In 1687, Newton published Principia where he laid the foundations of Gravity, which explained how the planets stayed in their orbits and large bodies work. Five years later, a Cambridge philospher Richard Bentley asked him a very innocuous question that hit at the root of Newton’s discovery. Bentley wrote a letter asking Newton: If the gravity was always an attractive force, why doesn’t the Universe Collapse? This question came to be known as the “Bentley Paradox”.
Bentley not only pointed to the inherent instability of a creation made of one directional force, he started a series of actions that would later nudge the scientists from Einstein to today’s top Nobel Laureates to look for the ‘Truth” – a “Theory of Everything”.
Einstein tried to explain it by saying that Universe was probably expanding or contracting and not static (meaning an inherent force was at play, over and above the attractive force of Gravity). So strong was the entrenched scientific ideology (YES! Scientists are as dogmatic as the religious), that they forced Einstein to change his reason and come up with a Cosmological Constant. This was the repulsive and balancing force to gravity such that the Universe could be static and not collapse. Of course, if such a force was to hold the Universe together it would have to be very precise and Universe Equilibrium very unstable indeed – even a little nudge would bring things down!
Twelve years later Ed Hubble came out to tell the world that the Universe was indeed accelerating, embarassing Einstein to have him say that cosmological constant was his “Greatest Blunder”.
Well, now things were settled, or so it seemed, about the gravity. It was argued that now Gravity will somehow slow this acceleration down. Around the turn of the 21st century however, it was clear that Universe’s expansion was accelerating and NOT decelerating. So, now, Einstein’s Cosmological Constant was dusted and brought out. His “blunderous” repulsive force was probably behind the accelerating expansion. It’s been called Dark Energy. When something happens that we cannot explain and is not according to our wishes, we characterise it as “Dark”. This episode showed that even scientists have superstitious minds.
Now the question is – if this Dark Energy is constant or growing? It seems currently that it is static. In any case, we will lose the sight of most galaxies in the next few billion years. So, if you wish to see any of those galaxies, do it NOW! It might be too late a few billion years from now!
Force-fields and Electromagnetism
Michael Faraday was, what they called at that time, a “Natural Philosopher”. He was assistant of Humphry Davy a well known chemist of his time. In the class-driven British society of that time, he was treated as a servant by Davy’s family and others, sometimes working as a valet replacement apart from his lab duties. It was after Davy’s death that Faraday came into his own.
Faraday’s greatest accomplishment was the finding that a changing magnetic field produces an electric field. His discovery did an important thing – it linked two forms of energy as mutually responsible for each other. Faraday’s lack of mathematical rigor brought in James Clark Maxwell. He fashioned Faraday’s findings into mathematical equations and was able to show what Faraday had demonstrated – that Electricity and Magnetism were manifestations of the same energy.
However, Maxwell, went further than that.
He found, mathematically, that magnetic fields and electric fields could be changed into one another. He found that if they changed from one to another in a never ending pattern – then they could create a wave just like in an ocean.
In 1864, he said: “This velocity is so nearly that of light that it seems we have strong reason to conclude that light itself is an electromagnetic disturbance.”
While Faraday had brought together Electricity and Magnetism; Maxwell brought Light into the picture as well. He showed that all three – Electricity, Magnetism and Light were really manifestation of the same energy.
Interestingly, Swami Vivekananda had suggested the same, based on his understanding of Vedic philosophy, in one of his lectures in late 1890s:
out of this Prana is evolved everything that we call energy, everything that we call force. It is the Prana that is manifesting as motion; it is the Prana that is manifesting as gravitation, as magnetism. It is the Prana that is manifesting as the actions of the body, as the nerve currents, as thought force. From thought down to the lowest force, everything is but the manifestation of Prana. The sum total of all forces in the universe, mental or physical, when resolved back to their original state, is called Prana.
Of course, he went further that just magnetism, electricity and light were manifestations of a energy, but even “thought”! We shall see how science later went to that point much later.
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity
Einstein’s special theory of relativity led to the Mass-Energy equivalence. Coupled with that he showed that speed of light is actually a basic property of our existence.
