The next chapter in the book deals with the speed of light. It’s one of the most daring challenges the author throws to science. It sounds convincing but it also calls for accompanying math in support of it. I don’t know anyone who has time and the ability to provide “proofs”.
“Proofs” were central to the story of Ramanujan, a brilliant Indian mathematician who became a Fellow of Royal Society of London. His mathematical theories were revolutionary, they worked in practice, but Ramanujan was seen as too lazy to provide “proofs” and when he did they weren’t very impressive. The thing was that theories were manifested to him by his worshipable deity while “proofs” he had to supply on his own, hence a mismatch in quality.
Anyway, the chapter starts with a brief history of the problem. When Newton postulated his law of gravity it was thought that it works on distant objects instantaneously but later experiments proved that it was not the case. The cause of gravity manifested its effect with a delay. The solution was that the cause travels as some sort of a particle and so it takes time for it to reach its destination and create the effect. In modern science these traveling particles are called bosons – photons and such.
Then came the discovery of the constant speed of light which doesn’t depend on whether the observer travels towards the cause or not. This is a little bit of a gray area. I myself got very interested in this about ten years ago and pondered all sorts of paradoxes derived from this – how things become shorter or longer, how time runs faster or slower, how twins age differently and many more. I thought I got it but there was always some new twist that made no sense to me no matter how much I knew about this already. In the end I just gave up and now, ten years later, I can’t force myself to relive through that nightmare again.
With this experience being a chip on my shoulder I’m hesitant to endorse book’s presentation of this problem. I’m pretty sure if it was shown to actual physicists someone would find something to object, casting the accusation that the author doesn’t know special relativity and physics in general. I’m not going to get in between because, in my experience, both parties would accuse me of being stupid just to relieve themselves. When someone doesn’t want to answer his accusers directly I’m not going to be a messenger either. It would make me into everybody’s enemy.
In any case, the way the book states the problem is novel. In quantum theory photons do not travel through space in a traditional sense but rather hop from one fixed position to another with no stages in between. I want to drift away here for a bit because this is important.
Being conditioned souls we are unaware that we are accepting new bodies every moment of our lives. We agree that our bodies change from youth to adulthood to old age and as devotees we accept that after death of one body we will take another, and we theoretically accept that we take a new body every second, too, but we do not realize this practically.
When I pace up and down the room, chanting my rounds, I believe that it’s the same body that does the walking and travels through space. Everybody does. Based on this illusion we form our idea of three dimensional space where our bodies and all other objects can move around. Each point in this space can be connected to any other point by a straight line and, while traveling along this line, objects pass through the infinite number of locations, infinite number of points on the line.
From segments of such lines we can make triangles and squares and then we can create coordinate systems and move these shapes freely around, transform them, rotate them, skew them and so on. We still think that it’s the same object that we can manipulate in any way we want and this forms the basis of all our science – objects have properties and these properties can change their values. In geometry the properties could be locations and sizes, in Newtonian physics we can add momentum and speed, in electrodynamics we can change objects’ charge, and in relativity we can change objects mass, too.
This is all plain wrong from the perspective of Vedic science. It’s not the same body that moves through space, it’s a succession of new bodies, each slightly different and each with its own set of sensations. We watch these bodies like we watch a movie, which is also a succession of still images, and then we mistakenly interpret it as movement and from this interpretation we create a model of space. This space is illusory, there’s a new body with a new set of sensory values, there’s not traveling, no distance between things – it’s all in our minds.
There’s also a science of changing these bodies and the role our consciousness, time, and karma plays in all this but it’s not a subject for today.
So, quantum theory finally got this part right – there’s no smooth movement, photons hop from one position to another and there’s a fixed number of hops between the source and the observer. If the observer starts hopping towards the photon there will be less hops to be made before they meet, and how does the photon know the observer is approaching? Why would it slow down? How can the number of hops become smaller? What’s going on here? The book states that this is a problem that science doesn’t acknowledge yet. Maybe it is, but what comes next is the most interesting proposition here.
The light does not take any time to travel at all. Information is passed through space (which is an illusory concept, as explained above) instantaneously but what takes time is for the recipient to absorb this information and change his state, or rather his body, to a new one where this information appears as already absorbed.
This solution is simple and elegant and I think it’s brilliant. The rest of the chapter gives examples how this principle already works in everyday life. A teacher’s lesson, for example, is absorbed at different speed by different students depending on their background knowledge and the speed with which words reach their ears, ie speed of light, is irrelevant. What matters is how long it would take for a student to change from his current body to a body where the lesson has been learned, and this works across the whole universe.
There’s no point in measuring distance to stars and planets anymore, it doesn’t exist because light does not take any time to travel at all, and so our 3D model of space becomes redundant. What effect this explanation would have on modern science? Which formulas need to be adjusted? Is it even possible? I don’t think anyone knows the answer to these questions or has the ability and time to figure out the answers. It takes time for us to change from a state where these answers are unknown to a state where they trivial, and that state might not be in our karma at all.