Sunday, July 15, 2018

The KleurNet Interview

In the flower-filled back garden of Conrad Santos's Boulder Creek Bistro, Dutch entrepreneur and TV producer Luc Sala interviews visionary physicist Nick Herbert concerning mind, matter and quantum tantra for Luc's KleurNet Channel in Amsterdam.

Videoed by local media wizard Allan Lundell (now operating as Dr Future), Luc's interview succinctly captures the gist of Nick's dream of a new sensual science in a mere thirty minutes.

The best TV interview of Nick ever, on his home turf. All killer. No filler.

M57: the Ring Nebula

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Kalamidas Effect as Fake News

The Kalamidas Effect as Fake News

This month marks the 10th anniversary of Quantum Tantra blog for which I will soon be publishing a retrospective. But as I was reviewing dozens of exciting projects reported here, one event shone out in my mind, the day I was standing in my friend Reno's driveway overcome by intellectual ecstasy: I had calculated a way to send signals faster-than-light (FTL).

My thrill lasted only a few hours till a friend found an error in my calculation.

This particular FTL mind high was instigated by Demetrios Kalamidas, a Greek-American physicist, now employed by Raith Nanofabrication, who had recently published in an optics journal a particularly ingenious FTL communication scheme. The quest to refute Kalamidas's proposal was for me a particularly fine adventure: my brief ecstasy in Reno's parking lot was the result of calculating my own refinement of the Kalamidas effect; and it was Demetrios himself who pointed out my math mistake.

I called the Kalamidas proposal KISS (for Kalamidas's Instant Signaling Scheme) and documented the struggle to refute this scheme in six blog posts.

1. KISS: A New Superluminal Communication Scheme
2. Demetrios! The Opera
3. The Kalamidas Experiment
4. FTL Signaling Made Easy
5. Kalamidas Refuted
6. The Kalamidas Experiment -- Easy Pickins
A seventh post: 7. Some Notes on Quantum Entanglement provides useful background material for understanding FTL proposals of the Kalamidas kind.

When DK put forth his proposal, it attracted the attention of three prominent physicists, GianCarlo Ghiraldi (Trieste), John Howell (Rochester) and Christopher Gerry (CUNY), one of DK's former teachers, who each quickly came up with three different but quite solid refutations.

These three separate refutations should have put an end to the Kalamidas affair, but the feisty Greek came back fighting. Since you know I am wrong, Demetrios replied, it should be "easy pickins" for you to point out my specific mistake. General proofs are fine, but the devil is in the details. Show me that devil, Kalamidas challenged his critics.

The first detailed calculation of the Kalamidas effect was due to Martin Suda at the Technical University of Vienna followed by a similar calculation by Nick Herbert from Boulder Creek. Both of us showed why KISS wouldn't work but the physical meaning of some of the terms in our calculations were difficult for us to understand. But after much conversation, these difficulties were eventually resolved.

And that was the end of the KISS affair. Or was it?

One of the features of the Kalamidas proposal is its extreme cleverness, a feature, that in my opinion, has been insufficiently recognized and appreciated. I intend in this post to briefly explain the Kalamidas effect, and to show off its beauty by placing it in a more familiar context than the physics of photons.

Modern FTL communication schemes conventionally involve two QUANTUM-ENTANGLED photons A and B -- one sent to ALICE and the other to BOB.

Since Bell's Theorem seems to prove that entangled photons such as A and B are  instantly connected, there exists some hope that clever action by BOB on his (B) photon might have some measurable (and instantaneous) action on ALICE's distant (A) photon. However, by using the same quantum math that describes entanglement one can easily prove such instantaneous signaling to be impossible. (To which John Bell was said to have famously remarked that what impossibility proofs show is failure of imagination.)

The KISS scheme begins with a pair of PATH-ENTANGLED photons. This situation is difficult to visualize (because it's a quantum thing) but easy to produce in any modern optics lab. In the manner of Schrödinger's famous Cat, each photon takes two paths at once (path #1 and path #2) as long as you do not observe it. Furthermore, the path of Alice's photon A is perfectly correlated with the path of Bob's photon B: if photon A is observed to be present in its path A1, photon B will be found also in its path B1.

