Cui (pronounced ‘tsway’)=Gathering together

I used to see the world as separate things
And tried to understand how they relate,
One to the other, how their acts create
The waves that flow forth in concentric rings.

More recently I’m inclined to suspect
The nodes at which relationships congeal
May constitute the objects we call “real”,
In truth it’s the connections they reflect.

The clarity that this perspective brings
Has demonstrated power to abate
This constant, primal loneliness I feel,
Erode the barriers that I erect,
Diffuse the pride of my internal kings,
So free the heart to swell and spread its wings.

— JJM #45 from the I Ching Sonnet Project


Frontiers of Physics: the Forest and the Trees

When we think of the frontiers in quantum physics, the examples that come to mind are the Higgs boson and the quest to populate the particle zoo at the limit of very rare, very heavy, very short-lived particles.

But theres another physics frontier, one that is hardly recognized and doesn’t yet attract the press attention or the best minds in physics. Nevertheless, I predict that the next breakthrough in fundamental physics will be in the area of bulk quantum phenomena and not in the physics of single particles.  

The very idea of an independent particle is a limiting ideal in quantum physics. Physicists are comfortable talking about “the wave function of an electron”, but if you press them, they know quite well that this is an approximate way of speaking. Strictly speaking, there is no “wave function of a particle” but always the “wave function of a configuration.” In other words, those probability amplitudes that you hear so much about don’t apply to the probability of an electron being in a particular place at a particular time, but rather to the condition of an entire system. Quantum mechanics is essentially relational.

Why do we hear so little of this? Why are all the cutting edge quantum experiments based on properties of single particles? It’s because the calculations for multiple particles are so complicated that we don’t know how to do them! In classical mechanics, we know how to calculate multiple particle systems, but not in quantum mechanics. In classical physics, calculating three particles is six times as hard as calculating one particle. That’s because there are six pairs of particles, each with their own interaction. But in quantum mechanics, calculating three particles is a billion billion times harder than calculating a single particle. That’s because the space of all possible configurations is a 3*3*3 dimensional space. A 27-dimensional space is just as hard to work in as it sounds. it’s far too complex for even the most powerful computer we have today.

Hence, if we want to compare quantum calculations to experiments, we have to choose a system for which we know how to do the quantum calculation, and that can only be an isolated particle. We’re doing the experiments with isolated particles for the same reason the drunk is looking for his keys under the lamppost.  

We have adopted the approximation of single-particle wave functions because that’s all we know how to compute. Exact quantum computation of a system as simple as a 6-electron carbon atom is far beyond our reach. Hence the physical basis of chemistry and solid state physics is semi-empirical approximation. In other words, we write down a theoretical model, compare the results to observation, and adjust parameters of the model to give us the best fit. All such models depend on the approximation of independent particles, which makes the computations tractable, but also assumes away the massively entangled multi-particle states where interesting new physics may be lurking. 

What Im talking about is exactly what is commonly called “entanglement”. But everything you read about entanglement deals with the simplest case of two entangled particles. In real life, every object that we hold in our hands contains a billion billion billion entangled particles. We need a new way to think about this.

It’s not known whether we can do better than single-particle approximations. It’s not known whether there are novel multi-particle phenomena waiting to be discovered, because we can’t predict them.  This is a backwater where few physicists are thinking, and the paradigms have not expanded since Linus Pauling.

  • Pollack has documented anomalous properties of water that are almost certainly examples of new bulk quantum effects. 
  • Cold fusion has been observed in hundreds of labs around the world over the last 30 years, and yet most physicists are in denial because we have not opened our mind to the idea that fundamentally new physics could be waiting for us in multi-particle systems.  
  • I am among those who believes that there is a frontier in quantum biology — i.e., that all of life has evolved to use bulk quantum effects in ways that are outside the framework of our present paradigm for the quantum basis of chemistry. 
  • Penrose and Stapp have speculated about novel quantum mechanics in the brain (with two very different models). 
  • I could go on to realms yet more remote…evidence for psi phenomena is compelling and it points us toward an expanded notion of the quantum mechanics of many-particle systems as an entree into understanding of the relationship between mind and matter.

If the best minds in physics are stymied by a paucity of high-energy data to guide high-energy theory, perhaps they would find appropriate challenges that are just as fundamental in a quest to understand multi-particle phenomena that doesn’t depend on single-particle approximations.


Wu Wang = Innocence

Forget not to remember (note to self)
That I don’t know. Prepare to be surprised.
Remember to forget all I’ve surmised,
Put preconceptions back upon the shelf.

There was an age when I was free and wild.
But head has long ago eclipsed the heart,
My artlessness seduced by social art.
O Pan! Revive the music of the child!

The filters through which I perceive the sky
Delimit my experience, and I
No longer even know that I’m bereft.
But now I vow for what years I have left
To look upon the earth in wonder’s thrall.
Losing the parts that I might know the All.

— JJM = #25 in the I Ching Sonnet Project

Image result for hexagram 25 innocence wu wang


This universe abundant offers me
More gifts than many lifetimes might receive.
Why then do I continually grieve,
When all I lack is receptivity?
The earth, I know, is cure for my disease;
As conation grows dim, my senses shine;
Amid the evergreens, I cease to pine;
In Nature’s pace, I find a healing ease.

This hour congeals, a pregnant time of choice.
Might I open to wonder that is life,
Or linger, calmed in good Sylvania’s realm?
Midst silence, I attend a whispered voice,
A woodland sylph who counsels me that strife
Alone results when I assume the helm.

#2 in the I Ching Sonnet project


The Creative Moment

A lifetime’s efforts brought you to this Now,
And still you cannot b’lieve the time is nigh.
From deep within, a voice is poised to cry
With teeming force, creative as a vow.
But just when you think the moment has come
To make your move, boldly assert your will—
The task is complete; all is calm and still,
The earth is silent, heaven’s voice is dumb.

You have been poised to make that final thrust
When, Peace! You know there’s nothing left to do.
Events unfold with all appropriate speed,
As you are gifted with implicit trust.
The destiny that erstwhile called to you
Stands manifest, and naught can intercede.

— JJM (#1 in the I Ching Sonnet Project)

Related image

Art by Adele Aldridge                                         




The mountain does not flee bad weather, but
This human has nor patience nor the years
To squander, waiting passive, quelling fears,
While Earth and Cosmos drift free from their rut.
And so I ragehow else might I express
A firm negation of the senseless waste,
The numb complicity, the life erased,
The violence and hate?but I digress…

Ripe wisdom says collective acts need time,
So Gaia’s will can slowly manifest.
It’s not our place to know if soon or late;
What seems passivity can be sublime—
Our Minds work magic calmly, hands at rest,
Abiding faith in destiny—we wait.

JJM, (#23 in the I Ching Sonnet Project)



Mushrooms are people, too

All life partakes of awareness, a consciousness in essence the same as our intimate selves, our own dear I AM.

Through this day, we will give life and we will take it. Plant and animal, microbe and fungus; with our actions and our thoughts and our communications; by individual acts and by our participation in community; in commerce and in politics; as we create habitat in our homes and gardens and intestines; as we give our gifts; especially as we eat, and through the wars prosecuted in our name.

As we support and extinguish life this day, may we do so with awareness and with reverence for a myriad of beings with which we coexist. As my life is not different from other life which I give and take away each day, so is my death no different from the ant under my foot or the sprout in my salad.

All life is sacred. As we kill for our livelihood and for our comfort, let us do so with consciousness and reverence.