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On things Quantum

Sunday, 20 March 2011 / Published in Articles / 3,987 views

By Rasaraja dasa, Bhaktivedanta Institute, Mumbai * Berkeley

Thanks to many popular books and articles, the mysteries of quantum theory are now quite widely familiar even amongst the non-scientific public. Heisenberg’s uncertainty relations (one cannot ‘simultaneously know’ both position and momentum of a particle beyond a certain inaccuracy), Schrodinger cat paradox (quantum cats capable of being both dead and alive, simultaneously) are known, at least by name, to many.

However, much of what is passed on in popular literature are colourful but ultimately inadequate ways of stating what physicists do NOT understand about quantum theory!

“No one understands quantum mechanics”, said the famous Nobel Laureate in quantum physics, R. Feynman.  Similarly, another Nobel-prize winning physicist, Murray Gell-Mann, the inventor of the quark particles, said “Quantum theory, that strange thing we all know how to use, but understand very little.” !!

Prof. Ravi Gomatam, director of the Institute for Semantic Information Sciences and Technology (ISIST) with centres in Mumbai and Berkeley, and adjunct professor at BITS, Pilani, holds a Ph.D. in foundations of quantum mechanics, and has been working on changing the conceptual foundations of quantum mechanics to what he calls “objective semantic information”. He says “there is a vital need to find proper categories of thought to re-understand quantum mechanics properly. The ISIST has therefore convened an exciting seminar on the topic, “Quantum Reality – New Perspectives on March 26, 2011 in Mumbai, India. (www.isist.info)

The seminar will open with a talk by Prof. Gary Bowman, a quantum physicist from Northern Arizona University. Prof. Bowman is the author of a well-regarded textbook on quantum mechanics (Essential Quantum Mechanics, Cambridge University Press). His talk will introduce all the important non-classical features of quantum theory in a simple manner and discuss what kind of description quantum theory can and cannot give.

The second speaker, Dr. Unnikrishnan is another distinguished quantum physicist from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. He will discuss about quantum “non-locality”, another classically expressed quantum feature. Usually, for one particle to influence another particle, some physical signal has to travel from that particle with a finite speed and thus in finite time to influence the other particle. However, nonlocality is the idea that one quantum particle can instantly influence on another quantum particle, even if it is millions of galaxies away! Although quantum physicists have proposed this idea and even practically exploit it, its mechanism remains shrouded in mystery. Unnikrishnan’s talk will present some of his latest research findings that question this idea of nonlocality.

Prof. Gomatam, who is also the director of Bhaktivedanta Institute (www.bvinst.edu) and adjunct professor at BITS, Pilani, will be the third speaker. His talk will be based on the fact that all we get from the world is information of two kinds. Every object in front of us has a particular position, which is physical information; and a meaning it holds for us — such as say, it is a “table” — which can be called semantic information. Physicists have so far used only the physical information (i.e. just position) as the basis for all physics. Prof. Gomatam will show how the semantic aspect of information, can also be objectivized. The most basic elements of semantic information are the five phenomenological aspects of an object – sound, touch, color, taste and smell – which we acquire through our senses. He will propose that semantic information, long neglected by physicists, if used to conceive every day or macroscopic objects, can lead to a new form of quantum theory with new applications, which will also be free of all paradoxes currently surrounding that theory. For most people, semantic information (called tanmatras in Srimad Bhagavata Sankhya) and the five gross material elements that carry them will be the first step to understand the science of God, as told by Lord Krishna Himself in the Bhagavad Gita As It is: “Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego—all together these eight constitute My separated material energies.” (Chapter 7, text 4)

Prof. C. R. Muthukrishnan, formerly deputy director of I.I.T. Madras, and a distinguished computer scientist, will chair the whole session and deliver his concluding comments. Prof. Muthukrishnan is also a member of the International Advisory Council for the Bhaktivedanta Institute, Mumbai/Berkeley.

