How the Hippies Saved Physics

David Kaiser Norton Publishers 2011


This is a well written, researched, and informative book on scientific discovery at a critical time in modern history. The author seems to exhibit a love-hate relationship with a primary focus of the book, members of the Fundamental Fysics Group; at once criticizing them and praising them.



p. xi

“These days quantum information science sports a multi-billion-dollar research program, ten thousand published research articles, and a variety of devise prototypes. The field has leaped to the cutting edge of physics…”

“In 1979, some of the most exclusive coverage [on the unsettled debates over quantum physics] appeared in an unpublished memorandum of the Central Intelligence Agency”

…The breakthroughs [in quantum information science] … ultimately owe their origins to the hazy, bong filled excesses of the 1970s New Age movement.

p. xiii

The woolly pursuits of the 1970s harkened back to an earlier way of doing physics and being a physicist. In the development of quantum theory, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg and Schrodinger confronted counterintuitive notions, resulting in catchphrases such as wave-particle duality, Schrodinger’s cat, etc. They made attempts to tackle these concepts philosophically. They held in mind a model of aspiring physicist as a Kulturtrager; a bearer of culture. but this style of physics did not last long. [It soon became handmaiden to the world’s military industrial complex] Physics in the US adopted an aggressively pragmatic attitude.

“Before a field like quantum information science could develop, a critical mass of researchers needed to embrace a different mode of doing physics once more.  They had to incorporate philosophy, interpretation and even bald speculation. Quantum physicists had to daydream again”

p. xv

Amid the social and political upheavals of the 1970s, Berkeley physics grad students Elizabeth Rauscher and  George Weissmann, having connections with the Theoretical Physics Division of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, founded an informal physics discussion group, the Fundamental Fysics Group. The weekly brainstorming attracted  PhD physicists from elite universities who had been set adrift in professional uncertainty.

This group’s intense, unstructured brainstorming sessions planted the seeds for today’s mainstream (military industrial complex) interest in quantum information science, which shields the missives of bankers and politicians. Along the way, this group, with parallel efforts from a few other isolated physicists, contributed a sea change in how we think about information, communication, computation, and the quantum world.

P. xxii

While the physics profession floundered, members of the FFG emerged as the public avant-gard of the new physics, with patrons such as the CIA. They were able to carve out a few institutional niches, the best known being the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA.

notes the impossibility of cleaving off the group from the “real” physics of the day. Members were entangled with mainstream physics on multiple levels, including people, patronage, and intellectual pay off. 

Despite the significance of QIS today, the FFG’s contributions lie buried still, overlooked of forgotten in physicists collective consciousness. Maybe because nothing of lasting value was expected to come from the environment in which it was born.

 p. xxiii

The FFG saved physics in three ways: First they opened up space again for freewheeling speculation; second, they rescued Bell’s theorem and quantum entanglement from a decade of unrelenting obscurity; Their push on Bells Theorem and quantum entanglement  led to the third way they saved physics: the “no-cloning theorem”, which stipulates that it is impossible to produce perfect copies (clones) of an unknown or arbitrary quantum state. Efforts to copy it necessarily alter it. The fact that unknown quantum states in fiber optic cables cannot be copied is what makes decoding or decryption of  the QIS message impossible.


“I find this mismatch between their soaring intellectual aspirations and their modest professional platform especially captivating.”


Chapter 1 “Shut up and Calculate


p. 1:

In the spring of 1974, Fred Alan Wolf and Jack Sarfatti sat down with Werner Erhard in the lobby of the Ritz hotel in Paris. Erhard was one of the leading proponents of the “human potential movement”. Erhard eventually  contributed thousands of dollars to Sarfatti and his quantum physicist friends.

p. 2 f:

In the development of quantum theory, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg and Schrodinger confronted counterintuitive notions, which they believed required extended philosophical engagement. Some envoked the writings of Emmanuel Kant, others   quotations from  the Hindu Upanishads, and still others the work of Carl Jung.

p. 3:

 …..grown men argued into the night….

Especially in the US,  world war II and its aftermath shaped how generations of physicists were trained.

“Shut up and calculate” became the new dictum.       

p. 5 f:

The many peculiarities of quantum mechanics were captures in the double slit experiment, which became the favorite demonstration  of quantum champions.           

When light is shined from a distance onto a double slitted wall, a plane light wave hits the wall, and the light passing through each slit fans out into two circular arcs. When the two circular arcs merge, an interference pattern is formed and displays on a wall behind the two slits.

Single electrons fired towards the double slit act as particles which may pass through one of the slits and be  registered on the screen. However, as more electrons; hundreds, or thousands, are fired towards the double slit, the ones that make it through either of the two slits  form an interference pattern, rather than piling up behind one or the other slit.

Even more strange, physicists could shoot a thousand electrons at the double slitted wall, one at a time an hour apart. The result will be the same interference pattern as would have resulted from photons being fired at the double slits. Einstein pressed his quantum colleagues to explain the electron result. What did the “waving”? each electron had been fired separately so the result could not be due to some particle interaction,  (say by repelling electric charges). Each electron had been detected as a tiny particle; none showed up at the screen as a washed out wave.

p.7 f:

The quantum colleagues developed an interpretation of what was happening: every quantum system has an associated wave function Ψ (psi). The values the wave function assumed in different locations, and the way those values change over time were governed by an equation introduced by Schrodinger in 1926. Max Born advanced the interpretation that psi was related to probability:

(the wave equation)        |Ψ|2  = probability

In this interpretation, the electron’s wave function spread out like a wave and went through both slits, leading to the interference pattern.

Einstein was unconvinced, calling this the Heisenberg-Bohr tranquilizing philosophy.

Heisenberg-Bohr considered modifying the double slit experiment by placing small test particles behind one of the slits, which would be scattered by electrons passing through that slit. In this way they hoped to tell which slit each electron passed through. This would have worked had it not been for another problem, since named Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle: one can never know exactly where a particle is and what it’s velocity is at the same time. The resulting uncertainty in the electron and test particle position and velocity in the double slit experiment would be enough to erase any wave like interference.

To Bohr, the paradox of the slit detector exemplified a more general feature of quantum physics :

Ask a particle like question, get a particle like answer; ask a wave like question, get a wave like answer; he coined the term for this characteristic “complimentarity”. Einstein mocked Bohr’s philosophy, the notion that the QM answer is only a probability, and accorded QM only “transitory significance”. He agreed that the probabilistic equations of QM gave reliable practical results, but argued that this was not enough to grant it significance.

Schrodinger and Einstein commiserated on their view of the unsatisfactory state of QM in producing probabilities. The result was Schrodinger’s half alive, half dead cat, and both were convinced that there must be more to physics than probabilities. Bohr turned to Kant and Kierkegaard, and Heisenberg to Plato’s Timaeus [Often treated by modern scholars as a weak work]

The quantumists struggled to understand how the world could possibly work via the QM they had developed.

p. 14 f.:

To the dismay of grad students in QM, in the early 1950s, academia suddenly shifted away from philosophical interpretation. Essay questions disappeared from grad student exams across the country, replaced by a collection of standard problems to calculate.

During the war, all efforts went toward the engineering of weapons. This situation continued during WWII and the Cold War. In 1951 a top member of the Atomic Energy Commission described physicists as a “war commodity”, a “tool of war”, to be “stockpiled” and “rationed”. Congress dumped lots of money into education for science and engineering, which  became very popular studies in universities across  the country.

p. 18 f:

It was found that during the 1950s in the US, that enrollment was inversely proportional to the amount of time spent on philosophical/conceptual considerations. The bigger the class, the less time spent discussing the big issues at the heart of QM. Textbooks in the 60s continued this trend, not only in the US, but in the UK and Russia as well. Other European counties, like France, West Germany, and Austria, did not experience  the mushrooming of interest in the sciences, and physicists in those countries continued to write textbooks in the pre-war fashion, with long excursions into philosophy and stuffed with essay questions.

p. 20 f.

Not all US physicists adopted the mantra of “shut up and calculate  During the summer of 1954, about a dozen physicists gathered in NYC to discuss the foundations of QM. This group largely shared the same leftist politics. It had been convened by Hans Fristadt. Byron Darling, a tenured professor of physics at Ohio State University also attended. Fired from their jobs or castigated in the media for alleged political activities, members of this group could find little traction for their work.

p. 21 f:

Twenty years later another informal discussion group convened, bent on exploring the big questions of QM. As Freistadt’s group, it was peopled with physicists on the margins. But where Freistadt’s group toiled in obscurity, members of the Fundamental  Fysics Group became media darlings, published a series of best selling books, and leaving a genuine imprint on physics research and cirricula throughout the country. These physicists were caught at the wring place at the wrong time, bystanders of a systematic political upheaval that rocked the physics profession.

p. 22f:

Since WWII, physics had been more reliant on federal (military) funding than any other. With unrest on campus and the small military return on its physics investment, physicist enrollment plummeted faster and deeper than any other field. Demand disappeared even more quickly. 


Chapter 2: Spooky Actions at a Distance

P. 26 f.:

One recent development dominated the FFG’s deliberations: Bell’s Theorem. Irish physicist John Bell had engaged in shouting matches with his professors on the propriety of eliminating discussion of meaning from the study of QM. Although trying to curb his philosophical speculations in order to get a job, and diving into mainstream physics, he wondered if there was some way to push beyond the probability offered by quantum theory. Reading Max Born’s Natural Philosophy of Cause and Chance, he learned that some of Born’s contemporaries had tried to reveal “hidden variables” that might make the QM system more determinate, but also read that John von Neumann had published a proof as early as 1932 demonstrating that hidden variables were incompatible with QM. Later he read several articles in Physical Review written by David Bohm.

