remove the decay heat (heating of the fuel by radioactivity induced in the fuel elements during normal operation) that can potentially cause a
meltdown even after the reactor (chain-reaction) has been safely shutdown. This is the design flaw that resulted in the partial meltdown in the Fukashima accident where the diesel generators and pumping systems
required to actively remove the decay heat from the cores were destroyed by the tsunami. The Fukashima reactors, that came online in 1971, were based on the first generation (Gen-1) of General Electric's LWR design.
A New Generation of Reactors are Inherently Safe and Reduce Nuclear Waste.
More modern reactors such as the Gen-IV
and the small
modular reactors (SMRs
such as the Hyperion Power Generator
passive systems that don't rely on any external power sources to shutdown the reactor or remove the decay heat. These modern reactors are therefore inherently ("walk-away") safe
against the possibility of core meltdown following an emergency shutdown caused, for example, by an earthquake.
There are modern reactor designs embodying passive core cooling systems that also address the nuclear waste disposal problem. One such design is the PRISM Reactor.
This is an example of a reactor that uses a fast neutron chain-reaction and can be configured to very efficiently use the very long lived transuranic components of nuclear waste like plutonium as its fuel.
The recycled waste from such reactors would be much easier to deal with than the waste from the Gen-1 LWRs. A study of a proposed earlier version of PRISM, the Integral Fast Reactor
incorporated an onsite pyroprocessing facility, estimated that the volume of waste generated would be about 1/20th the volume of waste from an equivalent LWR. Furthermore, since this waste would not include any of the long-lived transuranic isotopes,
the custodial challenge is reduced to being measured in hundreds of years rather than the hundreds of thousands of years for LWR waste.
There is another modern reactor design that is "walk away" safe but avoids the security and non-proliferation issues associated with the breeder reactors like PRISM. This is the Molten Salt Reactor designed by the
Company. This reactor produces about one-half the volume of nuclear waste as the LWR for the same electrical output and the unit cost
of the electricity is claimed to be cheaper than coal and competitive with natural gas.*
Existing Nuclear Waste Can Be an Immense Source of Clean Energy.
There would obviously be very serious issues of security
and non-proliferation involved, but I find quite appealing the idea of turning the world's stockpiles of weapons-grade plutonium and high-level nuclear waste into an enormous carbon free energy source. In a 2012 article in the Guardian
(London, July 30, 2012) reporting on the UK interest in PRISM, Dr. David J. C. MacKay, Chief
Scientist in the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, was quoted as saying that "British plutonium contains enough energy to run the country's electricity grid for 500 years
Carbon Based Power is Doomed. Can Renewables Replace It?
I'm sure the fossil fuel industries, their lobbyists, public relations agents, and their beholden politicians, take satisfaction in seeing that large segments of the public in the US remain ignorant of these possibilities and continue to oppose nuclear power. But it is highly likely that the ravages
of climate change being produced by human caused greenhouse gas emissions will produce humanitarian, economic and ecological crises that will eventually force the abandonment of carbon based energy sources - at least, for electrical power generation.
In the 2013 film Pandora's Promise
Stewart Brand, the publisher of the 1960's counterculture icon Whole Earth
, asked the question: "How can you be an environmentalist and not be pro nuclear?"
It seems that more and more people with open minds are educating themselves about the facts of the situation and, convinced by the logic behind Stewart Brand's question, are abandoning their anti-nuclear bias.
An example of this is Michael Shellenberger who was once an anti-nuclear activist who in 2003 helped start up the Appolo Alliance
devoted to promoting investment in solar and wind power and electric car development.
In November of 2017, Michael Shellenberger gave a very persuasive TEDxBerlin talk "Why I changed my mind about nuclear power."
In this talk he presents some of the consequences
that Germany has experienced as a result of their decision to abandon nuclear power and replace it with solar and wind power. He also presents the little known scientific facts about the Chernobyl and Fukashima nuclear accidents. All of this is part of the evidence that led to his change of heart and to his becoming an advocate for nuclear power.
Renewables Alone Can Not Solve the Problem.
Michael Shellenberger and his team took a look at the power situation in Germany which has closed many of their nuclear plants and made a very significant commitment to increasing solar and wind generated electricity. Among the findings presented in his talk (cited above) were the facts that for Germany:
1) 2016 greenhouse gas emissions were 43% higher without electricity from the closed nuclear plants;
2) the cost of electricity went up by about 50% between 2006 and 2016 and is now twice the cost
of electricity in France (which has 93% emissions-free energy compared to Germany's 46%);
3)because of weather conditions, wind and solar electricity generation decreased in 2016 by 2% and 3%, respectively, in spite of increasing wind and solar generating capacity that year by 11% and 4%, respectively;
4) even if Germany succeeds in meeting its goal to increase its solar capacity by 50% in 2030 (from 40 to 60 GW), in another year like 2016 solar would only produce 9% of the country's electricity needs.
Several years ago I carried out a quantitative analysis of the global energy requirements and what kind of infrastructure would be required for solar or wind to alone meet just the increase in demand expected between now and 2050. The results of this analysis were presented
in my article The Challenges for Green Electricity
, November, 2013). I came to the conclusion that it is unrealistic and naïve to believe that solar and wind can
provide electricity at the scale required for a world that is expected to have 10 billion people in it by 2050 and where large portions of the global population do not yet have reliable electricity adequate for personal or regional economic development. Because of the
short time scales involved I think it is also unrealistic to pin any hopes on some as of yet undiscovered technology.
But What About Chernobyl and Fukashima?
In his talk Michael Shellenberger also presented the evidence that leads him to endorse the conclusion of
George Monbiot, a columnist for the Guardian
of London, who wrote in 2011 that "the antinuclear movement
(to which he once belonged) has misled the world about the impacts of radiation on human health."
This conclusion is supported by the facts presented in the UN and IAEA reports on the public health impacts of the Chernobyl (see Annex D)
As a result of the Chernobyl accident there were 28 deaths from acute radiation exposure (mostly among the heroic workers responding to the immediate accident), 15 deaths from thyroid cancer in 25 years,
and an expected increase in thyroid cancer of 16,000 cases in the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia which might result in an additional 160 deaths. (Thyroid cancer is one of the easier cancers to treat.) According to the UN reports there is no evidence of increased incidents of cancers of any kind outside those three republics.
