DS: This DSI
sojourn is with one of today’s more controversial people in and about the
sciences. His name is Terence Witt, and he is the author of a recent book on
astrophysics, cosmology and cosmogony titled Our
Undiscovered Universe: Introducing Null Physics, The Science Of Uniform And
Unconditional Reality. People ensconced in Academia tend to scorn
his ideas and work, and he is generally granted, at best, outlier status, along
with out and out charlatans like Erich Von Dāniken and Immanuel Velikovsky.
However, never being one to dismiss things out of hand (see my terrific
interview with psi writer Brad
Steiger), I found quite a bit of merit in the man’s approach to reality,
even if I found the format of his book and the presentation of his ideas to be
wanting. In fact, I actually believe that if the book is accorded any import, in
later times, it will be primarily as a philosophic work. Witt is the owner of
two websites as well, both with almost identical information:
First, welcome to you, Terence. For now, let me ask, for those readers to whom
your books and your name are unfamiliar, could you please give a précis for the
uninitiated, on who Terence Witt is: what you do, what your aims in your career
are/were, major achievements, and your general philosophy, etc.
My ‘day job’ is biomedical entrepreneur.
I founded, operated and in 2006 sold a hugely successful company called
Witt Biomedical. Clearly I get no
points for the originality of its name, but I was solely responsible for
sweeping renaissance in cardiac hemodynamic analysis, and my software became the
gold standard for use in cardiac catheterization labs.
My formal education is as an electrical and computer engineer, but at my
core, my rasion d’etre, is to solve technical problems.
The more difficult the problem, the better I like it.
My overriding philosophy is straightforward – all problems have
eloquent solutions and all questions have rational answers.
I particularly like solving biomedical problems because it provides a
direct and in some cases life-saving benefit to the individuals who need it
most. It’s difficult to imagine a
more satisfying feeling.
DS: Before we hit the book, its ideas, and cosmology in general, and even before I lead off with biographical background material, so that folks do not think you’re some mad prophet back from an acid trip in Nepal, let me ask you about your thoughts re: being compared to fruitcakes, nut jobs, crackpots, and the like? Most of this abuse comes in the form of online reviews and fora, wherein, even where you have tried to defend yourself, you are mocked and shouted down by a rabble of folks who simply are clueless as to the things they criticize you on. As my website is very ‘controversial’ in the arts, I know what such people are capable of, for I’m one of the few people out there who’s likely suffered worse. Have you ever been stalked, personally harassed, threatened? If so, expound a bit. If not, is the bile more directed at your work than ad hominem?
I expected controversy when I released the book, but the vitriolic and frenzied
nature of my critics defies belief. I
wrote the book because, as well known physicists such as Lee Smolin have noted,
physics is currently broken, and I think that this is an important problem that
needs to be resolved if we’re destined to fully understand the universe in
which we live. But this is not, for
me at least, an emotional issue. Not
so for my detractors. Rather than
read a single page of my book, they spend months
debasing my work on the internet. In
challenging the Big Bang, I was attacking the scientists that they idolize, and
they lashed out with the fury of the righteous. I have not been physically harangued or attacked, as my most
vehement detractors all cower behind their anonymousity.
My primary reaction to these attacks is one of pity.
I can’t imagine what it must be like to live a life devoid of any
capacity for independent thought. “Polly
want a cracker?”
DS: Anonymousity, nice neologism. I am not going to pretend to be an expert in cosmogony nor physics, merely a well informed enthusiast of all things scientific from astronomy to dinosaurs to geology. As such, and in reading your book, I found most of my problems stemmed from presentation, rather than off the wall science. This is not to say I lacked any disagreements. I did, and will query you on them later, but the book clearly presents its subject matter with seriousness, and constructs mathematical defenses of its conjectures. Comparisons with the aforementioned charlatans seems designed merely to avoid real dialectic. That said, what have been the major criticism of your book and ideas, online or off, in essay or fora, and what is your response?
I’ll limit my response to two recurring criticisms from actual ‘readers’.
The first is that many thought my book’s format was far too formal, and
requested a ‘null physics for dummies’ version.
My counterargument is that null physics concepts require the most clear
and precise introduction I can provide, one that includes at least a little of
the process by which they were derived. Should
null physics be embraced in the future, someone else can write an interpretation
for a wider audience. How many
books have been written about relativity? Evolution?
Moreover, there are diesel mechanics, hair dressers, and pool contractors
with whom I’ve spoken, all with a working knowledge of my galactic dynamics
and several other key premises in my book, so I’ve reached a wider geographic
than I thought was possible. The
second most common criticism concerned my treatment of infinity.
Many readers had severe issues with this; in some cases so much so that
their progress through my book stalled, never reaching the actual cosmology
discussion. My counterargument is
that infinity is a physical reality, not a mathematical abstraction, and it has
long been understood that it is not possible to ‘prove’ aspects of physical
reality. But I’m sure we’ll
talk more about this second issue later, since your review included strident
comments about my mistreatment of infinity.
DS: Also, since science is about testing hypotheses and requiring proof, what hypotheses of your have met empirical proofs? And, if none have yet, when and how do you propose to test them? And, if they fail to meet expected results, what happens to your theory? Do you, ala the Big Bangers, create an ad hoc patchwork, or do you scrap it all, and start afresh?
To my knowledge, none of the specific predictions included in my book have been
tested. I’ve offered grant money
to a local university for that purpose, but they have a real and justifiable
fear that taking me seriously enough to test my theory would cause irreparable
harm to their reputation. I don’t
plan on making an open-ended offer to any university or research team, such as
was done with the X-prize, because testing my cosmology is a radically different
proposition than a specific engineering goal.
As to the ramifications of null theory passing or failing its
predictions, here again my work is wholly unlike the Big Bang.
If, for instance, my prediction concerning the existence of the galactic
vortex is incorrect, then my theory is irreparably WRONG.
The galactic vortex is ‘joined at the hip’ to cosmic equilibrium,
which is in turn an inevitable consequence of our universe’s existence as the
substructure of nothing. There’s
a common misconception in science that our current theories will inevitably be
replaced with an endless succession of newer theories.
This is based on the misguided philosophical notion that there is no
‘deep’ or ‘true’ reality beyond the reach of our instrumentation. Our universe is far more substantial than that.
The only way for science to maintain its status as science is to embrace
the notion of falsifiability, and falsifiability in turn presupposes the
existence of truth.
DS: Let me now step backward, and explore how you got to the point where you felt that physics and cosmogony went awry? Let us start from the beginning, with some biographical plumbing of your past, your career, your views on science and religion, etc. When and where were you born?
TW: I was born in rural Oregon (some might argue this to be an oxymoron…) in the late 1950’s.
DS: What was
your youth like, both at home and in terms of socializing with other children?
Were you drawn to the outdoors, or were you more of a geek with a book at all
TW: I was definitely a geek, but liked to go outside to investigate insects, examine samples of ditch water under my toy microscope, and watch fuzzy images of planets with my toy telescope. I had a radically dysfunctional family, which I think caused me to focus on things outside of myself.
How do you make a living? You seem to have made a fortune in business, yet your
book is not on that subject matter. On your websites it states that you studied
physics, then worked in the aerospace field, before founding a medical company.
Why did you do so? What did you make?
TW: I’m well off financially, so I don’t have to work, but I am in the process of starting another biomedical company to try to address the current horrific situation in organ transplantation. I pursued theoretical physics in college, lo those many years ago, but even in 1976 it was clear that its abandonment of logical consistency was a doomed approach, so I switched to electrical and computer engineering. I graduated top of my class at Oregon State University and was hired by Harris Corp in Melbourne FL to help them with their submicron VLSI (computer chip) initiative. I became disenchanted with their corporate politics and wanted to do something ‘real’, so I started a biomedical business in 1990.
You sold your company in 2006, and you seem to have retired. Then you took a
position at the Florida Institute Of Technology. What do you do there?
TW: Virtually nothing. Ostensibly I saw it as an opportunity to get my cosmology vetted, and it seemed like a good fit since they have a strong space science program and one of their astrophysics Phd students had worked for me for four years doing data collection and reduction for my own tests of my cosmological theory.
Do you teach? Are you a lecturer? Why is it that so many people feel that such
‘credentials’ have anything to do with the quality or no of an idea or
TW: If my cosmology gets any traction in my lifetime, I would be happy to teach at Florida Institute of Technology, but until then, students are taught to reinforce, not question paradigms. As to the phenomenon of credentialing perceived as ‘enhancing’ an idea, I think it might be built right into our genes, since it is so omnipresent. Certainly we want credentials for the people who operate cars, planes, and trains, but we have always allowed this to bleed into everything else, and people do so love to let other people do their thinking for them. They don’t ask “what is your concept”, they ask “what does Dr. Whatshisname think?” Look at any of our current media sources. Introspection is clearly not a treasured pastime.
I grew up reading science books (far more so than fiction), mostly those
published in mid-20th Century (such as the How And Why Wonder
book series), so have seen the resurgence of science writing since the late
1970s as a de facto Golden Age. Do you agree? And what do you think has spurred
this? And, if true, why are so many, especially Americans, so ignorant of things
like evolution, cosmology, etc.?
TW: Timing is everything. Just as physics’ standard model of particles was becoming hopelessly ossified in the mid 1970’s, biology and genetics were starting to ramp up in a way so profound, pertinent and sweeping to our lives as to make physics little more than the lost art of Cuneiform interpretation. Science writing follows the science, so if the last few decades represent a Golden Age of science writing, I think it’s limited to the life sciences. As to the general scientific ignorance of Americans, knowledge follows interest level, and for some reason science is simply not interesting to the majority of Americans. Without prevailing interest, there is no motivation to gain knowledge, and scientific knowledge requires effort. Not a great deal of effort in many cases, but effort nonetheless, and context. We’ve lost our sense of awe at the natural world, perhaps because we spend too much time in our tinny, ad hoc, artificial worlds. Just the other night I was on my dock behind my house, and was struck by an odd juxtaposition – the video screens (TV, computer) I could see through my back windows, and the clear night sky, sparkling in its immensity. This is the sky we need to look at more often.
When I interviewed Jack Horner,
he wrote of his dyslexia and the problems he had with learning in school. In a
sense, he sort of fit into that old mold they use about Albert Einstein- the
genius who failed in the rote didactic system. Also, many studies have been done
that show that valedictorians and salutatorians generally do not do particularly
well in life after school, particularly in terms of creative endeavors- like the
arts and sciences. What sort of a student were you? Do you think you fit this
archetype of an ‘outside the box’ thinker? How have you applied this
paradigm into your scientific work?
I usually got good grades, but was not a particularly good ‘student’, as one
of my juvenile pleasures was trying to embarrass the teacher by steering them
into logical inconsistencies. I
always treated the grading system as a competition, not a measurement of
aptitude for any given topic. To
the extent that good grades require excessive conformity, they punish creativity
instead of rewarding it. As to my
scientific work, I care far more about the viability and logical consistency of
concepts than who does or does not endorse them.
This is particularly true when the champions of a paradigm are unable to
defend the positions to which they hold so dearly.
DS: Do you have
any siblings? Did your siblings follow you into the sciences or writing?
TW: I have one older half-sister, and our paths diverged early on. We share virtually no common ground.
DS: What of your
parents? What were their professions?
TW: My mom was absentee when I was seven, and my dad battled with his own demons 24/7 most of his life. He worked a number of blue collar jobs, but was always his own worst enemy when confronted by success. If anything, my childhood made me appreciate the reasoning behind prohibition. I detested alcohol so much that I didn’t even gargle with Listerine until I was well past the legal drinking age.
DS: What were
some early works or scientists that influenced you?
TW: For the good old days, Lucretius and Democritus, for more recent times, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and Planck. I was always impressed with Galileo’s resolve. I never would have published my book if it stood a good chance of landing me in the Pope’s jail. “Just kidding guys! It was a joke! God is great…” Compared to that, web ninnies calling me names seems pretty tame.
What were some of the cultural touchstones in your life, the things, events, or
people who graced your existence with those ‘I
remember exactly where I was’
moments? When did you gain a fascination for things astronomic?
When I was growing up the race to the moon was in full swing, and I’d have to
say that the first moon landing was pivotal for me.
I’d always felt, because of Star Trek and similar shows, that there was
no limit to what humankind might eventually accomplish.
The moon landing sealed the deal. Even
now, regardless of the wealth of evidence to the contrary, I still hold to that
DS: What sort of
books did you read, as a child? I read science books, by and large, as well as
atlases. The How And Why Wonder Books, bios of scientists,
skyscrapers, airplanes, dinosaur books, books on astronomy. To this day, one of
my favorite reads is a little known University of Chicago book, from 1988,
called Cauldrons In The Cosmos, Nuclear Astrophysics, by Claus E.
Rolfs and William S. Rodney. It’s a book that’s not too techy, not too
dumbed down, but very well written. Name some of your favorite science books, as
well as those you think among the best ever published? Did you read sci fi?
TW: I read a fair amount of sci fi, and must confess I’ve a poor recollection of individual books. I thought Larry Niven’s Ringworld was interesting and original, but wouldn’t put it too far up the top of the favorites list growing up. I do remember more recent sci fi I’ve read, and would have to give ‘Altered Carbon’ high marks. Perhaps the best nonfiction science book I’ve seen in a while is Carrol and Ostlie’s Modern Astrophysics. They of course promote the Big Bang, but aren’t infatuated with it, and keep a good balance between measurements and models.
DS: I earlier
mentioned some of your detractors’ comparisons of you to noted charlatans. But
there have been scientists and thinkers who were ‘unconventional,’ yet also
later became heroes to ‘the establishment.’ One of my favorites, since
childhood, is Michael Faraday- a poor kid who scraped his way into the very
bottom of scientific ranks, posited ideas initially demeaned, but who was the
most respected and influential scientist in the U.K., at his death, and a man
who may have been the most important practical (not theoretical) scientist ever.
What scientists would you put as those you admire and look up to, and do you see
any connection between their plights and ideas and yours?
that you should say that, because the first physicist who actually read my book,
after its review by the Royal Astrophysical Society, was Hamid Rassoul, and he
said that he thought I might be the next Michael Faraday.
