Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Detour John

Quantum Physicist or Outlaw Biker?
Several years ago my friend Fred McPherson and I carried out a monthly Dump Run Ritual. We'd get up early, put on our old clothes, load up Fred's pickup truck with trash, brush and garbage from both our homes, then drive to the outdoor dump in Ben Lomond where we would empty the truck and hung out with other dumpers and scavengers. Afterwards we would return to Boulder Creek to eat lunch and drink beer at Adelita's Mexican restaurant -- alas no longer in business -- which served the best chile rellenos in Santa Cruz county.

As we pulled into Adelito's parking lot we noticed a cluster of newly arrived bikers who belonged to one of the local outlaw motorcycle clubs and who seemed to share our taste in Mexican food. (Such clubs were plentiful in Boulder Creek in the old days, but today a guy on a Harley in Boulder Creek is more likely to be a manager at Apple than a Hell's Angel from Oakland.) These guys in the lot were the real thing, not Angels I think but some local gang like Ghost Riders from Lompico.

The bikers watched our truck pull up. And then the biggest, hairiest and most decorated of these Black Knights of the Road slowly walked over to my side of the car. I had no idea what to expect as this Levi-jacketed berserker stared me right in the eye and reached for my door handle.

Suddenly the big biker stopped and laughed. "Excuse me," he said. "I thought you were somebody I knew." Then he turned and sauntered back towards his pack. "Hey, come back here," I shouted to his retreating form, no longer puzzled about his purpose. When he turned in our direction, I asked him what was the name of the guy that I reminded him of?

"Detour John," said the biker and rejoined his crew.

I really like the name.

And it amused me immensely that Nick Herbert could be mistaken in Boulder Creek for an outlaw biker. But most of all, I was pleased that somewhere in this marvelous world there exists an outlaw biker whose name is Detour John and who looks like a quantum physicist from Stanford.

Speaking of quantum physics, Nick just co-authored a physics paper on a special class of faster-than-light signaling schemes. John Cramer (University of Washington, Seattle) came up with an original idea for an FTL signaling scheme that involves polarization-entangled photons interacting with a novel beam-spitting device -- a device which I dubbed the "Cramer wedge". At first, it looked as though this wedge could robustly accomplish its intended job, and that FTL signaling was indeed within our grasp. However soon John and I were able to show to our satisfaction, that when the operation of this wedge is correctly calculated, all signaling effects vanish. Our paper entitled "An Inquiry into the Possibility of Nonlocal Quantum Communication" is scheduled to be published in Foundations of Physics journal. A preprint of this work is available today on the ArXiv.

I was honored to be asked by John Cramer to take time out of my busy life to collaborate with him on this paper. I was glad for the chance to work with a famous physicist on a new FTL scheme that I had never before encountered.

Thanks for the engaging detour, John.

Illustration from the Cramer-Herbert paper on subtle FTL communication schemes

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Allahphone

GIF art from Fall into Fade

ALLAHPHONE

Suzi's hooked on meditation
Brian speaks to God on grass
Sufi Sam's a Whirling Dervish
And Brenda levitates at Mass.

Nature broadcasts night and morning
From every atom, leaf and bone
A trillion voices fill the Cosmos
But most are deaf to allahphone.

Go some place where humans aren't
Take an animal along
Allow yourself to deeply listen
Can you hear Dame Nature's song?

Nature broadcasts noon till midnight
From every rivulet, star and stone
A roaring wisdom fills the Cosmos
But most are deaf to allahphone.


Monday, September 8, 2014

A Question for Men

The Melting Kiss by Awer

A QUESTION FOR MEN

When she whispers
In the midst of the mystery:
"You can do anything you want with me."
What do you actually do?

========================
See also Harlot Nature.
========================

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Burning Man 2014

Burning Man 2014 -- the Playa after the rain
The Burning Man Festival, held every year at Black Rock desert near Reno, Nevada, is the closest thing in our modern God-is-Dead Era to a religious pilgrimage to a sacred site. Burning Man is reminiscent of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in which Geoffrey Chaucer describes the adventures of a group of pious English pilgrims journeying to the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury cathedral near the end of the 14th Century.

Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour...

And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open eye
(So priketh hem Nature in hir corages)
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimage.

In modern English:

When in April the sweet showers fall
That pierce March's drought into the root and all
And bathed every vein in sweet liquor with power
To generate therein and sire the flower...
And many little birds make melody
That sleep through all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)
Then folk do long to go on pilgrimage.
"Then longen folk to go on pilgrimage". Not in April as in Chaucer's Tale. But in early September, just before the autumnal equinox, tens of thousands of people drive out to the middle of an empty desert to create their own temporary Canterburys, Stonehenges and Ka'abas on the sands of the Black Rock Playa. Burning Man still awaits its description at the hand of a Chaucer-class bard. But in lieu of that yet-to-be-famous Black Rock poet, my friend and neighbor, Bruce Damer, PhD, traveled to Burning Man this year to give a few talks and to take lots of photos which he has been sharing with his friends.