The Fukashima accident caused no
radiation related deaths while there were more than 1500 deaths associated with the government enforced evacuations (20,000 perished in the tsunami itself). Japan has announced that four of the Fukashima workers have developed cancers that are likely radiation caused but none of these have died.
The death of another worker from lung cancer was reported on September 5, 2018, but James Conca explains in his Forbes article
, why this death was likely not due to the accident.
The impacts of these accidents are to be compared with the almost 7 million
by the World Health Organization to die annually
from air pollution
(not to mention the countless deaths, injuries and environmental insults associated with the mining and transportation of fossil fuels.) The climate scientists Pushker Kharecha and James Hansen have examined the evidence and claim in their 2013 article Coal and Gas are Far More Harmful than Nuclear Power
that nuclear power saved over 1.8 million lives
worldwide between 1971 and 2009 by preventing the burning of fossil fuels.
The Idealism and Ingenuity of Today's Youth May Find the Way.
As a youth I was inspired by President Eisenhower's vision of the peaceful atom and spent the first few years of my career as a physicist doing experiments and analysis in support of General Electric's Vallecitos Boiling Water Reactor
(VBRW), located at Pleasanton, CA.
The VBRW was the first privately financed power reactor and was granted US Power Reactor License Number 1
. It was a prototype of the Dresden Generating Station power reactor then being built at Morris, IL,.
Unit 1 of the Dresden Station came online in 1960 and operated without incident until its retirement in 1978. Two other units of the Dresden Station continue to operate and provide emissions-free electricity for
over a million homes in the Chicago area. I like to think that one of those homes may be where my great-grandson Noah is now living and that I have helped provide the electricity that is keeping him comfortable and safe and making the light by which he is learning to read.
In looking ahead I am encouraged to see that many young scientists and engineers are taking an objective look at the global climate and energy situation and are committing themselves to developing safe, clean, reliable and affordable nuclear power.
that the number of Nuclear Engineers graduating from US universities has tripled since 2001.
Two of these young graduates from MIT are Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie who co-founded the Transatomic Power Company in 2011. In doing so they reflected an idealistic desire to save the world from the catastrophes of climate change and the dangers of high-level
nuclear waste through competent engineering and good old-fashioned American ingenuity.
This is exactly the spirit President Eisenhower was appealing to in his "Atoms for Peace" speech.
He ended that inspiring speech with a pledge
to the world that we, the American people, would devote ourselves "to finding the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of
man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life".
It is the fervent hope of this optimistic old scientist, who listened to and was inspired by this speech in real time, that the new generation of scientists and engineers and their supporters will finally fulfill President Eisenhower's pledge thus removing the fear of the atom from
Noah and his generation. And that they will use the peaceful atom to produce all the energy humanity needs in order to flourish without creating unacceptable risks to public health or damage to our planet's natural environment.
*(This article was revised on August 8, 2019, to account for the fact that the Transatomic Power Corporation has suspended operations.
A mistake was discovered in their analysis and they now state that their reactor cannot be directly fueled with existing nuclear waste. There are still some advantages to the
molten salt reactor that are discussed in the revised article above.)
A NEW DARSHAN
A darshan is a “vision of the divine”. It is a fundamental step in the development of a complete
ontology, the foundation of a “world view” that provides an understanding of the physical and spiritual
(transcendent) aspects of human life.
For adherents of scriptural based religions, their “world view” is
derived from the authors and interpreters of the sacred texts and their darshan is basically their faith
that the sacred texts are the “word of God (or Allah, or Brahma)”.
For those who cling to the “world view” of
material realism, there is no place for darshan because of their faith that transcendence does not exist.
Throughout history there have been spiritual movements based
on a darshan that is not scriptural based. Prominent among these is Buddhism. In
the classical world these darshans were compatible with a “world view” that
assumed that the physical Cosmos was static: infinite and eternal. Therefore, in
an Old Darshan
the “vision of the transcendent” had no need to include the concept of creation or
a Creator. The Old Darshan
has provided important spiritual insight and guidance to countless people
over many centuries.
But now we know from scientific observation that our Cosmos had a beginning: it is not eternal and it is
not static - it is, in fact, expanding at an accelerating pace. The purpose of
my blog is to develop a New Darshan
that is compatible with the observations of modern science and
incorporates valuable understanding of the transcendent that the Old Darshan
The spiritual aspect of the New Darshan
is its focus on Oneness
and the attempt to avoid the dualism
that has plagued so much of the world’s religious, social and political history.
The scientific roots of the New Darshan emerge from recent studies using
the smallest objects in spacetime, and studies in Cosmology
of the origin and nature of the
entire universe (spacetime itself).
Experiments in quantum entanglement made over the last 30 years, or so, have
proven beyond a doubt that entangled quantum states exist in a
“Nonlocal” means that entanglements exist outside of our “local” 3D+1 reality.
In our "local" reality, effects follow causes by a finite amount of time
information cannot be transmitted in 3D+1 faster than the speed of light. (The
description of our local spacetime as “3D+1” is based on its structure of 3
observable space dimensions plus one dimension of time.) The nature of the
nonlocal reality where quantum states are entangled and causality does not apply
is not subject to direct observation using local instruments. But the existence
of nonlocal quantum entanglement is an established observational fact. The
existence of a nonlocal reality is often described as a quantum paradox.
- Wave/particle duality:
The origins of quantum mechanics go back more than a century. It has proven
to be one of the most successful scientific enterprises of all time. Its
equations have been used to predict observations of quantum phenomena with
incredible accuracy (e.g., to 10 decimal places in the case of some experiments
in quantum electrodynamics.) But paradoxes have been part of the theory from the
The first was the wave/particle duality of matter and light. Neils Bohr resolved
this paradox to his satisfaction, with what is now known as the Copenhagen
interpretation of quantum mechanics, through the advancement of the idea of
. This said that either the wave
particle nature would be
revealed by the type of quantum observation chosen by the observer, but
. In this
interpretation, the key element to resolving the paradox is “choice”.
