Sunday, December 27, 2009

One Two Blue Moon

Santa Cruz birthday party

Time's a-Wastin

Last chance
This year
To put your hand
Up Nature's skirts.

Two Bar Creek

I don't grab.
I just let it flow through me.

Monday, December 21, 2009

He's a Capricorn

"He's a Capricorn. That means
he'll be successful in business, like to dance,
be interested in sports..."

and other great books
Imam of Radio Beach
and Protector of Vegetation

(Cartoon by Sidney Harris)

Illuminated Blue Whale
Long Marine Lab
Santa Cruz, CA

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hanukkah Song


She is the Zohar:
The material world
Perceived as Splendor.
She is Shekinah:
That womanly Secret
Inside things.
She is Eve Hawah,
Mother of Animals, Mother of Mankind,
First to taste the marvelous Milk of Knowledge:
Sweet, forbidden, mind-altering and addictive--
The world's first "controlled substance".
She is Jezebel, Lilith, Magdalena, Sophia.
She is Sarah, the wife of Abraham.

She is the Limitless Oil of Hanukkah.
She is the Light of Lights, die Aufklärung.
She is that bright Hydrogen fusion furnace
On whose warmth all life on Earth is nursed.
She is Dante's Love that moves the Sun and the Stars.

May Her Light illuminate your heart, mind and body.
May Her Light illumine your work and your play
That in your work and in your play
Others might experience Her Glory.

Buffoons praise Her too
Even more than the sober.

And would you raise your kids as weapons
To defend their Father-and-Mother Land?
Or, in the dangerous eyes of the stranger,
Would you learn to recognize Her Glance?
Or, in the dangerous eyes of the stranger,
Would you dare to return your Beloved's Gaze?

Doctor Jabir December 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Advice from the Head Prankster

In the middle '60s my social circle happened to intersect that of Ken Kesey, best-selling author, leader of the Merry Pranksters, Commodore of "Furthur", the Psychedelic Bus, and instigator of the infamous "Can You Pass the Acid Test?" experiments in psychedelic sociology. Kesey had been introduced to the effects of LSD by Dr Leo Hollister at the VA Hospital in Palo Alto, getting dosed in the same building where poet Allen Ginsberg and physicist Heinz Pagels were similarly initiated into the psychedelic mysteries. Tom Wolfe has documented some of Kesey's pranks in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, one of the most informative books to come out of that decidedly experiential and anti-literary era. Another little appreciated literary record of those tumultuous times was Gypsy Joker biker William J Craddock's Be Not Content which chronicles Craddock's mind-altered adventures in the precincts of San Jose, Boulder Creek and Big Sur. And who can forget the heart-warming tale of how spooks in the CIA, secretly testing biochemical Weapons of Mental Domination on our own people, inadvertently triggered the massive, colorful and wildly out-of-control Haight-Ashbury Effect?

During the Summer of Love Era, I lived in Los Trancos Woods, a rural outpost of Portola Valley, while Ken Kesey was holding court in nearby La Honda. We first met at a party in Palo Alto hosted by lovely Shirley Burlingame. Gathered in Shirley's living room, under the seductive spell of the usual intoxicants, drawn into a hushed, dark, candle-lit circle with other Seekers of Deep Reality, the Head Prankster Himself gifted me with the best piece of advice I've ever gotten from mortal man or woman.

"Shut up, Nick," Ken Kesey said. "Shut up and listen."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Benjamin Bunny Faces Reality

In the early Eighties while working on a book about reality, I met Randy Hamm and his wife Gypsy Flores who were living in a quaint trailer park called Leprechaun Woods just around the corner from the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot. Our families formed a close bond and Randy and I decided to collaborate on a project that would mix quantum physics and animation. This was in the days before computers, when every frame had to be drawn by hand and separately captured on film. And Randy Hamm was becoming a master of this now-archaic art.

Out of Randy's portfolio of original creations, which included many animated household objects (Randy had learned to draw fire from a retired Disney animator living in Santa Cruz.) and several weird animal and humanoid creatures spawned in Randy's fertile brain, I selected a rabbit character drawn hitch-hiking out of Las Vegas, and we named him "Benjamin Bunny". Randy, inspired by a picture of my eccentric physicist friend Saul-Paul Sirag, then created an Einstein-like character who we cast as Benjamin's mentor--the all-knowing "Professor" who speaks most of the lines in the film. Benjamin never talks; he just listens and reacts non-verbally. Such was Randy's skill that he was able with just a few ink lines to pull a lot of subtle emotions out of this simple-looking rabbit.

Our project was continually being interrupted because Randy, after graduating from UCSC, was being sought after to work on feature-length animation projects. His last movie project was as a senior animator for Plague Dogs based on a novel by the author of Watership Down. One of my last memories of Randy was in my living room in Boulder Creek. Randy was on all fours on my carpet showing me how a dog walks. He had drawn this action hundreds of times and had the motions memorized. It was hilarious. For the sake of his art, Randy had actually learned how to walk like a dog.

Unfortunately for his friends and family, Randy died in an unusual climbing accident shortly after the completion of Plague Dogs.

For the sake of raising money for the completion of our film, Randy & I had cobbled together a kind of story board and sound track which we had turned into a slide show. We put on a few presentations in Santa Cruz to promote the project and I took it to Esalen to show participants in some of the quantum physics seminars led there by myself, by the real Saul-Paul Sirag and by physicist Heinz Pagels.

Recently, while searching for something else in my messy files, I ran across what remained of the Benjamin Bunny project and decided to post it on YouTube. This version of BBFR is dedicated to the memory of Randy Hamm and to everybody Randy touched and taught in his brief and colorful career.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Wild Zone

"Once this all belonged to them."--Gabrielle Cianfrani

The San Lorenzo River flows down a deep, wet, thickly-wooded crease between two mountain ranges and enters the Pacific Ocean at the city of Santa Cruz near the Boardwalk's roller coasters. A hundred years ago the valley's redwood trees were clear cut to rebuild San Francisco after the Earthquake, leaving a string of small logging towns along the river--Boulder Creek being the most remote. Jabir's Quantum Tantric Ashram is located a few miles north of Boulder Creek on a dead end road with three other houses. Most of my neighbors are non-human and live across the road in a big area I call the Wild Zone.

Once you enter the Wild Zone, it is possible to hike with some difficulty all the way to the crest of the Santa Cruz range without crossing a paved road. The Zone is populated mainly by deer, coyote, raccoon, possum, skunk. squirrel and the occasional wild pig and mountain lion. I have never spotted a lion in the Zone but the wife of a nearby friend reports seeing one cross her driveway after a recent forest fire, possibly seeking a new home.

The highway that runs through the valley is a kill zone for wild animals and finding many of them on my walks I often pick them up from the side of the road and carry them into the Wild Zone so someone can dine on them far from traffic. Sometimes they are eaten in place, leaving just a few scraps of fur. More often they just disappear. Into the Zone I've carried many squirrels, a few raccoons and possums and someone's big white rabbit that escaped its cage and wandered onto the highway. My biggest catch was a yearling deer which I loaded into the back of my car and dragged into the Zone with a rope. It weighed about 50 pounds and was gone the next day. Probably an easy supper for a big cat and her kittens.

