By Basil E. Gala, Ph.D
In Search of Meaning
Modern physics claims that four forces control everything that happens in our universe. These four forces are: first, gravitation, weak but extending to the end of space, pulling matter together; second, electromagnetism pushing objects around, strong but limited in range; third, the weak nuclear force binding electrons to the nucleus, forming the atom; fourth, the strong nuclear force, tightly bonding quarks into protons and neutrons, forming the nucleus. As a fifth force, some astrophysicists have postulated a mysterious “dark force,” or “hypercharge,” which accelerates the galaxies away from each other as the universe expands. I think that galaxies are dropping towards the origin of the universe under the force of gravity, because space is curved. (If astronomers can measure the acceleration of expansion, they may find this acceleration is the gravitational constant g.) The fifth force in the universe is not hypercharge; it is life, more specifically the source of all life, the light of mystics.
Why call life a force?
What is life when we call it a force? In freezing weather, when water drops from the sky, the water turns to crystals of snow with magical designs, but lifeless. Using mostly carbon chains with other materials on earth and electromagnetism, life forms DNA crystal structures, structures stable, growing, replicating, and defying entropy. Entropy is the tendency of physical systems towards greater disorder or chaos if left alone; it is the cause of failure, decay, and death of stars and atoms, known as the second law of thermodynamics in physics.
In thermodynamics, the change in entropy has a mathematical expression, which is the heat change in an isolated system from hotter to cooler divided by the absolute temperature of the system. The units of entropy are joules/Kelvin, the same as in Boltzmann’s constant. Entropy itself can be expressed as Boltzmann’s constant times the logarithm of the number of microstates observed in the system. Thus entropy is a physical entity. On the other hand, communication theory defines entropy as a mental entity, the quantity of information in a message or system, calculated from state probabilities. We compute the entropy by adding the products of the probability of each state times the logarithm of the same probability over the space of all possible states. Taking the negative of this entropy, we get negentropy, which the force of life tends to increase, according to Irwin Schrödinger, Nobel prize-winning physicist, in his little book, “What Is Life?”
What is life really? I respond, what is gravitation really? We cannot know what is out there really. We can only observe events with our limited senses, using the best instruments devised, dreaming up models to match our data, predicting the course of events, and sometimes controlling their outcome. As a force of nature, life acts on objects in certain ways, ways we can observe; can we quantify the effects of life acting, and express the effects with mathematical equations? I think that will be very difficult, but it’s worth trying to do as best as we can with mathematical tools already invented and to be invented. As Isaac Newton devised calculus to deal with what were in his time the mysteries of motion and gravity, we may think up new mathematics to explain the enigmas of life and mind.
An unimpeded apple drops towards the earth when placed in the planet’s gravitational field. A plane flies through the atmosphere propelled by the electromagnetic field of jet engines. An embryo grows and flourishes in the field of the life force. I have placed two apparently identical plants side by side in the same ground and given them equal care; sometimes, one thrives, the other dies. One was in life’s field, the other not. I wish I could understand the life force well enough to save a plant or a child from dying prematurely.
Gravitation emanates from a massive object; how do we locate the source of life’s field of force? If we can locate the source we can place a living thing in the field and see it thrive with negentropy.
Thinking of life as a field of force causing negative entropy changes our search for causes and effects in nature. Scientists generally believe that living things are the result of the four forces of physics acting together at the microscopic and macroscopic level to produce the rare event of a living thing on a planet with a suitable environment. That way of thinking may be at a dead end. In laboratories for many decades now, researchers have been duplicating the conditions on earth when life first emerged about three to billion years ago; they have succeeded in making complex amino acids, the precursors of life, but have not yet come close to producing a living organism of the simplest sort that grows and duplicates.
Also for many decades, computer scientists have been designing increasingly complex programs for robots to simulate thought and other behaviors of living things, such as pattern recognition, planning, and deciding. Such computer behaviors are still mechanical, not displaying the adaptability of even simple animals. We are still a long way from getting HAL of Arthur C. Clark’s 2001 epic. Something is missing from our calculations.
When we observe even tiny organisms under the microscope, we notice they behave differently from non-living systems. They behave with purpose, which is to absorb nutrients, grow, survive, replicate, and enjoy. The behavior of organisms can be predicted to some degree; but they never fail to surprise us, doing the unpredictable in pursuing their purpose.
Physics, chemistry, and computer science explain much about living things, but not all we need to know to understand how they work; some unknown element is missing; if you like, call it spirit. Biology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, economics, and political science all deal with organisms involving the mysterious life force; that is why all these sciences are less able to predict events than the sciences dealing with non-biological phenomena.
Yet, let’s not become too mystical. When we observe something we cannot explain with our existing knowledge, we tend to imagine mysterious and divine forces at work. Ancient people thought lighting, thunder, droughts, and flooding were all the acts of gods. The gods, not poor hygiene, punished the ancients for their sins with plagues. Evil spirits took up residence in people, driving them insane, not chemical imbalances in the brain of the sick. A proper cure was exorcism, which Jesus used with the man called Legion.