FIG 2 shows a path-entangled photon source S, sending one photon to Alice on the left and a second photon to Bob on the right. Under certain conditions a photon that takes two paths at once can be made to INTERFERE with itself. To prepare for this eventuality, Alice has constructed an INTERFEROMETER by combining her two photon paths at a 50/50 Beam Splitter BS(A) and by placing a variable phase-shifter Q in path A1.

To look for interference, Alice varies the phase Q of path A1. If two waves meet out-of-phase, they cancel one another, and no photons will be observed in Detector A3. In the other detector, waves will meet in-phase and all photons will be observed in detector A4. When the conditions for interference are met, Alice should be able, by varying Q, to vary the percentage of photons in counters A3 and A4 from 0% to 100%.

On the other hand, when the conditions for interference do not exist, the photon counts at Alice's detectors are always 50% each, no matter how she sets phase angle Q. FIG 2 shows such a no-interference condition (called "the Fock choice", for reasons I won't mention here). Because Bob has chosen to measure which path his photons take, his choice forces Alice's photons to take definite paths as well. Since only a photon that TAKES BOTH PATHS can interfere, Bob's choice of what to look at absolutely precludes any interference on Alice's part.

The gist of any purported FTL signaling scheme is to discover something that Bob can do with his two-path photon that will allow interference to occur at Alice's detectors. Fortunately this is easy to do.

As long as Bob makes any kind of measurement that reveals which path his photon took, he destroys any chance of interference. On the other hand if Bob makes a measurement which ERASES which-path information, then interference at Alice's site becomes possible.

The essence of the Kalamidas proposal is his discovery of a clever scheme that Bob can use for erasing his which-path information.

The simplest way that Bob can erase his which-path information is to create an interferometer just like Alice did. An interferometer combines both paths without prejudice. Once so combined, the question of "which path?" becomes meaningless.

FIG 3 illustrates Bob's choice to measure his photon using an interferometer (called "the Frost choice" for reasons not relevant here). Bob's choice does indeed lead to measurable interference at Alice's detector, but there is a condition on this interference that precludes using this setup for FTL signaling.

Bob's interferometer has two outputs, Detectors B1 and B2. If we just look at the output of B1 and what happens at Alice's detectors we observe a clear interference pattern P1.

Likewise, if we just look at output B2, we see an interference pattern P2 at Alice's interferometer.

However these two interference patterns, P1 and P2 are exact complements of one another, where one has peaks the other has valleys. The sum of P1 and P2 is exactly 50% in each of Alice's detectors, hence no interference pattern at all. This feature seems to be common to all putative FTL schemes of the path-entangled type -- that whatever interference pattern Bob's action creates at Alice's site will be exactly canceled by an equal and opposite anti-interference pattern.

The genius of the Kalamidas scheme was that he had apparently created a way that Bob could erase his which-path information without creating a self-canceling anti-interference partner.

Kalamidas begins with the simple which-path setup of FIG 2, and, rather than erasing or recombining Bob's two separate beams, he "ambiguifies" Bob's path information by randomly adding photons from a synced external source in such a manner that for a certain output (labeled (1,1), it is impossible to say which path the photon took. Furthermore, this process is asymmetric: there is no partner anti-process that might produce at Alice's site a self-canceling anti-interference pattern.

FIG 4 illustrates the "Kalamidas Choice". A mirror with reflectivity "r" is introduced into Bob's path B1. This mirror can add or subtract photons from Bob's beam. The added photons end up at detector B3; the subtracted photons end up at detector B4. The source of added photons is designated U1 which produces a single photon a% of the time; and no photon (100 - a)% of the time.

Using this setup, there are many outcomes where "which path Bob's photon took" can be inferred. But there is one special outcome where we are left in ignorance. This is the outcome [1,1] where both B3 and B5 detect a photon. Did the real photon take the upper path and a "fake photon" take the lower? Or did the opposite occur?

A simple physics calculation shows that this abiguification works. Whenever Bob observes the [1,1] outcome, a corresponding interference pattern appears at Alice's detectors. Furthermore, there seems to exist no obvious Bob outcome that could cancel out this singular effect.

