The LHC experiment at the European Nuclear Research Center is presently being continued in defiance of a public proof of danger — that the planet will be shrunk to a diameter of 2 cm in perhaps 5 years’ time with a probability of up to 8 percent if the experiment goes on. The continuation occurs in defiance of the recent public appeal by a court to allow for a scientific safety conference first.
No public voice on the planet acknowledges this critical situation – even though simultaneously another survival error unfolds before everyone’s eyes. The perhaps most cynical situation of history. What has gone awry?
Is “rational science” a myth that was imperceptibly abandoned? The scientific members of CERN cannot possibly believe that they are acting in accord with the rules of rational science, one feels. Nevertheless they are being held in high esteem across the planet – so high in fact that the world’s media appear to voluntarily observe the first global press curfew. How can the manifest irrationality – if it is one – be explained?
The reason has to do with opinion power – who would argue with 8.000 scientists? But suppose the mentioned proof is really on the table (as it is to the best of my knowledge): What would be the explanation, then? One would be forced to conclude that outdated science, if held fast to, is not science any more but rather the opposite: the most dangerous enemy of the future. We know this from medieval times where dogmatism took over under the mantle of orthodoxy (in the good sense). Did we re-arrive there again with the burden of a much more dangerous arsenal of instruments, acquired in a preceding period of rationalism?
Pursuing this tantalizing thesis could be a rewarding pastime in the last years of a doomsday-conscious planetary society once it will be too late to do anything about it. The present period of “after-science” will then be diagnosed as being characterized by a global intolerance toward novel scientific results — an intolerance profound enough to let the whole planet prefer dying to accepting any qualitative (“revolutionary”) scientific advance as necessary to uphold the premises of rationality.
A single individual is unlikely to have enough experience to spot such an overall trend in the broad scientific endeavor should it really exist. Has science been abandoned at more than one point, and so for years or decades in a row so that the diagnosed attempted suicide would be a symptom in a broader development?
In the following, I will attempt to put together a few examples which jointly could support such a diagnosis. It will be of interest to learn how others see this, and how we might be able to create a consciousness of what is happening here, so as to have some theoretical fun in our “last hour” on the planet (to quote Sir Martin Rees) in the worst case. Or to put it more hopefully: Being joint victims of a spirit of anti-progress, the planet’s citizens may take an interest in learning about an individual’s subjective experience with other cases in point. In this way, other “specialists for non-specialization” might feel encouraged to contribute their own experiences — so that at the last moment a new blossoming of an outdated spirit of progress can perhaps be triggered on the planet. The following personal selection of ten points might, in spite of its subjective character, prove to be “better than nothing” as a starting point.
1) Following the downfall of the potentially deadly East-West competition (which apart from this inherent risk also had some good sides to it like the development of space travel), the most striking example of “anti-progress,” if I may use this term, was perhaps the historical refusal by planetary protagonists to install “Lampsacus hometown of all persons on the Internet.” Vannevar Bush, Stafford Beer and Francois Mittérand had already had the same idea before the age of the Internet. Ezer Weizmann was then ready to do it jointly with Saudi Arabia, but got deposed at the worst possible moment. All other leaders and governments and churches and big foundations waived the opportunity. No billionaire loved his fellow human beings enough to give them this affordable present, and not a single country wanted to reap the immense fruits (in terms of friendship and economic connections) gained from installing this science-born and science-promoting progress on the planet, a progress necessary to make the planet a bearable place for every inhabitant. An information-science based progress which, by the way, had been made a practical option by CERN’s inventing the Internet (Tim Berners-Lee worked there). A whole new science – “the pyramid”- representing every knowledge on all levels of resolution and making all connections across levels, got consciously rejected. Only some maverick kids who invented some sub-elements of Lampsacus soon after (like Google, wiki and iPud) could not be prevented from giving a few crumbs to the world, a fact for which most everyone has grown grateful ever since.
