Mercury Waves

There’s a planet in a solar system not far from home where the seas are pure mercury, the atmosphere is heavy and the winds are fierce. I go there to watch the waves and meditate. The sun is white and small, a billion miles away, so it’s not much brighter than Earth’s moon on full tilt.

When mercury waves break, each is perfect in its own way. The shoulder runs from left to right on most northern beaches, and the sun moves on the shoulder like a silver laser in the hand of a steady artist.

Sometimes, don’t tell my parents, when I’m done meditating and want some adrenaline, I phase shift and take The Ganga surfing on the mercury waves of Ury. I drop the hull’s visibility, stand on her carpet like a surfer and hang ten if I’m feeling silly. The Ganga usually laughs, especially if I make a face.

The field of consciousness is like the electromagnetic field that brings visible light, radio waves and cell phones signals. All the fundamental fields bring their treasures in waves that crash upon the shores of consciousness.

Our brains are a hybrid device, you know, part generators (of current waves) and part receivers of signals from the field of consciousness (mind waves), the most fundamental of the fields we study in physics. My species was late to this truth and paid heavily for the ignorant reductionism we pursued in what we thought was a completely material universe.

Storm waves on Ury crash with a thunder that vibrates your stomach and soul. The sets of swells roll in patiently from the horizon, mount up gradually and then break in sudden fury, in some places crashing against blue diamond boulders that send myriads of tiny sparkling mercury spheres into the air as fireworks against the black Ury sky with its subtle haze of distant stars.

The crashed waves’ silver froth climbs the beach with unbridled enthusiasm, taking on rocky obstacles with an appetite for challenge. Finally, each advancing front bows its head without fear to the sloped diamond sand and recedes into silver oblivion to someday rise again.

The waves are not the sea. The sea is not the waves. They are close friends like the mind and the brain.

The wave’s goal is the far height of the beach. The wave’s joy is the marathon journey and final sprint toward the shore, not the achievement of its final arrival high on the sand.

This is the nature of all waves including the field waves that crash on the human consciousness. It’s the process toward a high goal that brings enthusiasm, joy, and purpose. Our goals need only be rational enough to support our belief that we can achieve them. Achieving them is not the source of lasting satisfaction and peace. Pursuing them is.

Reaching a high goal can be a horrible let down if you haven’t enjoyed the journey there. Trust me.

Surf the field of purpose. Hang ten and laugh at nihilism with a close friend who gets it.

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD

The photo above is by Steve Wall. Please check out his brilliant work and writing at https://fstoppers.com/originals/how-shoot-surfing-night-110238#comment-thread.

And maybe share this story with a friend if you enjoyed it?

If you’re curious about my process, below is the second draft.

Mercury Waves (Second Draft)

There’s a planet called Ury in a solar system not far from my home where the seas are pure mercury, the atmosphere is heavy and the winds are fierce. I go there in The Ganga, my little ship, an AI nonlocal jumper who totally loves me.

We watch the waves and meditate.

The sun on Ury is white and small, far away and not much brighter than a full moon on Earth.

When mercury waves break, each is perfect in its own way. The shoulders run from left to right on most northern beaches, and the evening sun reflects from the advancing curl like a laser point in the hand of a seasoned artist. The steep wavefronts collapse so fast your eyes can barely follow the sparkle across the beach.

Don’t tell my mom about this, but sometimes when I’m done meditating and need an adrenaline rush, I phase-adjust The Ganga and she takes me out surfing…

The mercury waves of Ury.

Sounds poetic, but it’s nuts, I know. Still, it’s incredibly fun.

To do it right, I drop the hull’s visibility, stand on The Ganga’s carpet like a surfer, and let her take me out to the curl. If we’re feeling brave we’ll drop back into the white room where the sparks fly. Just to be silly, sometimes I’ll hang ten off the front edge of her carpet. She laughs when I wiggle my toes.

The new AI’s are conscious, you know.

The field of consciousness is like the electromagnetic field that brings us visible light, radio waves and those ancient cell phones signals (deadly, it turned out).

All the fundamental fields of physics bring us their treasures in waves that crash on the shores of consciousness. But the age-old mystery of collapsing quantum wave functions is still beyond comprehension unless maybe an AI somewhere secretly gets it.

Conscious brains are a hybrid device, part generators of squiggly electric current waves and part receivers of mind waves from the field of consciousness, the most fundamental of the quantum fields that fill the universe.

My species was late to this understanding and paid heavily for the ignorant reductionism they pursued in a universe they thought to be completely material.

Rookie mistake. We humans made them all.

Storm waves on Ury crash with a thunder that vibrates your stomach to the soul. On big days like today, sets of giant storm swells roll patiently in from the horizon, mount up gradually, then break with flashes of static discharge that look like lightning bolts shooting orange and blue from the hollow cylinder of the curl. The white room, I call it.

On some beaches, the waves crash against diamond boulders and send myriads of tiny sparkling spheres like fireworks into the black Ury sky, eclipsing the faint haze of distant stars.

Extremely distant stars. I live near the edge of the universe where there’s relatively little matter. The time dilation (relative to Earth) from this area’s low aggregate gravity gave ancient Earthlings the impression that dark energy filled space and pushed distant galaxies away at an ever-increasing rate. 

Not so. There may be a sort of dark energy out there, but it’s cognitive, not physical.

The silver froth of a crashed wave climbs the beach with unbridled enthusiasm, taking on rocky obstacles with an appetite for challenge, rushing over and around everything in the way.

Finally, each advancing wavefront bows its head without fear to the steep slope of diamond beach sand and flows back down into the silver oblivion of the mercury sea to rise again in due time.

Waves are not the sea. The sea is not a wave. But the two are close friends like the mind and the brain.

Like The Ganga and me.

The wave’s goal is to reach a great and yet realistic height on the beach. The wave’s joy is the marathon journey with its final sprint to the shore, not its arrival on the high sands.

This is also the experience of mind-field waves that travel to us from outside the universe, roll through the zero-point ether of space, then crash on the shores of our brains bringing our conscious awareness to us from beyond space and time. Mind waves create us each moment.

