New Paradigm Galaxy Project
Part I. "Time for the death of the death of science." For the New Paradigm show this week the Basement is launching a new class series on mankind's destiny as a galactic species. The opening class (Wednesday, October 28) will provide an introduction to the Galaxy as mankind's next scientific frontier, situated from the standpoint of Vladimir Vernadsky and Lyndon LaRouche. Successive classes with be released every other week, delving deeper into the Galactic frontier. For further background, see "Towards a Galactic Science Driver" by Ben Deniston.
Transcript- BENJAMIN DENISTON: All right. I'm glad to be here today in front of a live audience for a bit of a new format for our New Paradigm Show on the LaRouche PAC website. This is the beginning of a small class series that we wanted to organize to specifically get into the subject of what we've called, maybe, the Galactic Project, or the Galactic Science Driver Program. This is an introductory class, and there will probably be a series of 5 to 8 classes, delving into various aspects of this Galaxy Project, that the LaRouche PAC Basement has tackled as a new program.
Given the nature of this event, I thought it might be a useful opportunity to just to kind of restate very briefly, re-situate, I'm a part of what the LaRouche PAC Science Team, or as Mr. LaRouche has named us, The Basement Project, what the intention of this program is. And it's a scientific program. It's part of a scientific research team. But very specifically rooted in attempting to revive, and re-develop, and carry forward, a very specific current of science—a very specific current of real physical science, rooted in the Renaissance. You can go back farther, but much of our focused work has been the rooting in the Classic Golden Renaissance in Italy — the development of a real modern science, centered around the work of Cusa, and his followers through Kepler, and on through followers of this specific school of scientific thought, which has been largely lost in the recent century.
What we've taken on here, is the prospect of looking at the Galactic System as a next stage in through the scientific frontiers for mankind, continuing in this specific tradition of real physical science as it was developed. And as I'm going to get into, especially in this introductory class, you could say, it's about science the way people think about it, but it's also about what mankind is. What is mankind's place in the Universe? What is mankind's nature and role in the Universe? And that was very clearly understood in the Renaissance. There was a very clear unified concept underlying the real development of science as it's occurred, and it's really been lost in science today. So when we look at this question of mankind going to the Galaxy as a new level of science, we're also talking about a new level for mankind, a new stage for mankind as a species.
This is something that Mr. LaRouche has kind of defined as a Frontier Project to really get into this issue of the Galaxy. He has pointed to Johannes Kepler as a critical reference point, as Kepler had really, kind of in a certain sense, demonstrated the validity of this Renaissance conception of man, and carried forward the demonstration, the founding of modern science, in his discovery of the Solar System, as a single organized system, accessible uniquely to the mind of man, the way Kepler was able to demonstrate that.
In that same tradition, today we look to the Galaxy. Now we look to the Galaxy as the next frontier for mankind. We could say, in a real sense, and hope to end with a focus on this, we're looking at mankind, the prospect of mankind becoming a galactic species. Now when I say that, just in honor, or maybe in dishonor, of the new Star Wars movie that's coming out soon, most people have seen the advertisements of the latest episode in the Star Wars Sci-Fi saga, that's going to be coming out this winter, I guess. A good opportunity to emphasize, when we say mankind is a galactic species, we're not talking about the pop-science, sci-fi conception of jumping in your spaceship and hopping around to different parts of the Galaxy, and that's a galactic species is when we travel to different parts of Galaxy, we enter the Galaxy, or something.
That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about something much more profound, really, in the way mankind, you could say, enters the Galaxy, or becomes a galactic species, is not a question of where we physically place people, or where we physically place objects. It's a question of where is mankind in a uniquely human mental creative way, with respect to the nature of organization of the Universe as a whole. That's what we're talking about. How is it that mankind can rise to exist in the Universe from the standpoint of certain higher order processes, in a way that no animal species ever could, and understand that really is a sacred process? In this real understanding of science, we're re-defining our understanding of the Universe, with these types of revolutionary breakthroughs; but we're also re-defining our existence in the Universe at the same time.
That's going to be kind of the concluding point of the introduction today, and kind of the guiding theme through this series is we're not just talking about finding some new law that describes some part of the Galaxy, or something; but we're talking about how do we raise mankind to a fundamental new level of existence in the Universe from the standpoint of a galactic principle, a galactic level of existence for mankind, as I would put it.
People might be familiar, if they're followers of our website, of the LaRouche PAC activity. We've discussed this, maybe just to give an opening example, we've discussed the issue of water from this standpoint. I think it's a very useful example, just to get thinking in the proper framework, the proper conception. There's much talk of a water crisis going on, California, the West Coast of the United States, other parts of the world. There's a lot of discussion about the lack of water supplies needed to sustain human activity. Well, as we've shown in some of our work, first of all, it's a pretty ridiculous claim. There's plenty out there, but, aside from Malthusian fools like Jerry Brown, who just don't want the water supply, because they don't want population growth. They don't want the level of population they have. Aside from that genocidal ideology, there's just a real lack of understanding of what mankind could be doing to develop the resources we need. With water, in particular, there's a lot of options out there. There's desalination—gives you certain capabilities. There's ways to redirect and re-transfer water from certain places of the Continent to other places. Those are options.
But as we've discussed and presented on LaRouche PAC website, there's also another avenue that actually takes us to a higher perspective, which is understanding how our Solar System is actually a subsumed component of our larger Galactic System, and that the water cycle, as we currently depend upon it, the water cycle as it exists on the Earth, is, in large part, heavily influenced and controlled by effects from our Galaxy, that specifically, the atmospheric flows of water vapor throughout the world, behavior of how water vapor behaves in the atmosphere, the conditions that cause it to fall as rain, to precipitate, are largely influenced and controlled by radiation effects from our Galaxy, by what is called, galactic cosmic radiation.
