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Re: [Mind and Brain] Reality in Leibniz

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  • Cass Silva
    It has everything to do with Mind Brain as it is attempting to reconcile science with ancient knowledge.  We are discussing matter at a universal level, which
    Message 1 of 10 , Jul 19, 2012
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      It has everything to do with Mind Brain as it is attempting to reconcile science with ancient knowledge.  We are discussing matter at a universal level, which introduces the laws of physics, astronomy and subsequently the true nature of 'man' and his place in the 'universe'.  Science puts forward the theory of the big bang without explaining what a zero point is.  Science asks 'how', theosophy attempts to explain a theory which encompasses the how and also connects it to the why, drawing on the laws of nature.

      As there are various theories, string, multiverses, the theory of everything, etc etc, why shouldn't ancient theories be looked at as being as valid a theory as any other?

      I agree with Robert that when this introduces the idea of a god/godhead, and the discussion wains into biblical and anthromorphic ideas which have no place in science, other than to explain, how such a god could not possibly exist as a finite being in an infinite environment.
      Cass


      From: Philip Benjamin <medinuclear@...>
      To: MindBrain MindBrain <mindbrain@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Friday, 20 July 2012 12:29 AM
      Subject: RE: [Mind and Brain] Reality in Leibniz

       
      David Pratt's article on "Infinite Divisibility of Matter" was quoted in full in the Mind Brain group (appended below). It describes everything including quarks as divisible (except electrons). He concludes: "This means that the elastic body is changeful and consists of particles, or, in other words, that elasticity can pertain only to those bodies that are divisible". This supposedly is true because Helena Blavatsky had some occultic revelation of the same.
             Now the question is what has this got to do with Mind or Brain, even if the imaginary "monads" are all that matter?  



       
      Philip Benjamin, PhD

      http://biodarkmatter.webs.com/index.htm
      Physicalism Extraordinaire

       

      To: MindBrain@yahoogroups.com
      From: silva_cass@...
      Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2012 19:18:10 -0700
      Subject: Re: Re: [Mind and Brain] Reality in Leibniz

       

