You are on page 1of 28

Energy A Physicists View

Vic Stenger

Substance Duality
Most people believe that the universe is made of two kinds of stuff: 1. Matter Body

Particles Discreteness, reductionism 2. "Energy" Mind, Spirit, Soul,Vital Force Electromagnetic/ bioenergetic fields Continuity, holism

 Living things possess a special, cosmic energy field, which

I will call the bioenergetic field. Qi?

Assumptions of Alternative Medicine

 Pure energy is a biophysical substance separate from

matter, and indeed supersedes matter.

 Electromagnetic fields are examples of "pure energy"

and are identified with the bioenergetic field.

 Newtonian mechanistic, reductionist physics has been

shown to be wrong by modern physics.

 Quantum physics shows that the universe is one

interconnected whole of which human consciousness is a part, thus allowing the mind to control reality.

Bioenergetic Medicine
"The principles of energy medicine originate in quantum physics. Bioenergetic medicine is the study of human and animal bodies as dynamic electromagnetic fields existing in an electromagnetic environment." "Based on Einstein's theories of quantum physics, these energetic concepts are being integrated into medicine for a comprehensive approach to disease diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. Joan Stafantos

Energy Fields of Life

". . . energy fields are postulated to constitute the fundamental unit of the living and nonliving." [The field is] "a unifying concept and energy signifies the dynamical nature of the field. Energy fields are infinite and paradimensional; they are in continuous motion." Martha Rogers

The History of Energy

 From Greek energeia meaning activity.  Not part of original Newtonian mechanics.  Introduced into physics by Helmholtz in 1847.
Conservation of Energy The total energy of an isolated system does not change with time. This is the defining property of energy.

Types of Energy
Example: Falling Body

 Kinetic Energy
EK = mv2/2

v h

 Potential Energy
EP = mgh

 Rest Energy
ER = mc2

Classical Physics
Picture prior to 20th Century:

 Energy and matter were separate and distinct


 Although appearing continuous to the naked eye,  Light was a form of electromagnetic wave, the

matter was composed of discrete, localized atoms. vibration of a continuous cosmic field, the aether, and regarded as a form of "pure energy."

 Gravity was a continuous action-at-a-distance field. action-at-

Modern Physics
Current picture: Energy and matter are the same stuff: E = mc2

 The discrete nature of matter is confirmed. Energy is also


 There is no evidence for an aether or any other continuous

medium in universe. Light is composed of particulate matter: photons. Fields are composed of discrete particles ("quanta").

 General relativity explains gravity in terms of the curvature

of space rather than as a force field.

Matter Molecules


Nuclei and Electrons

Protons and Neutrons


The Standard Model of Matter

Three generations of quarks and leptons u d Re e c s t b


plus antiparticles. Familiar matter : u, d, e proton = uud neutron = udd

The Standard Model of Forces

Forces result from the exchange of particles:

 Electromagnetism  Strong nuclear  Weak nuclear

photon gluons (8)

weak bosons (4)

(No quantum theory of gravity as yet) While these force particles are described by quantum fields in the theory, no continuous medium, like the aether, is involved.

The Cosmos
Mass Budget


0.005 %

Ordinary visible matter

0.5 %

Nature of dark matter and

dark energy still unknown.

Ordinary nonluminous matter

3.5 %

But not immaterial since

carry mass.
Exotic dark matter 26 %

Even more exotic dark energy

70 %

Life and Mind

 All living organisms are composed of the same
quarks and electrons as compose a rock or a river.

 They are acted on by the same forces.  There is no evidence for special vital or psychic
fundamental substances or forces.

Properties of Matter
 There is no evidence for any special fields or
radiation associated with living organisms.

 No basis exists for assuming that life and mind

are anything other than emergent properties of matter--not matter--not derivable from equations of particle physics but consistent with them. strong evidence for localized, material sources of thoughts and emotions.

 Brain imaging and other neuroscience provide

The Unconscious Quantum

 Quantum mechanics is said to provide a basis for a mindmindmatter connection.

 This notion arises from the fact that the act of observation
interferes with what is being observed: Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

 The claim is that reality is determined by consciousness.  But mind and consciousness are not independent of matter.
The brain is wired to body, but not to other bodies.

