Sāńkhya has a theory of atomism, which is quite different than the theory of modern atomism. The modern description of atoms is based on the distinction between matter and force whereas the Sāńkhya description is based on the distinction between words and meanings. Clearly, we cannot expect the two descriptions to be similar, and making them similar or equivalent isn’t the point of the post. The key question is: Can we study what modern science calls atoms and molecules using Sāńkhya? If yes, how would this study be different from the study of atoms and molecules at present? This post answers many such questions, including why the particles of modern atomism—i.e. quarks and leptons—are contrived physical interpretations of waveforms. It is possible to give the same waveforms a semantic interpretation in which all dynamical properties (e.g. position, time, angle, direction, momentum, energy, spin, and angular momentum) denote meanings and all material properties (such as mass and charge) are no longer required. These waves are now “words” that denote “meanings”.
Table of Contents
- The Hierarchical Tree and Modern Atomism
- The Principle of Superposition
- The Possibility of Infinite Particles
- Fermions and Bosons
- Matter-Energy Equivalence
- The Existence of Opposite Waves
- Opposite Sides vs. Opposite Particles
- The Dynamics of Parts
- Prāna and the Modern Forces
- The Problem of Reductionism
- The Study of a Single Atom
- A Brief History of Wave-Particle Duality
- Quantities vs. Qualities in Atomism
- The Physical Interpretation of Waveforms
- The Semantic Interpretation of Waveforms
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The Hierarchical Tree and Modern Atomism
In several previous posts, I have discussed how Sāńkhya describes the world as symbols, which are organized into a hierarchical tree-like structure. I have also discussed the three components of symbols—manas (meaning), prāna (process), and vāk (word). In an earlier post, I described these three as the signified, signifying, and signifier components of a symbol, following the work of Ferdinand de Saussure who describes a symbol as signifier and signified (neglecting the process of creation of such symbols, which I have termed as signifying, and which Sāńkhya calls the activity or prāna).
The atoms that modern science studies—e.g. Oxygen or Copper—should be understood (from the standpoint of Sāńkhya) as symbols of meaning. A symbol has three parts—a meaning, a word, and activity. The activity is required in order to convert the meaning into a word; for example, if you have to express the meaning in your mind, you have to spend some energy while speaking your mind.
The key difference between Sāńkhya and the modern description is that what modern science considers different subatomic particles (such as quarks and leptons) are simply different modes of vibration of space. Space is, thus, as a musical drum, and different particles are sounds produced from this drum. Depending on where a drum is hit, a different kind of sound is produced, which physics describes as different kinds of particles. Since quantum theory inherits the classical physical legacy of materialism, it interprets these sounds as material “particles” rather than thinking of them simply as modes of vibration of space, which could then be described as words representing meanings.
The Principle of Superposition
The vibrations of any membrane are supposed to be additive and linear. This means that if the membrane can vibrate in modes A and B, then it can also vibrate in another mode of A + B. This additive property of different types of motions is called the Principle of Superposition.
Consider, for example, the linear rolling motion of a wheel, which is a combination of two motions—(1) the translational motion in a straight line, and (2) the rotation of the wheel about its axis. If you brake the wheel, it might still drag forward due to the translation motion. Conversely, if your wheel is stuck in the mud, it might rotate about its axis without moving forward. The linear translation and the circular rotation are therefore two orthogonal modes of motion of the wheel. Since these two motions are possible separately, their combination—i.e. the normal rolling motion of a wheel which combines the linear translation and the circular rotation is also a mode of motion of the wheel. In the case of the rolling motion of the wheel, we can say that the wheel is in a superposed state of two motions—rectilinear and rotational. There are other modes of motion possible too. For example, you can have a sideways motion of the wheel due to which a wheel is spinning, moving forward, and moving sideways. Similarly, you can have the car climb up an incline and add an upwards mode to this motion. In this way, the car’s motion can be broken down into several orthogonal modes, which are then superposed in the car.