Bohm had been a grad student under J. Robert Oppenheimer at Berkeley. At about this time, Bohm, despite no wrong doing,  had been hounded by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and after a media spectacle relocated to Sao Paulo Brazil.

In the midst of this controversy Bohm crafted his own hidden variables interpretation of QM. He believed the troubling QM probabilities arose from averaging over real but hidden variables. Rewriting Schrodinger’s wave equation in a new way, Bohm showed it could also be interpreted in a non-probabilistic way. An electron may behave deterministically much like a billiard ball. To do this Bohm had to introduce a new force field; the “quantum potential”, which accounts for the hidden variables.

Freistadt had been interested in Bohm’s hidden variable concept, and now fired Bell’s imagination. He presented several papers at Harwell, and aroused the ire of Franz Mandl, who knew German and supported  von Neumann’s classic no variable proof. Both left Harwell. At CERN, he met Josef Jauch, who also supported  von Neumann’s proof.  Bell finally wrote a review paper on the topic, in which he isolated a logical flaw in von Neumann’s proof.

Bell thought of the Einstein Podolsky Rosen (EPR) thought experiment: They believed that QM was incomplete: at least in some situations, definite values for position and momentum could be determined at the same time: for example, a nucleus that shoots out pairs of particles A and B, with the same speed but in opposite directions. A’s position can be measured, and from this B’s position deduced. B’s momentum should also be able to be measured, thus giving both position and momentum for B. But Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle says this is impossible. To EPR, it was assumed that both A and B had definite values for position and momentum at all times, and it was a given that A could not interact with B. For Bohr, values of position and momentum only emerged during the act of measurement, and any attempt to measure the values of A would instantaneously change the properties of B. Einstein called this “spooky actions at a distance”

p. 31:

Bell focused on a variation of the EPR setup proposed by David Bohm which included particle spin, which occurs in discrete values determined by Planck’s constant. (Electrons, protons and neutrons have one half unit of spin; photons possess one unit of spin; and spin is always either positive or negative, regardless of the orientation of the imposed magnetic field)

p. 33 f. :

Because the source of the two particles had zero spin, the total spin of the two particles must sum to zero: if A’s spin is up, B’s spin will be down, and vice versa. Schrodinger had termed such perfect correlations “entanglement”

Bell showed that a “local” model, in which the properties of A remain unaffected by what measurements are conducted on B, could easily reproduce perfect correlation  when A and B’s spin were measured along the same direction. In this case one could imagine that each particle carried with it a definite value of spin along any given direction; the spin values were considered properties of the particles themselves, just a Einstein believed.          

Bell then considered other possible measurement orientations. He recorded spin measurements when shooting pairs of particles out in opposite directions while the detectors on each side were oriented at various angles, and then plotted the results. When the detectors on both sides were oriented in the same direction, the pairs of particles would be measured as having exactly opposite spin.                 

Since spin values could only be up + or down - one unit for each side, then the expected maximum value when the spin of both sides is summed will always be between +/- 2. However, QM theory predicted clear violations of the -2 LE sum LE +2 rule. For certain angles the quantum prediction exceeded the boundary by more than 40%. Particles A and B were more strongly correlated than the expected boundary. Thus Bell showed that no local hidden variable theory could ever produce this degree of correlation, This result is called Bell’s Theorem. Nonlocality was endemic to QM: somehow the outcome of the measurements of each particle depended on one another, regardless of the distance separating the particles. 

The physical outcome, entanglement vs locality, was now testable.

Many scientists have tried to articulate what QM’s violation of the -2 LE sum LE +2 rule would mean about the structure of the micro [or macro] world. From today’s (2011) perspective, Bells theorem is of great significance. Bell’s theorem and its entangled states are at the core of quantum computing, quantum encryption and quantum teleportation. Physicists, philosophers, and historians see Bell’s Theorem, entanglement and nonlocality as among the most important developments in quantum theory.

p. 40:

When his papers were published, in the 60’s, there was no acknowledgment or activity whatsoever. Interest pockets began to coalesce in the 70s. Active groups formed around David Bohm, then a US expatriot, Louis de Broglie and Jean-Paul Vigier in Paris, and Franco Selleri in Italy. By 1980, an “invisible college” devoted to Bell’s theorem had emerged, with centers of activity dotted through western Europe. 

p. 41:

Interestingly, the largest proportion of articles published came from physicists working un the US. Most of these came from members of the FFG, who proved to be among the most prolific early authors on Bell’s theorem in the world.

p. 43-48:

Chapter 3: Entanglements

John Clauser was a grad student in physics in the US in the late 60s and early 70s.  

During this period, the bottom dropped out of the physics profession, which made finding a job difficult. On top of that, he was interested in the big questions of QM, which got him kicked out of some of the finest physics departments in the US. Still his interest persisted.   He was an experimentalist, and when he saw Bell’s paper On the EPR Paradox, in Physics Physique Fizika, he  realized that Bell’s theorem could be tested. He checked with Bell and Bohm, and then collaborated with Abner Shimony of Boston University in developing test equipment. Clauser would later write that in those years physicists who showed any interest in the foundations of QM labored under a stigma as powerful as any wars of religion or McCarthy-like political purges. He finally found postdoctoral employment in astrophysics at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

With department director Charles Townes approval, he cobbled together the equipment, and in 1972 published the first experimental results on Bell’s Theorem. The QM predictions were found to be spot on. The equipment produced exactly the same “spooky actions at a distance” that Einstein abhorred. Still, few physicists even cared, and his world class work did little to help his employment prospects. One potential employer, a department chair, doubted that Clauser’s work on Bell’s Theorem counted as “real” physics.    


Elizabeth Rauscher brought people in to visit Clauser’s lab.


p. 51 f

While working at Lawrence Livermore (nuclear weapons) Lab, Elizabeth Rauscher joined and chaired the Livermore Philosophy group, oriented towards lighthearted humor.

Back at Lawrence Berkeley Lab, she offered short summer courses on the “philosophy of science”, focusing on the relationship between science and society.

She visited Arthur Young’s Institute for the Study of Consciousness in Berkeley. Young, an aeronautical engineer and inventor, had become captivated by the occult. He recruited Saul-Paul Sirag to have discussions on what physics might have to say about these topics.

Sirag studied physics as an undergrad, but dropped out in his senior year to pursue theater, and was cast for a part in the original Broadway production of Hair, but could not come up with the $600 to join the Actor’s Equity union, so was unable to accept the part. He returned to Berkeley, became interested in modern physics, and leapt at the chance to work with Young.

Sirag met Nick Herbert, who earned a “no nonsense shut up and calculate QM” PhD in 1967. Herbert had been through lean times, and when he applied for an opening as an industrial physicist at Memorex, the personnel manager insisted he be screened by a psychologist before being hired.  Although he eventually found a normal physics job, he continued to wonder about the big questions. When he was introduced to Bell’s Theorem, he tried to disprove it, but by 1972 became one of Bell’s earliest converts. Rauscher, Sirag, Herbert, and Clauser joined forces.

Henry Stapp, a senior theoretical physicist at LBL was perhaps the first prominent physicist to pay attention to Bell’s theorem. He was invited by Wolfgang Pauli and Werner Heisenberg to visit Europe, which stoked his philosophical interests, and by the late 1960s began to dabble in the foundations of QM. By 1970 Bell’s Theorem and its implications were central to his research.

Stapp’s work at LBL inspired George Weissmann, who came from Zurich, and was also frustrated by the lack of foundational questions in QM. Weissmann met Rauscher and they discovered a mutual interest in weither physics might clarify the workings of human consciousness, and their interests widened. Their advisor was Geoffrey Chew, who was more open minded than most physicists. Although he did not always share their enthusiasm, he encouraged their pursuits. He received some essays from postdoc Fritjof Capra, working in Europe, who explored the parallels between modern physics and eastern thought. He passed them on to   Weissmann and Rauscher. Capra visited Chew and his group in 1973 and again in 1975.

p. 59 f:

Fred Alan Wolf worked in the early 60s on nuclear projects for General Atomic, but was not satisfied working on such gadjets. He then took up teaching at San Diego State College/University, which he enjoyed, but then the bottom dropped out of physics funding. Starting in 1970, strangers began dropping by his campus office, eager to tell him about their psychic experiences. He had not invited them, but did not turn them away, and the visits stirred something inside of him. He took a world wide tour in 1971, and had his first transcendental experience in a Buddhist temple. Later he was invited to London where he met David Bohm, and learned about Bohm’s hidden variable alternative to QM. He also taught courses at the University of Paris. When he returned to San Diego State College/University, where he squabbled with his department chair on what courses he would teach. He then resigned and made his way up to San Francisco where he met members of the FFG.

p. 61 f:

Jack Sarfatti had gone thru similar experiences; successfully embracing mainstream physics, gaining a half dozen distinguished physicists in the US, Britain and France who would vouch for the quality of his work. His office at San Diego State was right next to Wolf’s, and they became close friends. Sarfatti also began to loose enthusiasm for his position at SDS. He announced his plans in a letter to  the renowned physicist John A. Wheeler. He longed to find someplace where physics had not been polluted by emphasis on applications. He was invited by Abdus Salam, director of the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste Italy, to spend the autumn 1973 at the Center. Wolf and Sarfatti visited each other frequently in Europe. Sirag read a paper by Sarfatti, and told Rauscher about it. She struck up a correspondence with Sarfatti, who had already met Fritjov Capra in Europe, and then Sarfatti visited Arthur Young’s Institute for the study of Consciousness. All the pieces were in place. Rauscher got permission to use the labs seminar room late each Friday afternoon, and in May 1975, the FFG was born.