I was familiar with Faraday’s work but not his travails, and can
certainly empathize with his plight. Of
present-day scientists, while I disagree with his approach to cosmology and
black holes, I admire Stephen Hawking’s determined struggle against the
ravages of ALS and his recent and apocryphal admission that some of his earlier
work was wrong! I would like to say
that I admire Fred Hoyle, Halton Arp or Geoffrey Burbidge for their opposition
to the Big Bang, but they give their own theories too many free passes on
DS: Are you
married, with any children? If so, what are their professions? Many envision the
idea of lonely scientists retreating from the real world, the solitary man,
detached from society, and often using work to escape an awkward social life. Is
any of this cogent to your life, or your growing up? Or has your life in
business let you avoid this?
TW: I’m happily married, with one step-daughter from a previous relationship who works in movie production. As to my relationship with ‘society’, I would say that I’m a borderline misanthrope. My friends would probably disagree, as my wife and I frequently do ‘random acts of kindness’. I have a few close friends and enjoy good conversations in small groups, and have little use for large gatherings. Even so, this is huge social progress from my early years – at 9 years old I thought most grownups were retarded and a year later I was convinced I was actually a different species. Three years in the infantry provided a much-needed forced socialization that helped me overcome a marginal childhood and develop better interpersonal skills. My business activities, which included sales, marketing, and operations, allowed me to significantly expand on this basic foundation.
Has science been a retreat, of sorts, from the daily bullshit of the ‘real
TW: Absolutely. However, I would change terminology a bit. Natural science is the ‘real world’ and everything else is noise.
Where did you go to school- elementary and high school? What was the education
system like in that time and place?
TW: I attended grades 1 through 12 in rural Oregon (again with the oxymoron!). Looking back, I’d say the educational system was excellent - you have inspiring teachers mixed in with workaday dullards everywhere. There were no ‘gifted’ programs, which I think is probably for the best, since, at least from my perspective, a truly ‘gifted’ child doesn’t really need the assistance…
DS: Since you
have written of the cosmos, and propose a whole new cosmogony/cosmology, is
there any place for a Divine Being or Creator, in your cosmic view? If not, why?
TW: Not a Creator for the universe itself. The concept of a Divine Being or Creator originates from our (before my work) inability to reconcile the presence of the universe in lieu of nothingness. Once the actual relationship between these two states is better understood, not only is the need for a universal creator obviated, it is patently impossible, as is any form of universal origin. Beyond that, the idea of a universal creator is based on something many people want to be true, not on evidence of its truth. When the underlying basis of a premise is an unsatisfied need – to live in a meaningful universe – to have an imaginary friend looking out for you – skepticism is warranted. A ‘Creator’ of mankind, however, is an entirely different question, for which the arguments against are robust though not quite as conclusive. I like to put it this way: what’s the difference between a) seven billion chimps on a rock (Earth) screwing each other over 24/7, occasionally rising above their chimp heritage and doing brilliant and altruistic things, and b) these same chimps with a God in charge. If there is a chimp-creator running this show, he/she/it is a colossal fuckwit.
DS: Are you
religious? Are you agnostic? I prefer a term like irreligious
because theist and atheist still tie in to that
binary thought mode which I think limits most people- be they in day to day
events, the arts or the sciences? What religion, if any, were you raised in? I
know you are, ethnically, Jewish.
TW: Jewish? I ALWAYS pick up the tab! Are you profiling based on the photograph on the back cover of my book? I doubt that I’m Jewish, but when I inevitably get sequenced I guess I’ll find out for sure. I was dragged to Sunday school in a Protestant church when I was about 8 or 9 years old, but it didn’t ‘take’. In fact, I was absolutely amazed that adults could believe such nonsense, and felt sorry that they didn’t have some uber-adult to tell them that Jesus Clause didn’t exist. I enjoyed the exchange in your Daniel Dennett interview vis-à-vis atheist with a capitol A (raving fundamentalist) versus atheist with a small a (irreligious). He claimed that questions about a supreme creator were ‘uninteresting’ or ‘irrelevant’, but it’s actually an important issue, since modern cosmology is no longer bound to natural philosophy. As to my religiousness, I’m an Atheist with a capitol A for the same reason that I’m a Heliocentrist with a capital H. It’s not an emotional issue for me, as it is for ex-altar boy Richard Dawkins, but an overwhelming preponderance of evidence supports a natural, not supernatural origin of mankind. Unfortunately, scientists are prone to the same delusional traps as the rest of us, in many cases treating the Big Bang as a substitute for Divine creation. Moreover, the scientists such as Victor Stenger, who try to substitute the Big Bang for God are not only completely oblivious to the Big Bang’s flaws, they are oblivious to the fact that a single mother of two who just lost her job needs God way more than she needs a Big Bang. I’m not immune to delusion either; I did, after all, publish a challenge to the Big Bang thinking that it would go well…
DS: Terence, the
hazards of copy and paste is my defense. My Jewish query was likely pasted from
a copy of bio queries from my Steven Pinker interview- BUSTED! Back to the
serious interview: What of the God of the Gaps, i.e.- the fact
that religion basically uses this philosophy to explain away things it cannot:
if it is inexplicable, then it must be the domain of God. What are your
objections to this? To me, this is antithetical to the scientific method, which
I think is the single greatest human invention- even if not a material thing.
TW: Since logic requires a specific structure, there is inevitably more pseudo-logic than actual logic. As has been noted by those more embroiled in the ‘God fight’ than myself, the ‘gaps keep getting smaller’. Back in the day we needed God to make the sun rise; now it seems to manage its daily appearance all by its little self. What the ‘God of the Gaps’ is really saying is that religion = ignorance. That’s not really something to which to aspire. But if the scientists are going to continue to treat physics like a secular religion, where certain areas of the universe are transcendent and certain questions are meaningless, then they are just as misguided as their holy counterparts. I’ll meet you part way and agree that the scientific method is one of the greatest human inventions, but I think logic is our supreme discovery.
DS: Do you
believe in an afterlife (or afterdeath)? Could there be a scientific explanation
for an after-existence? I.e.- could the mind be a synergy that can detach from a
single corporeal form? If so, does this mean that there could be immaterial
life, or life simply as energy, floating free through the cosmos? Could
matter-based life evolve eventually into just energy-based consciousness?
TW: Our universe is the internal structure of nothingness, so it does not change, as a whole, from what we experience as one moment to the next, a property I refer to as ‘ultrastasis’. Julian Barbour tried to present a less comprehensive version of this concept in his book, ‘Timeless Universe’, but ran into severe issues when he tried to describe motion, and he had no theoretical underpinning for his concept, so it was ultimately inconclusive. What I demonstrate in chapter 4 of my book is that the universe is actually large enough to contain its own history. The classical models that treat space as moving along time as the fourth dimension, when viewed in the correct context, result in the same reality – an unchanging universe. The difference is the null physics version is infinite in three dimensions, with its history as an implicit component, and the classical models are infinite in four dimensions. But in each of these models everything that exists somewhere in spacetime is always present. So the physical reality, as I can demonstrate mathematically and logically, is that every single moment of our lives are etched permanently into the space-time-energy of the universe. What is decidedly unclear is whether or not this infinite connectedness manifests as some form of perceivable phenomenon. So even though a universal ‘conservation of consciousness’ exists, I don’t know how much (if any) of this translates from one of our forms to another. As to the existence of ‘pure energy’ beings, quantum effects demonstrate that ALL information is preserved in ALL interactions (there is no ‘information loss in black holes since they are not as currently advertised). Life is all about information preservation and processing. I don’t think a being of pure energy could exist in free space, but I wonder if a Darwinian selection of groups of entangled photons could exist on the surface of a compact object such as neutron star.
DS: How about
the idea of extraterrestrial life? In the whole of your book you did not, to my
recall, even speculate on such? If you believe such is possible, do you reject
the Star Wars and Star Trek sort of humanoid model?
Do you feel any interstellar species would be more akin to the 2001: A
Space Odyssey model? What of Panspermia?
TW: Extraterrestrial life is simply a foregone conclusion for me. My book focused on physics, but as soon as the Divine creator model is discarded, and the eternal unboundedness of the universe is embraced, the existence of extraterrestrial life is inevitable. In fact, since our planet’s history is scattered across the far infinite reaches of space, an infinitesimally small fraction of extraterrestrial life is ‘us’. Form follows function, and the form of this life will be dependent on the interaction between its underlying chemistry (carbon, silicon, etc) and its extant environment. Earth gives a sample size of 1 for life, but in many cases organisms have taken parallel paths to eerily similar designs. Conversely, insects and birds both have sustained flight, yet their wing structures are entirely distinct. Clearly the pinnacle species of any biosphere needs to have the ability to process a great deal of information and manipulate tools, and since our legs are often ancillary to this, I doubt that bipedalism is a key requirement. That said, it might be pretty common, since locomotion is a good survival trait and why have more legs when two will do the trick?
DS: What of the
Drake Equation? For those not in the know, what is it? And in your book you
modified it a bit. How? And why?
TW: The Drake Equation is an attempt to establish the number of civilizations in the Milky Way that generate communication signals we can detect (SETI). It has seven factors, usually presented in order of more stringent requirements, that select fractions of stars with planets, planets with life, life that is intelligent, etc. My cosmology provides for a more refined search, because it allows us to date our galactic disk beyond the currently available methods (galaxies are vortices, and have a cycle time of about sixteen billion years, which star formation begins on the rim and terminates near the galactic core. As such, the closer to the core, the more time evolution has had to run its course)
Do you think the Drake Equation is a good approach, and if you believe
that there are likely civilizations out there, then does the Fermi Paradox (Where
are those civilizations, and why haven’t they come here?) become an
anthropocentric tautology? After all, why would they really give a damn about
us? An interstellar spacefaring race would be as far above us as we are a bee
TW: Well, there are quite a few humans poking around in bee hives these days… The Drake Equation is a simple way to enumerate a few of the parameters related to the existence of alien civilizations, but to me this isn’t really a numbers game. The Fermi Paradox is particularly relevant to my cosmology, since I propose a universe of eternal equilibrium. As such, there is a universally average number density of galaxies, planets and stars, all of which are born, grow senescent, and die according to various lifespans. Similarly, there is a universally average number density of advanced civilizations. According to my calculations, a typical galactic vortex recycles the material of which its disk is composed all the way back to hydrogen every 16 billion years. So, counting the evolutionary time necessary to achieve ‘civilization’, life has less than 16 billion years to go from muck (or protocells supplied by panspermia) to significant interstellar capability, able to migrate across the galactic disk. The most likely resolution of Fermi’s Paradox is that every civilization contains the seeds of its own dissolution, and must inevitability collapse under the weight of its own complexity or complacency. Indeed, most of our strongest motivations are ultimately rooted in our basic biological needs and the way that natural selection optimizes the efficiency with which we address these needs. We have accomplished great things, considering our humble, cave-dwelling beginnings, and life, at its most basic definition, necessarily originates from the simplest beginnings (muck). Thus advanced life, to the extent that it preserves its biology, will always contain the primal needs that ensured its survival. What happens when these needs are no longer relevant? Individuals often lose their zest for life, and can literally die of boredom. Perhaps boredom is advanced civilization’s greatest enemy.
DS: Given my
earlier idea that all life may not be recognizable to us, is not the Drake
Equation, even amended, very limited and anthropocentric?
TW: It’s certainly limited, but I don’t see it as particularly anthropocentric. Bees, ants and termites have complex societies in which communication is essential. The way in which a civilization can communicate is limited to the real particles and fields available in space. So if we define a civilization as an organization of entities who share information by light/neutrinos, they needn’t bear much of a resemblance to humans.
DS: What are your ideas on FTL (faster than light) travel? In an essay called The Day, I proposed that within a century of the discovery of possible earth-like worlds, human resources will coalesce and fund and develop FTL travel. Theoretically, we are fairly sure it’s possible, it’s just prohibitive on a cost basis because of technology. But, humans do best with discernible goals. Ideas?
TW: The geometry I propose in null physics precludes the kind of FTL that we would hope to achieve with material objects. So even though I can demonstrate the necessity of transferring field geometry at infinite speed during the collapse of unbounded particle fields during annihilation, I suspect there are hard physical limitations to our ability to detect changes in a single electron’s field at great distances. Our universe has a real underlying structure that comes with its own real limitations. No amount of money can change the intrinsic nuclear binding energy of helium, and no amount of money, or technical effort, can change the number of dimensions of space. But we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what is possible to do within the context of our universe’s governing dynamics.
DS: Of course,
all such goals are predicated upon faster than light (FTL) travel being
developed, but is that an insuperable goal? After all, technically, there have
been claims that masslessness could facilitate super-FTL speeds. Is it just a
matter of will or resources? Our history shows that if something is practicable,
we eventually achieve it, even if a gap of centuries yawns between conception
and completion. Or do you believe that the size of the cosmos quarantines all
species to their own star systems, for better or worse? I.e.- there will never
be an Asimovian Galactic Empire.
TW: Allow me to
offer an entirely different perspective on the subject.
It’s never a good idea to say ‘never’ to a technical advance, but
FTL is more than a technical advance. It’s
a statement about the operational geometry of our universe.
Since our cave-painting days, we’ve harnessed a wide variety of
chemical energy sources, nuclear energy sources, and in rare cases antimatter
sources. If these constitute the
full extent of possible energy sources (and I have some compelling null physics
reasons to support this premise), then all the time and effort expended on
finding a new form of energy or transmission is about as productive as the
continuing search for perpetual motion machines. However, even if FTL is impossible, there is no cause for
disappointment because the entire FTL paradigm is ultimately misguided.
The reason FTL is touted so universally is because stellar/galactic
distances are so large. But this really isn’t the problem. The problem is that our lifespans are so short.
Just as it is unrealistic to think that a Mayfly could circumnavigate the
globe under its own efforts, it is unrealistic to think that a human can journey
to the stars. Our four score and ten just doesn’t cut it.
And we’re not built for it, because we’re CHIMPS.
