Like Ink into Cloth

Cognitive science is not always intuitive. What does it mean to speak of expansion and contraction, or to say that reality is being rendered?

To answer this question, let’s turn to physicist David Bohm and the event that inspired him to write Wholeness and the Implicate Order (1980). He was watching television when he saw what John Horgan describes in Scientific American as: “an experiment … in which a drop of ink was squeezed onto a cylinder of glycerine. When the cylinder was rotated, the ink diffused through the glycerine in an apparently irreversible fashion. Its order seemed to have disintegrated. But when the direction of rotation was reversed, the ink gathered into a drop again.”

When we think of a spot of ink on a piece of cloth, we think of it as something static. Let’s try envisioning it, instead, as the result of forces.

The spot of ink is a 3-D sphere of blue and the “cloth” against which it appears is the fabric of reality.

The spot of ink can appear by one of two means. When the fabric of reality is being stretched, the ink pools—it condenses. When the fabric is being squeezed, the ink explodes—it expands.

In the latter example, the ink (the universe) might perceive itself as expanding. But it only appears to expand because the background is condensing. And in the former example, the ink (the universe) might perceive itself as condensing. But it only appears to condense because the background is expanding.

This is what I mean when I suggest that Plato was right, and that we “see backward.”

We see repeating patterns of “hot” and “cold” (expansion and contraction) alternating when we look at our Cosmic Microwave background (CMB).

This is a new way of looking at things. We are not used to thinking of the object and its background as intertwined or fundamentally knit together (I almost titled this post WARP AND WOOF). But it might help us to tie our equations together and give us insights into what goes wrong with human health.

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