Friday, August 3, 2007

Introduction (continued)

What happened next set in motion events that have crippled Western science, distorted our technology, and will probably lead to our demise on this planet.
Newton, in Cambridge, was totally out of touch with the scientific thinking of the age. For instance, while the battle whether light was a particle or a wave was being fought, the general trend of consensus opinion fell on Huygens’ wave view. However, it was generally felt that even though evidence tended to support the wave view, there was absolutely nothing, in Baconian terms, that would prove it one way or the other, so it was, for all practical purposes, considered a point of view, a concept that might or might not be right.
In addition, Newton was totally insensitive to the Baconian philosophy underlying the scientific quest, that concepts were not facts and never could be accepted as fact. He proceeded to contradict both the prevailing view of light and the Baconian philosophy that dictated the scientific approach by submitting, some months after he became a member of The Royal Society as a result of his reflecting telescope, a paper that came to be known as his Theory of Light and Colors.
Nowhere is the Baconian injunction against accepting theory as fact more evident than in Newton’s paper. He had conducted experiments involving using prisms to fracture white light into the spectrum and then recombine the spectrum into white light. This convinced him that white light is made up of all the colors of the spectrum, and indeed, that is also the widespread view held today.
Here’s a man who is making pronouncements of fact on a subject he knows nothing about. For instance, it wasn’t until several centuries later that the existence of the electromagnetic spectrum was suspected, and decades longer before light was placed in its proper position within that spectrum of frequencies. Nowhere in the entire range of frequencies is there any hint that a single frequency bundles together a number of frequencies. In fact, the continuity of the electromagnetic frequency spectrum dictates that this phenomena could not happen, yet we are expected to believe that not only is one frequency, white light, a bundle of millions of frequencies that make up the colors, we are expected to believe, in a world in which life is merely a chance happening, that such a unique phenomena happens to occur at the exact frequency that our eyes evolved to see the myriad color frequencies.
This one fact gives an idea how the blind worship of a defective thinker has crippled our technology. But the fact that Newton attempted to create facts with his paper on light wouldn’t have been significant but for the events that followed and his reaction to those events, a reaction that would forever change science from a process of verifying facts to a process of creating facts.
Newton submitted his paper to the Society and sat back waiting for the accolades he had received for his reflecting telescope to come. Like his reflecting telescope, the task of review fell on Hooke. After reviewing the paper for three hours, Hooke rejected it, noting that the experiments Newton performed supported both his theory and opposing theories of light. Newton had attempted to argue that he had demonstrated his view of light to be fact when, in Hooke’s view, and indeed, in the Baconian view of science, it was nothing but words.
Newton reacted with extreme bitterness, writing the Society acidic letters justifying his position and demanding a point-by-point refutation that he could answer point-by-point. His few friends in the Society took his position, claiming that the three hours Hooke had spent with the paper wasn’t sufficient time to grasp the complex nature of the argument. Hooke, who scarcely had time for it, was caught up in a firestorm kept burning by a bitter Cambridge mathematics professor, and quite frankly, didn’t put much credence in Newton’s blustering. After several years went by and Newton’s arguments, not about light, but about what was or was not acceptable as fact, became more widely known, many famous men of the era began to take issue with Newton’s position.
While the general thinking of the day was Baconian, that theories were just theories and not facts, Newton took the novel position that his hypothesis had been tested and proven by experiment. He was blind to Hooke’s original comment that the experiments he claimed as proof for his hypothesis could also be used to claim proof for opposing hypotheses. Nothing would dissuade the cantankerous Newton, who had grown intellectually in the vacuum of the plague years and then Cambridge, depopulated by the plague years, the vain man who had, in less than a decade gone from nobody to the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, the highest mathematical post in the land, the proud man who had invented the reflecting telescope, no one could dissuade him that his thoughts, his ideas, his theories, his hypotheses, his concepts, the products of his mind, could in any way be wrong. No one could persuade him that his claims of proof were wrong. (A half century later, when he couldn’t get his mathematics dealing with Celestial Mechanics to predict the orbit of the moon, it was not his math that was in error, but rather the measurement of the orbit of the moon, the precursor of our own science where if reality doesn’t agree with theory, then it’s the reality we don’t understand, not the theory.)
Finally, under the chorus of disagreement, Newton, in 1573, sent a letter of resignation to the Society, a letter that was discreetly misdirected until Newton could be talked out of the rash action. He had never attended any of the regular meetings of the Society, and even though he grudgingly remained a member, he spent his time with his books, his vast collection of Bibles and alchemical texts, trying to find the philosophers stone and compute the exact day the Earth would end. However, political events were afoot that would provide Newton with the opportunity he needed to impose his own view of scientific process on first the Society, then the Western world.
