A fable, an enigma, and a final solution

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The fable

It is not superfluous to remember it, though everyone knows the story,: the Asuras were given the gift of building three large, impregnable fortress-cities, one on Earth, one in the Atmosphere, and one more in Deep Space. The three cities turned like wheels, were permanently changing positions and avoided at all costs to be aligned, having been warned that this would cause their end. But finally, after a thousand years of ceaseless permutations, it seems they only had one left to prove, and since everything seeks its completion, the three cities fell finally in line. It was what Shiva had been quietly waiting for, and not before smiling, the supreme archer fulminated the three cities with a single shot.

The enigma

Few shadows hang over our destiny as inexorably as this one in the city of Tripura. The comic and the cosmic of the city of Tripura is that to seek its perfection is to seek its fulfillment, which is none other than destruction; as a great work of watchmaking, only in its overall concordance does it acquire meaning. This triple city ciphers an enigma and proposes a whole challenge for those who have turned intelligence into a matter of prediction. The enigma is to find out what Nature or Cosmos was before the permanent buzzing of those gear-filled cities, that is, our technology-saturated civilization. And the challenge, given that today we care much more about prediction than understanding, is naturally when. Shame that the cypher of the when depends on the what, which today seems to matter so little.

To try to point out today what Nature can be out of science seems to be such a desperate task, especially for people of scientific formation; but, even if we have to submit ourselves to the discipline of logic and remain on its ground, and even if we renounce beforehand to know the whys, we still have ways to calibrate the how, the how much and the what.

We could also add that in the above story the Asuras represent the maximum power principle while Shiva embodies the efficiency and even the sufficiency principle. Nor can we forget that the only Asura that survives the summary execution is Mayasura, the very principle of appearance.

Before the reader runs out of here to the horrified scream of «Philosophy!» I warn him that I am going to propose a small problem maybe easier to calculate than the value of the money he has in his account, and that is even more vital to him than its liquidity. Important things like masks, so he will just need a little patience. There’s no worth in knowing the final solution if one doesn’t know the conditions of the problem. In its Olympic way, it’s all here, as long as one knows how to guess what’s missing.

Throughout its history, physics has not been able to avoid wondering about the nature and scope of the laws or regularities it discovers. Newton promoted absolute space, time, and forces; Leibniz and Mach that every measurement is, by definition, only a relationship. This relational viewpoint is, so to speak, the phenomenology of pure quantity. To these absolutist and relational perspectives could be added a third, causal one, which also demanded an explanation of the mechanisms or the reason for the phenomena. This, beyond the physics of contacts, can only occur through a medium or at any rate a field.

In the end it’s clear that science has diluted its demands and has remained a little halfway to nowhere, because Relativity seemed to say goodbye to absolute Newtonian physics but more in appearance than in truth —the relational program of Mach and others was severely truncated and work continued with dimensional constants independent of the background. On the other hand, Relativity itself generalized the mathematics of field theory at the same time that it got rid of the medium or at best turned it into an opportune mathematical ghost. Quantum mechanics has also continued to work with fields but, although it is claimed that the most common interpretation has been liberated from causality, it does not dispense with the idea that we are dealing with irreducible and simple systems, rather than with statistical ensembles.

The point, to make a long story short, is that the laws of physics have never been dense enough to say that they «describe Nature». In spite of its name our Physics, also known as mathematical physics, does not speak of the Physis or becoming of the Greek philosophers, but in any case of its Nomos, of the regularity that we can observe in it according to our human convention. There is such an abyss between the adimensional punctual particles and the infinite variety of finite forms of nature, that in order to save it we have had to imagine another additional dimension in time, the time of becoming, which is distributed in such a convenient and sloppy way between cosmology, statistics, the arrow of time, thermodynamics, or the theory of evolution.

Mixing one and the other is like mixing smoke and mirrors; in reality they don’t mix at all and they are still totally different things, but the multiple reflections that allow comfort and entertain us. And by entertaining us, they make us forget the most evident dimension of nature as that which is directly accessible to the senses, sensible appearance or Aisthesis, the source of that common or implied sense that Aristotle already attributed to animals but was left far behind by our sophisticated intelligence. If relational physics, which only contemplates laws expressed in known quantities of the same type, is the purest expression of physics as Nomos and the phenomenology of pure quantity, the Aisthesis would be the phenomenology of pure sensible quality, in its own terms and without interference from alien ideal quantitative factors.

