Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Santa Cruz St Paddy's Day 2010

Patrick Reilly, Santa Cruz patent attorney and founder of the Intellectual Property Society ("Protecting the Fire of Creativity"), annually hosts one of the finest Saint Paddy's Day parties on Monterey Bay--loads of corn beef sandwiches, cold Guinness, great company and good cheer. Plus an Irish session band with a quantum physicist playing the penny whistle. In this video clip by Allan Lundell, the band performs "The Butterfly", a popular slip jig attributed to eccentric Dublin composer and fiddle player Tommy Potts.

After closing out the pubs
Pat and Mike are staggering home
across a moonlit cemetery.
"Paddy," says Mike, reading from a stone,
"Here lies a man who lived to be 115."
"Now that's a auld one, Mike. What was his name?"
"His name was Miles, me boy."
"Miles from Dublin."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Equinox Prize

The winners of the 3 Quarks Daily Arts and Literature Prize were announced today. Alas, my quantum tantra entry The New Sex Robot was not among those chosen for this prestigious award. I thank all of you who voted for me and also the judges whose job was made difficult by the high quality of the entries. The 3QD editors timed this prize for the Spring Equinox. And for the contemplation of Jabir's Formula--quantum tantra's primary axiom--what better excuse than Spring? So here is an Equinox prize for you.

I want to woo Her not view Her
Pet Reality until She purrs
Longing to merge with Dame Nature bodily
Yearning to mingle my substance with Hers
And them content with merely observing
Are nothing but Nature's voyeurs.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Jabir Meets Earth's Underlords


No, we really don't live on zeta reticuli
We wallow in human lives and in your deaths.
We really don't run saucers from alpha centauri
We are as near to you as your breaths.

When he lowered his shields
by taking psychedelic mushrooms
we came inside Jack Sarfatti
and gave him his skit about hitler.

We give you hunches, insights, dreams and stock tips.
We are Muse, demon lover;
we are Lord and Lady Luck.
We can make you king, tycoon, genius or president.
And we can really fuck you up.

To connect with us and do us homage
Nick Herbert smokes too much marijuana.
But we are responsible for most of his physics
and for every single line of his poetry.

(Including this.)

Our daily meat is human passion
We feed on greed, religion, fear and fuck.
We help the predator kill his bloody breakfast
We help the prey escape thru bloody luck.

Thru his submission to the Golden Dawn
and thru the automatic writings of his wife
we fed splendid metaphors for Irish poetry
into the hungry mind of William Butler Yeats.

(Twas we not he what won Willy's Nobel Prize.)

Roman Catholics called us guardian angels
and evil demons tempting innocents to sin.
But every ruler, every genius owes us gratitude
And we originated all atrocities that's ever been.

We on a whim disguised some few of us as "Seth"
took over Jane Roberts' beautifully submissive larynx,
and with her and husband Rob's permission
dictated lots of best-selling manuscripts.

Is there a God? Ask Richard Dawkings.
(We ourselves don't really know.)
Is there a Satan? Ask the Pope.
You want personal contact with a billion alien beings?
Then join a holy roller church in Oakland.
Or smoke some killer dope.

(Write it down, Nick: This too is a door.)

You're sure you want to meet inhuman aliens?
You're brave enough to risk your ego's death?
Then strip off your bloody armor, man. Invite us in.
We're closer to you than your breath.
We've always been.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

St Paddy's Day 2010: Nick Goes Pro

After a few years of playing the Irish Whistle in open Santa Cruz Celtic session groups, Nick and a few of his friends will debut at Motiv, a stylish, pub/restaurant (formerly the Dakota) which is poised to be the Next Big Scene in Santa Cruz night life. (See Motiv reviews here.) Our session group, as yet unnamed, will open for the main act on Saint Patrick's Day, March 17, around 5 PM. Motiv is located across from Borders Books in downtown Santa Cruz. Nick's first whistle gig on a big stage. Visit Motiv, wear somethin' green, order yerself a pint o' Guinness and enjoy some raw and raucous Irish tunes. See you there.

Also today, my agent has informed me that Quantum Reality will be translated into Croatian. Hooray! Wouldja pour Nick another Guinness, laddy?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Randy Welch: You Don't Know Me but

You Don't Know Me, but:

In this lifetime, so far
I have been an eagle scout, anarchist,
anabaptist, episcopalian,

Tutored in Hebrew by wise old rabbis,
brow-beaten senseless by desert shaman,
reared by physicists,
tempered by alchemists,
attacked by seagulls,
bitten by rattlesnakes
and a brown recluse . . .

I have fallen off a palomino,
played rugby,
broken numerous bones,
climbed steep mesas,
‘tubed the Colorado,
watched the sun rise and set on two different oceans
and spent the night in a Mexican jail. . .

It is not unusual that I be possessed by spirits.
I have practiced anarchy within church and state
& seen many,
though not all,
the faces of God . . .

I have fought demons,
spoken in tongues
and talked to angels and trees . . .

I have done without food for forty days,
spent a week in the desert alone,
eye-witnessed a hurricane and two tornadoes,
ingested hallucinogens,
seen mescalito,
gotten way too stoned/
stupefied drunk and
become a vegetarian . . .

I have studied the beats, prayed to the saints,
played symphonies, wailed raucous be-bop –
bluegrass –
punk –
and graffitied government buildings . . .

I have been married, been divorced,
been a father, and a son,
sought wisdom, acted the fool,
joined the wobblies, grown vegetables
and fallen in love with a gypsy-woman . . .

I have washed dishes, tended bar,
cleaned toilets, designed web pages,
presided over a funeral, two weddings
and worked at a thrift store . . .

I have lived on two reservations,
drawn caricatures for five dollars a pop,
sold fajitas from a pushcart,
and served communion . . .

I’ve been an existentially inclined entheobotanist,
janitor, poet, psychonaut
and jumped a freight train or two . . .

I’ve had a couple of breakdowns
and watched an old hobo die in my arms . . .

I am an artist who aspires to janitorial greatness,
I am a custodian of the arts.

Like you, Nick,
I am already a frequenter of Reality Sandwich . . .

Adán Cabello's Big Deviation From Classicality

Quantum mechanics is the most successful theory of the material world that humans have ever possessed. It makes accurate predictions to eleven decimal places and wherever it's been tested IT HAS NEVER BEEN WRONG. But the price we seem to have paid for quantum theory's immense predictive power is an utter inability to visualize quantum reality. Whenever we make a measurement the unvisualizable quantum world turns into solid, visualizable matter--the so-called "classical world" of Newton and Galileo.

In my book on this topic I compare our inability to directly perceive the world's underlying quantum reality to King Midas's touch. King Midas cannot enjoy the touch of his daughter's hand because everything he touches turns to gold. Humans cannot directly perceive quantum reality because everything we touch turns to matter.

In the last quarter century, inspired by Irish physicist John Bell's Non-locality Theorem and by the technological feasibility of building quantum computers and other purely quantum machines, a few physicists are now taking a worm's-eye view at the perplexing quantum/classical border that separates the quantum underworld from the above-ground world of everyday life.

Physicists have usually assumed that, with few exceptions (superconductors, superfluids), quantum effects are confined to the world of the very small, and become imperceptible as more and more atoms are gathered together to make larger objects. Recent work by Adán Cabello in Seville, Spain, sheds new light on this question through his discovery of a new measure of "quantumness" that gets larger as the number of particles increases.

Cabello's Quantum Contexuality in Complex Systems focuses on a generic system consisting of an assembly of a number "n" of elemental two-state quantum systems called "qubits" which might be the basic quantum bits that constitute the heart of some hypothetical quantum computer.

There exist two kinds of measurements that one can make on any complex quantum system--incompatible measurements and compatible measurements. Incompatible measurements (such as position and momentum) are intrinsic features of the quantum world--never found in classical reality. Incompatible measurements (say A and B) obey Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle--the more you know about quantity A, the less you can know about B. Another curious feature of incompatible measurements is that THEY DO NOT COMMUTE. This means that if you measure A first and then B, you will get a different result then if you do the reverse. In general, as systems get larger, the effects due to non-commuting measurements become quantitatively smaller and incompatible measurements begin to look more and more compatible--in effect becoming indistinguishable from ordinary classical properties.

Cabello focuses his attention on triplets ABC of COMPATIBLE MEASUREMENTS on 3 different qubits. Compatible measurements do not depend on the order of measurement and give the same result if repeated on the same system. Compatible measurements are as close as one can get in the quantum world to a measurement that "looks classical". But Cabello has discovered a quantity "D" which is a simple expression constructed from the results of all possible compatible triplet measurements on a system Z that is a reliable measure of system Z's "deviation from classical behavior." Thus even though each triplet of compatible results by itself may look classical, and perhaps a dozen such measurements may also look classical, Cabello has found a method of looking at all these "classical" measurements taken together that shows that these results cannot possibly be produced by a classical system.

Analogous to Cabello's discovery would be a sophisticated way of looking at all possible outcomes of a poker game and infallibly identifying whether the dealer was cheating (quantum world) or playing fair (classical world) where "n" is the number of players in the game.