Similarly, if you hit the drum in the middle, it will vibrate in one way. But if you hit the drum on the edge it will vibrate in another way. Depending on where you hit, and how hard you hit, the drum will vibrate differently. The unique property of the drum—because of which it constitutes a linear system—is that you can hit the drum simultaneously in two or more places and the resulting vibration would be a linear sum of those separate vibrations. Just as the wheel in rolling motion combines rectilinear and rotational motions, similarly, the drum also has the property of superposition and linearity.
This is an important consideration in atomic theory, which is also a linear theory. That is, you can think of the atom as a drum, and the subatomic particles as the vibrations of the drum. Each such particle is created from the drum when the drum is hit at some location. We can distinguish between three things—(1) the drum, (2) the act of hitting, and (3) the resulting vibration. These are respectively called manas, prāna, and vāk, where the manas is the drum, which is hit by a force called prāna, and the result is a vibrational mode that we can perceive. If the force is removed or dissipated, then the sound stops, but that doesn’t mean the end of the drum. This means that there is a reality that exists independent of observation—which we can call “idea”—but it cannot be perceived unless it is excited by a force. To study atomic physics, we have to study the different kinds of drums and how these drums are variously beaten by different kinds of forces. This is the essence of atomic theory in Sāńkhya.
The Possibility of Infinite Particles
Modern particle physics experiments bear out this approach to particle creation because these experiments bombard matter with energy, requiring powerful particle accelerators. Effectively, the particle physics experiments hit a drum harder and harder to produce newer kinds of sounds. There is no end to this hitting, or to the number of particles that can be created by such a process. Particle physics is, therefore, infinite, just as the number of sounds and rhythms that can be created by playing arbitrarily shaped drums are also infinite.
The only reason we consider it finite is that we are beating a specific kind of drum found on Earth. In Sāńkhya, space in different parts of the universe is different; as a different kind of drum hit by different kinds of strokes, it produces different kinds of sounds. We can never complete particle physics because we can never obtain all the drums. Particle physics is a catalog of what we see here and now.
A more accurate approach to study the particles is to think of the ways in which they are produced. This involves four factors. First, we must understand the varieties of drums that can be played. Second, we can talk about how hitting the drum differently produces a new vibration. Third, we must understand the kinds of drums that are presently available and the various ways in which they can be vibrated. Fourth, we must study how the drum should be played; just hitting the drum in whatever way we like is not science; true science is learning to play the drum according to some rules. This will be the primary methodology by which I will try to explain a new kind of atomic physics.
Fermions and Bosons
Since the time of Newton’s mechanics, physics has used matter and force to describe nature. They were subsequently termed particles and fields in classical physics. Later, in atomic theory, these are called fermions and bosons—after Enrico Fermi and Satyendra Nath Bose. The fermions are the matter particles that comprise the nucleus and the shell of the atom. The forces by which these particles interact with each other are called bosons. The Standard Model of particle physics describes six quarks, six leptons, and four fundamental forces.
In modern physics, a certain type of boson (e.g. photon) is associated with a certain type of material property (e.g. charge). In Sāńkhya, there are no fundamental physical properties such as mass or charge; there are only symbols that can represent different kinds of meanings. The symbol that means “heavy” is not a fundamentally different physical property from a symbol that means “bitter”. The material world is thus not physical properties at all; it is just words whose meanings denote a whole bunch of physical properties. In that sense, we are never going to seek physical forces such as gravity, electromagnetism, strong, and weak forces with corresponding physical properties like mass, charge, color, and flavor. We are rather going to seek an understanding of the forces involved in the creation of words and sentences.
The idea of matter-energy equivalence is well-known since Einstein’s theory of special relativity articulated the formula E = mc2. The m in this equation is mass which implies that the equivalence holds only for mass. We might then ask: What about other properties such as charge, color, and flavor which are responsible for electromagnetism, strong, and weak forces? Are these not equivalent to energy? The short answer is that all the other properties (charge, color, and flavor) come in two opposite polarities—positive and negative. Therefore it is possible to create and annihilate these particles in pairs without violating conservation laws. Mass is the only property in current physics which doesn’t have an opposite polarity (as there is no such thing called “negative mass” at present). Thus mass-energy equivalence is required because mass cannot disappear by combining with anti-mass, but other properties can appear and disappear in this way.