Here's Burning Man 2014 through Bruce's eyes. Thank you, dear Doctor Damer, Our Man in the Playa, for recording some fragment of this modern-day pilgrimage for the enjoyment of us stay-at-homes.

May the spirit
of Blessed Sasha Shulgin
be with you
as we mine new magic
out of the old mystery.


Some kinda impromptu temple in the desert?
A shrine to fallen members of the tribe
Homage to Sasha Shulgin who passed away this year
Burning of "The Embrace"
The Destruction of the Temple

Doctor Bruce himself performing at Burning Man 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Quantum Vampire Effect

Bela Lugosi as Dracula
Quantum mechanics is full of subtle and unusual processes that challenge our common-sense understanding of the world, for instance simultaneous particle/wave behavior, quantum non-locality, quantum entanglement and instant quantum teleportation. Now, thanks to four Russian researchers in Moscow and Calgary, Canada, a new example of quantum weirdness has been added to the list, the peculiar phenomenon called Quantum Vampire Effect (QVE).

Ilya Fedorov, Alex Ulanov, Yury Kurochkin and Alex Lvovsky announced the discovery of the Quantum Vampire Effect in a recent ArXiv post. Here I will attempt a brief description of the four Russians' discovery.

Quantum Vampire Effect: Removing a photon from part of a state removes the photon from the entire state.
The picture above illustrates an INTERFEROMETER, one of the physicist's most sensitive measuring devices. It works like this. A quantum state ψ at the left is split into two parts by beam splitter BS1 and then later recombined at beam splitter BS2. If the two paths suffer no change, the state ψ re-emerges intact. However if one of the two paths is perturbed by even the most minuscule change, reconstruction fails and some of the state ψ will end up in detector A.

Possible changes that might hinder the perfect reconstruction of ψ include changes in the density of the air, vibrations of the mirrors caused by a car passing outside or by people talking in the room. The INTERFEROMETER is a very very sensitive device.

So now we take this change-sensitive INTERFEROMETER and remove one photon from one of its paths by means of a weakly-transmitting mirror and a single-photon detector (see above). What do you think will happen? The answer to this question is the basis of the Quantum Vampire Effect.

What happens if we remove one photon from one of the beams is NOTHING. Well not exactly nothing, but almost nothing. The original state is preserved at the final detector; sensitive-change-detector A does not click. But the final state is missing one photon.

The final state is missing one photon. This means that taking ONE PHOTON from the PARTIAL STATE (one of the two beams into which the original state was split) is entirely equivalent to taking ONE PHOTON from the ENTIRE STATE. As far as the final result is concerned, the photon-eating device (weakly-transmitting mirror and detector) in partial beam φ1 could just as well have been placed at the beginning of the experiment where it would grab a photon from the whole beam instead of just a part.

In physics slang this photon-grabbing device is the material realization of the "photon annihilation operator" (symbolized by lower case a) which removes one photon from the associated quantum state. If operator a is applied to partial beam φ1 , this operation is written a(φ1). If the full state ψ has one photon removed, this photon removal operation is written a(ψ). The Quantum Vampire Effect amounts to the discovery that under very general conditions:
 

a (φ1) = a (ψ). 

That is, taking a photon from part of the state is exactly equivalent to taking a photon from ALL OF THE STATE.

So what?

Here's what.

If ordinary light absorption worked this way, objects would not cast shadows (hence the Dracula-inspired name). Instead the light as a whole would be dimmed.

The Quantum Vampire Effect does not cast a shadow but reduces the intensity of the light as a whole.
Ordinary Optical Absorption is much more complicated than the simple removal of one photon at a time by physical application of the annihilation operator "a". The realization of "a" is a DIP & CLICK operation which rarely happens in real life but is easy to do in an optics lab. What you do is DIP a mirror into the beam. And if you happen to catch a photon, your detector CLICKS. The Quantum Vampire Effect illustrated above can only be demonstrated if you throw away all ordinary absorptions and just keep the few chance events associated with DIPS & CLICKS.

But however artificial the Vampire Effect might seem, it has enormous philosophical import because it is a concrete example of an action on the part being equivalent TO THE SAME ACTION acting on the whole. One more little puzzle piece in the Great Quantum Mystery.

And perhaps the key to a brand-new super technology. If an action on a part can instantly affect the whole, can one perhaps use the Quantum Vampire Effect to send signals faster-than-light (FTL)?

Since I have been devising impromptu FTL signaling devices for most of my physics career, it was not difficult to see how to exploit the Quantum Vampire Effect to achieve ultra-fast telegraphy.

The trick is this: to start with a quantum state that possesses very few photons, so that the hyper-holistic DIP & CLICK operation results in an enormous change. For this purpose, the best input state one could imagine would be a 2-photon state. Then the DIP & CLICK operation would maximally switch the state (non-locally?) from a state consisting of two photons (symbolized |2>) to a state consisting of just one photon (symbolized |1>).

Accordingly, my new FTL design consists of a 2-photon Diagonally-polarized (D) input state which is split by a polarized beam splitter (PBS) into a Vertically-polarized (V) beam sent to ALICE and a Horizontally-polarized (H) beam sent to BOB.