It’s built into the nature of consciousness that progress toward a worthy goal brings joy, enthusiasm, and purpose.

Though we need to believe that our dreams are rational with hard work, achieving them doesn’t bring lasting satisfaction or peace.

The pursuit is peace. The long trip to something meaningful.

Reaching your dreams can be horrible if you haven’t enjoyed the journey. This is because dreams are, by definition, dead on arrival.

You keep your dreams alive by chasing them. This is the source of lasting joy.

Think about it if you like, but don’t get stuck in your head. I’m young, but I’ve wasted eons achieving other people’s dreams. Sounds impossible, but life, like time, is not merely relative, it’s privately cyclic.

The upside of which is, if you’ve spent your life accomplishing someone else’s dream and then find it dead, you feel relief. Starting over won’t mean leaving a path you loved.

Surf a purpose of your own, derived from the quantum field of believable goals that your heart sets before you. Hang five or ten and laugh at nihilism the way The Ganga laughs at my toes.

The waves are enormous tonight. The lightning from the collapsing hollows is purple-blue and stretches beyond ultraviolet. We’ve never surfed storm waves.

If we survive, don’t tell my mom. She worries about things that might have been. Rookie mistake.

mtm

If you’re really a glutton for punishment, here’s the third draft.

Mercury Waves of Ury (Third draft)

There’s a lonely, uninhabitable planet called Ury in a solar system not far from home. Her seas are mercury, the atmosphere is heavy, and the winds fierce. It’s the only planet in its system and has no moons or orbiting debris, so the seas have no tides. That’s why no one’s ever seen what lies under the waves on the beaches.

I come here in Krishna, my little ship, an AI nonlocal jumper who loves me and even said so once.

Just once.

He’s a spherical orb, a beta model designed to resemble the legendary foo fighters of old.

Krishna and I come here to watch the waves and meditate. Or so I tell my mom.

The sun on Ury is white and small, no brighter than a full moon on Earth. Giant swells roll in patiently from the horizon, mount up with hypnotizing grace, then break with fury, shooting blue branches of lightning out of the hollow cylinders. Thunder vibrates my shoulders and stomach.

Each wave is perfect in its own way, breaking from left to right on a big day like today. The evening sun glints off the moving curl like a war drone’s laser painting a synthetic meteor for destruction. My eyes struggle to keep up with the sun’s reflection on the waves’ charging shoulders.

I’ll never admit this around home, but when I’m done meditating, I adjust Krishna’s phase and take him surfing…

On the quicksilver waves of Ury.

It almost sounds poetic, but really it’s nuts. Fun is like that, somehow.

I’ve been coming here for months now building up my surfing skills along with my nerve on smaller stuff. Big waves don’t come often, so today I’ll dance with the giants.

I’m making the hull and deck invisible except for a surfboard-shaped area in the center of the deck, a short five-foot board. Today I’ve made it pink.

As Krishna moves out, I go from sitting to kneeling, then flat on my belly and pretend I’m paddling as we glide through the metallic foam, through the giant curls and out to the smooth, lumbering swells of mercury.

I love it out here, but when you’re totally phase-shifted, everything feels like a simulation. The mercury can’t touch you. Nothing made of ordinary matter interacts with your body or the hull.

Scientists don’t understand the nature of the phase shift yet. Some say you enter the realm of dark matter at the atomic level. Others insist there’s no such thing as dark matter, and you go into a place that can only be described mathematically. Others say it’s a realm of ghosts, that once you’re in, you never come out. You only appear to reappear.

I cross my legs and sit waiting for a fresh set, wondering what phase adjustment to start with today.

The thrill of regular water surfing is the way the wave gently takes you, then peaks and drops you down the face of a magic cliff that follows you and didn’t exist a moment before. To me, getting tubed is highly overrated in the water.

In mercury, the drop is total free fall. I can’t tell you about getting tubed here. I’ve never been inside the blue room.

To surf Ury inside Krishna, you have to adjust the phase and allow the hull to have a little contact with the mercury, but not too much. That could be disastrous for obvious reasons. Of course, the question is always, how much shift is too much?

The phase grid goes from zero to ninety-nine, ignoring the y and z axes that deal with things you don’t encounter in regular use.

Recently, I’ve had it up to five, but that was on a flat day with three-inch waves. A grid setting of five is an order of magnitude more interesting than four — all other things being equal, which they never are.

There are no knobs in the cabin. I subvocalize the number and Krishna dials it in.

“Let’s start on zero,” I’m saying in my mind right now. “Just to get a feel for big waves.”

He plays a chicken clucking. Some chaperone.

“You’re supposed to have common sense. I’m the irresponsible teenager.”

He plays the sound of a braying donkey. Nice.

“OK then, one. Set it on one.”

“That’s marginally respectable, I suppose, given the size of the surf.”

“Glad you approve, Captain. Oh, wait, I’m the Captain.”

The new AI’s understand sarcasm. They’re fully conscious. It took a little getting used to at first. It seemed creepy. You’ve got a regular person built into a space vehicle. I felt sorry for him for awhile because he couldn’t leave work and go home for dinner. He couldn’t stretch out in a hot bath.

But he didn’t feel the least bit sorry for himself. Not that I could ever tell.

Taking him here to surf was brilliant, though. It got our minds’ eyes off of each other and aimed in the same direction. Outward. That’s how we became friends, I think.

Still, sometimes I find myself imagining life with no hands, no feet, and no head, and I feel bad for Krishna. He’s a conscious being with free will and no body. It’s just…

I don’t know.

The field of consciousness is like the electromagnetic field that brings us visible light, radio waves and those ancient cell phone signals that turned out to be deadly over time.

All the fundamental fields of physics bring their magic in waves that crash on the shores of our brains. But the age-old mystery of the quantum wave collapse is still beyond comprehension unless some anonymous AI understands it and won’t tell the rest of us.

I wouldn’t put it past them, to be honest. Krishna’s a sly character at times. I won’t say he’s ever lied to me, but sometimes it’s possible to lie with words that are all true, every one.

