Friday, December 2, 2011

Bell's Theorem and the Dawn of New Age Physics (Quantum Information Science's dawn)

1n 1972, John Clauser successfully tested Bell's theorem re quantum entanglement, at Berkeley. One of the first to notice was Elizabeth Rauscher. His and her story are beautifully told in the following book. Virtually ALL of this "New Age" stuff can be traced back to Berkeley and these two key people.

As a female scientist in an age of very few women as such, she was instrumental in bringing together the cast of characters that would destroy the whole "Shut Up and Calculate!" attitude in physics at the time. The history of all this (and so much more) is beautifully told in the following (math-free) book, which I am currently reading, and her Wikipedia entry follows:

ELIZABETH RAUSCHER in her first Ten Years

from “How the Hippies Saved Physics”, pages 48-49

Rauscher grew up in the Berkeley area.  For as long as she can remember, she has been passionate about Science, As early as age 4 she began to study nature. She recalls sitting outside to watch how the grass grows, or gazing up at night, mesmerized by the flickering stars. She loved getting her hands dirty trying to figure things out. She designed, built, and reassembled her own telescopes. Sometimes when she asked her parents questions, they didn’t know the answers. That taught her an important lesson: “people don’t just automatically grow up and know stuff.” Even as a young girl, she realized that she would have to study hard. By the time she reached high school, she began to hang out at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, eager to soak in all the science she could. 

ELIZABETH RAUSCHER in Physics GRAD SCHOOL,  1960’s, Berkeley

from p50-51, “How the Hippies Saved Physics”

Rauscher found herself asking questions in class that none of her male colleagues would broach. Since her undergraduate days, she had gotten used to being the only woman in a large class of men. At that time, nationwide, women earned only 5 percent of the undergraduate degrees in physics, and just 2 percent of the physics PhD’s. Rauscher was a rarity indeed. She had learned to cope by wearing tweedy dresses and keeping her hair short, but she still stuck out. The dowdy clothes could not disguise the fact that she was something of a free spirit. At one point some of the men in her department complained that she sang too loudly in the halls. As a graduate student, she received anonymous threatening telephone calls;   her laboratory work was sabotaged. But she realized that one could not do anything in physics without a PhD.,   so she buckled down and decided not to let the intimidation curtail her ambition or her curiosity. 

Elizabeth A. Rauscher
 is an American physicist and parapsychologist. She is a former researcher with the Lawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryLawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Stanford Research Institute, and NASA.[1]
In 1975 Rauscher co-founded the Berkeley Fundamental Fysiks Group, an informal group of physicists who met weekly to discuss quantum mysticism and the philosophy of quantum physicsDavid Kaiser writes that it was in large measure thanks to this group that certain ideas were nurtured—ideas unpopular at the time with the mainstream scientific establishment—which now form the basis of quantum information science.[2]
She is known for her interest in psychic healing and faith healing.


[edit]Education and career

In How the Hippies Saved Physics (2011), Kaiser writes that Rauscher had always been interested in science, and as a child had designed and built her own telescopes. Raised near Berkeley, she started hanging around the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory when she was in high school. She enrolled at Berkeley for her first degree, and published her first article, on nuclear fusion, while still an undergraduate. Kaiser writes that she was the only woman in her class; at that time women in America earned only five and two percent of physics undergraduate degrees and PhDs respectively. He writes that she coped with it by wearing tweedy dresses and keeping her hair short, though she experienced some intimidation. She obtained her masters in nuclear physics in 1965.[3]
She married and had a son, and when she became their sole provider took a job as a staff scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a weapons laboratory near Berkeley. When her son was old enough, she returned to Berkeley to begin her PhD under Glenn Seaborg, the nuclear chemist. She continued to work at Livermore and became the chair of the Livermore Philosophy Group, offering classes on the relationship between science and society at Berkeley, and later at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.[3] She completed her PhD in 1978 on "Coupled Channel Alpha Decay Theory for Even and Odd-Mass Light and Heavy Nuclei."[4]
She later held positions as professor of physics and general science at John F. Kennedy University, 1978–1984;[citation needed] research consultant to NASA, 1983–1985;[citation needed] and professor and graduate student adviser in the department of physics at the University of Nevada, Reno, 1990–1998.[citation needed][5]

[edit]Fundamental Fysiks Group

 External images
Members of the Fundamental Fysiks Group, featured in Francis Ford Coppola's City Magazine in 1975.
Left to right: Jack Sarfatti, Saul-Paul Sirag,Nick Herbert, and (seated) Fred Alan Wolf.
At Berkeley in May 1975, she and George Weissmann co-founded the Fundamental Fysiks Group, an informal group of physicists who met for Friday afternoon brainstorming sessions to explore the philosophical problems posed by quantum physics, particularly the relationship between physics and consciousness. The group included Fritjof CapraJohn ClauserNick HerbertJack SarfattiHenry Stapp, and Fred Alan Wolf. According to Kaiser, Rauscher and Weissman started the meetings in a fit of pique and frustration, saddened by the absence of a philosophical perspective in their physics classes.[2]
Kaiser describes how Rauscher's personal interests within the group lay with remote viewingprecognitionpsychokinesis, remote healing, and ghosts.[6] Jeffrey John Kripal writes that Rauscher broadened the group to included non-physicists, and in the late 1970s and early 1980s the group's members met annually at the Esalen Institute to continue their exchange of ideas, exerting a major influence on alternative religious thought in the United States.[7]

[edit]Later research

In the 1990s, Rauscher and her husband—William van Bise, an engineer—moved to an estate in Devotion, North Carolina, owned by Richard J. Reynolds III, grandson of R. J. Reynolds, the tobacco magnate. Until his death in 1994, Reynolds allowed them to live there to conduct research into the effects of electromagnetic fields on brain waves. A third scientist, physician Andrija Puharich, had been living and conducting research on the estate since 1980. After Reynolds' death, the scientists said he had invited them to remain there as long as they wanted, but they were unable to produce a written agreement, and were required by a court to leave.[8]

[edit]Selected works

[edit]See also


  1. ^ Pedler, KitMind Over Matter. Taylor & Francis, 1981, p. 48.
  2. a b Kaiser, DavidHow the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture and the Quantum Revival. W. W. Norton & Company, 2011, p. xv–xvii.
  3. a b Kaiser 2011, pp. 49–51.
  4. ^ Rauscher, Elizabeth. "Coupled Channel Alpha Decay Theory for Even and Odd-Mass Light and Heavy Nuclei", Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, February 1978.
  5. ^ "Presenters: Elizabeth A. Rauscher, Ph.D.",, accessed August 20, 2011.
  6. ^ Kaiser 2011, p. 262.
  7. ^ Kripal, Jeffrey JohnEsalen: America and the religion of no religion. University of Chicago Press, 2007, p. 309.
  8. ^ "Scientists being asked to leave Reynolds estate"The Charlotte Observer, November 7, 1994.

[edit]Further reading


Pat B said...

Thanks for posting this Steven, Always love an off-beat science story...

Neil Bates said...

Also, Steve puts so much work into his posts, with all that material and citations. I put my creativity into mine, not so much "work" ;-)