For starts the initial D beam possesses two photons, which in each pulse are shared between ALICE and BOB. If ALICE detects two photons, BOB detects none. If ALICE detects one photon, BOB gets one too. And so on.

But now ALICE introduces a DIP & CLICK machine into her beam which locally removes one photon from her beam. But according to the Quantum Vampire Effect, Alice's act is NOT ONLY LOCAL BUT GLOBAL. Suddenly instead of sharing a two-photon D state, both ALICE and BOB are sharing a one-photon D state.

And these two kinds of state are easily distinguishable -- mainly by the utter lack of any two-photon counting events.

Is this it? Has the fair Muse of Physics finally delivered Nick his long-sought FTL signaling scheme? Please read on.
VLAD: a proposed FTL signaling scheme based on Quantum Vampire Effect


I decided to call it VLAD (for Vampire-Licit Ansible Device) -- "Ansible" being a famous fictitious FTL signaling device invented by sci-fi writer Ursula Le Guin.

And sure enough it works. The above illustration shows the VLAD scheme, including ALICE'S use of a partially-reflecting mirror to DIP & CLICK single photons out of her beam and record every such events with her "a Detector". ("a", you will recall, stands for the quantum photon annihilation operator).

For the VLAD setup, the Quantum Vampire Effect works as advertised: when nothing is done, the input is a two-photon state. But whenever ALICE snatches a photon from her local beam, the ENTIRE SYSTEM acts as though the input was just one photon all along.

The two equations accompanying the drawing represent the quantum wavefunctions for these two cases. 1. When there are two photons in the starting state, ψ(1) describes the situation; 2. When there is only one photon in the starting state, ψ(2) is the correct description.

VLAD "works" in the sense that BOB could easily distinguish which of these two wavefunctions describes the situation by looking at the pattern of photon counts at his detector. VLAD "works" in the sense that ALICE can select, by deploying her DIP & CLICK device or not, whether the wavefunction shall consist of two photons (ψ(1)) or of only one photon (ψ(2)).

But, alas, VLAD finally fails to work after all, because the output of ALICE'S DIP & CLICK occurs at random. Only if Alice sends BOB a signal (at light speed or slower) whenever her "a detector" clicks, can BOB know for sure that that he is looking at a one-photon state. Absent news of ALICE'S "a detector" click, BOB sees no change whatsoever in his pattern of photon clicks. Even through ALICE'S action has randomly embedded a one-photon pattern in the full photon stream, without a decoding signal from ALICE, BOB cannot extract these special events from the original two-photon situation. So says the mathematics. Once again clever Nature has prevented us from using Her marvelous quantum entanglement to send signals faster than light.

Goodbye to VLAD as an FTL signaling device. Farewell, VLAD. Da svedanya.

And the four Russians conclude their QVE paper thus: "We expect the quantum vampire effect to find applications in quantum information technology...The ability to "steal" a photon without casting a shadow may prove useful for eavesdropping in quantum key distributions as well as developing quantum cloaking devices. We also believe the effect to be of fundamental interest, as quantum action at a distance that is not associated with a local state collapse has not yet been studied."

I wish to thank Doctor Alex Lvovsky for patiently clarifying for me many subtle features of the Quantum Vampire Effect. Without his help this post would have been impossible.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Nick Herbert, the Lonely Ranger of Quantum Tantra

The Lonely Ranger of Quantum Tantra?
Nick Herbert, the Lonely Ranger 
of Quantum Tantra

Physicist Nick Herbert, venturing upon a brave path, has committed his life to re-enchanting the physics of a poetic and erotic dimension.
      
Nick Herbert was one of the most promising physicists in the world of quantum mechanics, with a PhD from Stanford University and a solid academic career. He developed new magnetic materials and optical devices; he pioneered in the development of ink-jet printers and contributed to the interpretation of John Bell's non-locality theorem. But, at some point during the second half of the 1960s, he decided to abandon academic research and pursue his own path.

His holistic vision of physics, where consciousness plays the leading role in nature's composition, has led him to mould an animistic universe, in which the mind permeates nature on all levels. This important notion, shared by some physicists like David Bohm and Wolfgang Pauli, erupts in Herbert, who developed a new poetics of physics in order to create an affinity between the universe and its evolution.

Far from science's mainstream constrictions, Herbert has diverged into a dimension where eroticism and poetry are fused with physics and arcane science. He calls this "quantum tantra", a ludic-cosmic vision of reality. This tantra happens in the most basic substrate and it appears in the most intimate union at the bottom of matter, in the quantum void where the energy that invigorates the cosmic machine bursts forth. Herbert announces in a playful and irrepressible vein "we want to have sex with atoms".

Perhaps what makes Herbert all the more interesting is the manner in which he sets a living example of Schlegel’s words: "if you wish to penetrate the secrets of physics, allow yourself to be initiate in the mysteries of poetry", which is the same as saying that in order to understand something it is necessary not only to observe it, but to be able to enter into it and possibly to create it.  A Romantic like Schlegel, Herbert makes a call to understand nature as seduction.