I will return to the resolution of the KISS paradox, but first I would like to pursue an amusing metaphor inspired by Kalamidas's clever and beautiful scheme.

For each photonic event, Bob's two detectors can have several different outcomes but only four are important for this discussion. the outcomes [1,0]. [1,1], [0,1] and [0,0] where the brackets enclose the outcomes of detectors B3 and B5 thus [B3, B5]. Let's look at how each of these 4 outcomes might have been produced by the Kalamidas scheme.

1. The [1,0] outcome ostensibly represents TRUTH: one real photon ended up in detector B3. No "fake photons" were added. No "real photons" subtracted.

2. For the [1,1] outcome, one photon is "real", the other is "fake" (it came from the external U1 source, not the original entangled source S) but there is no way to tell which is which, so "which path" information is totally erased for this outcome.

But the situation rapidly gets more complicated as we can see here:

The [1,0] --> [1,1] is analogous to confusing an issue by deliberately adding "fake news". Suppose someone is claiming that certain towers were taken down by demolition charges rather than by airplanes. Instead of defending the airplane story, one can "muddy the waters" by publicizing a claim that the whole thing was "done by holograms".

One of the features of the Kalamidas effect is that, by virtue of the partially-silvered mirror, a photon can be lost from a beam as well as added. This can lead to the peculiar situation [1,0] --> [0,1] where a photon in the upper beam is incorrectly recorded as though it came from the lower beam. This outcome is produced when the upper mirror deletes the upper photon while the lower mirror adds a "fake photon". This complete reversal of the facts finds many an analogy in mainstream media which also employs both fact suppression and fake news oftentimes simultaneously. A common example is the fabrication of atrocities on the part of the enemy (fake news) while unreporting the atrocities carried out by "the good guys". I call this "switched news", in which the truth is the very opposite of what the media presents. As it turns out, "switched news" is crucial to the resolution of the KISS paradox: what prevents Kalamidas's clever scheme from working?

In the final Kalamidas transformation [1,0] --> [0,0], neither of Bob's primary detectors detects a photon. Whatever channel once held a photon, that photon has been censored, sequestered, quashed, hidden from public view, leaving no evidence of which channel it once occupied. In the media analogy, suppressing the true facts is a not uncommon way of conducting government business as the brave work of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and many others has shown. "What never happened" never needs to be justified.

Make no mistake, fake news, switched news and suppressed news is not confined to obscure photon physics experiments. It constitutes most of what you see and hear on TV. And other media forms are not immune.

Speaking of obscure photon physics experiments, we now return to the resolution of the Kalamidas proposal. As it turns out, all three of these fake processes add enough ambiguity to the question of which path Bob's photon took that they produce interference at Alice's distant site.

But where then is the anti-interference that usually appears to save the day in situations of attempted signaling using quantum entanglement? What exactly intervenes to prevent quantum time travel, humans messing with the past, and general disruption of the space-time continuum?

You might imagine that the [1,1] result is balanced by the [0,0] result, but actually they produce the same kind of interference.

Instead, as calculated first by Martin Suda in Vienna and Nick Herbert somewhere in the redwoods, what cancels out the "fake news" and the "suppressed news", which act in concert, is (surprisingly) the "switched news" which produces equal and opposite interference at Alice's site. No interference. No signaling, FTL or otherwise.

As illustrated by this calculation of interference at Alice's A3 detector as witnessed by my cat.


Monday, June 18, 2018

The Best Science

Sciencegasm by Rian Fike
(For John Bell)

The best science
Is done after midnight
In the darkest part
Of the night.

The best science
Is done
On hands and knees
Some obscure delight.

The best science
Is done
By two or by one:
A risky high-wire act
Which only few can see.

The best science done
Is done for fun
And love of mystery.