      The Infinite Divisibility of Matter

      By David Pratt
      If we take a material object, such as a loaf of bread, and keep cutting it in half, again and again, will we ever arrive at a fundamental building block of matter that cannot be divided further? This question has exercised the minds of scientists and philosophers for thousands of years. In the fifth century BC the Greek philosopher Leucippus and his pupil Democritus used the word atomos (lit. "uncuttable") to designate the smallest individual piece of matter, and proposed that the world consists of nothing but atoms in motion. This early atomic theory differed from later versions in that it included the idea of a human soul made up of a more refined kind of atom distributed throughout the body.
      Atomic theory fell into decline in the Middle Ages, but was revived at the start of the scientific revolution in the seventeenth century. Isaac Newton, for example, believed that matter consisted of "solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, movable particles." Atomic theory came into its own in the nineteenth century, with the idea that each chemical element consisted of its own unique kind of atom, and that everything else was made from combinations of these atoms. By the end of the century all ninety-two naturally occurring elements had been discovered, and progress in the various branches of physics produced a feeling that there would soon be nothing much left for physicists to do.
      This illusion was shattered in 1897, with the discovery of the electron, the first subatomic particle: the "uncuttable" had been cut. This was followed by the discovery of the proton in 1911 and the neutron in 1932, the two particles that make up the atomic nucleus. In the decades that followed, subatomic particles began to proliferate like bacteria, and today over 200 are known. Most of them are created from the energies released in collision experiments in particle accelerators, and decay into more stable particles after a fraction of a second.
      To try to inject some order into this particle zoo, the "standard model" was developed. According to this model there are twelve fundamental particles of matter: six leptons, the most important of which are the electron and its neutrino; and six quarks (since quarks are said to come in three "colors," there are really 18 of them). [The announcement in April 1994 that promising evidence of the elusive "top quark" had finally been found was greeted by physicists with cries of joy. But the discovery of further evidence for a particle known as the "pomeron" at another particle accelerator the following month met with almost total disinterest, because this embarrassing particle does not fit into any existing theory.] Individual quarks have never been detected, and it is believed that they can exist only in groups of two or three -- as in the neutron and proton. There are also said to be at least 12 force-carrying particles (of which only three have been directly observed), which bind quarks and leptons together into more complex forms.
      Leptons and quarks are supposed to be structureless, infinitely small particles, the fundamental building blocks of matter. But since infinitesimal points are abstractions and the objects we see around us are obviously not composed of abstractions, the standard model is clearly unsatisfactory. It is hard to understand how a proton, with a measurable radius of 10 to the negative 13th cm, can be composed of three quarks of zero dimension. And if the electron were infinitely small, the electromagnetic force surrounding it would have an infinitely high energy, and the electron would therefore have an infinite mass. This is nonsense, for an electron has a mass of 10 to the negative 27th gram. To get round this embarrassing situation, physicists use a mathematical trick: they simply subtract the infinities from their equations and substitute the empirically known values! As physicist Paul Davies remarks: "To make this still somewhat dubious procedure look respectable, it is dignified with a fine-sounding name -- renormalization." (P. Davies & J. Gribbin, The Matter Myth1992, p. 244.) If this is done, the equations can be used to make extremely accurate predictions, and most physicists are therefore happy to ignore the obviously flawed concept of point particles.
      The latest theoretical fashion in particle physics is known as string theory (or superstring theory). According to this model, the fundamental constituents of matter are really one-dimensional loops -- a billion-trillion-trillionth of a centimeter (10 to the negative 33rd cm) long but with no thickness -- which vibrate and wriggle about in 10 dimensions of spacetime, with different modes of vibration corresponding to different species of particles. It is said that the reason we see only three dimensions of space in the real world is because the other dimensions have for some unknown reason undergone "spontaneous compactification" and are now curled up so tightly that they are undetectable. Because strings are believed to be so minute, they are utterly beyond experimental verification; to produce the enormous energies required to detect them would require a particle accelerator 100 million million kilometers long.
      String theorists have now discovered a peculiar abstract symmetry (or mathematical trick), known as duality. This has helped to unify some of the many variants of the theory, and has led to the view that strings are both elementary and yet composite; they are supposedly made of the very particles they create! As one theorist exclaimed: "It feels like magic." (See Scientific AmericanJanuary 1996, pp. 72-8.) While some physicists believe that string theory could lead to a Theory of Everything in the not-too-distant future, others have expressed their opposition to it in no uncertain terms. For instance, Nobel Prize winner Sheldon Glashow has likened it to medieval theology, based on faith and pure thought rather than observation and experiment, and another Nobel laureate, the late Richard Feynman, bluntly dismissed it as "nonsense." (P. C. W. Davies & J. Brown (eds.), Superstrings, A Theory of Everything?1988, pp. 180-4, 191, 192-8.)
      An alternative approach which is currently being investigated by a small number of physicists is that subatomic particles are vortices in an underlying medium -- a primitive fluid or ether. (See E. Lerner, The Big Bang Never Happened1992, pp. 369-72; M. B. Cooke, Einstein Doesn't Work Here Anymore1983, pp. 1-39; C. F. KrafftGlimpses of the Unseen World (1956), BSRF reprint, 1986; C. E. Krafft, The Ether and its Vortices (1955), BSRF reprint, 1987.) Physicist David Bohm regarded "elementary" particles as complex, relatively constant forms produced by patterns of motion at some deeper, implicate, level of reality. He adds:
      One may suppose that this deeper level of movement may be analysable into yet finer particles which will perhaps turn out to be the ultimate substance of the whole of reality. However, the notion that all is flux . . . denies such a supposition. Rather, it implies that any describable event, object, entity, etc., is an abstraction from an unknown and undefinable totality of flowing movement. -- Wholeness and the Implicate Order, 1980, p. 49
      Recent evidence from particle collision experiments suggests that quarks do have internal structure and are not in fact elementary. (See New ScientistFebruary 17, 1996, p. 17.) No internal structure has yet been detected in electrons, but this proves only that they must be smaller than can currently be measured, not that they have no size at all. As Bohm points out, between the shortest distance now measurable in physics (10 to the negative 16th cm) and the shortest distance in which current notions of spacetime are believed to have meaning (10 to the negative 33rd cm), there is a vast range of scale in which an immense amount of yet undiscovered structure could be contained. This range is roughly equal to that which exists between our own size and the known "elementary" particles. (D. Bohm & F. D. Peat, Science, Order & Creativity1987, p. 94.) 10 to the negative 33rd cm is called the Planck length, and physicists believe that on this scale the fabric of space becomes an effervescing froth of spacetime bubbles. But while this may be the smallest distance that has any meaning for us, there is no reason to assume that the concept of space has absolutely no meaning beyond it. As Bohm says, the Planck length is only a limit on the applicability of our ordinary notions of space and time, and it is quite arbitrary to suppose that there is nothing beyond this limit at all. (Wholeness and the Implicate Orderp. 193) Instead of bringing us to a "rock bottom" level of reality, 10 to the negative 33rd cm may merely bring us to the bottom level of our own physical world.
      In The Secret Doctrinepublished in 1888, H. P. Blavatsky writes:
      It is on the doctrine of the illusive nature of matter, and the infinite divisibility of the atom, that the whole science of Occultism is built. It opens limitless horizons to substance informed by the divine breath of its soul in every possible state of tenuity, states still undreamt of by the most spiritually disposed chemists and physicists. -- 1:520
      This implies that there is an infinite number of states of matter, all but a few of which have rates of vibration beyond our range of perception. And all the infinite grades of matter can be regarded as different phases of one universal divine essence of consciousness-life-substance.
      Blavatsky provides a compelling argument for the infinite divisibility of matter. She quotes Alexander Butlerov, a renowned Russian chemist, who also took a serious interest in spiritualistic phenomena. He attacked as contradictory the orthodox scientific opinion of the time that an atom was indivisible and yet elastic:
      Without any elasticity, the atoms could not manifest their energy . . . [But] what are the conditions requisite for the manifestation of elasticity? An elastic ball, when striking against an obstacle, is flattened and contracts, which it would be impossible for it to do, were not that ball to consist of particles, the relative position of which experiences at the time of the blow a temporary change. This may be said of elasticity in general; no elasticity is possible without change with respect to the position of the compound particles of an elastic body. This means that the elastic body is changeful and consists of particles, or, in other words, that elasticity can pertain only to those bodies that are divisible.
       