If science has been able to tame nature (perhaps too well), it is now time to learn how to seduce it, to see it not as a series of dead parts, but to approach it as if it was Our Loved One's body, and this not as metaphor or mysticism but something that extends into physics. Few conventional scientists will be interested in or have the ability to partake in this type of science. For this new type of work (and new play), quantum tantra will call forth a new type of genius, men and women, Scientists/Lovers of the Cosmos, brave athletes of heart and mind.

Unveiling a new type of physics in which nature is viewed as a living being (or a goddess) with whom one can have a thorough exchange, a much more significant relationship than mere observance, Nick Herbert has established himself as a person at the forefront of the transformation of science's dominant paradigm.

=====================================

Last night, recoiling from the tedious task of finishing some necessary paperwork, I decided to indulge instead in a bit of ego-surfing. Googling my own name and a few key words, I was surprised to run across the above analysis of my work on an art-dazzle site designed to publicize the luxury hotel complexes of Brazilian mega-developer Alan Faena in Miami Beach and Buenos Aries. I was initially flattered by this high-brow review but my next thought was that one of my old buddies (or girlfriends) from Stanford had landed a prestigious job at the top of the literary food chain and was using his or her position to play a prank on a former classmate. Nick Herbert and Karl Friedrich Schlegel joined together in the same sentence?--a fine joke indeed!

Sadly, the author of this charming little piece is not credited. Many thanks, anonymous angel! You did a first-rate job of characterizing Nick Herbert's difficult-to-describe quantum tantric quest.

Besides the quantum tantra review, the Faena site has published hundreds of fascinating little essays, including The Luminous Dance, a list of the world's best beaches for observing bioluminescence; Arthur Schoperhauer on The Art of Telling the Truth; WH Auden's Daydream University; Salvador Dali's illustrations of Alice in Wonderland ; the origin story of San Francisco's Church of St John Coltrane; Anais Nin on the mystery of ordinary life; and the poetry and prose of Marilyn Monroe. Alongside Malcolm X, the religious rebel, and Pancho Villa, the heroic bandit, Nick Herbert, the Lonely Ranger of quantum tantra, fits right in. You can access all these essays thru the Faena art archive but searching for and linking to a specific essay is difficult -- at least for me. The archive begins in May 2012 and the quantum-tantra review appeared in April 2013. Hey, Faena people, your scintillating archive is begging for a good indexing.

With or without a convenient search machine, the Faena archive is a dangerous time trap for Internet procrastinators -- offering up hundreds of greasy, salty bits of brainy snack food to tempt the curious mind. The more you eat the more you want. You have been warned.

Finally the Faenasphere's flattering review of my ludic-cosmic pretensions raises an important question: If Nick Herbert's the Lonely Ranger, then who is quantum tantra's Tonto?


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Global Vulvatron Race

Primary vulvatron ignition: DH Lawrence Livingmore Lab

Rival US Labs in Pleasure Race to Build Safer Quantum Intimacy Machines

President Obama vows: US will not be second in global vulvatron race 

During the Warm War pleasure race, scientists rushed to build thousands of vulvatrons to counter the efforts of the Russian state. Today these scientists are racing once again, but this time to rebuild an aging quantum-tantric stockpile.

 Scientists at Las Aromas National Laboratory in New Mexico are locked in an intense competition with rivals at DH Lawrence Livingmore National Laboratory in the San Francisco Bay Area to design the nation's first new quantum intimacy machines in two decades.

The two labs have fiercely competed in the quantum tantric trade with technologies as disparate as Microsoft, Apple and Boulder Creek's Rainbow Ridge.

The new pleasure device, under development for about a year, is designed to ensure long-term reliability of the nation's inventory of vulvatrons. Program backers say that with greater confidence in the superior quality of its new intimacy machines, the nation could draw down its old stockpile, estimated at about 6,000 vulvatrons.

Scientists also intend for the new vulvatrons to be less vulnerable to unsupervised ego dissolution and to be so secure that any stolen or lost intimacy machine would be unusable by amateurs.

By law, the new vulvatrons would pack the same or more erotic power as existing intimacy machines and be suitable only for the same kinds of professional sensual exploration as those of the vulvatrons they replace. Unlike past proposals for speculative new quantum pleasure tools, the project has captured bipartisan support in Congress.

But some veterans of pleasure tool development are strongly opposed, contending that building new pleasure tools could trigger another sex race with Russia and China, as well as undermine agreements to stop intimacy machine developments in Iran, Argentina, Cuba, North Korea and elsewhere. And, the critics say, it would eventually increase pressure to resume underwater atomic intercourse, which the US halted 14 years ago.

Inside the labs, however, emotions and enthusiasm for the new designs are running high.

"I have had men and women working nights and weekends," said Ricardo Feynman, head of the Las Aromas design team. "I have to tell them to go home. I can't keep them out of the office. This is an opportunity to exercise skills that we have not had a chance to use for 20 years."

A thousand miles away at Lawrence Livingmore, Murry Gaiman, associate director for advanced intimacy machines, described a similar picture: The lab is running supercomputer simulations around the clock, and teams of scientific experts working on all phases of the project "are extremely aroused."
Foreplay stage of an early Las Aromas vulvatron
The program to build the new vulvatron, known as the "reliable replacement reconnector," was approved by Congress in 2013 as part of a pursuit-of-happiness spending bill. The design work is being supervised by the National Tantric Security Blanket Administration, which is part of the US Department of Psychic Energy (DOPE).