Our bodies start falling apart the moment they get into space.
The question isn’t whether or not humans will go to the stars; the
question is how much of our humanness we will take with us.
DS: Yet, let’s
assume we could technically develop an FTL system to get us to that first
earth-like world in a century or two. My question is, would we be socially
responsible enough with that planet when we have not exactly given a damn with
out homeworld? And, imagine there was an incipient indigenous intelligent
species? Would we do, as we’ve done throughout our history, enslave or
TW: I think this depends on how closely our eventual space-fairing selves resemble the modern human. The only way we could survive extended space trips is by converting a large portion of our bodies into a synthetic biology or cybernetic formulation, with self-repairing or easily replaceable parts. If we are, by this transformation, removed from our primordial compulsion to replicate as a species, I think that we might be able to avoid the burdensome imposition we have imposed on ourselves and other species throughout our history. I always groan at the common and spectacularly anthropocentric sci fi theme where the plucky humans save the day because of our divine amalgamation of emotion, perseverance and ingenuity. The less of our ‘chimpness’ we take with us into space, the better our stellar neighbors will fare. Keep in mind, however, that they might not have much to fear. Stephen Hawking recently warned that announcing our location to the rest of the universe might not be such a good idea. No kidding. I remain amazed at the hubris and myopia of the imbecilic scientists that sent our coordinates out on the Voyager spacecraft. They basically took it upon themselves to gamble with the safety of our entire planet on the misguided and entirely uniformed assumption that an alien species would be benevolent.
DS: Any thoughts
on terraforming? Also, if there is life on other worlds, either in our solar
system (such as Titan or Europa) do you think there is some sort of ‘right’
that native flora and or fauna would have to an undespoiled environment?
I think terraforming might be extremely useful as an economical way to create
new human-friendly environments. However,
even though life can survive in extremes, it has its limits.
Could we design a bug to make the Sahara more habitable?
Antarctica? I think Mars and
Europa might be slightly outside life’s capabilities.
I’m not a planetologist, but I’m not sure Mars has enough gravity to
retain enough of the oxygen or water we hope to release into its atmosphere.
DS: Have you
ever read Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle’s classic book, Entretiens
Sur La Pluralité Des Mondes (Conversations On The Plurality Of Worlds)?
I’m probably one of the few laymen who’s read that book, and it’s a good
I read it a long time ago. I agree
that it’s a good read, but think it is more widely read by laymen than you
suspect, particularly since laymen and (gasp!) women were its target
demographic. My only critique is Fontenelle’s tendency to conflate the
astronomical relevance of truly philosophical concepts such as beauty with
metaphysical concepts such as underlying reality.
DS: I agree. I
meant more laypeople in the modern era. Certainly it was intended as a popular
book in its day. Fontenelle’s book was a bit teleological, therefore not
really science. How would you compare it to modern teleologists like Intelligent
I think Fontenelle can be forgiven for his teleological bent, given that his
book was published sixty years prior to Darwin’s Origin
of the Species. He did not, for
instance, exclude mountains of available evidence from his dialog.
Conversely, Intelligent Designers (now there’s an oxymoron!) can only
support their nonsensical claims through a complete ignorance of radioisotope
dating, the evolution of complexity, and a preponderance of other supporting
DS: As a child I visited the Hayden Planetarium at least once a year, but having left New York City in 1991, I have not been back since. In my youth, the space race was all the rage, and it seemed likely that the visions of tv shows like Space: 1999, which envisioned moonbases, or Stanley Kubrick’s film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, which would see voyages to Jupiter, were feasible. I realize this is not your particular area, but could you opine on why NASA’s mission has been so gutted? Is it their fault alone, or the general intellectual laziness of the masses in recent decades? Or, is that the end of the space race and Cold War was the death knell for manned space exploration? Is it lack of will, vision, funds? Or are Americans just narcotized by easy pleasures? And, do you think that the Neil Armstrong moon landing was decades ahead of its time?
Actually, living as I do thirty miles from the Kennedy Space Center, and having
a good friend who works there, I can probably offer some insight. Our space program, from its cold-war-induced inception to the
shuttle, has always been a case of doing the right things for the wrong reasons,
just as it has always been a political football.
The moon landing wasn’t decades ahead of its time; it was just out of
sequence. What we should have
pursued, and still fail to do so on a large scale, is a safe, economical way to
commute with low Earth orbit. Then we can work on high orbits, then we can progress
outward. Unfortunately, as long as
the space program is irrevocably tied to the children running congress, it will
be unable to sustain meaningful or useful long-term goals.
Nor is there a quick fix. The
privatization of space will only work when the cost/benefit analysis works, and
space, at least with our current technology, just isn’t that useful.
Ironically, I think the only model that’s supportable is space tourism.
But that might not be a bad thing.
DS: Let me
posit this: ‘Knowledge for all should never take a backseat to the
problems of the few.’ Do you agree with that sentiment? If so, how do
you reckon the fact that it’s been nearly four decades since a man walked on
the moon (that’s before you even served in Congress)? The space program, which
alighted the minds and hearts of young boys like me, is a hulk of its former
self. It angers me that there is always an excuse. In lean times it’s ‘we
can’t afford it when….’ And in what times it’s ‘that’s just pork,’
or some such. I’m all for feeding the poor, and vaccinating babies, and this
and that, but I see it as a false dichotomy. Again, ‘Knowledge for all
should never take a backseat to the problems of the few.’ Your take?
I’ve never served in Congress, but it all goes back to our chimp heritage. I too, was inspired by the space program when I was a child,
and still am. But this,
unfortunately, is the exception. People
pursue politics for a wide variety of reasons, and most of these individuals
don’t have the capacity to be inspired, have a poor grasp of the concept of
cause and effect, and have no problem-solving skills whatsoever.
They continue to pursue the same repeatedly failed paradigms, from social
programs that reinforce sloth and laziness to ideological models that kill
thousands. The only thing these
misguided approaches have in common is that they have NEVER worked.
Knowledge for all is a great concept, but congresspersons spend too much
time promoting their own fiefdoms.
DS: What about
stars and space moves you more than, say, digging up bones in the desert?
TW: I like to
collect fossils, and being able to touch the remains of an animal that lived
nearly half a billion years ago is a great way to put things into perspective
– how far we chimps have come. But
this is the past. I’ve always
been pointed toward the future, and our ultimate future is the stars.
DS: A friend of
mine has told me that I’m ‘too normal’ in comparison to what others think
of as an artist- i.e.- someone with tattoos, Leftist beliefs, body piercings,
New Age beliefs. Similar stereotypes abound for scientists. Are you ‘too
normal’ for a typical scientist? Or, have you always been willing to go out on
a limb, intellectually?
TW: I’d say
that’s a big 10-4. As I noted earlier, I thought I was a different species by
the time I was about ten years old. Even
though I have been successfully ‘socialized’ over the years, I still care
far more about quality of concepts than the qualifications of the persons who
act as their spokespersons. I would
have to characterize myself as more eccentric than ‘normal’, based on the
wide variability of my hobbies. I
enjoy relatively dangerous activities, such as riding motocross bikes on my
private motocross track, flying aerobatic planes, and doing scuba dives at night
in 150’ of water inside of shipwrecks. But
I also like reading, doing philosophy and science, and playing anything from
Elton John to Debussy on my piano. But
I also know heart surgeons who play saxophones in Jazz bands and like to sky
dive, so I’m probably more eclectic than eccentric.
What are your political views? Are you registered with any party, or an
Independent? How does your science background affect your political decisions,
if at all? Do you look to a candidate’s opinions on conservation, global
warming, etc., when voting? If so, do you think that most scientists share your
concerns? And do you think the general electorate does? If not, why not?
Our government is irreparably broken and politics in general is simply a form of
organized crime. I’m sure a few
members of congress might have good intentions, but they would appear to be the
minority. I also think that our
current president has a great deal of integrity and certainly means well, but is
just too naïve when it comes to dealing with the sea of political scoundrels
with which he has to negotiate. He
has also done a poor job of identifying the root of some of our country’s
problems, such as health care. The
problem isn’t the health care system per se; the problem is that we simply
don’t have the technology or resources to take care of people who refuse to
take care of themselves and treat their bodies like garbage dumpsters.
Obesity and substance abuse are lifestyle choices people ought to have
the freedom to make; but those are freedoms for which I shouldn’t have to pay.
DS: Let me touch
on a recent controversy, from this decade. Famed astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson
made what will be seen as one of the great scientific gaffes of this century,
when he led the anti-scientific and dogmatic charge against Pluto’s planethood,
labeling it, instead, a dwarf planet! I see the demoting of Pluto
as an example of poor ad hoc reasoning and specious semiotics. If
a dwarf tree is still a tree, and a dwarf kangaroo is still a kangaroo, and- of
course, human dwarves are still humans, then logically a dwarf planet has to
still be….(drum roll, cymbal crash) a planet! No?
Yet, the 2006 International Astronomical Union agreed with Tyson. Agree or not?
And is this the sort of hubris that scientific ‘professionals’ have that
alienates them from the masses?
TW: I know this distinction might appear to a layperson like specious semiotics, but the truth is that planetology is one of the few active and evolving areas of astronomy. The exact mechanics by which planets form is currently unknown and new exoplanet sightings continue to pour in. Add the rash of recently discovered Kuiper and Oort objects and there is a good reason for the reevaluation of what constitutes a planet. A dwarf planet is still a planet, as you claim, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that our solar system might contain 50 or 100 other dwarf planets. Pluto could potentially remain unique as the ‘nearest’ dwarf planet, but even this distinction gets a little fuzzy with some of the highly elliptical orbits of these objects.
DS: I see no
problem with out solar system being found to have, say, 63 planets, eventually.
I think that seems odd because most of us grew up in a solar system we were told
had only 9. How about Nemesis? There has been this belief, for
centuries, that there is a small companion- here we go again, dwarf
star dubbed Nemesis, that has an even more eccentric orbit, and spends tens of
thousands, if not millions) of years out in the Oort cloud. Do you buy it? After
all, it has been posited that the close passage of Nemesis is responsible for
periodic extinctions on earth due to comet or meteor impacts that the gravity of
Nemesis stirs up. Or is Nemesis doomed to go the way of Vulcan,
the nonexistent infraMercurial planet, and Clyde Tombaugh’s post-Pluto Planet
TW: It certainly wouldn’t have an orbital time as short as tens of thousands of years. We currently have the ability to image small brown dwarfs out to several light years, so I doubt that anything larger than a small gas giant could exist in the Oort cloud.
DS: Here are my reasons I think Big Bang will fail as a theory: 1) it’s so clearly a creation narrative (and let there be light), 2) it’s so needlessly complex, and 3) it’s so reliant upon unproved claims and mysterious energies/quanta. Comments?
TW: Unfortunately, neither of your reasons is relevant to the current cosmological enterprise. Both of your claims apply equally well to Christianity and it’s still going strong after thousands of years. The Big Bang has already failed as a theory on numerous occasions, so much so that it no longer constitutes science. Science is only science to the extent that falsification is possible. The Big Bang has been adjusted so that falsification is no longer possible. There is no way to ‘prove’ the Big Bang incorrect, because it makes no predictions that cannot be adjusted to fit new data.
DS: OK, now on
to specifics in Our Undiscovered Universe. Because of the length
of the book, there will be many points simply unable to be covered. I think the
best way to approach it is to recap points I made in my
review of it, then for me to ask queries on the top dozen or so points I had
Post-ited in the book. A quote from my review: ‘But, the fact that the
theory does not accomplish all that its subtitles claim is not the book’s
biggest fault. That would be Witt’s own meager writing skills and poor
semiotic and dialectic abilities- he should have hired a good editor and
proofreader. In short, a better writer could have put forth a better (in the
sense of being personally compelling) case with the same evidence. Not that it
would be enough to overthrow the current dogma (and, yes, the continued ad hoc
additions and subtractions from the Big Bang Theory does qualify it as a dogma,
as it is detached enough from objective facts), but a better written, and less
prolix, book could have convinced more outliers in the Academy to, if not
endorse Witt’s views, at least acknowledge the painfully obvious: that the
current cosmic creation model that dominates science is, at the very least, as
coherent as Swiss cheese is uniform.’ In short, I am one of the few
critics (if not the lone one) who will read a science or history book and review
the writing, as well as the scientific or historical claims or revisionism. In
fact, this is the approach most critics should take since most are not experts
on science or history, and most experts in those fields are not capable of
critiquing the writing skills. Having said that, I stick by my posit. The
book’s major flaw is presentation. 1) There is no strong authorial voice. This
book is neither a dry formal paper nor a popular science book. Sitting on the
fence like that exposes it to the worst of both worlds- those expecting the
writing of a peer reviewed thesis will scoff, and those desiring a work of
explication, ala that of a Loren
Eiseley, Carl Sagan, or Stephen Jay Gould, will likely nod off. Nowhere in
the book is there the turn to the reader to ‘get them on your side’ of the
argument. Facts alone are dry. And, as mentioned, the peer review folks will
dispute yours mightily. Given that you apparently have the means, why did you
not hire a good editor, someone who could have schooled you in writing a real
book, rather than an agglomeration of hypotheses? And, as well, a good
proofreader. I stopped counting after about 15 grammatical, semiotic, and
punctual errors. Like the lack of an authorial voice, these basics just give
easy targets for your opposition to ridicule you on. Were you just so rapt in
your theory that all else placed a distant second?
You’ve made no shortage of incorrect assumptions in your review, so
let’s begin with the easiest – proofreading.
My book was professionally edited by three different proof readers, one
whose job is to proofread physics textbooks for Purdue University. It’s unfortunate that you were disappointed by my writing
style, but such is life. A great
many of my readers, credentialed or not, loved the style and format.
One of the points that you missed, in your search for semicolons, was the
general intent of the book. The downside to being such a well-read person as yourself is
the misconception that there is ‘nothing new under the sun’.
As such, your natural expectations are for a book to fall into one of
several well-known categories. This
would certainly be a reasonable expectation if my book were about roses,
planetology, or any other well-trod field.
