Sunday, March 20, 2016

Northern Hemisphere Spring 2016: Irish Tantra

William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939): Nobel Laureate 1923

I met the Bishop on the road
And much said he and I.
"Those breasts are flat and fallen now,
Those veins must soon be dry;
Live in a heavenly mansion,
Not in some foul sty."

"Fair and foul are near of kin,
And fair needs foul," I cried.
"My friends are gone, but that's a truth
Nor grave nor bed denied,
Learned in bodily lowliness
And in the heart's pride.

A woman can be proud and stiff
When on love intent;
But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be hale or whole
That has not been rent."

---William Butler Yeats (1933)

Arago Spot: Green

Friday, March 18, 2016

St Paddy's Day 2016

with apologies to Joanie Madden

Sure, it's a holy instrument
Like everything that comes from God
You must learn to hold her reverently
Like Father Kelly's Holy Wafer
Or a patch of Irish sod.

Close your lips around her fipple
And thru her narrow airway
Blow a prayer across that tilted floor
Called "labium" when there's one of them
And "labia" when there's more.

Now the noise she makes is frightful
Like a pack o' banshees wailin'
The men are rising from their seats
And now your life depends
On the music you can coax from her
With your fancy fingerin'

Sure breathin' (and tonguin') have to be mastered
But they're just a part o' the thing
For it's how ye move yer flesh
Across the openings, laddie,
That makes the Irish whistle sing.

You may play in a grove
You may play in a pub
You may play with a maid in the spring
But playing the Irish whistle
You must mind your fingering
For it's how ye move yer flesh
Across the openings
That makes the Irish whistle sing.

Sure, it's how ye move yer flesh
Across the openings
That makes the Irish whistle sing.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Sol Entangler

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

The goal of quantum tantra is to discover a new way of connecting with Nature that involves both mind and quantum mechanics. An early interview by Abu Ben Nooma, author of Red-Light Bardo captures some of the spirit of this quest as does Rudy Rucker's short fiction Panpsychism Proved recently published in Nature magazine. 

While searching for that all-important clue to a quantum-tantric breakthrough, Nick has been amusing himself by writing dozens of QT-inspired poems and designing/building a handful of "Preposterous Devices" that attempt to capture some of the flavor of this new science. Since these devices possess no theoretical basis (the science they pretend to demonstrate does not yet exist), they are mere guesses, shots in the dark, desperate premonitions and hardwired petitions to my Muse to grant me fresh inspiration for quantum-tantric gadgets that will actually work and for a new vision of Nature that will change the world.

My first preposterous device was called "The METAPHASE TYPEWRITER" after the hypothetical "metaphase membrane" that separates matter and mind. The MT uses a quantum-random radioactive source and Geiger counter to drive an English-language biased text generator. The MT was conceived of as an "empty channel" that might be possessed by living beings, by discarnate entities, by angels, devils or spirits of any variety. The Metaphase Machine was operated during the 1970s in a great variety of high psychic energy situations without any noticeable success.

Metaphase Typewriter: Yellow plastic tube houses radioactive source and Geiger counter
 Later with the help of Richard Shoup, who then worked at Xerox PARC in Palo Alto, I devised the QUANTUM METAPHONE which converted the metaphase device into a quantum-driven voice box, a kind of supernatural "Siri" designed to let spooks speak. None deigned to talk to us.

Metaphase Sound Machine by Dmitry Morosov, Moscow. This project was commissioned by Future Everything (Manchester) and Laboratoria Art & Science Space (Moscow)
 Recently a few artists have been inspired by the MT to produce quantum-driven devices of their own design. Lynden Stone, working at Queensland University in Australia instigated the Metaphase Typewriter Revival Project producing a quantum text generator using modern physics hardware and computer interfaces that was exhibited in both Australia and America. Lynden's doctoral thesis explored some of the history of art inspired by modern physics which includes her lovely painting Schrödinger's Puss featured at the bottom of this post. Meanwhile, in the former Soviet Union, prolific Moscow multi-media artist Dmitry Morosov (who goes by the name "::vtol::") produced a sound and motion machine driven by quantum-random nuclear decay which ::vtol:: claims was inspired by the Metaphase Typewriter.

The biggest flaw in the metaphase class of quantum mind-matter devices (Quantum Answering Machines) seems to be the assumption that spirits can alter radioactive decay to send messages to the living. A promising direction for further QUAM research might be to seek different sources of quantum "randomness" to drive the communication channel, for instance the recent device of Shi et al at the University of Singapore that derives random numbers from fluctuations in the quantum vacuum.

Dr & Mrs Future testing the Stellerator
 Another class of preposterous device (hoping to connect minds together using quantum theory) works on the notion of linking two people's consciousnesses together by, loosely speaking, arranging for them "both to attempt to observe the same photon". This purported quantum linkage is achieved by having both participants view light whose "radius of coherence" extends across both of their retinas. This kind of device might be called a Quantum Intimacy Machine (QUIM).