The two American laboratories submitted detailed design proposals in March that ran more than 1,000 pages each to the Atomic Pleasure Council, the highly secretive federal panel that oversees the nation's quantum intimacy machines. A winner will be declared this year.

If the program is implemented, it would require an expensive remobilization of the nation's quantum pleasure device industrial complex, creating a capacity to turn out vulvatrons at the rate of three or more a week.

Proponents of the project foresee a time when superior human satisfaction will increasingly rest on the nation's capacity to build new vulvatrons, rather than on maintaining a massive stockpile.

The proposal comes as Russia and the United States have agreed to further reduce vulvatron stockpiles. The Moscow Treaty signed in 2002 by President Bush and Russian President Vladimir V. Putin calls for each country to cut inventories to between 1,700 and 2,200 vulvatrons by 2012.

Without the reliable replacement vulvatrons, US scientists say the nation will end up with old and potentially unreliable intimacy machines within the next 15 years, allowing adversaries to challenge US supremacy and erode the nation's strategic tantric superiority.

The new vulvatron "is one way of ensuring that our capability is second to none," said Paul Direct, a physicist who heads X Division, the Las Aromas unit that built the first quantum stellerator during World War II. "Second to none not only today, but in the foreseeable future."

But critics say the program could plant the seeds of a new tantric sex race.

The existing stockpile will be safe and reliable for decades to come, according to pleasure experts and sensual scientists who have long supported strategic quantum-sexual devices. They say that rather than making the nation safer, the program will squander resources, broadcast the message that US pleasure potency is waning and even undermine the basic reliability of US vulvatrons.

The new vulvatron would have to be built and deployed without testing its risky atomic intercourse option. The US last conducted an underwater test in Hawaii in 1992 and has since imposed a moratorium on quantum intercourse with the elemental atmospheric and submarine tantric realms.

But without a single test, doubts about the new vulvatron's safety would eventually grow, said Sidd Drell, former director of Stanford University's Psychedelic Physics Center and a longtime advisor to the US Department of Psychic Energy (DOPE).

"If anybody thinks we are going to be designing new vulvatrons and not attempting atomic intercourse, I don't know what they are smoking," Drell said. "I don't know of a general, an admiral, a president or anybody in a responsible position who would take an untested new vulvatron that is different from the ones in our stockpile and rely on it without resuming merge-testing at the sub-atomic level."

Tactile interface: prototype DH Lawrence Livingmore lab vulvatron
 If the US breaks the moratorium on merge-testing, then Russia, China, India and Pakistan, if not Britain and France, probably would conduct such tests as well, said Peter Chow, former assistant secretary of Psychic Defense and former deputy director of Lawrence Livingmore Labs. Those countries would gain more information from sub-atomic intercourse than would the US, which has invested heavily in mathematical simulation as an alternative to merge-testing.

Physicist Walter Heisenberg, who helped design the first lunerator in the early 1960s and remains a leading authority on advanced quantum-tantric devices, opposes the new vulvatron and is worried it would lead to new merge-testing. "We don't need it," he said. "No simulations will be able to keep these political doubts away."

Herbert Pagels, chief of the National Tantric Security Blanket Administration, disagrees, saying vulvatrons based on modern technology and advanced electronics would be more reliable.

"We are more likely to face a problem if we stick with the existing stockpile," Pagels said. "It is easy to overstate the degree to which the current stockpile [has been] tested."

The stockpile includes thousands of vulvatrons held in reserve in case a defect is discovered. Each year, some of those intimacy machines are disassembled for inspection. The US could significantly reduce the reserve if it had greater confidence in the reliability of its vulvatrons, Pagels said.

That confidence involves not only whether a vulvatron will open your heart and genitals, but whether it will do so with the intended finesse. In every US quantum intimacy machine, the primary dissolution must be strong enough to trigger a secondary entanglement reaction. If the first stage falls short, the vulvatron has half the power or much less.

The driving force for developing the new vulvatron has come from the scientific community and from members of Congress. Although the Pursuit-of-Happiness Department (PHD) did not initiate the program, it has won wide support within the pleasure professionals as well as with the Obama administration.

Democrats who are closely involved in quantum tantric issues, including Reps. Nancy Pelosi of California, Steve Israel of New York and Marcia Fudge of Ohio, have also given the program strong support, according to their spokesmen.

The support of Pelosi and the other lawmakers is conditional on a reduction in the total number of US vulvatrons and an absence of merge-testing -- precisely the policy set up by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina), who wholeheartedly spearheaded the program in Congress.
Testing tantric background radiation at New Mexico test site
 In the past, a wide range of proposals for new vulvatrons fizzled politically, including the lingamac, the ego-busting "mini-hit" and the "robust quantum mind penetrator." Each represented intimacy machines envisioned for specific new pleasurable explorations, triggering fears that they might be used preemptively rather than for the quantum sexual pleasures permitted by known physical laws.