The half-day seminar will take place on Saturday, March 26, 2011 between 9:30 A.M. to 1:00 P. M. in Mumbai, India. The exact location: Nehru Science Center (On Dr. E. Moses Road, between Mahalakshmi Railway station and Worli Naka).  The seminar is free of charge and open to all those who may be interested. The talks will presuppose no familiarity with quantum mechanics and will be presented in a manner that is easily understood by all. There will be post-conference publications available, in both in video and book form, for which order can be placed now. For further information, please contact: qmseminar@isist.info

11 comments

  1. 0
    pustakrishna ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Despite living outside of the temple physically, I have been fortunate to be welcomed into the ISKCON family for preaching seva for over the past 20 years. In San Jose, we are trying to engage the educated people of the Silicon Valley in hearing the message of Krishna with the new Bhaktivedanta Forums. We have had one on March 7, 2011, and although the numbers of individuals who came to the program, they are becoming integrated into the devotional activities of ISKCON of the Silicon Valley. We will have another such program in the coming summer. The next program will try to yank on their family chain more. We shall have a presentation of the Bhagavad Gita with slideshow of the paintings in Srila Prabhupad’s BG as it is. Also, I am trying to encourage the Indian devotees to become an integral part of the preaching. This will act as testimony for the other, mostly Indian, guests, and also please Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Who wants those born in Bharata-varsa to become ambassadors and preachers of the Bhagavat-dharma. It is, I think, a new day for the western preaching of the Krishna consciousness movement. It saddens me when I hear our western Godbrothers feel so gloomy about the changes in ISKCON. Yes, sometimes it appears that they are too interested in their cultural samskara rituals. But, that is their native culture. With time the pendulum will swing the other way, and preaching will become more exclusively oriented to Krishna only. It is a matter of them “feeling” that their choices need to be guided by a highly qualified spiritual master like Srila Prabhupad.
    The Bhaktivedanta Forum is a chance for us to teach the educated and accomplished people of society that the standards for society that have been promoted by Srila Prabhupad have virtue both for spiritual and material development.
    Nonetheless, for a busy doctor like myself, I genuinely love reading Dandavats.com and writing what comes to inspire me. So many memories of my association with Srila Prabhupad have come out on these pages, and it brings a happy yearning within. We are always dependent on Krishna, and He is our true Friend. Whatever fate we may be in store for in the next day, or the next life, knowing that Krishna is our dearest Friend and Well-wisher, also manifest by Srila Prabhupad’s sacrifices for us and his patient engagement in devotional service, it is a most successful human life. Encourage one another positively, win Krishna’s attention. Pusta Krishna das

  2. 0
    ramavijaya ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Dear Pustakrishna Prabhu,

    I am sorry for the harsh words. I trust you. I accept devotees as honest and truthful. I have faith that you are honest with your own self and you have vision of Krishna.

    My humble request to you is to preach and help others to understand the verses SB 3.29.21-25. These verses are solutions to many Iskcon problems. Living by these verses is great service to Krishna and Prabhupada.

    There are many people in Iskcon who don’t see presence of Krishna in everyone. These people pose as devotees but unfortunately, their attempts are burnt into ashes and they don’t please Krishna. It is because they have not clearly understood the meaning of verses 3.29.21-25. They don’t understand the gravity of these verses and waste their life.

    Seeing the presence of Krishna in everyone, makes us see other as the manifestation of Krishna instead of seeing them as someone bad or rascal. Instead of seeing them with contempt, we see them with appreciation and love. Instead of seeing others with pride and superiority, we see them with humility. Instead of trying to serve few selected few gurus or devotees, it makes us serve all people around us without discrimination .

    SB 11.29.15: For him who constantly meditates upon My presence within all persons, the bad tendencies of rivalry, envy and abusiveness, along with false ego, are very quickly destroyed.

    SB 11.29.19: Indeed, I consider this process — using one’s mind, words and bodily functions for realizing Me within all living beings — to be the best possible method of spiritual enlightenment.

    Please help others to follow the last instructions of Krishna.