But it isn’t. It’s the
first fusion of natural philosophy and physics.
As stated clearly in my introduction, theoretical physics has failed to
fully address a number of key areas, and the clear and immutable demarcation
between science and philosophy has been reinforced by peer-reviewed papers a
thousand times over. Thus,
publishing my work piecemeal in peer-reviewed journals would have been an
exercise in futility. Conversely,
it’s nonsensical to publish a lay version of a theory that doesn’t exist
anywhere else, so the only workable solution was to present my theory in a
format that was sufficiently formal for scientists to evaluate its premises, yet
with a wealth of explanations directed toward the lay reader.
Your review, which fails to address any of the actual new concepts presented in my book, suggests that you understood very
little of what I was trying to portray, and I’m not sure that the fault lay
entirely in my ‘meager’ writing skills.
I’ve had the pleasure of discussing many of these concepts with people
from all walks of life, from physicists to physicians to diesel mechanics to
hair dressers. In fact, I’ve
reached a far wider demographic than I had reason to believe was possible.
DS: In Googling
about, while researching you and the book, for both the review and a possible
interview, I mentioned reading many, MANY chatroom posts and wars assailing you.
There seem to be only two legitimate lengthy discourses on the book, although
both also fall in to the ad hominem trap. I want to quote from both of them, in
my review, and give you a chance to respond to my point and theirs. Here is the
first: ‘The first lengthy essay, written in 2008, was by physics
Monreal. Much of the piece contains useless attacks, such as this:
ideas are standard crackpot claptrap: some things are meaningless sophistry (pseudomathematical
exposition of Existence vs. Non-Existence and Infinity), some things are flat
experimental falsehoods (Witt’s guesswork about the atom, for example), and
some things are chains of completely unanchored speculation (a new phenomenon to
explain the Cosmic Microwave Background; a second phenomenon to hide the first;
a third phenomenon to explain the second; and so on).
The reason that this quote is useless is because it mixes in solid criticism
with criticism that is dead wrong, thereby making Monreal’s motives and
critical abilities as suspect as what he claims of Witt’s. For example,
Monreal is correct to call Witt’s mathematical excursions, involving the
meaning of Existence, sophistry (one cannot make real math from a philosophic
posit, there has to be a specific quanta). But Witt does bring to bear some good
and specific criticisms about both the atom’s structure and the still hazy and
unproven existence of the growing zoo of sub-atomic particles. As well, he does
puncture holes in much of the CMB, but fails to proffer a good alternative. So,
the truth likely lies somewhere between Monreal’s and Witt’s claims, which
thus casts Monreal in the role of not only a Defender of the Faith (and
we all know how well history treats those fellows), but Proponent of a Rival
Theory (which also asperses much of his claims with envy and its concomitant
Monreal is at his best flaying Witt when he does not delve into abstruse
mathematics, and nails Witt for, as I mentioned, his semiotic liabilities:
Chapter 3 contains such gems as Theorem 3.1: "The Existence of Any Half of the Universe is Equal to the Nonexistence of the Other Half" (pg. 66) and Theorem 3.9: "The Time Required for Light to Traverse the Universe is Eternity, infinity/c" (pg. 72). I am not making this up. Witt throws around "infinity" as though it were an ordinary real number; he multiplies and divides by it, etc., with normal algebraic cancellation. This is complete nonsense; there are two centuries of mathematical thought figuring out the mathematical properties of infinity, and Witt's approach is valid in exactly none of them.
I have to agree with Monreal here, regarding the use of Existence as a
mathematical property. You seem to use it as a cognate or synonym for Infinity,
which it clearly is not. Infinity (as abstruse a thing as that is)
is a mathematic property. It can be used, and has been used, in math equations
for a long, long time (despite Monreal’s claims to the contrary, I took math
classes in high school where infinity was used in equations). Existence
is a state of being. To conflate the two is akin to claiming a piece of gold is
a flower because both are pretty, then trying to calculate how much water and
sunlight the gold chunk needs to survive. I just see no way around this first
and subsequent usage of a non-mathematical property in a mathematical formula as
a severe foundational problem to all that comes later. 1) the math and physics
folks are then ready to savage you, and 2) the literary minded folks (like me)
are going to see a wanton conflation that shows what a good editor could have
done for your rhetorical and dialectic strength. Comments?
TW: Our chimp brains excel at compartmentalization. We construct clean little categories for math, philosophy, and physics, and go on about our merry way, reinforcing these categories ad nauseum in countless, pointless exercises such as Hilbert’s Hotel. Perhaps the best way to try to illuminate my approach is a series of questions and statements. First question, where do you suppose lies the ultimate origin of what we call math, philosophy and physics? Is it some divine spark in our chimp brains, or would you concede that the source is natural, from our universe? If you’re convinced of a divine origin, please ask the next question, but if math and philosophy can be viewed as a natural consequence of the physical world, then let’s proceed. Next news flash – our physical universe contains unbounded regions! There is no wall somewhere out in space; there are no tiny granules of which space is composed. Reality is a seamless continuum for reasons presented in the very first chapter of my book. It is certainly true that infinity is a mathematical concept, just as surface area is a mathematical concept, but both are derived from and inextricably linked to physical aspects of reality. I am therefore justified in using them to describe reality. What remains riotous to me is the fact that many of my detractors are familiar with calculus, and have no problem whatsoever in combining an infinite number of infinitely small differentials to form an area or volume, yet have a spectacular intellectual meltdown as soon as we begin to manipulate the ‘big’ version of infinity. I’m not sure which high school mathematical expression for infinity to which you were referring, but Riemann geometry is an accepted and legitimate mathematical formalization of complex numbers, and the poles of the Riemann sphere are zero and infinity, whose product has been proven to be unity. I’m not sure why Monreal is unfamiliar with Riemann geometry, but it’s not really my problem. As to existence as a state of being, it was redefined in my book as a physical state long before my first use of it. The fact that my detractors like the anthropocentric (small) version of existence better is unfortunate, but I stand by the more global direction I adopted.
DS: In his
piece, Monreal makes some hay over the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). You do
proffer an alternative, but I did not find it an open-ended string of ad hoc
fixes as he did. In fact, the best thing, rhetorically, about your idea(s), is
that it is basically hermetic. Unlike Big Bangers, you are NOT constantly
changing things on the fly. The downside is that one provable error here or
there, and your whole tightly wound ball of wax unravels. It either is all right
or all wrong. First, rebut Monreal on the CMB, and do you agree that your idea
about Null Physics is a) not ad hoc and b) far more subject to a singular
TW: Since Monreal was sufficiently imperceptive to not acknowledge or not understand even the slightest bit of the underlying reasoning I presented in my book, my approach to the CMB would by definition appear ad hoc to him. This is hardly the case; it’s a inevitable ramification of a nonexpanding universe. The intergalactic redshift is the single greatest energy loss in the observable universe. Photons lose about 50% of their energy every ten billion years, and this energy, in accordance with conservation, must take some new form. The CMB is the only suitable candidate. What Monreal should have focused on more closely, in his feverish search for ‘errors’ in my book, was the fact that my lumetic decay would appear to violate spin conservation when a single ultraviolet photon (spin 1) emits a microwave photon (spin 1) based on its interaction with the universal gravitational field. I suspect that lumetic decay might require the presence of free electron fields in order to satisfy spin conservation, and if anything this ought to provide additional insight into the specific mechanics of the process. As to its sensitivity to singular disproof, that’s the strength, not weakness of Null Physics, and exactly what should be expected of a unified physical theory. Contrary to popular belief, physical truth does exist, and there is only one flavor.
DS: Good point
about the a singular disproof. And I take that point. If more theories were
transparently ready to offer their Achilles’ Heels and dare puncturing,
science would likely advance much more quickly. Re: Monreal, I conclude: ‘But,
overall, Monreal does not give Witt any due for his poking holes through many of
the manifest flaws of modern cosmogony- such as the fact that there is no
provable way to claim physics has or has not evolved along with the rest of the
cosmos (although Witt believes that it has not evolved); that there is no
mechanism for the creation of matter ex nihilo; that there is no proof,
whatsoever, of dark energy or matter; and a dozen or more other manifest flaws
in current cosmological theory. And Monreal’s attack is all the weaker for
these flaws.’ While I stand by those claims, and I think Monreal is
typical in his happy acceptance of ad hoc rationales for things that have no
empirical proof themselves, does this not mean that your Null Physics is, more
or less, a theory more in ‘the God of the Gaps’ vein? I.e.-
your theory seems to be, even among people, like me, who think it has positives,
strongest when it assails the flaws in the Big Bang (which are numerous) and
weakest in positing alternatives to seemingly solidly accepted facts. As example, your ‘lumetic
decay’ idea is not really original to you (see light, tired),
but from the hundreds of astronomy and physics books I’ve read since childhood
on, red shift seems firmly a product of an expansion. Now, as a layman, I do not
think that an expansion of matter (not spacetime itself) is a great issue. In
the whole of the cosmos, I can easily envision portions (perhaps just our
visible corner) expanding, whereas in other corners it is contracting, or more
steady state. Because a tsunami hit Sumatra does not mean the tides in Jamaica
are going to be any higher, etc. So, is Null Physics a theory at its best as a
contrapuntal assertion, and at its weakest when proffering new ideas with
TW: Where to begin. I’m hoping you’re basing this question more on Monreal’s misinterpretation of my work than your own reading experience, because if the latter is true, you’ve missed an incredibly compelling (and fully integrated) cosmology. As far as the Big Bang is concerned, I demonstrate why a universal origin (of any type) is untenable, and then list the many previously known flaws with the Big Bang. I spend very little print dwelling on a fable that fails to even achieve the status of science. What I instead do, in Part IV, is a) explain why the current evidence would lead scientists astray, then b) provide an entirely new, quantitative basis for this evidence. In the process, I am able to elucidate a great deal of heretofore unknown and detailed information about galactic form and function. That’s the strength of my integrated cosmology – to provide a direct connection between the universe’s large-scale structure and the galaxies of which this structure is composed. I also explained, in some detail, the many differences between lumetic decay and Zwicky’s original tired light concept, and gave credit to Zwicky wherever and whenever it was due. The Big Bang is a feeble recitation that always finds itself slightly askew of new cosmological measurements. Null cosmology provides a host of new relationships and unanticipated insights – exactly what should be expected with an enhanced comprehension of our universe’s large-scale operation. Also, your speculation about the nature of the universal expansion (expanding here, contracting somewhere else) is simply uninformed. The concept of inflation was created to account for the large-scale homogeneity that has been observed for distances greater than light can travel during the universe’s lifetime. Then there’s the ‘recently’ discovered universal acceleration. I realize it is difficult to quantitatively evaluate some of my assertions from a lay perspective, but the current premise of universal expansion can only correlate to the available evidence if it acts specifically and uniformly on the intergalactic space between galaxies everywhere throughout space. Intragalactic space, for reasons sufficient only to the Big Bang faithful, does not expand.
DS: Now, as one
who has railed against the Academicization of the arts killing them, in no way
shape or form do I believe credentials make or break a good idea. But, the other
main attack on your work comes from a fellow who, from all I could find, has
zero experience in physics or higher mathematics or science: ‘The
second major assault on Witt’s book came from someone named Ian
Fisk, a man from New Zealand whose qualifications to opine in scientific
detail on such a book seem to consist of his being a….noted hiker. There
simply is nothing, save his own opinion, that would lend the man any credence to
make any deep physical claims against Witt. This, though is obvious from both
his writing, and the fact that he claims the notoriously bad online Lowest
Common Denominator website Wikipedia
as a source. Like Monreal, he does get in some good shots at Witt’s
Infinity in mathematics is the concept of having no bound. Here is null
geometry's definition of infinity: Infinity is the universe's invariant diameter
and "The universe's diameter is the invariant width of nonexistence. It
constitutes a fixed, exact level of linear largeness, and therefore the absolute
metric of unboundedness" (page 43). Thus Terence Witt has turned a concept
with no units into a quantity with the units of length. It gets worse. He
implies that infinity has a size or magnitude by use of the word
"invariant" and a statement on the next page - "Although finities
and infinities cannot be directly compared, their magnitude is preserved under
addition and subtraction". In other words infinity has a magnitude (can be
counted, i.e. is finite) and so you can add 1 to it and get something greater
But then he shows he clearly has no idea what constitutes cosmology when he
The first obstacle for any cosmology to overcome is Olbers'
paradox where the night sky is as bright as the surface of a star in a
static, infinite and eternal universe. The Big Bang resolution is that the
universe is finite in time and expanding. Terence Witt starts with discarding
the optical version of the paradox because "light would probably be
scattered long before it travelled the distance necessary to make Olbers'
evenings white". This is incorrect since any light that is scattered from a
line of sight to a star is replaced by light that is scattered into the line
from nearby line of sights. The paradox also applies to the entire
electromagnetic spectrum, e.g. radio astronomers would see a uniformly bright
radio sky. It even includes the neutrinos emitted by the stars. Thus any sources
of scattering would have to cover the entire spectrum without any gaps and also
scatter neutrinos. At this point we know that "Our Undiscovered
Universe" has not resolved Olbers' paradox and so contains an invalid
Of course, modern cosmology recognizes that Olber’s Paradox is not really a paradox, and many of the reasons are even contained within the Wikipedia link Fisk provides, which Fisk apparently did not read, lest he would not have stated : ‘At this point we know that "Our Undiscovered Universe" has not resolved Olbers' paradox and so contains an invalid cosmology.’ In short, the paradox is no paradox, merely a misnomer, therefore not anything that any cosmology need deal with.
Let me add, that in just rereading my quotation, Fisk’s
‘good shot’ against you is weaker than I first thought, and certainly
weaker, overall, than Monreal’s. This is because infinity does have a size and
magnitude: infinite. But he is correct with your continued conflation of
infinity and existence/nonexistence. But, Fisk shows he simply is clueless in
the second part of the quotation. The whole Olber’s Paradox thing has, since I
was a child, been a head scratcher since, even in the Wikipedia article, there
are at least a half dozen reasons why it cannot be a true paradox (which
requires empirical facts), and the whole thing is based upon assumptions that
have not even been proven. Other than the non-paradoxical Olber’s Paradox,
what would you say has been the most used ‘hammer’ against your ideas? And
what is your response to it?