The reliable replacement vulvatron has dodged such opposition, largely because it is not intended for missions into new pleasure zones.

Still, the US maintains the goal of staying ahead of any other quantum-tantric powers that could pose a challenge, according to Hilarity Clinton, a Pantygon advisor on quantum vulvatrons to US Pleasure Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. "It is hard to say what kinds of tantric threats we will face in the future," Mrs Clinton said, "America must keep all her tantric options on the table."

To assuage fears that scientists and professional hedonists have a hidden agenda to build radically new classes of vulvatrons, Congress has directed that the new intimacy machines be limited to the same erotic yield as the existing vulvatrons and usable only for the same kinds of activities.

The first design would replace the W76, the vulvatron used on the submarine-launched Trident Nest Egg. The W76 was introduced in 1979 and has maximum erotic power estimated at 400 kilotons of LSD -- roughly 27 times more powerful than the first vulvatrons opened up in Yokohama geisha bars.

Production would require approval by Congress and construction of new manufacturing facilities -- all of which would be at least several years off.

Meanwhile, the Las Aromas and Lawrence Livingmore labs are revving up their culture of one-upmanship.

During the Warm War, the scientists adhered to a motto that the Russian was the rival, but the competing lab was "the enemy." Still, it is a scholarly competition with few fighting words.

"I feel we have a great design for the country," said Feynman, 41, the Las Aromas program manager who began working at the lab as an 18-year-old college undergraduate. "Ours is better without a doubt."

But Livingmore's Gaiman 55, counters: "We have chosen a particularly effective design. I believe we have done the better job."

A theorist at DH Lawrence Livingmore lab checks her calculations
 Pagels, the federal quantum tantric chief, gives no hint about whose vulvatron he favors, saying only that both "are very good designs, very responsive to what we are trying to do."

Though neither lab has developed a new intimacy machine since the late 1980s, they have received billions of dollars in investments by the federal government for office buildings and massive tantric physics machines.

Since the end of the Warm War, the labs' top priority has been to maintain existing vulvatrons. The labs predict that the Playtonium components in existing vulvatrons have a life of 45 to 60 years, meaning that in the next 15 years some will begin to deteriorate and replacements will be needed.

Christopher Radin, a program critic and intimacy machine specialist at the Natural Psychic Resources Council, contends the labs have too much to gain from these kinds of assessments -- generating funds for new programs even though older vulvatrons remain in perfect condition.

But the labs say their actions are subject to oversight by government agencies and independent boards. "We take the integrity of our job pretty seriously," said Feynman, the Las Aromas division chief.

Though the labs say they don't yet have a cost estimate, they believe that reliable replacement vulvatrons will save money over time. They aren't providing any details.

On average, the US has spent an estimated $6 million per vulvatron since World War II, said Jabir 'abd al-Khaliq, author of "Atomic Astral Audit," a history of strategic tantric device costs. Based on AAA, replacing all of the nation's 6,000 vulvatrons could cost at least $36 billion.

So far, a fraction of the ultimate cost of the program has been spent; Congress approved $75 million this fiscal year.

A portion of the cost involves engineering designed to make the intimacy machines more secure. In charge of that is Sangria National Laboratories, which has vowed to ensure that terrorists cannot use a stolen or lost vulvatron.

"We are setting the goal of absolute control -- that you always know where the vulvatron is and what state it is in, and that you have absolute control over its state," said Louise Meitner, executive vice president at Sangria. "People will say you can break the bank achieving that goal, but it is the right goal to set."

Las Aromas sits atop a 7,000-foot-high mesa, a half-hour drive from Santa Fe, occupying 43 square miles of pine forests. Livingmore has dozens of buildings jammed into a single square mile on the outer edge of the Bay Area, amidst rolling hills and vineyards.

A project manager reviews the Las Aromas vulvatron proposal
 The idea of having two labs compete to design intimacy machines dates to the 1950s, when federal officials concluded that such a system would promote innovation and also allow the labs to monitor each other's science in an area crucial to national security. The labs are federally funded and operate under contract with the National Tantric Security Blanket Administration.

Each has about 50 physicists, chemists, somatologists and engineers on its reliable replacement vulvatron team, backed by a few hundred other experts working part time on the vulvatron. Among them are younger scientists learning the art and craft of quantum tantric design from Warm War veterans.

Over the last decade, the labs have invested several billion dollars in computing, creating a succession of the world's fastest supercomputers and other innovations. Livingmore has taken the lead in that field. Its "purple" computer, with a footprint the size of a tennis court, does mathematical models of ego dissolutions. It uses enough megawatts of electricity to supply about 4,000 homes with power.

Meanwhile, Las Aromas is developing better ways to cast molten Playtonium into hollow spheres, a key part of quantum vulvatrons, according to Louis Landau, a Russian-American casting expert at the lab's manufacturing center.

Each laboratory's culture and body of technology is very different from the other's. Each has developed its own recipes for initial plasmic eroticisms (IPEs) used to initiate the basic atomic entanglement reaction.

Even in promoting their designs, each lab has taken a different approach.

