Absorption: The Gift of Digital Mediums

Remember the old saying, ‘when the entire person is involved, their is NO work‘. 

Digital/electric mediums are returning man to a nomadic state.  We can witness this return away from specialization in hybrid mediums that use digital media.  If we can get monolithic institutions like education to return to the business of shaping human capital, then we can actively participate in the revolution of contemporary aesthetics. 

Here’s what Dr. Edmundson from the Univ. of Virginia recently wrote in Hedgehog Review:  “Modern life avails one of plentiful opportunities to be mesmerized, enchanted, visually inebriated now:  The condition is not hard to bring on.  In a culture that asks too often to ‘pay attention’, we need rest and release, and we can find both through the mesmerizing powers of current electronic culture.  Ideally, paying attention should be rewarded by absorption, but when absorption isn’t found, or no one teaches us how to achieve it, then being mesmerized will have to do.  Being mesmerized is all about wish fulfillment.  It’s about  becoming the soldier, the knight, becoming the sports star, or princess.  It is a turning away from reality.  To be absorbed is to intensify one’s connection with ‘the real’, in the hope of shaping it for the better.  The engaged/absorbed doctor wants health for the patient, the scientist want’s to add to the stock of knowledge, the poet hopes to bring beauty, truth and pleasure to another.  

These people are not cheering themselves on or inflating their sense of self.  They are acting out of love for the world, and, in return, they receive one of life’s best gifts:  the shaping of an indissoluble self.”  

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Solzhenitsyn & Scientific Positivism

solzhenitsyn“A significant and perhaps irreversible process I believe, threatens to advance substantially in the twenty-first century is humanities hazardous crossing from a natural existence into a technosphere. Technical progress, which for centuries grew by devouring nature, now proceeds at the expense of culture and man himself. Having always in the past been a participant, or even a maker of history, man is today furiously swept along by technical progress, whose stormy successes are contributing to a numbing of the person. Our capacity for concentration and deep inner contemplation, which we are already forfeiting, is being overwhelmed by a tidal wave of inordinate superficial information. This avalanche leaves less and less room for spirituality, so that many have lost it altogether; less and less room for love not confined to sexual attraction alone. More and more, man is being transformed from a cultural historical type to a technogenic type. This deep seated shift threatens humanity with the loss of its very self.”

Speeding Neutrino & the Death of Einstein

There are a lot of papers floating around in academic circles heralding the death of Einstein’s theory of relativity. The vast majority of these papers are just plain nonsense.

But the experiments in Switzerland recently reveal that Einstein’s theory of relativity is wrong.

Since 1905 Albert Einstein declared that nothing in the Universe is faster than light. This theory is the bedrock of modern physics. Well it all just might be trash given the latest experiments at the particle accelerator in Geneva.

Recently, a group of physics’ fired a beam of neutrinos (an exotic, ghost like particle that can penetrate even the densest of materials) from Switzerland to Italy, covering a distance of about 450 miles. Much to their amazement, after analyzing 15,000 neutrino’s they found that they traveled faster than the speed of light, one 60-billionth of a second faster. A beam of light travels about one foot in a billionth of a second. So a difference of 60 feet is quite an astonishment.

Cracking the light barrier will violate the core of Einstein’s theory of relativity. According to this theory, as you approach the speed of light, you get heavier, time slows down and you get flatter. If you go faster than light, then the impossible happens. Time goes backward, you become lighter than nothing, and you have negative width. Since this is ridiculous, you cannot go faster than light.

The experiments in Geneva reveal that we have a new door opening in physics. Many scientists are already breaking out in a cold sweat for their entire livelihoods are threatened by this discovery given that the entire foundation of modern physics will need to be revised. Every textbook, every experiment recalibrated.

Even Cosmology, the way we think about space itself would forever be altered. This would include the distance to stars, galaxies and the age of the Universe (currently held to be 13.7 billion years old.) This discovery would change our understanding of an expanding universe theory, the Big Bang, Black Holes. Everything in Physics is up for grabs. Yes, this even includes nuclear physics, Einstein’s famous equation of E=MC2, where a small amount of mass M can create a vast amount of energy E, because the speed of light C squared is such a huge number. If C is off, then it means that all nuclear physics has to be recalibrated. Nuclear weapons, nuclear medicine, radioactive dating is affected because all nuclear reactions are based on Einstein’s relation between matter and energy.

This even means that the fundamental principles of physics are incorrect. Modern physics is base on two theories, relativity and quantum theory. This new information reveals that half of modern physics must be re-written.

How else to say it, reputations and livelihoods will rise and fall, Joseph Schumpter’s ‘creative destruction’ is still in play. In science there are no sacred cows.

Just remember, in science 100 authorities count for nothing. As a St. John Henry Newman said, “10,000 difficulties don’t make one doubt.”

The Crisis of Contemporary Physics

Many significant scholars from various disciplines reveal how important first principles are, for they inform so much immediate history only to be revised or ignored in light of contemporary insights. It matters to study those present at ‘creation’ (to use Dean Acheson’s phrase), for it is they who possess the clearest vision, the keenest insight that often gets displaced within the echo of time. It is no different with the hard sciences. How else to explain the status of Richard Feynman, Freeman Dyson, Brian Greene and hosts of other physicists who explicate the rigors of Galileo, Copernicus, Brahe, and in doing so sharpen not only the discipline but shape the fortitude to pursue ideas unbecoming to others not earnest to face the loneliness that is true discovery.

Xavier Zubiri was one of those rare selfless self confident minds pursuing lines of discovery that dwarf legions of academics who falsely claim residence in houses (disciplines) not their own. He was truly interdisciplinary. He was Catholic! Often called an existentialist who sought to synthesize scholastic theology with contemporary continental philosophy of Husserl, Heidegger and Ortega y Gassett, not to mention particle physics! To achieve the synthesis of harmonizing distinct disciplines, Zubiri undertook studies in theology, philosophy and natural sciences that could well have occupied three scholarly lives. He took a doctorate of theology in Rome, philosophy in Freiberg under both Husserl and Heidegger before tackling both biology and particle physics. In his free time he studied Oriental languages throughout various European centers. He gallantly pursued openings in quantum theory and atomic science with Einsten, Bohr and Fermi only to discover that his synoptic approach was disdained by specialists who only sought discovery in isolation.

From his extensive study Zubiri concluded that positive sciences and Catholic philosophy were separate points of view concerning the same reality. The philosophy or theologian cannot dispute, correct or complete anything in science, but neither does he/she have to accept the philosophical opinions of scientists. The connection between these two parallel approaches to reality is simply that the sciences always leave us hungry, so they impel us to turn to either theology or philosophy.

What the sciences must get from philosophy is an idea of nature, a theory, an understanding from which to promote its discoveries. Scientists cannot themselves build such an idea out of positive facts, although they can criticize or reject unsuitable concepts of nature offered by erroneous philosophy. Aristotle provided an idea of nature adequate for the founding of physics. Medieval Catholic philosophy known as scholasticism provided the idea of nature for modern sciences. Without Duns Scotus or William of Ockham both Newton and Galileo’s work would have been impossible! Physics is again in crisis, facing problems that cannot be solved by physicists, logicians or epistemologists for only ontology can supply the fresh idea of nature within which quantum physics can progress.

The study of ontology (the being of humanness) is only studied in Catholic Colleges/Universities; it is contemporary Seminaries that demonstrate the rigor required to address the current crisis of physics. Look for a theology of sacraments (where else does one find a language for both freedom, change and constancy) to address the conditions for the discovery of resolving the crisis of contemporary physics.