TW: Olber’s paradox isn’t really a paradox per se, but it is an issue that must be addressed in any cosmology based on an infinite, quiescent universe. Stars have a universal population density and give off energy. Their luminosity increases the average energy density of space. If this process ran unchecked, space would get progressively hotter, but the basic premise of null cosmology allows it to avoid this issue entirely. The most used ‘hammer’ against my ideas has nothing to do with the ideas themselves, because virtually none of my detractors have the slightest clue as to the nature or scope of my basic premises. The ‘hammer’ is dogmatism, plain and simple. Thousands of scientists say the Big Bang is correct; I say it is not; therefore I am wrong! Not only do they ignore the preponderance of cohesive evidence I present in my book (relationships that could not possibly be coincidental), they ignore (as always) the historical record of scientific breakthroughs.
Fisk also assails you on the non-peer review angle. I responded: ‘Not
only does peer review stifle real science, it can lead to today’s Big Bang
crackpottery, as well- dark matter, dark energy, strings and superstrings,
branes, multiple universes, cosmological constants, infinitely branching cosmos,
etc., none of which have come close to being scientifically verified. One of the
major problems with current science is that it eschews its fundament: the
scientific method, despite the scientific method’s being a tool, and the
greatest discovery in human history.’ I do think that it’s a bit
silly to assail your ideas for a lack of empirical proof when all of the above
mentioned terms lack a single shred of empirical proof. To me, arguing with
physicists over the non-existence of dark matter or energy is like arguing with
a Fundamentalist Christian that there is zero contemporaneous historical proof
that a figure named Jesus Christ ever existed. Having said that, what
discoveries do you think will lead to proof that your idea(s) are correct? And
if they are disproved, do you just ape the Big Bangers and start ad hocking Null
Physics to death? Or do you admit defeat and go back to the drawing board? Also,
what are your reasons for abjuring peer review?
TW: It’s difficult to imagine any discovery that proves my theory to be correct, because this is simply not how cosmology is done. As it stands, my theory cannot be proven correct until the Big Bang is first proven wrong, and the Big Bang cannot be proven wrong because it is not falsifiable. As our instrumentation improves, evidence will gradually amass that further supports my theory, and additional adjustments will be made to the Big Bang. It’s a sad situation with no clear end in sight. As to ad hoc fixes, if you understood my theory a little more deeply, you would know that no such fixes are possible or desirable. It is based on immutable foundational principles. Any failure of the logical extension of these principles necessarily invalidates the entire theory. After all, the most sweeping foundational principles (not as yet mentioned in this interview) is our direct connection to nothingness. My theory allows for no other ‘options’.
Now some of my peeves: ‘I will now highlight a handful of the best and
worst portions of Witt’s book, and do so mostly chronologically. The first
boner the book makes comes in its preface, where Witt cams the must fundamental
mystery of the cosmos is not how it came to be, but why? Yet, right here he
derails, because science, and the scientific method cannot answer such a
question, and since the rest of his book tries to answer that query, it becomes
more a philosophical tract than a scientific one. Just as intent is meaningless
in art, because one can never know an artist’s true intent, only his result,
so is intent meaningless in science. It puts me in mind of the great old
television show, The
Prisoner, where the show’s hero short-circuits a supercomputer by
asking it the one unknowable question: why?’ As with the editing
errors, and the use of Existence in place of Infinity, this is the kind of thing
that, simply put, frustrates the hell out of me because it is a conflation of
two irreconcilable things, and, I think your book offers unwitting proof of it.
It’s what Stephen Jay Gould termed Non-Overlapping Magisteria,
when referring to science and religion, but religion, in many ways, is a subset
of philosophy. In your explanation of why you think Null Physics answers this
you claim that it is a flaw of all other universal origin theories, but, at
least they recognize the limits of science. Why do I love my wife? Chemistry,
causality, a left turn she made at the age of seven instead of going right,
because I have blue eyes? The why of such matters cannot be reduced. Such
Reductionism veers into absurdity. But, then your basic answer to why the cosmos
is: it has to be that way because Null Physics does not work unless it is
so. That’s merely a version of because, or one might
argue an anthropocentric answer, with the one man at the center being Terence
Witt, not Mankind itself. And, again, it is these sorts of, and I cannot even
call them errors, they are really willfully wrongheaded conflations of disparate
realms, that, had I edited the book, I would have told you, ‘Baby, this
is philosophy, not science, you’re working on. In fact, it’s more like old
time Natural Philosophy.’ Comments?
TW: As stated somewhere in the introduction of my book, null physics represents a fusion of natural philosophy and physical science, and it is interesting that you have identified the many problems with the Big Bang and theoretical physics in general, yet don’t realize that the reason that physics has devolved into string theory, the Big Bang, and similar nonsense is precisely because the concept of logical consistency (read ‘why’) was tossed onto the scrap heap nearly a hundred years ago. This allows us to build any claptrap collection of equations and premises, while not really understanding the slightest bit of it, fit it to the data, and call it a day. So don’t complain about my book pursuing a higher goal than curve-fitting in the same breath as complaints about the ad hoc nature of the end product of curve-fitting! Moreover, good writing is all about showing, not telling, and this is why null physics begins with natural philosophy and ends with quantifiable predictions. Our ability to measure, to perform ‘science’ in the classical sense, will always be limited by the resolution of our instruments, regardless of how powerful they may become. As such, the overwhelming majority of our universe will always remain unavailable for the ‘census’. This unreachable expanse, containing both large and small scales, is inextricably related to part we can measure. If we don’t use natural philosophy (read our brains) to infer what we can about the entirety of reality, we’ll remain mired in the conceptual mud, playing with artificial toys like string theory for the remainder of our days. Democritus deduced that atoms existed, based on a logical examination of his environment, a full 1600 years prior to their direct observation. Was he not doing ‘science’? There’s a huge difference between philosophy as related to ethics and the idealization of human concepts such as beauty and virtue, and natural philosophy as related to questions like ‘why does the universe have universal constants?’ Where there is understanding in physics, such as why does the electrical disassociation of water produce hydrogen and oxygen, ‘why’ is just fine and dandy. Where understanding is clearly missing, such as ‘why is energy quantized’, it is branded natural philosophy. Stand by the stream and wonder where the water comes from if you like, but I’d rather follow it to its source, irrespective of admonitions to the contrary.
I then go on about why I think some of your posits are as faith-based as those
the Big Bangers use, and end: ‘But, whereas much of Witt’s objection
to modern Big Bang ideology resides in its being fundamentally immaterialistic,
whereas Witt, far more so, is a materialist (as is Lee Smolin, a physicist whose
views share some consonance with Witt’s, in opposition to the Big Bang), this
materialism is not only limited to matter, but the idea of there being only
three physical dimensions and one temporal one.’ First, do you consider
yourself a materialist? If so, how do you reconcile that claim with the above
mixing of science with philosophy re: the why? of existence? Are
you familiar with Smolin’s work, and what do you think of it?
TW: I’m a materialist in the sense that I don’t think that ‘realness’ is dependent on scale or dimensional composition, but with the caveat that I think there are underlying regions of reality that can only be accessed using logical deduction, inference, and the other analytical tools available in natural philosophy. I’m familiar with the basics of Smolin’s work with quantum loop gravity, and even forwarded a few copies of my work to the Perimeter Institute at their request. I don’t hold his work in high regard, however. His attempts to unify gravity into the standard model of particle physics will fail for the same reason that string theory and the standard model itself will fail – he has underestimated, by nearly a hundred years, the timeframe where physics came off the rails.
I wrote this: ‘He [Witt] fares less well when he claims that all
moments of time permanently exist in space, separated by infinite distances.
This, however, is anti-materialist. Because, dividing time into its smallest
fractions would show that the motion of the earth, on its axis, about the sun,
about the center of the galaxy, and in the cosmic context, must be moving by
infinitesimal degrees, so that with each infinitesimal moment of time that
passes, each moment is separated by only almost infinitesimally small distances.
In this, Witt violates his own idea’s materialism willy-nilly.’ How
can there be infinite distances separating all moments of time when, logically,
there should be infinite moments of infinitesimal time fragments unspooled like
film? How am I wrong? I mean, should not the fraction of a second it took to go
between typing the n and g in ‘typing’ be right next to the next fraction of
a second, just as the n and g are right next to each other?
TW: The concept of ultrastasis is the relationship between space and time on the largest scale, and you’ve gotten it backwards. The closer two moments are in time, the farther apart are their physical instances in space. It is an inverted relationship. If you could stop all motion in the universe at this moment, and wanted to find the most Earthlike planet possible, the match can only get closer by subtending progressively greater sample sizes. Search the Milky Way and you might find a very good Earth doppelganger; search a billion galaxies and you would find an even better match, but statistically, it would be found at a much greater distance. Search the entire, unbounded universe, and you find only one Earth in its exact, current state.
DS: You claim ‘Time is the difference of space.’ I replied: ‘This is further semiotic nonsense, as it was not proved in Part One because it cannot be proved, as stated. It is a metaphor (and an irrational one, at that), not a mathematical proof.’ How am I wrong? How is that statement NOT a metaphor?
TW: In the same way that ‘energy is the product of force and distance’ is not a metaphor. Our universe contains four dimensions, and the above statement expresses the fact that time is not independent of space, as is explained in the context associated with this statement. The Minkowski metric used so extensively by Einstein also expresses the interdependence of space and time, but it does so from a purely observational context, not from the dimensional (geometric) context used in null physics.
DS: I mention
Smolin’s book The Problem With Physics, then add: ‘Witt’s
work is, despite his saltations through mathematics and physics, a profoundly
philosophic one. Eric J. Lerner’s 1991 book, The Big Bang Never Happened, which
expands upon the plasma universe model proposed by Hannes Alfven, by contrast,
is more observationally grounded, therefore less philosophic than Witt’s book
(and, interestingly, Witt dismisses Alfven’s theory, as well as the Big Bang
and Steady State theories).’ Briefly explain the problems you see with
the Alfven plasma model. And, do you think it better than the Big Bang and
Steady State models, or equally, albeit differently, flawed?
TW: The problem with Alfven’s theory is that it fails to address, in a quantifiable way, fundamental cosmological observations such as the intergalactic redshift and cosmic microwave background. But in many ways it is far better than the Big Bang and Steady State because it violates no known conservation laws and is not shackled with mountains of ad hoc adjustments. In short, Alfven’s theory is all about plasma and the Big Bang and Steady State are all about gravity. Null cosmology demonstrates how plasma and gravity are interrelated on the largest scales. Both phenomena are absolutely essential to the maintenance of an eternal quiescent universe.
DS: I end my
review with this claim: ‘I do doubt that Witt, or anyone else, in the
foreseeable future, will ever get a grasp of a Grand Unified Theory or Theory Of
Everything, for science will, by its nature, always be a thing added to; it will
never be ‘complete.’ But Null Physics may be an important slap in the face
to those willfully blinded by their own entanglement in a granting system that
adores the status quo, even when it is failing. For this, alone, Witt’s book
and work deserve a wider audience, inside and outside the Ivy Halls of Academia.’
To me, this goes back to your claim that Null Physics explains the why?
of the cosmos. It recalls John Horgan’s book, The
End Of Science. I found that book naïve in the extreme, as well as
hubristic. My guess is we are many, many scientific revolutions away from even
beginning to grasp the reality our science can discern. Why are you so more
closely allied to the Horgan ideal?
TW: Let’s stop the train right here for a moment. I am diametrically opposed to the Horgan ideal. This is evidenced prominently in my book, where I spend a great deal of print expounding on the spectacular breadth of our scientific ignorance. Physicists cloak the small scale universe in quantum uncertainty and the large scale universe in the unknowable past. And then they call it good enough. Horgan is just a natural extrapolation of this self-deluded, lazy arrogance. As to the number of ‘scientific revolutions’ we are from the limits or endgame of science, I think that there’s only one left – the generalization that connects our empirical world with the geometric substructure of which it is composed.
DS: Do you think we have all the tools now to understand all of the cosmos? I think we are only a fraction of a percent there, but the truth is likely in the middle. Comments?
TW: I think we’ve got all the tools, along with mountains of data, but apparently not a clue as to how to piece it all together. Nor will we make any substantive progress until we start using the most important tool of all – our brains. As I noted earlier, Democritus deduced that all materials were composed of atoms 1600 years prior to the advent of ‘empirical science’. Here we are, two thousand years later, and our best cosmologists can’t find their ass with two hands and the Hubble telescope.
DS: Ok, on to
queries about things in the book that I did not cover in my review. I will try
to highlight what I think are the most important points. For those interested in
a more detailed explanation, obviously, read the book, or check out the websites
mentioned in this interview’s opening. I will go chronologically through the
book, then have a few broader queries. On page 15, you basically claim that
energy conservation is unchanging in the cosmos, thus implying that the known
physical laws of existence are unchanging. But, no proof is supplied. How is
that not akin to the negative reply to the Fermi Paradox? I.e.- there are no
aliens that have visited earth, thus life only exists on earth. It seems a
rather shallow posit.
TW: The proof is listed right there with the claim – the stars in galaxies that are billions of years distant emit the same spectral signatures as the star right next door. If energy were not conserved in these far flung stellar atmospheres, their atomic signatures would be different than the local atoms with which we have direct experience.
DS: Pages 21-22
have you discuss what space is, and it seems you again delve into philosophy,
claiming space is a thing, space is real, and space is space; but none of these
‘definitions’ really defines space. I.e.- I can say a cat is a thing, a cat
is real, a cat is a cat. But I can also say that a cat is a four legged,
warm-blooded mammal that bears live offspring, lactates, is carnivorous, has
been domesticated by man to be a pet, and makes a sound referred to as a meow. I
have extrapolated on cat. Please do the same on space.
TW: Later in the book, I extrapolate on space as a three-dimensional lattice of nonexistent objects called points, whose level of continuity and dimensionality (three) are inversely related. Space is real in the same sense that (at least on Earth), a horse is real whereas a unicorn is conceptual. It has a physical existence governed by the same rules as other members of our universe.