Why is negative mass a problem? Negative masses require negative energy which requires negative time. To talk about negative mass, we have to speak about two kinds of time—(a) that is moving from past to present, and (b) that is moving from future to present. The latter kind of time is possible if we could imagine something called a “destiny” that comes from the future to the present—i.e. it exists in the future (implying that the future is fixed) and is then realized in the present. Destiny-based thinking has been impossible in modern physics because it raises questions such as: How are such destinies created? To answer this question, we have to change the causal model from cause and effect (which involves the past and present) to one that involves cause, effect, and consequence (which then requires past, present, and future). The consequences build the destiny, which lies in the future, which arrives into the present and constitutes a negative time.
With such negative time, it is possible to conceive negative mass, which means that energy doesn’t convert into mass; rather energy creates a pair of mass and anti-mass particles. I bring up this issue of mass-energy equivalence for two main reasons. First, mass is an outlier in today’s physics because every other particle has an antiparticle, but mass doesn’t. If mass were to have an antiparticle, then it wouldn’t be an outlier. Hence, the issue of negative mass is pertinent to the problem of thinking about the world purely in quantum theoretic terms. Second, when we speak about the world as symbols of meanings, we can only speak of them in opposites—e.g. hot vs. cold, bitter vs. sweet, black vs. white, etc. Therefore, the particle and antiparticle pairs become symbols of opposite meanings moving in opposite directions.
The Existence of Opposite Waves
Now we can enhance our previous picture of a hand hitting a drum in which the drum produces two vibrational modes which are opposite to each other. These opposite waves are created because a drum is a finite object, and it reflects the wave from one end to the other, causing the second wave to move in the opposite direction. Thus, it appears that one wave is moving left to right, while the second wave is moving from right to left. Since the two waves are identical in all other respects, in modern atomic theory, they are called the Ψ and Ψ* waves. In a representation that separates time and space components, these two waves are identical except that they move in opposite directions.
The standard formulation of quantum theory multiplies Ψ and Ψ* waves, and this multiplication is supposed to create a probability of finding a particle in a certain place. In classical physics, the same two kinds of waves were multiplied and together they constituted a Standing Wave. The sound in all musical instruments is produced due to such standing waves; i.e. these waves are not propagating or moving in space. Since they have a specific location, they are just like particles. Since they are vibrating, they are just like waves. And yet, they are not point particles, nor are they infinitely extended fields. There is fundamentally no paradox—e.g. wave vs. particle—in thinking about reality if we think of it as vibrations of space. All paradoxes arise by forcing a classical physical picture on a new observation.
The prāna is that energy that hits on the drum and creates two opposite waves, which then represent two opposite sides. By creating sides within an idea, we convert it into an object. The purpose of energy is to convert the symbol of an abstract idea into two (or more) symbols of detailed ideas. These details now become parts of the original idea. For example, the “coin” is an abstract idea. But when energy is added to the coin, the coin gets a “head” and a “tail”, which are opposite sides of the coin. Every system of parts is comprised of such opposites—e.g. a dice of six faces has three pairs of opposites. Of course, we have to bear in mind that I’m using the term “opposites” to illustrate a point about how different parts are created, although it is not necessary that an object only has an even number of parts; a pentagon for example has 5 sides; we will see shortly how this basic idea about different sides (that begins in opposites) can also be generalized.
Opposite Sides vs. Opposite Particles
While discussing mass-energy equivalence we saw the creation of a particle and antiparticle and compared it to opposite ideas such as hot vs. cold, bitter vs. sweet, etc. We also saw above that an object has opposite sides—e.g. head vs. tail, front vs. back, top vs. bottom, etc. The opposite sides of an object are not the same as opposite objects. But since we call both opposite sides, and the opposite objects, particles, we can—depending on the context—use the terms particle and antiparticle to talk about them. We just have to be careful what we are really talking about. Modern physics, of course, use the term antiparticle to describe the opposite object, not the opposite side.