The best science
Where the darkness is deepest
Not merely to bring home a kill
But to become the very first seeker
Of a deeper darkness still.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Nick Chakras: Part Three

12 Cranial Chakras


Worship at your local TEMPLE
At the forward lobe dividing man from ape
And the hind brain situated near the NAPE
Then the CHEEK bones, the MAXILLA
And the MANDIBLE's estate.
Little landmarks on the skin. 
Toast skoal to the skull, your CRANIUM's domain
Protecting a thing thought useful called the brain.


Most creatures whom you meet today
Will be propped up by vertebrae
They'll have a PELVIS and a TAIL
A NECK and THORAX without fail.
Though all were born for different fates
Salute your fellow vertebrates.

What partners with the small of back?
Was a matter of no small debate
Both of them are saddle-shaped

Bring attention to the WHOLE body
Then turn your thoughts to a larger goal
Imagine all and everything you're not:
The Universe with a you-shaped HOLE.

Pelvis by Emma Craig

Nick Chakras: Part Two


This little PIGGIE went to Stanford
This little PIGGIE stayed in bed
This little PIGGIE joined the convent
This little PIGGIE got wed
This little PIGGIE texted Oui, Oui, Oui
On his iPhone.

Clever piggies in your HAND
Some piggies even play Chopin.


connected to
Humerus connected to
The ELBOW joint
Elbow connected to
Forearm connected to
The joint of the WRIST.

Now please
What's a nice girl like you doing
With joints like these? 


ANKLE joint
connected to
The SHIN bone
Shin connected to
The KNEE joint
Knee connected to
The THIGH bone
Thigh connected to
The joint of the HIP.

now please
What's a nice girls like you doing
With joints like these?


This little PIGGIE went to market
This little PIGGIE stayed home
This little PIGGIE ate roast beef
This little PIGGIE had none.
This little PIGGIE went Wee, Wee, Wee
All the way home.

Restless piggies in your FEET
Some piggies even live in Crete.

Exploring the little finger chakra

Nick Chakras: Part One


This being sucks energy out of the GROUND
Sitting tight and secure on its ROOT
Fulfilling your debt to the species with SEX
Ruled by BELLY the ego, the core absolute
The HEART has its reasons that bypass the brain
The THROAT fills your silence with history
The BROW vainly tries to make sense of it all
While the CROWN connects you to mystery.



To hear and see
To smell and feel
To taste and fabricate the vowels
And for breathing in and pushing out
Thank your servants LUNGS and BOWELS

Hindu Chakras: after Sir John Woodroffe

Friday, June 1, 2018

Nick Chakras 2018

84 Nick Chakras 2018

In the year 1918, Sir John Woodroffe, Indian High Court Judge and Sanskrit scholar, published his highly influential Serpent Power (under the pen name of Arthur Avalon) which introduced the Indian tantric notion of  "chakras" to the English-speaking world. These classical chakras, seven in number, form the central organs of a "psychic anatomy" -- seven physical locations in the body that also serve psychic functions as well.

One hundred years later, books on the chakras publish pictures of the same seven chakras with or without the elaborate decorations illustrated in Woodroffe's Serpent Power. Why only seven? I wondered. Has the last century witnessed no progress whatsoever in psychic anatomy? A century ago, physicists recognized only three elementary particles --  proton, neutron and electron. Now today's Standard Model shows us more than a dozen of the Universe's fundamental parts. Why aren't there more chakras than seven?

For more than fifty years, since I was working at a psychic bookstore in Menlo Park while studying physics at Stanford,  I have been considering this problem, working to rationally expand the traditional Hindu system of elementary bodily physical/psychical centers and have now reached a satisfactory conclusion.

A preliminary account of this research can be found here. 

What is a chakra anyway? At the very least it is a part of the body to which one can direct one's attention and observe what happens. Most of the time we take our body parts for granted. And except when they are in pain we pay them no mind. How might our life change if from time to time we systematically brought our attention to each particular body part with as strong a mental intensity as we could muster?

When I was a kid in Ohio, the floor of our boy's room (Nick and his brothers Tom and Duke) was covered with a gigantic linoleum map of the United States which we boys traversed in our imaginations using toy cars, planes, trains, trucks and tanks. Similarly one might regard Nick's 84 Chakras as a map of 84 of your body's principle cities (not including suburbs) and let your imagination go exploring.

