The “Particles in Void” Framework

ReferenceA Logical Approach to Theoretical Physics

Here is an interesting commentary on the logical framework of physics 1.

Several early Greek philosophers, including Democritus, imagined the universe as consisting of a multitude of irreducible particles moving in an empty void. On the other hand, Aristotle (c. 350 BC) denied the existence of a “void” (a region of space containing no substance), believing instead that the universe is filled continuously with substance… From this point of view it’s possible for a continuous substance to possess variable density, so the compressibility of air does not imply the existence of empty spaces.

The modern physics is based on the “particles in void” framework. It does not believe that the universe is filled continuously with substance.

“Particles” represent isolated bits of matter that are separated by void. Therefore, there is no continuity among the particles. They are never directly in contact.

Particles have properties that we may perceive. But void is perceived only as a gap among particles. Void has no properties of its own that may be perceived.

There is nothing that continues across the boundary between a particle and void except for geometry. The measures of geometry exist even when there is no substance to measure. Therefore, any possibility of continuum of substance is replaced by geometry in the “particles in void” framework.

Common to particles and void is the mathematical abstraction of geometry.

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Geometry

Astronomy considers stars and planets as point particles in the sky separated by vast distances. The obvious relationship among them is provided by Geometry. The other consideration is the motion of the moon around the earth, and planets around the sun, which requires the presence of some kind of force between them.

The success of Newton’s universal law of gravity raised the importance of geometry and mathematics, and established “particles in void” as the logical framework of physics. But with this framework arose the problem of “action at a distance”. It required the presence of some mechanism in the void.

This revived the concept of aether as the substance, which permeated the void. Newton wrote 2,

A most subtle spirit which pervades all bodies…by the force and action of which spirit the particles of bodies mutually attract one another, at near distances, and cohere, if contiguous; and electric bodies operate at greater distances, as well repelling as attracting the neighbouring corpuscles; and light is emitted, reflected, refracted, inflected and heats bodies; and all sensation is excited, and the members of animal bodies move at the command of the will, namely, by the vibrations of this spirit, mutually propagated along the solid filaments of the nerves, from the outward organs of sense to the brain, and from the brain into the muscles.

But the possibility of aether and its actual nature was yet to be corroborated with reality.

Geometry alone could not explain how force got communicated across the void. It then led to the postulate of aether as a substance permeating the void.

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Electricity and Magnetism

The phenomena of electricity and magnetism were being studied extensively during the 18th and 19th centuries. During this period the atomic theory was being used to explain the chemical structure of matter. The phenomena of electricity and magnetism seemed to explain how force was communicated through the void between atoms.

From his experimental investigation into electricity and magnetism, Faraday formed the view 3 that an atom is not a supposed little hard particle separate from the powers around it. An atom is constituted of the powers it has, and it extends as far as its powers extend.

… where is there the least ground (except in a gratuitous assumption) for imagining a difference in kind between the nature of that space midway between the centres of two contiguous atoms and any other spot between these centres? a difference in degree, or even in the nature of the power consistent with the law of continuity, I can admit, but the difference between a supposed little hard particle and the powers around it I cannot imagine…

Hence matter will be continuous throughout, and in considering a mass of it we have not to suppose a distinction between its atoms and any intervening space. The powers around the centres give these centres the properties of atoms of matter; and these powers again, when many centres by their conjoint forces are grouped into a mass, give to every part of that mass the properties of matter. In such a view all the contradiction resulting from the consideration of electric insulation and conduction disappears.

Thus, in matter the atoms touch each other and there is no void among them.

But is there a similar situation with the bodies in the heavens? Do these bodies touch each other with their power of gravity that is extended as aether?

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Light and Gravity

The phenomena of light and gravity were studied extensively by Newton himself in the 17th century. This study was carried forward in 18th and 19th centuries, but no connection was ever made between light and gravity.