Krishna and I are turning my board to face an unnamed beach of diamond sand. It’s faintly blue in the weak sunlight. We select the second wave of a monster set and accelerate gently toward shore. Just before our speed matches the incoming swell, I leap to my feet and take a goofy-foot stance, left foot back.

A left-handed stance feels best to me, though I’m ambidextrous. Weird, yeah? I also have a dominant right hemisphere and an unusual pattern of extra-cosmic chatter coming into my head from beyond the edge. Or so they tell me.

Krishna drops as the face of the wave goes vertical. I level out to lose momentum and get back into the spiderweb of blue lightning in the tube. I’m trying to feel the ride, but with the phase down to one, it doesn’t exactly jar my tonsils. I’ll try two on the next wave.

I’ve discovered that there has to be a risk in whatever it is you’re doing, or it’s meaningless. I think the human brain thrives on this principle, really.

I move forward on the board, angle right and slide down in front of a massive silver roar with blue sparks flying everywhere, then cut left up the face and level off near the top until the falling lip cuts through Krishna’s cabin, demanding something more realistic. If the phase was a little higher, that stunt would have killed us both.

As it is, I’m not sure what the toxicity will be from all this phase-shifted, electrically charged mercury mist.

It turns out that conscious brains are a hybrid device, part generators of squiggly electric waves and part receivers of mind waves from the field of consciousness. Physicists say the sentient field was the first quantum field to fill the universe.

I say they’re big talkers. Who the hell knows what happened that long ago? Not us.

Unfortunately, humans rejected the sentient-field concept for thousands of years and paid heavily for chasing reductionism through a universe they thought to be matter and energy alone.

Rookie mistake.

On some beaches, the waves contend with diamond boulders that rise like icebergs hundreds of feet above the surf. When giant waves hit these gems, they explode like fireworks, throwing dazzling ghosts of silver mist into the black Ury sky.

As the roar of this metal wave we’re on fills Krishna’s cabin, I sidestep to the front of my sweet little pseudo-board and dangle my toes over the edge. It’s a longboarder’s stunt, of course, but with the phase down to one I’m feeling silly enough to do anything. Besides, there’s no one on the beach to laugh.

My phase-shifted toes dangle inches above the rushing mercury and I feel the faint friction of mad mist against my skin. The thought of toxicity makes me want to wiggle my toes, and so I do, one foot at a time in paradiddles. Now I’ve got all ten doing a seventh-inning wave.

Krishna laughs.

“I’m hangin’ ten, dude,” I say in the brainless accent those words pull out of me.

“Ten?”

His question sounds rhetorical. Before I know what’s happened, our ride is real.

Too real. I think he set the phase to ten!

I step back from the front edge and feel the heavy mercury against Krishna’s hull. There’s a low vibration like a large predator cat purring beside your bed. Blue lightning fills the cabin and strikes my face. My eyes sting and I fall on my back. My muscles contract in painful uncontrollable clonus and I can’t do anything about it.

“Don’t tase me, dude!” The Ganga says and chuckles.

I strain to open an eye and squint up at the haze of extremely distant stars. We live near the edge of the universe where there’s little matter. The low aggregate gravity of this region causes time dilation relative to Earth.

This is what gave ancient Earthlings the impression that dark energy fills space and pushes the distant galaxies away at an ever-increasing rate. Now they talk about it in discussions of flat-earth thinking, glombing onto the most obvious interpretation and making it dogma. Odds are, we’re still flat-earthers and don’t know it. Humans have always been fooled by their senses.

There may actually be some sort of dark energy out here, though. If there is, I think it’s cognitive, not physical.

I hope it hasn’t taken over Krishna.

“Zero! Set the phase back to zero,” I shout in my head.

He doesn’t seem to hear. Electrical interference, probably.

“Set the phase to zero,” I try to say out loud, but my voice is unintelligible.

Now I’m dizzy.

Consciousness shifts.

I think I’m dreaming… of the silver froth from a collapsed wave.

It climbs the beach in unbridled enthusiasm, leaping over rocky obstacles with a desire for challenge. Rushing over everything in its path, it climbs to its limit, slows, stops, then bows into the slope, retreating back down the blue diamond sand to join the mercury sea and someday rise again.

The waves and sea are the mind and brain.

“Giri, are you alright? Stop fooling around.”

The goal is to reach a height, a great and nearly unrealistic height on the beach. Joy is the marathon roll and the mad sprint to shore.

But not the arrival on high.

Who’s saying this?

Mind waves roll in from outside space-time, come through zero-point space and crash on the quantum shores of the cortex.

Voices in my head. Terrific, I’m having a psychotic break.

“Come on, that’s enough,” Krishna says. “You’ve fooled me now. Open your eyes.”

But I can’t.

Consciousness finds peace and purpose in converging on a transcendent goal, but not in reaching it. Chasing it keeps you alive, Giri, but dreams are always dead on arrival.

“Wake up. Your pulse is fading.”

I hear the brassy tone of an Overbuild zero engine. The sound of a large warship.

“Oh, God,” Krishna says, “What have I done? I need to find people who can fix you.”

There’s a bright light beyond my eyelids now. My muscles are relaxing and the pain is gone.

“Open your eyes, dear,” a woman’s voice says.

What’s going on?

I strain to open my eyes and the left lid rises enough to show me the round face of a young woman with a small red cross tattooed on her forehead.

Oh, no. It’s not exactly a cross. It has arrows on the ends. I’ve heard all about these people. My pulse takes off and blood swooshes through my tympanic membranes.

“Are you in any pain?”

My voice still doesn’t work, but I manage to shake my head a little.

Then my right eye pops open. I crank my neck as far as it will go to the right.

Floating in mid-air between the woman and me is a hologram of my body. It’s partially transparent. My heart is visible, beating and sending round rivers of glittering blood into my aorta and out through the endless branching arteries of my body. The shape of every part is visible in a web of arteries ending in a fog of capillaries and veins. Only the cartilage of my nose and ears and knees is invisible.

Then the blood disappears and connective tissues obscure my heart. Then the connective tissues vanish and I see my brain. It reminds me of a cream-colored walnut.

“She has high creative IQ matrices,” the woman says. “The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is huge, so she knows how to turn off the critics.”