The beauty of Cabello's discovery is that his measure "D" of "deviation from classicality" rapidly gets bigger as the number of qubits "n" increases, so his measure D is an example of a quantum effect that persists and is even enhanced as the system gets bigger and bigger. The drawback of Cabello's measure D however is that the number of submeasurements that make up this measure becomes combinatorially large as the size n of the system increases. Thus measuring D for large systems is effectively impractical. On the other hand, Cabello's discovery of a "measure of quantumness" that can be calculated from ostensibly classical results lends hope to the possibility of discovering other such measures that have the same property of increasing with system size but are easier to implement.

In poker game terms, Cabello has discovered how to calculate a "deviation from fairness"--a measure of how much the dealer is cheating--that grows exponentially larger as the number of players increases.

Bravo, Señor Cabello from Seville. Your remarkable discovery moves us one step closer to the quantum tantric goal of being able to enjoy quantum-intimate intercourse with larger and larger chunks of Nature.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Nick Enters the SemiFinals


Thanks to your enthusiastic response to VOTE FOR NICK, my poem The New Sex Robot polled 6th in a field of 78 and entered the semifinals of the 3 Quarks Daily Arts and Literature competition by a broad margin. See here for a list of fellow SFs and the rules for the next round of judging.

Be sure to browse the competition: these are the best of the best.

I thank you again for your support and for helping Nick to make quantum tantra a household word and popular pastime.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Last Chance to VOTE FOR NICK

Tomorrow (March 7, 2010) the voting will be closed for the
3 Quarks Daily Art & Literature Prize in which I have nominated
my wonderful erotic poem The New Sex Robot.

Vote for NICK.

Thanks to your enthusiastic support
Nick Herbert's "Quantum Tantra: The New Sex Robot"
has now been elevated into the ranks of Top Ten.

But the votes are still close.

Here is a situation (unlike the American presidential race)
where a few of your votes can make a powerful difference.

If you have already VOTED FOR NICK, I thank you much.
If you have not VOTED FOR NICK, shame on you.

click on this LINK.

Tell all your friends to VOTE FOR NICK.

Unlike some craven political figures I will not do anything to win.
But I will BEND OVER BACKWARDS for your vote.

Thanks in advance.

Nick Herbert

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Earl Crockett (1938-2010)

I first met Earl Crockett in the 1980s at Esalen where I was doing physics workshops and this man has been an important presence in my life every since, offering good advice, preposterous speculations, reliable companionship on many adventures, good humor and absolutely extraterrestrially enjoyable gourmet meals. Earl's mother was a cook at an outdoor camp and Earl had inherited her skill in preparing and presenting delicious food.

Earl was a successful businessman who specialized in helping other people prudently manage their business affairs. He was a friend of Werner Erhard, the founder of est, and was proud of the fact that he "saved Werner millions of dollars". When government agents raided the home laboratory of legendary psychedelic chemist Sasha Shulgin and fined him $45,000 for doing what they considered bad science, Earl started a fund that raised that much and more to help support and publicize Shulgin's important work. Earl's latest project was to put together a successful business plan for Marini's, a group of family-run candy shops in Santa Cruz.

Earl was an explorer of both inner and outer realms and was not afraid to get his hands dirty. Together with his wife Sheri he travelled to many sites in South America and Mexico where healing and reality-seeking rituals are still being carried out in traditional ways. Following anthropological clues and local legends, Earl identified a Mexican cactus with psychedelic properties formerly unknown to science. One of the high points of Earl's life was his stage appearance with Sasha Shulgin at a Sacred Elixirs conference in San Jose in which Earl described his Indiana-Jones-like adventures in discovering this exotic new cactus following which Sasha described his own adventures in tracking down the cactus's psychoactive chemical components.

Earl was an instrument-qualified small plane pilot and the last time I talked with him was in a Chinese restaurant in Santa Cruz, after we and some friends had attended a physics lecture at UCSC. During the meal, Earl recounted for us in great detail the sensations and feelings of making a nighttime instrument landing at the Oakland airport in dense fog.

On Valentine's Day, 2010, in his home in Santa Cruz, Earl Crockett took his last flight into that all-consuming fog from which none of us ever returns. May Earl's well-practiced instruments guide him into the light.

Adios, old friend.

Monday, March 1, 2010



3 Quarks Daily is awarding a prize this Spring Equinox for Top Blog Post in Art and Literature. I have submitted one of my poems and am soliciting your vote.


My entry is listed in the poetry section as Quantum Tantra: The New Sex Robot. I'm sure you will agree that this work deserves some sort of recognition: I consider it a new version of Goethe's Faust. Winners will be announced on the Spring Equinox.