Ask a Spiritual Physicist


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Yellow Springs Ohio USA
Let me put another thread out there (the first one ain't going so good).

I am a trained nuclear physicist. Am also a keen follower of philosophy (in fact Process Philosophy led me to Western Spiritualism). Am also a liberal Quaker (we think we really are the most conservative and those Evangelical or Unitatrian Quakers are the latecomers).

So... toss your physics quandries to me. If I cannot answer them, I will suggest written or web material. Depending on how complex they are, this may take some time (I still work full-time).

For instance: "what is the status of a unified field theory? from perplexed"

I take it by "unified field theory" you mean the unification of quantum and relativity theory. They are still not aligned. The two roads most physicists see some hope for are string theory and quantum gravity. ST is quite elegant and very abstract and any experimental proof (or proof via explanation of the universe) seems far off. QG seems easier to test, but the test is yet to be determined. The big hurdle (and the reason for the research) is "very early times" close to the singularity of the big bang. That is why singularities of all kinds are being researched.

I stand available to provide references (from no-math-needed to grad texts or papers) if you want them!

Pax et amor vincunt omnia. radarmark

Let me know what you think.:confused:
Maybe this is less a question about physics than about a physicist, but do you think it more likely that J. Robert Oppenheimer was engaging in what one of his friends reportedly called his “priestly exaggerations” or that he was perfectly serious when, in answer to a reporter’s question concerning how he felt when the atomic bomb was detonated at Trinity, he quoted the Bhagavad Gita by saying: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”?

I sometimes think that the Manhattan Project, despite the fact that its often secular chief priests wore white laboratory coats instead of black hooded capes, was one of the definitive –if largely unrecognized- acts of black magic of the last or, for that matter, any other century. I also think that the brilliant, if Promethean Oppenheimer knew exactly what he and his fellows had conjured and that he stated it best and most accurately by his prescient quotation. He was, in other words, deadly serious. What I am unable to determine, though, is whether, in the quotation, Oppenheimer was identifying himself primarily with the Prince, whom I assume is Arjuna, or with Shiva (translated as Death). Have you (radarmark) or anyone else (reading) ever considered this? Thank you.
Is anyone approaching quantum gravity via the strong nuclear force? (Gravity being related to mass, and mass being (mostly) related to the number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus--which are bound together by the strong nuclear force.)

Also, any interesting remarks you might have regarding the two-slit experiments would be appreciated. (They've done it with Bucky balls, I've heard!) :)

As one of the last students of his generation of physicists, I think both Rabi and Wigner would agree with you. In the Atomic Archive (J. Robert Oppenheimer | Media Gallery | ) there is a very good clip that is the best proof that what he meant was that the physicists who worked on Trinity had literally become death ("I" was an imperious I).

Both Rabi's and Openheimer and the Manhattan Project (available from the Atomic Heritage Foundation) say about the same thing (both are easily readable and probably at your library).

As an aside, my role with the B-61 Mod-11 (look it up) is what led me to retire and become a Quaker.

Pax et amor vincunt omnia. radarmark
SG-- look up "Prima Facie Questions in Quantum Gravity" or Chris Isham on google scholar. But do not rely on it (it is dated). Rather look it up as the search for, you should get over 50 good refs. Claus Kiefer's presentation at uni-regensburg is quite good as background as his "Why Quantum Gravity?" (from Springer Press) is a pretty good update.

See, as you get closer and closer to the singularity (the big bang) em (electrom-agnetic) and ew (electro-weak) forces reunite with the strong force (called "symmetry breaking" in reverse). This is pretty much canon after Salaam, t' Hooft, and Geogi-Glashow.

So, you are on the right track... GUT (grand unified theory) will be a the unification of QCD (quantum chromodynamics, a way to explain strong force) with gravity. Tha is what "Twister Theory", "String Theory", and "Quantum Loop Gravity" are all seeking.

Two-slit experiments. Look up Afshar's experiment and the Elitzur-VAidman bomb problem. There are several good java-based modles on the web (like Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Double-slit experiments). On the reading side, "Quantum Enigma" has the best expalantion of Young's experiment I have seen... though Penrose's works do better with bomb problem. Go to a library and peruse Penrose's Road to Reality or go to Interaction Free Measurements | Department of Physics at the U of I for it.

Pax et amor vincunt omnia. radarmark
Topic: The components of electricity

Can you please define "Electricity" from the atomic POV
[I am not asking inre to the Home 'DIY' mode of Home repairs].

In what way does "Electricity" differ from all of the other aggregate elements of the 'Elements Chart'.

Why does "Electricity" possess to inert quality of bearing forth "Light"?
[I am not asking inre to the science of light-bulbs & 'heated filiment' usage].
What is atomically ocurring when "Electricity" shines, naturally and/or in the lightbulbs' case?

