An activity of the Primer Group


A Special Integration Group (SIG) of the
International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS)
originally SGSR, Society for General Systems Research.






The 1994 J. B. Rhine Lecture,
delivered at the 37th Annual Convention of the
American Parapsychological Association, Amsterdam, 8 August 1994.
Ervin Lazslo
The General Evolution Research Group
Montescudaio (Pisa), Italy

TOWARD A PHYSICAL FOUNDATION FOR PSI PHENOMENA The 1994 J. B. Rhine Lecture, delivered at the 37th Annual Convention of the American Parapsychological Association, Amsterdam, 8 August 1994. Ervin Lazslo The General Evolution Research Group Montescudaio (Pisa), Italy

We are seeking for the simplest possible scheme
of thought that will bind together
the observed facts.
Albert Einstein, The World As I See It (1934)


If the quantum vacuum is to be identified with the field that carries the effects associated with psi, its virtual energies must interact with matter in the universe, including the matter lodged in the brain of human beings. The indicated interaction calls for two kinds of propagations in the vacuum. One kind constitutes the known charged particles that make up the matter-component of the universe. The other kind, however, calls for an innovation in theory: for postulating that also scalar waves propagate within the super-dence virtual-energy field of the vacuum. Scalars, in ordinary vector analysis represent a quantity that is completely defined by magnitude alone, without reference to displacement. Waves of this purely `informational' (rather than `force') kind have been discovered by Nikola Tesla at the turn of the century. They are longitudinal waves, like sound waves, contrasting with electromagnetic waves, which are transverse. Scalars may exist at the level of the quantum vacuum, where they would be generated by the motion of charge particles. In this view the motion of electromagnetically charged particles in the vacuum approximates the action of a monopole antenna: it alternately charges and discharges local regions of the vacuum's virtual-particle gas. Quantal motion thus triggers scalar waves in the vacuum, and these propagate by alternately compressing and rarefying its virtual-particle gas. The scalar waves generated in the vacuum modify the self-regenerating cosmological feedback cycle outlined by Harold Puthoff. (Puthoff 1989) In Puthoff's feedback cycle interaction between the zero-point field (ZPF) and charged particles results in an exchange such that there is no average transfer of energy in any direction at any frequency. However, given the propagation of scalars in the vacuum, the energy field with which charged particles achieve local dynamic equilibrium becomes inhomogeneous and anisotropic - the fluctuations generated in the vacuum by the motion of the particles translate into the local equilibria generated between the particles and the ZPF. In this process the interference patterns created by the motion of charged particles modify the local topology of the vacuum, and the modified vacuum field modifies in turn the motion of the particles. (Laszlo 1993, 1994)

The translation process instantiated in the interaction between particles and the scalar spectrum of the vacuum amounts to a two-way Fourier transformation between objects in space and time, and their waveform equivalents. Fourier showed that any three-dimensional pattern can be analyzed into a set of regular, periodic oscillations that differ only in frequency, amplitude, and phase. Specific waveforms can be exact representations - `Fourier-transforms' - of spatiotemporal objects. For example, when a vessel creates waves on the surface of the sea, it creates Fourier-transforms of its impact on the waters of the sea. This is precisely what may happen when charged particles trace their trajectories in space and time: they leave their Fourier-transforms in the virtual particle gas of the quantum vacuum.

The interaction of vessels with the sea is a dynamic metaphor of the above two-way translation process. H. C. Yuan and B. M. Lake have found that the surface of the sea is surprisingly information-rich. (Yuan and Lake, 1977) When its wave-patterns are subjected to mathematical analysis, it discloses information on the passage of ships, the direction of wind, the effect of shorelines, and other factors. The interfering wave-patterns may be conserved for hours and sometimes for days, after the vessels that created them have passed. Though ultimately they dissipate, eroded by the combined action of gravity, wind, and shorelines, as long as the wave-patterns persist, they provide information on the events that occurred at the sea's surface. But the waves created by vessels on the surface do more than create information regarding their own motion: they also inform - literally `in-form' - the motion of other vessels. All vessels that traverse the wake that spreads out behind a given vessel are rocked by those waves; in this sense the motion of the `wake-creating vessel' is translated into the motion of the `wave-rocked vessels.' The medium that transmits the effects is the surface of the sea: it interconnects the wave-creating with the wave-rocked vessels. And, as all vessels both create waves and are rocked by them, the sea interconnects the motion of all vessels on its surface.

Inasmuch as the quantum vacuum interconnects the motion of the events that occur in space and time, it functions as a holographic field that encodes the particulars of their motion and transmits them to `in-form' the motion of other events. There is no immediate indication, however, that this interconnection would be of the anomalous variety that is characteristic of psi. (Psi, as researchers well know, implies signals that are space- and time-transcending, that is, instantaneous for spatially distant objects and indifferent as to the time when the signalled events took place.) Yet a deeper analysis shows that the signals transmitted through the vacuum field are precisely of the psi variety. The reasons for this are first, because information in that field is holographic (that is, distributed and thus simultaneously available at distinct locations), and second, because the propagation of the holographic interference patterns is quasi-instantaneous.