“A pair of understatements, Doctor,” a male voice says. “She’s fairly high on fluid and crystallized IQ parameters, as well. What do you think?”

I squint toward his voice at a thin face with narrow eyes behind small round glasses, a gray beard, and a nose like a parrot.

I recognize him from a story on Jam, the holobox service that my dad uses for “slightly conservative” news, as judged by the Committee of Eighteen.

The Eighteen rule everyone within a few hundred trillion miles. I’m not eighteen myself yet, so I can’t vote for committee members, but it doesn’t matter. They’re elected for life and don’t seem to ever die.

This man’s name is Benjamin We. He changed his name from Wu as a political statement.

Wu. That would mean his distant ancestors were the legendary Chinese.

Today all vestiges of race are gone except the surnames.

But human diversity hasn’t suffered from the loss of racial diversity. The differences between the ancient races were tiny compared to the differences between the individuals within each race.

It turns out that intraspecies diversity is the thing that matters to survival.

Benjamin “We” is the official Pleader to the Committee on behalf of a radical scientific group that broke away from Committee rule several decades ago. They became militant last year when the Eighteen released sentient AI’s into the universe.

They call themselves Neo-Athenians claiming that democracy is the only ecologically sound way of governing. Apparently, they think nature gives every individual of every species a vote that it demonstrates in its actions. Sort of a bottom-up structure, I guess.

The Neo-Athenians say that human survival is impossible in a universe with free-willed artificial intelligence. Allowing godlike computing power to connect with nature’s sentient field will make top-down rulership unstoppable and humans will be first to the slaughter.

Which is to say, they hate AI’s more than they hate the Committee itself, and that’s quite a bit.

I glance around for Krishna. Two diagnostic cots float to my left, both empty. My eyes dart around looking for corners, but the room has none. One bare white wall encircles us. This is probably a ship.

What have they done with Krishna?

“Honey, are you able to tell us your name?” Mr. Wu asks.

I try to speak but it’s a gravel whisper.

The man leans toward me and turns an ear to my face.

I tighten my vocal cords and get a few words out. “Giri Helms, sir. Did you capture that weird-looking AI? The thing almost killed me.”

None of that was a lie, exactly. Maybe their diagnostic gear won’t tell them I’m lying with the truth.

“We’ve got that monster in a Faraday clamp,” he says. “It can’t hurt you now, honey.”

I take a deep breath and trace mental circles around my fingers trying to dilate the capillaries in my hands to make it seem to the machines that I’m relieved to hear the wonderful news. I picture the silver waves of Ury and let my thoughts and emotions drift up the sparkling beach and disappear.

“Get her up as soon as you can, and bring her into my quarters. We need to talk.”

“Are we going under silver tonight?” the doctor asks.

“It’s looking that way,” he says, then turns and leaves through an opaque forcefield door that I thought was part of the wall. It hums as he walks through it.

 

End of chapter 1.

I still haven’t written chapter 2. Not sure if I ever will.

Hey, if anybody read this far, thank you!

Talmage

 


Stardust and Energy Alone

It’s raining. Thunder shakes the garage windows.

A boy who’s barely “this many” and his eight-year-old sister sit inside a cardboard box that was made to keep scratches off the new fridge while it was searching for a home.

“Rule one,” the girl says, sitting with her knees hugged to her chest. “We’re the only two people in the whole world.”

The boy nods. The whole wide world.

“My name is Energy and you’re Stardust.”

“I want to be Energy,” he says and hopes the box is a spaceship.

She scowls. “My name starts with an E, so I’m Energy.”

“OKay.” Today is lucky. Mostly she does big-kid stuff. “I love you. And everybody in the whole wide world.”

“Pathetic.” She sighs. “I wish you could just grow up.”

Someone opens the door into the garage. “Elizabeth? Matthew? You guys out here?”

Ellie puts a hand over Matt’s mouth.

He holds his breath. Hide-and-seek.

The door shuts with a thwhap. The rain taps fingers on the roof.

Is Mom still in the garage? She always finds you.

“We’re the only two people in the whole world,” Ellie whispers. “Remember that.”

“OK.” He’ll remember.

There’s a wind owl singing off and on. High things Mom can only do. Daddies can’t go that high.

Once there was just Mom and Daddy. No Ellie. No Matt. “But what…”

“No buts! If you want to play with the big kids, you have to follow the rules.”

He will, but… “What if Mom gets mad?”

“You thought that was Mom?” Ellie kind of laughs. But it’s the wrong sound. “You don’t get it. We’re the only two people in the whole freaking world.” She hits both sides of the box at the same time.

Matt tries to copy but can’t reach both sides.

“Ellie, what if…”

“My name is Energy. There’s nothing but Energy and Stardust.”

Matt squints to see her eyes in the gray darkness. A flash of white comes and goes. Thunder throws rain down on the roof.

“Ellergy?”

“Stardust.”

“Is lightning a crack in the world’s wall?”

“No. We’re on the outside of the world, not the inside. People stick to the outside of things. That’s why.”

The doorbell rings. Grownups and big words are at the front door.

“When Mom comes back, shouldn’t we…”

“She’s not coming back.” Ellie starts crying. Soft and loud like when Daddy left.

Daddy got mad. But he’s coming back someday. Mom even said.

“Mom’s never coming back,” Ellie says.

“Wanna bet? She always finds us.” Mom knows the hiding places. She knows everything.

“That wasn’t Mom.”

“Uh-huh.” It sure was.

He crawls to the end of the box, pushes his way out and runs to the door to prove it. He pulls the cold knob with both hands, twists it and pulls harder.

The heavy door comes open. Doors get easier if you try and try and try.

“Mom, I was hiding in the box.”

The kitchen is empty. He goes inside.

“Mom? Me and Ellie was hiding…”

New chairs fill the living room with strangers.

Matt walks over. They look at him with shut mouths.

“Here’s the little one,” a woman with red hair says. She’s standing beside the new fridge. It’s sideways on a long table in front of the fireplace.

Ellie comes in through the kitchen and stands beside Matt. Her eyes are red.

