Underlaying patterns of structure in the natural world. In the image patterns arise from the nodes of standing waves on a vibrating plate.
Ernst Chladni (1756-1827) German musician and scientist, known as 'the father of acoustics,' Using a brass plate and violin bow to create archetypal geometric patterns in sand, depending on where on the edge of the plate the bow was drawn. These patterns are known as 'Chladni Figures.'
According the the Cymatics website, many of the famous scientists throughout history had looked into and observed the phenomenon of patterns emerging from sound and vibration. Including Galileo, Robert Hooke, Michael Faraday and others….
'I say then that when a table is struck in different places the dust that is upon it is reduced to various shapes of mounds and tiny hillocks. The dust descends from the hypotenuse of these hillocks, enters beneath their base and raises itself again around the axis of the point of the hillock.' Leonardo Da Vinci
Margaret Watts-Hughes, a Welsh woman, experimented with a device she invented in 1885 and named the 'Eidophone.' Her invention consisted of a wooden resonating chamber with an open end across which was stretched a rubber membrane, strewn with sand and other media. By singing into a tube that interfaced with the resonating chamber she was able to create 'voice figures.' She observed…’I have gone on singing into shape these peculiar forms, and stepping out of doors, have seen their parallels in the flowers, ferns, and trees around me; and again, as I have watched the little heaps in the formation of the floral figures gather themselves up and then shoot out their petals, just as a flower springs from the swollen bud, the hope has come to me that these humble experiments may afford some suggestions in regard to nature's production of her own beautiful forms.'
Whenever waves interact interference occurs which either amplifies or cancels out (destructive or constructive)
The relatively new science of Cymatics is a great connecting point of science, with the mystical and the unknown. As the patterns are visible, intuition and imagination may give an insight into the world at a deeper level.
When geographers first noticed similarities between the coast lines of South America and West Africa, that they could have fitted into one another, the suggestion that they actually did, and that they must have moved apart at some time, seemed ludicrous, as there was no conceivable mechanism to allow this to happen.
Could the patterns noticed in animals and plants be of the same nature as those seen on the ‘plates’ as they look similar? What could the connection be and how would it work? Why would trillions of atoms in chaotic motion have anything to do with numbers and what could these numbers have to do with vibrations and waves? How does order arise from chaos? Is it all in the mind? What have the Victorians got to do with anything?
Quantum field theory says everything is a disturbance in a field. All matter is vibration. Everything we see and interact with is made of vibrating atoms.
From cosmic order to uncertainty.
From our place at the centre of the universe, with the stars revolving around us, to discovering our true history and relationship to other animals, along with the earth slowing down, the moon getting further away and the galaxies also hurtling away from us, this is a very different and insecure picture for mankind indeed. Far from the Victorian comfort of cosmic order and supremacy.
The general apathy, confusion and uncertainty apart from all of the above, seems to be derived from how nature appears to work at a deeper level. It is a polar reversal from the straightforward answer of God, Monarch, Church, Order and structure of the Victorian era. Even if no-one really believed it, at least they believed something, and there are those who still pine for the days of old, but this tight winding of humanity was ultimately proven false and came undone after the catastrophic effect of two world wars along with multiple other developments, which have left society holding powerful new technologies and myths which don't seem to make sense any more. Only yesterday it seems we were all wearing hats and burning coal, today we have instant global communication and 7 billion people, compared to around 1.2 billion in 1850 before even, the discovery of the atom or photon or Darwins theory of evolution. 20th century physics is a lot to take in over such a short period of time. If HG Wells could step into our future, he would think there something wrong with his machine, that it had somehow been miscalibrated. We are still racing horses and burning coal just like the Victorians, wearing wigs and fancy costumes, we have not yet formed a scientific world government.
The result of this uncanny fast turnaround is that most of the Victorian machinery of state is still in play, even though with all the new ideas, we don’t really believe it anymore the second time round. Wouldn’t it be better, to take this flux and allow ourselves something entirely new, to connect us back to the earth and nature and to ourselves.
Over the last century or so in order to understand the workings of nature, mathematical tools have been invented which create accurate models of what can be seen in experiment.
Within these vibrations and interactions certain states are allowed and construct the shapes we see in nature. Other shapes and patterns still exist, but are not stable and cancel out.
Shapes and patterns formed by the interaction of straight lines. In the Mandelbrot set complexity arises from a simple formula iterated many times. These are not man made rules but fundamental to how nature works. Patterns and structures arise from certain allowed interactions.
