Black holes, John Wheeler and Ultimate Reality By * * Starman * *
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Rated "PG" by the Author.
An elegant story about reality, good friends, that darned cat and Cannabis.
"I confine my mind bending to pot now, no acid. If I want grass, I know where to get it, man! So why do I need you?" I told my oldest best friend that I met in the 1960's. He looked at me like I had lost my mind and my brain had stopped working. He said "Not to worry, I know the answer to,
'Why the quantum?' "
Clearly Albert was stoned. Dude always made wild claims when he was stoned, so I told him. "Albert, even though you are a brilliant physicist that trained under the great Johnny Wheeler of black-hole fame, this transcendence of mind that has led you down this resplendently curved path is a costly one for you." I tried to shake him from the spell he was under by reasoning further. I said pleadingly, "If you submit this paper on the quantum, which you always think about while high on reefer, you will lose credibility as a theorist like poor Hawking did. It took him years to admit he was mistaken and sadly everyone knew it, but him. Besides, publishing like this in your state of mind is a crazy frothing path filled with the quantum foam of hubris, which old fat physicists like you are prone to from time-to-time." Obviously, he was not prone to my suggestions. Ok, time for more aggressive methods.
He would not relent, so I headed Albert off before he could discredit himself by emailing his self-proclaimed ground breaking paper to the prestigious journal Physical Review. "Publish or perish!" he shouted with arms alternately raised over his head like a populist politician from the deep South. "The equations don't lie! If I can't get my theory published, then take me out of this world, now," he cried in bitter tears, as I restrained him in this fit of excited passion. Ultimately, no matter my logic, it all made perfect sense to him.
"Oh boy, Albert, here we go again! "
Albert, did not agree with my militaristic tactics and tone of voice and proceeded to lash out me colorfully and abstractly, between swigs of beer and massively inhaled tokes of Cannabis Sativa, you remember...the fine Colombian? Still, there is a method behind his madness and occasionally he exhibits a short burst of genius, like he did in days past as a post-doc under Wheeler back at Princeton. I like Albert, he never counts the cost of friendship, so I owe him this favor of explaining things more clearly to you.
Exhale, now, man. Oh, I see you are still here, clearly a hallucination, but a damn interesting one. Well, since you are still lingering here and since the journey so far has been fruitful, we can continue along just fine without Albert, now that he is wasted. See how this rocky path is strewn with surprises? It is far better than no path at all, Albert or no Albert, and we shall continue without his words of wisdom. Wait a minute, I feel an inspiration overtaking me, "Whoosh!" There it goes right over our heads like a UFO. Did you hear it being downloaded, spiraling, into our collective brains? Represented in condensed form it goes like this: "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." There, that should save us some time and allow us to get right to the point of defining reality. I thought you'd appreciate the brevity and beauty of my reduced speech!
We are so very close and flowing in our corresponding thought now, that you are reading what I thinking when I wrote this! Amazing isn't it? How close we two can be in this thing we call reality, even if it is a subjective concept full of irony and bullshit, which like religion and politics and marriage, we are no closer to agreeing on than Cain and Abel were about who deserved the blessing for their offering to God, and who deserved to get the-living-daylights beat of out them and killed.
Oh, well, so much for evolutionary concepts in my lifetime ever being observed on a macro scale. We might as well be apes, since it appears that we haven't learned any more than the chimpanzee who bashes his mate’s brains in with a rock whenever he feels like it. I prefer a proper discussion first, then we can bludgeon each other with rocks after we finish this mutual traveling show. Thank you for letting me confer with you earnestly while we are on our walk here. It has been a vicarious experience knowing you have gotten this far and still continue to seek the end-point of this journey, although just between you and me, you may be beginning to feel a bit harassed without knowing exactly why you feel that way, even with me being so thoughtful and intelligent a host that I am!
(Laughter erupts from the darkened gallery.)
Don't be spooked dear reader! It is just the spirits of theorists past judging us.
I thought we were going to discuss the weather when this first started with me and Albert. "Hot as hell," he would say, but that is another subject and we left that terminus behind us afew lengthy paragraphs ago. I told him after our spat, "Can we, 'agree at least to disagree,' as some one has cleverly said 'without being disagreeable?' "
"Splendid! Now we can proceed rather amiably." I said rather pleased with his return to objective sanity. Even vain, stubborn old physicists can be brought to reason and have a change of heart sometimes, however improbable that outcome might be. It can happen, just look at Stephen Hawking!