Can "free electrons" [commonly ascribed as composing a "free flow of electrons" aka "Electricity"] be obtained from anything element capable of being stripped of electrons?
Electricity is the flow of electrons or, alternatively, the flow of positive ions or "holes" (in the opposite direction). So as such, it is not an element (in terms of the Periodic Table of Elements). Electricity does not, on its own, bring forth light (one does not see the electrical flow in an antennae though it is there). Rather electrons in the flow transition from a higher quantum state to lower one, creating a photon. It is this photon that simulates our retina (or our antenna, if the photon has a much, much longer wavelength).

So electricity is a mass of free electrons that can be caused to transition to lower quantum states (by, like, passing through a gas in a neon light or a tungstun filament) which throws off lots of photons our eyes react to.

Yep. If you could figure out a way to strip all 96 electrons from a neutral Uranium atom, you'd have a lot of free electrons. The problem is they all recombine. That is to "top-most" (least tightly bound electron), after it tranisioned down, would be in perfect place to replace the "next top-most" electron when it transitioned down.

Pax et amor vincunt omnia. radarmark
Oh, and now I remember the last related question:

Topic: "Radio signals"

What is bouncing off the stratosphere, that is recieved via Radio antennae?

Is not the frequency composed of vibrating air (wave form)?
Or is it a vibrating electricity wave form?

They are "radio waves"... really a much longer wavelength photon thanthat we see as light.

Long waves get "bounced off" the ionosphere (hence am radio bounce). Shorter waves (like light) pass right through. Even shorter waves (like x-rays from a nuclear detonation is space) really f-up the ionosphere and cause "high altitude electro-magnetic pulse". In-between wavelengths (like those used in the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) do not bounce or pass through, they react with the atmosphere to cause localized heating.

Too much info?

Pax et amor vincunt omnia. radarmark
Pax et amor vincunt omnia. radarmark
Do airplanes travelling directly through the North or South Pole ---unable to use their electrical instrumentation? IOW, does the No & So Pole's magnetic fields make it impossible to fly over these areas?
Nope, Admiral Byrd did it (with really primative electronics) early last century. The polarization forces (that cause a compass to point) are very, very weak and (I think) at very much the wrong frequency to interfere with avionics.

Since most avionics are built with some king of electro-magnetic shielding (think of it as an enclosing copper screen) to keep the LORAN from interfering with the TACAN from interfering with the GPS from interdering with the radio (you get the idea?), they "shield-out" the electrop-magnetic effects of the earth anyway.

I had not thought about that, went up and looked. Sure 'nuff, the field is really, really weak.

ax et amor vincunt omnia. radarmark
Re Weak Magnetic Force [emf]:

The No & So Pole's magnetic fields do NOT interfere with avionic electrical devises?

Without a electronic compasses ---would not the a manual compass be without the advantage of 'Pointing North' when North [same Ques. for south pole] magnetic field is all 'Fuzzy'?

That is mystifying to me. With the Auroa Borialis type light-werks goings-ons.
How are the eletric weak ---at a nexus point where all longitude Lines converge?

That's like saying an eletrical Battery is weakest at the nodes/poles/terminals.

Wait, did not Byrd disappear without a trace ---at the North or south Pole?
Re radio waves:

But, what is doing the Traveling? What "Physical Medium is Vibrating"?

The air vibrates at the frequency appropo to one on its corresponding known Spectrum Scale of frequencies? It's the air that Vibrates No? Wheater radio, x-rays, electro-magnetic, High Frequency Active Auroral ---It's the air that Vibrates No?

Re Light waves:
When does light come forth from moving electrons?

Is it not true that LIGHT passes through a vacuum tube, without need of a material medium to transmit it?
One at a time:

1) It depends on what you mean by weak. At the poles it is about 60 microteslas, about a thousand times less dense than a weak refigerator magnet. Most avionics have cases that protect them from at least 1-5 T (a hundred thousand or so times more than the flux at the pole. How do you shield? Put a refrigerator magnet into a small steel case, then pour iron filings on it.... nothing, or try to make it stick to the refrigerator again... it won't.

2) Adm Byrd died in Boston about 1959 (I remember hearing about him during the International Geophysical Year of 1960, and he was deceased). I saw him tomb at Arlington.

3) Nothing is vibrating in the case of electro-magnetic waves (this is where the analogy with sound or earthquakes goes south). The aether was what was supposed to vibrate (in Maxwell's time). Einstein pretty much killed that notion with relativity. It is the photon (the particle of light) that vibrates.

4) Yep, light passes through a vacuum tube without a material medium. If you have an old McIntosh amp you can watch them heat up and glow. The electrons being pushed through and manipulated by other electromagnetic fields heat up the metal, the metal and electrons kick put photons and voila, light!