Nick Chakras contain the classic seven Hindu chakras plus many extras. For the sake of symmetry I require each chakra to possess a partner chakra which is in some sense its consort, its opposite, its dark side. This partner chakra is designated symbolically by a black/white reversal. In most cases the "dark chakras" are located in the lower part of the body. For example, the Thumb Chakra's opposite is the Big Toe. And the classic Heart Chakra's opposite is the Belly Chakra.

In place of Woodroofe's spectral-colored, multi-leaved lotus symbols, I have chosen simple black-and-white symbols based on geometric shapes each intended to be suggestive of the body parts they signify.

Nick Chakras are divided into 5 categories: the Hindu Chakras, Spinal Chakras and Sensual Chakras, each with eight members, the Cranial Chakras with twelve members, and the Limb Chakras which possess 48 members. (8 + 8 + 8 + 12+ 48 = 84.

To the seven classic Hindu Chakras, I have added a "Ground Chakra" (whose opposite is the Crown Chakra) which I later learned corresponds to the Yung Chuan or "Bubbling Spring Chakra" of Taoist esotericism.  As a partner to the Lumbar Chakra I have added a "Perineum Chakra" which corresponds to the Chinese "Hui Yin" Chakra or "Gateway of Life and Death."

This post introduces the new chakra system. The following three posts will connect names to each symbol and clarify some of my choices:

Part One: Hindu and Sensual Chakras

Part Two: Limb Chakras

Part Three: Spinal and Cranial Chakras.
(Unlike the rest, none of the 12 Cranial Chakras is paired with a partner.)

I have constructed this new chakra system for the fun of it. My main interest lies in the search for a brand new science I call quantum tantra based on an as yet to be discovered quantum-inspired way of connecting with Nature.

I want to woo Her, not view Her
Pet Reality until She purrs
Longing to merge with Dame Nature bodily
Yearning to mingle my substance with Hers
And them content with merely observing
Are nothing but Nature's voyeurs.

Nick Chakras might be considered a map of naked-eye objects of the body compared to what the deep-space quantum compassionscopes of the future will reveal about the nature of Mind and its hidden relations to this marvelously agile meat machine.

Artist's conception of quantum-tantric chakras

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Khlit Coin

First example of a Khlit Coin? Artist's conception of an old US Silver Dollar infused with quantum-tantric vibes.


At the local bank a few days ago I was cashing a royalty check from one of my physics books.

 [Warning: gratuitous blog ad!] The book was Quantum Reality, Beyond the New Physics which more than 30 years after publication is still one of the royal roads to understanding why no physicist can tell his kids a believable story about how the physical world effortlessly comes into being. [End of blog ad.]

 As the teller was counting out my bills, I mentioned that I had once come across a bill with a lipstick kiss on it and speculated that her bank must get a lot of bills disfigured in unusual ways. She reached into her cash drawer and pulled out a big wad of bills that were worn, torn and otherwise degraded but none that seemed at first glace to be imaginatively defaced. In particular, in the Boulder Creek branch of Liberty Bank distressed currency stash, no kisses did I see.

A contemporary smooch for old Ben Franklin (from Bitter Lemon)
A few nights later, I was still wondering about unorthodox ways of infusing ordinary objects with non-ordinary energies. Kissed currency and the the occasional perfumed letter aside, I don't believe mere paper has much of a potential as a "psychotronic medium"? As we shall see, metals are more marvelous than paper on the quantum level, and may be the most appropriate medium for recording "psychic impressions" on every scale imaginable. Indeed some sort of ordinary metal object, acted upon in a seemingly preposterous way, might be the first concrete manifestation of quantum tantra among human beings. (More advanced cultures, I presume, have been practicing these sorts of things for millennia.)

Metals have a long history as containers for extra-physical powers. Besides coinage, which possesses a conventional secular power, one thinks of jewelry, holy medals, amulets, lucky charms, magic swords, the Holy Grail, and various rings of power, from Wagner to Tolkien to the simple Western wedding ring. But that's ancient history. What can we do now with metals in the modern quantum era that's akin to kissing a hundred-dollar bill?