Perhaps the most paradoxical of the wave/particle duality experiments is the
famous Young’s double slit experiment. In this experiment an opaque screen,
in which two slits have been cut, is positioned between a source and a detector
of light. Modern versions of this experiment have
passed single photons or material particles like electrons through a double slit arrangement
and provided for the detection of single particles on the downstream side of the
After passing many single particles through the arrangement, an
interference pattern is observed showing that, at the position of the slits, the
single particle was actually at two places at once
. That is, though beginning
and ending its journey through the apparatus as a point
particle, it behaved as
at the position of the slits. (For more on this, please
If the observer chooses to determine which
slit the particle actually passes through, the wave nature of the particle is not
manifested: the interference pattern is destroyed. Here, again, “choice” is the key
element in resolving the paradox.
The most recent form of these experiments, known as “delayed choice”
experiments, have demonstrated that the
of the choice (whether to
determine the actual “slit” or not) does not affect the outcome of the
experiment. This is true even if the choice is made
: that is, in
situations where, in order for the choice to effect the particle at the
beginning of its journey would require faster than light communication. In other
words, in these experiments, the choice to determine or not the actual path will
effect the outcome even if the choice is made after the particle is already
inside the apparatus.
So, here again, as
in the entanglement experiments, quantum behavior is explainable only by the
existence of a nonlocal reality and is observed to be determined by nonlocal
choices. This, again, is described as a quantum paradox. (See for example
For the last 50 years, or so, observational Cosmology has focused on the reality
and consequences of the Big Bang: a unique event that lies at the very beginning
of our expanding 3D+1 spacetime. The time with which we measure change in our
Cosmos began in the Big Bang (t=0).
There is no scientific way to observe
went “before” the Big Bang or what exists outside of spacetime. But Einstein’s
theory of General Relativity, which has had great success at explaining the
observations of modern Cosmology, is based on the idea that the Big Bang emerged
from the nonlocal reality of a Singularity
. Being outside of spacetime,
the Singularity is unobservable and is a subject for metaphysics and
mathematical imagination, but not empirical science.
Another aspect of General Relativity is the discovery of what is called the
“fine tuning” of the physical Cosmos. The initial conditions of the Big Bang and
the physical constants that determine the dynamics of the expansion of the
Cosmos had to be “fine tuned” with incredibly improbable values in order for
stable matter to exist and for the Cosmos to persist for the last 13.8 billion
It’s not possible for me to put an accurate value to the total
improbability of my existence, but just the fine tuning of the initial energy densities in the
Cosmos that allows the persistence of the Cosmos alone is of the order of 10-60
And the symmetry-breaking that allowed there to be an excess of matter
over anti-matter in the early universe has a probability of the order of 10-9
Then there is the exact balance among the fundamental forces and particle masses
that permits stable atoms to exist, and the quantum tunneling processes that
permit stars to burn and explode providing the chemical elements that make up
the rocky planets. (Recent measurements with the Keppler space telescope
indicate that the earth may be one of about 1022
such planets in the
Cosmos.) And then there is the improbability of the emergence of
self-aware beings on our planet along with little details, essential to human
life, like the fact that solid water is lighter than liquid water. I can’t be sure, but I guess the
probability that I am sitting here writing this has got be less than something
. This is a pretty fair definition of a scientific
There is no scientific explanation for this miracle. There is only metaphysics
and mathematical imagination. Many scientists of the material realist persuasion
see the miracle as just a highly improbable accident: a random event among an
infinity (or very large number, like 10500
) of Big Bangs creating
other (3D+1?) universes.
The metaphysics of the New Darshan
includes the hypothesis that the
nonlocal reality of Quantum Mechanics is consciousness itself
. It is
that collapses all quantum wave-functions and resolves all quantum
paradoxes. And the essence of consciousness is choice.
This hypothesis is not new with me. I suspect there are many scientists and
thinkers who have come to the same conclusion. The great physicist, John
Archibald Wheeler, who wrote the book on General Relativity and proposed things
like black holes, worm holes, and the “delayed choice” experiments of quantum
theory, looked deeply into the quantum nature of things and introduced into
physics more than 30 years ago the phrase “It
Wheeler is implying that the most elementary aspect of nature is information (not matter/energy). And the process
of creating reality and doing science is the process of creating “its” from
“bits”. A “bit” is a yes/no question and the process of creating an “it” is a
choice – an act of consciousness. This is what Wheeler meant by his
characterization of our Cosmos as a "participatory universe."
This metaphysical hypothesis was explored at great lengths by the quantum
physicist, Amit Goswami, Ph.D., in his book, The Self-Aware Universe
(Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, N.Y., 1995). Goswami proposed that consciousness is
the ground of all being and defined the essence of life with a Cartesian
phrase “Opto ergo sum” - "I choose therefore I am"
. The subtitle of
Goswami’s book is “how consciousness creates the material world
I propose to extend the New Darshan
hypothesis that the first "it" in our Cosmos was the first Planck bubble (a quantum
region of unified forces, complete uncertainty, where only probabilities
m in diameter) This first “it” emerged from the Singularity and began the Big Bang.
The metaphysical principle
of “as below, so above”, would imply that this process of the creation of
the first "it" of
reality was also a conscious choice
. This would imply the startling
metaphysical hypothesis that the Singularity is alive and is the source of
all consciousness and life in the Cosmos.
Plans for future writings.
In the posts on my blog (newdarshan.com)
that will describe the New Darshan
, I will
explore the scientific implications of the possibility that the Singularity of
the Big Bang and the nonlocal reality of Quantum Mechanics are one and the same.
I will attempt to identify teleological aspects of evolution that support the
hypothesis that the universe began with a conscious choice. I will explore the spiritual
aspects of the New Darshan
in terms of the dynamics of consciousness
and creation.These dynamics are intimately related to the unitary process of
. I will address
the morality that flows from the New Darshan
as emphasizing the
equality of all self-aware beings and the value of cooperation in the
development of global human society.
February 12, 2014
I wrote the following treatise on radioactivity in response
to a request from my granddaughter, Sara. She was seeking a little help in understanding
the subject at the level it was being taught in her high school Physics class at
St. Julian's School in Carcavelos, Portugal.
I hope reading this will give anyone concerned about the presence of radioactivity
in the environment a better understanding of the issues involved. And, perhaps,
help alleviate some of the quite understandable xenophobia that stems from the lack
Radioactivity refers to the process whereby an energetically unstable atomic nucleus
releases energy as it decays (transforms) to states of increasing stability. Some
atomic nuclei are naturally unstable and their radioactivity is called
. Instability can be induced in atomic nuclei by injecting
energy into the nucleus from a source external to the atom and the resulting radioactivity
is called induced radioactivity
The decay process is an inherently random process governed by the laws of quantum
mechanics (particularly, through what is called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle).