A few of the Zone's inhabitants come to visit me at night. Crafty raccoons and skunks have learned to open the cat door and finish off what Kitty didn't eat plus whatever I've forgotten to put away. The raccoons will flee when discovered but the skunks hold their ground until they are finished eating and will let me get quite close to them--almost nose to nose--if I move slowly and make soothing noises. This year there are two of them, both born this summer. They are visiting less and less frequently and I expect they will soon be gone, off to start their own families deeper inside the Zone.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Psychedelic Sexual Etiquette

photo by Reno DeCaro
Dear Abbie--
I am a male human being on Earth plane 7. My partner wants to be treated like a goddess. But so do all the others. Is there one goddess or many? And how can I honor them all?
--Overwhelmed in Pasadena

Dear Overwhelmed--
The answer to the goddess/god dilemma faced by you and so many others confined to the Earth planes is contained in two psychedelic visions. Since along with these privileged experiences comes the conviction that you have been opened to a Deep Secret, to an Undeniable Truth of Nature, you understand that it would be spiritual hazardous not to base your post-vision life on these two psychedelic insights if at all possible.

Vision #1: Perception of the All-in-One. Behind the everyday veil of illusion you realize that your partner is Woman in all Her Guises: goddess, queen, perfect lover, sister, mother, childhood companion, lewd temptress too, man-eater, whore, black witch, angry Kali: devourer of worlds. Only the persuasive simplicity of the habitual illusion blinds you to the fact that She in all Her moods and costumes continually plays for your sake at the game of embodiment. In your relationship you both take turns imitating for each other all the male and female roles that crowd your imagination--images out of dreams, movies, childhood fairy tales--hiding (and seeking) behind the familiar masks that pulled you together when you met. The image of All-in-One supports the notion of deep spiritual monogamy: there is truly only one God/Goddess and He/She is now, was, and ever will be at your side. In the words of the immortal Fats Waller: "If that isn't love, it'll have to do, until the real thing comes along..."

Vision #2: Perception of the One-in-All. Beneath the shimmering surface of things, you suddenly realize that everything is alive, divine, and profoundly sexual. Every man and woman you meet yearns to be your lover. In his marvelous Song of Myself, poet Walt Whitman managed to put into words his glimpse of this unitary vision. Every flower, tree, stone, or drop of water is a divine essence that solicits your immediate erotic attention. Whst holds you back from the Universe's invitation to the dance? The image of One-in-All supports the notion of a spiritual promiscuity so shameless that it includes not only every living creature in its gooey embrace but the vegetable and mineral kingdoms as well. Goddess (God) is in everything and Goddess (God) is Love.

Reconciling these two psychedelic insights--each of them true without doubt on the deepest level of existence--is a real problem for finite creatures such as human beings, forgetful of your true natures, deeply taken in by the illusion of separateness
. But, keeping both of these images in mind, try to do your very best. Follow your heart and take the consequences.. Goddess (God) bless you.
--Abbie dearest

Friday, November 27, 2009

Trapped Rainbow

In this picture light from two lasers (red and green) is traveling from left to right while confined in a gradually tapering optical waveguide. As the waveguide narrows, the effective speed of light decreases until it reaches zero and then the light stops. This picture taken by Vera and Igor Smolyaninov and others at Towson University in Maryland shows the green light penetrating further than the red before stopping. If a blue laser had been used its light would have been trapped slightly further down the guide.

The trapped rainbow experiment is part of a larger program to manipulate light in sophisticated ways using "metamaterials" nanofabricated to produce exotic outcomes such as the ability to render an object invisible like the Romulan "cloaking device" in Star Trek. For more information about the Smolyaninovs' cloaking experiments see Those Damn Romulans and the 2Physics blog.

Metamaterials (MMs) are usually constructed by forming periodic structures whose periodicity is slightly smaller than the wavelength of the wave you are trying to control. Since the wavelength of microwaves is on the order of an inch, one can almost construct microwave metamaterials by assembling Lego blocks. Metamaterials that manipulate visible light, however, would have to be constructed of Lego blocks tens of thousands of times smaller.

The Smolyaninovs and their collaborators have cleverly bypassed the difficulty of fabricating metamaterials for visible light by demonstrating that a tapered optical waveguide already possesses some of the desirable qualities of MMs such as the ability to partially cloak small objects and to produce a "trapped rainbow" by slowing and stopping light. It is a big step from hiding tiny gold wires to cloaking whole star ships but a more practical near-term outcome from experiments such as these could be "super lenses" that produce higher resolution images than are possible with glass or, more likely, devices that coax light to perform unnatural acts no one has yet imagined.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Moon Mosaic from Astronomy Picture of the Day

And who has seen the moon, who has not seen
Her rise from out the chamber of the deep,
Flushed and grand and naked, as from the chamber
Of finished bridegroom, seen her rise and throw
Confession of delight upon the wave,
Littering the waves with her own superscription
Of bliss, till all her lambent beauty shakes towards us
Spread out and known at last, and we are sure
That beauty is a thing beyond the grave,
That perfect, bright experience never falls
To nothingness, and time will dim the moon
Sooner than our full consummation here
In this odd life will tarnish or pass away.

--D.H. Lawrence

Saturday, November 21, 2009

In The Jungle

"Once this all belonged to them."

I talked to a woman once
who believes she is living
inside the dream
of some higher being.

When she dances
the world vanishes
and its real owners appear to her
as tough but playful ruffians
dark dancing bodies edged in neon colors.

Everything has changed, she said
I am becoming a buddhist saint
sending compassion to every suffering being
you'll certainly get your share, dear nick
and you won't have to wait in line.

I've got plenty of tentacles, plenty of tits
plenty of what you've been looking for
all of your life, she said.

"show me" i said.

And she did.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Bonnie Eskie in Boulder Creek

Bonnie Eskie brightened the Bistroscene with her red hair and luminous words. She lived north of Boulder Creek close by my place and I'd often pass her house on my dog walks. Some poetry can be savored on the page; other poetry is best performed. Bonnie Eskie's Eyes is a true performance piece. Standing in a circle of light, Bonnie doing Eyes for an audience at Conrad's Bistro, was a real show stopper.

Eyes looking into mine
don't stop, don't stop
don't stop looking at me
into me, thru me.

I feel your steady loving gaze
penetrating into the very core of my being
seeing, seeing, seeing
seeing and embracing who I really am
who I am becoming.
I feel safe in your gaze.

I feel your gaze
penetrating into the depths of time
thru centuries
thru millennia
No time, no here, no there
just this moment with you.

A shivering sense of completeness
of being in oneness
in wholeness before we separated
into male, female
into you, me.

So don't stop
please don't stop looking into my eyes
don't stop holding me
with your loving

Thru you I feel free.
Your eyes liberate me from me.
I am bathed by their light, like sweet nectar
I am filled with delight.
Lost for a moment
this sense of separateness

I feel free in wholeness
for just a moment in timelessness
my thirst quenched

I feel content like a cat
with the mystery of not knowing
with the fear of abandonment gone.