Faraday, however, stated the following 4:

The view which I am so bold to put forth considers, therefore, radiation as a kind of species of vibration in the lines of force which are known to connect particles and also masses of matter together. It endeavors to dismiss the aether, but not the vibration …

The aether is assumed as pervading all bodies as well as space: in the view now set forth, it is the forces of the atomic centres which pervade (and make) all bodies, and also penetrate all space. As regards space, the difference is, that the aether presents successive parts of centres of action, and the present supposition only lines of action; as regards matter, the difference is, that the aether lies between the particles and so carries on the vibrations, whilst as respects the supposition, it is by the lines of force between the centres of the particles that the vibration is continued.

According to Faraday, there was no separate substance, such as, aether. Matter itself extended as lines of force filling all space between the material bodies. Radiation was the vibrations in these lines of force.

Faraday looked at radiation, such as, light, to be the extension that carried the force of matter.

In short, the idea of “void” was unsustainable. First, the theoretical concept of “aether”, and then, a more realistic idea of “force carrying radiation” were simply the attempts to discover the nature of “space”, which was thought to be void of matter.

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1Continuity and the Void” by Kevin Brown
2Newton’s Principia” (1686) Translation by Andrew Motte, American edition of 1846, p. 26
3 A speculation touching Electrical Conduction and the Nature of Matter” by Michael Faraday (1844), Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science, Vol. XXIV, p. 136
4 Thoughts on Ray Vibrations”, Lecture by Michael Faraday (1846),  Experimental Researches in Electricity, Vol III, M. Faraday, p447-452

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Meditation 103: Reaction to People

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

After doing the two earlier exercises you may find that your mind is gradually growing calmer, especially when you are alone. That calm, however, may go away when there are people around. The following exercise is designed to handle reactions that are triggered by the presence of another person.

Meditation Exercise 3:

Confronting another person

Purpose:

To train the student to be there comfortably in front of another person. The idea is to get the student able to BE there comfortably in a position three feet in front of another person, to BE there and not do anything else but BE there.

Pre-requisites:

Complete the exercise in Chapter 6: Meditation 102: Reactions

Instructions:

Have the student sit in front of another person, a comfortable distance apart—about three feet. The other person may also be a student of meditation. Let them sit facing each other with eyes closed, and start meditating per the exercise in Chapter 6. Both students handle any reactions and mental chattering as per the previous exercise. There is no conversation. This is a silent drill. There should be nothing added to BE there.

As the students feel comfortable being there with eyes closed, they may half open their eyes.  They may do so individually only when they feel comfortable. As the presence of the other person comes into view, some new reactions may be triggered. The students continue with the exercise as before to discharge the reactions.

As the students feel comfortable being there with eyes half-open, they may fully open their eyes individually as they feel comfortable.
Soon both students shall be looking at each other. The gaze should be directed at the other person’s face and eyes. This may trigger new reactions. The students handle these reactions with mindfulness as before.

Neither student should be making any conversation or effort to be interesting. They should sit and look at each other and say or do nothing for some hours (if possible). The students must not speak, blink fidget, giggle or be embarrassed or go unconscious. Any such reaction should be fully run out. The exercise should continue while a reaction is occurring until it is fully run out.

Thoughts may get triggered on this exercise, which, even when trivial, makes the student feel ashamed about himself. The student must clean up such baggage by facing such thoughts (and imagined situations) until all mental and physical reactions run out fully. He must be comfortable with himself before he can be comfortable with others.

It will found that the students may confront WITH a body part, or use a system, such as, an attitude to confront, rather than just BE there. The whole action is to accustom a person to BEING THERE three feet in front of another person without apologizing or moving or being startled or embarrassed or defending self.

This exercise may take many sessions if done in 20 minute sessions. The benefits are much greater when sessions are much longer.

NOTE: The two students do not have to be the same every time. They may be kept the same if that is convenient.

End of Exercise:

When major reactions are discharged, and the student’s find that they can just BE there comfortably in a position three feet in front of another person, then this exercise is passed.

