Grappling with our Universe
People have asked me, “How did this base-2 model of the universe begin?” Often I start the story in December 2011 yet it all really began in 1971.
Background: Pre-December 2011
Three key ideas were generated in 1971 and 1972 that had nowhere to go. Those three concepts, continuity (order), symmetry (relations) and harmony (dynamics), had become the three faces that I had used to define a moment of perfection. Over the years, bounced against many different walls, but at no time did these concepts ever get transformed into a foundation upon which to build.
For the next forty years, every bounce added some little bit of information, but at no time did the entire universe come into that picture. Also, at no time did anybody deny the importance of those basic concepts so it all became part of my intuitional landscape.
By November 1972, Prof. Dr. Robert S. Cohen, the chairman of the Boston University Physics Department and the head of the Center for Philosophy & History of Science, had become a friend. On more than one occasion he asked me to visit with Harold Oliver of the School of Theology who had recently returned from a sabbatical with astrophysicist, Fred Hoyle, at Cambridge University.
For two years I had been active within the Center’s weekly lecture program, Boston Colloquium for the Philosophy of Science, and a visit by a person active in the weekly lectures may have been Cohen’s way of acknowledging Oliver’s work with Hoyle. Also, Cohen was aware that I was attempting to define concepts around a perfected state within space and time and he told me there could be some synergy.
Finally, in December 1972, I made time to visit with Harold H. Oliver, a professor of philosophical theology and New Testament theology. We talked about his sabbatical with Hoyle and my notions of a perfected state in space-time. We talked about the concept of perfection, Plotinus, the Christian mystics, and natural theology. I suggested to him at that time that religionists and church people worship space and time more than the Jesus they affirm. I was a skeptic and a bit hostile to institutional belief systems that did not know the difference between Newton and Leibniz. Newton’s absolute space and time had become our commonsense worldview and his space and time were displacing a more relational sense of both.
Oliver brought me to meet the Dean of the school, J. Robert Nelson, and we revisited some of the high points of our earlier discussions. Made an offer that I could not refuse, I became an official part of the Boston University family as a graduate student to study the common foundations of science and theology. For the next seven years, 1973 to 1980, there were many new walls against which to bounce my ideas about perfected states. The most interesting seemed to be the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen thought formula from 1935. In 1995 I visited CERN for the first time to talk with John S. Bell about his work. Returning again in 1977, I also visited also with David Bohm in London and Anthony Zichichi in Italy. In 1980 returning again to Paris, I visited with Alain Aspect and studied at the Institut Henri Poincaré under the tutelage of J.P. Vigier on one day each week and Olivier Costa de Beauregard on another throughout the Spring semester.
There were no breakthroughs.
December 2011. Vaguely aware of the Planck’s constant and his numbers, when I was asked to bring the high school classes another step in their understanding of Plato’s solids and Euclidean geometries, I began thinking about the progression with the tetrahedron and octahedron. I had spent time with John Conway in 2000 talking about its role within the sciences. The octahedron’s internal relations were little known and understood. Even Buckminster Fuller and a friend, Arthur Loeb of the Carpenter Center at Harvard, did not explain it sufficiently enough for me. I was particularly concerned about the four hexagonal plates all sharing a common center point with the eight tetrahedrons and six octahedrons identified in that first step within the octahedron. In the next step within the tetrahedrons and octahedrons escalate very quickly. A geometric progression, and aggregation of base-4, base-6, and base-8. Though the sizes were increasingly always 50% smaller, it was clear that everything could readily be related to everything. In 45 steps we were in the domain of CERN-labs and particle physics. In 67 more steps we were in the Planck scale.
In the first weeks of December 2011 we were examining the logic of each line attempting to find examples in our environment.