We've been learning in recent years and decades that this is actually a critical factor in determining how water behaves, and also how climate behaves. We'll get into some of this a little bit later, but this is a new insight into how radiation effects, energetic effects, not coming from our Earth, not coming from our Sun, our Solar System, but coming from the subsuming environment of our Galaxy, actually play an active real-time day-to-day role in effecting how something as simple and seemingly Earth-centered as water, your local water supply, how they play an active role in determining that.
What does that mean for mankind? That means that we have a potential to control these processes and influence the water cycle in a completely new way. And again, I would just direct people to the work we have done on this, on technologies being developed, that have been demonstrated, that can be used to manage atmospheric water flows, by tapping into the same types of processes that effect atmospheric water vapor that we get from our galactic system. So, one example of the type of thing we're talking about, with a greater understanding of the fact that mankind doesn't just live on some isolated planet by ourselves, not even in an isolated Solar System, but the activity on our planet, in our Solar System, is intimately connected to, and related to, these larger scale galactic processes, larger scale galactic system, which contains us. And water being an example, when we develop these higher insights, as mankind, that gives us a greater capability to act, a greater capability to increase our potential as a species on this planet.
That's the type of integral connection between mankind's scientific understanding of the Universe and mankind's ability to change the nature of his existence, even on earth, but from the standpoint of these higher order principles, these higher order processes, which we can uniquely discover, and then act upon. Just one example of some of the work that's actually led into the development of this Galaxy Project, this science-driver program.
But it's a much broader question, and it goes to, I think, some very fundamental areas of science. So we're going to get into this in this series of various series of classes, but today I want to focus kind of more on the method of approach, going into this class series, this whole project. And in preparing for this and discussing this through with the Basement, and various people, it really brought back to mind, in particular, a series of discussions that we had had with Mr. LaRouche a little over a year ago, in the summer of 2014.
In particular, we were talking about the role of Vladimir Vernadsky, this leading Russian scientist, contemporary of Einstein—the role of Vernadsky, specifically situated in this longer arc of the development of modern science. And Mr. LaRouche had defined, what he had called, his triad conception of the development of science. He had said, if we want to look at where we need to go with science today, look at the initiation of science with the modern scientific era, of modern science with the work of Cusa, Brunelleschi, and then carried through with the work of Kepler. If you'd take these 3 individuals, this triad of scientific thinkers, you'd define a certain initiation of modern science. And he had defined a kind of bookend concluding triad, or a more recent triad, of scientific thinkers, that exemplified the farthest we've gone in development of modern scientific thought, specifically, Max Planck, Albert Einstein, and Vladimir Vernadsky.
So we talked about looking at the development of modern science, book-ended by these two triads of thinkers. And in particular, I thought his reference to the role Vernadsky played in that process to be very interesting and useful for this current project, and I wanted to just highlight one quote from that particular discussion with Mr. LaRouche at the time; and then really unfold this and how this plays into the current Galaxy Project, as I've been looking at it. Mr. LaRouche said:
"You have to look at Vernadsky in parallel with the previous triad."
Again this early grouping of 3 scientific thinkers, Cusa, Brunelleschi, and Kepler. So you have to look at Vernadsky in parallel with this previous triad.
"Kepler had discovered the Solar System, but the Solar System is not the concept of systems. Kepler had solved a problem, but he does not solve the problem. The idea of the Solar System was not a concept of systems, and what you get with Vernadsky's work is the systems. We don't really get systems as such, with Vernadsky, but you get the implications of systems. In other words, you can project from Vernadsky, you can go to the idea of a general principle of systems. And that is what I wanted to concentrate on. In other words, it seems on first pass, you say, oh, how nice, Vernadsky has produced something which fits everything required for a new system. But, you say, wait a minute. This is not just a new system. This is a model for systems. This is the standard you use for trying to find new evidence, which will tell you what the key is for the higher order systems."
So I thought this was a rather kind of provocative conception Lyn had put forward, and coming right out of that quote in particular, and part of the context of our discussions with him at the time, was his idea of looking at the Universe, these larger astronomical processes, as a nesting of successively higher ordered systems, and what can we take from Vernadsky's approach, and where Vernadsky had taken scientific thought, scientific investigations, as a more generalized investigation of systems of processes, and how can we apply that and use that insight into approaching some of these new questions about the Solar System, the relation of the Solar System to the Galactic System.
In particular, LaRouche, we were discussing the Earth being a subsumed part of the Solar System as a whole. The Solar System being nested within, subsumed by, this larger process of the Galaxy, as a system. And then even going to higher order, which we won't quite get into today, but various aspects of super-galactic structures, on the scales of maybe tens of galaxies to even much larger scales, and looking for principles of organization and development, even on these much larger scales.
But really, what I took out of this quote from our discussions with Mr. LaRouche at the time, and my understanding of Vernadsky's work, is really an ability to begin to look at studying systems generally, in really a non-reductionist fashion. Vernadsky really did this in a clear initial way in his work on the biosphere, and that's what he's kind of most famous for, what he's known for, as the originator of the conception of the biosphere. He was fascinated with the distinction of life from non-life. He was fascinated with a lot of things. The guy was amazing thinker. He covered an immense area of different fields, different sciences, fields he created. Especially towards the end of the life, he was very fascinated with life, the qualitative infinite distinction of life from non-life, and how do you understand that and demonstrate that and better understand life. And he came very clearly to his conception of the biosphere—his idea that you can't just study single individual organisms themselves. That can be done. You can find some useful things in doing that.