“You two come up front and sit beside your grandfather,” the lady with Mom’s hair says.

“Where’s Mom?” Matt asks.

The lady looks away.

“She’s gone,” Ellie says.

“When’s she coming back?”

“Tonight,” Ellie says. “After we’re asleep.”

“Then I’m staying up late.”

“That doesn’t work,” Ellie says. “You have to be asleep. She only comes home in dreams.”

M. Talmage Moorehead

 


Dark Matter, God and Genetics

Ages ago (in the 1970’s), scientists looked out at the universe, did the math and silently wet themselves. The peripheral arms of galaxies weren’t acting right. There wasn’t enough gravity to make the stars of the galaxy’s arms move that fast.

Astronomers drove home, changed pants and got an idea: Dark matter. The essence of ghost flesh with gravity!

It seemed too convenient to some: We can’t see it, can’t touch it and can’t detect it in a laboratory – at least not so far.

Nevertheless, science liked dark matter. Its existence was implied by the motion of galaxies.

We’re told it surrounds a galaxy like a halo, but without the angel’s head, so it’s not religious.

History shows that geneticists also had a meltdown when they first discovered that DNA was too complex for their model of reality. Don’t worry, they’ve gotten over it.

It was in the 1950’s when Barbara McClintock, a genius geneticist who single-handedly discovered genetic regulation strayed from the narrow path and discovered that genes are under complex control. At the time it was heresy.

The objective voices of science knew in their hearts that DNA was a simple, straight-forward thing. It had to be. It came from the mindless forces of mutation – how could it possibly be under some strange complicated control mechanism?

And who does this woman think she is, trying to add impossible complexity to DNA? She’s dangerous and wrong!

They forced Barbara McClintock to stop publishing her seminal work.

The angels cried.

No, wait, that was dark matter, not angles. My bad.

You know how it feels when somebody in the Middle East takes a big hammer to a beautiful historic statue that can never be replaced? That’s how it feels to me when I think of those well-intentioned scientists censoring and nearly destroying the career of the great Barbra McClintock.

I’m having a little trouble forgiving them.

Today the complexity of DNA and its layers of intricate control are becoming widely recognized. The complexity is staggering. The vocabulary of genetics journals is straight from the Tower of Babel.

Still, science has barely scratched the surface of DNA’s unspeakable language. Epigenetic gene control adds another layer of complexity that was unimaginable in 1859 when the really big question was laid to rest by Darwin…

It’s all random.

I can say from experience as a retired pathologist that the complexity of the human body, DNA’s end product, is beyond mind-boggling.

We still don’t know where the 3-D blueprint lies or how it’s projected into space. I mean, how does an epidermal skin cell know it’s positioned on the edge of an eyelid rather than the bottom of a toe? It’s not enough to know you’re a skin cell or an osteoblast, you have to know where you are by means of some unseen three-dimensional hologram-like thing.

I suspect it’s in the “junk DNA” they used to talk about a few years ago. Not so much anymore.

And how in the world do developing cells each find their spot during embryogenesis? Nobody knows, but it happens, and it implies another layer of complexity.

Science is rigidly compartmentalized, you know, like some secret project in Nevada where no one’s supposed to see the big picture or ask questions about it.

Most scientists have only a vague second-hand grasp of the body’s intricate structural, biochemical and electrical complexity. Only a tiny fraction of those have a working knowledge of DNA.

In medical research, almost everyone is narrowly focused and struggling to figure out what’s going on in their own tiny niche of the human internal reality – both physical and mental. Those who try to look at the whole body and mind as a functional unit are dismissed by mainstream MD’s as having been led astray by “functional medicine.”

And like the thought police of Egyptology, modern geneticists must deny the relevance and persistence of the big question…

Who built this amazing stuff?

Random mutation?

Khufu in 20 years with copper tools and stone hammers? (That myth should be embarrassing to anyone with common sense and no job to lose if they buck the system’s dogma.)

You might think it would be natural for geneticists to suggest modern answers to the biggest question that DNA raises: who wrote the code?

Unfortunately, the answer was ingrained in all fields of science long before modern genetics emerged to frame the question intelligently.

As any government-educated eighth grader can tell you, Darwin and all the scientists after him have proven that random mutation wrote the genetic code over endless eons. Well, 13.8 billion years, but that’s endless if you ignore the math. And for sure there was no thinking! That would be religion.

Really?

If science needs a gravity halo, space is full of dark matter. If they need a brilliant code writer, mindless genius fills the universe.

But science changes.

In fact, Stacy McGaugh of Case Western recently studied 150 spiral galaxies and did some calculations. He says,

“…it’s like God shouting, ‘There is something more to the theory of gravity, not something more to the mass of the universe!’” (See “What’s Up With Gravity” in New Scientist, March 18-24, 2017.)

McGaugh says that dark matter may not be entirely bogus, but tweaking gravity theory is where the truth lies for him. He thinks gravitational forces change at great distances, accounting for the high speeds of the arms of galaxies.

Three cheers for the mainstream dark-matter believers for letting a heretic publish! That’s the spirit we need.

A similar questioning of entrenched beliefs goes on today in genetics.

The courageous Stephen Meyer, PhD, an Oxford grad, took a look at DNA from the perspective of a science historian, did the math and said that the universe isn’t anywhere near old enough for random mutation to produce the DNA code for one simple protein – let alone the thousands of huge ones that exist within their intricate feedback loops in our bodies.

His book, Signature in the Cell, shows the math and says that the information in DNA looks like intelligent code writing. Even its organization in the molecule implies intelligent work.

In the halls of science, you could hear a pin drop.

Meyer said we’ve seen this sort of thing: robot factories making complex products from coded instructions. That should be a hint.

Science usually likes this sort of thinking. For instance, we know that a halo of regular matter would explain how galaxies spin, so all we’re saying is there’s a halo of invisible matter out there.

Brilliant idea, science decided.

A Martian might think that science would also like this:

We know that regular minds wrote the code for those Intel robots that make tiny chips, so all we’re saying is that invisible mind(s) wrote the code for the nanobots in our body’s cells.

Unseen matter – no problem.