DS: On page 25
you have diagrams about non-existence. You claim that existence is incomplete
non-existence, but there is no reason given. It’s accepted on faith,
logically, but there is no why? Yet, you claim Null Physics answers the why of
the cosmos. But, if your ideas answer all about the cosmos, then why is the why?
of non-existence unanswered? You also seem to definitionally mix the ideas and
terms of physical nothingness with existential and philosophic nonexistence, but
they are, at best, only definitional cognates, not physical equivalents. These
sorts of moments, as I pointed out earlier, are the Achilles’ Heels of your
whole construct, and why I think any further editions need a great deal of
consultation with an editor who knows what he is doing. Comments?
TW: Actually, there are two different derivations for precisely why existence is incomplete nonexistence. I know they might have the initial appearance of a play on words, but this is not the case. The only way to understand how to obtain something (our universe) from nothing (the lack thereof) is to look more closely at how these two states differ. This in turn requires a closer examination of each state, and it is soon clear that they are hopelessly intertwined. The term nonexistence means not existence, and is a state that is utterly impossible to conceptualize with brains that have been buried in existence since before our birth. So rather than jump off the conceptual bridge, the derivation of existence as particle nonexistence uses the existence and nonexistence of energy, for instance, as a subset for the existence and nonexistence of the entire universe. Existence is, by definition, partial nonexistence, because removing portions of existence is a step closer to total nonexistence.
DS: On page 30
you state: ‘Parts do not come from a whole; they are its necessary
constituents.’ Again, this sounds like philosophy, not science. Please
explain this in its context.
TW: This statement is tautology, not philosophy, and is based on the fundamental definition of part and whole. The reason why the universal origin problem is so enigmatic is because ‘something’ and ‘nothing’ are perceived to be vastly different states, not two forms of the same thing. When it is realized that nothingness is a more complete state than existence and that the entirety of our universe actually sums to zero, then the need for a universal origin is not only obviated but becomes completely unviable.
DS: On page 37
you state: ‘The universe exists because there is no other alternative.’
How is this not a tautology?
TW: This is a global summary of the preceding arguments, which show that a universe exists in all conceivable instances. It was not meant to stand out of context.
DS: On page 43
you state: ‘How can space expand into a region already present by
definition?’ I agree, and would add, would not the Big Bang model
demand finite space expanding, therefore it would have to be shaped in relation
to the thing it’s in? I.e.- shape is dependent upon relation to a thing
outside a thing. But, since you never defined space, does not this moot your
TW: The Big Bang, or at least its most modern incarnation, does not rely on a shape or size for spatial expansion. Nor does it make any claims as to universal finiteness, since such a claim could not be empirically verified. It simply holds that intergalactic (not intragalactic) space is expanding uniformly and isotropically everywhere in the universe, regardless of the universe’s full extent. Cosmologists claim that we don’t need space to have an overall shape to observe this expansion, since its net effect is clearly ‘visible’ as the redshift of ancient photons. My point on page 43 was that spatial expansion is nonsensical in an infinite universe because there is no outer boundary to expand, and it is nonsensical in a finite universe for the same reason a finite universe is in itself nonsensical; space that suddenly terminates at some boundary flies in the face of the most basic concepts of symmetry. As to my lack of definition of space, I tried to keep axioms and definitions to an absolute minimum. Rather than defining space, I derived a case in which nonexistence is a direct subset of itself, revealed that this was space, and then focused on spatial properties, such as continuity.
DS: Like space,
you never fully define time. Can you define it, will you? On page 80 you claim,
‘if it occurs in the future, the certainty of this future occurrence
existed throughout the infinite past.’ 1) how is this not a claim for
predestination? 2) how can we know if something will occur in the future if it
is, by definition, forever ahead of the present, the only time period where
existence is fluid? On page 83, you seem to acknowledge this: ‘The
universe cannot change if there is no present moment.’ You call this
ultrastasis, but it seems like destiny to the layman. And how is this not,
again, philosophy rather than science? Or even a construct for the whole of the
cosmos as a god figure?
TW: Actually my derivation of time also serves as a good definition. Time, as previously noted in this discussion, is the difference of space. The statement on page 80 is definitely a statement in support of predestination, as is my entire development of ultrastasis and the largest-scale relationship between space and time. Call this destiny, call it causality, call it whatever lay or formal term you like, but the entire basis of null physics is the null axiom – that the universe is the internal structure of an unchanging nothingness. This axiom might be accused of natural philosophy, but is nonetheless supported by a wealth of empirical evidence such as the symmetry between matter and antimatter and a few other zero sum universal ‘tendencies’. Calling the null axiom natural philosophy is like calling the conservation of energy a ‘universal law’. We can’t prove that energy is everywhere and always conserved, we can just keep verifying it ad nauseum over epic scales. So, if we’re to go out on a limb and say that (like the conservation of energy) the null axiom is a ‘law’ or is ‘true’, then there are a wealth of logical inferences to be gained, one of which being predestination. As to the equivalence between the cosmos and God, there are of course many similarities – eternal, everlasting, perfect, etc. Ironically, since we exist as an integral part of the universe, we are also part of and live within this ‘body of God’. Any number of prior and current cultures have and continue to worship nature; I myself have a deep faith in nature’s implicit rationality, or at least that nature is the ultimate source of what I think of as rationality. But does our sun care whether the chimps on Earth live or die? Does it become angry when we fire our rockets into space? Does the Earth Mother hate us for despoiling our environment? Any recognizable rendition of God does not fare well in a universe completely (and rationally) devoid of anthropomorphism.
DS: Explain your
ideas on time travel, if we live in a predestined universe.
TW: The smallest
passage of time corresponds to an infinite displacement in distance, so time
travel, at least as presented in any number of sci fi accounts, is not possible.
The caveat, however, is that moving a finite distance corresponds to an
infinite temporal displacement. So
although we aren’t able to jump back to the Jurassic period on Earth,
travelling to the nearest star system is comparable to shifting an infinite
distance in time. While
interesting, this of course isn’t terrible useful.
What I find more interesting is trying to calculate the extent to which
unbounded causality restricts the number of possible situations.
As I was able to demonstrate in my book, our universe is large enough to
contain its own history because change is linear, space is cubic, and all events
are defined, back into an infinite past, by prior events.
For instance, does our universe contain a timeline where Hitler won the
war? Where Lincoln wasn’t shot?
The logical extension of ultrastasis might be able to shed light on these
sorts of questions.
DS: There is a
theory I’ve read of in numerous forms and places, that conscious existence is
not like being a roller coaster car that goes careering on roller coaster
tracks, but the tracks themselves. I.e.- that Terence Witt or Dan Schneider or
Nicole Kidman or Albert Einstein are not the cars that, once in the cosmic
construct, essentially charted their tracks, but that their tracks were built
and laid down eternally, and that any number of ‘souls’ can travel and
experience the life tracks of the scientist, the movie star, me, or you. I.e.-
that a person is not a physical thing, but a temporal experience. Reading Null
Physics, it would seem to me that, aside from the granting that a ‘soul’ can
exist outside of the universe, in some fashion (or perhaps within it?), this is
perfectly and logically consistent with your ideas of time and ultrastasis.
TW: It’s an
interesting idea. In reference to this and your earlier ‘life after death’
question, I’ve often wondered if it were possible to flesh out a few more
details about the conservation of the information our bodies and minds represent
across unbounded reaches of time. Do
we all have a ‘ground hog’ day existence, where we live out the same life
repeatedly over eternity, with no knowledge of the previous life?
I always thought this a little too restrictive.
Although causality puts us on a single track, it seems unlikely that this
track would loop back on itself. I
think the unbounded connectivity of the universe is probably more a case of us
sharing a heritage, across infinite space and time, of all other things, living
and otherwise. There is often talk
of humanity as ‘star children’, since the material of which our bodies are
composed was forged in the cores of stars.
The energy found throughout our bodies, and its associated information
content, have been in stars, in space, beneath the Earth’s crust, and in a
myriad of other locations. Where
was your body’s energy a trillion years ago?
Humans, rocks, and other objects represent a focal point of energy that
could have previously spanned the entire galaxy.
My work shows that we are all interconnected with our universe and each
other in ways far broader and more profound than is easy to imagine.
DS: You seem to
assume that matter is curved space, but I saw no real empirical ‘proof.’ Can
you restate it, if I missed it, or provide it, if it was missing from the book?
TW: I don’t
‘assume’ that matter is curved space. Empty
space is the nonexistence of energy; one step closer to the totality of
nonexistence. This means that energy sums
to space, since existence is by definition partial nonexistence.
This in turn means that any form of energy (matter, light) is composed of
spatial deflection – curved space.
DS: By page 200
or so, you delve into the particles of physics. You claim only
electrons/positrons and protons/antiprotons exist on the subatomic level. Why?
What are the implications? Where is your proof?
TW: That’s not my
claim. My claim is that
electrons/positrons and protons/antiprotons are the only truly elementary
particles in nature. Contrary to
the standard model of particle physics, protons are not composed of quarks, and
particles like muons and sigmas are excited states of electrons and protons,
respectively. This is why muons
decay into electrons, and sigma particles decay into protons.
The reason this is the case is due entirely to the parsimonious nature of
our universe’s geometry. Our
universe’s foundational geometry is definitely a case of ‘less is more’.
The totality of our existence has one and only one boundary condition,
which I’ve called unit hypervolume. The
derivation of this finite value is provided in the second chapter of my book
along with a wealth of supporting evidence.
The universe is not some grab bag of random properties and particles.
It is a seamless, unbounded continuum whose properties sum to zero.
This geometry, in turn, allows for only a single universal constant
(boundary condition) – unit hypervolume.
As such, it forms the basis for the quantization of energy in any form,
matter or light. One constant means
one topology for the particle field. Particles
can have different masses, just as photons can have different energies, but
neither are composed of smaller constituents because no other boundary
conditions are available to provide additional compartmentalization.
The reason why particle physicists are so thoroughly convinced of the
existence of quarks (even though a quark in its free state has never been
observed, wink, wink) is because when baryons are slammed into each other with
billions of electron volts of energy, the collisions are not smooth. The collisions show the presence of loci that appear as
internal constituents. However,
‘appear’ is the key word here. Quarks
do not exist. The ‘internal
components’ evident in these kinds of high-energy measurements are artifacts
of adding billions of electron volts of energy to the colliding particles.
Particle physicists consider electrons and quarks ‘point particles’,
with no internal structure; ergo kinetic energy could not possibly alter their
basic internal geometry. The idea of particles as point objects is a horribly naïve
and disingenuous simplification, and it naturally leads to exercises in
numerology like the standard particle model.
DS: After page
300, you get into the structure of galaxies and their existence as
electromagnetic churns that are giant recycling factories. As example, you claim
that spiral galaxies pull stars into their cores, like the whirlpools they look
like. Where is the proof? Is not centrifugal force to play a part in this idea?
Are there not stars in spiral galaxies that are as old or older than the current
13-14 billion year claim for universal origin? If so, do not they provide proof
that your whirlpool hypothesis is wrong? And what of assymetrical galaxies or
globular ones, elliptical, ringed or spheroidal ones?
TW: You keep using
the unfortunate term ‘proof’, but I would prefer to think of my supporting
rationale as ‘evidence’. An
infinite quiescent universe has a number of requirements, none of which are
optional. One such requirement is
that all forms of energy within the system must be recyclable.
Since stars consume hydrogen and produce compound nuclei, a process and
associated site must exist whereby these nuclei are returned to hydrogen.
Since ‘burning’ complex nuclei requires an enormous amount of energy
density, galactic cores are the only possible site for this conversion, and the
only means by which these compound nuclei can be transferred into the core is by
a vortical motion. That’s the
preamble; the next step is to look for evidence of this process, and it is
overwhelming. First, there’s the
inexplicable rotation profiles of galaxies, where the material of these disks
does not move as would be expected of a gravitationally bound, Newtonian system.
Second, there’s the galaxies’ luminosity profiles – the rate at
which the brightness of their disks decreases away from their core.
Third, there’s the presence of massive black holes at their cores.
Fourth, there’s the steady stream of hydrogen leaving the cores of
quiescent galactic cores, as well as the spectacular jets of hydrogen being
launched from AGN (active galactic nuclei).
I’ve quantified all of these processes in my cosmology, and they are
all consistent with galaxies as vortices. I
restricted my investigation to spiral galaxies because their dynamics are far
more straightforward than other morphologies.
As to stars being older than the ~16 billion vortical cycle time
predicted by my calculations, keep in mind that galaxies are predators.
They are constantly ingesting globular clusters and other smaller
galaxies. As this very moment, for
instance, the Milky Way is in the process of consuming and assimilating the
Magellanic Clouds. As further
support for my vortical paradigm, I’ve recently found that Milky Way’s
globular clusters tend to fall into two age ranges, and
the clusters whose orbit is closer to the galactic disk are younger.
Of course, this evidence isn’t quite as direct as hydrogen boiling
directly out of the galactic center, but every little bit helps.
DS: On page 359,
you list a number of predictions that Null Physics makes, a total of eleven.
Pick the three most essential, why they are essential, and when and how do you
think they will be verified? If so, what do you expect will be the changed
reaction to your theory?