               
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    • Philip Benjamin
      [Silva Cass] It has everything to do with Mind Brain as it is attempting to reconcile science with ancient knowledge. We are discussing matter at a universal
      Message 2 of 10 , Jul 20, 2012
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        [Silva Cass] "It has everything to do with Mind Brain as it is attempting to reconcile science with ancient knowledge. We are discussing matter at a universal level, which introduces the laws of physics, astronomy and subsequently the true nature of 'man' and his place in the universe".
        [Philip Benjamin]
        If so, will it not be worthwhile to show (or occultically reveal?) the connection itself, instead of simply assuming that it is there.
         
        Philip Benjamin, PhD

        http://biodarkmatter.webs.com/index.htm
        Physicalism Extraordinaire

         


        To: MindBrain@yahoogroups.com
        From: silva_cass@...
        Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 19:50:26 -0700
        Subject: Re: [Mind and Brain] Reality in Leibniz

         
        It has everything to do with Mind Brain as it is attempting to reconcile science with ancient knowledge.  We are discussing matter at a universal level, which introduces the laws of physics, astronomy and subsequently the true nature of 'man' and his place in the 'universe'.  Science puts forward the theory of the big bang without explaining what a zero point is.  Science asks 'how', theosophy attempts to explain a theory which encompasses the how and also connects it to the why, drawing on the laws of nature.

        As there are various theories, string, multiverses, the theory of everything, etc etc, why shouldn't ancient theories be looked at as being as valid a theory as any other?

        I agree with Robert that when this introduces the idea of a god/godhead, and the discussion wains into biblical and anthromorphic ideas which have no place in science, other than to explain, how such a god could not possibly exist as a finite being in an infinite environment.
        Cass


        From: Philip Benjamin <medinuclear@...>
        To: MindBrain MindBrain <mindbrain@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Friday, 20 July 2012 12:29 AM
        Subject: RE: [Mind and Brain] Reality in Leibniz

         
        David Pratt's article on "Infinite Divisibility of Matter" was quoted in full in the Mind Brain group (appended below). It describes everything including quarks as divisible (except electrons). He concludes: "This means that the elastic body is changeful and consists of particles, or, in other words, that elasticity can pertain only to those bodies that are divisible". This supposedly is true because Helena Blavatsky had some occultic revelation of the same.
               Now the question is what has this got to do with Mind or Brain, even if the imaginary "monads" are all that matter?  