The random time of decay of any particular nucleus cannot be predicted but the rate
of decay of a large collection of radioactive nuclei follows a simple law (an exponential)
so that the rate can be characterized by a single number. The usual convention is
to characterize the rate of decay by a half-life
which is the average time it takes for 50% of the nuclei in any given collection
to undergo radioactive decay.
The atom consists of a cloud of negatively charged particles called electrons surrounding
a relatively tiny positively charged nucleus. Stable atoms (elements) are electrically
neutral with the negative charge of all of its electrons exactly balanced by the
positive charge of the nucleus. Atoms where this balance has been altered so that
there is a net electrical charge are called ions
. The chemical nature and
behavior of atoms is determined entirely by the configuration of their electron
The nucleus is made up of an assembly of positively charged particles called protons
and neutral particles called neutrons
. They are of approximately the same
mass (about 2000 times heavier than an electron) and are known collectively as nucleons
The nucleons are held together in the nucleus by what is called the strong nuclear
that overcomes the mutual electrical repulsion of the positively
Nuclei that have the same number of protons but differing number of neutrons are
. The total number of nucleons in a nucleus is called the
, usually referred to as A, and the number of protons (positive
charges) is called the atomic number
, usually referred to as Z.
Nuclei can then be uniquely identified by the symbol
refers to the nucleus of the element carbon (chemical symbol C) having 6 protons
and 14 nucleons, meaning this is an isotope of carbon having 8 neutrons (14-6).
This famous isotope is usually referred to simply as carbon-14. The stable (non
radioactive) isotope of carbon is carbon-12.
A radioactive nucleus emits its excess energy as it decays its way to stability
(a state of minimum energy) in three different ways in the form of three different
types of radiation called alpha particles, beta
particles, and gamma rays
Alpha particles are heavy particles made up of 2 protons and 2 neutrons (essentially
a He nucleus) and their emission results in a transformation of nuclear structure
with A->A-4 and Z-> Z-2, i.e.,
alpha decay -->
Beta particles are simply electrons (or their antiparticles, positrons) so that
their emission changes the charge (Z) of the nucleus by ± 1 unit but not the number
of nucleons (A). I.e.
In both of these decays the nucleus N has transformed into the nucleus of a different
chemical element, N’.
These equations are examples of balanced nuclear equations where the rule is that
the total number of nucleons and the total electrical charge are conserved quantities.
Therefore the total value of A and Z on the right hand side must equal the values
of A and Z on the left side of the equation.
Gamma rays are pure energy (they have no mass) emitted in the form of electromagnetic
radiation with very short wavelengths corresponding to energies greater than x-rays.
Gamma ray emission usually occurs during the other types of radioactive decay. The
emission of a gamma ray alone does not affect the structure of the nucleus.
The energies of all three types of radiation from particular nuclei depend on the
amount of excess energy present in the unstable state before the nucleus undergoes
Radiation Passage Through Matter
All three types of radiation are capable of altering the charge of the electron
clouds in the atoms of the materials through which they are passing. For this reason
they are all examples of what is called ionizing
. Each ionization process reduces the energy of the radiation by
a small amount. Once the radiation has lost all its energy in ionizing the material
it is passing through, it comes to a stop and can penetrate no further: they have
reached the limits of their penetrating power
The penetrating power of the three different types of radiation are very different
(due, primarily, to the great differences in their masses) and this can be used
to distinguish among them. Typical alpha particles, for example, can be stopped
by a piece of paper while beta particles might require a thin sheet of metal (like
a few sheets of aluminum foil) and gamma rays require many centimeters of lead to
The presence of radiation is detected by the sudden appearance of ions (electrically
charged atoms) within an electrical device called a radiation detector
or the accumulated effect of ions on recording devices like photographic film or
emulsions. Radiation detectors are extremely sensitive and can register, for example,
the arrival of a single gamma ray (photon).
A simple type of radiation detector is the Geiger-Mϋller detector. Basically, this
is a chamber of pressurized gas (easily ionized) existing in a static electric field
produced by charged electrodes (one positive and one negative). When an ion appears
in the gas, it is accelerated toward one of the electrodes (depending on the sign
of its charge) and its arrival at the electrode produces a small pulse of current
in the electronics. The pulses are counted and amplified to produce the well known
audible clicks signifying the presence of radiation.
Photographic film and emulsions contain light-sensitive materials that are also
sensitive to ionizing radiation. In fact, radioactivity was discovered by Henri
Becquerel 1896 when an x-ray film he was working with was found to be effected by
some uranium salts that had accidentally been left in a drawer with the film. The
earliest recordings of tracks of cosmic rays were captured in photographic emulsions.
The strength of a radioactive source is called its
and it is proportional to the number of radioactive nuclei present
in the source. The units of source activity are decays (disintegrations) per second.
One disintegration/second is known as 1 becquerel (1 Bq).
The simple fact that the rate of nuclei decaying
in a source is
to the number of radioactive nuclei present
in the source means that radioactive decay is an
process. If we say the activity is A and the number of nuclei
present is N, then we can express the proportionality as:
A = λN ; where, λ is the constant of proportionality called the
So, the activity
A decreases as N decreases with time.
We can find the relationship between the half-life (t1/2
and the decay constant (λ) by realizing that at t= t1/2
there are ½ as
many nuclei as we started with (N0
) so that, according to the law of
From the definition
of logarithms and the exponential (e), this means that:
So we can now write our simple law in terms of t1/2
A= ln(2)/ t1/2
Take, as a practical example, the calculation of the activity of 40
in the human body. 40
K is a naturally occurring radioactive isotope of
potassium. It occurs as a 117 parts per million fraction of natural potassium and
it has a half-life of 1.25 billion years (3.938x1016
seconds). A 73 kg
(160 lb) human body contains about 167 g of natural potassium. 1g of 40
is about 1/40 of a mole
and a mole of any material contains 6.022x1023
atoms (Avogadro’s number).