When we describe the world as meaning, opposite meanings are at opposite “ends” of space. There is hence a “top” and “bottom” of the universe, which have opposite meanings. The opposite ideas cannot co-exist as they will annihilate each other, and hence we never observe the antiparticles in the present world, except in collider experiments. Even in such experiments, we see that when the particle-antiparticle pair is created, the two move in opposite directions. If the universe was built from such opposites, such particles will exist in far-flung regions of space.
The opposite parts of a Standing Wave, however, are completely overlapped and this overlap is the cause of new phenomena. In the exchange of a quantum particle, one wave goes from the emitter to the absorber, and this is how we think of a transaction from source to destination. The surprising part, however, is also that there is a wave going from the destination to the source. In Sāńkhya, both parts are called karma due to which two entities exchange information, and the exchange cannot occur simply because a source emits a particle; the destination must also be prepared to receive it. The ability to emit and absorb is due to karma. Since the emission is triggered by the source, there is also a choice involved at the source. Similarly, there may be a choice involved at the destination which is called guna.
The guna is the unmanifest desires—which were created in the past—and manifest in the present as thought or action. Karma is the consequences of previous actions—which lie in the future as destiny—and manifest the present circumstances. Both guna and karma are unmanifest in that they are in the past or in the future. But this “past” and “future” are not physical but semantic. That is, the past exists in the present as memory, and the future exists in the present as destiny. The past and future are in the present, but unknowable.
Each quantum is therefore comprised of two opposite parts: guna and karma, which appear as opposite waves inside the quantum. Similarly, each quantum also has an antiparticle and there are opposite parts (guna and karma) inside the antiparticle too. The opposite particles and the opposite sides follow the same principles but they are different. The process for the creation of a single quantum involves the production of a particle and antiparticle—i.e. the opposite particles. However, the creation of a material transaction involves the combination of opposite sides. The opposite particles are due to different modes in guna. The opposite sides are due to the different roles in a transaction. The result of guna and karma is that transactions can cause the emission or absorption of a particle or an antiparticle.
The Dynamics of Parts
Once we understand how a whole is being divided into parts, then we can generalize this idea in a few different ways. First, we can think of a process by which a system of N parts acquires an additional part and thereafter it becomes N+1 parts; this process is called prāna or the addition of parts. Second, we can think of a process by which a system of N parts loses a part and then becomes N-1 parts; this process is called apāna or the removal of parts. Third, as parts are added or removed, the new set of parts must take on the functionality of the whole through a process of responsibility reallocation which is called samāna or the balancing of different parts by allocating them different jobs.
The prāna, apāna, and samāna are the primary forces that control what happens inside a system boundary. In addition to this, there is the vyāna force which carries symbolic information from one system boundary to another. For example, when we eat food, the ingestion is caused by prāna, following which the ingested food is broken into parts by the process of samāna. Once the food has been broken, the parts are ejected from the digestive system using apāna, carried by the circulatory system using vyāna to the other parts of the body where it can be ingested again through prāna. The prāna, apāna, and samāna are therefore intra-system forces, while vyāna is inter-system force.
Finally, there is the force called udāna which involves cloning the symbols to prepare them for externalization. For example, if you have an idea in your mind, and you want to express this idea to the world, then there is an act of cloning involved. The force called udāna is not the same as the force called apāna because apāna means eviction or expulsion, while udāna means copying and transmitting the copy. Thus, a teacher emits the meaning to a student, but it is not considered a “waste”, and by transmitting the knowledge, the teacher doesn’t become ignorant. If the transmission of knowledge involved apāna then after educating the student, the teacher would be ignorant. Therefore, the udāna process is also emission but it involves the act of cloning a drum into a second drum, and the second drum is then ejected.