Come into my eyes, my love
and blast me into a million pieces

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nick's Home Page Updated

Sometime in the early nineties, through the generosity of JJ Webb, I acquired my first website--the ultimate in vanity press! First I coded it in bare HTML and then with a primitive WYSIWYG web editor. Amused myself by putting up wierd shit that interested me and that might possibly interest other kindred souls. Surprised me that my make-shift site attracted tens of thousands of viewers.

After I started this blog I rather neglected my old home page which began to suffer seriously from staleness of content and "link rot". So today I went back and began to clean up this old site, removing the failed links and adding new material. It's still pretty raw--Nick Herbert's Home Page--but I invite you to check it out. It contains links to old buddies of mine, biographical details about the checkered career of Doctor Jabir, preposterous papers I could not have published anywhere but on the web and plenty of miscellaneous. Also links to sites I like--both colorful and controversial.

I'm hoping by the end of the week to complete the link Jabir's Secrets--an absolutely essential guide to anyone foolish enough to seek Ultimate Truth in today's New Dark Age of Misdirection.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Age of Entanglement

Louisa Gilder speaking at Telecosm Conference

My physicist friend the late Heinz Pagels believed that the 20th Century would not be remembered for its wars or its Moon walks but as the century in which humans first encountered the "Cosmic Code"--Heinz's pet name for the mysteries of quantum mechanics. The Cosmic Code, according to Pagels, is the unhuman language Nature speaks that brings into existence the material world.

I am currently reading a new popular book (thanks, Earl Crockett) which retells the exciting story of humanity's initial discovery of the Cosmic Code--Louisa Gilder's remarkable The Age of Entanglement now available in paperback. Gilder's book is remarkable in two ways: first for her solid grasp of the quantum concepts and her ease of explanation and second, for her decision to frame these concepts as conversations between the great men who struggled to formulate and understand this almost incomprehensible breakthrough into Nature's storehouse of mysteries. Louisa does not entirely invent these conversations but assembles them from letters and unpublished papers. Her method gives an impressive immediacy to these ideas which mere exposition would lack. Louisa's technique gives one the feeling of eavesdropping on the private lives of the discoverers of the greatest of Nature's secrets.

One delightful example of Louisa's conversations involves two physicists climbing a mountain as they are expressing their frustration at Niels Bohr's new quantum model of the atom which seemed to violate every rule of classical physics they had so painstakingly learned in school. And yet Bohr's model not only worked but it worked splendidly, explaining detailed features of the spectrum of hydrogen that were previously utterly mysterious. On the mountain top the two physicists take a solemn vow--that if this quantum craziness continued, they would both drop out of physics. The craziness did indeed continue; it baffles us to this day. And the two physicists did not drop out but pushed past their confusion to aid in the birth of the new quantum science.

Unusual for a book about physics, Louisa's book is crowded with people. Most of my favorite physics heroes come alive here in sketches, descriptions and witty conversations--Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Wolfgang Pauli, John Clauser and John Stewart Bell and many, many others.

Louisa is a true mistress of metaphor. Many times I found myself thinking, "O, I wish I could have said that so well." Here is how she handles why physicists continued then (and indeed continue today) to work on the quantum theory despite its deep and troublesome foundational questions.

It became more and more obvious that despite some odd details, ignored like the eccentricities of a general who is winning a war, quantum mechanics was the most accurate theory in the history of science.

Erwin Schrödinger was the first to discover quantum entanglement--a voodoo-like connection that persists unchanged between two particles after interaction no matter how distant they are separated. Schrödinger, using the equation that bears his name, had no trouble describing one quantum particle moving in three dimensions of space, but when he extended his equation to describe two particles he got not TWO WAVES moving in three dimensions but ONE WAVE moving in six dimensions -- a description which choreographs their otherwise separate motions (seemingly faster than light) by what Einstein dismissively called "spooky action at a distance". Quantum entanglement, said Schrödinger, is not A NEW FEATURE of quantum theory, it is THE NEW FEATURE that distinguishes it most from the classical physics we all learned in school.

Louisa Gilder argues that just as the nineteenth Century was the era when the new theory of Thermodynamics and the practical development of steam engines teamed up to produce the Industrial Revolution, so we are now witnessing the birth of a similar mutually reinforcing interaction between the theory of quantum entanglement and the practice of quantum computing. We are at the very beginning, she says, of an era whose technology we cannot yet foresee. Assembling today the rudiments of primitive quantum machines that tap directly into Nature's Cosmic Code, we are on the brink, Louisa Gilder eloquently proclaims, of a bottom-up revolutionary Age of Quantum Entanglement.

Sketch of Erwin Schrödinger by Louisa Gilder

Friday, November 6, 2009


The boisterous BC Bistroscene could not be confined to physical reality. In addition to its lovely meat presence at Conrad's Bistro, our poetry spilled out, courtesy of poetry impresario J. J. Webb, into deep as yet unsettled regions of cyberspace. The very first poetry avatar I ever saw was a primitive representation of JJ himself reciting one of his poems on (then video game designer now temple directress) Alx Utterman's big video screens. To me, JJ's avatar looked like Bluto from the Popeye comic strip. (In real life, JJ looks entirely different.)

In 1993, J.J. Webb set up a poetry site on Cruzio ISP, first calling it The Hawk, then later morphing into Zero City, showcasing exciting new poets from all over the map. Zero City was co-edited by Olympia, WA poet Michael McNeilley, who, among his many feats, hosted a site Earth Sucks (now in disrepair since McNeilley's untimely death) allegedly run by Vogons, the alien race made famous in Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Last time I checked, the poetry page on McNeilley's Vogon site seems to have been mercifully put to sleep. For, as The Guide informs us, Vogons are infamous for composing the fourth worst poetry in the Galaxy. Reciting Vogon poetry against a person's will violates the ban against "cruel and unusual punishment" enforced by almost every member of the Galactic Club. McNeilley had the habit of putting up his friends' poetry on the Vogon Verse section of Earth Sucks, a back-handed form of recognition to which I secretly aspired.

Webb/McNeilley published some of Nick Herbert's early work in Hawk/Zero City, culminating in Jailbait, the Broadside, which garnered an outstanding number of hits (probably due not merely to discerning lovers of imaginative erotic verse but also to FBI agents and perverts pursuing their intertwined agendas.) The web design of Jailbait is primitive by today's standards, but, excepting a few promising candidates for McNeilley's Vogon Poetry Page, this collection largely upholds the high standards you have come to expect from the brazenly creative author of Meta-Doctors on Duty and Elements of Tantra.

So check out Jailbait: Sixteen Barely Legal Web-Ready Love Poems and then, when you're ready for something completely different, bop over to Beau Blue's Cruzio Cafe for some innovative twists on presenting poetry performances on the web. Watch poets performing 24/7 inside J. J. Webb's ever-evolving cyber-tent: Great balls o' fire, Mollie, it's fulla poets! And they twitchin', they writhin', they squirmin', they crawlin' on they bellies like reptiles!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Is Realism a Dirty Word?