To put it another way, the sphere of the Nomos is the sky of our intelligence, and the Aisthesis its earth. As for the becoming Physis, which is what grows between the two terms, it will depend on how the latter are formulated so that it is a gas or a ghost in grief or something very different. The curious thing is that in spite of the empirical origin of modern science, the senses play an increasingly insignificant role in comparison with the Cuckoo’s Clockwork of number and measure.

Let us take a total eclipse of the Sun by the Moon; what is evident, even without any measurement, is that the apparent size of both bodies is the same from the Earth. This striking coincidence plays no role in our celestial mechanics, since this one has been developed with the express aim of replicating/predicting the observable orbits. However, the approximate optical equivalence between Sun and Moon is not an isolated fact in our solar system, it also takes place with the Sun and other planets and their satellites; from the perspective of the Sun a good number of planets have the same apparent size, which some have been able to take into account for the explanation of the Titus-Bode distribution sequence.

One thinks that this mere optical equivalence might hold much more «information» than the equations of motion of celestial mechanics, just as our hypotheses about the past and becoming (Physis) are immeasurable in complexity with the simplicity of our truly physical laws (Nomos) dealing with the observable «behavior». I also think that if both spheres have never overlapped is precisely by ignoring this type of sensory evidence that seems to be staring at us more intently than we look at the stars. So I believe that the day when these things have a natural place in our theory will also be the day when our theories will have broken with their secular isolation and come into contact with that which we called Nature.

Naturally, a theory that accommodates these appearances must be governed by an accordingly relational law without the slightest sophistication, otherwise we would return to our usual vain speculations. So the only way to do that is to use only homogeneous physical proportions in Archimedes’ purest style —things like radii and diameters, distances or densities. We can save ourselves complicated hypotheses from the outset.

The same would be true for the other senses, although today only color lends itself to a non-violent superposition of appearance and theory, of quality and quantity. This is precisely the point, the violence that our theories have exercised to force as Procrustes the facts in their molds. One cannot help but suspect that any success outside of this way of proceeding, even if it seems very modest, would have an overall liberating effect on consciousness.

It has been widely said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but not that appearance is worth a thousand theories, and this would be just the case. If Nature doesn’t seem to ignore our theories, it is because they took great care to replicate certain apparent evolutions; and by mere inversion of the human purpose, it may well be anticipated that Nature looks so much more for appearance the more gratuitous it seems; and in the case of celestial mechanics she couldn’t have made things easier for us.

All our theories, without the spontaneous concurrence of appearance, are like answers that still await a question. With its concurrence they are like an oil-impregnated wick which only needs one spark to burn from top to bottom.

Artificial Intelligence filters unstoppably into the most critical decision-making spheres, from finance to war, and the day when human intervention is erased for the benefit of systems of inscrutable complexity, but which have the fearsome advantage of their speed, no longer seems very distant. If a machine can make the «right decision» long before a human being, the reaction time is absolutely critical to the answer, and it is assumed that there are competitors willing to do the same in a shorter time, all the necessary conditions are in place for humans to delegate to machines they don’t understand, as it’s a race after all.

If machines are dragging us into some kind of singularity, it’s clear that it is not that of an explosion of artificial intelligence, but this other much more predictable, and almost completely consummated, of the resignation of man, which only lacks a few technical details. It would be a voluntary eclipse shortly before an involuntary destruction; but no one could deny that between one and the other there could be no greater continuity in terms of substance and form.

The eternal question of machines is whether they serve us or we serve them. Of course, all this already arises within a closed-loop logic, which is precisely what defines a machine. Newton’s Third Law, as we have seen, is what defines the limits of mechanics proper; but today even our fundamental physics, developed with an express predictive purpose, has to forget the Third Law and conform to the much more general conservation of the total field-particle moment. This law does not imply closed systems. But what does scientific clarifications matter in the face of human destiny?

The whole civilization race is a growing isolation of the environment together with a growing coercion and oppression of that same environment; both being fatally united. And in the individual, which in itself is a synthesis of nature and culture, we see today how intimately the exploited and exploiter coincide in the form of self-exploitation.