But if you really want to get at the principle of how life is expressed on the planet Earth, the distinction of life from non-life as expressed on Earth, you really have to go beyond just looking at individual organisms. He had famously said, you can't separate and abstract an organism from the biosphere as a whole. It doesn't exist in isolation. It exists as a singularity, a component, a part, of the biosphere that sustains it, that it contributes to sustain and that feeds back to sustaining it. So you have to look at, I mean it's very clear, even his very opening pages of his book, The Biosphere, his seminal work on this subject. He explicitly starts out defining what we would call a non-reductionist approach to this, saying we're going to investigate the biospheric system as a whole, as a single harmonious process, a single harmonious mechanism, the terms he uses, without assuming that we can just explain it away, just from the component interactions in the small, or something to that effect.
What I see Mr. LaRouche referring to, in terms of Vernadsky's work, is really the beginnings, a real breakthrough demonstration, how to study this type of larger organized process, organized system, as a system, as a single process, as an entirety, and not just a collection of parts, studying in a real anti-entropic way. This becomes even clearer and where we start to get into some stuff that puts a very interesting perspective on the astronomy work, the investigation of the Galaxy, these larger scale systems, is when you look at Vernadsky's scientific insights into evolution, into the process of change of the biosphere, the development of the biosphere. In particular, what Vernadsky defines as his, what he calls his, Second Biogeochemical Principle. I'll just read this quote very briefly. He says:
"This Biogeochemical Principle, which I will call the Second Biogeochemical Principle, can be formulated thus: The evolution of species, leading to the creation of new, stable, living forms, must move in the direction of an increasing of the biogenic migration of atoms in the biosphere"
And he goes on to say:
"This Second Biogeochemical Principle indicates, in my opinion, with an infallible logic, the existence of a determined direction in the sense of how the processes of evolution must take place."
Now this was the mid-1920s. Studies of the fossil record were relatively young at the time, and we certainly have a much better understanding of the evolution of different forms of life, nearly a century later. But even at this early time, he was able to develop this clear insight into, not just the biosphere as a process itself acted at any one time, but what are certain governing characteristics of how the biosphere has changed, developed, over time, as a developing system. And his conception, of what he calls the biogenic migration of atoms, is kind of a key concept that he developed for investigating life, the activity of life, on the planet. Just break the term down, biogenic migration of atoms, how biological processes, living processes, move the chemical elements around the surface of the Earth. A metric of how life, living processes, living organisms, in particular, reshape and reorganize this medium of the surface of the Earth, create in the biosphere, creating forms of life.
So he often spoke in these terms, and examined, really the biosphere as a state of organization of the geochemical medium, the Earth's crust, so to speak. So he would investigate this from the standpoint of how much is life, living organisms, transforming, acting on the surface of the planet. And his insight into evolution, the development of life, the development of the biosphere over time, is that this process must increase, that how, as he says, how evolution must necessarily take place, is intimately tied to and governed by this increase in the rate of activity of life.
This has been, I would say, confirmed a number of ways in more recent studies, nearly a century later, and we see very clearly various indications that this is the principle of evolution. This is the principle of the development of life, this increasing rate of activity, this increasing biogenic migration of atoms, that living species that come to replace earlier species, new types of life that emerge, are characteristically of a higher rate of activity, higher rate of biogenic migration of atoms, to use Vernadsky's term, than earlier forms of life. It's a whole huge subject in and of itself, but a lot of the more recent work is completely consistent with the thesis, the idea that Vernadsky developed earlier.
I think we could just as well use another term, which is energy-flux density, a conception, a term that Mr. LaRouche had developed specifically in his study of another type of system, another process, human economic processes. Energy-flux density, again just breaking down the terms, energy flow through a surface or a volume, the density and the rate of the flow of energy, the transformation of energy, has intimate connection to Vernadsky's idea of the biogenic migration of atoms. They're really very closely connected ideas. And in some of the work we've done in the Basement, you can really study this increasing, this evolutionary direction of life, you can study it very clearly with these metrics of energy-flux density. You're really looking at evolution of life being governed and driven by this process of increasing energy-flux density
That's a few elements. A key to getting insight into the characteristics that we can derive and define from earlier Vernadskyan anti-reductionist approach to the conception of this idea of systems, or maybe, what we want to define a little bit more precisely is, how do we study anti-entropic developing processes? As Vernadsky had kind of laid in initial groundwork for studying the biosphere, and the development of biosphere, over time, as really, a characteristic anti-entropic developing process.
We see a very similar thing if we look at human, if we look at another type of process, another principle, another activity, human activity, human economic activity. I'm going to come back to that later. The work of Vernadsky and his work on the biosphere, the work he started to do on evolution, then also his work he started to do on the study of human life, as distinct from animal life. What he had defined as the noösphere, the domain of human activity, it's a very similar thing. You have an investigation of some larger scale process of organization, process of development, which you want to understand as a process as a whole, and what are its characteristics. What can we define as the internal metrics which tell you about that thing as a system, without assuming we can just completely explain it away by kind of reductionist methods.
This is where Mr. LaRouche's work really comes in on a higher level, in terms of studying specifically, human processes, human economic processes. But in general, going back to this quote from Mr. LaRouche, his emphasis on the importance of Vernadsky's work, adds a very unique and important perspective, for looking towards this Galactic Science-Driver Program. And as we discussed with Mr. LaRouche at the time, this can, in general, one thing we want to look at, is how to think about applying this framework, this framework of thought, this kind of Vernadskyan-LaRouche approach to defining, studying, understanding, the development of anti-entropic systems. Taking that as a basis of work to think about generalizing to these larger scale astronomical processes. That was part of the discussion that I quoted from earlier with Mr. LaRouche at the time.
