Yin Yang Jung
Yin Yang Jung

Today’s spirituality/science blog is inspired by the Chinese Tai Chi symbol:

 
Tai Chi
 

This classic Taoist emblem illustrates the dynamic relationship between yin and yang. Fundamental metaphysical compliments, these archetypes of passivity and activity, rest and energy, constantly flow into and back out of one another. And even when either one is dominating, a spot of the other remains—right in the middle.

Read more
Unifications
Unifications

Today’s blog is inspired by a bold book called The Trouble With Physics. Written by Lee Smolin, one of my favorite contemporary physicists, the text argues against the popularity of string theory. After years of focus and funding, the cutting-edge theory has yet to actually be made physically testable. And since good science requires experimental trial and verdict, the question inevitably comes: Is string theory science at all, or just wishful thinking?

Discussing the almost religious faith the theory has inspired in the scientific community, Smolin explains that its big temptation is its claim of unification. String theorists believe they’ve discovered a Theory of Everything—a mathematical and conceptual framework that fully explains our physical foundations, incorporating all the previously irreconcilable masses and forces in the universe.

Read more
On Neurotheology
On Neurotheology

Back in November I posted a blog called Buddhism and Your Brain, in which I explored a possible scientific explanation for the feeling of timelessness experienced in Buddhist meditation. A comment thread commenced about whether certain kinds of brain activity might cause mystical experiences, or whether they’re just correlations—secondary physical results of truly spiritual breakthroughs.

This radical question followed: If spirituality is just biochemical, could Nirvana be achieved by swallowing a pill? Could enlightenment come over-the-counter?

Read more
God is a Dirac Delta Function
God is a Dirac Delta Function

Math scares me.

I can handle 2+2=4 well enough, and even some long division without a calculator, but higher math—differential equations, divergent series, multivariable calculus—makes my head hurt.

So I had a conflicted experience last week when I stumbled across something called the Dirac Delta Function. Named after Paul Dirac, a physicist and sort of ‘Original Gansta’ of quantum theory, the function is a math equation that yields zero for every number you plug into it, except when you plug in zero, in which case the answer becomes infinity!

Read more
A Superfluid New Year
A Superfluid New Year

I love Chinese philosophy—its naturalness, its easy wisdom.

I’m in good company: Taoism may be the most popularized religious mysticism in the world. Books about any variety of topics have the phrase “The Tao of…” in their titles. A quick search at Amazon yields The Tao of Healing, The Tao of Eating, The Tao of Photography and even The Tao of Network Security Monitoring! And in contemporary America, the Chinese words yin and yang have become cultural fallback terms for the idea of experienced, simultaneous opposites. They’re part of the pop lexicon.

Read more
The Revised Gospel of NET
The Revised Gospel of NET

Religious scholars believe our scriptures are mostly compilations. To historical experts, sacred texts reveal signs of revision, editing and translation. For me, nothing about this possibility makes our holy books less beautiful or valuable. I like the idea of God-inspired people co-creating our wisdom traditions. It feels communal.

This week, I was blessed with a bit of co-creation… My last blog post, The Gospel of Nonequilibrium Thermodynamics, was based on a book called Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics and Life. One of the book’s authors, Dorion Sagan, was kind enough to leave a comment about the post, and in his comment he made a notable correction to what I’d written.

Read more