Martin Gardner before a domino portrait by Ken Knowlton

One of the most intelligent and delightful thinkers of our times is Martin Gardner, formerly the long-time editor of Scientific American's popular Mathematical Recreations column and author of an amazing number of books. For anyone studying the concept of mind-created reality, I consider this essential reading: Gardner's guest essay published in the American Journal of Physics: Is Realism a Dirty Word?

Is Realism a Dirty Word?
Every now and then a philosopher is smitten with incredible hubris. "Man is the measure of all things" was how Protagoras vaguely put it. For some metaphysicians, mostly in Germany, hubris mounted to such heights that they imagined the very existence of the universe depended on human minds. Only our shifting perceptions are real. If we cease to exist, presumably the universe would dissolve into structureless fog, perhaps cease to exist altogether, perhaps never to have existed. Laws of science and mathematics, the structure of fields and their particles are not "out there." They are free creations of the human spirit.

Instead of seeing our brains as feeble, short-lived ensembles of atoms dancing to universal rules, this curious view sees our brains as actually inventing physical law--in a sense, constructing the universe. J. J. Thomson did not discover the electron. He invented it. Einstein did not discover the laws of relativity, he fabricated them. The fact that such fabrications are successful in explaining past observations and predicting future ones strikes a cultural solipsist as uncanny, inscrutable magic. "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics" was the title of Eugene Wigner's best-known essay.

Now there is nothing unusual about philosophers holding such opinions because no view is so bizarre that some metaphysician hasn't defended it. The amazing thing is that in recent years a few working physicists have abandoned the realism of Newton and Einstein. "The purpose of this article is to refute the fallacy that reality exists outside of us," writes English physicist Paul Davies in his contribution to The Encyclopedia of Delusions. The theme of astrophysicist Bruce Gregory's Inventing Reality: Physics as a Language is accurately described on the book's flap: "Physicists do not discover the physical world, they invent a physical the poet Muriel Rukeyser puts it, 'The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.'"

For decades John Wheeler has been telling us that sentient life exists nowhere in the universe except on little old Earth, that if the universe had not been so structured so as to allow itself to be observed by us, it would have only the palest sort of reality. "Quantum mechanics," he asserts...demolishes the view that the universe exists out there." Frank Wilczek, reviewing a recent book honoring Wheeler (Science, 28 October 1988) diplomatically comments on this remark: "The importance of Wheeler's technical contributions to physics gives his statements a weight that, coming from another source, they would not have."

It is a short step from Wheeler's social solipsism to the notion that science is not a progressively better understanding of eternal laws, but a cultural creation like music and art.

Read the rest of Gardner's essay here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Does Consciousness Create Reality?

Schrödinger's Cat: 1/2 alive and 1/2 dead at the same time?

Does consciousness create reality? Seems like a big topic for a little blog post. But because I will be considering ONLY EXPERIMENTAL ATTEMPTS to answer this big question I can skip almost all the philosophical verbiage and cut to the chase.

When we wake up and open our eyes, there's the world. But was it there before we looked? The notion that consciousness creates reality (called subjective idealism) has a long history but only recently with the advent of quantum physics has there been any opportunity to put this important question to experimental test. Unlike classical Newtonian physics which appears compatible with objectively existing substance, certain features of quantum mechanics (QM) do indeed suggest that consciousness might play an essential role in bringing the world into existence.

QM describes the world in two different ways, depending on whether the world's looked at or not. When it's not looked at, QM represents the world as mere POSSIBILITY WAVES. When it's looked at, some of these possibilities become ACTUAL EVENTS.

Unfortunately physicists do not agree about what it means "to look"--and we call this fraternal disagreement the "quantum measurement problem." The physics majority believes that what is necessary for looking is "a machine that makes a record". But how does one go about building a solid record-making machine using only possibilities as parts?

Some physicists believe that "something extra", something outside of quantum mechanics is needed to resolve the measurement problem. Some have suggested that consciousness might be the magic trick that turns airy-fairy quantum possibilities into hard actuality. An impressive minority of physicists including John von Neumann, Eugene Wigner, Pascual Jordan, Henry Stapp, Robert Mills, E.H. Walker, Euan Squires, Fred Kuttner & Bruce Rosenblum have argued that consciousness plays a fundamental role in the quantum picture of things.

The mascot of the measurement problem is Schrödinger's Cat who is placed in a box with a quantum device that has 50% possibility for killing the cat and 50% possibility for feeding the cat. According to Schrödinger's own quantum equation, the cat is 1/2 dead and 1/2 alive until somebody looks in the box.

In the case of the cat, the measurement problem reduces to the question: "Does a conscious being need to look in the box, to make the cat alive or dead? Or is that question already decided inside the box itself by an irreversible process (record-making device) such as the breaking with a hammer of a jar of poison?

In the past few years at least three experiments have been proposed to test whether or not consciousness is necessary to collapse the wavefunction. The first is a thought experiment due to Bedford and Wang from University of Natal in South Africa. Instead of a cat, B & W imagine a situation in which a quantum system either opens slit A or slit B in an optical interference experiment. In the case where the quantum odds are 50/50 both slits are open at the same time in the same manner as the cat is 50/50 alive and dead. Because both slits are open, an interference pattern should be observed. However if someone looks at the slits, the wave function collapses, only one slit is open at a time and no interference is observed. If B & W are correct, this setup unlooked at produces optical interference but when a mind intervenes the interference vanishes.

A bunch of us including Amit Goswami, Saul-Paul Sirag, Casey Blood and Ludvik Bass (Schrödinger's last graduate student) considered this problem for many months. We called our quest the AMY Project. After much discussion and calculation, the AMY team concluded that Bedford & Wang were wrong. No matter what happened in their experiment--looking or not--no interference would ever be observed. The B & W experiment, we decided, fails as a crucial test for mind-created reality.

A second approach to catching the mind in the act is due to Abner Shimony and his students at Boston University (see "the Boston Experiment" in Elemental Mind) and Dick Bierman at the University of Amsterdam. Shimony and Bierman propose the existence of a perceptual difference between you personally collapsing the wavefunction and you merely witnessing a wavefunction that some other mind has previously collapsed. To test this conjecture, they set up an experiment (see diagram below) in which two observers are looking at identical detectors and a hidden switch decides which observer gets to see (and presumably collapse) the quantum event first. This imaginative test of the mind-created reality hypothesis has so far yielded inconclusive results. If minds create reality, these minds apparently do not find it easy to perceive what this creation process feels like.

A third approach to testing the mind-created reality hypothesis is due to Roger Carpenter & Andrew Anderson at Cambridge University (pdf). In the C & A test, two observers both look at the same quantum system but Observer A gets a random output and Observer B gets an output that tells whether Observer A's result is true or false. Thus the putative mind-created reality does not come into existence UNTIL BOTH OBSERVERS SHARE THEIR DATA. So C & A have two separate channels by which consciousness can create reality: 1. break the code by sharing data or 2, directly observe the quantum system. In a wholly quantum world, there is no reason why these two separate methods of looking should lead to the same reality. But they always did--which led C & A to conclude in favor of an objective collapse model of reality.