P. 65 f.

Chapter 4 From Psi to Psi

The FFG had been founded not to explore the meaning of Bell’s Theorem, but to plumb the foundations of QM in search of explanations for parapsycological, or Psi phenomena: ESP, psychokinesis. For most in the group, Bell style non-locality seemed tailor made to explain curious actions at a distance.

The CIA, Pentagon, and several US defense labs were hard at work on Psi at this time, spurred by fears of Soviet advances in mind reading and mind control. Leading members of the military industrial complex had already been on the Psi trail.    

 PhD physicists from elite programs dabbling in the occult? On a longer view the combination appears neither shocking nor unprecedented. Mesmerism in the 1770s and spiritualism in the 1870s had become international sensations. In both cases leading scholars from Madras, St. Petersburg, Paris, London, Boston and New York City had formed  committees and staged public demonstrations.

In Britain, major scientific authorities, including Lord Rayleigh, JJ Thompson, William Ramsay, and William Crooks, several of whom became Nobel laureates, devoted decades to investigating the latest claims.

Several founders of QM looked into this area. Schrodinger delved into Sanskrit to clarify various Hindu beliefs. Later he lectured a Berlin journalist on the “Brahman doctrine that the all equals the unity of consciousness”;  “it would be a vast error to believe that science knows any better or clearer answer [than the Brahman teachings] “.

Pascual Jordan, who helped develop QM with Werner Heisenberg and Max Born in the 1920s, wrote a book about quantum physics, the Freudian unconscious, and parapsychology.

In the 1930s Wolfgang Pauli worked with Carl Jung in trying to build a bridge between quantum physics and the collective unconscious. Pauli wrote essays extolling the need to synthesize  rational understanding” with “the mystical experience of one-ness.”


p. 68:

“Over time, however, the occult movement quietly faded from the mainstream, lumbering under the weight of so many decades of disappointment, spiked by occasional evidence of outright fraud.”   

Whereas the Society for Psychical Research, founded in London in 1882, had quickly attracted renowned scientists and statesmen, …by the 1950s  the society and its kin limped along the sidelines.

“When the Newsletter for Parapsychology Foundation announced in September 1955….that “World wide research moves ahead”, few outside its dwindling membership seemed to care or notice.

“Just a few weeks earlier the [yellow] journal Science had carried a devastating critique of “ Science and the Supernatural”, and commentators from the New York Times and Time magazine had gladly declared the field dead.”

p. 69.:

The FFG, in their investigation of Psi phenomena, were resurrecting a once proud tradition.

In the summer of 73, Sarfatti read a story in the SF Examiner about research underway at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). Early in the 1970’s, to quell mounting protests, Stanford University spun off SRI as a private research enterprise, and divested the Universities ties to it.

Harold Puthoff had previously worked as a naval intelligence officer and civilian researcher at the National Security Agency (NSA). He completed his PhD at Stanford in 1967 on a new type of tunable laser. He taught for several years to teach in Stanford’s electrical engineering department, where he coauthored a text on quantum electronics.  He worked for SRI, and as government contracts declined, he asked his SRI supervisor for permission to begin conducting tests f parapsychological effects. He was a practitioner of scientology at the time, a controversial set of beliefs “that centers on mystical connections between mind and body.” He also dabbled in workshops on gestalt therapy and consciousness expansion. He worked with another laser physicist from Sylvania’s research lab, Russell Targ, who had also “sampled some  of the New Age offerings” around the Bay Area. Together, they jumped into the psi business.


Pg 70:

In 1972, Uri Geller visited Puthoff and Targ’s lab at SRI. After weeks of tests, they concluded he demonstrated psi abilities. Sarfatti discovered their research and visited their lab, where he also met Brendan O’Regan and Edgar Mitchell, who conducted telepathy experiments during the Apollo 14 mission of Feb 1971, and founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) on his return. Andrija Puharich asserted in the book Uri that Geller had received telephone calls from a voice calling itself “Spectra”, that claimed to be an extraterrestrial computer circling earth, contacting select individuals in preparation for future contact. Sarfatti’s mom told him that he had also received such calls, which he forgot about. By 1974, he and Wolf helped  David Bohm and a colleague at London’s Birkbeth College to begin their own investigations. Both Sarfatti and Bohm published accounts of their investigations. Sarfatti maintained that QM could provide a mechanism to account for Uri Geller’s psi effects.

p. 73

In the 1960s, Princeton’s Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner proposed that consciousness plays a central role in QM. Wigner wondered if consciousness of the observer was the only thing that could register a definite response; spin measured as up or down.  The conclusion drawn from his “Wigner’s friend” thought experiment is that “Consciousness enters the quantum theory unavoidable and unalterably.” His philosophical interests were rekindled when he took on Abner Shimony (who worked with John Clauser) as a grad student.

p. 75 f

Wigner’s friend John A Wheeler picked up on the theme of consciousness and QM during the early 1970s. Wheeler studied with Niels Bohr in Copenhagen. In the 1930s. He emerged as one of the few leading US physicists who took the interpretation of QM seriously. He argued for a “participatory universe” where observers participate in creating the reality they measure: A physicists decision to measure a particle’s position rather than its momentum changes the objective properties of the real world. Using his delayed choice experiments, he showed that the past has no existence except as it is recorded in the present. This delayed choice experiment even turns out to be true on a galactic scale. By suitable arrangement of photographic plates and detectors,  the participator could decide to measure by which route  a photon from a quasar traversed the universe: direct from the quasar or via the photon path bending (gravitational lens) galaxy, or  could decide to measure the quantum interference that comes from traveling both paths…”but the photon has already passed that galaxy billions of light years before we made our decision; as if “we decide what the photon shall have done after it has already done it.”

To Wheeler, the participatory nature of quantum theory explained not only the outcome of quantum experiments, but the emergence of the universe itself. Along with physicists, Wheeler’s essays sited the Greek Parmenides and enlightenment philosopher George Berkeley. No consciousness? Then no world. Wheeler and Sarfatti stayed in touch.

p. 82 f

After lunching with magician James Randi and watching him duplicate many of Uri Geller’s feats by conjuring, Sarfatti distanced himself from Geller, though not from the psi phenomena. Geller became the focus of great controversy. For every debunking by a magician, a new endorsement appeared. 


p. 84

Nick Herbert and Saul-Paul Sirag were captivated by Wigner’s proposal about the central role of consciousness in quantum measurement. They turned this proposal on it’s head, asking what quantum theory implied about the nature of consciousness. They supported Physicist Evan Harris Walker’s postulate that consciousness might be an infinite set of hidden variables, real but beyond direct physical observation. This postulate in turn led to calculations that supported the possibility of psi effects. Herbert built the “metaphase typewriter” to explore Walker’s ideas.

Herbert reasoned that if walker were correct, then mind might be at root a quantum effect, separate from the physical body.

p. 90 f.  

In the 1970s, the US mlitary became interested in a possible “parapsychology gap” between the US and the USSR. This view was expressed in the Pentagon’s classified Defense Intelligence Agency report Controlled Offensive Behavior: USSR. Might the USSR be leaping ahead of the US in breakthroughs in telepathy, mind control, and psychokinesis? The CIA contracted with SRI scientists Hal Puthoff and Russell Targ, with help from NASA (due to the urging of Edgar Mitchell) to study “remote viewing”, wherein  one ‘receiving” person is able to receive visual stimuli from a far away “sending” person. Puthoff and Targ reported astounding results, and were able to publish their results in top ranked scientific journals, including a 1974 article in Nature, and 1976 article in Proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

p. 94:

Decades later, a fuller picture began to emerge. Documents revealed an extensive program, clandestinely funded by the CIA, DIA, and other orgs, to develop the use of ESP to peer into secret military bases in the USSR and elsewhere.

Rauscher showed up on Puthoff and Targ’s doorstep one day. They tried to ignore her til she showed them a paper she had been working on concerning theoretical efforts to explain non-locality. She connected with John Wheeler, who met and communicated often with her, and encouraged her forays into relativity and cosmology. She realized that one way to account for nonlocal effects, and perhaps to explain Bell’s theorem, was to increase the number of dimensions of space and time. She began developing a model in which our normal coordinates of time and space are made complex, with real and imaginary parts. The result was an 8-D space time, in which large spatial distance and long time intervals in normal 4-D space time might result in no spatial distance and no time in 8 dimensions.  Puthoff and Targ routinely pointed to Bells Theorem and quantum nonlocality in their reports, but had pursued the connection no further. Rauscher thus became a paid consultant to their Psi lab at SRI. This was one year before she and Weissman started the FFG. As their first order of business, they set out to replicate the SRI remote viewing experiments. Although they failed to find any statistically significant results, they did find intriguing correlations. One viewer produced surprisingly accurate descriptions of targets shifted from the intended target by a day or so.

Chapter 5 New Patrons, New Forums

With flair, members of the FFG secured financial backing from unusual patrons. With the CIA and Pentagon officials, self-made millionaires stepped in to keep the group going. There was pushback. Psychologists questioned experimental protocol; James Randi criticized Puthoff and Targ’s SRI experiments. John Wheeler went on the warpath. He appealed to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to revoke the membership that had been granted to the Parapsychological Association. Then he trained his sites on Sarfatti, Rauscher and company, denying  the possibility of quantum interconnectness between separate consciousnesses, calling it “moonshine”. He joined forces with (naysayer) Martin Gardner.    