I prefer a rational approach to problems; therefore, I imagine the existence of a life force.
Is life beyond our understanding?
The Star Wars epic of George Lucas often makes reference to “The Force,” and “The Dark Side of the Force.” I tend to think there is no dark side to the life force; objectively, it is all the same thing. Speaking of life, Walt Whitman wrote, “I and this mystery here we stand.” Indeed, life is a mystery because we don’t yet understand how it works. I like to solve mysteries, not to perpetuate them. No doubt, some things are beyond human understanding, but it is more profitable to focus on what we can figure out, rather than on what we cannot. The process of living is something we are getting to understand and control with modern science. Once we know what causes life, we can answer other big questions such as whether or not the spirit continues and has a place to inhabit after the body’s dissolution.
If life is a force, it must accelerate something, changing the energy of a system. The kinetic energy of an object with mass is in the mass times the square of the velocity divided by 2. When the kinetic energy stays level, the object is running with its momentum, but when the object accelerates, slows down, speeds up, or turns direction, we suppose that a force, such as electromagnetism, caused it to do so. Similarly, a change in the heat flow energy into or out of a system may decrease entropy; we say the life force caused this change. Alternately, the life force accelerates the flow of information into or out of a system. When we observe that information or negentropy accelerates in a system, we can conclude the system is in life’s field of force.
In plain words, when you throw a stick into a well and after a minute or so you hear a smack, you have witnessed the force of gravity at work. If what you hear is a yelp, however, and an angry digger emerges, you have seen an effect from the life force.
If we are monitoring the state of a living system, measuring the change in entropy at intervals, we may observe an acceleration of the entropy and note that the organism is dying, because the life force is being withdrawn; similarly, when negentropy is accelerating, we note that the life force is being applied to the organism, causing it to grow and multiply. In matters of the mind, forgetting implies loss of information or negentropy, while learning indicates adaptation and growth, leading to a longer life of the brain, because of the application of the life force.
Instinctual or conscious learning transforms the organism enabling it so survive more effectively. Evolution is a form of learning that spans many generations. Birds learn to build better nests for their young in safer places not as individuals but as a species. Social insects, such as bees and termites, evolved the institutions of the queen, the drones, workers, and the warriors over millions of years.
How we feel life
Subjectively, when the life force floods our mind, we experience joy, energy, and creativity; when the life force decreases in us, we become sluggish, sometimes depressed intellectually and emotionally. Religious people believe that God’s grace shines upon them when they do well; His grace is not with them when they fail. But God shines on all of us, all the time; therefore, when the divine light is not warming us, something in the way is impeding it. We don’t know what this light is, but occasionally, we experience it, and know its effect on growth and joy.
But the life force is not partial to us humans; with the force, we are on an equal footing as worms or mosquitoes, deserving no special dispensations. We’re smarter, and if that is enough, our species will continue, perhaps for as long as four hundred million years like the shark and the cockroach.
The zoticon particle
The life force is mediated by the zoticon, as electromagnetism is mediated by the photon. A photon behaves as a particle in some observations and as a wave in others. Larger particles have shorter wavelengths. It would be helpful to locate the zoticon and measure its wavelength, as it would be helpful to detect the graviton, which mediates gravity. We would understand better how the life force operates on materials, building organisms on earth and on other planets, when conditions allow life, with the presence of water, right temperatures, pressures, soils, and atmospheres.
As a particle, the zoticon sets up a field of force, which promotes the acceleration of entropy in a system, such as an organism. A living thing is suspended in the force field of the zoticon, the field collapsing when the organism’s end is near. When the organism dies, the zoticon escapes the body, going out to space at the speed of light to the origin of the universe. In religious terms, the organism’s spirit returns to the Godhead. Nothing is lost; it just changes form. When the lion kills the zebra and consumes it, energy transfers to the predator, but the zoticon of the zebra escapes, eventually returning to animate another living form.
You may be saying now, this is all very interesting, but how do I use the zoticon to do what I want? We know how to use the photon to power our cars, planes, and aircraft; to produce electricity for thousands of different appliances and tools; even to send rockets to the moon. We can even strip the electrons from atoms, and hurtle the protons around the Large Hadron Collider to explore the subatomic world. But the zoticon is more like the graviton, also still undetected by physicists. The graviton builds up a field to infinity, strong close to a mass, rapidly becoming weaker away from mass as the square of the distance. We can navigate with gravitation, put objects in the gravitational field to fall, push objects up against the field to build up potential energy, but cannot change it, neutralize it, or produce it.
Similarly, we cannot change, neutralize, or produce the zoticon field of force; we can only navigate through the field using our creative talents, designing, building, and disseminating worthwhile works. Hold on to your obsession of helping others; preserve the rain forests, defend endangered species, recycle everything and don’t pollute. We exist in a web of zoticons. As long as our zoticon spirit inhabits our bodies, we can contribute to the information available in the world, spreading knowledge, supporting life on the planet, and promoting the well being of all spiritual beings.