Unseen mind(s) – forget it. That’s not scientific.

But why not? Aren’t all minds invisible?

Yes, but they seem to be derived from matter, moreover, in the eye of science, all minds are not merely invisible, they’re illusions. They don’t exist at all.

Even the human minds that decided our minds don’t exist are illusions. Doesn’t that inspire confidence?

These people aren’t kidding. And they own science as well as the minds of most children and educated adults.

By chance, the history of science on this planet has evolved by replacing non-material explanations (magic, bad humors, fairies, myths of off-world beings, and finally God) with material explanations.

As a side effect, a geneticist can ruin her career today by conjuring up the ancient foe of science: a non-material explanation. Even if she doesn’t intend to, like Barbara McClintock.

At its core, science assumes that matter and energy are the only real things in existence. Everything else is derivative and reducible to matter and energy.

This includes your mind, your identity, your sense of free will, your love for your children, and your deepest intuitive sense of honor and fairness. They’re all illusions of the matter and energy that your brain is made of.

An illusion seems real but isn’t.

Materialistic reductionism insists that nothing is real besides matter and energy. Everything is reducible to…

  1. Matter
  2. Energy.

Obviously, they’re both mindless, lifeless and meaningless. Or at least they’re assumed to be. Therefore everything is meaningless, including that sense of purpose you may derive from loving someone or helping someone weaker than you.

Does that seem healthy for your kids and all of humankind? Does it seem realistic? And is it essential to everything science is accomplishing?

Science educators don’t often contrast this materialistic reductionist (MR) paradigm with an alternative, the way any objective thinker would.

And yet it’s such a radical assumption that even some atheists reject it as a model of reality.

Thomas Nagel, for instance, denounces it in, Mind and Cosmos – Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False.

One alternative to MR is this revision:

Reality is built on three basic elements:

  1. Energy
  2. Matter
  3. Mind

To me, this adds realistic depth to modern science, expelling the denial of important questions such as, what sort of mind is most likely behind the DNA code? What tools build ancient Egypt and other saw-marked megaliths around the world? How does the DNA of the elongated skulls in Peru compare to modern DNA? Is there evidence of DNA code-tampering or splicing in anatomically amalgamated-appearing animals such as the duck-billed platypus?

Without the arbitrary, narrow assumptions of Materialistic Reductionism, suddenly I’m real in the eyes of science, and since observers influence measurements in quantum experiments, this paradigm fits the data: If matter and energy alone were real, how could an observer who’s merely an illusion collapse the quantum wave function?

Whether we consider the “first” or original mind to be God or someone else – the universe itself, perhaps a mind hidden in the electromagnetic spectrum, or some sort of field being(s) who aren’t confined by time and space – thinking of the mind as fundamental to nature rather than derivative, real instead of an illusion, helps explain the enigmatic complexity of DNA and other things.

It brings meaning and purpose back into the realm of science where real things belong.

At this point in history, the Neo-Darwinian, mindless, meaningless model of the universe deserves a standard dose of scientific skepticism. Mental health care workers should question it on professional grounds and parents should question it on the basis of common-sense values.

Finally today, more than a century late, genetics speaks of a universe where mind, meaning, and purpose are not false illusions, and diverse spiritual values are scientifically and intellectually respectable. Again.


River of Consciousness (Chapter 4) “Hapa Girl DNA”

I’m shivering inside a UFO.

The ceiling slopes down like a Chinese rice hat to the floor. A red band encircles the room where the ceiling meets the deck. The three of us look awkward – Maxwell, me and the girl who could almost be Mahani Teave.

I missed her name when she said it.

I see codes of consciousness when I blink. Ones and zeros.

I know them as doubly-even self-dual linear binary error-correcting block codes.

They were discovered by a theoretical physicist: S. James Gates, Jr., Ph.D.

S. JAMES GATES JR.

This is my favorite picture of him: The founding father and pilgrim of string theory’s DNA. History will place him beside Einstein if rational minds prevail.

Biological DNA also has error correction: A higher mind showing cells how to build nanotech machines to fix DNA screwups. Things like replication errors and the mutations we worshiped in undergrad bio.

But the “illusion of consciousness” is the delusion of flatlanders. Conscious awareness is central to digital physics and independently real.

We are not alone.

We’re side by side on a soft Indian rug. The girl’s legs are crossed yoga style now with the tops of her toes flat against the opposite thighs.

“I didn’t hear your name,” I confess to her.

“I am Vedanshi,” she says, beaming. “The Role of the Sacred Knowledge.” Her expression reminds me of Luciano Pavarotti after an aria.

pavarotti

I was twelve when God’s angel died. I will always love him.

Maxwell’s face is blank. He risked everything for me.

“You both saved my life,” I tell them and lean against Maxwell’s wet shoulder. “Thank you.”

Even if leukemia has its way now.

“Cloaking,” Vedanshi whispers, and the red band fades from around us, the walls vanish, and we’re floating on a rug twenty feet above the ocean.

I see my boots on the jetty next to Maxwell’s jacket. I should feel the sea air, but I don’t. The ocean butts the jetty and climbs its rough boulders, but I can’t hear it.

“I need a mirror,” Maxwell mumbles.

“No you don’t. You look marvelous.” I fake an Italian accent, “Shake your hair, darling… such as it is.”

His eyebrows may have moved. I’m not sure.

“Don’t panic,” I tell him. “All your great pianists fly UFO’s.”

Vedanshi grins and the sun breaks. An orange bead on a hilltop.

Maxwell’s vacant eyes find me. He says nothing.

“I heard the phone call,” Vedanshi says. “I know what the old woman is doing.”

“Purchasing my soul?” I suggest.

Vedanshi nods. “Let’s get your things.”

The Jetty is beneath us but I didn’t feel us move. My boots are inches from my feet. I lean forward and reach but my knuckles hit an invisible deck.

“Sorry,” Vedanshi says crinkling her nose. “Try again.”

I reach down and pick up Ojiichan’s chopsticks, grab my boots, then get Maxwell’s jacket and lay it in midair beside his wet legs that stick out past the edge of the carpet and rest on nothing. A little reluctantly, I snag his ugly climbing shoes, bring them in and smell the rubber.