Sarfatti noted that the great nuclear physicist Ernest Rutherford had rejected the concept of nuclear fission as “moonshine”.

Critics such as Randi, Gardner, and Wheeler also organized. They formed groups such as CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal), which funded the journal Skeptical Inquirer and issued their own press releases, at times blurring the line between a seemingly objective scientific group and a self-interested lobbying group.


[Pinch and Collins (1984), 539 (“scientific-vigilante”); Hess (1993), 11-13; Rensberger (1976), 19; Dewar (1977), 11; and Gilliam (1978b) 


Pinch, Trevor and Harry Collins 1984 “Private science and public knowledge: The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and it’s use of the literature.” Social Studies of Science 14: 521-46

Hess, David. 1993. Science in the New Age: The Paranormal, its Defenders and Debunkers, and American Culture. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press

Rensberger, Boyce, 1974. Physicists test telepathy in a ‘cheat proof’ setting. NYT October 22:43.


Gilliam, Harold. 1978a. The power to see the invisible. San Francisco Chronicle, January 4:4

1978b Skeptics of mind power call it superstition. SF Chronicle January 11:4

Despite the through criticism, research on remote viewing continued unabated for more than 20 years, paid by for $20 million in taxpayer money (in 2010 dollars). Budgets swelled, Top-secret spin offs sprang up around the country, usually established with Puthoff’s help. Many failed replications [?] Just like the FFG, investigators at Aberdeen found no statistically significant results, but had found enough surprising gems to keep at it.

Ronson, Jon (2004) The Men Who Stare at Goats, NY Simon and Schuster


The hippie physicists tried to get funding from private doners, philanthropical foundations, and local industries, as did physicists in the 20s and 30s. First to help out was Arthur Young, designer of the Bell helicopter. Successful, Young backed away from engineering and turned to other passions from undergrad days: philosophy, Jungian psychoanalysis, and Eastern spirituality. He also opened the Berkeley Institute for consciousness research, and in 1973 his intellectual journey brought him squarely back to modern physics. He argued that science could best serve mankind by merging the insights of quantum theory with psychology and perhaps ESP, He hosted Puthoff and Targ and Henry Stapp, charter member of the FFG, regularly. They were joined by philosophy professors and an eccentric computer scientist from a neighboring university to form the “Consciousness Theory Group”

What is Kaiser doing here? He is trying to cordon off a scientific movement that was integral to the scientific community, and by calling it a perjorative 6 letter word, discredit it.

Later, Henry Dakin, a paranormal enthusiast, helped FFG members expand and enrich this group.


The controversial Werner Erhard (born Jack Rosenberg) also became a generous patron, who converted his SF mansion, and EST headquarters, the Franklin House, into a dazzling intellectual salon. Erhard also provided startup funds to the FFG for the Physics/Consciousness Research Group (PCRG) which included in its goals the education of the public on the connection between consciousness and physics. They resorted to popular culture and composed a science-fiction opera in which a physicist invents time travel, and attempted to shore it up with actual concepts from physics. The goal was to educate and entertain.

P. 106

The playwright Robert Anton Wilson reported on a PCRG seminar in an article in a Bay Area underground newspaper, saying “The PCRG is into encountering quantum reality totally-intellectually, emotionally, intuitively”, and that the universe of modern physics might best be described  in the metaphors of Zen, Taoism, and Vedanta, or even in the language of parapsychology, ESP, and shamanism.” George Koopman, another eccentric entrepreneur with military connections, who also co-authoring a book with Timothey Leary, also became interested in the PCRG, and provided funding. During this time, Sarfatti and Sirag picked up salaries, and Nick Herbert, Fritjof Capra, FA Wolf picked up consulting fees. For a time, they began to thrive outside the usual funding model.

p. 109:

These overlapping discussion groups, institutes and public education forums merged in 1976 for the first annual workshop on physics and consciousness at the Esalen Institute, nestled in the cliffs overlooking the Pacific ocean, at Big Sur California. “Esalen has served since it’s founding in 1962 as an incubator of the New Age movement.” Critics dismissed it, even though they agreed by the 1980s that much of what had seemed novel  in its offerings had gradually seeped into the US mainstream.

Michael Murphy, one of Esalan’s founders, had long been fascinated by the possibilities for “human potential” latent within modern science. In the 1950s, Murphy had stumbled into religious studies at Stanford, and spent 16 months at a remote ashram in India, where he kept up his love of golf, and taught his peers softball. Soon after returning to the US, he opened the Eselan Institute on a patch of family land. By the 70s, Murphy was in contact with Werner Erhard, and invited Sarfatti to organize a month long Eselan  workshop on “physics and consciousness”.

p. 111 f.

Richard Feynman was invited. Although he participated in a 1974 Esalen workshop led by John Lilly, he demurred due to his aversion to philosophy. Most of the FFG participated. David Finkelstein participated, who would soon become Director of Georgia Tech’s School of Physics and editor of the International Journal of Theoretical Physics, was also a closet quantum philosopher who in the mid 60s, long before the scientific community became interested, put all his energy into developing a quantum theory of gravity. He had already derived a now famous  result about black holes. In 1975 he got an inspirational boost from Feynman.  Karl Pribram, the Stanford neurosurgeon and psychiatrist also spoke. His early work clarified the structure and function of the human brain’s limbic system and prefrontal cortex. At the time he was focusing on the question of consciousness via neuroscience rather than quantum mechanics. He was able to clarify his conceptions of physics as he viewed they affected neuroscience, and appreciated the informal atmosphere at Esalen, and was grateful for being able to participate.

The conference was a success, and these types of workshops became a fixture. Henry Stapp warned FFG organizers that physicists might too easily slip into the more comfortable math formalisms than grappling with the task of constructing new realities. There was a lot of contention about how Bell’s Theorem and nonlocality might relate to consciousness, but the workshops became an annual event, meeting almost every year till 1988.Herbert, Sirag, Clauser, Stapp and Finkelstein became regulars. Fritjov Capra organized workshops on the parallels between modern physics and eastern mysticism. Feynman finally relented, giving a 1983 workshop entitled “The Quantum Mechanical View of Reality”, featuring in depth discussions of Bell’s Theorem and the EPR paradox, interspersed “with sessions of primitive drum playing, yoga exercises, etc.” Though Bell did not participate, other European physicists participated in the Esalen conferences.

German physicist Dieter Zeh participated, and nearly a decade passed before his “decoherence” interpretation of quantum measurement, now undeniably at the forefront of research, began to attract much attention beyond the Esalen crowd.

French physicist Bernard d’Espagnat’s 1971 book Conceptual Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, focused of Bell’s Theorem, and he had organized two influential summer workshops on the subject in Europe, yet he too felt compelled to attend. His itinerary on the way to Esalen shows how porous the boundaries marginal and mainstream physics could be.

p. 121f:

Chapter 6 Spreading (and Selling) the Word.


 The longtime editor of Physical Review, the mainstream workhorse journal, covering all topics in physics, actually banned articles on the interpretation of QM. Well into the 1970s, these policies shunted papers into unusual venues. Many went to the Italian journal Nuovo Cimento, which was more open minded. Other papers went to  Foundations of Physics, a new journal founded in 1970 by two philosophically oriented non-US scientists working in the US. Some of the more important papers circulated by more fragile means. Many appeared in a hand typed mimeographed newsletter, Epistemological Letters, produced by a private foundation in Switzerland.

p. 122 f:

Others circulated in photocopy form thanks to Ira Einhorn, darling of the New Left, who led huge anti-war protests and had a hand in early environmental mass events, including the first earthday, in 1970. By the early 70s, he served as a one man distribution center for the FFG’s ideas.  By this method they were able to spread their message far and wide for almost a decade. Although interested in physics, he also fell in love with literature.

p. 123 f:

One of the first books he read was Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, later to become one of the most influential books of the 20th century. Everyone from historians and sociologists to physicists, economists, and political scientists assigned the book in their classes.

Einhorn was especially captivated by Kuhn’s argument about anomalies: stubborn findings that fail to fit within prevailing scientific theories. Some of Kuhn’s examples included the accidental discovery of x-rays in 1805, and the unexpected detection of fission in a Berlin lab in 1938. At first these seemed like minor deviations that would eventually be explained by the existing ideas. Kuhn argued that when the collection of anomalies grows to critical mass, and no accommodation with the reigning theory seems possible, they prompt a “paradigm shift”; reordering all our basic assumptions about how the world works.   

p. 124 f:

Einhorn, a 24 year old grad school drop out, wrote to Kuhn early in 1964. The first exchange revealed not only confidence and passion, but familiarity- with references at his fingertips, with interesting ideas across a broad spectrum of subjects and disaplines. He also had faith that people with common interests should communicate directly and informally, like the “Republic of Letters” during the Enlightenment.

Kuhn, a full professor  responded that his (Einhorns) letter  was probably the most perceptive response he had yet received, and asked for more information on Nelson Goodman, a renowned philosopher whose work would often in later years be compared with Kuhn’s. He also agreed that the notion of paradigm still required all sorts of work. A few years later a scholar isolated 22 ways in which Kuhn had used the term ‘paradigm” in his book. Sometimes he used the term to denote a concept or theory; other times to denote a social structure such as a discipline or community, and still others as a method or lab practice. Kuhn worked to rectify the conceptual muddle in later editions. Kuhn hoped that he and Einhorn could meet, and so began a “curious” relationship that lasted several years, including personal visits and shared meals.

