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What is the 'Book of Changes'?
The I Ching serves as a foundation for many Eastern philosophies and Western mathematics.
- The I Ching is the basis for polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's binary code and subsequently basis of our digital technology.
- Psychologist Carl Jung used the Book of Changes to explore notions of synchronicity or "meaningful coincidence."
- Alan Watts considered the I Ching to be a model that mapped the thinking processes of the human mind.
The I Ching or, as many Western audiences know it, the Book of Changes, is a book that is thousands of years old. Throughout the years it has served as an all-encompassing philosophical treatise of the universe, a guide toward ethical living, a guidebook for ruling, and as an oracle for one's personal life and psychic future. Two of the most major branches of Chinese philosophy, Confucianism and Taoism owe their creation to this foundational book.
Here and there it popped up for Western scientists and philosophers to study — the first European commentary was written in the late 15th century. In the 1950s and subsequent '60s counterculture, the I Ching held a special place as a divinatory guidance book for living a better life. The book has spawned countless interpretations, commentaries and dueling schools of thought. It is by far the most consulted book in China and East Asia.
All of this said, the exact origins of the I Ching is shrouded in myth and mystery. According to a mythological version of the creation story, the Chinese hero Fu Xi stared into the skies and the world around him and discovered that everything could be arranged in eight trigrams. That is, three stacked lines either broken or solid, which reflect yin and yang — the cosmic duality of the world and void.
There is historical record that, in 1050 BCE, Emperor Wen of the Zhou dynasty changed the trigrams into hexagrams (six lines) which created 64 different combinations. This is the Book of Changes that we now know today.
The I Ching and Carl Jung
German sinologist, Richard Wilhelm's translation of the I Ching stands as the definitive work to read if you're interested in learning about the ancient work. In a foreword to the book, Carl Jung, psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, expressed his intrigue on the divinatory aspect of this mysterious book:
"For more than 30 years I have interested myself in this oracle technique, or method of exploring the unconscious, for it has seemed to me of uncommon significance. I was already fairly familiar with the I Ching when I first met Wilhelm in the early 1920s; he confirmed for me then what I already knew, and taught me many things more."
Jung used the oracle with his patients during therapy sessions. There was a great deal of meaningful and relevant answers to his patients' questions. Coming from a scientific background where demonstrable causality is gospel, Jung was very curious to see why this ancient book was so apt to a seemingly infinite amount of circumstance.
"... A certain curious principle that I have termed synchronicity, a concept that formulates a point of view diametrically opposed to that of causality. Since the latter is a merely statistical truth and not absolute, it is a sort of working hypothesis of how events evolve one out of another, whereas synchronicity takes the coincidence of events in space and time as meaning something more than mere chance."
Even today, such talk of synchronicity gets eye rolls from the materialist and positivist crowd as just a bunch of New Age hogwash. "Western scholars have tended to dispose of it as a collection of 'magic spells,'" wrote Jung in the foreword.
Jung believed that the traditional Chinese mind, as he saw their work laid out in the I Ching, is preoccupied with the chance aspect of natural events. Our notion of coincidence is the main concern of the I Ching. Jung would go on to propose that psyche and matter are one in the same and that through synchronicity, inner psyche and the outside world are intrinsically connected in a way unknown to scientists still tied to their irrefutable axiom truth of causality.
Jung explains that the ancient Chinese school of thought was more modern than we suspected.
"The ancient Chinese mind contemplates the cosmos in a way comparable to that of the modern physicist, who cannot deny that his model of the world is a decidedly psychophysical structure. The microphysical event includes the observer just as much as the reality underlying the I Ching comprises subjective, i.e., psychic conditions in the totality of the momentary situation."
The Book of Changes and Alan Watts
Alan Watts - The I Ching
The essence of all of Alan Watts' philosophies and arguments largely pertain to remedying the apparent separation of dualities and realizing that in its stead is always an interdependence of opposites. Under our limited dualities of language this seems to be a universal truth. This implies that and that implies this. Order and chaos, self and other and so on.
Alan Watts saw that the implicit idea of yin and yang was a fundamental way of viewing reality. It is within this infinite mix of yin and yang in which the multiplicity of reality arises.
In fact all information whatsoever can be translated into terms of yang and yin.
"The Book of Changes is thought to be the oldest of the great Chinese classics and to date from perhaps as early as 1300 BCE. The book may also go back to the earliest phases of human thought because the I Ching is really the ground plan in the way in which not only the Chinese think, it's almost a mapping of all the thinking processes of man."
Watts was aware of the fact that the system of arithmetic which is used by digital computers came from the I Ching. Here he refers to binary code:
"We have a binary system of arithmetic zero and one in varying arrangements. Digital computers use a number system which consists only of the figures zero and one, out of which you can construct any number and this was invented by Leibniz who got it from the Book of Changes."
The I Ching predates binary code by some 5,000 years — if the earliest estimates of the book's creation are true.
In the late 1600s to early 1700s, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was looking for a better arithmetic method over the decimal system. Leibniz invented binary arithmetic by studying the I Ching. This said, the Book of Changes being an influence for binary code is an understatement.