The latter statement is contrary to the tenets of mainstream physics; it needs further substantiation. Consider, then, that electromagnetic waves propagate in the vacuum with a maximum velocity currently estimated at 299,748 +/- 15 km/sec. Relativity theory does not specify a physical reason for this finite magnitude: c functions as a basic axiom. However, if Silvertooth is right and c varies with the motion of the observer relative to the light source, the value of c can be ascribed to the finite electromagnetic permeability of the medium in which photons propagate. In that event c states a physical factor in the universe: its magnitude is inversely proportional to the square-root of the product of the vacuum's electric and magnetic permeability: c = 1/ 0 u0.

So much for the propagation of photons, which are electromagnetic wave-packets travelling in spacetime. What about scalars then? Scalars are neither `light' nor `matter' - they are longitudinally propagating fluctuations below the energy-threshold of particle pair-creation (which is estimated at 6 x 10-27 erg/sec). Calculations by Thomas Bearden indicate that the propagation of scalar waves is a function of the vacuum's local electrostatic scalar potential. (Bearden, 1983) Because of the increase in vacuum flux density through the accumulation of charged masses, this potential is variable. It is higher in regions of dense mass, in or near stars and planets, and lower in deep space. Hence scalars propagate at speeds independent of the value of c. In the matter-dense region near the surface of the Earth they may reach velocities indistinguishably close to infinity.

We now have the basic properties of an interactive holographic field that encodes the particulars of the spatiotemporal motion of objects, and quasi-instantaneously transmits the corresponding wave-function to other objects in the planetary environment. This, as psi researchers will readily appreciate, could provide a physical foundation for a certain range of psi phenomena - telepathic and telesomatic transference, lifetime recall in NDEs, past-life experiences, distance diagnosis and psychic healing, among others. The exploration of these phenomena as possible vacuum effects is a task I have undertaken elsewhere. (Laszlo 1993, 1994) I shall not enter on it here, but limit myself to indicating the physiological mechanisms that would underlie the brain's interaction with scalars waves of vacuum origin.

4. In the brain a staggering number of dendrites fire ions, each of which constitutes a minute electric field vector. Thus the cerebral hemispheres may act as specialized scalar interferometers, so that action potentials within the neural nets may be significantly affected by the scalar topology of the vacuum. This could alter the initial condition of the nets, and the alterations may be amplified by the chaotic attractors that govern cerebral processes. Chaos in the brain is a recent but well established fact: the cognitive centers of the brain are permanently in a state characterized by chaos. Vast collections of neurons shift abruptly and simultaneously from one complex activity pattern to another in response to extremely fine variations. Within the ten billion neurons of the brain, each with an average of twenty thousand interconnections, the action potential of the smallest neuronal cluster creates a `butterfly effect' that triggers massive gravitation towards one or another of the chaotic attractors. These attractors could amplify vacuum-level fluctuations and produce observable effects on the brain's information-processing structures.

Further evidence may be marshalled in support of the hypothesis of vacuum/brain interaction. Holographic functions in the brain require coherent nonlinear interaction between neuronal networks and/or pre- and post-synaptic neurons. In biological systems coherent interactions have been noted within molecules, between molecules, as well as among dipole clusters in distinct cellular and anatomical structures. In the past such phenomena have been explained in terms of long-range electromagnetic correlations between physically separated oscillating electric dipoles. Recently, however, an alternative explanation has surfaced. The new concept makes reference to the Josephson effect, a spontaneous correlation obtaining between physically separated superconductors. Josephson effects have also been found in living streams, where they function as a factor of intercellular coherence. (Del Giudice et al. 1989)

According to quantum field theory, Josephson junctions generate fields of quantum potentials (consisting of a magnetic vector potential and an electrostatic scalar potential), which in turn modulate the connection between the correlated superconductors or cellular systems. Such fields may mediate communication between physically separate assemblies of neurons in the brain. Spectral patterns of specific frequency associated with nerve firings would impart information to the field, and the field in turn would impose coherence on the ongoing nerve firings. (Psaltis et al. 1990) Current findings indicate that fields of quantum potentials constitute an underlying regulatory system that alters non-synaptic communication between assemblies of neurons and could thus affect even higher brain functions. (Rein 1993)

Summary and conclusions
Psi is a bona fide datum of scientific research, but so far it has remained mainly a datum. Scientific understanding of the phenomenon requires connecting the datum uncovered in psi research with the observations that furnish the empirical component of theories in the natural sciences. In light of the considerations advanced here, the conceptual framework required to connect psi with theories in the contemporary natural sciences calls in turn for a field capable of transmitting information beyond the scientifically recognized limits of space and time. If the concept of such a field is not to remain an ad hoc postulate, we need to identify it with fields, or field-like continua, already known to science. The most likely choice in this regard is the quantum vacuum, a highly anomalous universal energy realm that is both the originating source and the ultimate destination of matter in the universe. Research on this field discloses significant evidence that it transmits a variety of effects that affect the behavior of matter. Complex matter-energy systems in the ultrasensitive states of chaos could amplify vacuum-level fluctuations into significant inputs to behavior. The human brain, of which the cognitive centers are in a constant and pronounced state of chaos, could receive and amplify such signals, and when not repressed by left-hemispheric censors, the signals could penetrate to consciousness. The conscious or unconscious signals would yield the phenomena investigated in psi research.

The above concepts are offered not as a definitive solution to the problem of finding a scientifically acceptable explanation for psi, but as a working hypothesis to be tested and elaborated in collaborative research between psi researchers, and workers in physics, biology, neurophysiology, and related scientific disciplines.


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