TW: I would say a) exponential lumetic decay for the intergalactic redshift, b) the Milky Way’s inward vortical flow rate of around 2 km/s, and c) 3He inter-nucleon distance of 1.635 F. The first two are essential because they are essential requirements for my cosmology, and the third ought to further establish the reality of null physics’ particle geometry. As to verification, I’ll go in order of the predictions. For lumetic decay, some spectacularly large telescopes are due to come online soon, able, in the case of the Euro50, to see over twenty times farther than the Hubble and Keck. These telescopes ought to help firm up the exponential energy loss profile associated with the intergalactic redshift, and support lumetic decay. Unfortunately, many of these projects might have been derailed by the world’s recent economic slump. For the Milky Way’s vortical rate, the RAVE2 stellar survey probably already contains a sufficient amount of data to confirm it, and if not, an expansion and refinement of this project should make the vortical speed’s measurement possible. For the inter-nucleon distance of light helium, we currently have the necessary tools, but the resolution of nuclear measurements is fairly poor, so I don’t have a good estimate on verification of this prediction. As to the impact of their verification, it will be at best negligible. If the lumetic decay profile or galactic vortex is verified, they will be labeled as ‘mysteries’, and a few cosmologists might try to work them into the Big Bang paradigm. Then, about twenty to fifty years after my death, my cosmology will be ‘rediscovered’, with no reference to me or my work. This is the typical scenario for scientific ideas proffered by outsiders. However, as I hope to explain in any ‘future projects’ questions you might have, I’ve got a more overt plan in motion.
ultrastasis like a convection current?
TW: No, because a conversion current presumes a directional gradient, typically in response to a gravitational field. Ultrastasis is like an interference pattern – billions of photons stream through it but the pattern stays exactly the same.
DS: I claim that
mathematics is not reality, merely a numeric metaphor used to describe reality.
You wrote: ‘Conflating
math with reality. Although America’s forefathers saw the
wisdom of separating church and state, theoretical physics has failed to draw a
clean line between math and reality. This is an occupational hazard of course.
Without math, theoretical physicists would have little to do. Perhaps if enough
theoretical physicists were immersed in engineering or applied mathematics, they
would eventually come to the realization that our math is no more than a clumsy
idealization of reality. It is the simplistic shadow that reality casts on our
minds. Calculus, for instance, works because of the way reality is, not because
of the way that calculus is designed.’ I assume you then agree with my
claim? If not, why?
TW: Yes, I stand by
my statement, and think it’s consistent with yours.
On to more general queries: what do you think of one of the best examples
of logical thought, Occam’s Razor, which basically states, ‘The
simplest answer that best fits the known facts is likely the correct answer’?
Why do you think this is so? And why does it seem to not be often applied in
science? And, is this a principle you apply in your book and ideas?
TW: I think this is true because the universe’s geometry doesn’t contain the slightest bit of ‘redundancy’. Solutions or explanations, regardless of their topic, contain implications in every statement. Just as twenty unknowns requires twenty equations to solve, the greater the number of implicit premises or assumptions in a solution, the more quickly the solution becomes more intractable than the original problem. Occam’s Razor is seldom applied in theoretical physics because it is often construed as a form of philosophy. I once had a heated discussion with a quantum physicist, and he claimed that as long as a model fit the data, the number of ad hoc parameters it required was utterly irrelevant. If I had a model that required a single parameter, and he had a model that required a thousand, the ONLY standard of excellence was conforming to the data. If both models accomplished this, they were equally valid. This is not higher education; this is brain damage.
DS: Let me hit
into a very non-Occam thing: dark matter. Science often comes up with ad
hoc solutions to things not fully understood yet. Dark matter is the
current king of this trend, although string theory and superstrings were hot a
decade or so ago. While I am not an expert on physics, I am an expert with
words, and reading between the lines, and in doing so, it seems to me that much
of what is accepted these days is on thin ice. No, I’m not advocating
Intelligent Design, nor anything like that. What I mean is that the seeming
excess measured gravity about galaxies, which has led to the idea of dark
matter, has also been posited as being caused by the unseen presence of other
cosmos next to ours. Some call this the multiverse theory. I prefer a term like omniverse,
for multiverse implies universes quite like ours whereas omniverse invites
differing forms of cosmoses. But, whatever the term is, is not this growing
evidence going to invalidate the Big Bang, sooner or later, and reduce the
cosmic background radiation detected as stemming from a mere (lower case) big
TW: As I noted earlier, the Big Bang has been designed so as to not be falsifiable. As such, no amount of evidence of any kind has the ability to toss it from the throne. Forget the redshift, cosmic microwaves, and dark matter for a moment. The single greatest empirical challenge (sadly, logic doesn’t count here) to the Big Bang is the known elementary symmetry between matter and antimatter. Whenever and however a particle of matter is produced, an equal amount of antimatter will emerge. Every time. If the universe was born of an enormously dense ball of energy, precisely half of the galaxies or stars we see today would be matter, and the other half antimatter. This is not the case. Antimatter, in our cosmologically local neighborhood (a billion light years), only exists in trace amounts, and material is spread very evenly on the large scale. In short, HALF of the Big Bang universe is missing, and has been missing for seventy years. This issue was shuffled off to particle physicists to find the hidden asymmetry that led to a predominantly matter universe, and the fact that all of their attempts to do so have failed has absolutely no effect on the acceptance of the Big Bang.
DS: If so, that
there are other universes, then the question of our universe’s origin is sort
of mooted, as it is reduced to a domain of a larger thing. It also implies that
there is, as geologist James Hutton famously stated, ‘no vestige of a
beginning, no prospect of an end,’ even if individual universes may
come and go. No? And, even if there was proof of an omniverse or multiverse,
would not this not do a thing to the concept of the universe, save expand it, as
it was expanded from meaning merely our Milky Way galaxy to all observable
galaxies? Semiotically speaking, the universe is, and has to be, everything.
TW: Absolutely. Physicists are often prone to try to resolve observational issues by creating, en masse, additional universes! How’s that for an example of the modern application of Occam’s Razor? I’ve addressed the multiverse concept from several different perspectives in my book, and the bottom line is multiple universes require a dimensional or similar relationship to each other, and the fact that they have a relationship merely redefines the extent of a single, more complex universe.
DS: What of the
Cosmological Constant? Einstein’s ‘greatest error’ seems to
be true- if current models hold, and an icy death is forecast for the universe,
under current theory.
TW: The universe is
the substructure of nothingness. It
didn’t have an origin, it isn’t going to grow old and die, and it isn’t
expanding. Einstein added his
cosmological constant to keep his universe from collapsing under the mutual
attraction of all of its mass. It’s
a misnomer for two reasons. First,
because gravity isn’t the only long-range force that controls the universal
distribution of material (read plasma, in turn read electromagnetic forces), and
second, because the geometry used by the General Theory of relativity has an
implicit component which becomes progressively more divergent at cosmological
distances. This divergent behavior
was demonstrated in the peer-reviewed paper I recently published in Physics
Essays. General Relativity is a
great model for predicting the observation of space and time in regard to
gravitational fields, but is not an accurate portrayal of the physical
properties of space and time.
DS: To return to the omniverse posit, while this may not be Nietzschean Eternal Recurrence, it again removes a sort of hubris from us- especially from those who feel that the Anthropic Principle (Weak or Strong) is at play. I.e.- if there are any number of possible universes, then even if an infinitesimal fraction are life-suitable, an infinite number of universes will have life; therefore, the Anthropic Principle, as well as the Big Bang, become tautologies. Do you agree?
TW: The Anthropic Principle is what remains after all meaningful analysis has been purged from the system. Although our presence on Earth was the result of a Darwinian process, the existence of our universe is not. It is not possible to convert nothing into something and pull a universe out of an empty hat. A universe cannot have an origin for the same reason that it cannot vanish – its relationship to its overview, or sum, IS a tautology. A great deal of speculation about other universes is possible if no one has the slightest clue as to why our current universe exists. Since universes cannot have origins, there has never been a pivotal moment when the universe’s properties get to take one of many available paths. Our universe is precisely the way it is, with its many properties of symmetry, because it needs to satisfy a summation to zero. It does not have these properties in order to support the existence of chimps. If the universe had radically different properties, life, of all forms, might have a radically different appearance. Physicists are convinced that they live in a chaotic, random universe. The truth is far more sobering. There is a direct connection from seamless, featureless geometry to chimps capering about on planets, and not a single link along this chain is optional.
DS: Let me ask you to get a little speculative. Where do you think humanity will be in 2110, at least in terms of outer space exploration? Will there be moon and Mars bases? Will some of the outer planets’ moons be explored? Will we be close to FTL travel, and launching explorations to the nearest stars?
TW: We might have a
moon base, used primarily for space tourism, but I don’t see Mars in the
offing in 100 years. FTL isn’t
possible, and the only way we’d be seriously looking at other stars is with an
enormous genomic breakthrough that put an end to biological aging.
DS: Now, let me
ask you to get alot more speculative. How about centuries hence? Is space
ultimately where mankind will end up? Or, are we hermetically sealed to this
solar system, if not planet? And, do you think advances in computing (quantum
computers) and genetic engineering, will solve some of the issues plaguing space
travel. I refer to speculative ideas like those put forth by the geologist and
speculative science writer Dougal Dixon in books like Man
TW: I’ve often wondered what our next form will lean toward – cybernetic or biologic. Biology is currently the king of self-repairing systems, and there are extremophiles on Earth that can withstand ridiculous amounts of radiation with very low mutation rates. A cybernetic body, like any machine, will be damaged by cosmic radiation, and I don’t really see (the overly touted nanotechnology notwithstanding) a physically possible mechanism by which silicon or carbon based circuitry could be made to be self-repairing. It could be highly redundant or replaceable, certainly, since we do that now, but to be truly self-repairing requires orders of magnitude more finesse. Either of these forms can and will probably be space travelers, but their residual humanness might be a distant memory. The good news for anyone surviving cryogenic storage, however, is that our future selves might be more humane, if less human, than us, and might not put a recently thawed homo sapiens in one of their zoos. Reeducation camp?
DS: I think
UFOlogy is a valuable cultural artifact that in centuries hence will be studied
more rigorously- less for its claims of alien intervention on this planet and
more for its cultural relevance to then contemporary phenomena. Agree or not?
Also, I feel magazines like Fate are far better indicators of the
cultural zeitgeist than People or Time. Comments?
Also, I think the UFO believers may, unfortunately, be harbingers of a new
technology based religion. Agree or not?
TW: You don’t believe in alien abduction?? Disappointing. I’ve been waiting to tell you about this experience I had when I was a Cub Scout, lost in the woods in Oregon… Sorry, couldn’t resist. I don’t think UFOlogy will be singled out for separate study, but if it is, I can’t imagine what there is to be learned from doing so. The desire to believe in anything that transcends what we perceive to be our workaday world is so powerful, whether it takes the form of a standard religion or a UFO experience, that I think it’s an inherent part of the ‘chimp within’. The best and perhaps only antidote to these delusions is to fully embrace our natural surroundings, and take a closer look with eyes less jaded. There is absolutely nothing ‘workaday’ about the leaves rustling on a tree, snowflakes drifting in the wind, or a night filled with stars. I haven’t read Fate, so I can’t compare it to People, but I think magazines like People are more a corporate model designed to sell magazines at the (nearly) lowest common denominator than an accurate representation of our cultural zeitgeist. This presupposes, of course, that a valid argument could even be made for the existence of a ‘cultural zeitgeist’. The widespread prevalence of Wal-Marts suggest otherwise.
DS: Let me toss out that old question: if you could sit down and break bread for an evening with folks from the past- scientists or not, which folk would you most like to engage with, and why?
TW: I’d probably
like to have lunch with Galileo, to see his eyes light up as I recount what has
become of his little telescope, and the many things we’ve discovered since his
work. We would need a translator of
course, but I think it would still be fun.
scientific theories are disbelieved at first, then grudgingly accepted, then
become dogma, then are tossed out, is basically the posit Thomas Kuhn makes in The
Structure Of Scientific Revolutions. Do you agree? If so, what are some
of the other theories, like the Big Bang, that might, by this century’s end,
seem laughably silly?
TW: Theories will always be eventually replaced only if a) they do not correspond to physical truth and b) a willingness to pursue said truth exists. The original ‘atomic theory’ – that thousands of different materials are composed of a much smaller variety of atomic subunits – has become fact, and will never be tossed out, because it is true. Note that this would be the case even if we were never able to develop an AFM (atomic force microscope) with which to actually observe individual atoms. If a scientific theory is an ad hoc artifice, with no or little correspondence to the physical reality it purports to describe, it might end up on the intellectual scrap heap. But that hasn’t happened in quite a while because theoretical physics has lost not only the willingness to pursue the truth, but also an appreciation for the truth. We have currently reached a ‘terminally dogmatic’ state in theoretical physics were none of our primary theories (standard model, string theory, Big Bang) are falsifiable. The universe won’t ever spin down to die, but theoretical physics certainly has the appearance of having done so.
What do you see as the role of a ‘public intellectual’ in this century? And
do the constant controversies that surround someone like a Noam
Chomsky make you, and others, less apt to speak out? Or, do you think it’s
best to stay focused in your area of expertise? How about someone like a Richard
Dawkins and his rabid form of atheism?
While I have at times been disappointed and in some cases amazed by frenzied
controversy associated with the release of my book, controversy itself would
never discourage me from speaking out. My
standard for action is the measurable or tangible results associated with taking
a public stance. If, for instance,
talking to a group of cosmologists about null cosmology proves to be as fruitful
as talking to a group of cocker spaniels, I would be hesitant to repeat the
exercise. But if one or two
actually understood what I was saying, whilst the rest ran in circles screaming
‘crackpot’, I would probably consider my effort a success.
That said, I think it’s always best to stay focused in your area of
expertise. Dawkins as rabid?
I thoroughly enjoyed Dawkins “God Delusion”, and given his prior
experience as an altar boy, it’s not surprising that he attacks religion with
the verve of the jilted lover. This provides good entertainment value for me “girl
fight!”, and it doesn’t detract from my reading experience since I’ve been
an Atheist since I was about nine years old.
I once wrote a poem based on the famed Pale
Blue Dot photo, and also a sonnet on the Hubble
Deep Field photo. The former was taken as Voyager 1 left the solar system,
and shows the whole planet Earth afloat in a thin shaft of sunlight. The latter
is a time lapsed photo that shows all of the galaxies that occupy a tiny speck
of the night sky. Both seem to me to be amongst the most important and powerful
photos ever taken, for their images really slap some reality into those filled
with human hubris. Do you agree? And, how have these photos resonated as
they’ve made their way into the public consciousness? Also, do you see them,
and other grander things that science can offer, as stimulants for young people
to ‘enter the fray’?