NOTE 1: At any point you may return to a previous exercise if you feel that you need to complete it.

NOTE 2: This exercise is inspired by a similar exercise developed by Hubbard in Scientology 1.

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1 HCO Bulletin of 16 August 1971, Issue II, TRAINING DRILLS MODERNIZED.

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Meditation 102: Reactions

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

Meditation Exercise 2:

Settling the mind.

Purpose:

To train the student to BE there letting the mind settle down. The idea is to get the student to BE there and not do anything else but BE there.

Pre-requisites:

Complete the exercise in Chapter 4: Meditation 101: Posture

Study Chapter 5: Settling the Mind Down

Instructions:

Start as per the exercise in Chapter 4. Start by observing your breathing while also being aware of all the commotion going on in the mind.

Breathing acts as a stabilizing point as you face the commotion in the mind.

If you feel drowsy, simply experience the whole cycle of the body falling asleep and eventually waking up. Make sure your posture is stable enough so the body does not slump during sleep. When it wakes up, continue as before.

To fully perceive drowsiness, you must experience it without resisting.

At the beginning stages of meditation you run out all kinds of reactions. You do this by fully perceiving and experiencing them without avoiding, resisting, denying or suppressing.

Fully perceive and experience all reactions in meditation without interfering with them.

If there is an unexplained ache or pain in some body part, or there is intense emotion, or even convulsion, confront it patiently with mindfulness. Sooner or later the reaction will discharge and vanish.

A reaction, when confronted patiently, discharges and vanishes.

If you find your mind chattering, realize that there is missing information that is suppressed. Do not dive into the mind to find that information. Simply experience the stress that is causing the chatter. Let the mind relax and unwind, and let any suppressed information come up by itself.  

As the mind unwinds and lets the past suppressed painful information through, the mental chatter also subsides.

As suppression comes off the mind there are naturally going to be realizations. Do not force any realizations. You simply BE there and not do anything else but BE there.

Continue this exercise for at least 20 minute. You may continue for longer if it is going well.

If, all of a sudden, there is a big realization that makes you very happy, you may end the session immediately and enjoy your win.

You may repeat this exercise as often as you wish.

End of Exercise:

When major reactions are discharged, and you find that your mind stays stably settled even outside the exercise, then this exercise is passed.

NOTE: At any point you may return to a previous exercise if you feel that you need to complete it.

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Settling the Mind Down

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

As stated earlier, the first step in meditation is to stop interfering with the mind so that all turmoil may settle down into a quiet state. It is like stop stirring the water to let the mud settle down. This is an interesting step to carry out because it is amazingly difficult to not do anything that interferes with the mind.

When you sit down to meditate you become acutely aware of the turmoil going on in the mind. Some may not acknowledge it but confusion about something is always there. There is nothing to distract you from it unless you flat out deny it. In meditation, you are not supposed to avoid, resist, deny or suppress. You have to face that confusion head on. How do you face it?

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Breathing

To handle any confusion you first need a stable datum. That stable datum used in meditation is breathing.

You start by observing your breathing while also being aware of all the commotion going on in the mind. Breathing should be used as a stabilizing factor rather than a distraction. If attention gets lost during meditation, then you simply bring it back to your breathing and continue to observe the mind without interfering. The idea is to BE there and not do anything else but BE there. Breathing should stay natural during this process.

Breathing acts as a stabilizing point as you face the commotion in the mind.

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Reactions

As you stay aware of the confusion in the mind from the stable point of breathing, the commotion starts to settle down. But this settling down process is full of reactions, such as, tiredness, boredom, drowsiness, etc. How do you handle these reactions?

For example, suppose you start to feel drowsy. If you fight it then you’ll be interfering with the mind and stirring it up. All you can do is let that condition pass and run itself out. The body may fall asleep, but it would eventually wake up. You simply experience the whole cycle of falling asleep and waking up. Once this reaction is out of system, you will feel more alert than when you started the meditation.