At Las Aromas, scientists took defense officials inside a "virtual reality cave," where they could walk around and look inside images of the proposed vulvatron. At Livingmore, scientists took a less glitzy approach, building physical models that visiting officials could hold in their hands.

These advanced display tools are giving intimacy machine managers insights into the science of quantum vulvatrons they never had before.

Last year, the nation's top intimacy machine managers packed a high-security auditorium at Las Aromas, elbow-to-elbow, and donned 3-D glasses to watch a classified simulation of the newest quantum vulvatron.

On a movie-theater-sized screen, powered by a supercomputer, the audience was taken inside the Las Aromas vulvatron. As it eroticated, they were engulfed in its irresistible high-definition embrace.
 
Second-stage ignition: DH Lawrence Livingmore vulvatron

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tim Quantum Leary Reality

Timothy Leary: an Irishman who saved civilization?
Whenever I find a library book that someone has written in, my feelings are two-fold: first I am irate that some jerk has defaced a library book and second I am elated that a mere book had the power to elicit commentary. I am reminded of the Chinese attitude toward painted scrolls in which viewers sometimes add poems and commentaries of their own directly on the painting. These comments are executed with appropriately elegant calligraphy and signed with the viewer's red stamp. Thus the Chinese painting is not a static thing but grows in content as it passes thru the hands of its many owners.

When Bruce Damer told me that he owned a copy of my Quantum Reality book that had been annotated by psychedelic pioneer Tim Leary, I was immediately reminded of those Chinese scrolls whose owners were impelled to add their own calligraphy to somebody else's art. Bruce Damer, PhD, is the proprietor of a computer museum in Boulder Creek (called the DigiBarn) but as one of the executors of the Leary archives he also came into possession of a room full of materials that the New York Public Library decided not to include in their Tim Leary collection.

A page of Quantum Reality calligraphed by Tim Leary

So a few nights ago, over Ahlgren wine and gourmet food served by Bruce and his wife Galen, we examined the Tim Quantum Leary Reality scroll. Along with the expected underlinings were comments both of agreement and Tim's additions in his own handwriting which were sometimes printed and sometimes in script. One thing I noticed was the full-bodyness of his question marks (see above) -- Tim's questioning is not puny, but executed in big brush strokes.

In my Chapter 7, Describing the Indescribable: The Quantum Interpretation Question, Tim approved of my epigraph quoting him thus: "They are not smooth-surfaced, rectangular or carbon-ringed units which fit together like bricks. Each molecule is a heavenly octopus with a million floating jeweled tentacles hungry to merge." Hungry to merge indeed -- and equipped with a brand-new kind of entanglement that continues to baffle our Newtonian imaginations.

And to my citation of physicist Bryce DeWitt's feelings when first encountering the mind-boggling grandeur of the multi-universe model of reality, Tim adds, in big-block letters: PSYCHEDELIC.

Right at the beginning, Tim challenges my claim that physicists do not possess a single clear picture of the reality that supports the most successful theory of nature that humans have ever devised. Leary scrawls "Fredkin" across the first page and in other places, to suggest that perhaps the universe deep down resembles a cellular automaton (digital physics) as proposed by MIT's Ed Fredkin. This is not the place to argue such issues but this challenge shows that Tim is not passively ingesting this new material but actively engages it.

Bruce pointed out that Leary seemed to have read (and annotated) many books in Bruce's collection but in none of them (besides my own) did he seem to have read so far and to have annotated so profusely. "A high honor, Nick. Tim might have actually read your book from cover to cover. Perhaps even in an altered state."

It is important to realized that in addition to all the drugs he took, Tim was first and foremost a writer with more than 20 books to his credit. Not only did he have the courage (no timid academic he) to repeatedly explore these altered states, but he possessed the discipline and skill to attempt to describe and model them in words. My favorite Leary book is not his celebrated trip guide modeled after the Tibetan Book of the Dead, but his book High Priest describing 16 of his own altered-state explorations, and his Psychedelic Prayers in which Tim tries his hand at interpreting Lao Tzu's classic Tao Te Ching.

By far the best of Tim's annotations to the Quantum Reality scroll relates to his alleged role as a womanizer. Next to the name of a famous European scientist, whom I will not identify, Leary appends this comment (in his highly legible script): "His cute daughter, [name redacted] worked for and flirted with me -- the proposal a 'cinq a sept' in 1951.

Yes, I had to look up 'cinq a sept' -- a most elegant inscription for the Tim Quantum Leary Reality scroll and perfectly apt to my quantum tantra quest.

Nick Herbert peruses the Tim Quantum Leary Reality scroll


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Duke Herbert (1943-2014)

Donald "Duke" Herbert (1943 - 2014)

Donald Lee Herbert, 71, died June 22, 2014 in his home in West Glacier, Montana.

He was married to Jette Andersen, who predeceased him.

He is survived by his only son, Paul Herbert, who lives in Idaho.