         
        Philip Benjamin, PhD

        http://biodarkmatter.webs.com/index.htm
        Physicalism Extraordinaire

         

        To: MindBrain@yahoogroups.com
        From: silva_cass@...
        Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2012 19:18:10 -0700
        Subject: Re: Re: [Mind and Brain] Reality in Leibniz

         

        The Infinite Divisibility of Matter

        By David Pratt
        If we take a material object, such as a loaf of bread, and keep cutting it in half, again and again, will we ever arrive at a fundamental building block of matter that cannot be divided further? This question has exercised the minds of scientists and philosophers for thousands of years. In the fifth century BC the Greek philosopher Leucippus and his pupil Democritus used the word atomos (lit. "uncuttable") to designate the smallest individual piece of matter, and proposed that the world consists of nothing but atoms in motion. This early atomic theory differed from later versions in that it included the idea of a human soul made up of a more refined kind of atom distributed throughout the body.
        Atomic theory fell into decline in the Middle Ages, but was revived at the start of the scientific revolution in the seventeenth century. Isaac Newton, for example, believed that matter consisted of "solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, movable particles." Atomic theory came into its own in the nineteenth century, with the idea that each chemical element consisted of its own unique kind of atom, and that everything else was made from combinations of these atoms. By the end of the century all ninety-two naturally occurring elements had been discovered, and progress in the various branches of physics produced a feeling that there would soon be nothing much left for physicists to do.
        This illusion was shattered in 1897, with the discovery of the electron, the first subatomic particle: the "uncuttable" had been cut. This was followed by the discovery of the proton in 1911 and the neutron in 1932, the two particles that make up the atomic nucleus. In the decades that followed, subatomic particles began to proliferate like bacteria, and today over 200 are known. Most of them are created from the energies released in collision experiments in particle accelerators, and decay into more stable particles after a fraction of a second.
        To try to inject some order into this particle zoo, the "standard model" was developed. According to this model there are twelve fundamental particles of matter: six leptons, the most important of which are the electron and its neutrino; and six quarks (since quarks are said to come in three "colors," there are really 18 of them). [The announcement in April 1994 that promising evidence of the elusive "top quark" had finally been found was greeted by physicists with cries of joy. But the discovery of further evidence for a particle known as the "pomeron" at another particle accelerator the following month met with almost total disinterest, because this embarrassing particle does not fit into any existing theory.] Individual quarks have never been detected, and it is believed that they can exist only in groups of two or three -- as in the neutron and proton. There are also said to be at least 12 force-carrying particles (of which only three have been directly observed), which bind quarks and leptons together into more complex forms.
        Leptons and quarks are supposed to be structureless, infinitely small particles, the fundamental building blocks of matter. But since infinitesimal points are abstractions and the objects we see around us are obviously not composed of abstractions, the standard model is clearly unsatisfactory. It is hard to understand how a proton, with a measurable radius of 10 to the negative 13th cm, can be composed of three quarks of zero dimension. And if the electron were infinitely small, the electromagnetic force surrounding it would have an infinitely high energy, and the electron would therefore have an infinite mass. This is nonsense, for an electron has a mass of 10 to the negative 27th gram. To get round this embarrassing situation, physicists use a mathematical trick: they simply subtract the infinities from their equations and substitute the empirically known values! As physicist Paul Davies remarks: "To make this still somewhat dubious procedure look respectable, it is dignified with a fine-sounding name -- renormalization." (P. Davies & J. Gribbin, The Matter Myth1992, p. 244.) If this is done, the equations can be used to make extremely accurate predictions, and most physicists are therefore happy to ignore the obviously flawed concept of point particles.
        The latest theoretical fashion in particle physics is known as string theory (or superstring theory). According to this model, the fundamental constituents of matter are really one-dimensional loops -- a billion-trillion-trillionth of a centimeter (10 to the negative 33rd cm) long but with no thickness -- which vibrate and wriggle about in 10 dimensions of spacetime, with different modes of vibration corresponding to different species of particles. It is said that the reason we see only three dimensions of space in the real world is because the other dimensions have for some unknown reason undergone "spontaneous compactification" and are now curled up so tightly that they are undetectable. Because strings are believed to be so minute, they are utterly beyond experimental verification; to produce the enormous energies required to detect them would require a particle accelerator 100 million million kilometers long.