  3. 0
    pustakrishna ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Dear Ramavijaya
    I have had a glimpse of Krishna (rather Krishna has looked upon me in all His glory, Face to face, and also Lord Vishna, and the 4-handed liberated jiva souls, all with spiritual bodies, effulgent, of a variety of spiritual colors, and experience of brahma-jyoti as well. The internet address does not seem to be opening the talk. I have written one book, requested personally by Srila Prabhupad to me in 1971. I must publish it before I am dead. Krishna is very wonderful in every way. We have impossible difficulty understanding, what to speak of perceiving, that which is adhokshaja, beyond our current senses. But, indeed, Krishna can give us the senses to perceive Him when He desires that for us. It is not impossible, yet it is the only think worth trying for in life. Therefore, bhaktya mam abhijanati…it is our only final hope, if we are seekers of the Truth, that we can try to reach Him, not by mental expansion, but through loving service. I want to emphasize that I do not consider my service nor my love to equal any of millions of other sincere bhaktas in this world. But, somehow or another, Krishna’s mercy showered upon me fully when I was 20 years old. It led me to join fully in the Krishna consciousness movement, it led me to drop out of college in my last quarter of college, when I had already been accepted to medical school, in 1971. If you think this was a hoax, consider that at least. So, you can consider me either very crazy (which is not the case at all), or very, very fortunate. Count me as a very grateful and fortunate soul, who Srila Prabhupad also took into his personal confidence and service.
    For this reason, I stated in my statement #1 above, tell the scientists that bhakti is the visa can may give one the opportunity to reach the Truth…when the Truth allows Himself to be known, and shows Himself in His true form as the dearmost loving Everything to you, raso vai sah. With full confidence in Krishna, and much hope that the loving servants of the parampara with bring opportunity to other nonenvious souls,
    Pusta Krishna das

  4. 0
    ramavijaya ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    >> Please do not think that Krishna cannot be known.

    I never said that. But it appeared from your response that you don’t have glimpse of Krishna. So, I just wanted you to look more deeper and be more honest with yourself. Ultimately, your bhakti is your responsibility.

    >> Some ones may have been given a glimpse of the spiritual world by the grace of Krishna.

    I agree. SP said that realizing self as beyond matter is the first step in self realization.

    Here are some statements from Bhagavatam. They clearly state the people who do bhakti in vain. All of us need to see presence of Krishna in everyone as stated in follow verses:

    SB 3.29.21: I am present in every living entity as the Supersoul. If someone neglects or disregards that Supersoul everywhere and engages himself in the worship of the Deity in the temple, that is simply imitation.

    SB 3.29.22: One who worships the Deity of Godhead in the temples but does not know that the Supreme Lord, as ParamA�tmA�, is situated in every living entity’s heart, must be in ignorance and is compared to one who offers oblations into ashes.

    SB 3.29.23: One who offers Me respect but is envious of the bodies of others and is therefore a separatist never attains peace of mind, because of his inimical behavior towards other living entities.

    SB 3.29.24: My dear Mother, even if he worships with proper rituals and paraphernalia, a person who is ignorant of My presence in all living entities never pleases Me by the worship of My Deities in the temple.

    SB 3.29.25: Performing his prescribed duties, one should worship the Deity of the Supreme Personality of Godhead until one realizes My presence in his own heart and in the hearts of other living entities as well.

    The above facts are not properly emphasized in Iskcon. Hopefully, you can do that. If you don’t see presence of Krishna in everyone, then you should stop criticizing others and start working on yourself.

  5. 0
    pustakrishna ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    We can know Krishna only when He permits Himself to be known by us. I have been very fortunate in my life, and I do know Krishna, and miss Him very much. As regards knowing one’s self, we already are ourselves. The difficulty is that we have chosen to engage in various fields of activities and consciousness that neglect Krishna. But, we still remain the same jiva-atma, whether covered by the illusory environment, or free in the divine realm of Vaikuntha. Please do not think that Krishna cannot be known. That is a great mistake. And it is wise not to think that one’s own experience is the standard by which all others will be judged. We have faith that there are those that we have heard about, like Mahaprabhu’s associates, the Goswamis, who have experience of the divine lila of Krishna and their participation in it. Some ones may have been given a glimpse of the spiritual world by the grace of Krishna. Some more so, some less so. That is completely according to the merciful will of Krishna. Please do not be skeptical, and I gave an honest speech in Alachua in May, 2010, I believe. You can look that up on U-tube, I think, and that talk was also on Dandavats around that time through the Alachua ISKCON website. If it gives you more faith, that is very good. If it causes you to become a greater skeptic, that may be unfortunate. It is natural that we judge others by our own experience, but Krishna’s mercy is supernatural, and His will is free and independent. If you truly believe that Krishna cannot be known, by divine revelation, that is unfortunate. Please believe that it is possible, and that love of Krishna is our destiny. Srila Prabhupad has made all of this possible, and Krishna is real. As fantastic as it is, it can happen. It is not material, it is clearly beyond inert, and it is only possible by Sri Krishna’s personal grace. I pray that you will not think of me as a self-righteous individual. I may not even be righteous. But, fortunate I am. Humbly and honestly submitted, Pusta Krishna das