In the words of Max Tegmark..... ‘But why has our physical world revealed such extreme mathematical regularity that astronomy superhero Galileo Galilei proclaimed nature to be a ‘book written in language of mathematics’ and Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner stressed the ‘unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the physical sciences’
Just like the evolution of animals and plants, cannot be fully explained without including plate tectonic theory and seafloor spreading. The separating continents, which as it turned out did fit together ….allowed species to grow independently, over millions of years of evolution. Are all vibration phenomena connected, including the resonant frequencies that make up atoms? Do they leave the same patterns? Are they the same ‘periodic patterns’ noticeable in the macroscopic world like sand on a drumskin?
According to the book ‘from quantum to cosmos’ by Neil Turok
‘Heisenberg used Euler’s formula in the form of a Fourier series in time’... ‘What Euler found was that e raised to the i times an angle gives the two basic trigonometric functions, the sine and cosine, his formula connects algebra and analysis to
geometry, it is used in the flow of ac currents and in mechanical engineering to study vibrations, it is also used in music, computer science and even in cosmology’
This was what Feynman called the most remarkable formula in the whole of physics.
Far from numbers and strange symbols, inaccessible to anyone but a professional mathematician, physicist or engineer, we are taken back to the familiar and intuitive world of ‘pictures’ in the form of geometric patterns and visible relationships. Straight lines, circles and the 5 Platonic solids from which everything can be constructed in traditional 3d Euclidian geometry. This Geometry or 'earth measure' connects us back to Pythagorean relationships in the form of triangles, circles, the square and square root, which are related to permitted vibrations and relationships in physical reality, such as vessels filled with water and the harmonics found in musical instruments. (which also tie into alchemical and religious symbols) Even though this may only be a shadow of what is really going on at a deeper level, it allows for a way in, for people who are no good with numbers or formulas, but who have an interest in how things work at a deeper level and can observe, as I’m sure many people have, some of the uncanny connections and similarities found in the natural world.
Wrestling back this familiar ground, involves a detour into mathematical constructions invented by Euler, Riemann, Hilbert and many more to describe how nature really works, as Paul Dirac says… ‘the mathematician plays a game in which he himself invents the rules, while the physicist plays a game where the rules are provided by nature, but as time goes on, it becomes increasingly evident that the rules the mathematician find interesting are the same ones that nature has chosen’. From ‘a history of symmetry’ by Ian Stuart.
Although as Max Planck points out ‘we are nature’ (and therefore part of the mystery we are trying to unravel) so we have to take into account, a some stage, the human mind and our perception and understanding of the world.
Here are some interesting quotes from Marcus du Sautoy's book 'the music of the primes' which bring us neatly back to the first image.
‘Prime numbers are the very atoms of arithmetic’
‘The mathematics that describe the frequencies in the sound of a drum, could also be used to predict the characteristic energy levels at which electrons in an atoms like to vibrate’
‘Riemann recognised that seeking to understand the structures and patterns underpinning the mathematical world, was more fruitful than formulas and tedious calculations”
‘There is a way to see the complexity of vibrations that make up the sound of a drum. The eighteenth -century scientist Ernst Chladni….’
Certain shapes and patterns have familiarity, meaning and significance. Order arising from chaos and giving rise to structure and life? (Only certain arrangements are permitted. 'Continuous symmetries such as rotations are closely related to the nature of space, time and matter, they imply various conservation laws'..worked out by Emmy Noether)
The tetrapod skeleton of all mammals are related and evolved into different forms as visualised by D’arcy Thompson in his shapes and forms. Discovering the truth, can be far stranger than fiction or any of the monsters and creation myths that we can dream up, even though these stories still have an orienting purpose, especially in the light of such profound discoveries which pull apart the belief systems that our societies are built on.
Fish bone found on beech
D'arcy Thompson on shape and form.
‘There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms’. Charles Darwin
In 2008 When the Fermi satellite detected gamma rays as it was struck by antiparticles (positrons traveling through the earth's magnetic field) emitted from lighting around the equator, this was a surprise, and shows how little we know about the earth and the dynamics of the energy fields inside and around the earth and the effects as it moves through the sun's magnetic field and influence, there are lot's of things we don't yet understand. These were gamma rays coming from lightning happening everyday! Imagine how much we could learn if we turned our resources and technology to look back at ourselves.