        String theorists have now discovered a peculiar abstract symmetry (or mathematical trick), known as duality. This has helped to unify some of the many variants of the theory, and has led to the view that strings are both elementary and yet composite; they are supposedly made of the very particles they create! As one theorist exclaimed: "It feels like magic." (See Scientific AmericanJanuary 1996, pp. 72-8.) While some physicists believe that string theory could lead to a Theory of Everything in the not-too-distant future, others have expressed their opposition to it in no uncertain terms. For instance, Nobel Prize winner Sheldon Glashow has likened it to medieval theology, based on faith and pure thought rather than observation and experiment, and another Nobel laureate, the late Richard Feynman, bluntly dismissed it as "nonsense." (P. C. W. Davies & J. Brown (eds.), Superstrings, A Theory of Everything?1988, pp. 180-4, 191, 192-8.)
        An alternative approach which is currently being investigated by a small number of physicists is that subatomic particles are vortices in an underlying medium -- a primitive fluid or ether. (See E. Lerner, The Big Bang Never Happened1992, pp. 369-72; M. B. Cooke, Einstein Doesn't Work Here Anymore1983, pp. 1-39; C. F. KrafftGlimpses of the Unseen World (1956), BSRF reprint, 1986; C. E. Krafft, The Ether and its Vortices (1955), BSRF reprint, 1987.) Physicist David Bohm regarded "elementary" particles as complex, relatively constant forms produced by patterns of motion at some deeper, implicate, level of reality. He adds:
        One may suppose that this deeper level of movement may be analysable into yet finer particles which will perhaps turn out to be the ultimate substance of the whole of reality. However, the notion that all is flux . . . denies such a supposition. Rather, it implies that any describable event, object, entity, etc., is an abstraction from an unknown and undefinable totality of flowing movement. -- Wholeness and the Implicate Order, 1980, p. 49
        Recent evidence from particle collision experiments suggests that quarks do have internal structure and are not in fact elementary. (See New ScientistFebruary 17, 1996, p. 17.) No internal structure has yet been detected in electrons, but this proves only that they must be smaller than can currently be measured, not that they have no size at all. As Bohm points out, between the shortest distance now measurable in physics (10 to the negative 16th cm) and the shortest distance in which current notions of spacetime are believed to have meaning (10 to the negative 33rd cm), there is a vast range of scale in which an immense amount of yet undiscovered structure could be contained. This range is roughly equal to that which exists between our own size and the known "elementary" particles. (D. Bohm & F. D. Peat, Science, Order & Creativity1987, p. 94.) 10 to the negative 33rd cm is called the Planck length, and physicists believe that on this scale the fabric of space becomes an effervescing froth of spacetime bubbles. But while this may be the smallest distance that has any meaning for us, there is no reason to assume that the concept of space has absolutely no meaning beyond it. As Bohm says, the Planck length is only a limit on the applicability of our ordinary notions of space and time, and it is quite arbitrary to suppose that there is nothing beyond this limit at all. (Wholeness and the Implicate Orderp. 193) Instead of bringing us to a "rock bottom" level of reality, 10 to the negative 33rd cm may merely bring us to the bottom level of our own physical world.
        In The Secret Doctrinepublished in 1888, H. P. Blavatsky writes:
        It is on the doctrine of the illusive nature of matter, and the infinite divisibility of the atom, that the whole science of Occultism is built. It opens limitless horizons to substance informed by the divine breath of its soul in every possible state of tenuity, states still undreamt of by the most spiritually disposed chemists and physicists. -- 1:520
        This implies that there is an infinite number of states of matter, all but a few of which have rates of vibration beyond our range of perception. And all the infinite grades of matter can be regarded as different phases of one universal divine essence of consciousness-life-substance.
        Blavatsky provides a compelling argument for the infinite divisibility of matter. She quotes Alexander Butlerov, a renowned Russian chemist, who also took a serious interest in spiritualistic phenomena. He attacked as contradictory the orthodox scientific opinion of the time that an atom was indivisible and yet elastic:
        Without any elasticity, the atoms could not manifest their energy . . . [But] what are the conditions requisite for the manifestation of elasticity? An elastic ball, when striking against an obstacle, is flattened and contracts, which it would be impossible for it to do, were not that ball to consist of particles, the relative position of which experiences at the time of the blow a temporary change. This may be said of elasticity in general; no elasticity is possible without change with respect to the position of the compound particles of an elastic body. This means that the elastic body is changeful and consists of particles, or, in other words, that elasticity can pertain only to those bodies that are divisible.
         