“”publications should be precise; conversation and letter writing a mess- how else can we learn?” The notion of unencumbered free-spirited sharing of ideas by letter became Einhorn’s organizing principle.  Einhorn began making trips from his Philadelphia home to California, and the Esalen Institute at Big Sur became his home away from home. He plugged into the flowering counterculture.

p. 126 f:

Quickly he established himself as the leading guru  of the “Philadelphia’s hippie community.” He established a “Free University” that mixed highbrow with practical. The most popular course was ‘Evening with Ira Einhorn”, where he used the courses to discuss how the counter culture was evolving. He developed another popular Free U course: “The World of Marshall McLuhan” whose theories about pop media and communication were spreading, and suggested to Kuhn that McLuhan’s work, though “wacky”, might “cast oblique light” on Kuhn’s own research topics. He noted to Khun that he was rallying the disenchanted  Philadelphia  kids in the drug scene around him and was slowly trying to direct their energies “to more constructive endeavors” . He taught course on psychedelics grew, ad he organized a symposium on LSD at Temple U that drew 350 people, and began to appear on local radio and TV to talk about the city’s “psychedelic” scene.

p. 127 f:

In January 1967, the first Be-In, held in SF’s Golden Gate park, aimed to unite New Left political protesters of Berkeley with the free-drug free-love hippies of Haight-Ashbury. Einhard set about organizing Philadelphia’s own Be-In, which drew 2000. by the late 1960’s Einhard, now the “Unicorn”, began to mingle with Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary. While hosting counterculture icons  such as antiwar protesters Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, poet Allen Ginsberg and composer John Cage, he maintained contact with his “straight” contacts. Professors in the area such as eminent physicist Freeman Dyson came to know Einhorn as a “friendly and gracious host”. Dyson developed great respect for Einhorn’s courage in leading antiwar protests. The Philadelphia Earth Day event, dominated by Einhard, was one of the nation’s largest. Riding high, he ran for mayor the following year. By this time he became more interested in human consciousness. Einhorn read and was impressed by Andrija Puharich’s book Beyond Telepathy (1962).  Puharich was trained as a medical doctor, had dozens of patents for medical devises, and had devoted years of study to psychedelics, faith healing and parapsychology. On meeting, they hit if off immediately and stayed in contact. Einhorn was convinced that Uri Geller’s unusual abilities were examples of the kinds of anomalies Kuhn had described, and might just topple the reigning paradigms of physics and psychology.        


p. 130 f:

Preparations for the Philadelphia Earth day celebration brought Einhorn into contact with executives from Bell Telephone. With his people skills, Bell management treated him for years as a highly prized management consultant if community relations. In return the Bell company paid him with services including a grand experiment in networking, in which Bell would send materials to Einhorns extensive networking list. By 1978, the list included participants in more than 20 countries,  across North America and Western Europe. The contact list included Margaret Mead, Arthur Koestler, Alvin Toffler, members of the FFG, etc. A British economist extolled Einhorn’s network in the pages of Steward Brand’s CoEvolution Quarterly in 1979: The network circulates papers mutually between some of the most brilliant and original minds on the planet”. The latest ruminations by the FFG often topped the list contents. Einhorn lent a hand in editing Arthur Young’s The Reflexive Universe: Evolution of Consciousness and The Geometry of Meaning  Saul-Paul Sirag contributed to George Leonard’s The Silent Pulse. Leonard, an Esalen Fixture, had been in Einhorn’s network for years.

p.138 f:

Jeffrey Mishlove  crossed paths with Einhorn at Young’s consciousness institute, and met members of the FFG. His best selling book was The Roots of Consciousness: Psychic Liberation through History, Science and Experience, appeared in 1975. He earned the first doctorate in parapsychology. He was also running his own local radio show in the Bay area on the paranormal.

Gary Zukav crafted his book The Dancing Wu Li Masters, around  discussions at the Esalen Institute, and featured the thinking of the FFG, but focused on Sarfatti’s ideas. The Chinese word for physics was  Wu Li”, which could be translated literally as “patterns of organic energy”, and also had many other meanings. Despite similarity in title to Fritjov Capra’s The Tao of Physics, Zukov’s point was not to draw parallels between modern physics and insights from Eastern religions, but focused on the development of quantum physics and relativity in the West. The book hit something like a speed bump, revealing the limits as well as the promise of communicating ideas in such books. Zukov’s book was launched in 1979 and brought out the critics which attacked the dominance in the book of Sarfatti , dubbed a “renegade physicist”. Zukov rewrote several sections of the book, removing Sarfatti to footnotes, and coming closer tto Henry Stapp’s interpretation of Bell’s theorem, which had little room for ESP or clairvoyance.

Although Zukov’s friendship with Sarfatti came to an end, the revised book became a great success, sharing an American Book Award in 1980 with Douglas Hofstader’s Godel Escher and Bach.       

Einhorn’s longtime girl friend left him, and his behavior became erattic. The body of his former girl friend was recovered from his house, and he was charged with murder. He was released on bail, but his network halted. He evaded authorites for two decades, but was convicted of murder in absentia, and was ultimately sentenced to life imprisonment.  

p. 149:

Chapter 7 Zen and the Art of Textbook Publishing

The FFG, catalyzed by Ira Einhorn and his contacts at major publishing firms, launched a new type of popular book in the 1970s: accessible books that compared striking features of modern physics with staples of the counterculture, Sometimes blurring the genres of popular books for the masses and textbooks for science students. Austrian born Fritjov Capra’s The Tao of Physics, published in 1975, remains the most popular of this type. Capra became a core member of the FFG, also participating in Esalen events.

p. 150 f:

Capra came to Santa Cruz for a post-doc fellowship in 1968. He was a hardworking quantum physicist by day and tuned in hippie at night. He went to lectures and rallies by the Black Panthers, protested the war against Viet Nam, took in the rock festivals, psychedelics, new sexual freedom, and communal living that had become popular in the Santa Cruz counterculture.   He began exploring Eastern religions and mysticism, an interest sparked by his filmmaker brother by reading essays and attending lectures by Alan Watts, who had assisted Michael Murphy in his Eastern studies. During Capra’s explorations, had a “peak experience” of nature as the “Dance of Shiva” from Hindu mythology. He began to  notice parallels  between cutting edge quantum theory and the central tenets of Eastern thought, such as emphasis on wholeness or interconnectedness, and upon dynamic interactions rather than static entities. As his US visa was about to expire, he went to the theoretical division of London’s Imperial College, whose leader he had met in California. No fellowships were available, but there were empty desks around, so Capra set up shop. No position and no income, but a tiny corner he could call his own. His financial situation grew dim. He decided to write  textbook on quantum physics.

p. 152 f:

He sought the advise of MITs Victor Weisskopf, another native of Vienna, who was thoroughly established in high energy physics, and had suggested to Capra to write such a book. The two exchanged many letters, and Weisskopf reminded Capra that writing even good textbooks was not a good way to get rich.  Capra was then invited to visit Berkeley and give some talks to Geoffrey Chew’s group (including Rauscher Weissmann) on the parallels. While back in California, he visited his Santa Cruz postdoc advisor, who encouraged Capra to combine his interests in Eastern thought and modern physics by re-orienting the textbook to address the parallels. Capra did just that, and interspersed chapters in  his original textbook with chapters of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Zen. After a  dozen publishing companies rejected his idea, a small London based publishing house agreed to take a gamble on it.  He found another tiny US publishing company to bring out an edition in the US. He gave Weisskopf  a copy, who  read it and said he “liked it very much”.

p. 154 f:

The book was hugely successful. 43 editions in 23 translations, and millions of copies sold worldwide. His book capitalized on some tremendous, diffuse, unquenched human thirst. As a trained physicist, modern physics, as he saw it, had undergone a sea change in its understanding of reality, yet most physicists failed to appreciate this. The mechanistic fragmented world view of classical physics had been toppled by QM and Relativity, but Western society still carried on with the “classical” mentality. “The further we penetrate into the submicroscopic world, the more we realize how the modern physicist, like the Eastern mystic, has come to see the world as a system of inseparable, interacting and ever-moving components..[with human beings an integral part of this system] Capra saw deep parallels between the koans, or riddles of Buddhist thought, the constant interplay of opposites in Taoism, and the paradoxes of quantum theory. Little wonder, Capra noted, that Bohr adopted the yang-yin symbol for his family coat of arms.

p. 158 f:

Capra saw similarities in the methods-the Tao of Eastern thought and physics. Both he insists, are empirical. Capra also compared quotes from mystics and physicists to illustrate the parallels.

p. 159:

Some complained that similar philosophical notions can also be found in Western traditions: The philosophy of the Greek Parmenides and Anaximander; Plato’s Timaeus, with its notion of the “womb of becoming”, and Immanuel Kant’s meticulous analysis seemed just as robust an anticipation of QM as the Hindu Concept of Maya.

p. 159 f:

Others were less accepting of the “parallels” approach itself. What rules were in effect to guard against “cherry picking” of good quotations out of context? How did Capra handle subtle nuances in translation of concepts? Quotations might be not only    be ripped out of context, but also out of their original vocabulary, introducing distortions. Physicists still debate many of the points about modern physics that Capra presents to represent modern physics. Are mystic’s intuitions comparable to   physicist’s experiments? Finally, what was Capra’s point?  Capra seemed to flip flop between the argument that the two traditions yielded separate but complementary visions of reality, and the suggestion that one tradtion confirmed or validated the other. In the end, might the similarities, striking as they may seem, tell us only about “basic tendencies of the human mind, or perhaps about similarities in metaphor” rather than how the world really works? In the end, all the learned critiques reinforced the remarkable point that Capra’s book had hit a nerve: No other popularization received such seriius and sustained scrutiny; that continued to fill academic journals fifteen years after it first appeared in print.  