From the quantum-physical point of view metals are well-understood. (Part of that quantum understanding has been utilized to create the multi-billion dollar semi-conductor industry). A metal consists of a regular crystal lattice of say, silver ions, interpenetrated by a number of bound electrons plus a delocalized gas of free electrons called the Fermi Sea after Italian physicist Enrico Fermi. Unlike the bound electrons, the electrons in the Fermi Sea can move about which accounts for the fact that metals are good conductors of electricity. For reasons which I don't completely understand (I am not a solid -state physicist.), the temperature of the electrons at the top of Fermi's Sea is hotter than the surface of the Sun.

Because the silver crystal lattice possesses different properties in different directions, the surface of the Fermi Sea is not spherical. The shape of the Fermi Sea illustrates how easy it is to pull an electron out of a silver crystal using an electric field acting in various directions.

Map of the silver Fermi Sea: from Tuo Li & W.A. Schroeder)
 The most peculiar feature of this diagram is that in certain special directions (shown in green) the Fermi Sea for silver exhibits "nipples" through which electrons can be "milked" most easily.

Building on our intimate technical knowledge of the quantum state of metals, the quantum tantrika is looking for a way in which metal objects can be filled with "psychic energy" of a (most probably) erotic nature.

More particularly, we want to take certain US quarters and "charge them up" in such a way that almost anyone (even dull old Nick Herbert) can sense their intrinsic "vibes". Women and men who by nature or by practice are more sensitive to such things should be able to unerringly select the single "charged up" coin from a pile of ordinary pocket change.

This new psycho-erotically enhanced medium of exchange is expected to possess large intrinsic value among those prepared to appreciate such worth. I have christened this new quantum tantric currency the "Khlit Coin" (rhymes with "Bit Coin"), in honor of Khaliqium, the fundamental immaterial substance whose discovery is destined to completely transform our world, and which itself is named after one of Islam's Ninety-Nine Names of God.

Men who find themselves able to produce such coins out of ordinary US quarters could be called Khlit-coin Mint Masters. Women with this power: Khlit-coin Mint Mistresses. To the ordinary person these chosen few would seem to be creating value out of nothing (similar to the fractional reserve banking system for normal unenlightened currency) but that would be a big mistake. These Masters and Mistresses of the Khlit-coin Mint are encouraged by quantum mechanics and so begin their work not with ordinary nothing, but with the Deep Nothingness that lies at the world's very foundations. (See Physics for Beginners.)

Pay close attention, pal, the next time some beautiful being presses a quarter into your hand. It might be HOT!

Two once-ordinary US quarters fresh from a Khlit-coin Mint

Friday, May 18, 2018

Ode to HIV

HIV virus: a subtle and beautiful enemy

If you seek peace
Prepare for war.
        -- Vegetius

HIV by itself isn't fatal
It merely opens the gate
To opportunistic diseases
Put here like you to replicate.

Who want to swarm over your borders
Uncivilized, unkempt and unfed
Viral barbarians, bacterial Vikings
Make you crippled, wounded and dead.

HIV is a fervent pacifist
A world without war is the slogan it chants
By disarming your violent immunity system
Compelling your body to give peace a chance.

Friday, May 4, 2018


Megellanic Clouds above Laguna Lejia, Chile

(for Ezra Pound)

Saturday night in the Santa Cruz Mountains
Power knocked out by two days of storm
Lull in the rain, clouds clearing
Awakened by bright moonlight filling my bedroom
I walk barefoot out onto the debris-strewn deck
See winter stars: 

Orion, Pleiades, Cepheus, Cassiopeia
Sparkling through the scudding clouds
Raw moonlight illuminating the glistening forest
Like a Spielberg alien contact set
I watch lightning sparking, thunder grumbling
Inside mammoth clouds retreating to the East.

The Greek word for "beauty"
(Cognate to "cosmetic")

That's what our predecessors called this world
Cosmos was their word for Everything
Cosmos: one name for All Phenomena

Inside and out
One name for this uncanny experience
Spread open for all conscious beings
For you, for me, for the fish in the sea.
This one equation:

Cosmos equals Beauty.