2) A second example of manifest “anti-progress” is in my eyes the strange refusal by the therapeutic profession to discuss or apply the acoustic-smile therapy of primary autism. This harmless idea was proposed in outline in 1968 and in detail in 1975 by the present writer (who apologizes again for the use of personal experience). The apparent reason, in retrospect, for this resilience of a whole profession was the prediction made that the therapy would be so effective as to work also with non-human mirror-competent lovely young creatures (a phenomenon subsequently called “galactic export”). This heart-moving trait apparently went too much against the grain of contemporaneous science (imagine it would work: what a catastrophe to conservatism). In this understandable way, a new science based on contributions by many workers (like René Spitz, John Bowlby, Selma Fraiberg, Konrad Lorenz, John Lilly and Gregory Bateson) proved empirically unwelcome for decades. This may or may not teach us something about our present context.
3) Example number three would be the tacit abandonment of project “Lunatown” by Japan and all cooperating countries for almost two decades already. If it is true that humanity has caught a deadly virus with the invention of systematic science (as can be argued but as I try to counter-caricature here with the thesis that it is only the corruption of the spirit of science that is deadly), then this first step in a “lifeboat” type expansion of humankind across other celestial bodies is the only safe chance for its sustainable future. As brave scientist Stephen Hawking independently proposed in books written for his young grandson.
4) The fourth example of science having ceased to reign without anyone’s noticing is cosmology — a topic that most everyone on the planet finds fascinating. Edwin Hubble, the 1928 discoverer of cosmological redshift — that grandiose phenomenon of a systematic frequency change of light with distance which explains why the night sky is dark -, got his Nobel prize denied because he did not believe in the ad-hoc explanation of a “big bang.” Fritz Zwicky’s timely 1929 discovery of the correct explanation – a “dynamical friction” suffered by any fast particle traversing a churning cauldron of randomly moving gravitation centers — got rejected owing to an error in his calculation. The latter got effectively corrected 15 years later, by Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, in a more limited astronomical context (the braking of fast-moving stars in a globular star cluster as is necessary in order to explain the longevity of these oldest known structures in the universe). Nevertheless “dynamical friction” stayed in-applied to cosmology for many more decades (owing to chemical friction between the protagonists?). It no doubt got re-discovered several times since; the late Ilya Prigogine was open to it, for example. The Tubingen school’s belated arrival at it, 74 years after Zwicky, got apparently never quoted. Why the resistance? The false ad-hoc-explanation of an exploding bomb (“big bang”) proves virtually in-erasable after its having been married with other falsities — like “nonbaryonic dark matter” and an alleged “cosmic” origin of the galactic background radiation (whose first discovery by Charles Guillaume in 1896 (as I learned from Andre Koch Assis) got totally suppressed following its re-discovery half a century later by Wilson and Penzias who mistook it for a fingerprint of the putative primordial fire ball). Amazingly, even quantitative numbers — the famous “13.7 billion years” for a finite cosmic age — could be erroneously extracted from the most beautiful quantitative data. I do hope that you will get a bit angry with me at this point — so as to feel ready for a debate. In this way we will understand better how excusable CERN really is with its refusal to argue with a competing much smaller school. And that scientific truth is too serious a business for majority decisions to be accepted. I forgot to add that a numerical proof of the simplest case of the underlying new sister discipline to statistical mechanics (cryodynamics) was published by a hard-working coworker last year.
5) The fifth example has to do with the many-cuts theory of quantum mechanics. The latter got initiated by Einstein’s writing a letter to a 12-year old boy named Hugh Everett in 1943. The “spooky action at a distance” first discovered (if doubted) by Einstein 8 years before, would then be explained 14 years later by that very boy. But the pertinent crucial experiment – proving that Everett is right in case of a positive outcome — which was proposed independently many times since the 1980s (by Susan Feingold, Roger Penrose, the Tubingen group and Anton Zeilinger, to mention only the short list), was never done by ESA to which it had been proposed. The reason was in the last instance, so I believe, that the to be expected further confirmation of the Bell inequalities also here (in a relativistic situation of two mutually receding measuring stations so that each station would make the first measurement in its own frame) — would have proved Everett’s interpretation to be the correct theory of quantum mechanics at the expense of the reigning Copenhagen interpretation. Since everybody still falsely believes Everett’s theory were a many-universes (rather than a many-cuts) interpretation, the predictable outcome would have been unbearable as a measured fact. In this way, the overdue empirical confirmation of microscopically sharp “assignment conditions” existing in physics besides Newton’s “laws” and “initial conditions,” got missed or rather postponed. The assignment conditions are different for each observer in his own quantum world, if Einstein’s provocative prediction that two non-commuting observables can be measured in physics in defiance of quantum mechanics is the empirically confirmed alternative interpretation of the predicted outcome: that two observer-specific quantum worlds in the sense of von Neumann have become manifest empirically) is adopted. But the latter is too scary even to be contemplated owing to its religion-rehabilitating character. So it was “wise” in a sense on the part of the physical community to forget about Asher Peres and Susan Feingold and the rest of the crew? Such a scientific tactlessness – to arrive at an empirical clash with the common sense of a century – is the hallmark of Einstein’s proposals. This time around, its empirical verification got eschewed for more than two decades, mostly for subconscious reasons I would expect. Copenhagen — Einstein’s dearest enemy — therefore still reigns to date even though it most likely is no longer alive.