To this trio of mind-matter experiments I should probably add my own work with the metaphase typewriter which was a quantum system (Geiger counter and radioactive source) coupled thru speech statistics to an electric typewriter. Inspired by Jane Roberts' Seth Speaks, I had hoped that the MT might operate as a quantum spirit medium and function as a clear communication channel for a discarnate entity as talkative as Seth. But no spirits ever took over my metaphase device during the year or so that it was in operation.

Does consciousness create reality? So far there is NO EXPERIMENTAL EVIDENCE from quantum physics that supports this bold conjecture.

On the other hand, so far there is NO EXPERIMENTAL EVIDENCE for the Higgs boson or for even one of the many, many new particles predicted by the Supersymmetry conjecture. Yet physicists continue to look for these things.

I hope this brief review of experiments designed to test the quantum mind hypothesis will inspire others to improve on them. Coincidentally the primary quantum system in every one of these tests was a radioactive source and a Geiger counter, a 100-year-old technology which seems as primitive as a flint ax when compared with the sophisticated quantum systems now routinely available in today's physics labs. Seems to me it's time for the mind-created reality hypothesis to be probed by light-sensitive CCDs, electron-tunneling flash drives, Bose-Einstein condensates, phase-entangled photons and the Heisenberg-uncertain qubits in quantum computers. Physicists, put on your hi-IQ thinking caps. Ladies and gentlemen, start your quantum engines.

Diagram of the Shimony-Bierman Experiment

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Elements of Tantra


Love every one of My Elements
Caress My Paradox
Embrace each phase-entangled photon
Hug My Molecules; kiss My Quarks.

The universe is My Body
From every eye, the glance is Mine
Down every river flow My Fluids
In every thing resides My Mind.

I loved you inside your mother's womb
Your every atom have I kissed
I've made you everything you are
You treat Me like I don't exist.

When you open your eyes you gaze on My Body
You taste My Flesh with your lips
Every smell is My Sexual Attractant
Every touch is My Kiss.

Come open your sensors to Nature's flirtations
Come lend your step to My Dance
I'm only fourteen (billion) years old
But I'm eager and ripe for romance.

Love every one of My Elements
Caress My Paradox
Embrace each phase-entangled photon
Hug My Molecules; kiss My Quarks.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The John Greeley School of Quantum Awareness

It's a well-kept secret that John Greeley--a man of many talents--in addition to performing weird poetry in the BistroScene also proposed a new school of quantum theory, as an alternative to Niels Bohr's better-known Copenhagen Interpretation and N. David Mermin's Ithaca Interpretation. Greeley's scheme slyly bypasses quantum theory's conceptual paradoxes and focuses instead on direct experience of the quantum world. While searching for something else in my files I discovered today this early draft of John Greeley's seminal contribution to quantum thinking and decided to share it.

The Greeley School of Quantum Awareness is modeled after the zen monasteries of Japan where the goal is to experience transcendent awareness by means of a sudden awakening, sometimes at the end of a stick.

To understand quantum mechanics is, in the Greeley School, analogous to sen awakening, but it must not be a shallow understanding in the manner of classroom rote learning, but something which is directly experienced, requiring, as an absolute requisite, freedom from the spell of language.

All discussion in the Greeley School is conducted only with action verbs, with hand signals, or by direct contact with nature. Naming any "thing" (which mistakingly localizes "objects" in space) is a punishable offense, the worst offense being to apply a name to a living creature. Matriculants are encouraged to use art, poetry, music and mathematics to express themselves. Anyone who quotes an author will likely be kicked or struck, have cold water thrown in his or her face, or be sprayed with a CO2 fire extinguisher, which makes a terrifyingly loud roar that tends to freeze misconceptions. Matriculants may in turn attack the teacher if his or her approach is found wanting, but a false attack is a CO2 offense.

Students are encouraged to wrestle, eat, drink, smoke, laugh and play games. The highest goal is laughter, but one of the worst offenses is shallow laughter.

If you are in doubt about your sanity or your emotional stability, do not attend the Greeley School. Anyone claiming they have found or "got something" will be expelled. Only those who have already gone past psychologism, or who have never been involved in it, need apply.

The objective of the Greeley School is simply to understand quantum mechanics. Since such an understanding is admittedly indescribable, and since there is no agreement as to what it means anyway, this would seem to be an impossible task. Therein lies the paradoxical lesson of the school, which, if you already understand, means you need not take the course.

There is no pretense of "experiencing the eternal Now" or any of that mystical sounding stuff. However, one of the greatest attainments is to stretch time, which is conceived of as a malleable function of consciousness, through the creative process. "Abandon all thought of past, present, future, ye who enter here."

Greeley himself is a tolerant man, but there are several things he will not endure, and which are strictly forbidden as subjects for conversation or artistic expression. These include patriotism, love of technology (especially computers), love of some saint or savior, and what the prices of things are when you go shopping.

The central message of the Greeley School is embodied in the following words: "The particle is a misconception; the wave is a misconception; likewise, the notion that particle and wave are misconceptions is also a misconception."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Submit to Walt

During the Sixties and Seventies, Walt and Rachel Bachrach ran the Encounter bringing a bit of Berkeley-style sophistication to the backwoods. Part convenience store, part bookshop, part art gallery and salon, the Bachrach's Encounter was the social center of Boulder Creek. After the Encounter closed and Rachel died, Walt was set adrift. He continued to play his role as store front Santa Claus at Christmas and as Parade Master for Fourth of July, but he had no project he could really sink his teeth into. Then came the BistroScene and Walt was in his element.

Walt's poetry was loud, bawdy and funny. Walt was like Burl Ives on LSD. Not only was he inspired to create dozens of new poems and stories, Walt actually invented an entirely new poetic genre!--The Abbreviated Aphorism.

To illustrate Walt's new poetic form, a few examples will suffice:

The road to Hell is paved.
Time heals.
All roads lead.
A penny saved is a penny.
No news is good.
Money is the root of all.
People who live in glass houses shouldn't.
Let your conscience be.

Walt Bachrach was part of the BistroScene from its very beginning. Which meant that he was on stage for the legendary Joyce Kilmer Cannabis Sativa Challenge on Oct 23, 1994 at the Boulder Creek Brewery--a competition for the best parody of Kilmer's Trees based on "dee wisdom weed". Not only did Walt participate in the JKCSC, he actually won the Gold Medal (as judged by audience acclamation), leaving myself and Jim Rintoul with the Silver and Bronze awards. Here's Walt's entry. What a memorable opening line! At the BC Brewery, I'll bet it's still ringing in the air.

I think that I shall never see
a pot head try to fuck a tree.

Beer drinkers--yes, and we know why;
machismo tells them they must try

to prove to you, to prove to me
that any fool can make a tree.

I'd be glad to be their coach
and teach them how to smoke a roach.