Today, it is perfectly conceivable that the logic of the efficiency principle be applied to the individual in order to improve its «performance and well-being»; in fact, this is already part of the consummate compensation mechanisms to achieve the internalization of social pressures and tensions. However, the socio-economic machine as a whole is not governed at all, despite what is sometimes said, by the efficiency principle, but by the maximum power/maximum benefit principle, which on the contrary tends to outsource costs without further consideration.

The final solution

It is said that the mythical sage Yajnavalkya calculated that the distance from the Sun and the Moon to the Earth is in both cases 108 times the diameter of their bodies, giving with great approximation an adimensional key to the enigma of the optical equivalence.

Miles Mathis, who had already contemplated the optical equivalence like nobody else, notes without ever connecting it that in accelerators the relativistic mass of a proton usually finds a limit of 108 units that neither Relativity nor quantum mechanics explain, and makes a derivation of the famous gamma factor that links it directly to G. What other natural connection could there be with the optical equivalence but light?

And between light and charge? And between charge and mass? And between mass and gravity?

Let him that hath no understanding calculate, and he who has understanding, let him not calculate

Is science able to tell us anything about our place in the Cosmos? Even if it seems so late. On the other hand, this ratio seems to point us something about how matter shields, or opposes, electromagnetic waves —light itself.

Ideally, each person should be able to choose what his end is like. It is not superfluous to remember, with Epictetus, that the door is always open. Collectively, this seems much more difficult. If we add to nuclear weapons and the doctrine of pre-emptive strikes the transfer of decisions to «intelligent systems» for quickness sake, we have the most stupid and abject of all possible ends.

Maybe the only one keeping up with our unnameable present.

But we shouldn’t give up. Compared to a nuclear hell inflicted by preventive mechanisms, a general blackout by a giant electromagnetic storm, solar or otherwise, would be most merciful. And since we do not know when the Sun will throw its darts again after the 1859 event, we will always be able to count on our human electromagnetic pulse bombs, which makes a clean, ecological, cheap and reliable weapon. And with a lighter trigger.

The consequences for this civilization would be unmanageable and surely irreversible the damage. It has rightly been said that capitalism finds it much less difficult to imagine the end of the world than its own end, maybe we will have to lend a hand in this blind spot so that instinct understands itself and the unimaginable is better imagined.

In fact, the Internet emerged as a response to a possible nuclear attack, to minimize damage by distributing the decision points of the military command; today we have a decentralized technology, but at the service of an increasingly concentrated power structure.

Does one prefer to be fried with radiations courtesy of a machine, or does one prefer that humans fry machines first and at least reserve the chance to survive in the savage world prior to civilization? Neither for myself nor for the planet do I have the slightest doubt. A different thing is that may we fit such luck.

Executives could perform their survival practices for free and display rudeness and heroism in the most natural of possible environments. And fight, for example, with the wild and their brothers on a sort of equal terms.

In addition, electromagnetic bombs could thwart a nuclear attack, although they could also be nefarious to many nuclear power plants without proper safety measures. All these plants should be forced to close if they cannot meet minimum requirements.

Naturally, a global blackout would require a few high-altitude nuclear detonating pulse bombs. Since it still remains a desirable alternative, it could even be delegated to an international organization to detonate these bombs as a lesser evil before a rogue state or its machines press the button first. Would we submit this in turn to the decision-making power of intelligent machines?

The scenario of the day after could be surprisingly modified; in many countries, rural grandparents might have better prospects of survival than their urban grandchildren. As if the past overtook the future and the future looked to the past awaiting what to do. Another plus of added wisdom.

All points worthy of attention if it is a question of reversing the inexorable dynamic towards the worst possible endgame. And the end, like the carrot, is the rudder of the donkey —as long as there is a good stick on the other side.

This could be used to deactivate other dynamics and time bombs, other precipices towards which we so forcedly rush. As for the monstrous war budgets of the rich countries, it has always been known that there’s a good deal of practical joke in it, to better suck the blood of their taxpayers and keep the stakes high.

The important thing is that those preemptive strikers know that others can pull the trigger first. They have a lot more to lose, and we have more to win.

Now at least we have another option on the table.