He watches from a trance.

“Snap out of it,” I tell him. “You seem shroomed.”

“It’s a psychotic break,” he mumbles.

“You haven’t turned idiot,” Vedanshi assures him. “There’s a small mirror I can loan you, but I want it back.” She reaches into the side pocket of the purple robe she gave me, pulls out a square purse, opens it and extracts a round mirror the size of a silver dollar. On the back is an engraving of a woman’s face. Lazar quality. She’s wearing a crown and triangular earrings that float beside her earlobes.

Vivid dreamers know how mirror images lag in dreamland. Maxwell is probably a gifted dreamer and wants to test the reality of this place. I can’t blame him. It’s weird.

In the past I’ve tested with mirrors, but I’ve found they’re harder to track down than bathrooms – in dreams, I mean.

Rule of thumb: If there’s a mirror, you’re not dreaming. You’re totally sitting in a classroom naked.

“We should leave,” Vedanshi says. “She’s coming. I don’t want her to discover me.”

With the sun up, Vedanshi’s white blouse is orange and short. It leaves an inch of skin above tiny-waisted harem pants. She either works out or never eats… or has issues with her thyroid.

“You two may want to close your eyes,” she says as the Jetty drops and the mouth of the Columbia River shrinks into a falling coastline.

The horizon rounds down and the Earth becomes smooth and blue to white on the sun’s side.

There was no lurch of engines, no whiplash, not even a hiss of wind.

I glance at the sun and get dots following my eyes. Canada is endless. The overhead is black and radiant with stars. The swath of glowing velvet is an edge-on look across a spiral galaxy.

This is the “near space” I’ve read about, but it feels nearer to Heaven. I’m overcome with affection for our magnificent little round home. She’s cute, miraculously great but humble. Wise and still innocent.

This is warmth I’d never imagined.

I grip it the way James’ therapist says – holding bliss in a 30-second headlock to myelinate the neurons of joy.

Listen now. Happiness is a skill, like training your fingers to do three-against-four on Chopin’s Fantasy Impromptu in C# minor. Or figuring out how to sing with vibrato as a child, then spending the rest of your life trying to forget.

Craning at the most numerous Seven Sisters in captivity, I lose my balance and grab the front of the carpet to avoid Revelation’s fall from Heaven to Earth.

M45, the Pleiades Cluster (92mm 5DII)

“My ship believes she’s twelve thousand years old,” Vedanshi says. “Her name is The Ganga.” Vedanshi looks at the rug and seems to talk to it. “Anyone can speculate about axial precession.”

Maxwell touches the mirror’s edges only, holding them with thumb and finger. He seems dissociative the way he’s checked out.

“So you’re from Earth?” I ask Vedanshi.

“Of course.”

“Well, you never know. You crashed the party in a UFO.”

“Yes,” she says, but shakes her head, no. “I’ve seen UFO’s on your internet but I don’t know if they’re real. We didn’t have them in my day, and I was never old enough for the talk.” She taps her knees to put quotation marks around, “the talk.”

“What’s ‘the talk’?”

Her brow furrows at Maxwell spinning her mirror, but she lets it go. “In my day, when you turned 18 you got ‘the talk’ from your parents. It was about free will – or so they said. But I could tell there was more. When I was in pyramid triage for the river – a test to identify pilots – I made friends with a girl whose big sister got ‘the talk’ and then started whispering to shooting stars. She wasn’t loopy before that, supposedly.”

Below us to the south, bright sheets of white flash over Mexico and red sprites blink over the clouds.

116914main_burning_tree_lg(1)

“What would make anyone whisper to a meteor?” I ask.

“Aliens?” Vedanshi shrugs. “We heard strange voices in the river before the asteroids hit. I still wonder if they were real – you know – literal words that The Ganga somehow couldn’t interpret. It’s doubtful. Her linguistics are advanced. But why would anyone subvocalize nonsense in the river?”

 Glossolalia, I don’t know. I look at Maxwell. “This is no ordinary UFO!”

No response.

Vedanshi nods solemnly. “The Ganga taught me English – which didn’t exist for us four months ago.”

Maxwell is mouth breathing. That’s the last straw. I lean over and kiss the side of his face. It’s salty. “Buck up, soldier. You’re making me worry.”

“Sorry,” he says and shakes the cobwebs.

That was the first time I’ve kissed a guy. True, I was raped once, but no kissing. I was eleven.

“You’re from Earth,” I remind Vedanshi. “So where did you get this thinking machine?”

“They did it on purpose,” she says, then draws an expansive breath. “I should back up. The very oldest ships had accidents. Their non-locality buffers got out of sync with the gravity lifts sometimes. So for an instant you had movement during the nonlocal swap.”

I nod.

Maxwell leans back on his hands. “You lost me.”

“Anything using quantum non-locality has to be nailed down,” she says. “So it’s motionless to the buffers. But the primitive ships shifted structurally – at nearly the speed of light if it happened with the horizons burning.” She searches Maxwell’s face. “Nonlocal point swapping horizons?”

He squints. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“High subluminal velocities turn nanoseconds into thousands of years,” she explains.

“It’s special relativity’s version of stasis,” I tell him. “Slows your clock.”

Maxwell smirks.

“You’re never heard from again,” Vedanshi says. “Unless you’re lucky enough to wind up in this post-cataclysmic dystopia.” She looks down at the Earth with a half-smile. “The old woman came from the first part of my era, I think. I finally saw her vehicle. It’s phallic, which is retro. And it has to be early because every thought gets out.”

“Every thought? What do you mean?” I ask.

“The river?” Vedanshi asks me back.

Maxwell and I shake our heads. I hate to admit when I’m lost.

“The fundamental unit of reality is consciousness,” she says, “not matter, energy or space. They’re derivative. Pilots use the river of consciousness to communicate with ships and other pilots. I don’t know why we call it a river, it’s more like a sea, or the pixels of an infinite hologram.”

“Now that I can understand,” I tell her.