So, a 73 kg human body contains about:
/40 = 2.942 x1020
Therefore, the radioactivity due to the decay of potassium-40 in a 73 kg human body
A = ln(2)/3.938x1016
= 5,178 Bq.
The conclusion is that there is a background radiation source built into a 160 lb
human body of about 5,200 disintegrations/second occurring throughout the body every second of human
life due to the radioactivity of 40
Sources of Natural Background Radiation
The background radiation in which all life has evolved and humans live their entire
lives comes from both terrestrial and cosmic sources.
Terrestrial sources are the naturally occurring radioactive isotopes on earth and
principle among these are isotopes of the elements potassium, thorium and uranium.
Potassium is a mineral that is crucial for human life. It is present in all human
bodies and many of the foods we eat. So, our own bodies, the food we eat and other
human bodies are all sources of background radiation.
Thorium and uranium exist in many of the rocks on earth. Human exposure to these
sources is usually due to contact with the radioactive gas radon that is produced
during the decay of thorium and uranium. This gas makes its way up from underground
through cracks and fissures in the earth’s crust.
There are other naturally occurring radioactive isotopes such as Carbon-14 and Argon-40
that have proven useful to science (as will be explained below) but they do not
represent a significant source of background radiation in the biosphere.
The cosmic source of natural background radiation is due to what are called cosmic
. These are streams of charged particles and gamma rays (photons) produced
by the nuclear reactions in our own sun and galaxy and even from galaxies far far
away that continually bombard the earth’s atmosphere. Many of these cosmic rays
are deflected away from the earth by the magnetic field (the magnetosphere) surrounding
the earth. Humans on the surface of the earth are shielded to some degree from this
radiation by the thickness of our atmosphere. But the radiation making its way to
the surface is and always has been a significant source of background radiation
to life on earth (the biosphere.) People who live at higher altitudes or spend a
lot of time in airplanes are exposed to more of this radiation than those living
at lower elevations.
Incidentally, it’s interesting to note that it is the radioactivity in the earth’s
rocks that is responsible for the heat that produces the earth’s molten core. And
it is the molten core of the rotating earth that produces the magnetosphere protecting
the biosphere from the worst of the cosmic radiation. In essence, it’s the radioactivity
in the earth that is responsible for creating the atmospheric and oceanic conditions
that permit the existence of life as we know it.
Artificial Sources of Background Radiation
Sources of induced radioactivity have been introduced into the biosphere through
the creation of radioactive isotopes in nuclear reactors, particle accelerators
and nuclear explosions.
The radioactivity induced in materials by the injection of charged particles in
particle accelerators usually has a very short half-life and is therefore not a
persistent source of radiation. The isotopes produced by the injection of neutrons
into materials (especially, heavy materials) in the process of nuclear fission in
reactors and explosions can have very long half-lives. The materials containing
induced radioactivity produced through fission in nuclear reactors is sometimes
referred to as nuclear waste and those produced in explosions as nuclear fallout.
These represent a potential danger to life.
Some radioactive isotopes that have properties making them useful in medicine, industry
and agriculture are deliberately created in reactors or accelerators. These isotopes
are assembled into radioactive sources that are surrounded by a shielding assembly
of materials sufficient to confine (stop) the radiation inside and control its release
into the biosphere. As long as the shielding is not breached, these sources are
not a significant source of background radiation to the general public.
Other potential sources of artificial radiation are medical, dental and industrial
Dangers of Ionizing Radiation
As we have seen, ionization involves changes to the chemical behavior of the atom
being ionized. Some of these changes to a living cell could damage or kill the cell
and a sufficient amount of such damage could lead to the death of the organism.
It’s all a question of dose.
Just like salt, for example. Salt is a highly valued substance that enhances the
flavor of our food and is a source of a vital component of life – sodium. But eating
too much salt can cause high blood pressure and other health problems and, taken
in very large doses, is poisonous and can cause death. Because we clearly understand
the dosage effects, we don’t think of salt as a poison and happily put salt shakers
on our dining tables. But for radiation, most people don’t understand the dosage
effects and therefore look upon all radiation with great concern or even fear.
The damaging effects of radiation are complicated to understand because they depend
not only on the total dose received but also on the rate at which the dose is received.
Professionals called health physicists
have been studying the dosage effects
of radiation for decades. The potentially damaging effects to living beings can
include: changes to the DNA in reproductive material producing genetic changes (mutations)
in offspring; cancer; suppression of the immune system; and, death.
The situation regarding high doses of radiation in humans is reasonably well understood.
Radiation doses absorbed by the human body are quantified in units called sieverts
(Sv). It’s known that doses above 1 Sv received in a short time can cause death.
It was once believed that an accumulated dose of radiation that will lead to death
in 50% of people is about 5 Sv. These are huge amounts of radiation and very few
people have ever died from radiation poisoning so the data are scarce.
At intermediate doses it’s known that radiation can cause cancer. Studies of people
who have developed radiation induced cancer, such as some of the Hiroshima bomb
survivors, have lead to recommended dose limits for various segments of the human
population. In the US The recommended limit from man-made sources of radiation for
a member of the general public is 0.001 Sv per year (1 mSv/y). For comparison, the
typical background radiation from all sources for a person living at sea level is
about 3.2 mSv/y.
The situation for very low doses or small doses received very slowly is not very
well understood because very small effects can only show up in a very large sample
of people. There is controversy about this.
Given that we all live with the small potassium-40 doses in our bodies and that
cosmic rays have been present throughout the evolution of the biosphere, there is
some argument that doses below some small threshold are not dangerous (and may even
be beneficial). Others argue that there may not be a threshold and that all doses
should be considered dangerous.
The policy that is given to all professionals in the US working with radiation is
that all radiation doses must be kept “As Low As Reasonably Achievable”: a policy
know by its acronym - ALRA.
Mitigation of Radiation Dangers
The realization of ALRA is achieved by: the use of shielding materials around radiation
sources sufficient to confine and contain the radiation; limiting the amount of
time of human exposure to sources; and, keeping distance between people and exposed
sources (doses fall off as the square of the distance from an exposed source.)
The application of ALRA to nuclear waste is not so clear because the waste will
remain radioactive much longer than any policy, country or even civilization might
exist. One proposal in the US is to dispose of the waste in deep geological structures
sufficiently removed from the biosphere that the waste can simply be abandoned.