But no; their hungry mouth is prest
against the earth's sweet flowing breast!

Stoned, we sit beneath a tree,
and hope the drunks will let us be.

To raise money for the Boulder Creek Library, people were putting together theme baskets to be auctioned off. Walt Bachrach, inspired by Omar Khayyam, decided his basket would contain "a jug of wine, a book of verse". So each Bistro evening, Walt appealed again and again to the assembled poets to "submit to Walt" original love poems for his basket. Nick judged Walt's appeal fair game for satire:

Spaced-out bards
and word-intoxicated seekers of the Real
we mine our lives
we bare our hearts and heads, we grandly feel.
And we
Submit to Walt.

We worship sacred language
holy speech, enchanted sound
we praise the body
hog the podium, kiss the ground.
And we
Submit to Walt.

We leer, we wink
hike up our skirts, pull down our pants
we guzzle booze
we smoke, we venerate illegal plants.
And we
Submit to Walt.

We utter love songs
blessings, soft lullabies and curses
croon nursery rhymes
Gregorian chants and hot Satanic verses.
And we
Submit to Walt.

We worship Kenneth Patchen
Whitman, Rumi, Keats (or is it Kates?)
John Donne, e e cummings
William Blake and Butler Yeats.
And we
Submit to Walt.

We cultivate our darkness
while we celebrate our light
fall half in love with easeful death
and rage against the Night.
And we
Submit to Walt.

Each Earthly thing is holy
Each second, Heaven--or a Hell
Each lady is a Goddess
Could we see beneath Her shell
Each man a living Buddha
And so we might as well
Submit to Walt.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Patti Sirens was a wild card in the Boulder Creek BistroScene. She brought a hard New York edge to our laid-back California consciousnesses and her performances at the Bistro were delightfully electric and unpredictable. Patti's bio in her poetry collection Antarctica reads:
Patti Sirens grew up in and around New York City. where she was a club maven during the early days of punk rock, studied poetry at the St. Mark's Poetry Project, played bass in a rock-gospel band. and edited scientific and medical journals. She moved to California so she could be with her first love, the ocean. She lives in Santa Cruz, where she surfs, writes, and produces poetry performances.
One warm spring night, Nick was pleased to appear on the same bill as Patti Sirens at one of Santa Cruz's perennial standing-room-only "What is Erotic?" shows at Louden Nelson Center. I did some scatter-shot tantra and (inspired by Flesh Gordon) threatened the audience with a Sex Ray Gun which after some teasing I finally discharged. Patti Sirens performed her unique brand of erotic poetry and movement while rubbing a fresh honeycomb donated by local beekeepers over her upper body. Then, after the hisses and boos, after the cheers and applause, in Louden Nelson's crowded backstage, Patti laughingly let me help her remove some of her honey.


I am Antarctica /I take up the most space produce the least /no sustenance here to cradle of civilization /I just am /I was the surprise in my mother's womb /the late baby /the troubled teenager /the black sheep /look how white I am and hardly virginal /I am miles of glare /look me in the eye when I'm speaking to you /I am the childless woman /with legs unshaven /pierced and branded skin /the glacial language tattooed like crystals in the blue air /dyke /spinster /queer /I am Antarctica /and there's nothing can be taken from me /no oil tapped like blood from the veins /no gems /no gold /no alchemy /there's nothing can be taken I've not already relinquished /the house with picket fence /the endless shopping lists /the happily ever after /I am Antarctica /mother of nothing except perpetual night and cold /the layers of glacier deep and unmovable as will and resolve /the land few care to explore /there are no maps here /I am a continent contained yet wild and dangerous /I am a land not lonely but alone /I am Antarctica /I take up the most space produce the least /I don't apologize for my insolence /I just am


"I love how you lick me
like you're committin' a sin"
she says
as I enter the darkness
of her confessional booth
and tell her all my impure thoughts...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Whoreson Crawl

A few years ago I spoke at John Greeley's funeral which was held not in a church but in a second-hand furniture store on the fringes of Santa Cruz. John's friends knew him as an entrepreneur and avid baseball player but few suspected that he was a closet poet.

And not just a poet but a supremely weird and twisted poet. As a prime denizen of the Middle and Late BistroScene, John produced some unusually moving verse but his most notable accomplishment was his co-editing (along with Stephen John Solberg) of a small red book of poetry allegedly composed by lunatic Polish poet Ladislaw Tzestrczyk (LAD-is-lof dez-DARE-shik).

In the preface to this collection the editors describe how this book came about:

Sometimes the experiences of a lifetime can explode through the dikes of the conscious mind in a flood of feeling. Such was the case in the creation of this volume of poems. The entire outpouring was the result of a single 36-hour drinking and drug-taking binge during which the editors attempted to dissuade their friend, little-known Polish poet Ladislaw Tzestrczyk, from committing suicide.

Hence the origin of Whoreson Crawl which is defined on its title page as "a type of surreptitious movement performed on all fours by an illegitimate person, usually resulting in negligible gain."

Shortly before he died, John Greeley was busy composing an opera about this obscure Polish poet and would play tape-recorded arias from Whoreson Crawl--the Opera at some of our later gatherings. Here are are two examples of Tzestrczyk's verse from Whoreson Crawl, the book.


I climbed Olympian mounts of yore
And drank the piss of the Minotaur
On leathery wings I soared above
The Citadels of Ovid's love
I swam the streams of forest gloom
Arm-in-arm with the she-wolf's groom
I dug beneath the Trojan earth
And dined on Helen's afterbirth
I walked the roads of Leningrad
And pinched the sluts my father had
For you, my friend, I did these things
For you, my friend, I did these things


If I should die tonight
Would not the sun still rise
Would not the markets open
Would not the world spin
without a halt?
You probably wouldn't care
"Ladislaw Tzestrczyk is dead,
so what?"
But if you should die tonight
The sun would not still rise.
would it?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Oyster

The common name oyster is used for a number of different groups of bivalve mollusks, most of which live in marine habitats or brackish water. The shell consists of two usually highly calcified valves which surround a soft body. Gills filter plankton from the water, and strong adductor muscles are used to hold the shell closed. Some types of oysters are highly prized as food, both raw and cooked. Other types, such as pearl oysters, are not commonly eaten. (taken from the J. Orlin Grabbe intertidal zone.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Boulder Creek BistroScene (1992-2007)

Near the turn of this century the former logging town of Boulder Creek experienced a sudden renaissance, an eruption, an outburst, an overflowing of the art of the spoken word. Dozens of folks found their voices and spilled out of the hills to share their passions with like-minded others. Because this movement was centered largely around Conrad Santos's Bistro, I call these times the Boulder Creek BistroScene Era and divide it like geological strata into the Early, Middle, and Late BistroScene.