                 
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      • Philip Benjamin
        [Silva Cass] I agree with Robert that when this introduces the idea of a god/godhead, and the discussion wains into biblical and anthromorphic ideas which
        Message 3 of 10 , Jul 20, 2012
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          [Silva Cass]  I agree with Robert that when this introduces the idea of a god/godhead, and the discussion wains into biblical and anthromorphic ideas which have no place in science, other than to explain, how such a god could not possibly exist as a finite being in an infinite environment. Cass
          [Philip Benjamin]
          These premises are not germane. Because:
          1. There are irrational theists and irrational atheists, but as propositionally atheism cannot but be irrational.
          2. Rationality not empiricism is the essence of science. Pratt's views are empirical.
          3. Man in the image of Elohim is not an anthropmorphic idea. On the other hand, nearly all theistic notions expressed in these forums are "gods in the image of man"- purely athropomorphic. 
          4. Discussions waining into modern occultism has a place in science because occultism is very ancient, but discussions waining into equally or more ancient Bible has no place in science. Is that science? Or begotry?   
           
           

          Philip Benjamin, PhD

          http://biodarkmatter.webs.com/index.htm

          Physicalism Extraordinaire

           

          To: MindBrain@yahoogroups.com
          From: silva_cass@...
          Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 19:50:26 -0700
          Subject: Re: [Mind and Brain] Reality in Leibniz

           
          It has everything to do with Mind Brain as it is attempting to reconcile science with ancient knowledge.  We are discussing matter at a universal level, which introduces the laws of physics, astronomy and subsequently the true nature of 'man' and his place in the 'universe'.  Science puts forward the theory of the big bang without explaining what a zero point is.  Science asks 'how', theosophy attempts to explain a theory which encompasses the how and also connects it to the why, drawing on the laws of nature.

          As there are various theories, string, multiverses, the theory of everything, etc etc, why shouldn't ancient theories be looked at as being as valid a theory as any other?

          I agree with Robert that when this introduces the idea of a god/godhead, and the discussion wains into biblical and anthromorphic ideas which have no place in science, other than to explain, how such a god could not possibly exist as a finite being in an infinite environment.
          Cass


          From: Philip Benjamin <medinuclear@...>
          To: MindBrain MindBrain <mindbrain@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Friday, 20 July 2012 12:29 AM
          Subject: RE: [Mind and Brain] Reality in Leibniz

           
          David Pratt's article on "Infinite Divisibility of Matter" was quoted in full in the Mind Brain group (appended below). It describes everything including quarks as divisible (except electrons). He concludes: "This means that the elastic body is changeful and consists of particles, or, in other words, that elasticity can pertain only to those bodies that are divisible". This supposedly is true because Helena Blavatsky had some occultic revelation of the same.
                 Now the question is what has this got to do with Mind or Brain, even if the imaginary "monads" are all that matter?  