Other than the transmission of knowledge, DNA replication is another example of udāna due to which the ideas are copied and transmitted. This ability to copy becomes the property of all living beings by which they can reproduce and educate each other. The udāna is advanced in humans reflecting in their ability to produce music, art, literature, and science, as compared to other species such as fishes, birds, beasts, and trees which can only reproduce. The “reproduction” is not just biological; the mind is also reproducing ideas into other minds.
The key point is that these forces are not uniformly present even on Earth. The different forces are dominant in different life forms, so the idea that nature is uniform is completely false.
The terms prāna, apāna, udāna, vyāna, and samāna, are collectively called prāna and often translated as “life breath”. A close scientific equivalent of this term is “force”, provided we understand that these forces are not associated with physical properties (e.g. mass or charge) as in modern physics. The fact is that there is no accurate translation for prāna in English. By understanding the dynamics of a system as composed of parts, and the role the five prāna play in this dynamics, we can give a new definition to the word “force” that is different from the current scientific usage and everyday usage.
Prāna and the Modern Forces
We cannot create an equivalent mapping between the forces of modern physics and Sāńkhya because in modern physics a “system” is not a theoretical construct. The word “system” is just used pragmatically as a way to eliminate outside influences and study an isolated phenomenon (assuming that it can be isolated). Within this isolated picture, everything is described in a flat space-time—i.e. without boundaries. Sāńkhya, on the other hand, has an explicit notion of a system with boundaries. Therefore there are “forces” of ingestion, digestion, elimination, transportation, and replication. We cannot find equivalences between these approaches unless physics is redefined to deal with systems grounds-up. This definition necessitates the induction of the idea of a boundary in nature.
Quantum theory emerged from the study of blackbody radiation in which a blackbody is heated to the point where it emits particles. This process is very but due to oversimplification, we cannot predict when the energy would be absorbed and when it would be emitted. The real process is that when a black body is heated, there is the involvement of prāna (the addition of energy). When this energy is absorbed, there is the involvement of samāna and vyāna (the digestion of energy and its redistribution within a system). And when energy is emitted, there is the involvement of apāna (the excretion of energy). What quantum theory is trying to describe as one force—e.g. electromagnetic radiation—is actually four different kinds of forces. Conversely, what quantum theory considers different forces such as electromagnetism, gravity, weak and strong forces don’t exist in Sāńkhya. These are orthogonal methods of describing the observations.
These forces become far more evident as complexity increases—e.g. in a living body. And therefore the forces are described in analogy to ingestion, digestion, assimilation, excretion, and duplication, which are prominently seen in the body. That doesn’t mean the living body is something unique. It rather means that physics is flawed due to which biology is incompletely understood.
The Problem of Reductionism
Scientists widely suppose that the forces within the atom adequately describe the formation of molecules (and other more complex constructs) which is a false idea according to Sāńkhya and arises due to a non-system-oriented approach to the study of matter. Accordingly, if we just focus on the study of what is inside the atom, we would ignore all the 5 forces which cause the motion of molecules across boundaries (prāna), the breakdown of molecular structures inside a boundary (samāna), the motion of molecules from one part of the living body to another (vyāna), how such molecules are cloned (udāna), and how such molecules are evicted from a system boundary (apāna). According to Sāńkhya, these five forces are fundamental forces and not epiphenomenal behaviors of subatomic particles.
The empirical observations of chemistry and biology are true. But their theoretical explanations based on particle physics and its forces are wrong. Chemical bonding in modern science, for example, is due to electromagnetic forces which results in electrovalent and covalent bonds. The bonding is due to samāna in Sāńkhya which divides and rearranges matter into logically distinct parts. So, we can loosely equate samāna with electromagnetism in this context. However, in a different context—e.g. within the atom—the force that adds vibrational modes to a silent drum is prāna rather than samāna. Present science describes the attraction between electrons and protons in the same way as the molecular bonding process, but these are actually different kinds of processes. The result is that both descriptions become flawed.