It began sometime in '92, when Andy the Bartender at the Boulder Creek Brewery decided there needed to be some poetry in town and persuaded his boss to give him an open mike one Sunday a month. My wife Betsy and I have always been big fans of live entertainment and we were among the first enthusiastic supporters of Andy's poetry evening. Then one night Betsy dared me to go on stage and read some of my own stuff. I got addicted to the applause and now they couldn't keep me away. Soon establishing my name among the Brewery Poets, I organized the Joyce Kilmer Cannabis Sativa Night in which Kilmer's Trees was gang-parodied in honor of one of Boulder Creek's most popular house plants.

The Middle BistroScene began in January of '94 when Conrad Santos opened up his Bistro restaurant to poets one Friday a month. Unlike the Brewery, which was about a block away, the Bistro had no mikes and felt as small and intimate as someone's living room. For two years or so Boulder Creek had two poetry scenes going on--the Brewery where you had a mike but had to compete with two bars, a TV, a full-service restaurant and a pool table in the rear; and the Bistro where everyone sat close and hooted and hollered at the poets. In the Middle BS Era, poet and impresario J. J. Webb set up a Poetry Grove north of town with mikes in the middle of a redwood ampitheatre and also created two poetry venues in cyberspace, The Hawk and Zero City. In meat space, as well as the Brewery, Bistro, and the Poetry Grove, local poetry overflowed into the BC Library, Camp Joy Gardens and into private homes. So many Boulder Creek poetry scenes that birth nurse poet Carol Brendsel dubbed our town "little Paris on the San Lorenzo."

In '99 the Bistro closed, Andy the Bartender left the Brewery and the poetry scene moved 4 miles south to the Santa Cruz Mountains Arts Center in Ben Lomond. In this Late BS Era, the main instigator was Phyllis Mayfield who MCed the readings as well as formulating the longest-running and most popular show at the Art Center--the Poet's Eye; Artist's Tongue exhibit in which a poet and a visual artist collaborate to create a single work. For seven years starting in '98, each April these popular collaboration would hold sway for a month at the Art Center.

I date the end of the BistroScene Era in 2007 when the poetry anthology Harvest from the Emerald Orchard was published. Some of the poets in this volume were denizens of the BistroScene but most were from Santa Cruz and it became obvious that the center of gravity of the poetic passion had shifted out of the woods and into the city. See Poetry Santa Cruz for a snapshot of today's local poetry scene.

I intend to highlight some of the people and poems of the BistroScene Era in this blog and would appreciate any suggestions, corrections, and especially pictures from those wild, word-crazed days in the redwoods.

Some featured BistroScene Poets:
1. Walt Bachrach
2. John Greeley
3. Bonnie Eskie
4. Patti Sirens
5. Ed Cramer
6. Philip Wagner
7. Ladislaw Tzestrczyk 
8. Nick Herbert
9. Jim Rintoul

Friday, October 16, 2009

Nick's Favorite Feghoot Tale


In 2263, Ferdinand Feghoot and his beautiful wife landed on Blaupunkt, a backwards planet where thousands of construction hands, crewmen, and scientists had been marooned for six years. They at once fell madly in love with her. Luckily, one of their scientists had perfected a matter duplicator which could duplicate living beings as easily as ten credit bills. The duplicates were shy on intelligence, but the Feghoots' hosts didn't care in the least. Very politely, they asked Mrs. Feghoot to act as their model, and amiably she agreed.

Because the duplicator could turn out only a few dozen women a day, polyandry was resorted to. Each new woman was married to a gang of ten men. The gangs prized their wives highly, and treated them well; and the good-natured duplicates enjoyed the arrangement tremendously.

Soon, however, Mrs. Feghoot began to lose weight and feel tired and irritable. "Every time they marry one of those girls, it takes something out of me," she complained. "Ferdinand, take me away!"

Feghoot watched for his chance. Slamming the air-lock of his spaceship when all the men were outside, he prepared to take off.

The men pleaded and wept. "Please don't go yet," they begged.

"i'm sorry," Ferdinand Feghoot said sadly, "but those wedding gangs are breaking up that old belle of mine."

from Through Space and Time with Ferdinand Feghoot
Grendel Briarton
Paradox Press, Berkeley 1962

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nick's Theorem as a Coin Guessing Game

In the late Sixties, Aberdeen Proving Ground physicist Evan Harris Walker published a novel theory of consciousness in which an immaterial mind occupies a physical brain by taking advantage of quantum uncertainty in the neural synapses. According to Walker we operate our bodies by a sort of quantum psychokinesis (PK) in the brain. Later Walker extended his mind model to explain external PK on rolling dice which he modeled as an unstable mechanical system in which small quantum uncertainties are amplified by the chaotic nature of tumbling cubes. In 1977 Walker and I published a paper together in John White and Stanley Krippner's book Future Science originally entitled "Calculating the Push of a Wish" which popularized this quantum PK model.

A week ago I discovered a mathematical proof that strongly constrains local psychic powers and is relevant to the late E. H. Walker's hypothesis (he died in 2006) that consciousness and its paranormal extensions cannot arise in a classical world and are fundamentally quantum-mechanical phenomena.

Nick's Theorem concerns an observer BOB trying to guess the outcome of an instrument that measures the polarization of light via a beam splitter whose outcome is either a Vertical or Horizontally Polarized photon. The photons impinge on the detector at a rate of 1 photon per minute so BOB has plenty of time to make his choice. BOB's task is always the same--to guess whether the next photon will be an H or a V. But the photons he has to guess are packaged in two distinctively different ways--Situation #1 corresponding to CLASSICAL IGNORANCE and Situation #2 corresponding to QUANTUM IGNORANCE.

In Situation #1, the state of the photons are definite but unknown (classical ignorance). In Situation #2, the state of the photons are in a quantum superposition of H and V and whether this superposition will register H or V upon measurement is considered "quantum random". The outcome of such a measurement event is "causeless", a happening that is so uncertain "that not even God knows the outcome."

We assume that BOB possesses LOCAL PSYCHIC POWERS and can reliably guess the outcome of the polarization meter (H or V) with a score P better than chance. We then examine the question of whether it is easier for BOB to exert his psychic powers in a situation of classical ignorance (score = P(C)) or in a situation of quantum ignorance (score = P(Q)).

Instead of photons we will imagine that BOB is presented each minute with A COIN IN AN ENVELOPE. These are unusual coins--their faces are the same on both sides--both sides HEADS or BOTH sides tails. They are a kind of coin that tricksters use to astonish or dupe. We may imagine they were minted by Sir Isaac Newton in the Tower of London.

In the situation of classical ignorance a single coin is in each envelope. It is either a HEAD coin or a TAIL coin and the condition of the coin is the same before and after opening the envelope. BOB's score at guessing a classically unknown coin is P(C).

In the situation of quantum ignorance BOB's envelope contains a quantum superposition of HEAD coin and TAIL coin with "mutual phase" of zero degrees (+ sign) or 180 degrees (- sign). In the quantum picture all matter has a wavelike quality and waves possess a property called phase. We don't completely understand what the "phase of a coin" might actually mean in reality but in graphical representations of quantum systems such as Dean Dauger's Atom in a Box the phase is represented by a position on the Color Wheel. Matter with the same phase has the same color; matter with opposite phase has the complementary color. The superposed coins pictured above are colored according to this convention. We may imagine that these quantum coins were minted by Werner Heisenberg in Copenhagen. When BOB opens an envelope containing a Heisenberg coin, it instantly changes into either a HEAD coin or a TAIL coin in a completely uncertain manner. BOB's score at guessing a quantum unknown coin is P(Q).