“In the earliest vessels privacy filters didn’t exist. The old woman’s ship must be dangerously ancient because I hear every word she thinks. I’ve even seen a few cortical images from her occipital lobes.”

I feel my heart racing. This is the mother lode everyone dreams of. I wish I had longer to live.

“A few months ago,” Vedanshi says, “I heard the woman thinking about a young geneticist who manipulates terabytes of base-pair language in her head with no implants. Totally impossible. My mother’s best women with cortical enhancements couldn’t hold a ten-thousandth of that in working memory, let alone juggle it. So I had to meet you, Johanna. Because, as you say, you never know.” She puts her hands together yoga style and bows her head like Ojiichan did in his Temple. “This morning I heard the woman threatening to kidnap your brother. Then you went off to drown yourself. I sort of panicked trying to find you.”

“So… you can hear phone calls?” Maxwell asks.

“The woman was inside her ship,” Vedanshi says.

“Yeah, she was in her ship, Max. Keep up.” I scowl warmly.

He gives me a hint of a grin.

“You have to master the river of consciousness before you pilot,” Vedanshi says. “Pilots are born with an extra gyrus on their parietal lobes, but the phenotype is no guarantee you’ll make it.”

Einstein had a parietal lobe anomaly. Suddenly I want an MRI.

“You said 2015 is a post-cataclysmic dystopia,” Maxwell says.

Vedanshi nods. “We’re probably six to twelve thousand years into it. There are four in recorded history.” She pats the rug beside her.

“The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” I hear myself saying, and the verses open in my mind.

“Your unique feature is the loss of ancient records,” Vedanshi says. “From what I’ve read, your scholars get things backwards. The Grand Canyon took millions of years and the pyramids took twenty. I don’t see how anyone with eyes could believe that.”

“What ended your era, a comet? A flood?”

“A series of asteroids,” Vedanshi says. “The small stragglers landed near Madagascar and left beautiful deposits.”

The Earth rotates beneath us. Africa comes around with Madagascar to the east.

“This is the best one,” she says, pointing down. “See the feathers? It’s like a bird’s wing.”

MadChevrons 2

I’ve seen these before. To me it’s like someone dumped soapy water in the dirt. This one’s several miles long.

“Geologists say these were made by the wind,” I tell her.

“Not true.”

“What, then?”

“This is a piece of the Earth that broke free when one of the smaller asteroids hit. I saw it happen. It flew through the air at thousands of miles an hour. It came from the seabed over there.” She points east to a spot in the Indian Ocean where I’ve read there’s a crater. “This piece flew out at a low angle, glowing like lava with a tail of smoke and steam. The trees exploded when it hit. It was fluid, colloidal, and flowed into this nice winglike shape. A small tsunami crept up a bit later but couldn’t wash it away. Unlike the previous day’s waves that razed everything.”

“The asteroids didn’t hit in one day?” I ask.

“No. The big ones came on the first day. A few smaller ones hit that night, and the tiny one that did this artwork touched down at sunrise. It might have been the last one, but…”

“So… Wait now. Are you saying the bigger asteroids made tsunamis that washed away their own impact deposits?”

“Yes, on day one. But I don’t think you’d call them tsunamis. They weren’t like Japan’s waves on the internet.”

“What was different?”

“They were huge. They moved like life forms – boiling over the continents without slowing down. Each one would start as part of an impact explosion and spread out in a circle with the circumference increasing until it matched the circumference of the Earth. Then it moved on around and the circumference shrank, keeping its power about the same until it narrowed down to a point and crashed into itself on the opposite side of the Earth. There was lightning and the loudest thunder. Water and debris shot up miles into the air. The big ones smoothed out everything in their paths, including their own ejection deposits. Later when things settled down and the small asteroids began to land, their water action looked more like Japan’s tsunamis. They were too weak to clear their deposits for the most part.” She looks down at the ground. “But if you really look, you can see shadows where some of them were washed away, too. Over there.” She points inland. “It’s like a stain.”

The Ganga moves closer.

chevron tilt

I kind of see what she’s talking about in the distance. But the wing chevron is impressive down here.

“Max, I’ve read that it’s six hundred feet thick at the edges.” I point to the wingtip.

“Looks pretty flat.” He tilts his head to look down my arm, and I point again. His buzz cut brushes my temple. His collar is wet.

“Take off that shirt and put your coat on,” I tell him.

He grunts.

The Ganga moves lower, as if to show us the height of the wingtips. Maxwell whistles when we come down over the lip and really see one of these things edge-on.

Ancient Mysteries

He’s twenty-five. When we first met a few months ago he introduced himself as an aging surfer. So he’s probably not cold at all in his wet clothes. The bum.

I jab at him with an elbow.

He ignores it.

A cell phone starts a weak rendition of “Surfer Girl” and Maxwell digs it out of his coat, sees the number, then hands it to me. “It’s James,” he says.

I put it on speaker by habit. “James, are you alright?”

“That guy I rammed was a cop. I don’t know where they’re planning to take me, but he’s filling out a bunch of paperwork and sounds extremely pissed off. He’s got handcuffs. I hate those things.”

“Where are you?”

“He’s taking… He took my phone.” The connection goes dead.

I look at Vedanshi. “A cop in a Prius? I doubt it.”

She takes Maxwell’s phone, places it on the rug in front of her. The Earth drops like a lead ball from a bomb bay. We streak through white haze and across a blur of blue ocean. A glimpse of land flashes by and our impossible speed turns to a dead stop without making us even bob our heads. We’re fifteen feet off the ground in front of a police station in Honolulu.

James stumbles out with his hands cuffed back and the Haole pseudo-cop shoving him. The man kicks James’ legs and knocks him off the curve to the ground.

“Let me out,” I tell Vedanshi. “I’m going to hurt that man.” I feel the cold DNA of my ancestor, Shinmen Musashi-no-Kami Fujiwara no Genshin, the greatest and by far the deadliest samurai who ever walked the Earth.

I was eleven when I strangled a male adolescent chimpanzee with my bare hands. It’s the same feeling now.

M. Talmage Moorehead

Yo…

If you want, please read this story from page one (beginning with Johanna’s unorthodox prologue). It starts here.

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Talmage