6) The sixth case in point is the classical explanation of Planck’s constant as a classical Sackur-action in statistical mechanics, published 26 years ago. Any momentarily closed classical statistical mechanical system (like a gas or fluid or composite system chemical structure like a brain) contains a phase-space volume described by the Sackur-Tetrode equation which contains Planck’s constant in the denominator – but not as a constant, only as a unit. So a system-specific unit action can be calculated. In the case of the brain, it empirically coincides with h-bar to within a factor of less than two when calculated roughly. This fact may or may not be a coincidence. Evidence in favor of the second alternative was later unexpectedly found in the course of pursuing the new science of endophysics. The prospect of better understanding both quantum mechanics and relativity on this basis has come into view. Yet so, of course, without catching any one’s interest in the scientific community. Our question here is: Why the “of course”?
7) The seventh case in point that I had the good fortune to come in contact with is the classical Pauli cell. The topic of “classical indistinguishability” has an incredibly long history, going back (via Hans Primas, Hermann Weyl, Wolfgang Pauli, Josiah Willard Gibbs, the Leibniz-Clarke-Newton correspondence, Spinoza, the Mutakallimún and Gregorius of Naziance) to Anaxagoras in ancient Greece and the town of Lampsacus (Lapseki today which is still famous for its giant cherries). The physical existence of indistinguishable particles entails a rationally explicable miracle: an instantaneous jumping of particle identities at well-defined mutual positions in space in their common frame, in between two or more particles provided they are “absolutely” (transfinitely exactly) equal. No one takes notice for more than two decades of this mathematical fact as an element of quantum mechanics explained classically. Chemistry relies crucially on it. It in addition teaches us something about our own nature: Consciousness appears to be attached to an anatomically localized subset of such “transfinitely exactly polished” particles in a certain part of our brain – if the Feingold experiment has the predicted outcome. Such proposals in the footsteps of Einstein and Pauli are hard even to be made plausible today.
8) Number eight is the brain equation of 1974. If it had not been consistently ignored, the robots that are so desperately lacking to humankind today in an ongoing emergency would long be available. On the empirical side, there is a matching fact: Lack of support for the “Pandaka pygmaea Brain Research Institute” first proposed in 1990. Here the smallest biological brain functioning like ours, that of Pandaka (and that of a close relative, Gobius niger, that already is halfway in size between Pandaka’s and ours) would have been investigated in maximum detail in the footsteps of Werner Reichardt’s who had devoted his life to the house fly’s brain at age 27 (as he once told me). The prediction that many nobel prizes would be forthcoming had no charming effect on the scientific community – which is the point of interest in our present context.
9) Example number nine is a confirmation of Einsteinophobia again – directed against the young Einstein for once. It refers to the experience, collected over two decades, that it is not allowed any longer to draw new conclusions from Einstein’s old findings. Equally disallowed are deviations from ingrained conclusions derived from the latter by other workers (like the famous horizon-eliminating transformations which although mathematically admissible are unphysical). The gravitational time-slowdown of clocks (T), found in the equivalence principle by Einstein in 1907, has since acquired three natural-born twins (L, M, Ch) for length, mass, charge; the whole bunch therefore got nicknamed “Telemach” (after Ulysses’ son Telemachus). The implied improved understanding of black holes has, far from triggering a wave because of its beauty, become a planetary taboo topic. Einstein’s theory — a taboo, both in quantum mechanics and in relativity?