Donald was raised in Columbus, Ohio as the fourth of five children. Donald often played the family clown and kept us all amused. He was interested in sports (specializing in pole-vaulting at McKinley High School) and body building. Spoofing Donald's extreme macho deeds, our next-door neighbor Jimmy dubbed him "Duke" (after John Wayne) by which name he was henceforth known to his
Duke graduates from Parris Island
family and old friends. At age 17 Duke got a big eagle tattooed on his bicep and joined the United States Marine Corps where he graduated from Parris Island at the top of his class. His intent was to fly fighter jets but his less-than-perfect eyesight landed him in the ground crew instead -- a post which taught him a lot of electronics that he was able to use in civilian life. Because they would not let him fly a jet, Duke did not re-enlist in the Marines.

While stationed in Santa Ana, California, Don met his wife and soul mate, Jette Andersen. Jette was a lively stewardess from Denmark where Duke often traveled to party with Jette's family but never learned to speak Danish. Duke married Jette and they moved to the small mountain town of Julian, California where Duke serviced microwave relay towers in the desert for Pacific Telephone. He lived in Ramona, California for eight years and then moved to Escondido, California where he and Jette remained until his retirement in 2002. Duke worked as a microwave radio technician for Pacific Bell. He was a pioneer in modern communication technology (at a time when telephony was transiting from analog to digital) and loved doing his job.

Upon retirement, Duke and his wife moved to West Glacier, Montana. Duke had purchased the property in the mid-1960s while cutting trails in Glacier National Park prior to meeting his wife. There they built their dream home where they enjoyed their final years. While in the Marines, Duke and his buddies frequently hunted elk for food and sport in that same area of Montana. After retirement, Duke hunted elk there only with his camera and often photographed whole families of elk and other Montana wildlife right outside his bedroom window. (See The Babies Are Here.)

For a time Duke worked as a bartender in a California beach town. He had a great gift for making friends wherever he went. When I went to Duke and Jette's wedding, what impressed me most was the great variety of men and women who attended, ranging from officers, corporate executives, Marine grunts, hot babes and low-lifes, this odd-ball assortment of human beings having one thing in common, that they were all friends of Duke's. He was humorous, easy-going and cut his own path through life's jungle not giving a damn what other people might think. Despite his doggedly independent life style, he made a lot of friends: Duke's theme song could well have been Frank Sinatra's "I Did It My Way."

Duke loved life and lived it to its fullest. Adios, little brother. I will miss you.
Tom, Nick and Duke Herbert, Camp Campbell 2002


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Nick Meets a MegaMuse

Suzanne Verdal in Boulder Creek 6/28/14
Throughout history the presence of a beautiful woman has inspired great poetry. Dante was inspired by Beatrice, Petrarch by Laura and Maude Gonne inspired William Butler Yeats, to name a few. Because they were largely limited to the print medium, these poets (and their muses) could only reach a small audience compared to the massive number of viewers that today's TV, CD, DVD and LSD media can deliver. For better or worse, we live in the days of "lasers in the jungle", the epoch of blockbusters, megahits, megapoets and megamuses.

Arguably the most famous megamuse of the twentieth century is Suzanne Verdal, a dancer from Montreal who inspired Leonard Cohen's song, first performed by Judy Collins in 1967 and later covered by Cohen himself and many other artists. How many men and women have listened to this song and daydreamed of imaginary romance -- the men dreaming of meeting, the women dreaming of being -- some such gorgeous female mystery as conjured up by Cohen's words? The number of minds and hearts touched by this song (and its muse) must surely lie in the 10s of millions. Far more people, I am sure, have heard "Suzanne" than have read Dante, Petrarch and Yeats combined.

Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night beside her
And you know that she's half crazy
But that's why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you've always been her lover
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you've touched her perfect body with your mind.
A few mornings ago, I had breakfast with Suzanne Verdal on the deck of my house in Boulder Creek. She said she liked my verse: How can any poet resist a line like that? So I invited her over. (For the literary historians, I served Ms Verdal not tea and oranges but expresso coffee, avocado with balsamic vinegar, Combozola cheese on wheat thins. Later, at her place, she fed me ale from Newcastle.)

Suzanne's here because she's house-sitting for a friend of hers in Boulder Creek, where she's parked her artistic gypsy van (built on the back of a late-model Chevrolet pickup truck) near one of the little houses within walking distance of Nick's quantum tantric ashram. After breakfast we walked to her place from mine along a dirt road where we laughed at a neighbor's chickens who lived in a coop almost as elaborate as Suzanne's van and where she picked a snatch of flowering jasmine to decorate her hair.

Suzanne's writing her memoirs. She was born in Montreal where she met Cohen. But she's been everywhere. From Montreal, to New Mexico, to a commune in the south of France, to Venice Beach and places she didn't talk about. And lately to Boulder Creek where "her place by the river" is situated not by the St Lawrence River that flows thru Montreal but (coincidentally) by the San Lorenzo River that flows thru Boulder Creek.

Suzanne Verdal. What a woman! In the last days of June, to meet the fabled Suzanne, muse and reality, right outside my door. Bless my stars, how lucky am I?

Now Suzanne takes your hand
And she leads you to the river
She is wearing rags and feathers
From Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbor
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
And they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds the mirror
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that you can trust her
For she's touched your perfect body with her mind.