Monday, September 15, 2008

The universe isn't chaotic but is full of patterns and structures, coherences and relationships

To Applaud the Large Hadron Collider Science, Culture and Integral Yoga
by RY Deshpande on Sun 14 Sep 2008 06:51 AM PDT Permanent Link

Great things were done in the past and man’s history had never been dull—and this was in spite of war and struggle and rampage. Surely there is something in him which always prompts him to search and express that which lies beyond his immediate reach as if the charm of the beyond is ever beckoning him. He has built schools of thought, he has built monuments, he has built centres of excellence in arts and sciences and crafts. He gave Philosophy, he gave the Tao, he gave Vedanta, he gave Religion, even as he engaged himself in secular occupations in many richnesses of life. It is that in him which pleases us and pleases the gods too. Thus he opened out for himself fields and fields of noble activity. Today we witness some other kind of marvel...

In this march of glorious history today we witness another remarkable event speaking for the widening spirit of man. But for this to happen cruel and spiteful battles were fought and prices paid to the unappeased gods. In the 17th century Galileo, the Father of Modern Science, had to suffer for the daring act of holding views about the heliocentric world contrary to what was believed in those days. The Catholic Church prohibited its advocacy and Galileo was eventually forced to recant his ideas. He spent the last years of his life under house arrest on orders of the Inquisition. He did, but also softly blurted out what he thought to be scientific and hence right.

But the Spirit of Man moves on.

And today! Wednesday 10 September 2008! It is a golden day in the annals of physics. It marks the beginning of a new set of experiments planned on a scale that never happened in the long and troubled days of mankind. Their findings are expected to throw light on the commencement and evolution of the universe in which we live. If matter is the foundation of this vast enterprise, then it becomes our natural curiosity also to know what really is there in matter that makes it so attractive, so potentially rich to give rise to this marvel of creation...

Two things that bolster our faith in science are the comprehensibility of the universe and the well-understood laws of nature that will not dupe us on the way, will not betray us mid-stream. Einstein famously said that "the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible". The universe isn't chaotic but is full of patterns and structures, coherences and relationships. It is to discover these patterns and structures, these coherences and relationships that we are willing to hold out a mighty bit of us. That is the search for truth prompting the scientist as a truth-seeker; that is the search for beauty persuading the scientist as a beauty-admirer. And the beautiful truth is, society is willing to give him that exceptional privilege—and that indeed is the truthful beauty of man.

Yet one could be screaming about the kind of costs involved in these truth-beauty pursuits which can no longer be private, not even single or national pursuits. But there is really no paradox. The inherent fuzziness of the Quantum world governed by the Uncertainty Principle means that to the finer and more subtle depths you go the more you pay for things. We have to sharpen our tools. But these are fructuous in more than one way. Witness for instance the Internet that came from such occupations. CERN itself had the privilege of giving us the World Wide Web...

But connected with this praiseworthy gigantic effort there are also a few spurious and dubious aspects and these aspects must be at once dismissed from our minds. We must first realize that the beginning of the universe from the big bang is a scientific theory and it is science which is going to judge it in terms of scientific criteria and parameters. Whether it is going to be upheld or is going to collapse,—well, it is science which will have the say in the matter and nothing else. There is a hurried tendency of the Vedantic mind connecting the big bang with the bursting of the cosmic egg, brahmāņda. But they are not on a par in several respects. For instance, brahmāņda is not going to collapse if Hadron Collider is going to dismiss the big bang. And then, and more importantly, one is a theory and the other an occult-spiritual experience. They belong to different categories and we must not mix them up.

But this mixing-up game was started in a rather bad manner some thirty years ago by Fritjof Capra when his Tao of Physics intriguingly mesmerized both communities, the scientific and the Vedantic. For instance, he writes: “Quantum theory forces us to see the universe not as a collection of physical objects, but rather as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of a unified whole.”

But what that “unified whole” really is, he does not define if it is not a physical object. Instead, he jumps to compare it with the eastern mysticism experiencing the world. Capra immediately quotes from Sri Aurobindo’s Synthesis of Yoga: “The material object… something different from what we now see, not a separate object on the background or in the environment of the rest of Nature, but an indivisible part and even in a subtle way an expression of the unity of all that we see.” ...

To compare what is interpreted of an observation based on the physical instruments with the direct observation by the supramentalised seeing, by supramental samjñāna, is the typical mix-up we see in the Capraisque formulations. Not that there cannot be correspondences between the two, but nowhere can the images or reflections or simulacra acquire the quality of realities not only of the spiritual but also the material objects seen by this samjñāna. There is a similar leap of imagination in Capra to equate the Dance of Shiva with the behaviour of the subatomic particles, their materialization-dematerialization described by the Quantum Physics, creation-annihilation forming a part of the cosmic rhythms of the God, the King-Dancer, Nataraj.

No wonder, under such an influence the India’s Department of Atomic Energy gifted on 18 June 2004 a two-metre bronze statue of the Nataraj to CERN. This was to celebrate India’s participation in the Collider experiments. This is good,—as far as it goes. But never should either of them lose sight of the fundamentals, their fundamentals, the spiritual and the material. If one is the breathing in and breathing out of the physical in the cosmic process of objectification, the other is the rhythm of the timeless set into the great movements of time. One is mental conceptualization and the other the truth-dynamism set into motion by the Spirit itself. Here our interest is not in mysticism but in physics proper, professional physics. So, as far as the Large Hadron Collider is concerned, let us applaud the startup operation and eagerly wait for the arrival of the Higgs Boson. It is a definite pointer towards what will give materiality to matter, substantiality to substance.

Keywords: Vedanta, Tools, Supermind, Studies, SriAurobindo, Spirituality, Mysticism, LHC, History, HiggsBoson, Heisenberg, Hawking, Einstein, DarkMatter, Culture, Creation, Cosmology, BigBang, Athens, Antimatter

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