Chemical bonding studied in chemistry and the linearity of subatomic particles in atomic physics are both due to samāna and this has hence proven useful in science whereby the same force that makes up the subatomic particles linear also makes the chemical bonds. However, the process of samāna is not adequate to describe the processes of prāna (by which matter is added) or apāna (by which matter is removed). To address these problems, new forces are added, such as the strong and weak forces. Modern physics doesn’t describe these forces as acting between a particle and a boundary. They are rather described as forces between particles. In that sense, the theories are quite different.
The “boundary” is also a particle, but it is a “higher” level particle. It is not that one particle participates in electromagnetic force while another particle will only experience the strong force. Rather, all particles can experience all kinds of forces—e.g. of ingestion, digestion, and elimination—and the difference is not based on particles but on the nature of the force. Sāńkhya thus has a theory of matter and force, but their conceptions are so different that we must either use different words or redefine the ideas in a completely new way.
The Study of a Single Atom
Once we understand the five forces in Sāńkhya, then we are better prepared to understand how to describe a single atom. As noted earlier, the atom is like a drum, and energy is added to a drum due to prāna and causes it to vibrate. The linearity of the different modes of vibration is samāna. Similarly, udāna is when a vibrational mode is cloned and externalized—e.g. when one drum causes another drum to vibrate due to what we call “resonance”. The force called apāna is when we remove a vibrational mode from a drum, and vyāna is when this removed mode or the externalized mode is carried to another drum where it can be absorbed due to prāna (in the new drum).
The fact that something is ejected (apāna) or expressed (udāna) doesn’t mean that it will automatically arrive at a destination. The process called vyāna takes the ejected or expressed symbol to a new drum. Similarly, the fact that such a symbol arrives at a system doesn’t mean it will be absorbed. And if it is absorbed, it doesn’t mean it would be digested (it could be eliminated too). In this way, there are varieties of uncertainties in nature, which are overcome by the forces. Each force overcomes a specific uncertainty and becomes necessary in nature.
In our case, the mind or manas is the drum; the prāna is the hand hitting the drum at some specific point or points, and the resulting sound that we hear is the body or the vāk. The drum, of course, is not necessarily a flat circular surface. It can be any three-dimensional surface. The form of this drum determines the various kinds of vibrations it can produce. However, unless the drum is hit, its existence is not perceivable (i.e. you cannot hear the drum) although the drum exists. In that sense, there is a reality but it has to be ‘activated’ for sensual perception. The process of activating is also the process of selecting some part of the possibility. So, the prāna is a force that activates, and it is also the choice of some specific activations.
The drum in question is just space. Different locations in space are individual drums. Prāna imparts energy at a location, which causes that location to vibrate and appear as a perceivable particle. In fact, when the energy is imparted, at least two drums (representing the particle-antiparticle pair) will be simultaneously activated. Each drum vibrates in a specific mode at a specific energy. Therefore, if the energy doesn’t match the energy required for a specific mode, it would not be absorbed. The meaning of prāna is therefore that we provide what is required or what can be absorbed. Prāna is not just energy; it is that specific energy applied to a specific drum in order to make it vibrate in a specific manner. The specificity of the relation between the energy “packet” and the drum being vibrated is what we call prāna.
A Brief History of Wave-Particle Duality
Before the advent of modern quantum mechanics, Louis de Broglie had proposed a wave-particle duality in 1924. The basic purpose was to explain the fixed orbits of electrons that Bohr had previously envisioned. Louis de Broglie postulated that the fixed orbits were standing waves (comprised of two opposite waves) that carried the particles. This standing wave was called the Pilot Wave since it piloted the particle in space. The particle did not have energy; the energy was in the Pilot Wave.
