Albert Einstein

Behaving as Both a Wave and a Particle

"One of the most mysterious things about light, is that when you really get down to it -- and this is not just true of light, this is actually true of almost anything once you get on to a small enough, quantum mechanical level -- that light behaves as both a wave and a particle."

~ Sal Khan, from the Khan Academy tutorial "An Introduction to Light"

Attention Training

Excerpt from “Living in Buddha Standard Time,” a Buddhist Geeks conversation with Lama Surya Das (October 4, 2010):

Most people have had an experience of time slowing down, maybe like in a traffic accident or while they’re falling from a height, or tumbling over beneath the waves and drowning or something. Or, if you’re in pain, a minute seems like an hour. What’s the saying? The watched pot never seems to boil. You know, while you’re waiting for the pot to boil, if you go away it boils right away. You like have to hurry back it seems. But if you sit there, watching it, it seems never to boil.

Time is so elastic, and it’s not just that it’s speeded up in this era; it could also be slowed down if we’re more aware. Maybe you’ve experienced that on some drug or something. Maybe you’ve experienced it in a dream or a vision. Time can also be very slow motion. The outer slowing down of time with slow motion film and all is just an image of how this feels internally, when you’re more aware. By sharpening you’re awareness, processing the frames of awareness like a movie frame. Every step seems to be slower, you can be very aware of lifting and moving your foot forward and shifting the weight in your abdomen and putting down the other foot and stepping on it—without walking slower, by shifting the mind, by more sharp and quick awareness. Not thinking faster, but with quicker awareness.

This is attention training. This is awareness training. This is part of samadhi or focused awareness. We can train ourselves in this way to be aware of more mind moments within one second or one minute. To be aware of the space between thoughts, not just the thoughts that we’re caught in, and so on. And to slow down a little and to be more present so we can choose how and if to respond to stimuli, not just blindly reacting. The secret of mindful anger management is creating some space between the outer stimulus and your reaction, so you can choose how and when to respond.

I think that time is very elastic, and…what did Einstein say? Time slows down so much when you’re waiting to see if you can take that first kiss from a girl. That’s Albert Einstein by the way, I’m not making it up. So he doesn’t just talk about e=mc2 and how at the speed of light all mass is fused and so on, time and space continuum and different dimensions. He was actually saying that when you are keenly present and aware and involved wholly in something, when you’re on the edge of your mental seat, time seems to slow down, like waiting to see if you can kiss that girl, when you’re young.

Satisfied with the Mystery

Abell 2218: A Galaxy Cluster Lens

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery—even if mixed with fear—that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man...I am satisfied with the mystery of life's eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence—as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature."

~ Albert Einstein, from The World as I See It


[Thanks for the Einstein quote, Liv!]

To Experience the Delight and Awe that Scientists Feel

From PowellsBooks.Blog (July 20, 2009):

why-does-e Why Does E=mc2? is in some ways a simple book with a simple aim: we (Jeff Forshaw and Brian Cox) wanted to see whether we could actually derive E=mc2 in a way that any interested non-mathematical reader could understand. By derive, I mean follow a series of small steps that are well-motivated and hopefully obvious, or at least plausible, and arrive at the equation itself, assuming no prior knowledge and making the minimum possible number of assumptions. In other words, we behave exactly as we would in our professional life as research scientists, searching for equations that describe nature.

In doing this, we hope to do much more than simply present and describe the equation, however. If the reader follows the argument, we hope that he or she will experience the delight and awe that scientists feel when they explore nature and reveal its underlying simplicity and beauty. One often hears scientists describe equations as "beautiful," and we believe the best way to understand what this means is to actually see how the most iconic and simple equation of all came to be written down. We don't in fact follow Einstein's route to E=mc2, because we believe that 100 years of teaching and understanding has provided a more profound and transparent route to it — we aren't writing a history book.

There is an element of polemic in the book. We very firmly believe that science, which is synonymous with rational thought as far as we are concerned, is the route to a better future. Woolly thinking and superstition are rife, and we should strive to reduce their place in public discourse. By showing how something as useful and, as far as we can tell, correct, as E=mc2 emerges from simple thought processes that we believe are open to every interested reader, we hope to make our case for an increased respect for and use of the scientific method in everyday life.

collider We also describe what E, m, and c actually are. Why is the speed of light special? What is energy, and what is mass? The question of mass leads us to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, where we both work. One of the key goals of this machine is to answer this question definitively for the first time. It is remarkable that Einstein could be led to the equation that describes how mass and energy can be interchanged freely, without actually knowing what mass is. Such is the wonder of physics!

To Free Ourselves

"A human being is part of the whole that we call the universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness. This illusion is a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for only the few people nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living beings and all of nature."

~ Albert Einstein

Equations that Describe Enlightenment

"Let's put it this way, Newton was incredible, but relativistic and quantum physics take it to a whole other level. They don't exactly replace Newton, but they're based on Newton. But they show us things that Newton could never have dreamed of.

"If you had told Newton the results of relativity—I mean he could have eventually understood it—but upon first hearing something like E=mc² or that its essentially chance that's responsible for these forces, OK? Or the quantum view? Upon first hearing the relativistic or quantum view of physics, Newton would have freaked. Totally freaked. And yet, of course, eventually he'd understand it. But it takes it to a whole other thing.

"I believe that the Buddha was the Sir Isaac Newton of spirituality. Absolutely sui generis—in a class by himself. Now, what we need is an Albert Einstein and a Richard Feynman all trained in western science—neuroscience—to say, Oh and yes, by the way, here are the equations that describe enlightenment and here's some alternative interventions that can really speed the process along for the average person in this world."

~ Shinzen Young speaking with David Van Nuys on The Wise Counsel Podcast (April 1, 2008)