Proceeding to the next stage
21 March 2002
L-- emailed me in what would have, for him, been midnight but, for me, arrived at the more respectable time of 8am. He wrote I must tell him how the universe works in order to proceed to the next stage of my initiation, and I must tell him before the end of the week.
It was to be a week of frantic activity.
Most of it I spent in the library, a rushed exploration of the last few hundred years of science.
There are trends towards complexity. Einstein explained much of what Newton already had, but in more detail with more complexity. How much is science really explaining, if nobody can understand it? I broke into Stephen Hawking's house and read the manuscript for his next book in case he's hiding anything, but no Theory of Everything there either.
Basis vectors. Think of a pool table. The position of each ball could be described in terms of two vectors: up, and left. Two vectors of equal importance. But if all the balls were roughly lined up along one diagonal, a better way of saying where they were could be: how far along that diagonal, and how far away from the line. These directions, these new ways of describing the position: these are the basis vectors.
This is a better way because even if you only know the first figure (how far along the diagonal) you've got a pretty good idea of where all the balls are.
Revelation one: Natural laws are simple a set of basis vectors for reality.
The rules we have while not accurate tell us a large amount about the nature of reality. If we wanted to describe the universe exactly our rules would be just as complex as reality itself, but we can get most of the way there quite easily.
So there are two kinds of reality. There is the universe itself (that's one set of vectors). And then we can describe reality in this alternative way, these other basis vectors, where we can know a lot of approximate stuff but finding out about the detailed stuff is hard.
I read about religions.
The Church of Mrs Bins and her Nine Lovely Daughters (New Orleans division).
But I was getting nowhere. Naturally, I went to the ocean.
The ocean's enormous; it's impossible to know where each drop of water is -- yet we can say with confidence that it's still going to be there tomorrow. And (as i watched someone play with the waves, trip, and scramble out of the way of the next one) that waves come in with some regularity, even if we can't predict exactly what.
Revelation two: I don't need to know everything that happens, just some of it.
Which got me thinking. Mrs Bins models the universe with her voluptuous daughters who represent the Nine Figments of Reality. Daughter Five is the cycle of life; Daughter Six is the harsh unfairness of the world; and so on. Nowhere did Mrs Bins says that one of the Figments was that Force equals Mass times Acceleration. It just wasn't important. What's important are the human figments.
Revelation three: The important vectors are human vectors.
Why? Because all those scientific rules about atoms and acceleration don't explain evolution to me, don't explain love, don't explain advertising. Those are convenient basis vectors we choose to define. I know that if I insult you, you'll be annoyed or unhappy. I use that rule every day, and any answer to L--'s question that doesn't say that isn't going to be a good one.
So what I lose in accuracy with abstraction, I gain in understanding.
Revelation four: If it's good enough, that's good enough.
And it becomes a matter of finding out what the most important basis vectors are.
To be as simple as possible we need two:
The introspective of the human contrasted with our place in society. That's the brain and the genitals, the major axis.
The way we interact with reality, beyond that. The hands. Minor axis.
Imagine those two axes crossing, one big, one small. Man at the origin.
The crucifixion. The ancients have always known this.
I emailed L-- immediately: