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Energy A Physicist’s View Vic Stenger Substance Duality Most people believe that the universe is made of two kinds of stuff: 1. Matter  Body Particles.

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Presentation on theme: "Energy A Physicist’s View Vic Stenger Substance Duality Most people believe that the universe is made of two kinds of stuff: 1. Matter  Body Particles."— Presentation transcript:


2 Energy A Physicist’s View Vic Stenger

3 Substance Duality Most people believe that the universe is made of two kinds of stuff: 1. Matter  Body Particles Discreteness, reductionism 2. "Energy"  Mind, Spirit, Soul,Vital Force 2. "Energy"  Mind, Spirit, Soul,Vital Force Electromagnetic/ bioenergetic fields Continuity, holism

4 Assumptions of Alternative Medicine  Living things possess a special, cosmic energy field, which I will call the bioenergetic field. Qi?  Pure energy is a biophysical substance separate from matter, and indeed supersedes matter.  Electromagnetic fields are examples of "pure energy" and are identified with the bioenergetic field.  Newtonian mechanistic, reductionist physics has been shown to be wrong by modern physics.  Quantum physics shows that the universe is one interconnected whole of which human consciousness is a part, thus allowing the mind to control reality.

5 Bioenergetic Medicine "The principles of energy medicine originate in quantum physics. Bioenergetic medicine is the study of human and animal bodies as dynamic electromagnetic fields existing in an electromagnetic environment." "Based on Einstein's theories of quantum physics, these energetic concepts are being integrated into medicine for a comprehensive approach to disease diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.” Joan Stafantos

6 Energy Fields of Life "... energy fields are postulated to constitute the fundamental unit of the living and nonliving." [The field is] "a unifying concept and energy signifies the dynamical nature of the field. Energy fields are infinite and paradimensional; they are in continuous motion." Martha Rogers

7 The History of Energy  From Greek energeia meaning “activity.”  Not part of original Newtonian mechanics.  Introduced into physics by Helmholtz in 1847. Conservation of Energy The total energy of an isolated system does not change with time. This is the defining property of energy.

8 Types of Energy Example: Falling Body  Kinetic Energy E K = mv 2 /2  Potential Energy E P = mgh  Rest Energy E R = mc 2 h m v

9 Classical Physics Picture prior to 20th Century:  Energy and matter were separate and distinct substances.  Although appearing continuous to the naked eye, matter was composed of discrete, localized atoms.  Light was a form of electromagnetic wave, the vibration of a continuous cosmic field, the aether, and regarded as a form of "pure energy."  Gravity was a continuous action-at-a-distance field.

10 Modern Physics Current picture: Energy and matter are the same stuff: E = mc 2 E = mc 2  The discrete nature of matter is confirmed. Energy is also discrete.  There is no evidence for an aether or any other continuous medium in universe. Light is composed of particulate matter: photons. Fields are composed of discrete particles ("quanta").  General relativity explains gravity in terms of the curvature of space rather than as a force field.


12 The Standard Model of Matter Three generations of quarks and leptons u c t d s b  e      e  plus antiparticles. Familiar matter : u, d, e proton = uud neutron = udd

13 The Standard Model of Forces Forces result from the exchange of particles:  Electromagnetism photon  Strong nuclear gluons (8)  Weak nuclear weak bosons (4) (No quantum theory of gravity as yet) While these force particles are described by quantum fields in the theory, no continuous medium, like the aether, is involved.

14 The Cosmos Mass Budget Radiation 0.005 % Ordinary visible matter 0.5 % Ordinary nonluminous matter 3.5 % Exotic dark matter 26 % Even more exotic dark “energy” 70 %  Nature of dark matter and dark energy still unknown.  But not “immaterial” since carry mass.

15 Life and Mind  All living organisms are composed of the same quarks and electrons as compose a rock or a river.  They are acted on by the same forces.  There is no evidence for special vital or psychic fundamental substances or forces.

16 Properties of Matter  There is no evidence for any special fields or radiation associated with living organisms.  No basis exists for assuming that life and mind are anything other than emergent properties of matter--not derivable from equations of particle physics but consistent with them.  Brain imaging and other neuroscience provide strong evidence for localized, material sources of thoughts and emotions.

17 The Unconscious Quantum  Quantum mechanics is said to provide a basis for a mind- matter connection.  This notion arises from the fact that the act of observation interferes with what is being observed: Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.  The claim is that reality is determined by consciousness.  But mind and consciousness are not independent of matter. The brain is wired to body, but not to other bodies.  Nothing in quantum phenomena requires the introduction of non-material or holistic elements.

18 Has modern physics shown that classical, reductionist physics is "wrong?"  No!  Most physics taught in classrooms is still classical physics.  Modern physics is built on a base of classical physics. Still materialistic and reductionist – including quantum mechanics.  Modern technology and medicine still rely heavily on classical physics.

19 What Constitutes Evidence?  Any claim that implies the overthrow of well-established scientific principles has an extraordinary burden of proof.  Since so much rubbish is out there, the only rational and practical policy is to ignore such claims until extraordinary evidence is presented.  Anecdotal evidence is ordinary. People can be tricked or self-deluded. The placebo effect is powerful and difficult to eliminate even in the best controlled experiments.  A single experiment, even peer-reviewed, is never enough. Multiple independent replications are essential.

20 Ordinary Claims That, if true, would violate no established science:  Some herbs may have some medical benefits.  Acupuncture may relieve pain by stimulating brain chemicals.  Relaxation or meditation may have some medical benefits.  Massage may aid in healing.  A patient's state of mind can affect his or her health.  Treating the "whole patient" may be better than just treating his parts.

21 Extraordinary claims That, if true, would violate well-established science:  Homeopathic remedies can have any effect at all--other than placebo.  Meditation tunes you into the cosmic field of mind.  Mind can overcome established physical laws.  You can improve a person's health by manipulating her vital energies with acupuncture or therapeutic touch.

22 Published Reports  Numerous media reports refer to published papers "scientifically verifying" the healing powers of prayer and other forms of "spiritual" or "psychic" therapies. Not one is statistically significant!  Many p = 1/20 effects in physics have failed to be confirmed.  The publication criterion in physics is p = 1/10,000.  This threshold should be used for an extraordinary claim (as defined) in all branches of science. Ordinary claims, consistent with existing science, can be published with weaker significance. But even p = 1/20 is far too low.

23 Scientific Study of Qi Measurements made in Beijing in 1987 during healing lectures of Dr. Yan Xin. Yan Xin et al, Journal of Scientific Exploration 18 (2002):381-411. Positive signals:  Radiation dosimeters  Changes in Raman spectrum in aqueous solutions  Alternations in half-life of 241 Am Thermoluminescence Dosimeters:  7 LiF(Mg,Ti) sensitive to gamma-rays  6 LiF(Mg, Ti) sensitive to neutrons and gamma-rays

24 Results of Qi Experiment Distance measurements during 11-hour lecture. ___ Energy Conservation: 1/r 2 “Gamma-ray” data   “Neutron” data

25 Conclusions on Qi Experiment  Radiation intensities very high. Would be harmful if extended over long times.  Dosimeters are designed for longer term exposures and have about 10 mR detection limit. Reported results near lower limit. Could be measurement errors. No error estimates given.  No results presented for distance experiment control with Dr. Yan absent.  No reported replication in years between 1987 and 2002.  Qi does not show fall off with distance expected from energy conservation. Defining property of energy.

26 Analogy with Psi  Scientific searches for psychic energy (psi) over 150 years have failed.  1930s. Einstein told J.B. Rhine he would not believe in psi unless he saw “distance effect.”  Rhine could find no distance effect.  Psi does not show fall off with distance expected from energy conservation. Defining property of energy.  Neither psi nor qi appear to be forms of energy.  Both psi and qi appear to be nonexistent.

27 Summary  Energy therapies are based on the ancient notion that living matter possesses some special vital force or energy that is separate from matter.  Today this energy is mistakenly associated with electromagnetic or quantum fields.  No evidence for any special vital forces, energies, or fields has ever been found.  Modern physics has shown that energy and matter are the same thing.  Modern physics has shown that no continuous fields exist. Quantum fields are composed of particles.

28 Summary (continued)  Modern particle physics has a theory of matter and forces that successfully describes all current observations.  Living matter is composed of the same particles acted on by the same forces.  Quantum mechanics provides no basis for paranormal or holistic claims.  Modern physics remains totally materialistic and reductionist.  Reports of extraordinary claims should not be published unless the evidence is extraordinary.  Qi and psi do not have defining property of energy.

29 Victor J. Stenger

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