This system works quite well—in fact, as well as modern quantum mechanics—but it was abandoned in favor of Schrödinger’s Wave Mechanics in which there is no particle until you make a measurement, at which point the particle appears magically (the magic is called “collapse” of the wavefunction into a measurement alternative). Both systems are equally imperfect because it is a question of either admitting both particle and wave in a theory (as de Broglie did) or wave in the theory and particle in the experiment (as Schrödinger did). For aesthetical reasons, physicists thought that the wave-only model (in the theory) is superior to the wave-particle duality model that de Broglie had proposed, and de Broglie’s model was abandoned in favor of the Wave Mechanics proposed by Schrödinger.
The real issue with de Broglie’s approach is that in a complex system, there are many waves, which, according to the Principle of Superposition, must add up linearly. Once you add something linearly, you can also divide it linearly and the Superposition Principle allows you to divide the superposed state in many ways. In other words, you cannot insist that there is indeed one set of Pilot Waves that are piloting different particles because factually the system can be described using an alternative set of waves, without changing any of the particles. The wave thus becomes an addendum to the particles, and the explanation hinges on a particular choice of waves in a system.
This flaw exists even in modern quantum theory where the wavefunction can be expressed through many different bases which correspond to different sets of waves. The total energy of these waves, and the energies of the individual waves, remain the same. However, the form of the waves changes. Thus, the problem in both systems is that we require a method of wave selection. This method of wave selection—in addition to the particles—came to be later known as “local hidden variable theories” which were forbidden by Bell’s Theorem. In other words, de Broglie’s approach has a problem, but the solution to that problem is theoretically forbidden (just like in Schrödinger’s Mechanics).
I noted above that the person playing the drum applies a force, but also applies it at a location on the drum. This means that there is an energy being transmitted by the hand, but there is a specific point on which the hand hits the drum, which in turn constitutes the selection of the specific type of wave to be created. Therefore, where we hit and how hard we hit may be separate questions, but they have a single answer. Nobody plays the drum in which you first hit the drum and then try to define where it is to be hit. The energy and the location of the energy are decided at once in the same event. In that sense, we cannot add new variables into the system—as Bell’s Theorem tells us—because there is only one variable that carries two kinds of information. We have to find how to enhance our variable to contain two parts.
Quantities vs. Qualities in Atomism
In current quantum theory, we can describe how hard to hit the drum but we cannot specify where to hit it. We can distinguish between the waves that are produced by a soft hit or a hard hit, but we cannot distinguish between hits in the middle of the drum versus its edge.
If you are playing the drum, each hit performs two functions—a choice of where to hit, and an energy transfer through the hit. But what do you do if the drum is so small that you don’t know where it is being hit? Prāna addresses this problem because it is not just energy, but also a choice of target. Prāna carries the choices of consciousness, which means that it transfers choice and energy.
The difference between prāna and modern forces—e.g. a photon—is that the former has a specific target from the beginning, but the latter doesn’t. An example of this fact is seen in cosmology where light is emitted by the Sun but it is not meant for a destination; whatever object falls in the “path” of the light happens to receive it. The same light, in Sāńkhya, has both energy and a choice; it is meant for a destination, just like the hand which hits the drum is going to hit it at a specific location in order to produce a specific kind of vibration.
If you hit the drum at point A, then it produces a wave A, which is the word A. If instead, you hit the drum at point B, then it produces a wave B, which corresponds to the word B. So, now, we have two different kinds of words—A and B—produced by the same energy.
If the transactions are performed based on energy, then the difference between A and B would never be known. The situation is similar to drawing different letters using the same drop of ink. The size of the drop of ink only tells us whether the letter is big or small. It doesn’t tell us what symbol the ink was used for. Similarly, the quantum of energy is a drop of ink, which can be used to write different letters. Which drop is used for which alphabet is unknown as we have no control over the so-called “microscopic” properties of matter. Our senses can’t hit the drum at a specific place and cannot write a specific letter. We can only know how hard the drum was hit or how big the drop of ink was. We have no idea where the drum was hit and how the ink was used. In short, we know quantities rather than qualities.