Pax et amor vincunt omnia. radarmark
Topic: Acid versus Alkaline aka, pH scale

"pH" means "Potential to lose Hydrogen atoms" ---The elmental Chart of chemistry can be divided into 'Acids' and 'Bases' [True?] and therefore chemical reactions begin by combining these two ---what is the nuetral point of Life in regards to pH?
This is not physics, but since bhaktajan entered the topic of pH. I always wondered how you measured it in the first place. What does pH 1 indicate? The concentration of H/OH in the liquid?
PH is a logrithmic scale to measure the concentration of H-positive to OH-negative. H-positive is a positive hydrogen ion, OH-negative a negative hydroxide ion. Water (assumed to be equal, that is no hydrogen or hydroxide ions) is pH7. A base (or alkaline) with a pH of 9 would have 100 hydroxide ions per unit, 11 would have 10,000. Same with the acid side. Gastric acid at pH1 has 1,000,000 hydrogen ions per unit. The scale kinda goes kilter after that and very strong acids (like 99.99% sulferic (sp?) acid or 99.99% lye (which will burn you just as badly as the acid) are usually measured in Mol percentages (a dilution factor).

However, if I remember right from my Health Physics days, there are mine tailings that nominally range from -3 to +16 pH (associated with how the gold or silver or uranium was extracted). Very bad stuff... leading cause of lung concer on the Navaho rez after smoking.

Pax et amor vincunt omnia. radarmark
After posting a couple of non-scientific comments, I figure this thread needs a little help.

Yes, I really am a physicist. Had a late education (did not start college intil my mid-30s) because I was busy in the military and with several challenging relationships and pretty severe PTSD. I knew I would never contribute much to my field (late-blooming mathematicians and physicists are pretty much non-existent) so I kept reading philosophy and "snooty" fiction (Kazantzakis and Joyce, for example). But I had a couple of really, really good instuctors (DR Finkelstein and HP Stapp) I kept in touch with.

I perceive the world as (roughly) being divided into two types of knowledge. External and internal. Physics and Philosophy versus Experience. The goal of my though is to

"endeavour to frame a coherent, logical, necessary system of general ideas in terms of which every element of our experience can be interpreted. By this notion of 'interpretation' I mean that everything of which we are conscious, as enjoyed, perceived, willed, or thought, shall have the character of a particular instance of the general scheme."

(from Whitehead's Process and Reality, Page 2, I think, See

Or as one of my younger, more perceptive friends put it "to unify science and philosophy and religion" (he and I have really temendous and long philosophical discussions, he is a relatively new PhD).

To me the ultimate scientific text is The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe by Roger Penrose (look it up on wikipedia, if you do not have Calculus and Set Theory under your belt read about it and go to the library--do not buy it, for scientists). And my all-time favorite philosophy text is Process and Reality (again, unless you have a really deep introduction to philosophy, just read about it, do not waste your money buying it).

In the march or demarcation line inbetween the two, Ken Wilber's Quantum Questions does it for me (for those of you that need brushing up on Quantum Theory, try Quantum Enigma by Kuttner and Rosenblum, a public source requiring no real math).

So what does all this mean Radar? You may ask. Simply this, the physical world is described in the small by Quantum Theory, in the big by Relativity Theory, in the details by Quantum Information Theory (read Scully and Scully or look up at ETH Zurich or Perimeter Institute or Zurek). These theories are pretty firmly proven within the context of the SCientific Method (look up), but there are some interesting "cracks". How can we get to a GUT (grand unified theory)? Does It come from Bit? Is the Qubit the basis of reality? What is time?

All of these things bring us back to Whitehead, who posulates in his metaphysics that reality (the Kosmos, as I call it with apologies to KW) is really an aggregation of experiences. It is a dance of becoming, not of being. Then the focus shifts from things (matter and energy and time and space) to events undergoing change. The quantum foam if you will, or the Qbits (this is all a matter of metaphysics).

But that link, no it is tronger than that, the strong model of reality as experiences, bring us right back to the spiritual (Religion without caps). Because I experience peace and love and goodness and bliss beyond the external... in the internal. I know the Divine because I have joined Her in Dance.

All of that being said, now can understand (I hope) the backstory to this thread.

Pax et armore vincunt omnia--Radarmark
Second Law of Thermodynamics

Hi Radar, would you be willing to give your opinion on the Second Law of Thermodynamics? Nick & I are discussing this in another thread and am curious to get a scientific opinion.

Iowa Guy: "the Second Law of Thermodynamics....states the opposite, that the universe is becoming more disorderly (increased entropy) over time."
Nick: As I look at galaxies and solar systems develop, I can see very organized systems that grew out of practically nothing. If the law of entropy were true, galaxies and solar systems would not exist.

Question for Radar: how does the Second Law of Thermodynamics relate to the orderly development of galaxies, solar systems, and highly evolved life forms? If the universe is indeed becoming more disorderly, why do some examples appear to be bucking the trend?