To fully perceive drowsiness, you must experience it without resisting.

Some may feel that if you fall asleep you are not meditating. Well, at the first step of meditation you are settling the mind down. The real meditation starts on the second step (see Introduction to Meditation).

Part of settling the mind is running out all reactions. You do this by fully perceiving and experiencing the reactions without avoiding, resisting, denying or suppressing them.

Fully perceive and experience all reactions in meditation without interfering with them.

This is mindfulness in meditation. It applies to all reactions and not just to sleep.

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Mental Chatter

When your mind is chattering away, it is trying to put some information together. It cannot, however, do so because it is missing a part of that information. This information is, most likely, suppressed being painful, and the mind is not stable enough to face it.

But, as the mind runs out the various reactions, as described in the previous section, it settles down and becomes more stable. It feels strong enough to let the painful information emerge out in the open.  This is the past suppression unwinding at last. This is nearing the end of the first stage of meditation.

As the mind unwinds and lets the past suppressed painful information through, the mental chatter also subsides.

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Summary

Meditation is the subject of confronting the painful contents of one’s mind and facing all confusions. Many good pointers on this subject may be found in the writings of Hubbard.

Hubbard based his philosophy of Scientology on Buddhism. He says 1.

Amazing reactions occur when conscious effort is made to do this. Dullness, perception trouble, fogginess, sleep and even pains, emotions and convulsions can occur when one knowingly sets out to BE THERE AND COMFORTABLY PERCEIVE with the various parts of a subject.

These reactions discharge and vanish as one perseveres (continues) and at last, sometimes soon, sometimes after a long while, one can be there and perceive the component.

A reaction, when confronted patiently, discharges and vanishes.

Hubbard goes on to warn in the same bulletin 1:

People have mental tricks they use to get around actual confronting—to be disinterested, to realize it’s not important, to be sort of half dead, etc.—but these discharge (run out) as well eventually and at last they can just be there and comfortably perceive.

We see this in people, who are running away from life, instead of living it. The same mindset shows up in meditation.

The solution is to practice mindfulness both in meditation and in life.

It is just letting the mud settle down. You may practice mindfulness even between the meditation sessions.

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1HCO Bulletin of 2 June 1971, Issue I, CONFRONTING

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Meditation 101: Posture

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

Meditation Exercise 1:

Meditative posture

Purpose:

To train the student to BE there comfortably settled in a meditative posture. The idea is to get the student to BE there and not do anything else but BE there.

Pre-requisite:

Study Chapter 3: Posture in Meditation

Instructions:

Find a quiet location to meditate, where you may be undisturbed for at least half an hour. Sit down in a posture per the reference above.

The meditative posture must stably maintain itself besides being natural and comfortable. It is important that the body be stably erect, and the mind alert in the mindfulness mode.

Use cushions as necessary. Prepare for a meditation session of at least twenty minutes. Set an alarm to indicate the end of session.

Adjust the posture till the body is comfortable. Take the time necessary to settle down. Once settled, keep the body immobile.

The first thing to observe is the natural process of breathing.

Look at breathing as it is naturally. Observe the impulses that make the breath to go in and out. Experience the long and short breaths as they are occurring by themselves.

Do not attempt to regulate the breathing.

When you start to meditate the body relaxes. This may give rise to minor physical reactions, such as, swallows, twitches, aches, etc.

Do not interfere with any reactions. Let them occur as they may.

Thoughts about daily activity and recent events may start to crowd the mind.

Do not avoid, resist, deny, or suppress any thoughts. Let them come and go as they may.

Meditation is being there, and seeing things as they are.

The idea is to BE there and not do anything else but BE there.

Continue this exercise for 20 minutes. You may repeat this exercise as many times as you wish until you are fully satisfied with your meditative posture.

End of Exercise:

When you can BE there comfortably and PERCEIVE without your attention going to the posture, the exercise is passed.

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