Death and transfiguration
Religious people believe that spirits cannot be destroyed, that they are immortal. Certainly, something in living things animates them. When your mother and father meet with death, their bodies quickly change into something very different from the living persons they were. Something vital has been withdrawn from the bodies. Immediately after a plant or animal has died, it looks drastically different from a live one. A stabilizing force has left it as if a supporting column has failed, the body crashing, falling apart. This is as obvious an observation as of old when people saw earth’s curved horizon from a height, but did not conceive that the planet was spherical. The stabilizing force is that of life.
The life force permeates nature, the same as gravity, acting in theory to infinite distances, spreading its effects far and wide in the universe. (God is immanent in the universe.) Art, beauty, and joy are all expressions of the life force. Plants pump water up to their stems, leaves and flowers, greening the earth with the energy of sunlight or geothermal sources, because of the life force. Animals bounce around charming us with their fluid motions as they forage, hunt, or run away from predators. Their bodies quickly decay when the life force has moved out of them.
Life is a spiritual force of immense but subtle power, directing the actions of plants and animals, spreading its wings from the dense jungles to the vast tundra, and into the wide deserts. Matter and energy is absorbed and converted to living tissue. With the evolution of intelligence, organisms may spread throughout the universe, incorporating everything in one unified living whole, preventing the Big Crunch. In the meantime, when a plant or animal dies, life withdraws to a central source, from whence it beams out again to a different entity being born.
Life is an organizing force
Life moves things in all directions: up, down, sideways. It fashions designs, reducing entropy, or increasing information. A highly organized system holds more information, less entropy; it’ self-organizing. Life is also an organizing force. Living systems build structures, reducing entropy in the world. We find these structures, these patterns of organization, in nature and in the arts of humans. Life is the essence of all fine arts, literature, painting, sculpture, dance, music, cooking, perfumery, architecture, and drama. We are thrilled to our life’s core when we enjoy such arts or the splendors of nature. Even a painting made with a can dripping colors embodies design with order and organization, although it appears to be chaotic.
We prize new artistic expressions, innovations in design patterns, because an unexpected event, an improbable event, carries more information, according to Claude Shannon’s entropy formula. Profuse as it is now, life on this planet was an improbable event, and it is so in other parts of the universe. No other sphere in our solar system appears to allow for life, conditions for organisms on the surface of planets or satellites being anywhere from inhospitably cold as on Mars to hellishly hot as on Venus. Blue-white earth is a rare jewel in space, harboring our kind of life and all its wonders.
No human can create such a jewel of fine art as the earth, no matter how great the talent or the love for creation that the artist holds.
Talent and love are potent channels for the expression of the life force. Love is what we feel in life’s field of force. Place living things (plants, animals, or people) in this field of love and they thrive. We have seen the expression of the life force in the flowering of artistic geniuses like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, van Gogh, and Michelangelo. The life force creates order, yet artists often live and work in a messy environment; their private lives are often messy too with divorces, affairs, and mental instabilities. Why do we have this paradox of order within disorder with artists, creators of designs, melodies, harmonies, and symmetries? Artists crave chaos, because chaotic situations stimulate them to create order in their chosen medium of expression. Artists ignore the messes they are in, because they are possessed by love and lust in their inner world.
In all of us, love for mates, children, family, community, work, play, and the world drives the will to greater effort designing, building, growing, and thriving. Love, our mammalian heritage, is the springboard for the life force.
Love and hatred
But what can we say about hatred and anger? Are these the expressions of a death force? What rational explanation can we provide for what people call evil? Hatred and anger powerfully drive the will to destroy rather than build, thus increasing entropy in the world, at least for a while. But sometimes the destruction of old structures is necessary to create new and improved forms. The dilapidated and unsafe building must be demolished for a shiny new glass and steel skyscraper to go up. Forest fires are sometimes beneficial to the land, clearing old trees, controlling insects, and fertilizing the soil, so new and different growth may spring up. Thus evil serves a good end. To be objective, we refrain from postulating the existence of a death force to explain unpleasant events. The withdrawal of life energy from organisms is a sufficient explanation for death and decay; these release materials to the world like fertilizers, which feed the next growth cycle to a finer bloom.
Death drives evolution; it allows for new orders of living things to emerge, organisms with superior equipment for survival. The death of the dinosaurs was necessary for the rise of mammals and humans.
When we contemplate the acts of vicious people, like the Mafiosi, pirates, serial killers, terrorists, bloody dictators, we may think they are driven by the opposite of God that is Satan. Dualism is everywhere in nature: we have matter and antimatter, protons and antiprotons, electrons and anti-electrons, night and day, summer and winter, health and illness, birth and death, creation and destruction, good and evil. There is no anti-graviton, however, and there is no anti-zoticon.
Death is the absence of the life force; evil is the absence of goodness as darkness is the absence of light. In an era of suicidal-homicidal maniacs, holding on to such beliefs is difficult, but vital. As an enlightened person, reject fear, hatred, and anger; you can do better controlling such emotions through the use of your intellect; of the emotions, the Beatles sang in the nineteen sixties, all you need is love.