The Hubble deep field is one of my favorite photos; that’s why it’s up front
and center in my book. However,
I’m not convinced that photos, even seen at a young age, will encourage an
inherent interest in science. I
think they nurture an existing interest, but there has to be complementary
encouragements and tendencies. Even
though the photos you describe both had a substantial impact, I think pale blue
dot had a far greater one since almost everyone knew what they were looking at.
Unfortunately, I don’t sense any sort of reinforced resonance, and the
numbers back me up. Fewer and fewer
young people are going into science, and our yellow pages are littered with
lawyers and physicians.
I think science writing is in a Golden Age, since the mid-1970s or so. From E.O.
Wilson, to the essays of Stephen Jay Gould, to Sagan to Jared Diamond to Martin
Rees and Timothy Ferris to Robert Bakker and Jack Horner, Daniel Dennett, Steven
Pinker, and a few dozen others, the world of science is bristling not only with
ideas, but people who can clarify and excite the public. Science books often
make best seller lists, yet, if that is so, and more Americans than ever are
college educated, then why are Americans so ignorant on things like abortion,
stem cells, evolution, race, sexuality, and on and on?
It’s an enforced ignorance. I
think around 75,000 copies will put an author on the best seller list
This seems like a fairly large number, but how many churches, on average,
are there in even the smallest of American cities?
America is one of the most rabidly religious countries on the planet, and
the only way to pull that off is with a serious and focused level of ignorance
on certain key topics, most of which are directly related to the life sciences.
I always like to say there are two kinds of people – those who believe
what they want to believe, and those who believe what they have reason to
believe. The former far outnumber the latter.
DS: Let me now
quote from an essay I did on Harold
Bloom: ‘….the human mind has 3 types of intellect. #1 is the
Functionary- all of us have it- it is the basic intelligence that IQ tests
purport to measure, & it operates on a fairly simple add & subtract
basis. #2 is the Creationary- only about 1% of the population has it in any
measurable quantity- artists, discoverers, leaders & scientists have this.
It is the ability to see beyond the Functionary, & also to see more deeply-
especially where pattern recognition is concerned. And also to be able to lead
observers with their art. Think of it as Functionary2 . #3 is the
Visionary- perhaps only 1% of the Creationary have this in measurable amounts-
or 1 in 10,000 people. These are the GREAT artists, etc. It is the ability to
see farther than the Creationary, not only see patterns but to make good
predictive & productive use of them, to help with creative leaps of illogic
(Keats’ Negative Capability), & also not just lead an observer, but impose
will on an observer with their art. Think of it as Creationary2 , or
Functionary3 .’ What are your thoughts on
this? Where would you place yourself on such a scale?
I think your percentages might be a little too high.
If 1 in 10,000 people were great
artists, we’d have about 16,000 of them living in the US at this very moment.
I do, however, see merit in the levels that you’ve created.
As to rating myself, if my work is as good as I think it is, I’d
clearly have to be Visionary according to your metric.
But it might be a win-win scenario for me.
After all, if I’m self-deluded lunatic who has built a logical house of
cards with no correspondence to reality, I could still be a Visionary if I could
pull a great many others I into the labyrinth with me.
This being the case, I wouldn’t want to rate myself a Visionary without
the following clarifications: a) was Hitler a Visionary? and b) what are the
yearly dues for the Visionary club?
When I interviewed Steven Pinker,
he seemed to feel IQ was good at predicting success in life- at least socially,
academically, and career-wise. But my 3 Intellects posit is something I don’t
think he fully got the point of. That is that creativity is wholly ‘outside’
the axis of IQ. In other words, there could be someone with an IQ of 180, and a
Functionary Mind, vs. someone with a 120 IQ, and while the 180 may be better
suited for test taking, the 120 IQ, with a Creationary or Visionary Mind, will
be able to understand concepts at a deeper level. IQ measures narrow problem
solving, but is utterly useless in regards to creativity. To use an analogy:
think of vision tests. The person with 20/20 vision may see better and more
clearly than the 20/50 person, in normal light. But the 20/50 person can turn on
X-ray vision. While the vision is not clearer than 20/20 it does see something
the 20/20 will never see. Any thoughts?
I agree wholeheartedly, particularly since most IQ tests are heavily weighted by
age and completion time. The same
person can be a genius at 12 and a fuckwit at 18.
Moreover, any problems that can be solved in a few seconds, as is the
case of questions on IQ tests, are of no consequence.
A clever person skips quickly along the sand while a rare mind can move
mountains. One of my junior high
teachers told me I had scored the highest IQ of any student that had ever passed
through our school system (quite the rebel, he wasn’t supposed to share), and
told a couple of other kids that they had made genius.
His disclosure had no effect on me, since I knew the test was bullshit
when I was taking it. It did, however, have a negative effect on our other
‘geniuses’ because their false sense of entitlement (or perhaps a basic lack
of creativity or vision) prevented them from any notable achievements (to date).
I believe the public embrace of irrationality has to do with the conflation
people make between the unexplained and the unexplainable. The former, it seems
to me, is an ever decreasing quantum, whereas the latter is mere evidence of
current limitations to human thought. Thoughts?
‘Unexplainable’ is an empty set. If
something exists, it does so as a consequence of a confluence of geometry, and
is subject to the rules of logic. Kant
might have been convinced of the existence of transcendent regions of knowledge,
but in null physics I’ve taken logic from the interior of protons and black
holes to the full breadth of our universe, and have found no unreachable
regions. I’ve certain come across unexplained and inconceivable
regions at times, but not unexplainable. The
concept of transcendent knowledge has even less utility than the anthropic
principle, and is even more pointless. Shall
we speak of things of which we cannot speak?
DS: On the subject of human thoughts, let me turn to a related topic, human discourse. One of the reasons I started this interview series is because of the utter dearth of really in depth interviews, in print or online. With the exception of the Playboy interviews, such venues are nonexistent. Furthermore, many people actively denigrate in depth and intelligent discourse, such as this, preferring to read vapid interviews with 10 or 12 questions designed to be mere advertisements for a work, sans only the page numbers the canned answers are taken from. Why do you think this is? What has happened to real discussion? Old tv show hosts like Phil Donahue, David Susskind, Dick Cavett, Tom Snyder, even Bill Buckley- love him or hate him. Only Charlie Rose is left on PBS, but his show airs near midnight. Is conversation, which an interview is merely a rigorous form of, dying?
TW: No, it’s already dead; it just wasn’t announced in the obituary column. Capitalism is a wonderful thing, but corporate culture is its nasty byproduct, and corporate edicts are destroying the rich, vibrant aspects of our culture and replacing it with a hollow husk. Nothing is quite so empty or devoid of integrity and self restraint as a publically owned company. Responsibility and accountability often become so diluted as to be undetectable. The endpoint of this devolution is that everything is ultimately governed by its business potential, and everything needs to turn a certain amount of profit. News has become entertainment, and information flourishes, unfettered by the constraints of perspective. BBC and PBS notwithstanding, the target market for introspection and discourse has become simply too small to matter. To escape is the rule of the day, not to engage.
A few final questions: do you think pricing your book so highly was a wise
choice? Do you think that pricing it for less, as a paperback available for
under $15 would have widened your audience? I ask because many good books and
foreign films, as example, are priced very high, while the crap that is
published or made in Hollywood is, like junk food, readily available. I bought
the book for under a dollar (not including s/h) at Amazon, as example.
TW: Pricing is always a tricky thing, from a business perspective. Price a thing too low, and it might appear as having low value. Price it too high, and it might impede sales. Our Undiscovered Universe is a beautifully bound book that was very expansive to print in the United States (I refused to have it done in China), so the end result was a higher price than I anticipated. To offset this situation, I decided to ship, as a donation, a single copy of “Our Undiscovered Universe” in every public and college library in the USA, and will also be shipping to a large number of libraries abroad. This was the only solution that enhanced the availability of the book without being unfair to the many readers who were kind enough to purchase their own copy.
I grew up watching the Carl Sagan series Cosmos, and one of his favorite
axioms, most used in discussing possible alien life, was
that extraordinary claims demanded extraordinary proof. Assertion is not
proof. I think that there are too many assertions and conflations in your
theory, as currently presented, to have it stand alone as anything but a
counter-theory. I do think that if any of your predictions are found as true,
this adds weight, but I would urge you to seriously consider consulting with a
professional editor of quality in further editions of the book. 1) fix the
punctual, semiotic, and grammatical flaws. 2) develop a more engaging authorial
voice since you are not submitting a paper, there’s no reason to even try to
ape one. 3) I think the book belongs more firmly in a philosophic vein than a
scientific one for, as I have shown, there is much that is existential in it
that science books lack. In short, there is a gap between your ideas and the
book’s presentation of them that should be addressed. Perhaps this occurred in
a rush to construct and publish the work? Is there a Alfred Russel Wallace to
your Charles Darwin out there? This rush, though, seems to have left a soft
underbelly that your opponents can philosophically and semiotically pick apart
with ease, all the while avoiding the real and valid points you make against the
current Big Bang model, by labeling you a crackpot. Anyhow, that’s my advice,
along with admitting that a prediction Null Physics makes has been disproved,
if/when that occurs. Any comments?
TW: By your own (repeated) admission, you are unqualified to fully evaluate the scientific aspects of my work, so your assessment that it is primarily philosophical (a broad brush indeed!) doesn’t carry a great deal of weight with me. I’ve had a wide variety of readers, from all walks of life, astrophysicists to gardeners, evince a deep understanding (and appreciation for) the concepts that I’ve presented, so I’m satisfied as to the quality of my rendering. Rushed to publish? Hardly. The book was repeatedly edited, proof read by professional proof readers, and fact checked, for over four years prior to its release. All of its calculations, equations and graphs, were quadruple checked for accuracy. As to these rampant (undisclosed) typos to which you refer, I’d be interested to see what the proofreaders missed, so I’d be happy to exchange a new copy for your annotated version. Oh, and one last spoiler alert – the supporters of the Big Bang don’t care what evidence I have, or in what format or order it is presented, because they won’t read the book.
DS: Let me end
this interview by asking what big things that are still unknown to current
science do you want answered before your life ends? Do you think that these
unanswered questions can be answered in your lifetime? If not, why not? And, are
you doing anything to elicit these answers?
TW: The biggest
question for me, and my current avenue of research, concerns a detailed
perspective of the dynamical activity that occurs within the structure of atoms
and molecules. If this isn’t
revealed before my life ends, I have no one to blame but myself.
what is in store, in the next year or two, for you?
TW: My primary
focus at present is the application of null physics to atomic and molecular
dynamics. I’m currently
developing simulation software based on null geometry that will (if all
continues to go well) allow chemists to simulate the predict the properties of
any molecule. Clearly, the
successful completion of such a project will put to rest the accusation that
null physics is ‘philosophical’ in nature.
DS: Thanks for
this discourse, and let me allow you a closing statement, on whatever you like.
TW: I’d like to conclude by asking and answering a final question that I think will probably occur to many people who read this interview. Q: “Mr. Witt, if there is no God, no FTL, no time travel, theoretical physics is irreparably broken, all civilizations contain the seeds of their own dissolution, and we have no free will (predestination), what is the point of it all? Isn’t the doom and gloom you portray just a reiteration of Steven Weinberg’s famous quote, ‘the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless’?” A: Doom and gloom? What doom and gloom? I think the present day is the greatest time to be alive in the history of humankind (for quite a few people at least). Humans are exploring space, creating synthetic life, curing disease, and in many cases have completely shed the shame of misogyny and racism of their past. There’s always going to be setbacks; as is to be expected when we’re carrying so much chimp in our genome, but it also holds the promise of a future full of spectacular freedoms, including the freedom from death itself. If I had a choice between living in a time of burning witches and the black plague versus scientology and corporate greed, I’ll take the latter. Moreover, theoretical physicists like Weinberg utterly miss the mark with their interpretation of a Godless universe, thinking that our existence is some random accident. Nothing could be further from the truth. Randomness is just as much an illusion as free will. But this is not a bad thing, because it means that we all have a destiny. There is, after all, little discernable difference between a lifetime governed by God’s unknowable plan and a future etched into stone by the incalculable complexity of causality. The fact that we have no option but to make the decisions we make, based entirely on our accumulated experience at the biochemical level, is a global reality for which we often see and acknowledge glimpses. “Oh, it’s not as if I had a choice when I did that…”. We are all part of the cast of the greatest scripted show on Earth, and none of us has access to the script. Let’s just enjoy the show, shall we?
those who read this interview and scoff, or claim that I did not ask ‘Tough
Question A, B, or C,’ my retort is simple: I make no claims to being a
physicist, nor do I claim my website is a science blog. Cosmoetica is a general
arts site that features interviews with a wide range of people on a wide range
of subjects. In short, it is a site that, at least in regards to science, is a
generalist/lay site. Hence my focus on the more graspable ‘highlights’ of
the Witt theory and book- i.e.- queries on predestination, time travel, galaxies
as vortices, which are things designed to spur further inquiry into Witt’s
work (and not to be taken as an endorsement of their scientific veracity, just
their scientific curiosity- something I find lacking in much of the Big Bang
‘science’), rather than the more abstruse implications or mathematic minutia
that often do not ‘excite’ the layety. Finally, I would encourage those
readers who, indeed, are the owners of science blogs, and who are physicists,
astronomers, mathematicians, and cosmologists, to take up the challenge they
might scoff at from this layman’s approach. If you have the expertise and the
readership that is far more focused than that of my generalist readers, by all
means, contact Mr. Witt, and give him a hard, but fair, grilling. In my
experience, he seems both up to it, and willing to take on all comers. Whether
his Null Physics ultimately is true or not can only be ascertained via such
queries from those, in his field, who fairly examine the pluses and minuses of
his claims, and are as willing to acknowledge if his predictions are so, as they
would be if they are not. Again, I make no pretense to anything but being a
dedicated science amateur, but I am a great semiotician, and an infallible
sniffer of bullshit. Statistically speaking, like most theories, Null Physics
may likely be wrong; but the Big Bang model is almost certainly wrong. So, give
it a fair hearing sans the ad hominem. -DAN]
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