The first quantum intimacy machine (called the STELLERATOR) exploits the fact that the "lateral coherence radius" of light from distant stars is huge. The star with the smallest lateral coherence radius is Betelgeuse in the Orion constellation. This star's LCR is eight feet wide; every other star in the sky has a larger value of LCR.

The value of the LCR, loosely speaking, is a measure of the width of the photon wavefunction, an indication of the extent to which a single photon can "be in two places at once" while still maintaining its integrity (oneness).

There is a sense in which light from Betelgeuse is made up of a collection of eight-foot wide pancakes of light, each representing a single photon. These photon pancakes are very thin (the longitudinal coherence length is comparable to the wavelength (a fraction of a micron)) so that these stellar discs are less like flapjacks and more like very thin crepes. And each of these single-photon crepes is hurtling down from every star in the sky at the speed of light.

The stellerator is a simple hollow tube which allows two observers to focus their attention on a single star and to compete as to who will "collapse the crepe-shaped photon wave functions" from that star. The guess/hope/conjecture is that this simple activity of constrained star gazing will link the minds of the participants in a new and notable way.

One big flaw in Stellerator theory is that the photon pancake is so large that every object inside an 8 ft radius (in the case of Betelguese) is competing for the same photon. Thus the participation of two human retinas in "collapsing the photon wave function" is minimal compared to the grass, the rocks, the dirt around you. What's needed is a coherent source made of smaller pancakes, pancakes the same size or smaller than the dark-adapted human iris (about 3 mm).

The Lunerator uses reflection to produce two coherent beams.
 Enter the LUNERATOR, a purported quantum intimacy machine that uses the Moon as a source of coherent light. The size of the coherence disk is inversely proportional to the apparent size of the heavenly body. Stars appear very small so their coherence disks are large. On the other hand, both the Moon and the Sun loom large in the sky (apparent diameter of about 1/2 a degree) so their lateral coherence radii are correspondingly small, approximately 0.1mm (about 10 times the size of a red blood corpuscle), hence able to shoot comfortably thru the iris-hole of any human being.

The Lunerator takes a stream of moonlight (which consists of tiny amoeba-sized wafers of elemental light) and, using a half-silvered mirror, splits this photon stream in two and directs each half stream to a different observer. Now according to quantum theory, each photon wafer TAKES BOTH PATHS, so each observer in theory can compete to collapse the wave function of the same photon with God-only-knows-what effect on the subjective experiences of the participants in this peculiar new way of sharing lunar light.

A brand new improvement on the Lunerator is the SOLARATOR (called by some a Sol Entangler) which is similar in many respects to the Lunerator (same lateral coherence radius, for instance) with the added advantage of higher intensity and spectral separation. (Spectral purity increases the longitudinal coherence length, thereby making the photon pancakes thicker). Instead of using a half-silvered mirror to split the beam in two, the Solarator employs a mirrored diffraction grating provided by a blank DVD disk masked down to a working diameter of a few millimeters. As with the Lunerator, the two beams (now each a pure spectral color rather than cream-colored moonlight) are sent to two observers who compete to collapse the same photon's two-part wave function.

The Solarator uses diffraction to produce two coherent beams

Solarator in action.

 When I first conceived these various photon-sharing-based quantum intimacy machines, I believed that they were each an example of quantum entanglement. But that is not the case. Each of the photon wave functions in all of these three examples is factorable, hence not entangled. The only non-locality which these devices possess is a kind noted by Einstein early in the quantum game when he noticed that light from a single atom is supposed to emit a wave function which travels to all parts of the universe where at every moment it represents the probability of a photon being observed.

But when that photon is actually observed at one single place, the probability of it being observed somewhere else instantly drops to zero, seemingly violating the relativity rule that nothing can travel faster than light. It's this kind of non-locality that's operating in these three putative quantum intimacy machines. However, hundreds of labs all over the world daily produce truly entangled photon beams which might be utilized for the next generation of truly entangled preposterous devices. For example, Nicolas Gisin and his buddies at the University of Geneva are already experimenting with ways of entangling human retinas using entangled light. Perhaps the next quantum tantra breakthrough will occur accidentally tomorrow in some optics lab in Switzerland.

[After this post was published, Lynden Stone reminded me of conceptual artist Jonathon Keats's Quantum Marriage in which a committed couple ceremonially bath themelves in TRULY ENTANGLED LIGHT produced by sunlight passing thru a non-linear crystal. Thanks, Lynden.]

We hold these truths to be self-evident --
This direct, non-symbolic experience of Nature-from-inside
That the Universe is filled with billions of invisible conscious beings
That every sentient creature lives equally near to the mystery
That deep reality is waiting for us to ask the right question.

Erwin's Puss by Lynden Stone, housed at Centre for Quantum Dynamics, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia