Q. What inspired you to write this book.
A. For quite a few years now, I've had various disparate ideas about paranormal events buzzing around in my head, and it always bugged me that they were always written off as inexplicable or mysterious. All the stuff I've read on this never seems to go far enough, probably because the authors have reputations to uphold and don't want to expose themselves to ridicule. So, I thought I'd have a go at that further step, bringing all the disparate ideas together and making some sort of attempt at trying to explain them in terms of modern physics. "The Kaluza Concept" is the result! It was either this, or go mad!
Q. What is your background in Relativistic Physics, Quantum Physics, String Theory and Psychology and are you at all daunted, given that physicists universally agree that we are a long way from unifying quantum and relativistic level theories, that you have chosen to jump two steps ahead of them by unifying not only these theories but the disparate fields of psychology and metaphysics.
A. I originally trained as a science teacher back in the weird-hair days of the eighties, but since then, I have studied numerous courses on the first two subjects with the Open University, and have done extensive reading on the second two, but nothing formal. I would love to be able to boast that I have unified quanturm and relativistic level theories in the sense that physicists would like (!), but by unifying certain ideas from Psychology and Metaphysics, and marrying these to ideas from Quantum Physics and Relativity, I suppose there is a certain holism which perhaps wasn't apparent before! It would be ironic if the unification physicists seek were to be brought about intervention from psychologists and metaphysicists!
As for being daunted... not really, as I've no reputation to damage. I've nothing to lose.
Q. What are the obstacles and pitfalls for a layperson entering into the complex and intensely mathematical arenas of physics treated in your book.
A. Probably the complex mathematical bits. But you've got to remember that, daunting as it may look, it's only a descriptive and predictive tool, although if you're not familiar with the lingo, it can form an impenetrable wall. I personally find the study of mathematics as an end in itself quite boring, although some would disagree. To me, studying mathematics for its own sake is rather like studying a spanner for its own sake, without learning anything about what it's used for. The best way to get your head out of the complexities is to, wherever possible, picture it geometrically, which is the only way it is presented in the book. There's no mathematics in here... It's all translated into drawings... honest!
Q. How does Kaluza-Klien relate to modern string theory and M-theory. How has it been superseded, and what are the fundamental problems with each approach.
A. The original theory proposed by Kaluza posited an extra curled up dimension at each intersection of spacetime, so tiny as to be indiscernible from our viewpoint. After some initial interest from Einstein himself, and further elaboration by Klein, the red carpet treatment afforded to the emerging Quantum Theory ensured that Kaluza-Klein theory spent quite a lot of time rummaging through dustbins, sleeping in subways and busking to make a living. However, the development of String Theory required extra dimensions. String Theory proposes that each fundamental particle is the result of a certain vibration frequency on a tiny "string", and for these vibrations to occur, extra dimensions are required to act as a sort of resonance chamber. Without these extra dimensions, the required frequencies, mathematically, could not occur. So Kaluza-Klein Theory was re-housed and given a bowl of soup, and even more dimensions! It hasn't been superseded as such, merely incorporated and elaborated upon. The fundamental problem with String Theory and its elaboration, M-Theory, is the mathematics, which hasn't yet been fully developed, but what theoreticians have so far looks promising. It's only a matter of time.
Q. Why did you focus on special relativity rather than general relativity and in what ways does this limit your conclusions.
A. The strange warping of perception of timeflow which Special Relativity encompasses lent itself rather well to the idea of a consciousness freed from the three dimensional shackles of a physical body being able to manipulate, and interact with, the timeline, as easily as you or I walk from room to room. Its liberation, as I see it, into the extra dimensions suggested by Kaluza-Klein and M-Theory, would facilitate this. Special Relativity thus represents our limited perception of higher dimensional possibilities which a liberated consciousness, after physical death, realises in full. In this way, concentration on Special Relativity inspired my conclusions, rather than limiting them.
Q. Do you accept the axiom of the rule of the excluded middle and if so, how do you resolve the mathematical contradictions which arise in any attempt to unify quantum and relativistic physics. If not, what is the axiomatic basis to your logic.
A. I feel that for a view of the everyday world we live in, this axiom must be accepted in order for things to make sense, but when you delve into the underlying probabilistic substructure of reality, the axiom isn't quite so clear cut. In my view of the world of Quantum Physics, the actual "reality" we experience is just one outcome of an infinite number of superposed realities, just one of which is real-ised when our conscious mind "concentrates" on, or "collapses the wavefunction" of, this particular version of events. In this one version of events, the axiom of the rule of the excluded middle holds, but in the "big picture", it is transformed into a probabilistic form, with no exclusions whatsoever. Anything is possible. I personally feel that this is the reason for the mathematical contradictions arising in any attempt at unification of Quantum and Relativistic Physics, as relativity relates to just one version of events, the universe we live in, whereas Quantum Physics relates to the whole superposed panoply of potential realities which are waiting to be real-ised. The two are completely different animals! This view forms the axiomatic basis to my logic.
Q. How do you derive conclusions about psychology from unifying fields. Are the conclusions necessary correlates or merely compatible hypotheses. How rigorously have you tested the compatibility of your physical theories with modern psychological theories and the underpinning evidence.
A. Actually, the conclusions about psychology actually formed in my mind, and then I tried to find a logical (to me) way of fitting them into a physical theory. Not just one major physical theory, but as many as I could muster, so this is where the apparent unification probably comes from. Rather ambitiously, perhaps, I have tried to form a complete view of physical reality, derived from modern Physics, and how consciousness fits into it, and is indeed an integral part of it. I don't think rigorous empirical testing really entered into this work, as it is, at this moment in time, very speculative, but quite a lot of psychological theory (modern and otherwise) could be interpreted in a compatible way. But then again, that's the beauty of speculation. Who can say you're wrong.
Q. How do you respond to the mainstream view in modern psychology and neurology that dualism is an outmoded view which fails the test of Ockham's razor and is actively contradicted by experimental evidence.
A. I would tend to say, "Oh shit", there go the reductionists again! How would these people explain the multitudinous paranormal events that occur every day. How would they explain the fact that some people on the operating table, whilst unconscious, have actually looked down on themselves and witnessed the conversation of the surgeons and nurses operating on them, which they couldn't possibly have done physically. And visited their relatives in other rooms. I must admit, I don't hold to many mainstream views in anything, and I would suggest that their experiments are, at this moment in time, inadequate. I feel that the test of Ockham's razor is subjective in the sense that it relies on the extent of knowledge at the time, or the world paradigm as such, and in such a way, concepts which fail the test today may pass the test in years to come, albeit in a more succinct form, as Ockham would have liked.
Q. Do your metaphysical views flow from the requirements of physical and psychological theory. If so, how. If not, how did you arrive at your metaphysical views and how have they influenced the development of your scientific theories.
A. In answer to the first part... not really. My metaphysical views stem from years of casual reading and study, not holding to any one particular school of thought, and imbibing bits and pieces of disparate ideas from many viewpoints, including much on the subject of the paranormal. Almost subconsciously, these gradually condensed into a self-consistent idea of the nature of consciousness, but I couldn't quite figure out how it would fit into the view of reality posited by physicists. Much more reading on this latter subject gave me a few basics ideas about Quantum Theory, String Theory Relativity and associated concepts, such as Hilbert Space which, when tailored accordingly, seemed to fit the bill. So, it was the metaphysical views which stimulated the development of my scientific viewpoint, which is necessarily much more flexible than that usually put forward by hardline scientists.
Q. Where do you go after you have your Theory of Everything.
A. Good question Marilyn. Cleethorpes, perhaps. Ice cream and doughnuts. Nah... I'm currently writing, in a lazy way, and as a total departure, a satirical novel, hopefully much funnier than "The Kaluza Concept" I've been told it looks promising so far, but it's very sloooooooooow!
Q. How do you chill. :-)
A. Absolutely love "Family Guy", "House" anything vaguely paranormal (of course), listening to music such as Radiohead and The Pixies, any mod/scooter music, any mod/scooter paraphernalia, drinking Stella (whenever she's in), keeping fit, reading, socialising (whilst drinking beer, usually Stella). I'm a pretty chilled dude really, to the point of driving the wife to distraction.
Q. If you could be anyone, who would you be.
A. That's a hard one. How's about Brain Molko, from the band Placebo. I would not only write superb songs, but my wife would salivate every time I walked into the room. Closure. It's been a pleasure, Marilyn... Ta.
Thank you, it's been interesting. Now go and have a Stella for me. Hope she's in. ;-)
You can check out Keith Young's site here: http://www.squidoo.com/kaluzaconcept