 Nothing in quantum phenomena requires the introduction

of non-material or holistic elements. non-

Has modern physics shown that classical, reductionist physics is "wrong?"

 No!  Most physics taught in classrooms is still
classical physics.

 Modern physics is built on a base of classical

physics. Still materialistic and reductionist including quantum mechanics. heavily on classical physics.

 Modern technology and medicine still rely

What Constitutes Evidence?

 Any claim that implies the overthrow of well-established wellscientific principles has an extraordinary burden of proof. practical policy is to ignore such claims until extraordinary evidence is presented.

 Since so much rubbish is out there, the only rational and  Anecdotal evidence is ordinary. People can be tricked or

selfself-deluded. The placebo effect is powerful and difficult to eliminate even in the best controlled experiments. Multiple independent replications are essential.

 A single experiment, even peer-reviewed, is never enough. peer-

Ordinary Claims
That, if true, would violate no established science:

 Some herbs may have some medical benefits.  Acupuncture may relieve pain by stimulating brain

 Relaxation or meditation may have some medical benefits.  Massage may aid in healing.  A patient's state of mind can affect his or her health.  Treating the "whole patient" may be better than just
treating his parts.

Extraordinary claims
That, if true, would violate well-established science: well-

 Homeopathic remedies can have any effect at all--other all--other

than placebo.

 Meditation tunes you into the cosmic field of mind.  Mind can overcome established physical laws.  You can improve a person's health by manipulating
her vital energies with acupuncture or therapeutic touch.

Published Reports
 Numerous media reports refer to published papers
"scientifically verifying" the healing powers of prayer and other forms of "spiritual" or "psychic" therapies. Not one is statistically significant!

 Many p = 1/20 effects in physics have failed to be


 The publication criterion in physics is p = 1/10,000.  This threshold should be used for an extraordinary claim
(as defined) in all branches of science. Ordinary claims, consistent with existing science, can be published with weaker significance. But even p = 1/20 is far too low.

Scientific Study of Qi
Measurements made in Beijing in 1987 during healing lectures of Dr. Yan Xin. Yan Xin et al, Journal of Scientific Exploration 18 (2002):381-411. Positive signals:  Radiation dosimeters  Changes in Raman spectrum in aqueous solutions  Alternations in half-life of 241Am halfThermoluminescence Dosimeters:  7LiF(Mg,Ti) sensitive to gamma-rays gamma 6LiF(Mg, Ti) sensitive to neutrons and gamma-rays gamma-

Results of Qi Experiment
Distance measurements during 11-hour lecture. 11-


data ___ Energy Conservation: 1/r2

Conclusions on Qi Experiment
 Radiation intensities very high. Would be harmful if
extended over long times.

 Dosimeters are designed for longer term exposures and

have about 10 mR detection limit. Reported results near lower limit. Could be measurement errors. No error estimates given.

 No results presented for distance experiment control with

Dr. Yan absent.

 No reported replication in years between 1987 and 2002.  Qi does not show fall off with distance expected from
energy conservation. Defining property of energy.

Analogy with Psi

 Scientific searches for psychic energy (psi) over 150 years
have failed.

 1930s. Einstein told J.B. Rhine he would not believe in psi

unless he saw distance effect.

 Rhine could find no distance effect.  Psi does not show fall off with distance expected from
energy conservation. Defining property of energy.

 Neither psi nor qi appear to be forms of energy.  Both psi and qi appear to be nonexistent.

 Energy therapies are based on the ancient notion that
living matter possesses some special vital force or energy that is separate from matter.

 Today this energy is mistakenly associated with

electromagnetic or quantum fields.

 No evidence for any special vital forces, energies, or

fields has ever been found.

 Modern physics has shown that energy and matter are

the same thing.

 Modern physics has shown that no continuous fields

exist. Quantum fields are composed of particles.

Summary (continued)
 Modern particle physics has a theory of matter and forces
that successfully describes all current observations.

 Living matter is composed of the same particles acted on

by the same forces.

 Quantum mechanics provides no basis for paranormal or

holistic claims.

 Modern physics remains totally materialistic and

reductionist. reductionist.

 Reports of extraordinary claims should not be published

unless the evidence is extraordinary.

 Qi and psi do not have defining property of energy.

Victor J. Stenger