The title of his paper was: "Explanation of the binary arithmetic, which uses only the characters 1 and 0, with some remarks on its usefulness, and on the light it throws on the ancient Chinese figures of Fu X."
Leibniz would surely be shocked at what has succeeded his invention. Everything that we compute and represent digitally and experience is at its core a complex string of binary signals.
Watts found this a profound insight into the validity of the I Ching and its ancient wisdom:
There's a sudden unexpected link between the most sophisticated mathematical machinery and a book originating at least in 1300 BC.
Book of Changes influence on modern society
There is no final authority on the cosmic truths that the I Ching reveals. But it does offer us an ancient and renewed paradigmatic way of viewing the world.
Alan Watts leaves us with a fitting remark on its place in the world:
"This book is somehow always with us, but this then is a way of helping your own multivariable brain arrive at decisions cooperating with your own mind because then again after you've tossed your 64 sided coin, the oracle that you read and explains each particular hexagram in the Book of Changes is a sort of Rorschach blot, it is a very laconic remarks to which everybody reads just exactly what they want to read."
Whether you're utilizing it as a tool to dig into your psyche, consulting for advice like kings of yore or following it as a personal philosophy — the I Ching still has much to tell us.
Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.
- U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
- Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
- While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
The U.S. Navy controls patents for some futuristic and outlandish technologies, some of which, dubbed "the UFO patents," came to life recently. Of particular note are inventions by the somewhat mysterious Dr. Salvatore Cezar Pais, whose tech claims to be able to "engineer reality." His slate of highly-ambitious, borderline sci-fi designs meant for use by the U.S. government range from gravitational wave generators and compact fusion reactors to next-gen hybrid aerospace-underwater crafts with revolutionary propulsion systems, and beyond.
Of course, the existence of patents does not mean these technologies have actually been created, but there is evidence that some demonstrations of operability have been successfully carried out. As investigated and reported by The War Zone, a possible reason why some of the patents may have been taken on by the Navy is that the Chinese military may also be developing similar advanced gadgets.
Among Dr. Pais's patents are designs, approved in 2018, for an aerospace-underwater craft of incredible speed and maneuverability. This cone-shaped vehicle can potentially fly just as well anywhere it may be, whether air, water or space, without leaving any heat signatures. It can achieve this by creating a quantum vacuum around itself with a very dense polarized energy field. This vacuum would allow it to repel any molecule the craft comes in contact with, no matter the medium. Manipulating "quantum field fluctuations in the local vacuum energy state," would help reduce the craft's inertia. The polarized vacuum would dramatically decrease any elemental resistance and lead to "extreme speeds," claims the paper.
Not only that, if the vacuum-creating technology can be engineered, we'd also be able to "engineer the fabric of our reality at the most fundamental level," states the patent. This would lead to major advancements in aerospace propulsion and generating power. Not to mention other reality-changing outcomes that come to mind.
Among Pais's other patents are inventions that stem from similar thinking, outlining pieces of technology necessary to make his creations come to fruition. His paper presented in 2019, titled "Room Temperature Superconducting System for Use on a Hybrid Aerospace Undersea Craft," proposes a system that can achieve superconductivity at room temperatures. This would become "a highly disruptive technology, capable of a total paradigm change in Science and Technology," conveys Pais.
High frequency gravitational wave generator.
Credit: Dr. Salvatore Pais
Another invention devised by Pais is an electromagnetic field generator that could generate "an impenetrable defensive shield to sea and land as well as space-based military and civilian assets." This shield could protect from threats like anti-ship ballistic missiles, cruise missiles that evade radar, coronal mass ejections, military satellites, and even asteroids.
Dr. Pais's ideas center around the phenomenon he dubbed "The Pais Effect". He referred to it in his writings as the "controlled motion of electrically charged matter (from solid to plasma) via accelerated spin and/or accelerated vibration under rapid (yet smooth) acceleration-deceleration-acceleration transients." In less jargon-heavy terms, Pais claims to have figured out how to spin electromagnetic fields in order to contain a fusion reaction – an accomplishment that would lead to a tremendous change in power consumption and an abundance of energy.
According to his bio in a recently published paper on a new Plasma Compression Fusion Device, which could transform energy production, Dr. Pais is a mechanical and aerospace engineer working at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), which is headquartered in Patuxent River, Maryland. Holding a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, Pais was a NASA Research Fellow and worked with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. His current Department of Defense work involves his "advanced knowledge of theory, analysis, and modern experimental and computational methods in aerodynamics, along with an understanding of air-vehicle and missile design, especially in the domain of hypersonic power plant and vehicle design." He also has expert knowledge of electrooptics, emerging quantum technologies (laser power generation in particular), high-energy electromagnetic field generation, and the "breakthrough field of room temperature superconductivity, as related to advanced field propulsion."
Suffice it to say, with such a list of research credentials that would make Nikola Tesla proud, Dr. Pais seems well-positioned to carry out groundbreaking work.