Now we're today looking at again the existence of the Earth within the Solar System, as a process, the Solar System within the Galaxy. But what are these things? People just think of a collection of objects. The Solar System, you get the picture in your textbook. It's the big ball with the Sun. They put the planets with the circles drawn out right next to each other, exactly as you would see it in real life. You get this kind of sense perceptual picture of this thing, this set of bodies, but what is the process underlying that? What is it as a process of change? What is it as a process of development?
I think there's a lot to pull from the method used by Vernadsky and Lyn in studying life, in studying human economic processes, to start to look at other aspects of these higher order systems from a similar standpoint. Don't just see it as a collection of objects. Where did it come from? Where is it going? What are the governing characteristics of it as a process of change, as a process of development? How is it then situated within the next higher order system? This is kind of an introduction, some new thoughts. A lot can be done on this. You won't apply it the exact same way, but in general, we could approach the idea of what is our Solar System, and we get very similar expressions, very similar characteristics.
To the best of our knowledge, our Solar System came from something like this. It's a very nice image. We always thank NASA for the nice images of the Universe that we've gotten from them. This is an image of a giant molecular cloud—very exciting descriptive name, I know. Giant, it's big. Molecular, it's got a bunch of molecules in it. It's kind of like a cloud. But the Galaxy's filled with these things. Our Galaxy, other Galaxies, you get these giant kind of cloud structures of gas and dust. And in these, you can kind of see in some of these zoomed out images, in these we see what, as far to our present knowledge tells us, are the initial processes of new stars forming, of new stellar systems, new planetary systems around new stars forming.
Hopefully, the US can get its financing act together and finally put the James Webb telescope as the successor to Hubble, and we'll be getting some even nicer images of these things. But we can actually peer into the very early stages of something pretty remarkable, some large, relatively homogeneous, relatively unstructured, cloud of gas and dust, mostly hydrogen, and some helium, then kind of a sprinkling of other stuff, as kind of a raw material, a basis, transforming into something like s Solar System, highly organized, highly differentiated, highly structured, going from a fundamentally lower state of organization, to a much higher state of organization. New types of physical chemistry, new types of processes, occurring. You have the potential to get a much greater dimension of physical chemistry, of types of minerals, types of molecular structures. You even get the development of the periodic table out of these processes. To our present knowledge, the reason why we have a whole periodic table to work with, all the chemical elements we have to work with, is because of the types of processes associated with the life cycle and the development.
Again, what I'd argue, is a type of anti-entropic process associated with a stellar system, a stellar process. This is a technical term, stellar nucleosynthesis, the idea that the heavy elements that we have, have been produced by the fusion reactions occurring in stars, taking initially, mostly hydrogen, some helium, maybe a little bit of lithium, and then developing a whole periodic table out of that. Early creating the whole periodic table as we now have it to work with, out of these types of processes.
Some people have also done some interesting studies indicating that, even over the life cycle of a single star, again, assuming we have a decent understanding of a life cycle of a star, it's characterized by a similar idea of increasing energy-flux density, that if you measure the energy per, in this case, mass per time, that as stars go through the life cycle, they go through a process characterized by increasing energy-flux density, as they work through building us a nice periodic table out of some basic raw materials.
The type of direction that I think we'd want to go in terms of continuing a Vernadsky and LaRouche approach to studying these larger scale systems into really what should be a new era of science. In modern science today these are all attempted to be just explained away as a consequence of a certain set of fixed laws, a certain fixed set of properties of interactions. But what's completely ignored is the kind of approach that Vernadsky took to studying the biosphere. What is a system as a whole? What is it doing? Where does it come from? Where is it going? Without assuming that we can reduce everything down, what is this thing as a process of development of change? And how do we begin to think about it from that standpoint? And how do we understand what's the principle governing it from that standpoint? And where do we go from here? We're part of this Solar System. We're in the middle of a process of development of change existent within our current Solar System, but that is, obviously we know, not the end. We're part of this larger galactic system. We're part of this larger galactic process, which, I think, we want to investigate from a similar standpoint. What is a Galaxy as a process of change from lower organization to higher organization, as an anti-entropic process of development, of change, something that subsumes the Solar System.
And I think what we are going to try to get into in some of these classes, plenty of good indications that it also subsumes science and physics and our current level of science, as we now understand it, with the prospect of something even more fundamental, even more, you could say, deeper into the fundamental organization of the Universe, perhaps—potentially of the type of scale, the type of shift, that we went through in what Einstein realized with energy, E=mc², that energy and matter are a product of the same thing. That space and time are actually interconnected as a single process. We went through a complete revolution in our fundamental understanding of how the Universe is organized. Some of our most basic conceptions were overturned.
A lot of that is tied to phenomenon, processes, activities, we see associated with, I would say, a stellar scale process, processes associated with stars, stellar activity. When we try and investigate galaxies and galactic systems, we immediately run into a whole array of anomalies, of problems, where if we try and extrapolate our current level of science, as we've defined it so far, as I would posit the hypothesis, maybe we'd call the stellar level era, or stellar platform, for science, and we'd fall short. We can't explain some of the most basic properties about how galaxies work by trying to extrapolate our current level of science, our current understanding of physics, to this larger scale. Again, this is going to be taken up in more details in the coming classes.