Charles II had continued his Father’s anti Catholic practices to maintain the religious peace. However, in 1685, he died without an heir and the throne fell to his brother, James, who immediately began to return the country to Catholicism. This led to the Glorious Revolution, where James was removed in favor of his protestant daughter Mary and her husband, William of Orange. Newton, who was apolitical up until this point, decided to come out of seclusion and ran for, and secured the Cambridge seat in Parliament. How did the bitter, vain, contemptuous mathematics professor pull this off?
At Cambridge Newton made the acquaintance of Charles Montagu, who was not only a close friend of the Master of Trinity College, but also a closer friend of Newton’s attractive niece, who ran her uncle’s house. The two began a lifelong friendship based primarily on a mutual interest in alchemy. But Montagu himself was somewhat of a mathematical whiz, not so much Newton’s math, but the math of national finance, and when William of Orange set foot on British soil, Montagu was part of his greeting party, the most important part many thought, because he was destined, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, to finance William’s regency. He was also in charge of the mint, and this was the source of Newton’s patronage to become the Master of the Mint, a lifetime sinecure, if properly used, of extraordinary power.
Newton had published through The Royal Society, with the astronomer Edmund Halley’s help, the Principia, which set forth his theory of gravity. That book was an incomprehensible mishmash of ill-conceived assumptions, one of which was that the Earth and the moon were made up of the same particle uniformly distributed throughout each (the only way he could compute the relative gravity of each). This theory collapsed in the 18th century. Newton claimed he proved his theory that gravity was a property of matter by showing it was proportional to the amount of matter in the Earth and the moon. He then set out to predict the orbit of the moon using the gravity of the Earth and the moon. While it never worked out, Newton claiming it was reality that was being inaccurately measured, Newton had moved to London and set about in the drawing rooms of the influential to sell his theory lock, stock and barrel.
In the 18th century, astronomers tried to apply the theory to the planets with catastrophic results. However, instead of going back to the drawing board to try and figure out what gravity really was, astronomers, invested in Newton, simply said even though Newton didn’t demonstrate proportionality, his conclusion was correct. They then proceeded to do what they do today with Newton’s Celestial Mechanics, compute the amount of matter in a planet using its orbit. Science, which claims that it only accepts verifiable facts, here accepts a claim that can never be verified, the computation of the contents of a planet.
As a result of this deception, and it can be called nothing less, we universally believe that we not only know what gravity is, we voluntarily limit out technology on the basis of that supposed knowledge, instead of spending resources attempting to find out what gravity is so that we can manipulate it, building huge, jet driven aircraft that are limited to our air space, and gigantic rockets that go nowhere very slowly.
You don’t have to take my word for it, take AAAS’s house organ, Science magazine’s word for it. On its 125th anniversary, it listed 125 “big questions that face scientific inquiry over the next quarter-century.” Gravity wasn’t even in the top 25, but when it got around to the question, what is gravity, this is all they answered: Newton’s mass/gravity clashes with quantum theory, it doesn’t fit in the Standard Model, nobody has spotted the particle that is responsible for it and, in fact, Newton’s apple contained a whole can of worms. While we’ll be discussing science’s obsession for creating particles for effects in the first chapter, note that quantum theory and the Standard Model are recent scientific constructs, which is to say, the products of the mind, so Science magazine is saying, hey, we have a reality here that we can’t explain, but it disagrees with everything we know, so we’ll just carry on business as usual, that is, pretend we know what it is.
In London, Newton was not only interested in pushing his bogus theory, and thus his notion that his ideas could be proven to be fact, he never lost sight of his main objective, the destruction and then complete subjugation of The Royal Society in revenge for Hooke’s dismissal of his theory of light and colors. For purposes of this, his friend Montagu, financially influential, was his tool. Hooke was still running the practical affairs of the Society out of his rooms in Gresham College, but Newton had other ideas about the funding of the Society itself, and thus its viability. Dependent on patronage, when Montagu took over as Exchequer in 1692, he was able to pull all patronage away from the Society, With the Society nothing but a shell, Sir Robert Southwell left the presidency in 1995, leaving it open for none other than Montagu, who sat on it for three years before turning it over to his proxy, Sir Hans Sloane. The reason Newton didn’t assume the office was Hooke. Newton knew that Hooke was sickly and didn’t have long to live. He had no intention of forcing any kind of confrontation with the man that had kept him into a bitter rage for decades.
When Hooke finally died in 1703, Newton immediately assumed control of the Society and didn’t loosen his reigns for a quarter century, and then only by death. His first acts as President were to remove any likeness of Hooke and to have the Society publish his theory of light and colors. The reason why science today recognizes Bacon as the author of the scientific method, but doesn’t recognize Bacon’s thinking on the subject, is because Newton, in his quarter century at the helm of the Society obliterated that thinking in favor of his own.
Instead of nothing in words, science’s motto has become everything in words, damn the facts.
(To be continued next entry)

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