We can see how we have come to the end of the road in physics where science was done using quantitative properties rather than qualities. The quality in this case is not some esoteric non-physical property. It is simply the waveform that has the same energy as many other waveforms. Likewise, it is the alphabet that consumes the same amount of ink as a lot of other alphabets. The energy is quantized, but just knowing that it is quantized doesn’t tell us what that energy was used to symbolize or represent.
The Physical Interpretation of Waveforms
Quantum theory is incomplete because we are weighing different letters—A and B—by the amount of ink in them. If we understood that they were letters with font size, then we would know both quality and quantity. Therefore, we don’t have to reject physical properties from the study of nature. We rather distinguish them as a letter and a font size. A letter has a font size, and these two properties cannot be divorced. In fact, we can say that the manas is the letter and the prāna is the font size. The resulting vāk is a combination of the letter and the font size.
Once the vāk has been created, we can physically measure it and convert everything into quantities. But the vāk was produced from manas and prāna which are not measurable: we cannot separately measure a letter without a font size, or a font size without an actual letter. That doesn’t mean that the letter or the font size is not objective. It just means that they are objective and yet not perceivable.
According to quantum theory, all subatomic particles are just different waveforms. Quantum theory allows an infinite number of waveforms, so it is natural to ask how all such waveforms could be created from the first principles. To achieve this goal within the materialist paradigm, physicists postulate properties like mass, charge, color, flavor, etc. If the postulated property predicts a waveform not yet seen, scientists make attempts to “measure” these waveforms by bombarding particles with energy—i.e. hitting the drum harder and harder to hear a new sound. Since this drumbeating is random (we are not targeting a specific part of the drum), it is only a matter of time before you will detect every imaginable sound. When some such sounds are found, there is much euphoria about the advancement of science but the entire process is so naïve—once we adopt a semantic viewpoint—that it is surprising that we continue to spend so much time on it.
Recall that Schrödinger’s Wave Mechanics evicted all particles from the picture (although de Broglie had particles before Schrödinger’s mechanics). So, when particle physics talks about quantum particles, what is it really talking about? The short answer is that particle physics is trying to give these waveforms a physical interpretation—i.e. that the wave is an illusion and the particle is the reality—when according to Schrödinger’s Wave Mechanics, the wave is the reality and particle doesn’t exist. Mathematics says one thing and English another. According to the mathematics, particles are epiphenomena of waves. But in English, waves are epiphenomena of the particles.
The Semantic Interpretation of Waveforms
We cannot succeed in this manner, because there are zillions of waveforms that we haven’t yet seen. The fact is that we are not even searching for these waveforms, because our theories have conditioned us into thinking that if we have found what our theory has predicted, then we don’t need to look for anything that the theory hasn’t predicted. This is the bias of a theory in which we stop looking for things that a theory doesn’t predict and hence we don’t find them. Furthermore, the sounds of a drum depend on the nature of the drum too, and all possible drums are not available to us. In so many ways, our descriptions of waveforms as indicating physical particles are wrong.
We have to move to a new way of describing waveforms in which the physical interpretation—called quarks and leptons—is an illusion. Rather, these waveforms are words, whose meaning is given in relation to another word—higher in space. The notion of higher and lower requires a hierarchical space, in which distance and direction are indicators of meaning. Each waveform will only occur at a specific location in space, so, even though we cannot know the waveform, we can know the location, and location becomes an indicator of meaning.
My previous book—Quantum Meaning: A Semantic Interpretation of Quantum Theory—discusses the above reinterpretation of physical properties. In effect, we discard material properties (e.g. mass, charge, color, flavor, etc.) and reinterpret waveforms as meanings. This requires one new theoretical construct—that of the hierarchical space-time—in which space and time are trees.
This is not merely an attempt to reinterpret the mathematical formalism of current quantum theory. It is rather the effort to interpret the formalism in a way that we can see its flaws and move towards a new theory of atomism in which both forces and objects are conceived around meanings. Such a description doesn’t violate any predictions of current quantum theory. But it overcomes all its problems.