Another proposal is to re-process the waste in order to remove the long half-life
components that can then be used as fuel in a type of a reactor called a breeder
reactor. There are a number of other technical possibilities for dealing with nuclear
waste. But all of them require political decisions and the political will to solve
In the meantime, the US waste is being contained in shielding structures (pools
of water or concrete casks) located near the reactors producing the waste. This
has been feasible up to now because the volume of nuclear waste produced annually
by a typical reactor is really quite small. The amount of high level waste from
a large (1000 MW) light water power reactor produced in a year can fit in a small
truck (about 20 m3
Beneficial use of Radiation and Radioactivity
Radioactive sources are used in medicine to image, diagnose and treat a variety
of diseases as well as assist in medical research. Most major hospitals now include
a department of Nuclear Medicine. For imaging and diagnosis, radioisotopes can be
ingested or injected into the circulatory system and radiation detectors (cameras)
can then be used to follow the path of the isotope in the body to locate obstructions,
abnormal accumulations, or to render an internal organ, like the thyroid, visible
from outside the body. In radiotherapy, sources with appropriate energies and activities
are introduced into malignant tumors to kill the cancer cells. Half of all people
with cancer undergo radiotherapy. There are tens of thousands of people who have
been cured of various types of cancer and are alive today as a result of radiotherapy.
Radioactive sources are used to measure and control the thickness in
the manufacture of sheet materials like paper, plastic and sheet metal. They can
be used in the imaging and quality control of welds. They are used to help bind
chemicals to surfaces in the manufacture of things like wrinkle free fabrics and
non-stick cookware. In the drilling for oil and gas, radioactive sources are lowered
into the wellbore together with detectors to help identify the types of geological
materials being encountered. A tiny radioactive source is the working heart of each
of the smoke detectors protecting us in our homes and other buildings. Glow-in-the-dark
watch and clock faces as well as phosphorescent signs contain small amounts of tritium,
a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. Radioactivity is also used in the sterilization
of manufactured products like medical supplies. This is only a partial list. There
are many ingenious uses of radioactivity in modern industrial practices.
Many of our agricultural products are exposed to radioactivity in order to kill
or sterilize potentially dangerous micro-organisms or insects (through the ionization
process) before they are released for export or consumption. The elimination of
micro-organisms that can cause spoilage or disease by irradiation has the same end
result as the pasteurization process but without requiring the food to be heated
to high temperatures. Radiation is also used in the control of insects and the preservation
The movement of chemicals through soils, plants, animal bodies, mechanical
structures or anything else can be observed by “tagging” some of the chemicals with
radioisotopes of the same chemical. These are called radioactive tracers
The movement of tracers through the environment under study is followed using radiation
detectors. Tracer studies have wide application in many different fields allowing
the observation of dynamic processes that would be impossible to otherwise observe.
Radioactive sources are used to calibrate radiation detectors used in particle and
nuclear research. Heat from radioactive sources provides the power for some satellites
and spacecraft. Electrical power for the Voyager-1, for example, that has recently
left the solar system and is still transmitting data to earth, is derived from the
heat of radioactive plutonium sources.
In archaeological research, the age of once living (organic) material can be determined
by measuring the ratio of the amount of the radioisotope carbon-14 in a sample of
the material to the amount of the stable element carbon-12 in the same sample. During
life, this ratio is fixed by the naturally occurring ratio in the earth’s atmosphere.
After death, no new carbon-12 is accumulated, the carbon-14 begins to decay and
the ratio begins to decrease by an amount that depends on the known half life of
carbon-14. The ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 then gives a direct measurement of
the time since death.
The age of rocks can be similarly determined by measuring the ratio in a sample
of rock of argon-40 to potassium-40. Argon-40 is produced by the radioactive decay
of potassium-40. Before the crystallization of molten material (lava) into rock,
the argon-40, a gas, can easily escape from the lava. After crystallization, the
argon-40 becomes trapped and begins to accumulate in the rock by an amount that
depends on the known half-life of potassium- 40. Measurement of the ratio of argon-40
to potassium-40 then provides a measure of the time elapsed since the rock was once
lava. This is, again, a partial list. There are many ingenious ways that radioactivity
has been used to learn more about the nature and evolution of the solar system,
the earth, and the life that inhabits it.
A Closing Thought:
It’s important to realize that radioactivity is not just a man-made phenomenon that
represents a new and unknown threat to life. All the energy on the earth is ultimately
derived from nuclear processes that involve radiation. The earth is a radioactive
planet and we are radioactive beings.
THE CHALLENGES FOR GREEN ELECTRICITY
Clouds. Snow is on the way. Soon the branches of the piñions and junipers surrounding
the house will be bent low under a burden of heavy wet snow. I am looking forward
to this beautiful sight from within the warm safety of Casa Colombe in drought stricken
One day the snows will stop coming here and we will all be praying for rain to save
our trees. The experts at Los Alamos say that given the current trends it is highly
likely that New Mexico will lose the vast majority of its forests by 2050.
There are so many humans now that our activities are causing important changes in
the planet's energy dynamics. This is happening because the greenhouse gases
being injected into the atmosphere by human activity are changing the way the sun's
energy is affecting the earth.
We humans are going to have to either alter our activities or adapt to living on
a very different planet than our ancestors.
If we want to conserve the Earth roughly as it is now, we must be conservative in
our greenhouse gas emissions.
At the very least, we can try to insure that the increase in human population, expected
to peak at about 10 billion people around 2050 (a 40% increase), does not make the
climate situation we have already created any worse. An important element in achieving
this goal would be to create electrical power and transportation infrastructures
for the 3 billion people yet to be born that don't result in significant new
greenhouse gas emissions.
Extrapolating data from the International Energy Outlook 2013
published by the US Energy Information Administration, shows that the global energy
consumption is expected to increase by about 70% from 2010 to 2050. This is larger
than the 40% population increase because of the increase in per capita energy consumption
required for global economic development. (There are large parts of the developing
world that don't yet have access to adequate and dependable electricity.)
reports that in 2010 the global generation of electricity produced
21 trillion kilowatt-hours of energy. In that same year, the report shows that global
transportation consumed 28 trillion kilowatt-hours of energy (electrical equivalent).