P. 161

Perhaps the most surprising response came from physicists. Some certainly responded by downplaying the book. Biochemist and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov dismissed it as bowing to all things Eastern. Physicist Jeremy Bernstein called the book superficial and profoundly misleading. These negative responses were not the norm. Mysticism aside, Capra offered a vision around which many physicists could rally. Capra stated that “physics can be a path with a heart, a way to spiritual knowledge and self-realization.” On the positive side: The Tao of Physics integrated “the abstract, rational world view of science with the immediate, feeling oriented vision of the mystic so attractive to many of our best students”. The American Journal of Physics began carrying  articles on how best - not whether – to use The Tao of Physics in the classroom.   There was a desire to explore or even exploit this interest in parallels to draw students into the classrooms.  As late as 1990, scholars noted that university physics  courses throughout the US still routinely listed The Tao of Physics as  helpful reference. 

p. 167:

Chapter 8 Fringe?!

No clear demarcation separated the FFG from “real” physics. In fact, highly successful physicists often sought to cross paths with members of the FFG.

When pressed to give an opinion on possible connections between parapsychology and his own work on quantum entanglement, John Bell refused to dismiss the matter out of hand.

p. 168:

Yale’s eminent physicist Henry Margenau, who launched the journal Foundations of Physics,  was sympathetic to the idea of parapsychology. He and psychologist Lawrence LeShan, author of The Medium, the Mystic, and the Physicist, wrote a short submission to the top flight journal Science, urging the scientific study of ESP. Not only did Science fail to publish the submission; it failed to acknowledge receipt of the submission.

p. 169:

The FFG had embraced Nobel Laureate Eugene Wigner’s idea that human consciousness might be necessary to collapse the quantum wave function, as they searched for a mechanism for Psi. Wigner in turn  supported Rauscher’s working explanation of remote viewing.

p. 170:

Gerald Feinberg, who predicted the existence of the tachyon, which earned three other physicists Nobel prizes when they confirmed its existence, communicated with Rauscher on her work for almost a decade, and contributed his own paper to a conference on quantum theory and parapsychology. Soon after, he served as physics department Chair at Columbia U.

p. 171f:

David Bohm also enjoyed close relations with members of the FFG, hosting Rauscher, Wolf and Sarfatti at his home department in London during the 1970s. His ideas of the “implicate order” were worked out as much in conversations with New Age thinkers like Jiddu Krishnamurti as with physicists.

       The French theoretical physicist Olivier Costa de Beauregard also made several visits to the FFG. By the time he had visited Puthoff and Targ at their SRI psi lab in 1975, de Beauregard had published a well received textbook on QM, and had become a sought after speaker in physics departments in Europe and North America. He also served as director of research at  the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), and often dropped hints in his mainstream physics articles of possible connections between Bell’s theorem and Psi phenomena, and joined the French equivalent of the American and British Societies for Psychical Research.

p. 172 :

By the early 1970s, Richard Mattuck, an MIT trained theorist, had published more than 20 articles on condensed matter physics in leading journals, and in 1967 published A Guide to Feynman Diagrams in the Many-Body Problem. Then, for eight years, his name disappeared from mainstream journals, and he turned his attention squarely to the QM of Psi. He built on Evan Harris Walker’s model of consciousness as a collection of hidden variables, and drew on many calculation tricks he had masteded in his many-body work, summing over the combined effects of many tiny quantum processes, that demonstrated that larger psychokinetic effects would result if consciousness sent out pulses of information, rather than as a continuous information flow, as Walker had assumed. The summed pulses could account for psi phenomena of the magnitude reported in several lab studies, including one of his own. He spoke on the same lecture circuit as Rauscher, Puthoff, Targ, and de Beauregard. When he returned to mainstream publishing, they were all on hidden variables, Bells theorem, and the foundations of QM.

p. 172 f:

While a grad student at Cambridge in the early 60s, Brian Josephson published a short paper on electrical currents that might “tunnel between a thin slice of ordinary metal sandwiched between two superconductors” (???)  Experiment confirmed the predicted effect within months, and the “Josephson junction” earned him a Nobel prize at age 33. Today such supersensitive junctions are hardwired into many high tech pieces of hardware. By the time he received his Nobel prize however, his research had turned to Eastern mysticism, the nature of consciousness, and psi phenomena. He delivered a talk to the FFG, and visited Puthoff and Targ. He compared notes with Sarfatti on their evolving theories of quantum entanglement and psi, and spoke at conferences on psi alongside Puthoff, Targ, Rauscher and others. Josephson’s passion for the topic has not waivered, and he directs a “mind-matter unification” project st Cambridge.

p. 174:

A conference was held in 1986 in honor of Eugene Wigner’s 90th birthday. Nick Herbert’s former roommate from grad school, Heinz Pagels, who had served as the New York Academy of Sciences executive director, helped organize the event. The conference, featuring more than 50 invited lectures and 20 presentations, served as a kind of “coming out” party for researchers who had toiled for years on the foundations of QM. The meeting drew several top notch contributors. Wigner and three other Nobel Laureates or soon-to-be participated, as well as John Wheeler, and of course members of the FFG.

p. 175 f:

The results of French Physicist Alain Aspect’s elegant experiment confirming Bells theorem, which were published in 1982, were covered in this conference.

In Clauser’s original experiment at Berkeley, the angles of the two  polarizers at the detectors had been set before the photons had been released. But according to hidden variables theory, information about the settings of one detector might be communicated to the other detector long before the photons had been emitted. Measurements on the pairs of photons could arrange themselves into the Bell like correlations by some as yet unknown local process. To eliminate this possibility, Aspect arranged to use super fast switches to change the path of a given photon to either one of the two sensors, set at different angles. This in effect would allow the angles of the polarizers to vary at random, while the two electrons are in motion, bypassing the possible hidden variable interpretation of the results. John Clauser served as referee as well as editor of Aspect’s paper.  Having sent almost a trillion pairs of photons  through his apparatus, Aspect found the Bells theorem QM prediction fulfilled to unprecedented accuracy. Aspect and his experiment traveled the FFG core group circuit.           

p. 178 f:

By 1975, physicist Robert W. Fuller was employed by   Werner Erhard. Fuller told Erhard about Ernest Solvay, who had funded conferences for giants in the field of physics, to facilitate their work on the mysteries of quantum physics. Erhard decided he wanted to become the next Solvey. Fuller worked to gather a group of world class physicists. The resulting 1977 conference, backed by Sidney Coleman and Roman Jackiw, with no interference from Earhard,  was a success, but no new developments in physics resulted from it.

p. 182:

After the  Coleman Jackiw conference, Erhard decided to finance a new fellowship for Sarfatti to teach as a visiting lecturer at the San Francisco Art Institute. Sarfatti was thrilled. MIT’s Victor Weisskopf, based on reports of EST authoritarian tactics, urged Sarfatti to give up his affiliation with Earhard. Spurred by this advise, and insulted about not having been consulted about the    Coleman Jackiw conference, Sarfatti broke with Earhard, one of his principle sources of funds.

p. 185:

For the next annual Earhard conference, Coleman, Jackiw, and Fuller chose the topic of quantum gravity, and began soliciting participants. Sarfatti got wind of these plans, and tried to sabotage it by warning physicists not to attend. Earhard and Fuller took the threats seriously and arranged for extra security guards.  Robert Fuller also quietly withdrew from EST.  Nevertheless, the EST  backed physics conferences developed into a robust annual tradition.   These conferences were the backdrop for the debate between physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Susskind over whether QM implied that information could leak out of black holes. Two decades later Hawking finally acknowledged that information might indeed escape black holes.

Every year for a decade the EST foundation’s physics conferences attracted star after physics star.  After about 10 years, bad publicity stopped the conferences, and in 1991 forced Earhard to sell his EST enterprise.


p. 193:

“The multiple entanglements between the [FFG] and leading physicists of the day strain …Karl Popper’s …hope that clear criteria might demarcate authentic science from pseudoscicnce

p. 195:                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Chapter 9 From FLASH to Quantum Encryption

In the closing paragraphs of Nick Herbert’s succinct re-derivation of Bell’s theorem, published in 1975, he mused about “superluminal telegraphy”, using entangled quantum particles to send messages from point A to point B faster than light could travel.

What would it mean to send signals faster than light? Seen from the right perspective, superluminal signals would travel back in time. As one acclaimed textbook author put it…physicists are “squeamish about superluminal influences”.

p. 196 f:

To several members of the FFG, including Henry Stapp, the verification of Bells theorem led to the conclusion that superluminal transfer of information is necessary.  This, and the question of whether it could be controlled to send messages occupied the FFG for almost a decade.

The no-cloning theorem, important for quantum encryption, was discovered at least 3 times, by physicists working independently.

Sarfatti submitted a first step for patenting of a superluminal communication devise in May 1978. The idea was to emit pairs of entangled photons directed at two detectors, A and B, on opposite sides of the photon source. An Experimenter at one detector could choose to let the photons pass thru a double slit, and produce the typical interference pattern, or use a slit detector to observe which slit the photons pass thru. By providing a slit detector which varies in efficiency from 0 to 100 percent, and by the experimenter varying the slit detector efficiency in a systematic way, an encoded message could be sent to the experimenter at the other detector. Sarfatti reasoned that such a devise could transmit a human voice across vast distances, with no possibility of eavesdropping, by having the slit detector efficiency controlled by a microphone.

