Coming up is a brief cosmic story that can change the way you view our chaotic world. First, though, let me give you a context. In my last blog posting I mentioned physicist, David Bohm. Bohm is to the world of physics what Carl Jung is to the world of psychology. Both men were under appreciated in the reductive atmosphere of the 20th Century but are blossoming through a posthumous influence in the 21st Century.
Bohm wrote the gold standard text on quantum mechanics and then announced to Einstein that he no longer used the term “mechanics” to describe the microscopic domain of sub-atomic particles. Rather, he preferred holistic movement or what he called holomovement, the constant movement of the universe toward aware wholeness. Einstein invited him to explain, and Bohm told the story of crossing the stream I mentioned in my last blog. An admiring Einstein still was not convinced. The universe seemed to him more fixed and stable. Not so, argued Bohm, there are too many hidden variables within the mystery for us to think and live in such a static manner.
So off Bohm went on a life journey to explore hidden variables lurking beneath the constant movement of the universe. What he discovered offers rich possibilities for our personal disorders and current global chaos.
A Cosmic Story
Here is the cosmic story of one of his experiments, simplified for our enjoyment. Bohm took a large container that had two moving bowls in it, something like a salad spinner. You know what that contraption is: after washing lettuce, you spin a bowl of greens around until the moisture flies off and collects at the bottom of the container. Bohm filled his laboratory salad-spinner-like container with glycerin, a highly viscous liquid that is colorless and sweet tasting. Glycerin’s most common use is in soap and other beauty products like lotions, though it is also used in the form of nitroglycerin to create dynamite. Bohm used it in his experiment because it easily absorbs other liquids.
Then, our intrepid scientist took an eye dropper of the sort we once used for nose drops, the kind with a rubber top for squeezing. He pinched the dropper in a jar of black ink and filled it. Holding the dropper over the vat of glycerin, he squeezed again until a large drop of ink fell into the container of liquid glycerin. Next, he moved the experiment along with a regulated motion spinning clock wise like you might with a salad spinner. The blob of ink began to spread out in long tails until it disappeared or was absorbed in the glycerin.
Thus far, the experiment revealed exactly what 20th Century interpretations of the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics predicted; namely, that the universe is increasing in randomness, chaos, and entropy. The more motion, the more forms tend to disappear. Such a cosmic map is filled with existential despair.
Enter hidden variables, and everything changes, including the science of the 20th Century.
Bohm then reversed the motion from sun wise to moon wise. Picture him standing there after having introduced the hidden variable of a reverse motion. Suddenly, strands of ink begin to appear in long and elegant patterns until a blob of ink reappears. The new ink pattern appears as if it is exactly the same as the one he originally dropped into the solution. But it is not! The ink molecules were attracted to the force of the new motion and cohered to each other. But the new coherence constituted a new form.
Many experiments followed. Scientist, Ilya Prigogine, stood on Bohm’s shoulders to extend the order/disorder/order hypothesis. Prigogine received the Nobel Prize in 1977 for his work on the sequence of order, disorder, and dissipative structures. Bohm’s and, later, Prigogine’s experiments uncovered layers of reality. There is order in the form of a current structure like the original ink blob. But things are not static. All is motion. The current form loses its cohesion and dissipates into another layer, one you might call chaos and disorder.
Next, the universe surprises us with its hidden variables! Out of the sea of chaos emerges an island of coherence as molecules from the old form are attracted to a new force, a motion from the domain of hidden variables. So, 20th Century interpretations of the laws of thermodynamics were not so much wrong as they stopped short of exploring hidden variables out of which emerge new and powerful motions. The motion becomes an attractor force that coheres and then creates a new form.
A Brief Reflection
Lately, I have been meditating on this core experiment from Bohm. We have a serious illness in my immediate family. Surgery and various therapies follow jolting diagnosis. Major illnesses plunge a family into what feels like and, to a certain degree, is disorder, even at times, chaos. As I journey through the chaos, swimming in the glycerin, I feel what may be a new motion, a turning in another direction. I look for other molecules with whom I can cohere. I am in search of a new form, one that looks like the original of the life I had before but is purified by extensive splashing in the sea of chaos. Meanwhile, I take comfort that current disorder has a role. Old structures are dissipating, but new ones, I sense, are on the way.
As with all cosmic stories: let those with inner eyes, see!