A 70% increase in electrical generation corresponds to 15 trillion kilowatt-hours
and a 40% increase in transportation means another 11 trillion kilowatt-hours. If
we were to work toward an obvious goal of electrifying the additional transportation,
then the generation of a total of 26 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity must
be anticipated by 2050 for the population yet to be born. (The UN has predicted
that the global population will stabilize at roughly 2050 levels, i.e., at about
10 billion people.)
So, if we want to conserve the planet roughly as it is now, we have to prepare to
generate 26 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually without new greenhouse
gas emissions by the year 2050. To understand the scale of this undertaking, like
Bill Clinton said, you have to do the math.
What does the capacity to generate 26 trillion kilowatt-hours in a year look like?
It's about 10 times the 2010 global nuclear power capacity, 76 times the global
wind power capacity and 13,000 times the solar photo-voltaic capacity in 2010.
The largest wind farm in the world is the Alta wind farm near Tehachapi, CA.
Scaling up the design and performance of this farm, the generation of 26
trillion kilowatt-hours annually would require 5.5 million turbines occupying
562,000 square miles of land as windy as Tehachapi. These are huge turbines with
wing spans of about 250 feet. And the windy land requirement is about 15% of the
size of the US or a third of the size of the European Union.
The largest photo-voltaic (PV) solar power plant in the world is the Aqua Caliente
plant in Yuma, AZ. Scaling up from this facility would imply that 216 billion PV
modules arrayed across 156,000 square miles of land as sunny as Yuma, AZ, would
be required to generate 26 trillion kilowatt-hours in a year. (156,000 square miles
is about the size of the land area of CA, 73% of the size of France and more than
20 times the surface area of all the rooftops in the US.)
Both the solar and wind options would also require extending the existing electricity
grids into the sunny and windy areas where these plants could be located.
At the present time there is about 370 GWE (giga-watts of electricity) being
generated by 434 commercial nuclear power plants worldwide. The additional energy
generating capacity of 26 trillion kilowatt-hours annually needed by 2050 corresponds
to about 3,000 GWE - 8 times the present nuclear capacity. This would mean the addition
of about 2,700 new power reactors by 2050 of the type currently being considered
for construction (based, mostly, on 1960's designs.) Most of these could be
sited near the existing electricity grids.
Addressing this increment of 26 trillion kilowatt-hours is only a modest first step
(as daunting as it may be.) The IEO2013
projection is that the total global
energy consumption in 2050 will be about 10 times this amount. Some of this is likely
to generate greenhouse gases. So the long term solution to conserving the health
of the planet will require additional electrification, perhaps through nuclear fusion
or some new technology yet to be invented.
That's the math of the situation. I hope I didn't lose you, but it's
critically important to understand the scale of the problem. The task is to provide
5.5 million huge wind turbines on 562,000 square windy miles, or, 216 billion PV
solar modules on 156,000 square sunny miles, or, 2,700 large nuclear power reactors,
or, some combination of the three by 2050 and that's only 10% of the energy
we will be using at that time. There is a huge task before us and we need to get
started right away.
Personally, I believe that the best and most realistic hope for conserving the planet
roughly as it is now lies with the deployment of the next generation of safe, clean
and dependable nuclear power. In the meantime, those of us already here can help
by energy conservation and conversion to renewable energy sources whenever and wherever
Examples of next generation nuclear technology are the small
modular power plants, such as the
(Hyperion Power Generator)
reactor originally developed at Los Alamos (2007), or the
Integral Fast Reactor
demonstrated at the Argonne National
Laboratory in the 1980's. (For an updated - 2019- discussion of the new Gen IV reactors see
All US Navy aircraft carriers and submarines are now
powered by modular nuclear reactors. Such reactors have provided the US Navy with
over 6,200 reactor-years of accident-free nuclear power - not a single radiological
incident in over 50 years of experience.(For an updated discussion - 2020- of this, see.)
I know there is a lot of popular opposition to nuclear power. But I
think it likely that
much of the fear mongering and misinformation that has plagued nuclear power development
since the 1960's has been fostered and supported by fossil-fuel special interests:
perhaps some of the same interests who are now promoting climate change denial.
It is difficult to open your mind to the idea of changing a long held belief. But
if you are serious about conserving our planet and minimizing climate change, I
challenge you to look at the film Pandora's Promise
with an open mind. You
may be surprised to learn how many prominent environmentalists, climate
scientists and opinion makers have come to support the use of nuclear power.
is a documentary film made by Robert Stone in 2013 that
tries to set the record of nuclear power straight. The film dramatizes the scale
of the problem of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mirrors much of what I
have said in this article. The trailer for the film ( Pandora's Promise Trailer
Stewart Brand, the publisher of the 1960's counterculture icon, Whole Earth
, asking "How can you (today) be an environmentalist and not be pro
nuclear?" If you get a chance, I hope you will take a look at this
The alternative to altering our relationship with fossil fuels is to go about "business
as usual" believing we can adapt to the planet's changes. We can build
20 foot seawalls around our coastal cities. We can abandon low lying islands and
turn deltas like Bangladesh into water worlds. We can try to harden global infrastructure
against what we now call "extreme weather events". We can plan to move
our agricultural and fishing areas into new territories. We will just have to accept
the increased acidification of the oceans and kiss the coral reefs and our favorite
shellfish goodbye. We can dutifully document for future generations the species
of wildlife that couldn't adapt and were forced into extinction. We will find
ways (hopefully, peaceful) to contend with social chaos and conflict during the
transition to new environmental conditions.
Our greenhouse gas emissions are pushing the Earth into new environmental territory.
Therefore, I think blind faith in adaptation is unwarranted, irresponsible and,
possibly, dangerous. For example, we know that rapid acidification of the
oceans in the past has preceded mass extinctions of life. The oceans are now acidifying
(due to the creation of carbonic acid by dissolved CO2
) at ten times
any rate ever seen in the past. No one knows how massive the pending extinctions
could become. In more poetic terms, the ocean is the Mother of all life on earth:
I believe there is grave danger in making our Mother hostile to life as we know
Personally, I want to conserve as much of the Earth's present environment as
possible. I want my great-grandchildren to know the beauty of the forested mountains
of New Mexico and breathe the clean sweet air that filters through them. I hope
they can experience the awe of snorkeling through coral reefs vibrant with life
and to taste oysters freshly plucked from the sea. I want them to live in a beautiful
peaceful world of abundant energy that they can use for the betterment of humanity
and the conservation of the planet.