Another FFG member, Philippe Eberhard, emphasized that Clauser’s verification of Bell’s theorem decisively demonstrated that the outcomes of measurements at one detector depend on the detector settings at the other detector. However, Eberhard also asserted that this fact did not imply that one could control that dependence to send an intelligible message. The catch was that the correlations Bell predicted would only be revealed when the experimenters compared both their detector settings for each run, and the measured outcomes at each setting. Eberhard’s analysis was the first published attempt to reconcile Bell’s theorem with reality, and has become the standard response to the question of superluminal communication. Heinz Pagels featured Eberhard’s argument in his 1982 book Cosmic Code.

P 201 f:

Eberhard made clear however that his analysis was based on several assumptions, anyone of which might break down. These assumptions included holding the current Bells theorem and Einstein’s  relativity as complete and unassailable. The result was intense thinking and discussion within the FFG.

P. 202 f:

Sarfatti was the most committed to the possibility of superluminal communication, and looked to the military establishment for funding of research along those lines, creating the “i2 Associates, a Meta-Corporation of the Emerging Post Industrial Order”.


p. 203f:

Nick Herbert entered the superluminal fray with a design aiming to exploit differences between various polarizations of light. Classically polarization refers to the direction in which a light wave’s electric field changes. In linearly polarized light, the electric field [oscillates sinesoidally in a flat plane]. In circular polarization, the electric field may spin around in a circle, tracing out a helical shape. Linearly polarized light can be polarized either horizontally or vertically [with respect to what reference frame?

Note 26: In general other states of polarization are possible as well. Any linear combination of the linear and circular polarization states are possible, leading to the most general state of elliptical polarization.  

P 204:

The helix of circular polarized light may be either right or left handed. 

A (linear) polarizing filter acts like a picket fence. Most of the light reflected off of a flat body of water is polarized horizontally, so vertically polarized sunglasses filter out most of the light reflected from that body of water. Circularly polarized light resolves into horizontal and vertical components, so half the light will come through a linear polarizing filter.

p. 205:

at the quantum level, polarization of light behaves much like the electron’s spin. While electrons have two spin states; spin up or spin down, photons come in various polarization states: Physicists abbreviate these states as H for horizontal, V for vertical, R for right handed circular polarization, and L for left handed circular polarization. Pairs of photons that emerge from a common source in opposite directions, as in Clauser’s experiments, show perfect correlations. If one photon is H, the other will be a V; if one is R, the other will be L. The nature of polarized light had around since the early 19th century. Application to individual photons was postulated in the 1920s. Herbert wanted some way to exploit observable differences between individual H,V, R, and L photons so as to allow encoding of messages.

p. 206:

Herbert became interested in quantum optics. The American Association of Physics Teachers had recently bundled together some of the most important articles on the subject and re-published them as Quantum and Statistical Aspects of Light. Included was an article published in 1936 by Richard Beth who, using a “half wave plate”,  had managed to measure the angular momentum of circularly polarized light. Beth’s device had measured angular momentum for light waves; huge collections of photons acting together.

This was the distinction between photon states that Herbert had been looking for. Herbert imagined a similar device that could measure angular momentum of individual photons.

He reasoned that the R and L photons would each impart equal but opposite amounts of angular momentum, so a half wave plate at a detector would move one direction or the other, but that H and V photons would register zero angular momentum, so the half wave plate at the detector would not move.

An experimenter at one of the two detectors could send a message to the other detector merely by choosing to measure linear or circular polarization.

He wrote and circulated a preprint, which he called QUICK, detailing his design. His preprint stimulated lots of controversy in the FFG and beyond.

p. 208 f:

Italians Gian Carlo Ghirardi and Franco Selleri, who were connected to the FFG by Einhorn, both had an interest in foundational QM. Selleri and his colleagues at Beri Italy had been among the earliest and most active of researchers on Bell’s theorem, and had come up with a scheme similar to Herbert’s for superluminal signaling. Ghirardi and a Trieste collaborator studied Herbert’s and Selleri’s scheme, and found a fatal flaw. To accommodate single photons, as opposed to trillions, Herbert’s half wave plate would need to be infinitely massive, so it would be too heavy to rotate when an R or L photon passed. Papers by Ghirardi and Eberhard were among the earliest rigorous proofs that Bell’s non-locality could peacefully coexist with Einstein’s relativity. However, Ghirardi believed superluminal transmission to be impossible. Herbert’s solution to the problem was to use a LASER gain tube to amplify the photon signal by producing a burst of coherent identical photons. He dubbed the new system FLASH: “First  Laser Amplified Superluminal Hookup, and submitted  paper for publication to the journal Foundations of Physics . Again Ghirardi found a flaw: no laser gain tube, not even an ideal one, could function the way Herbert thought. The problem was not from a limiting feature of a laser design, but rather from quantum theory itself. QM is “linear”, when you add two solutions to the equations, the result is also a solution. This linearity applied to the photon polarization states; the R and L states could be broken down into linear combinations of the   H and V states, and vise versa. Without being able to make perfect copies of an arbitrary initial polarization state, FLASH fell apart. Although he recommended rejection of Herbert’s paper, another expert recommended publication, so Herbert rewrote his paper, but without understanding Ghirardi’s critique, and resubmitted it to Foundations of Physics.

Independently, Henry Stapp had made the same critique of FLASH, and argued intensely with Herbert, who responded that the objection seemed to rule out ordinary operation of lasers, which amplify signals all the time.

p. 216 f:

A copy of Herbert’s proposal also made it to the offices of Wojciech Zurek and Bill Wootters, recent PhDs interested in foundational QM, who were encouraged and supported by John Wheeler. Regardless of the anathema associated with foundational QM, Wheeler and his small circle persisted. Wheeler brought in a steady stream of visiting FQM scholars, and organized new seminars, such as one on quantum measurement: the process by which arrays of quantum possibilities get reduced to single measurable results.

p. 218 f:

Zurek had also been wondering about trying to amplify an entangled state; he wondered if one could rotate the polarization of individual photons, exactly what Herbert had proposed. Zurek thought of doing experiments to see if a laser could be used to amplify a single photon of an entangled pair of photons. He then went to a conference in Perugia Italy, celebrating the 90th birthday of Louis De Broglie, who first proposed that wave-particle duality extended to matter as well as light. De Broglie was an iconoclast, as were many of the participants of this conference. Herbert’s scheme seems to have dominated the event. Thus Zurek had by this time collided head on with Herbert’s scheme.

p. 220 f:

He was convinced that the linear nature of quantum theory would place the ultimate limit on superliminal signaling, by making it impossible to duplicate arbitrary quantum states. He wrote up his thoughts and sent them to Wootters for review. They concluded that although it was possible to design a device that could make perfect copies of a known incoming state; or a state orthogonal to it, R or L for example, it was not possible according to the laws of QM to make perfect copies of an unknown or arbitrary state. Wheeler, who coined the term “black hole” a decade earlier, stated that in essence what Zurek and Wootters were saying was that a single quantum cannot be cloned, which they chose as the title of their submission to Nature.

p. 221 f:

Dennis Dieks, a Dutch physicist and member of the Dutch Quantum Club, was coming to the same conclusion. The Dutch group had been connected to the FGG, as had been Wheeler’s Austin group, by Einhorn’s network. Diecks wrote up his  conclusions which appeared in Physics Letters three weeks after Zurek Wootters paper appeared in Nature.

p. 225 f. :

By the mid 1980’s the “No Cloning” theorem the first proposals arose for quantum encryption: an encryption system that could be perfectly secure, sending encrypted messages that could never be hacked, stolen, altered, or imitated.

The path toward quantum encryption began with a physics grad student Stephen Wiesner. Although flunking out of grad school at Caltech, he later was admitted to grad school at Columbia, during a wave of unrest because of the Viet Nam war. Wiesner first got the idea of developing quantum money, that could not be counterfeited, and wrote a paper on it. Once order was restored, none of his professors showed any interest in the paper and it languished. Wiesner eventually completed his PhD in mainstream particle physics, living as a “hippy”, and visited Clauser,

p. 229:

Finally Charles Bennett, who was just finishing up his PhD at Harvard on computer models of molecular behavior, took notice. He worked for the IBM research lab  and his interests shifted more from computer simulations of physical systems to the nature of computation and information. How should scientists conceive of information, computation, and communication in the light of quantum theory? Did those topics offer any insights into quantum theory? He became interested in Weisner’s thoughts on quantum money. He and Wiesner teamed up on quantum money using various encryption methods. Maybe some of the information could be public and the rest hidden, perhaps like a quantum version of the RSA algorithm.  Bennett’t work caught Wheeler’s eye, who invited him to a workshop at Austin on the foundations of QM. While at Austin Bennett met Zurek and Wootters and learned about the no cloning theory. With Montreal colleague Gilles Brassard, he presented a paper at a computer science conference which became known as “BB84” for Bennett, Brassard 1984. It offered the first blueprint of a provably secure encryption system.

Like Hebert’s FLASH scheme, BB84 relies on encoding messages using the polarization states of photons, but carries the communication process between experimenter A (at detector A) and experimenter B (at detector B) much further.

Since that time, experiments took off, and real world demonstrations were realized. Subsequently, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has lavished millions of dollars of funding, and other national labs, such as NIST and Los Almos, maintain active groups in quantum cryptography. The private sector has also show interest.

