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Last Update: Thursday December 14, 2017

Could The Planck Units Open A Secret Door To A New Universe Of Knowledge? Maybe Harry Potter Will Move Over.

Five Basic Planck Units Science is filled with mysterious numbers that defy logic and explanation. Among them are extremely small numbers that were introduced in 1899. Largely ignored for over 100 years, today these Planck Units have opened a rather magical pathway that has a little potential to become a new study within the sciences. Some might think it is a science of the mind. Though possibly true, it could be much more. (new window)

Here the old-fashioned thought experiment could become a new art form.

John Curtis Christian SchoolA little high school, not far from the levee along the Mississippi River and a little up river from the French Quarter (but downriver from the New Orleans airport), has big dreams and plenty of brains-and-brawn. Yet, never did they expect to be the place where base-2 exponential notation from the Planck Length to the Observable Universe and from the Planck Time to the Age of the Universe would be birthed. The fateful day was December 19, 2011, the last day of classes before their Christmas holiday recess and it begged the question, "Could this possibly be the beginnings of a very simple model for everything everywhere for all times?" More...

For five groups of students who were studying the basic tenets of geometry, a strange thing happened. They saw the entire universe and parts of the unknown universe all at one time, all interrelated on one board, and organized by (1) a simple logic, (2) the Planck Length, (3) simple geometries and (4) simple mathematics (multiplying and dividing by 2). Just over 201 doublings captured our entire known universe. More...

Just 201+ notations! What does it mean? What difference does it make?

The first insight that came out of their study is that there is a deep-seated order in the universe. The order is imputed. It comes from logic and mathematics not from experimentation and measurement. Although it creates a special continuity from the smallest to the largest measurements of space and time, they can only say for sure, "Here it is," then ask questions such as "What is wrong with this picture?" Very quickly, fifteen more key questions were raised. Third, also imputed are structural relations that create a diversity of symmetries that literally bind everything in the known universe. That's quite an achievement unto itself, but it must be defended
with facts that have some basis in reality. More...

New OrleansHardly intimidated, this group believes that the facts are, by and large, self evident and that there is so much more to discover and learn. More...

Located in River Ridge (a hamlet just downriver from the airport), the only thing John Curtis Christian School has in common with Harry Potter's Hogwarts is the word, school. Yet, the school's lasting effect may be far greater than anything Harry had ever hoped to see. Though there are rumblings and a very small scientific group moving away from the Big Bang Theory, these students could wave the wand that suddenly causes this leading intellectual theory to disappear. If their map of the universe is truly a new domain of science, the human mind may end up taking its rightful place of importance in defining who we are and why. More...

That is enough, but there is more.

To date, science has had very little to say about values and ethics, You can hear the pragmatists say, "Those are not measureable qualities." And they would be right, yet here, if the inherent structure of science is order-continuity and relations-symmetry, extended logically, it could become a structure for value and even for a moment of perfection within what appears to be a finite universe. Two symmetries interacting over time, give us the first dynamical moments that have a harmony which unto itself is a compelling infrastructure for valuation and ethics. More...

Also, deep in the heart of this discussion is the place of the finite-and-infinite, and geometry-and-calculus. The old world of geometry gave us a special grounding. Structure was everything. Then, the newer world of calculus came in and slowly began to give us a new sense of change, openness, and a very long vision. People thought they could see forever. Professor Max Planck was 41 years old when he did those special calculations back in 1899. He was 60 years old when in 1918 he received his Nobel Prize for his work to define a quanta of energy. By 1944 -- now 87 years old -- he penned these few special words that could be a set or a stage for a science of the Mind. More... (Also, see right column and endnotes.)*

Throughout it all, his precious Planck Units had been virtually ignored. It wasn't until 2001 before his earlier calculations, now over 100 years old, began to see the light of day. In a series of three articles in Physics Today. Prof. Dr. Frank Wilczek of MIT (Nobel laureate, 2004) acknowledged their presence and potential importance. Finally, the Planck numbers gained a little respect as the conceptual limits on the smallest side of every equation. It seemed to suggest a way to begin to see the universe as a finite place. Rather suddenly Planck's work gained a solid foothold. Also, science had advanced far enough to begin to suggest that there are upper boundaries as well. For the first time in centuries, the finite was gaining ground; the infinite seemed more ephemeral. The kids had plenty of ideas and comments. "This is a great STEM tool. Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics all makes sense here." Another said, "Let's keep the small "I" of the infinite so all our atheist friends have something in which to believe so they don't have to believe." More...

Five Basic Planck UnitsOur "Planck students" soon discovered that they were not alone in their sense that the universe could be reduced to simple, logical working principles. In 1957 in Holland a little-known high school teacher, Kees Boeke, wrote a very short book, Cosmic Vision, The Universe in 40 Jumps. In 1962 a film was made about it and then in 1965 a coffee table book was published. By 2001, the scholarly community had become familiar with base-10 notation. The River Ridge group was just getting to know him. They quickly acknowledged that Boeke's book was the very first universe view. But because he only found 40 of 62 base-10 notations, it was dubbed "universe-view light."

Yet, base-10 has an important place in this discovery process and work with it is still being done. In July 2014, Gerard 't Hooft and Stephan Vandoren published a book, Time in the Powers of Ten. More...

Of course, base-2 is much more granular (3.3333 times) and mimics cellular reproduction on one hand and chemical bonding on the other. More importantly, this base-2 work is rooted within the Planck Units and basic geometries where space and time are seen working together throughout the 201+ notations that define our universe. More...

There are several next steps. A few students (and their teacher) speculate:
"Let's make a movie about it that focuses on our most speculative guesses."
"Let's focus on that small-scale universe and try to figure it out. There are doctoral dissertations in there."
"Let's get other schools involved and promote this simple model as a powerful STeEM (Science-Technology-[Education]-Engineering-Technology) tool. (A link will be forthcoming)

* Endnote: The following Max Planck quote is currently linked to the place where the source pages are housed in Berlin at a place called the Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft: "All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter." (opens in a new window)

From "The Nature of Matter" within the Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797, 1944