           
          Philip Benjamin, PhD

          http://biodarkmatter.webs.com/index.htm
          Physicalism Extraordinaire

           

          To: MindBrain@yahoogroups.com
          From: silva_cass@...
          Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2012 19:18:10 -0700
          Subject: Re: Re: [Mind and Brain] Reality in Leibniz

           

          The Infinite Divisibility of Matter

          By David Pratt
          If we take a material object, such as a loaf of bread, and keep cutting it in half, again and again, will we ever arrive at a fundamental building block of matter that cannot be divided further? This question has exercised the minds of scientists and philosophers for thousands of years. In the fifth century BC the Greek philosopher Leucippus and his pupil Democritus used the word atomos (lit. "uncuttable") to designate the smallest individual piece of matter, and proposed that the world consists of nothing but atoms in motion. This early atomic theory differed from later versions in that it included the idea of a human soul made up of a more refined kind of atom distributed throughout the body.
          Atomic theory fell into decline in the Middle Ages, but was revived at the start of the scientific revolution in the seventeenth century. Isaac Newton, for example, believed that matter consisted of "solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, movable particles." Atomic theory came into its own in the nineteenth century, with the idea that each chemical element consisted of its own unique kind of atom, and that everything else was made from combinations of these atoms. By the end of the century all ninety-two naturally occurring elements had been discovered, and progress in the various branches of physics produced a feeling that there would soon be nothing much left for physicists to do.
          This illusion was shattered in 1897, with the discovery of the electron, the first subatomic particle: the "uncuttable" had been cut. This was followed by the discovery of the proton in 1911 and the neutron in 1932, the two particles that make up the atomic nucleus. In the decades that followed, subatomic particles began to proliferate like bacteria, and today over 200 are known. Most of them are created from the energies released in collision experiments in particle accelerators, and decay into more stable particles after a fraction of a second.
          To try to inject some order into this particle zoo, the "standard model" was developed. According to this model there are twelve fundamental particles of matter: six leptons, the most important of which are the electron and its neutrino; and six quarks (since quarks are said to come in three "colors," there are really 18 of them). [The announcement in April 1994 that promising evidence of the elusive "top quark" had finally been found was greeted by physicists with cries of joy. But the discovery of further evidence for a particle known as the "pomeron" at another particle accelerator the following month met with almost total disinterest, because this embarrassing particle does not fit into any existing theory.] Individual quarks have never been detected, and it is believed that they can exist only in groups of two or three -- as in the neutron and proton. There are also said to be at least 12 force-carrying particles (of which only three have been directly observed), which bind quarks and leptons together into more complex forms.
          Leptons and quarks are supposed to be structureless, infinitely small particles, the fundamental building blocks of matter. But since infinitesimal points are abstractions and the objects we see around us are obviously not composed of abstractions, the standard model is clearly unsatisfactory. It is hard to understand how a proton, with a measurable radius of 10 to the negative 13th cm, can be composed of three quarks of zero dimension. And if the electron were infinitely small, the electromagnetic force surrounding it would have an infinitely high energy, and the electron would therefore have an infinite mass. This is nonsense, for an electron has a mass of 10 to the negative 27th gram. To get round this embarrassing situation, physicists use a mathematical trick: they simply subtract the infinities from their equations and substitute the empirically known values! As physicist Paul Davies remarks: "To make this still somewhat dubious procedure look respectable, it is dignified with a fine-sounding name -- renormalization." (P. Davies & J. Gribbin, The Matter Myth1992, p. 244.) If this is done, the equations can be used to make extremely accurate predictions, and most physicists are therefore happy to ignore the obviously flawed concept of point particles.
          The latest theoretical fashion in particle physics is known as string theory (or superstring theory). According to this model, the fundamental constituents of matter are really one-dimensional loops -- a billion-trillion-trillionth of a centimeter (10 to the negative 33rd cm) long but with no thickness -- which vibrate and wriggle about in 10 dimensions of spacetime, with different modes of vibration corresponding to different species of particles. It is said that the reason we see only three dimensions of space in the real world is because the other dimensions have for some unknown reason undergone "spontaneous compactification" and are now curled up so tightly that they are undetectable. Because strings are believed to be so minute, they are utterly beyond experimental verification; to produce the enormous energies required to detect them would require a particle accelerator 100 million million kilometers long.