Kaiser continues to pile on disparaging comments of Herbert and his work.

Herbert’s ideas forced a look at how lasers actually work at the single photon level. It was found that when stimulated by a single photon, lasers emit “noise” photons in random uncorrelated states of polarization.

Many textbooks on quantum information science have elevated various critiques of superluminal communication to a “no signaling theorem: no operation using entangled states can allow faster than light communication.    

p. 237:

Chapter 10 The Roads From Berkeley

After meeting every week for nearly 4 years, the FFG disbanded early in 1979. Rauscher and Weissmann had completed their dissertations and were no longer available to manage it. From an initial 10, the group had grown to 40 or 50, few of which were affiliated with the lab.

Capra’s book  The Turning Point solidified his position as a major New Age thinker. He wrote a screenplay on the book with his brother, a filmmaker. It was released in 1992 as the movie Mindwalk.

Since then he has concentrated more on environmental actfvism.

Fred Alan Wolf and Nick Herbert also turned successfully to book writing.

Rauscher and Weissmann eventually became self-employed entrepreneurs. She founded her own consulting company, Tecnic Research Laboratories, and got contracts from the Naval Surface Weapons Center and the Naval Ocean Systems Command to study ionospheric effects on signal propagation. Her lab won a contract from Martin Marietta as part of its work on NASA’s space shuttle program. Other companies hired her firm to consult on semiconductors and related electronics projects. She expanded into biomedical and alternative medicine topics. She received 3 patents in the US and one patent in Europe for devises designed  to use ultra low intensity electric and magnetic fields as a noninvasive pacemaker. The vibrations were also designed to act on the brain to reduce pain. She also kept writing on quantum physics and parapsychology. Recently she has joined forces with the California based nonprofit Institute of Heartmath to design a “Global Coherence Monitoring System”. The group aims to track minute fluctuations in the earth’s magnetic field, both on the ground and in the ionosphere. The goal is to determine “how the earth’s field  affects human heart rhythm patterns or brain activity, and more importantly, how human stress and emotions are influenced by fluctuations in the earth’s field. They aim to understand how “effects of collective emotion-based energetics” can increase an individual’s stress level; and to monitor whether shifts in the planet’s “collective human emotionality” might be correlated with, and hence to predict earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or similar planetary scale events.

Note 52: press release

Weissmann realized that his heart was no longer in mainstream particle physics. He became interested in herbal remedies, in particular a Tibetan concoction that seemed to do wonders. He returned to Berkeley and established the Padma Marketing Corporation to import and sell this product under the name “Padma 28 Tibetan Herbal Food Supplement”.  Marketing materials proclaimed Padma 28 to be effective in treating a broad range of health problems.

The FDA eventually stepped in, and in 1986 ordered all shipments of Padma 28 be destroyed. The next year they issued a permanent injunction  against the product. Weissmann still believed in this product.Indeed, biomedical researchers in Europe continue to investigate whether the compound might be effective. But years of regulatory injunctions and court battles took their toll. In 1989 Weissmann dissolved hi business. Later he started a business Veat, to make realistic tasting meat substitutes from soy.  The business was a success. He sold his interest in Veat in about 2000 to work full time on a book project called “Quantum Paradigm”, representing his decades long effort to devise a unified theory of consciousness, parapsychology, and quantum theory.

P 254 f.:

Henry Stapp, one of the few core members of the FFG who had a regular position as a physicist at the time, continued to work on QM and consciousness from his post as senior staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley Lab. Kaiser goes into great detail regarding a psi experiment Stapp participated in during the 1990s, which ultimately returned a null outcome. However, initially, positive results were returned, and on this basis Stapp realized that the equations of QM could be modified to account for psi effects, while still reproducing the usual well tested behavior of atoms predicted by ordinary quantum theory.

258 f:

John Clauser also managed to craft a career as a working physicist, but even though his experimental ingenuity was recognized, he never landed an academic position. On his own, he designed a new method for high contrast x-ray imaging, and secured a number of research grants to develop noninvasive imaging tests for breast cancer, and  designed a noninvasive biopsy.  He kept up his interest in Bells theorem and quantum entanglement and often spoke at conferences during the 80s and 90s, after the topic moved into the mainstream. He and two other physicists, Alain Aspect  and Anton Zeilinger (masterminded the 2004 quantum encrypted bank transfer)  won the 2010 Wolf Prize in physics.


Rauscher and Weissmann organized a reunion of the FFG; the 25th anniversary, held on November 18, 2000. Nearly all the original core members participated.


Coda:  Ideas and Institutions in the Quantum Revival

p. 265 f:

Princeton trained historian Theodore Roszak focused on the 60s ferment in his 1969 study The Making of a Counter Culture. Although he initially saw technocracy and the military industrial complex as the trigger for this phenomena, he finally concluded that the goal of the counterculture was no less than the “subversion of the scientific world view” itself. But as we have seen, quantum theory and Bell’s theorem served as intellectual anchors for many New Age speculations.

p. 267:

During the 1970s, other similar groups sprang up, as loose and informal as the FFG, who also chased deep questions that the mainstream scientific community either overlooked or ignored. For example, the “Dynamical Systems Collective”, also known as the “Chaos Cabal” was born from physics grad students at UC at Santa Cruz. They strove to understand the onset of chaos; the border between order and disorder. No surprise that the two groups found one another. A Santa Cruz  representative reported on their research into chaos at the first Esalen workshop on physics and consciousness, in 1976.

Another set of Bay Area dreamers set up shop in Silicon Valley, and pursued the notion of small computers for everyone. Apple  computers were born.\

p. 269:

Every one of the now standard responses for how to accommodate Bell-style nonlocality with Einstein’s Relativity came either from members of the FFG, or from other physicists concerted efforts to comprehend or critique their ideas.

p. 270:

Today it is no longer uncommon for Nobel laureates to debate the interpretation of quantum theory. The latest textbooks showcase topics like Bell’s theorem and quantum entanglement, and include chapters on the contests over how best to interpret the quantum formalism. The latest journals, conferences and books on quantum information science feature contributions from card carrying philosophers  alongside those from professional physicists.

Given the astounding importance of Bell’s theorem and quantum entanglement today, why has the FFG been written out of physicist’s history?

p. 272:

As John Clauser, Alain Aspect, and their colleagues learned, positive results of scientific experiments cannot force the scientific community to pay attention.

The disrespect shown toward serious efforts to interpret quantum theory, even when driven by ingenious and original lab experiments, made life difficult ….[for anyone attempting such work]

An acceptance of interpretive work as “legitimate” did not depend on new data or experiments; but rather on the authority of institutions; a slow grinding cultural shift.

p. 275:

The severity with which  physicist’s Cold War bubble  burst in the early 1970s occasioned sustained soul-searching by many physicists. The National Academy of Sciences convened a blue-ribbon panel, the Physics Survey Committee, to assess the damage and plot a new course forward. MIT’s Victor Weisskopf and 16 equally prominent colleagues organized the massive study. Like the FFG, the committee was concerned about the direction physics had taken during the boom years of the 1950s and 1960s. Just as the FFG, the committee concluded that the boom years had exaggerated one among many legitimate styles in physics, and the pragmatism required for technological development had crowded out other important approches.

The committee argued that the best way to accomplishs such a top-down refashioning was through a change in education.  Classroom conditions changed. Essay questions began to reappear on doctoral students exams and in textbooks, and interpretation became a legitimate issue. Beyond the formal curricula, physics departments began to offer informal seminars for grad students. Physicists began to make room for the kind of free-wheeling philosophical discussions that had animated the founders of QM in the 1920s and that Rauscher and Weissmann had re-created with the FFG. Some of the earliest lesson plans on Bell’s theorem published in the American Journal of Physics emerged directly from interaction with members of the FFG.

p. 279:

Physicists have crafted new ways to seek out and sustain the longshot efforts that might otherwise be lost amid the discipline’s boom and bust cycles. New centers, like the Perimeter Institute,  to seek out and sustain the longshot efforts have sprung up, privately funded. Founded in 1999, this organization has sponsored physicists who work on “foundational, non-directed research” in QM. A “Foundational Questions Institute”, FQXi, has formed on the internet, and whose stated goal is to “catalyze, support, and disseminate research on questions at the foundations of physics; particularly those that promise some “deep understanding of reality”.

Many recipients of funding by FQXi are professional physicists with university affiliation, but even less recognized people receive funding. Garrett Lisi is one of thousands of young physicists looking for the Holy Grail “Theory of Everything”; yet Lisi’s approach to combining quantum theory with gravitation seemed appealing. He was able to post his papers on the central web-based physics pre-print server, These garnered little attention until he got some publicity. Following a New Yorker profile, he became a sensation. As with members of the FFG, his efforts have stirred leading experts to clarify the underlying physics. Unlike members of the FFG however, young thinkers such as Lisi do not have to create their own perch. Institutions like the Perimeter Institute, web based FQXi and web based preprint server provide a safety net to catch those out-of-mainstream ideas that might otherwise be lost.

p. 181:

We have overlooked contributions from collectives like the FFG because their efforts have been so smoothly reabsorbed within the mainstream, like so many other once-radical 1970s innovations: yoga, organic food, networked PCs. These days the phrase “New Age” seems more like a marketing ploy than an alternative world view.       

p. 182:

The last decade has seen a sharp uptick in interest in the physics of consciousness. Leading physicists and popular authors like Michio Kaku tackle the physics of the impossible, including excursions into telepathy, telekinesis, and teleportation, while keeping their books squarely on the New York Times best seller list.