People might be familiar with all the talk of dark matter, just to give one basic very initial teaser. To the best we can measure the way galaxies rotate, looking at other galaxies, some degree our own galaxy, we can't account for how they rotate, how they operate. What we see, this is a mapping of, in particular, the orbital speed of different stars, of any star, as you move further and further away from the center of the galaxy. And based on our understanding of how much mass, how much matter, exists in different volumes of this galaxy, we would expect stars to orbit at a certain speed; and that's based on applying our understanding of gravitation, as we understand it in our Solar System, and applying it to a galactic scale. But what we see is that stars, gas, dust, in the galaxy, especially when you get to the outer regions, orbits at a much faster speed than we can even explain. And this is the basis for a hypothesis that there's something called dark matter out there, that we haven't been able to detect yet, but that's adding an extra gravitational effect, adding extra mass to act on the objects of the galaxy to make it orbit at a faster rate than we would expect. And that's something people are looking into. But the point is, we don't know.
We have even yet to explain even how a single galaxy rotates and orbits and maintains the structure and the type of activity that it does. You have an entire array of fascinating properties associated with some mysterious, to use the technical term, super-massive object, at the center, at this point, where we think basically every galaxy. We've got the best evidence in our own galaxy, where we've been able to see entire stars orbiting some point in space, in the center of our galaxy, where we see nothing; and the expectation is that this is a super-massive black hole. What is that? It's where our equations go to infinity. It's where space-time goes to infinity. It's where basically our equations literally break down. We don't know. We know we have something going on at the center of our galaxy, that seems to be causing the effect of the equivalent of an effect of 4 million times the mass of our Sun, causing entire stars to orbit on a scale of 10, 15 years, entire stars like the size of our Sun, orbiting some point where you see nothing there, on the scale of a decade, or a couple decades. Some type of super-massive object, super-massive black hole, whatever it is, we don't understand the physics of these things.
We see in galaxies, relationships between the mass, the size of this super-massive object, and properties of the galaxy as a whole, which we can't explain; which the current mechanisms by which this super-massive object would be able to interact with a galaxy as a whole, give us no explanation for how they can maintain a certain coherent relationship, certain coherent resonance with each other. But that's another phenomenon we see.
We see some galaxies, like this one, the Hercules galaxy, where the entire galaxy, hundreds of billions of stars, — hundreds of billions of stars — is in that little region there. So in the visible, that's what you would see as a galaxy; and it's a decent-sized galaxy. It's not a little tiny galaxy. It's a big galaxy. But when we look in other parts of the spectrum, when we look in the radio, for example, we see these massive structures of plasma shooting out from this galaxy, that maintain a level of coherence and structure, on a scale that dwarfs the size of the galaxy itself. Scientist think, theorists think, this is associated with whatever this super-massive phenomenon is at the center of our Galaxy. There are certain theories that have been posed to explain how that this might be occurring, and observational evidence overturning those theories, and they come up with some new theories. So it's a whole new area of investigation. But again, some type of, in certain cases, incredibly energetic, incredibly massive, activity associated with some point where our current level of physics just completely breaks down—the equations literally go to infinity.
These are some of the provocative, unanswered questions, just some of them, with respect to the structure of a galactic system, as a whole. You have a whole other angle on it, which we've covered, and picked up on, as a fascinating area of study, which is how processes on earth have some remarkable resonance with the solar systems traveling through different regions, different parts of our own galaxy. This is most clearly expressed in climate, where we see, in the very, very long-term records of climate on earth, we see remarkable correspondence between large-scale climate change, and the kind of stuff that make the greenies really freak-out, very large-scale climate change, in remarkable correspondence with different environments of our Galaxy that our Solar System has experienced. When our Solar System is moving up and down, kind of bobbing through the disc, the planar structure of our galaxy, we see indications of climate changes corresponding to those cycles, very well. The records we have of our Solar System passing through the spiral arm structures, we see very large-scale changes, in the climate conditions of our planet.
But there's other, frankly, even more provocative correlations between geophysical activity, large-scale volcanic activity, seeming to correspond to some of these cycles. As we, for a while, had talked about a lot, the evolution of life seemingly resonating with some of these cycles, where you get rises, extinctions, mass extinctions, wipe-outs, of large numbers of species, but also the generation of new species, accelerated rates, what they call, radiations. It's the opposite of extinction. Extinction, you look in the fossil record, a bunch of species are all of sudden gone. Radiation is when you're looking at the record, and all of a sudden, oh, we've got a bunch of new species here. We get these periods when you have a rapid increase in the number of species you see appearing in the fossil records. Well, so they found certain cycles in extinction speciations, as generations of radiations, that also correspond with the travels of our Solar System through the Galaxy.
So you have a whole array of fascinating questions that really, I think, should be looked at from the standpoint of one investigation. What is this galactic system that we're a part of? What is the physics? What are the principles governing the organization and the structure of a single galactic system? This issue of the speed of rotation of stars. This issue of the structural relations between the these super-massive objects and the structure of the galaxy as a whole. And what are the relations between processes on Earth, and in our Solar System, climate, geophysical, biological, and the different environments of our Galaxy, that we've experienced?
This all converges on one question: What the hell is this galaxy that we're a part of? But, the key point is also, then, what would it mean for mankind to understand that? A really key part of this whole question is not just seeking some new mathematical laws that will describe how stars orbit on the outside of the galaxy. If you go online you can find a lot of people that have a lot of theories, tons of explanations. I got this. I got that. I got it all figured out. The internet is full of that stuff. But, how can mankind come to a higher level of understanding of the principles organizing what we think of as these galactic systems?