A craft using an inertial mass reduction device.
Credit: Salvatore Pais
The patents won't necessarily lead to these technologies ever seeing the light of day. The research has its share of detractors and nonbelievers among other scientists, who think the amount of energy required for the fields described by Pais and his ideas on electromagnetic propulsions are well beyond the scope of current tech and are nearly impossible. Yet investigators at The War Zone found comments from Navy officials that indicate the inventions are being looked at seriously enough, and some tests are taking place.
If you'd like to read through Pais's patents yourself, check them out here.
Laser Augmented Turbojet Propulsion System
Credit: Dr. Salvatore Pais
- As the material that makes all living things what/who we are, DNA is the key to understanding and changing the world. British geneticist Bryan Sykes and Francis Collins (director of the Human Genome Project) explain how, through gene editing, scientists can better treat illnesses, eradicate diseases, and revolutionize personalized medicine.
- But existing and developing gene editing technologies are not without controversies. A major point of debate deals with the idea that gene editing is overstepping natural and ethical boundaries. Just because they can, does that mean that scientists should be edit DNA?
- Harvard professor Glenn Cohen introduces another subcategory of gene experiments: mixing human and animal DNA. "The question is which are okay, which are not okay, why can we generate some principles," Cohen says of human-animal chimeras and arguments concerning improving human life versus morality.
The research also raises an intriguing question: Can we get around the Heisenberg uncertainty principle?
- New experiments with vibrating drums push the boundaries of quantum mechanics.
- Two teams of physicists create quantum entanglement in larger systems.
- Critics question whether the study gets around the famous Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
Recently published research pushes the boundaries of key concepts in quantum mechanics. Studies from two different teams used tiny drums to show that quantum entanglement, an effect generally linked to subatomic particles, can also be applied to much larger macroscopic systems. One of the teams also claims to have found a way to evade the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
One question that the scientists were hoping to answer pertained to whether larger systems can exhibit quantum entanglement in the same way as microscopic ones. Quantum mechanics proposes that two objects can become "entangled," whereby the properties of one object, such as position or velocity, can become connected to those of the other.
An experiment performed at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado, led by physicist Shlomi Kotler and his colleagues, showed that a pair of vibrating aluminum membranes, each about 10 micrometers long, can be made to vibrate in sync, in such a way that they can be described to be quantum entangled. Kotler's team amplified the signal from their devices to "see" the entanglement much more clearly. Measuring their position and velocities returned the same numbers, indicating that they were indeed entangled.
Tiny aluminium membranes used by Kotler's team.Credit: Florent Lecoq and Shlomi Kotler/NIST
Evading the Heisenberg uncertainty principle?
Another experiment with quantum drums — each one-fifth the width of a human hair — by a team led by Prof. Mika Sillanpää at Aalto University in Finland, attempted to find what happens in the area between quantum and non-quantum behavior. Like the other researchers, they also achieved quantum entanglement for larger objects, but they also made a fascinating inquiry into getting around the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
The team's theoretical model was developed by Dr. Matt Woolley of the University of New South Wales. Photons in the microwave frequency were employed to create a synchronized vibrating pattern as well as to gauge the positions of the drums. The scientists managed to make the drums vibrate in opposite phases to each other, achieving "collective quantum motion."
The study's lead author, Dr. Laure Mercier de Lepinay, said: "In this situation, the quantum uncertainty of the drums' motion is canceled if the two drums are treated as one quantum-mechanical entity."
This effect allowed the team to measure both the positions and the momentum of the virtual drumheads at the same time. "One of the drums responds to all the forces of the other drum in the opposing way, kind of with a negative mass," Sillanpää explained.
Theoretically, this should not be possible under the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, one of the most well-known tenets of quantum mechanics. Proposed in the 1920s by Werner Heisenberg, the principle generally says that when dealing with the quantum world, where particles also act like waves, there's an inherent uncertainty in measuring both the position and the momentum of a particle at the same time. The more precisely you measure one variable, the more uncertainty in the measurement of the other. In other words, it is not possible to simultaneously pinpoint the exact values of the particle's position and momentum.
Big Think contributor astrophysicist Adam Frank, known for the 13.8 podcast, called this "a really fascinating paper as it shows that it's possible to make larger entangled systems which behave like a single quantum object. But because we're looking at a single quantum object, the measurement doesn't really seem to me to be 'getting around' the uncertainty principle, as we know that in entangled systems an observation of one part constrains the behavior of other parts."
Ethan Siegel, also an astrophysicist, commented, "The main achievement of this latest work is that they have created a macroscopic system where two components are successfully quantum mechanically entangled across large length scales and with large masses. But there is no fundamental evasion of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle here; each individual component is exactly as uncertain as the rules of quantum physics predicts. While it's important to explore the relationship between quantum entanglement and the different components of the systems, including what happens when you treat both components together as a single system, nothing that's been demonstrated in this research negates Heisenberg's most important contribution to physics."The papers, published in the journal Science, could help create new generations of ultra-sensitive measuring devices and quantum computers.