          String theorists have now discovered a peculiar abstract symmetry (or mathematical trick), known as duality. This has helped to unify some of the many variants of the theory, and has led to the view that strings are both elementary and yet composite; they are supposedly made of the very particles they create! As one theorist exclaimed: "It feels like magic." (See Scientific AmericanJanuary 1996, pp. 72-8.) While some physicists believe that string theory could lead to a Theory of Everything in the not-too-distant future, others have expressed their opposition to it in no uncertain terms. For instance, Nobel Prize winner Sheldon Glashow has likened it to medieval theology, based on faith and pure thought rather than observation and experiment, and another Nobel laureate, the late Richard Feynman, bluntly dismissed it as "nonsense." (P. C. W. Davies & J. Brown (eds.), Superstrings, A Theory of Everything?1988, pp. 180-4, 191, 192-8.)
          An alternative approach which is currently being investigated by a small number of physicists is that subatomic particles are vortices in an underlying medium -- a primitive fluid or ether. (See E. Lerner, The Big Bang Never Happened1992, pp. 369-72; M. B. Cooke, Einstein Doesn't Work Here Anymore1983, pp. 1-39; C. F. KrafftGlimpses of the Unseen World (1956), BSRF reprint, 1986; C. E. Krafft, The Ether and its Vortices (1955), BSRF reprint, 1987.) Physicist David Bohm regarded "elementary" particles as complex, relatively constant forms produced by patterns of motion at some deeper, implicate, level of reality. He adds:
          One may suppose that this deeper level of movement may be analysable into yet finer particles which will perhaps turn out to be the ultimate substance of the whole of reality. However, the notion that all is flux . . . denies such a supposition. Rather, it implies that any describable event, object, entity, etc., is an abstraction from an unknown and undefinable totality of flowing movement. -- Wholeness and the Implicate Order, 1980, p. 49
          Recent evidence from particle collision experiments suggests that quarks do have internal structure and are not in fact elementary. (See New ScientistFebruary 17, 1996, p. 17.) No internal structure has yet been detected in electrons, but this proves only that they must be smaller than can currently be measured, not that they have no size at all. As Bohm points out, between the shortest distance now measurable in physics (10 to the negative 16th cm) and the shortest distance in which current notions of spacetime are believed to have meaning (10 to the negative 33rd cm), there is a vast range of scale in which an immense amount of yet undiscovered structure could be contained. This range is roughly equal to that which exists between our own size and the known "elementary" particles. (D. Bohm & F. D. Peat, Science, Order & Creativity1987, p. 94.) 10 to the negative 33rd cm is called the Planck length, and physicists believe that on this scale the fabric of space becomes an effervescing froth of spacetime bubbles. But while this may be the smallest distance that has any meaning for us, there is no reason to assume that the concept of space has absolutely no meaning beyond it. As Bohm says, the Planck length is only a limit on the applicability of our ordinary notions of space and time, and it is quite arbitrary to suppose that there is nothing beyond this limit at all. (Wholeness and the Implicate Orderp. 193) Instead of bringing us to a "rock bottom" level of reality, 10 to the negative 33rd cm may merely bring us to the bottom level of our own physical world.
          In The Secret Doctrinepublished in 1888, H. P. Blavatsky writes:
          It is on the doctrine of the illusive nature of matter, and the infinite divisibility of the atom, that the whole science of Occultism is built. It opens limitless horizons to substance informed by the divine breath of its soul in every possible state of tenuity, states still undreamt of by the most spiritually disposed chemists and physicists. -- 1:520
          This implies that there is an infinite number of states of matter, all but a few of which have rates of vibration beyond our range of perception. And all the infinite grades of matter can be regarded as different phases of one universal divine essence of consciousness-life-substance.
          Blavatsky provides a compelling argument for the infinite divisibility of matter. She quotes Alexander Butlerov, a renowned Russian chemist, who also took a serious interest in spiritualistic phenomena. He attacked as contradictory the orthodox scientific opinion of the time that an atom was indivisible and yet elastic:
          Without any elasticity, the atoms could not manifest their energy . . . [But] what are the conditions requisite for the manifestation of elasticity? An elastic ball, when striking against an obstacle, is flattened and contracts, which it would be impossible for it to do, were not that ball to consist of particles, the relative position of which experiences at the time of the blow a temporary change. This may be said of elasticity in general; no elasticity is possible without change with respect to the position of the compound particles of an elastic body. This means that the elastic body is changeful and consists of particles, or, in other words, that elasticity can pertain only to those bodies that are divisible.
           
                   
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