Just to conclude, this gets to the point of, what is mankind really here in this Universe? What's our location in the Universe? This can be seen as a very interesting perspective to re-approach that question. Because in a sense, I really think you could argue that mankind is moving through a series of, you could define as certain kind of platforms, in a sense. Very early on mankind existed in the biosphere. The nature of mankind's existence, and growth and the development and progress, in the very early phases, was purely tied to how can mankind improve his understanding of living processes on earth, and control them, and improve them, and improve his own condition. So we existed, and improved our existence by mediating our relationship to the biosphere, as a process.
I would argue, we began to do some interesting things, where we began to relate, not just to the biosphere, as it exists in one time. We began to kind of relate to the biosphere as it exists as a geological evolutionary process. We began to utilize fossil fuels, for example, something that's not a product of the biosphere, just at any one time, like burning wood, or something, that wood is produced kind of in real-time generational time. When society begins to depend upon things like fossil fuels, according to the mainstream ideas about how these are created over geological time-scales, you are really looking at mankind creating his existence, mediating his existence in the Universe, based upon relating to a different process. We're no longer just relating to the process of the biosphere at one time. We're relating to the process of the biosphere as a geological phenomenon.
But then we have the process of moving to a new stage, a new platform, where we begin to sustain ourselves, and create a new level of existence, based upon processes which have nothing to do with the biosphere, which are not products of the biosphere, per se. If you're talking about a nuclear stage of existence for mankind, controlling the chemical elements, nuclear reactions, fission, fusion, relating to the periodic table from the standpoint of being able to control processes of the nucleus; in a sense, you are really talking about mankind existing in a relationship to, what I would argue is, a stellar principle, where relating to things, raw materials, but really processes that are a product of a stellar principle, of a stellar process. The periodic table being the gift created for us by these stars going through their life cycles, and going through their anti-entropic processes.
So what is next? We have a lot more to do, obviously, on these levels, but we have a whole other perspective of, what would it mean for mankind to be an actual galactic species? And again, the point being, again to dishonor Star Wars, we're not talking about flying around to different places, and be in different locations. We're talking about a sacred process of mankind generating new conceptions, which enable the human species to interact with the Universe in a completely fundamentally different way, in a fundamentally different higher order, as you see in the transition from mankind just existing as a organizing force in the biosphere, to mankind moving to being an organizing force in the Solar System. And it's the discoveries of the science of the Solar System of these deeper levels of physical science which enabled that, which created that, for mankind.
Our mission is to fight for the creation of the next step, to pursue these higher order questions of what is governing galactic systems—what are the principles underlying these things, including some of the anomalous phenomena I just breezed through, but we'll discuss in more detail in future classes, and other ones that we probably don't even know yet. And what is it going to mean for mankind to rise to that level?
So anyway, I think that's kind of a broad overview. The idea of this series, is to get into a number of these different topics we discussed in more detail, and in more of a pedagogical fashion—define what we know, what we don't yet know, what are the questions, what are the assumptions, etc. But this was kind of just an introduction to get a flavor of the direction we want to go with this thing, but then also some of the methodological outlook that should really guide the process. That might have been a fair amount, but if there's questions or thoughts or discussion, I'd be happy to go through it.
Q1: On Vernadsky, and his whole idea of Biochemical Migration of Atoms, did he think that any molecule, let's say, died? Like did it ever somehow disappear?
I think he definitely was fascinated with radioactivity, and radioactive decay. So there you get some element decaying, changing, and changing into a different element, so I think that would be the closest you'd get to an element dying, so to speak. What I find interesting about his approach is, he's really looking at what is, because you have the same chemical elements, the oxygen in the atmosphere. We breathe it. It kind of comes in and out of life. You have the food we eat. The chemical elements were part of non-living processes, to become part of living processes. They were turned to non-living processes. So you kind of have this medium, this structure of the Earth's crust, with these certain chemical elements, certain medium that exist on the Earth's surface.
What I think is fascinating is, how do you define, not just what the stuff is, but what's the organizing principle? Why does it behave a certain way, and not in another way? I'm not a full expert on all of Vernadskys work, so I'm not going to say I can completely answer how he thought about this thing. But from my reading of what's available in English in some of his work, I was fascinated, he seems to be looking for how do we narrow down and define, and forcefully demonstrate, certain processes of change, or states of organization, which tell us about, something different is acting to create that, that we would associate with something we would call living, for example. Find certain states of organization of the Earth's crust, the Earth's surface, the Biogeochemical medium, so to speak, that you can definitely give you a sense that this is the footprint of a principle of life acting—and in a similar way, unique footprints for human life. We use the same elements. They aren't like special elements that we have, or making some, those are useful, making on isotopes, and stuff, but for the most part, we use the same elements, same material, but we're able to organize states of organization of the biospheric system, which you would never see manifested under the principle of just life, per se, or just animal life, per se. You can define that this is the unique footprint of some other principle acting, some kind of human creative action expressed, not in the object, but in the state of organization, and in the process.
Q2: I have a question about the idea of the system of the Galaxy. I think you'll probably get into this in the future classes, when you start going through these anomalies, that we've run into, but, can you give an idea of what we're talking about when we mean a system of a Galaxy? Because I'm not even sure what we're trying to define. The Solar System seems a little easier because it's fairly simple, in a sense, but the Galaxy is just, I'm not really sure what problems we're trying to answer, what questions we're trying to answer.
Some immediate examples, these types of things we're looking at here, like with this rotation curve paradox, as it can be called sometimes. We have some giant, just to put it in blunt term, we have some giant blob of stars. Right. But we see it behaving in ways that we can't really explain. First of all, we see an incredible amount of structure, spiral arms, really nice structures, and beautiful to look at, very thin discs, other components. You get a lot of structure of organization, which is one fascinating thing to investigate, in and of itself. But then, there are just some outright anomalies about how that structure behaves, so this being an example. With our current understanding about how gravitation works, of how bodies orbit around the amount of mass, the orbit is determined by the distances and the amount of mass within which they are orbiting around. Based upon those conceptions, and what we think we can estimate from the amount of mass we see in these things, what we see shouldn't be happening. We can't explain why this is happening.
