A circle, two truths, and a poem

Written by on February 21, 2012 in Commentary with 0 Comments

You may have noticed a new look to GoodUniverse.ca … don’t worry, the content and focus have remained the same, I have only updated the functionality with an ‘adaptable’ WordPress theme.

This means that regardless of what device you have tuned in with (mobile or otherwise), the look and feel will be consistent as the website adapts to screen size. And if you’re like me, most of my surf time is spent attached to a smartphone or tablet these days.

Also, you may have noticed I have updated my logo. I was going for something a little more organic, a little more representing of ‘where-I’m-at-so-far’ with my understanding of everything, in particular how quantum mechanics has brought about an interesting conjunction between atomic physics and ancient eastern spirituality – Can you tell I’ve been reading some classics; ‘The Tao of Physics, by Fritjof Capra – These are some ‘must reads’ from my point of view.

And, not being formally tied to either physics or spiritualism, I am free to dance across these lines and explore any interconnections with an open mind.

Incidentally, I just came off of another good book that was published more recently, “How the Hippies Saved Physics”, by David Kaiser – another fun book with some great background in how quantum strangeness had gripped a group of Hippie physicists in the early 70’s. And how their passion for Bell’s theorem helped conjure the idea of Quantum Crytography. I really indepth book with a great personality too, I recommend it highly.

The circle

The painted circle found in the new GoodUniverse logo is a ‘Zen circle’, or an Enso.

These circles are sometimes practiced as part of Zen Buddhist meditation, a symbol that accords with the deep intuitions gleamed from meditative inquiry in the nature of existence.

I happened upon this imagery and felt instantly drawn to its simple iconography, especially with respect to the wholeness of the universe and the nature of existence.

Also, Zen circles are often accompanied by some further descriptions to provide context to the circle, in my case I will consider my entire blog as being this extension. And because to the Buddhist the painting of a circle shares a special relationship to the artist, I discovered my circle has a gap between the beginning and its end – it is not quiet complete – this I found was significant, as it represents the fracture that separates our linear / logical conception of the world, a ‘Conventional Truth’ with that of the paradoxical world of quantum mechanics which is an essential part of knowing the universe completely. This is what buddhists call the ‘Ultimate truth’.

The Two Truths

This division is signifiant in that it should be considered when formulating one’s picture of reality because it allows you to frame your question in accordance to the idea of the two truths; Conventional Truth and Ultimate truth.

Your ‘mode of inquiry’ is important because if you are to form a conventional type question towards an Ultimate style truth, you will be left with an invalid and paradoxical answer.

For instance, the question – Is light a ‘wave’ or a ‘particle’? – is a very logical question that is in accordance with our perceptions of reality, in that something is never two fundamentally different things at once, but QM has shown that light is both a wave and particle. So the paradox stands.

This was demonstrated in the double-slit experiment which had a single photon passing through two openings in a barrier simultaneously on the way to a detection screen. This caused interference affects like the photon was a wave, but emerging at the detector like a particle.

Another paradoxical notion is idea that the separation between the observer and the object observed is not as well defined and distinct as you might think. When you look at a table across the room, in some respects you and the table are actually one system, interconnected at a fundamental level.

To explain this, let’s go back to the Double-Slit experiment again; In this case, if you try to measure which slit the photon went through on the way to the detector, it would tell you explicitly, but then the photon would stop acting like wave and only be a particle at that point, effectively destroying the interference pattern you inferred before.

This demonstrates the effect of the ‘complimentarity’ between the system and the measurement, both relying on each other to form one concise reality.

This of course posits that there is no intrinsic objective reality outside of measurement, only the ingredients of one. If there is no objective reality outside measurement, this means our perception of the world is subjective only, as we can only intuit our world from our senses.

However, a possible counter-point to what I am blathering on about here is a newer development in physics called ‘decoherence’. It seems to suggest there might be, in fact, an objective reality after all (to some degree). This has it that the atoms themselves act as their own measurement devices, which gives rise to an objective reality independently of us or a larger system that consitutes what we regard as a measurement device. This however is still being investigated.

So, our empirical sense of reality is necessarily limited to the relative framework of conventional truth, and where quantum reality and its ‘otherworldly’ strangeness belongs to Ultimate truth…

… what’s funny about this is, at present we can only describe Quantum Reality in ‘classical’ terms … yes, this is the very ‘classicality’ that was disproved by quantum science. Essentially, we are still trying to frame that which is not classical into a classical sense.

I guess we just haven’t awoken our minds to a full coherent view of the universe and its meaning. This is the gap in my circle.

Well, I hope you enjoy the new look/functionality. You might even discover more in blog because of the new format.

The Poem

From stone and steel I stand
rigidly over the land,
watching as wise breezes
sway fields to the horizon.
To think how empirical it is
to sit by the fire,
warming comfortably,
yet knowing uneasily,
What will get me walking, I wonder?
I am not sure, but a strange gust
has blown open my door
and have yet to shut it.
Oh, I can hear what they will say,
“Those seekers that set walking,
always return before dark
and with empty hands no less.”
Yes, dear maiden,
it’s true they do,
but notice not their hands,
but how they walk,
in curious calm and riveting rapture,
everyday after.


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