I pledge my support to politicians and polices reflecting a realistic and quantitative
understanding of the technologies required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and
advocating international cooperation in the effort to achieve this reduction.
For all my children.
The snows did arrive, this time.
December 16, 2013
Human religions tend to portray God, the Creator, in anthropomorphic terms:
using names like Father, Goddess, Lord, King of Kings, and countless others.
Human prayers to the divine often assume a "personality" on the receiving end
that reflects the culture of the individual religion and the one who is praying.
In spite of the obvious fact that there could only be one Creator of a Cosmos
that is observed to follow universal laws
of physics, the
individual religions insist on the "truth" of the efficacy of their unique way
of praying and their own understanding of the divine "personality".
This dualistic divisiveness has brought and continues to bring great
troubles to the
world. (I find it ironic that the "original sin" of
the Abrahamic religions can be seen as the introduction of dualism into the
"garden of Eden".) The violence and destruction wrought by this divisiveness has
been an impediment to the evolution of human institutions capable of resolving
important societal challenges through intelligent cooperation. But, fortunately,
such institutions do exist.
As an experimental particle physicist I have had the great privilege of working
on several experiments at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, in
Geneva. At CERN, you find scientists from religiously divided cultures, like
Israel and Iran or Pakistan and India, working side-by-side in an intelligent
and cooperative pursuit of knowledge. I find it very satisfying that such
cooperative efforts in Astronomical research may soon bring forth knowledge that
will make religious divisiveness even more illogical and untenable.
Scientific analysis of the data from the Kepler spacecraft
and other astronomical observations tell
us that there could be as many as ten billion trillion of habitable planets in our observable
Cosmos. ("Habitable" means where conditions permit the existence of liquid
water on the planet's surface.) I believe, therefore, there is an extremely high probability
that other self-aware life exists in the Cosmos.
The basic characteristic of all living beings on Earth, even the simplest single
cell bacterium, is awareness
: awareness of their environment and of each other.
It seems only logical that life on other planets would be similarly characterized
by the quality of awareness.
I believe that the evolution of life on Earth has demonstrated a purpose - the evolution
of self-aware beings, human beings aware that they are aware, that they are aware,
On Earth, awareness has evolved from the bacterium's awareness of the presence
of electromagnetic radiation and certain molecules in its watery environment to
the human's awareness of the size, age and mass of the entire observable universe
- evolution from an awareness of other near-by beings to the global human networks
of knowledge, technology, art, music, societies and, above all, Love.
With the evolution of self-awareness has come the human ability to form a nexus
of relationships with other sentient beings and with the Creator. This network of
connections is what the Christian theologian Nancey Murphy identifies as the individual
human soul. (For more on this idea of the soul, please see here.
It seems only logical that the evolution of life on other habitable planets would
be similarly directed toward the evolution of self-aware beings. If awareness is
a universal aspect of all life it would follow that there is a universal aspect
to the souls of all self-aware beings in the Cosmos.
What is the universal aspect of the human soul - the human relationship with the
Creator? This universal aspect would be in the form of a basic spirituality that
underlies the scriptures, doctrines and rituals of religion as well as our human
In examining our human religions for their universal aspects, I believe you can
find a set of beliefs about the Creator that unites most religions and could form
the basis of a universal spirituality - perhaps, even a cosmic spirituality. This
spirituality could (or, should) also form the basis of the laws and morality that
govern the relationships of all self-aware beings.
In terms of the nature of the Creator, I believe a universal spirituality could
be based on the beliefs that:
* God is Oneness, the Creator of our Cosmos, linking us
with all that exists;
* God is Love;
* God is Truth, and the corollary;
* God is Awareness, the essential quality of all living
beings and the source of self-awareness.
And, just as in Christian religious terms, the
Spirit, co-inhere as one -
In universal spiritual terms,
Love, co-inhere as one universal process -
In as much as Spirit exists outside of our 3D+1 spacetime it can only be perceived
(by religion) from within spacetime as an unobservable, eternal, and, omnipresent
being. But I believe Spirit can also act within spacetime through the consciousness of
self-aware beings. Acting within spacetime, Spirit can
be perceived (by a universal spirituality) as a singular co-inherent process. Thus,
depending on the frame of reference, Spirit, the Creator, can be perceived as both
Being and Process.
I am a simple man and I find it difficult to relate in Love with abstractions like
Awareness and Truth/Beauty. That is because my human soul is built from relations
in Love with other human beings. For me, the story of Christmas celebrates, in simple
human terms, our relationship with the Creator.
But I bet there is a similar story on all planets where self-awareness has evolved,
which celebrates the most important fact of their self-aware lives. And that that
story is a cosmic generalization of our human story:
"The Word was made flesh and
dwelt among us --";
(The image of the Dove - courtesy of the Lama Foundation.)
In the other room I just put up a picture of Baba-ji and turned on the music of
Krishna Das chanting the Hanuman Chalisa. I thought Baba-ji might enjoy that, though
I know the Spirit needs no ears.
In this room, where Hanuman's altar is illuminated with golden light from the setting
New Mexico sun, the music of the divine Snatam Kaur fills my ears. This is the music
of my Spirit. It is with her voice I hear inspiration and open my heart to the beauty
all around me. My awareness of this moment - this now - invokes the aching of Love.
I am a simple man- I need ears to hear the music. I am separated from the Spirit
by the knowledge of time. My mortality as a living being sets a clock whose ticking
is sometimes deafening.
I am a simple man - whose fundamental duality seems to be:
Dead or Alive?;
 or ?
I think an enlightened man might erase this duality and walk with the Spirit in
Oneness. I imagine that he might erase this duality by experiencing it as a single
co-inherent process- a oneness:
Spirit, co-inhering as one
But I am a simple man experiencing only the process of becoming self-aware and dreaming
a simple dream of enlightenment:
Love, co-inhering as one process
I know I should try to better manifest the Spirit in our world, but I cling to my
dualities. I still ache with Love, am distracted by the ticking of my clock, and
fear being forgotten.
I must be kind when I think of this weakness.
It is human to ache, to fear.
And I am only human.
But it is also human to dream.
And I dream of the Earth populated by evolved humans
enlightened by the Spirit to cooperate and to
Love One Another.