Now if consciousness, both conventional and "psychic", is purely quantum mechanical (as Walker and others have surmised) we might expect that BOB's score for predicting the state of a classical Newton coin would be zero. And that his score for predicting the state of quantum Heisenberg coins would be significant because Heisenberg coins are as quantum as it is possible to be. The outcome of a measurement on a Heisenberg coin is absolutely uncertain, precisely 50/50 random for HEADS or for TAILS.

Thus quantum models of consciousness would seem to favor the conclusion that P(Q) must be greater than P(C).

However Nick's Theorem proves that P(Q) must equal P(C). The reason? If these two scores were not equal, then BOB could use his local psychic powers to communicate faster than light.

Therefore if Einstein's speed limit is valid, quantum ignorance and classical ignorance must be equally accessible to psychic investigation--a coin minted by Newton precisely as easy to guess as a coin minted by Heisenberg. I believe this simple and unanticipated result is one of the few instances where mathematical reasoning has been used to derive fundamental constraints on the powers of mind.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Meta-Doctors on Duty

Meta-Doctors on Duty

Doctor Jabir's the metaphysician
For those deep philosophical pains
For those troubles we've all had since Eden
For those problems burnt into our brains.

Who am I? And what are you?
And is One and One makes Two
A made-up noise or universal?
Is this mad drama dream or real
Or simply a rehearsal?

Is there a God or is She not?
Should I believe what I've been taught?
Or should I go it all alone?
Can one find wisdom on one's own?

Cosmetic repair
On this kettle of flesh?
Where meat doctor staggers
Met-doctor's still fresh.

Is it One or is it Many?
Is it moving? Is it still?
Is it conscious? Is it sleeping?
What happens when I take this pill?

Some suffer from a bone-deep fear
That matter's all that matters here
That love and hate and pretty faces
Are naught but atoms changing places.

For constipated ideology
Say, science as idolatry
We meta-doctors recommend
LSD enemas--at least ten.

From Leningrad to Olduvai
We all suffer, we all cry:
"Doctor, doctor, will I die?
Tell me truth and do not lie."

Brother, Sister, take my word
From everything I've seen and heard
While practicing philosophy
I swear upon my PhD
You'll get no truer Truth from me.

Don't worry, don't wonder
Don't doubt this:
Death has your number
She won't miss
So give your life one final kiss.
The surest truth in medicine
Is that we doctors never win.

The most powerful drug
In Jabir's Meta-kit
Is Absolute Certitude
You will be hit.

Life's first lesson is death
And now that you know
Will death get you down, or
Make every sense glow?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nick's Theorem: A Fundamental Limitation on Local Psychic Powers

Tuesday I awoke with an intellectual orgasm that lasted all day.

This was nothing new--the exhilarating certainty that I had discovered some brand new way of looking at things in math or physics--but usually by the time I poured my second cup of coffee I could refute the half-formed message from the world of dreams.

But today was different. Despite my best efforts this new insight refused to be dispersed.

So I wrote it all down in the form of an article entitled: Nick's Theorem: A Fundamental Limitation on Local Psychic Powers and mailed it to my friends for comments.

Proving a mathematical theorem is a bit like telling a joke: first you prepare the ground, follow with the buildup, then finally you finish with the punchline. I won't spoil the joke by giving away the punchline and anyway the paper is still being reviewed by my peers--it may yet turn out to be a pipe dream. The abstract reads: "Using Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and Einstein's light-speed restriction, I derive a simple and unanticipated limitation on local psychic powers. I believe this proof represents one of the few instances where math and physics have been applied to quantify the powers of the human mind."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Reality is When Nature Says No

Reality is when Nature says No--Philip K. Dick

Almost all of the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mt Sinai are prohibitions--a big list of moral "thou shalt nots". Likewise in physics, some of our most precious intellectual possessions are also a list of material "thou shalt nots"--strict limits placed by Nature Herself on what can or cannot happen in the world. These negative commandments were not handed down in stone tablets but are based on the best knowledge that human have gained so far concerning the implacable and impersonal laws that seem to us to govern the entire Universe.

Situations where "Nature says No" are of great interest to scientists as they can motivate deep investigation into the details of how Nature enforces Her prohibitions as well as encouraging debunkers to attempt to find loopholes in Nature's prohibitions who in their failure might teach us even more about Nature's ingenuity in enforcing Her rules. Outlaw regions where these prohibitions are flaunted are places where a brand new physics is sure to emerge.

In casual review of the laws of physics I've isolated eight examples of "thou shalt nots" in the material world.

#1. No perpetual motion of the first kind. This law prohibits machines that produce more energy than they possess when they start.

#2. No perpetual motion of the second kind. This law prohibits machines that operate by extracting energy from random thermal motion.

#3. No faster-than-light motion and/or signaling: a prohibition discovered by Albert Einstein as a consequence of Special Relativity.

#4. No perfectly accurate joint measurement of complementary variables. Otherwise known as Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.

#5. No non-contextual reality can underlie the facts of quantum mechanics. Otherwise known as the Kochen-Specker Theorem.

#6. No local reality can underlie the facts of quantum mechanics. Otherwise known as Bell's Theorem.

#7. A single quantum cannot be cloned--a fundamental prohibition proved by Wooters & Zurek in 1982.

#8. A pair of quanta cannot be wed--a fundamental prohibition proved by Nick Herbert in 2008.

I welcome comments and nominations to this list. We need at least two more physics prohibitions to match or exceed the classic "thou shalt nots" handed down to Moses.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bruce Damer Famed in NYT

My Boulder Creek friend and neighbor Bruce Damer is a man of many parts. He runs a company that creates virtual reality simulations for NASA and other organizations in which moon landings, lunar exploration, asteroid mining, for example, can be carried out on comfortable Earth-based computers rather than in the harsh airless environment of outer space. Bruce is the proprietor of a quaint hacienda in Boulder Creek which among its lush gardens, performance stages, meditation huts and pig pens, houses the world-famous Digibarn, a collection of historical computers from the primitive Altair to a Cray supercomputer--many of which actually work.

Recently Bruce has turned his considerable talents to the question of how life evolved on Earth and, using his ability to simulate extreme environments in software is attempting to simulate the primordial soup from which all life on Earth, including you and I, presumably emerged. Bruce calls his Origin of Life system the "EvoGrid" and has made it the topic of his PhD thesis at the University of East London. Last week Bruce's work attracted the attention of a major article in the New York Times and now my Boulder Creek friend is experiencing his fifteen minutes of fame.

Congratulations, Bruce. Now back to work. We're all waiting to see what sort of primitive creatures will emerge from your homebrew digitized primordial soup. But please keep them in their cages. The last thing humans need is competition from novel software-evolved life forms.