Special relativity reveals that c is not just the velocity of a certain phenomenon, namely the propagation of electromagnetic radiation (light)-but rather a fundamental feature of the way space and time are unified as spacetime.
He followed this up with the General Theory of Relativity, which incorporated Gravity in the model as well. In the General Theory, he unified the Special theory of relativity and Newton’s law of Gravitation. He described gravity as a geometric property of space and time, or spacetime.
Kaluza’s Unification of forces
In April 1919, Theodor Kaluza was trying to solve Einstein’s equation for General relativity using 5 dimensions. He found that Maxwell’s equations of Electromagnetism emerged spontaneously.
Kaluza through his work was able to unify Light (electromagnetic forces) and Gravity. He also suggested that Light was but “ripples” in the 5th dimension.
Quantum Theory, Schrodinger’s Cat and Consciousness
Quantum theory has come to be defined by the Copenhagen Interpretation (although there are other theories). Although there is no definitive statement of the Copenhagen Interpretation, it can be understood from its defining principles.  Primarily, it says that any one time, that electron could be wave or particle, and that the wave collapsed on observation into a particle.
However, the observer was taken to be objective. Schrodinger’s Cat experiment brought this part out that the nature of measurement or the observation was not very well defined in this experiment.
Eugene Wigner then brought his friend into the Schrodinger’s Cat experiment:
The Wigner’s Friend thought experiment posits a friend of Wigner who performs the Schrödinger’s cat experiment after Wigner leaves the laboratory. Only when he returns does Wigner learn the result of the experiment from his friend, that is, whether the cat is alive or dead. The question is raised: was the state of the system a superposition of “dead cat/sad friend” and “live cat/happy friend,” only determined when Wigner learned the result of the experiment, or was it determined at some previous point?
He brought in Consciousness to bear upon the Quantum Collapse, making consciousness material to the quantum measurement process.
Wigner suggested that Consciousness causes Collapse. This is explained best as:
The rules of quantum mechanics are correct but there is only one system which may be treated with quantum mechanics, namely the entire material world. There exist external observers which cannot be treated within quantum mechanics, namely human (and perhaps animal) minds, which perform measurements on the brain causing wave function collapse.
String Theory – Unification of Everything
String Theory dusted Kaluza’s light ripples in the 5th dimension to extend the work of Einstein for a “Theory of Everything” (TOE). It was an attempt to merge the Quantum Theory with Theory of Relativity (Gravity and Light).
This is still an evolving area and has many theories, but the most inclusive is the 11-dimensional M-theory. It has since evolved into the “SuperString Theory”.
According to this theory, sub atomic particles are simply vibrations of the “string” or Branes (p-brane) as they are known.
0-brane is a zero-dimensional pointlike particle, a 1-brane is a string, a 2-brane is a “membrane”, etc. Every p-brane sweeps out a (p+1)-dimensional world volume as it propagates through spacetime.
According to the M-theory, strings of energy could grow to branes as large as the size of the Universe.
Basically, in layman’s term, Creation may actually be a Vibration. Depending on how Consciousness is defined and how being conscious – a property is defined, Creation is just a Vibration in the Infinite Consciousness.
The world is nothing but a mere vibration of consciousness in space. (Maharishi Vasistha to Shri Ram in “Vasistha Yoga”)
Vasistha’s Yoga also goes ahead and defines its meaning of Consciousness extensively:
That self is subtler than even space since it has no name and cannot be described; and neither the mind nor the senses can reach it or comprehend it. It is pure consciousness. The entire Universe exists in the consciousness taht is atomic, even as tree exists within the seed.
Eugene Wigner had brought consciousness into play as he was deeply affected by Vedanta. In that sense, Vedanta and its philosophy of creation and existence has affected the debate in Modern science more than once.
1. Bentley’s Paradox
2. James Clerk Maxwell
3. The Nobel Prize in Physics 1963 – Presentation Speech
4. Eternal Illusion and How Observer Creates His Own Reality
5. Copenhagen Interpretation; Principles
6. Consciousness causes Collapse