Turn on the news and (apart from the political chaos) the world seems inaccessible and out of reach. Galaxies are receding away from us, light, that will never reach us and black holes that nothing can escape from is all fascinating, but what does it mean for planet earth in the next 50 -500 years? Instead of using resources to look into outer space and other planets and stars which we have learned a lot about through spectrography etc why not focus the attention on ourselves for a while to see what more can be learned about earth's dynamic system.
We still don't know fundamentally about most things (like magnetism) and although we can accurately model certain phenomena to manipulate the world to create transistors and nuclear bombs the underlying principles are not fully understood.
It seems like so much of our resources are just wasted. Once you find the mid oceanic ridge, sea floor spreading doesn’t seem so strange (plate tectonics) Once you develop a theory of how animals might have evolved, given a history of millions of years, the passing resemblance of a human to a monkey, also, doesn’t seem so strange. Looking at the remains of ancient civilizations which have risen and fallen multiple times it’s clear that the human journey offers many surprises.
Minkowski space time diagram.
‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes' Marcel Proust
How we see the world.
Once a note is taken from a piece of music, without the reference point of where it’s been taken from ‘the information flowing through time’ it becomes meaningless. In the same way, words can have an abundance of meaning when used in poetry or literature, which can also be rendered flat by being taken away from context. Wanting to know something with ‘certainty’ collapses all the mathematical magic created around it, taken out of the flow or the complex plane, where lots of relationships can be held in play at the same time. These relationships collapse when you try to give them a ‘certain’ value. i.e a single number. In pinpointing certainty, the nebulous connections are lost. Things are ‘held in suspension which embraces each potential pole’ McGilchrist.
In the real life of human interactions this is akin to what is known in philosophy as the ‘frame problem’ taking anything out of the relationship to something else ‘flattens it’ as the connections are lost. In physics, especially in the many worlds theory, it’s impossible to disentangle one frame from any other. Framing things is how we understand the world, first putting in a box and 'seeing' what it is in order to understand its nature.
A frame reference is a construct of the mind.
In the same nebulous way, all of the myths, stories and fairytales which we take for granted are connected in a huge cosmic picture spanning time, which may not always make sense to our modern minds and can become meaningless when taken away from the whole and as we become separated from nature.
These stories from magic and myth into organised religion and science have grown with us over millions of years. There is evidence of early humans making stone tools, in one place, for over 800,000 years at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. Imagine how deep and interconnected these stories must be, developing with our vocal chords and brains and evolving as we survived along side plants and animals, the forces of nature and the polarity of light and dark. I wonder when the first burial took place?
Jung says ‘as a young man my goal had been to accomplish something in my science, but then I hit upon a stream of lava and the heat of its fires reshaped my life, that was the primal stuff, which compelled me to work upon it and my works are more or less a successful endeavour to incorporate this incandescent matter into the contemporary picture of the world.’
he goes on... ‘It was a profoundly stirring experience for me to find, at the sources of the Nile, this reminder of the ancient Egyptian conception of the two acolytes of Osiris. The rising sun and the principle of light like Horus and the principle of darkness, the breeder of fear.(Set)’
In most religions there is a battle between good and evil, order and chaos, light and dark. With lots of smaller inner battles going on which threaten to upturn this cosmic order. These stories reflect the experienced reality and the same images appear in people's dreams and visions, the same patterns occur throughout history and are not just random or made up but somehow written and connected to the very heart of nature and our experiences.
‘Metaphoric thinking is fundamental to our understanding of the world, because it is the only way in which understanding can reach outside the system of ‘signs’ to life it's self.’ McGilchrist
‘I believe that in order to understand reality we have to keep in mind that reality is this network of relations, of reciprocal information which weaves the world…but reality is not made of discrete objects. It is is variable flux.’ Carlo Rovelli
Torus, dynamic energy existing between things.
All of the quotes are taken from published books by (who I believe to be) respectable authors. Some further reading for anyone interested (also on You tube. 3 blue 1brown, numberphile, and Fermilab are some great videos explaining physics and maths problems)
.Why beauty is truth. Ian Stewart
.From quantum to Cosmos. Neil Turok
.The master and his emissary. Ian Mcgilchrist
.The music of the primes. Marcus Du Sautoy
.137 Arthur I Miller
.Our mathematical universe. Max Tegmark
.QED. Richard Feynman
.Quantum. Manjit Kumar
.Adventures in numberland. Alex bellos .the quantum universe. Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw
.Reality is not what it seems. Carlo Rovelli
.Memories Dreams Reflections. Carl Jung
.How the mind works. Steven Pinker
.Sapiens and Homo Deus. Harari
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!