Ahem! Next overhead transparency please...We are still old school here after all.
It is only at first glance that it might seem we are divisible. We are not. Two different aspects of the same branch of reality are still the same reality. If there is such a thing as reality, considering semantics and all that is. Science and other philiosophically based thought processes, all are at best descriptive models of nature. It is my metric and since this here is my article, I am always correct here. Gee whiz, what a ball buster I am. How dare I? Well, I dare, quite simply, so get used to it. Now, back to the rocky road we were on, so that some moment soon we will resume our interesting journey.
Aren't you glad we met this way today? I know you feel it too. Life can be sweet! That is my baseline, of that I am sure. Seemed like a good starting point to me. Without an absolute point of reference we carefully peer "outward" from our hiding place as our perceptions tell us out is, and we look to wonder, "Is this all illusory and are we mere experiments in consciousness, even leaping off tall buildings from where the laws of our physics say we must fall unless acted on by an external force to make us not go SPLAT!"? How would we know the difference? Either way we experience a shared consciousness, where everyone's SPLAT interconnects strangely to everyone elses SPLAT, simultaneously and mindbogglingly and resoundingly faster than light can travel, thus resulting in our becoming quantified while engaged in a fleetingly curious blindman's quest of quantum entanglement in the process at the Planck length as we pop in and out of existence.
“So ride the white pony,” I say, with accompaniment of disco lights, throbbing beat into your brain, and striped stripper polemics -- optional in your reality system. However, in this case the white pony is the white rabbit we are chasing down the rabbit hole. This white pony or rather white rabbit is the answer to the perplexing question, "Why the quantum?" as John Wheeler, a prominent American physicist now dead, asked, thereby fulfilling all causality laws. This is an excellent statement to realize fully, since if Wheeler were both dead and alive at the same time he might not fit into the same box with that darned cat of ErwinSchrödinger's cat fame. It would be a paradox indeed. John Wheeler, a teacher of teachers, who would have given his right arm to know the answer to that one, did not like paradoxes. Were Wheeler to appear here on our event horizon without prior invitation, would he fall into this black hole of a story, or escape like Hawking Radiation from its clutches?
“How dare Wheeler arrive to join our discussion today?” You might cry out. We are speaking remember of Princeton’s John Archibald Wheeler, to be exact, though he would point out loudly as the Devil’s Advocate that the quantum probabilities arise and no physical lawof Einstein, Newton or Bohr is against his untimely arrival here. “Aha! Professor Wheeler,” you say, “but who are you to ask such a question since you are dead?" I too would like to ask him, but dead or alive, in theory perhaps at least, I prefer to not open oldErwin’scat box to find out yet. Deadness is a bummer in my book, so whether prominent physicist or cat or combined hybrid entanglement exists, what a nightmare it could be, iflike in the English nursery rhyme, There Once Were Two Cats of Kilkenny, when we finally lifted the lid to take a peek inside the box we beheld nothing was there. We would instantly know we had been had and something was surely amiss here. Meow!!
There once were two cats of Kilkenny,
Each thought there was one cat too many,
So they fought and they fit,
And they scratched and they bit,
Till, excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails,
Instead of two cats, there weren't any.
Don't get freaked out, because I'm just saying that I prefer to see things from as many aspects as possible, so as not to attempt to grab your tail like a blind man, being stoned like Albert and confusing you for an elephant, which upon opening that rather large quantum probability box your mind is stored inside, that at that instant as Kipling taught us, "is like a rope." Please don't try and hang yourself with it!
Sharing this journey into an interesting part of our assembled mutual reality with you has been my pleasure,and now that you have opened your heart to this queer set of truths you may tell the Lord when you meet him how you spent your days wisely learning wisdom, even ifa prudent person would have realized that it seemed like you were being whacked across the head with a mallet. "Splat!" there goes your brains, as you read through this story. When you hone in on the fine points here that you will undoubtedly recount in the recounting of your day, then you will recall and appreciate my foresight in telling you so first.
You may do this whether sleeping in the buff alone, or next to your spouse snoring right next to you tonight, if you are so lucky as to have a snoring spouse or to be alone, so that you and Albert might choose to definereality like me, even if you are stoned or not. While you are looking over your shoulder for the next timely mallet whack, I will close with you now dear reader, having spent this well spent time together here. It is true o' shrewd reader with your world sufficiently rocked, that you will confirm that I Starman, will continue in your consciousness as being a descriptive part of your immediate past, and you will continue there likewise, being a descriptive part of mine.