10) Example number ten makes the bridge to our topic proper (the LHC). A doctoral dissertation containing an early corollary to Telemach (a rotating frictionless wheel when lowered onto the surface of a neutron star is radially enlarged by 34 percent to conserve angular momentum) got rejected by the faculty in charge, despite two A grades granted in the absence of any other graded report. A nobelist asked our forgiving for his not daring to help us. It took us two years before getting a glimpse of the motivation: The result touched on the dogma of Hawking radiation and, with it, on the safety of the LHC experiment.
The absence of Hawking radiation, demonstrated by our group, does not automatically mean that there is no remaining safety net for CERN. Two important safety factors need to be taken into account: The continued existence of neutron stars in the cosmos, and an possible slow (non-exponential) growth rate a inside matter. Both are sold to the public as life insurances by CERN against better knowledge.
Case 1 (neutron stars): CERN claims that the ultrafast natural cousins to the ultraslow human-made miniature black holes, hoped to be generated in Geneva, would long have eaten all neutron stars inside out if the human made ones posed any risk to earth. However, while it is true that natural miniblackholes will get stuck inside a neutron star, the alleged high growth rate so the star will be eaten, is false: Any beginning growth in the crust comes to a standstill when the black hole sinks into the core. This is because the superfluid coreis frictionless according to quantum mechanics so the black hole cannot accrete matter there. The quantum guardian angel was communicated to CERN in time and published ahead of their (silent) “safety report.”
Case 2 (non-exponential growth): CERN claims that inside ordinary matter, black holes grow non-exponentially (just the opposite of what was assumed before). Thus while the fact that earth is going to be eaten inside out as the consequence of the experiment if successful is conceded, death allegedly will come slow. 50 million years was an estimate for which BBC conducted an opinion poll 4 years ago – with appallingly low approval rates by the public. In its subsequent “safety report,” the number was increased more than a hundred-fold. Although the corresponding paper was sent to CERN long before their safety report appeared, it remains unquoted up to this day. The fact that a chaotic attractor (a “Kleiner attractor in real space”) is formed inside matter as an exponentially growing miniature miniquasar so the eating time is reduced to the order of years is taboo.
The point in our context is not these details (or any accompanying cover-up) — it is the silence of the scientific community. Our topic proper is loss of rationalism on a suicide-prone planet. I am not sure I could convince you of an overall decline in the disciplined spirit of science with my ten points. Or of the persisting truth of Francis Bacon’s claim that nature is humankind’s enemy posing booby traps that become the more dangerous the more advanced the technology is. This healthy rationalist attitude has evaporated from the planet, or so it appears.
My friend C. Andy Hilgartner is not so optimistic. He thinks there is a virus – a lethal assumption – contained in rationalism itself. Or more specifically in the way post-hunter-gatherer societies are “languaging.” He is the first to have written an artificial grammar derived from explicit premises (the “non-Aristotelian premises” proposed in 1941 by Alfred Korzybski). From those premises, he with linguist Ronald Harrington generated a “Let us keep track of what we say” notational language. It avoids the crucial mistake which Hilgartner sees in the pretense, implicit in the usual generalized grammar underlying the Indo-European languages among others, that unlike verbs, nouns (maps) are implicitly identified with what they stand for (territory). This amounts to a built-in dishonesty in our languaging and hence in our thinking.
I hope that this advanced level of rationalism (Korzybski’s 1941 book is titled “Science and Sanity”) is not really needed for the planet’s survival, in the present short-term situation. For as we saw even the traditional rationalism called “science” is violated by the current lifeboat-defying collective inactivity of the rest of the globe in the face of CERN’s activity. But I cannot rule out that Andy has caught the real culprit so everything placed before your judgment above was naïve since the real metánoia needed remained unaddressed. The existing urgency would be my only excuse.
Let me close proposing an opinion poll in case anyone cares to reply: Please, add a Y or an N to your name and/or text answering the following question: “Should CERN take a break and allow the scientific safety conference to be convened? Yes or no?” The N answers will be of special interest to every reader.
I thank Bill Seaman, Ken Hiwaki, Artur Schmidt and Martha Bartter for discussions. For JO.R. (042711)