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Principle of Least Action III — History

The spectacle of the universe becomes so much the grander, so much more beautiful, the worthier of its Author, when one knows that a small number of laws, most wisely established, suffice for all movements. Pierre Louis Maupertuis (1744) Among the more or less general laws, the discovery of which characterize the development of physical science during the last century, the principle of Least Action is at present certainly one which, by its form and comprehensiveness, may be said to have approached most closely to the ideal aim of theoretical inquiry. Its significance, properly understood, extends, not only to mechanical processes, but also to thermal and electrodynamic problems. In all the branches of science to which it applies, it gives, not only an explanation of certain characteristics of phenomena at present encountered, but [...]

Yom Kippur—The Day of Pure Delight

Yom Kippur means “The Day of Atonement.” Some view it as a frightening day full of regrets of the past and anxiety for the future. However, Chasidic philosophy sees Yom Kippur as the day of pure delight. On a simple level, Yom Kippur is the day of forgiveness--the day when we all going to be forgiven, cleansed, and atoned. What is not to be happy about? Moreover, it is a day when we get our personal rendezvous with our Heavenly Father, and with ourselves. The last prayer of Yom Kippur is called Neila ("closing"). It is usually interpreted as the closing of the doors of prayers when the penitent feverishly trying to squeeze another prayer before the doors are shut. In Hassidic teachings, the Neila is viewed completely differently—it is the most cherished [...]

By |2023-09-24T00:35:40-04:00September 15th, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Tree of Life and Wave Mechanics

As we discussed in the earlier post, The Tree of Knowledge as a Metaphor for Superposition of States and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is a direct consequence of wave-particle duality. If so, shouldn’t we expect to see some hints at the wave nature of reality in the narrative of the Garden of Eden? And the Tree of Life (Etz HaChaim): what was it doing in Eden? It appears in the narrative only twice—in the very beginning and at the very end of the story of the primordial sin—almost as if to put a frame around the picture. At the start of this narrative, the verse states: And the Lord G‑d planted a garden eastward, in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground [...]

Noah’s Ark — Sailing through the Flood of Time

Time is a storm in which we are all lost. " (William Carlos Williams, Introduction to "Selected Essays") I always had a hard time relating to the story of the Flood on a literal level. Why would G‑d want to wipe out all people He created in full knowledge that they would sin? Like it was a surprise for G‑d! G‑d, who exists above time, which He created, cannot be surprised—He knows the future. Then why to create humanity, just to destroy it later? And animals. . . what was their fault? They have no freedom of choice. They act on instincts hardwired in their genome as they were created. Why punish them? Lots of questions, few answers. If the Torah says the flood happened, it must have happened. However, the Torah is [...]

Relational Space

Meditations on the Maaseh Merkavah – II This post is a sequel to my previous post, “Space – Between Future and Past.” For background information, the reader is referred to that post. My second Shavuot “epiphany” was that space is relational. Not that I realized that space was relational for the first time – I always thought so. But, for some reason, thinking about the meaning of the four faces of Chayot, the "living creatures" – the angelic beings described in the prophecy of Ezekiel that we read on Shavuot – made it absolutely clear in my mind. Isaac Newton The debate about the nature of space goes back at least to the times of Newton and Leibniz. Isaac Newton believed (as it is apparent from his mechanics and as it [...]

Space – Between Future and Past

Meditations on the Maaseh Merkavah – I We do science by studying nature. We study physics in a lab, peering into space, or working out mathematical models with pencil and paper to see if they fit experimental data. However, great mystics of the past were able to see how this world operates by gazing into spiritual worlds above. On Shavuot, the holiday when we celebrate the revelation on Mount Sinai, we read the prophecy of Ezekiel (the First Vision of Ezekiel) called Maaseh Merkavah (or Ma'aseh Merkabah) – Work of the Chariot. Masters of Kabbalah have taught us that understanding the Work of the Chariot gives the initiated an understanding of the works of nature. This Shavuot, studying and thinking about Maaseh Merkavah, I came to understand some profound insights about the physics [...]

Ten Sephirot and Special Relativity

The Special Theory of Relativity, published by Albert Einstein in 1905, was a game changer. It ushered the era of new physics dubbed by some as the “Jewish physics.” And Jewish physics it was. At the core of Special Relativity is the notion of the relativity of motion – all motion is not absolute, as Newton thought, but is relative to something else, to a particular point of view. In physics, we define a point of view as a frame of reference. If you are standing in a moving train, leaving the railroad platform, in your frame of reference (which is always at rest) the train is at rest relative to your frame of reference. The railroad platform, on the other hand, is moving with respect to your frame of reference. For someone [...]

Unified Field Theory and the Dew of Resurrection

And ye shall take you on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook (Levit. 23:40) After completing his masterpiece, the General Theory of Relativity in 1916, Albert Einstein spent the rest of his life working fruitlessly on unifying gravity with electromagnetism. His quest was to develop a unified field theory that would unify his General Relativity, a theory of gravitational, with Maxwell electrodynamics. To his great dismay, Einstein never succeeded in developing a unified field theory. It was actually even worse. While working tirelessly on unifying two known classical fields – gravitational field and electromagnetic field – Einstein missed the incredible progress in quantum physics, of which he was one of the founders and for which he received his [...]

The Beard of the Long Face is Found

The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe Rayatz (a.k.a. the Fridriker Rebbe) told the story about his father, the Rebbe Rashab. Once the brother of Rebbe Rashab, Rabbi Menachem Mendel (a.k.a. the RM”M) told him that he read in a magazine an article that stated that scientists found a nerve in the brain regulating the cognitive function so that when a person needed to remember something he would tilt his head looking up, whereas when the person needed to concentrate, he’d tilt his head down. The Rebbe Rashab took his brother to his study, took from the shelf a book by the Second Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Mittler Rebbe, in which it stated the same thing. The Rebbe Rashab said to his brother, “You’d think he was a doctor, but he wasn’t. He saw Adam [...]

Shoo Away the Mother Bird

If a bird's nest chances before thee in the way, in any tree or on the ground, with fledglings or eggs, and the mother sitting upon the fledglings, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the mother with the young; thou shalt shoo away the mother, but the young thou mayest take unto thyself; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days. (Deut. 22:6-7) Many years ago, I was at a physics conference in Princeton in honor of the 85th birthday of John Archibald Wheeler. At the lunch break, I sat alone at a table to eat my kosher lunch (I was always uncomfortable eating this airplane food typically served at conferences whenever I order kosher food. The sound of unwrapping the cellophane attracts everyone’s attention [...]




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