This might be a very, very crude example, but if you just assume that the Earth was the center of the Solar System, everything just orbited in perfect circles around the Earth, why would you see retrograde motion? It's an anomaly that shouldn't be there, based upon your conception about what's actually happening up there. This is a little bit more sophisticated, obviously. But our current conceptions about gravitation, mass, don't seem to work for just basic question, how do things orbit around the Galaxy? And so, the leading idea is that there's other forms of mass, of matter, out there, which we haven't found yet, and might be very, very hard to detect, so-called dark matter, that's adding the extra mass effect, that's causing this deviation in how we see the Galaxy rotate. That hasn't been found. It's the hypothesis most people are pursuing. Other people have other hypotheses. But just from the basic observations we have some phenomenon that we just can't explain with our current understanding. Maybe this will be explained, maybe it won't. Between the array of stuff we want to cover, I think the question we really want to pose, is to actually look for new levels of science, new physical principles, that we at least pursue and look for trying to further and further refine and demonstrate and show there's got to be some other principle acting, and then try and track that thing down.
As Kepler pursued Mars the way he talked about it. He thought he had it chained up and then it broke the chains and got away. What's the actual cause of the organization, the type of activity we see in these systems? I would posit the thesis I'm working from is that, based upon our understanding of mankind's nature position in the Universe, that's going to give us whole new levels of ability to interact with the Universe in a new way, new domains of science, potential for new technologies, a new higher level of existence for mankind, based upon beginning to redefine our existence from the standpoint of our relationship to the principles of the Universe responsible for the governing, the existence, and structure, and development of galactic systems.
This is one. Again, you have just on the dynamics of it, you also have this relation between this super-massive object at the center of galaxies, and that has a very direct relationship to certain overall features of the structure of galaxies, that also we just don't explain, that can't explain under the current mechanisms. And again, there is more interesting stuff too, we'd like to get into. You had some very top astronomers, some of the world-renowned astronomers of the past century, who were pursuing a very different idea about how galaxies are created, how they exist, how they develop, how they evolve, which as largely has not been dis-proven. It's more just been pushed aside and kind of hushed away.
You have people like this Armenian astronomer, Ambartsumian, who had developed the whole theoretical framework of how galaxies are actually being created from other galaxies, and evolving, and developing, and had worked out a framework, and he was convinced that galaxies exhibit much more of a creative developing process than what you get in the standard big-bang cosmology, where you get one mysterious instant of creation and everything just kind of unfolds. Some cosmologists literally say like a bunch of gas in a really big box, and that's what the Universe is. (laughs)
But you have very top astronomers, who couldn't be ignored because they were already respected for much of their other work, Halton Arp, being another one, who had pursued observational evidence, which seemed to show again, the point being, there's other levels of science. There's other levels of physics, other principles acting here, that we just don't yet understand.
Q3: Does that point generate dots, acknowledged by scientists, that there might be new principles involved?
DENISTON: No. The general approach now it's more working out the details, of how we can explain everything we observe from the standpoint of just what we know now. (pause)
To some degree there's the questions of dark matter, dark energy. Those are open questions. I don't have a full overview on where different people in the academic community stand on introducing new physical principles to explain some of these things. But with the work of Arp and Ambartsumian, for example, that whole direction of investigation has really been pushed aside, because in physics it shouldn't be able to happen, so therefore it's not happening.
To me it's like in 1800, scientists beginning to realize that the Earth had been, around the 1850s, I don't know when we started to get some decent geological records, and started to get some data in, and saw that the Earth's been around for hundreds of millions, billions of years. And one question that came up, that said, well, the Sun is up there burning. If life's been around that long, what must the Sun be burning, such that it could sustain putting out energy for this amount of time? And at that time, any of your ideas about burning wood, or coal, or anything, nothing could, it would be done in thousands or hundreds of thousands of years. No chemical process of burning of reaction could sustain the Sun for so long. Then it's like saying, well then, just pretend we didn't find all that geological stuff, because then it couldn't of happened. People were thinking about maybe the Sun gets refueled with stuff.
It's like our ability to answer that question just didn't exist, because we didn't have the level of science, level to understanding the fundamental physics, which would enable us to ever to be able answer that question from that state. It's perfectly valid and correct to approach this galactic question in a similar way. We see some super-energetic activity, incredible structure and organization emanating from the point where our mathematical physics goes to infinity. Maybe there's something more fundamental there that we don't yet understand, that could be as revolutionary as these prior revolutionary discoveries. That's the type of pursuit we want to reopen on this stuff.
Then again, recognize that we're looking at developing systems. The whole Universe, these nested hierarchies, what we know is that we see processes moving towards higher energy-flux densities, higher states of organization. We have yet to understand the real nature of our Universe as a fundamentally creative Universe.
Q4: I have another question. There is another picture you put up, where it was zoomed into, yeah, and one, is there already a black hole in there that we know of, like visible from that picture?
DENISTON: No. not in this one.
Q5: And two, are all the galaxies that spiral type of ...