  6. 0
    ramavijaya ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    >> They are trying to ‘live without death’

    How about you! We all know that we are going to die. Still, there is inherent instinct in us which wants to live. That is given by Krishna Himself.

    The soul is sat chid ananad i.e. it is eternal, full of knowledge and happiness. As atma is eternal, you want to live for eternity even when you assume identity with body. You don’t need to “die to live”. Good news is that you always live and you never die.

    You don’t even need to renounce anything. Matter cannot touch your atma. Your atma thinks that it is body but actually, no material object can ever be owned by atma. Nothing belongs to you. Real renunciation means to understand the self and to understand that you are beyond the matter. Therefore, you don’t give importance to material objects and don’t depend on them as you realize that you are beyond them. From the perspective of bhakti, real renunciation means that everything belongs to Krishna.

    By trying to “die to live”, you might be trying to imitate the state of devotee who sees everything belongs to Krishna (or who sees self as beyond body) without proper realization.

    You may claim that the scientist don’t know Krishna. But before you make the claim, you need to understand Krishna and your own self as beyond body and matter. If you realize the above facts, you can help others even scientists to reach that goal. Till then, you will be creating more chaos.

    Many devotees say that we don’t need to realize the truth to preach. That results in blind preaching the truth. That causes fights between devotees. Many devotees are banned. But at sometime, devotees need to know self and Krishna. Ultimately, Prabhupada wanted you to know your self as sat chid anand and know Krishna.

    The real scientist is the person who realizes self and Krishna and helps others to do so. Such person will also be appreciated by material scientist. Be that person.

  7. 0
    nrsingha8 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Yes,incisive point Ramavijaya prabhu. Sometimes as devotees we fail to understand that bhakti is rarely attained.Of course bhaktiabhasa can be experienced easily by the common mass of people.

    “So, you will have to ‘die to live’- by dying to your false ego, your self-aggrandizing tendency, you can live, live in the world of service, divine service. Everyone is trying to live in this world avoiding death, physical death. They are trying to ‘live without death’, and that of course is not possible. Just as it is not possible in the ordinary sense to live without death, so you also, who are aspiring for divine life, don’t try to live, without death! Die now! Die, to both your exploiting and renouncing tendencies, to really live in service divine.”

  8. 0
    pustakrishna ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    For those who are interested to “understand” the nature of reality, to “experience” that knowledge, it is vital to take Sri Krishna’s advise and judgement. Bhaktya mam abhijanati…if we want to know Krishna, there is one prescription, to lovingly serve Krishna. Srila Prabhupad tried to show us that we are looking to love someone. We find imperfection all around us, and it is possible that we take refuge in intellectual workings in an effort to…what? Know reality. Krishna can be known, and He can reveal Himself. The scientists are something akin to seekers of truth, so long they are not atheistic, trying to kill God. If these scientists are indeed pious, which I think they must be to some extent if they are associating with Bhaktivedanta in some form, then they must be given the advice that Krishna has given. It is critical that they know this. Krishna has said that once having known Him, one realizes that there is nothing further to be known. So, my dear Rasaraj, let them have it…not between the eyes, but directed toward their hearts. When such scientist seekers will become bhaktas, they will be able to lead other scientists to experiment with the science of Bhakti, so that others might find that Krishna can deliver Himself to those who are non-envious sincere seekers. Affectionately, Pusta Krishna das

  9. 0
    ramavijaya ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Dear PustaKrishna Prabhu,

    Bhaktya mam abhijanati…………….

    Do you know Krishna? Krishna is beyond the inert matter. Not only Krishna, your own self is beyond the matter. If you don’t know Krishna, do you at least know your own self?

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