DENISTON: Not all of them. Just for reference, this is like a giant molecular cloud within a Galaxy. If we're looking at another Galaxy, that would be like we'd be looking at just a tiny tiny tiny little region. You got to imagine, this spiral structure here, this spiral galaxy, is probably tens of billions of stars. It's a mind-boggling number of stars. So were looking at something that has an incredible amount of structure and fine resolution that you can't see at this level. This type of structure exists like zoomed-in really far. It would be like looking at me and then looking at a picture of one of my cells, or something. It's probably even a bigger scale of difference than that maybe. This is like looking at a cell, or some small structure organization within the Galaxy. It's very tiny compared to the whole structure.
So this is part of our Galaxy. So it's somewhere orbiting around our super-massive object, our super-massive phenomenon, at the center of our Galaxy, but you can't necessarily see where that would be in this picture. And then there's generally 2 types of galaxies we see. There's a fair amount of variation, but general large, highly-organized galactic structures are usually either these spiral structures, or what they elliptical galaxies. So the spiral structure is like the one we see here, that we think that we are a part of. You also see these things that are more like just kind of giant balls, giant spheroidal structures which don't have the same disc, thin disc structure. They don't have the same spiral arm structures, kind of big. We see projected, they kind of look like an ellipse or a circle, because of their spheroidal structure.
But then you get all kinds of variation within each of those. How tight are the spiral arms? Are they really wound tight together? Are they stretched out? Some spiral galaxies have a bar, just like a rigid structure that orbits around the center. You also get a bunch of smaller more irregular galaxies that are not as presentable looking. That's still probably just as fascinating, kind of amorphous, more kind of look like cloud or blob structures. But the larger, the bigger highly more-organized ones tend to either be spiral or these elliptical or giant elliptical galaxies.
Q6: Just one more: So are you saying that the Galaxy has an effect on climate change and other phenomena, and one is, does it cause like the seasons to change? And secondly, is the Galaxy changing like the leaf colors themselves (laughter) or because maybe the Sun's blocking — or, not blocking?
DENISTON: If it is, it's doing a really good job. It looks pretty nice this time of year. The climate change tends to be on really long time scales. If you're looking at like, something you'd call active galactic influence on climate change. One, it's a continuous factor that's active at all times. So if you look at the work of Svensmark and Shaviv, and some of these people, showing that the radiation effect that's penetrating our Earth at all times, that's coming from the larger galactic system, plays a significant role in clouds forming. So that's a constant input. It's always there. So as our Solar System moves into different parts of the Galaxy, where that input changes, then that changes how much effect we get on Earth from our galactic input.
For example, if you take the past 500 million years, we've through 4 cycles between what they call, ice-house and hot-house, modes of climate. Hot-house modes, we've actually been in a hot-house mode more often that we've been in — we're currently in kind of an ice-house mode, as they call it. During a hot-house you have no ice caps at all on the poles. You have no ice caps top or bottom. Climate's significantly warmer. They found that the periods when we've been in these hot-house modes correspond with when the Solar System has been traveling between two different spiral arms, and these are environments where we think there is less of this galactic cosmic radiation, meaning less cloud cover, meaning more sunlight coming all the way down and reaching the earth, not bouncing off the clouds. Because the clouds do a lot, it's like your umbrella, you don't want to get a tan like me. The umbrella can block the Sun. The clouds do a lot to reflect a lot of the sunlight away.
The theory that these guys are working on, is that with less cosmic rays, that lessens the contribution to cloud formation. You get fewer clouds. You get more sunlight coming down and hitting the Earth. You get a warmer climate overall. And you get the inverse effect when we're traveling through regions of the Galaxy, we have a lot of cosmic radiation coming in, causing a lot more cloud cover, reflecting a lot more sunlight, contributing to an overall cooler climate. So you get periods when the ice caps will move much farther towards the Equator, you'll get huge ice caps covering big chunks of the Earth. So massive, going from, everything's Southern California and hotter to everything's Boston frigid and cold, or something. Very large-scale changes, we see, tend to correspond with these spiral arm passages.
So that's an example of the large-scale climate change effects. You see it over these much longer time-scales. Then you get smaller effects on shorter time-scales when the Sun can get more active, or less active, and that can kind of shield, block more of the Galaxy's influence, more or less. So that can contribute to shorter-scale changes, in shorter time periods, like decades, years, that type of effect.
I don't know if the EPA has yet considered cosmic radiation a pollutant, or not. (laughter) We're inquiring about that. They're worried they're going to have to shut down a large Hadron Collider for contributing pollutants to the system. And that was kind of a famous study, because over that same time period, the Earth's climate went through 4 of these really big changes from hot-house, no ice caps at all, much higher sea level, down to ice-house, lot colder, big ice caps. It went back and forth 4 times, and CO2 only changed twice. This is something that was shown about 20 years ago now, that if you look at these longer term time-scales, CO2 does not look like it's a major contributor to climate change at all. It's just kind of doing it's own thing. And the climate's doing one thing. The CO2 is doing something else. And that upset a lot of people, because CO2 is supposed to be the only thing that causes change.
It was actually some guy in Canada, Jan Visser, who showed that, and then Nir Shaviv, the American-Israeli researcher, found that study, and then said, oh, look, not only does CO2 not correlate to climate change, but the climate change on these records correlates great with the spiral arm travels of our Solar System. And that was kind of one of the key studies that went into launching this whole investigation of the galactic effects on climate change.
Meanwhile the plants are screaming for more CO2. (pause)
So, that may be good for tonight. It's getting a little bit late. And we've got a lot of old-timers in the audience here. (laughter) This is again, a broad overview, and I would like to take up various elements of this, just in a little more detail, more pedagogical way, just to kind of really try and sink our teeth a little bit into how we know some of these things. What do we know about how our Solar System's trucking through the Galaxy. What do we know about these properties.
So with that, I think we could probably bring an end tonight.