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‘Medium Bad,’ or, Why I Hate Blogging

Brett Holverstott

To celebrate my first article on medium I shall recount the episode of the sophisticated Olympics commentator who, asked to evaluate the mistake just made on screen by one of the competitors, decided to report to the audience that the move was “medium bad.”

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New Ferromagnetic Hydride

Brett Holverstott

So I realize I have been in something of a blog-coma. The reasons are many - starting to write the next book, very busy and spiritually satisfied at work, growing kids, and only a slow trickle of news coming out of Brilliant Light Power.

But I am waking out of it with a new website design and a commitment to shorter and more frequent posts, possibly tied to BLP's own press releases; a kind of pseudo-parasitic relationship, paired with an unnecessarily high consumption of caffeine.

Here's something new and awesome from the labs of BLP. What is apparently a new ferromagnetic hydride hitherto unknown to science. It floats in space, twisting about, almost lifelike, as if the reaction created a new hydrino-based life form from another dimension.

Be afraid.

And if you didn't understand the caption Mills attached to the video, I had to read it five times for it to make sense. But the video is awesome anyways.


Eclipse 2017

Brett Holverstott


When they suddenly saw earth and seas and skies, when they learned the grandeur of clouds and the power of winds, when they saw the sun and realized not only its grandeur and beauty but also its power, by which it fills the sky with light and makes the day; when, again, night darkened the lands and they saw the whole sky picked out and adorned with stars, and the varying light of the moon as it waxes and wanes, and the risings and settings of all these bodies, and their courses settled and immutable to all eternity; when they saw those things, most certainly would they have judged both that there are gods and these great works are the works of gods.

Excerpt of Aristotle


Summary of Randell Mills's Unified Theory

Brett Holverstott


Mills's scientific output is enormous and historic. For those new to the material, I have started a point-by-point quick summary of topics. Many of these you will find fleshed out in my book, Randell Mills and the Search for Hydrino Energy, often with individual chapters focused on each topic, which interweaves with the narrative.

One thing you may notice in this overview is how so many of the big mysteries in modern physics are explained by Mills's theory, and how deeply they are interrelated. This is to be expected in any field in which a fundamental, paradigm-setting discovery takes place. It permanently reorients our understanding of existing knowledge, explains many known mysteries, and creates new avenues of research that guide the next century of thought. Exciting times!

1. A New Classical Electron Model

The foundation for Mills's theory was laid with a mid-century innovation in classical electromagnetic theory. The classical nonradiation condition, what I call the Goedecke-Haus condition, shows that some extended charge distributions may undergo constant acceleration without radiating energy. This is part of the canon of mainstream electromagnetic theory, but it is a niche topic. Only specialists pay attention to it, and publish on it rarely.

The most vexing problem of early classical models of the electron was:  How could the electron be stable as it orbits along a circular path in the atom? We know that point-particles must radiate under such conditions. But the Goedecke-Haus condition shows that distributions of charge (shells, planes, etc) may accelerate without radiating.

Mills's first major innovation is solving the tricky problem of how an extended classical electron can be configured such that it is stable when orbiting the nucleus. In Mills's theory, the electron is a spherical shell of charge, centered on the proton, upon which lines of current crisscross in a mathematical pattern of great-circle loops.

2. Electron-Electron Interaction

One of the biggest handicaps of quantum theory is understanding how electrons interact with one another, even in the simplest systems. But Mills' theory allows straightforward classical solutions to interacting electrons. In complex atoms, electrons pile up in nested shells. The forces between them are easily accounted for, and Mills' calculations are a powerful demonstration of the predictive ability of his theory. Mills's calculations of the ionization energies in multielectron atoms and ions and have gone far beyond the abilities of standard quantum mechanics.

3. A New Theory of Molecular Bonding

By building on his atomic model, Mills developed a new, fully classical model for the molecular bond. Electrons for ellipsoidal (or rather, prolate spheroidal) shells with the atomic nuclei at the foci of the ellipse. Bonding is favorable because more of the electron is closer to he protons, so the energy of the system is reduced.

A feature of Mills' theory of bonding is that electrons are localized to individual functional groups, even within very large molecules. This means that pieces of each molecule act almost like independent legos, stacking together to make a molecule. If you want to know the total bond energy of the whole molecule, you can add up the energies of each individual lego, and except in rare cases of aromaticity or conjugation. It is math accessible to a second grader.

This feature serendipitously explains the success of the group additivity theory developed by Sidney Benson. This is a back-of-the-envelope but nevertheless powerful way to calculate heats of formation of molecules without recourse to the computationally overbearing methods of quantum computing, and it relies on the ability to create tables of energies for bonds between functional group pairs. By contrast, quantum theory predicts that electrons are delocalized and interacting for a long distance down a molecular strain, which is true only in the case of conjugation or aromaticity.

4. The 'Hydrino' State

Mills theory predicts the existence of new electron orbits in the hydrogen atom below the "ground" state orbit.

When a photon is absorbed by an atom to create a (well-known) excited state, the photon creates an electric field that shields the charge of the proton, allowing the electron to relax its orbit. Mills predicted that if a photon can be released from the ground state- not by radiation, but through resonant transfer during a collision with anoter atom, the resulting electric field multiplies the intensity of the charge of the proton, causing the electron to shrink to a lower orbit.

Just as energy is absorbed during a transition to an excited state, energy is lost during a transition to a hydrino state. The energy released is rather impressive, easily 100 times that of combustion.

But unlike excited states, hydrino states are stable. There is a 'ladder' of hydrino states at fractional-integer orbits (1/2, 1/3, 1/4, etc). These hydrino atoms have unique chemical reactivity, and although it is an electronic state of an atom, it should be considered a unique chemical species.

There is an abundance of experimental evidence for the hydrino that Mills has compiled over thirty years, including NMR identification of upfield shifted peaks in hydrino hydride compounds; XPS identification of hydrinos and hydrino hydride ions, EUV peaks and continuum radiation bands corresponding to hydrino transitions in hydrogen plasmas; excessively bright hydrogen and mixed-hydrogen plasmas with a variety of unique properties; high heat gains from electrochemical cells, calvet cells, and plasma cells; new compositions of hydrides identified with X-ray crystal diffraction; rovibrational transitions of hydrino molecules in plasmas and trapped in crystals; spin-nuclear coupling of hydrino atoms in far-infrared absorption studies; high-current induced explosive hydrino reactions in capsules of water with a conductive matrix; extremely high-energy light emissions; and sustained reactions.

Mills, his team, and his collaborators have published in excess of a hundred journal articles and dozens of technical reports.

5. The 'Electrino' State

Similar physics pertains to free electrons when they are trapped in an ultra-cool 'superfluid.' In liquid helium, electrons can form spherical bubbles that are maintained by the pressure of the surrounding liquid and the van der Waals forces between neighboring helium atoms.

In this state, electron bubbles can absorb light, forming excited states. Here quantum mechanics makes a painfully wrong prediction: that these excited state bubbles are physically larger than the 'ground' state electron.

Instead, Mills's theory predicts that when the photon is captured (and remember, there is no nucleus at the center of this bubble) the resulting electric field shields the self-repulsion of the electron, causing the electron to shrink to what we might call an 'electrino' state. There is very strong experimental evidence to support the fact that they shrink, instead of enlarge. This is a major success for Mills's theory.

6. Dark Matter

A unique feature of hydrino atoms is that they lack the ability to form excited states. This gives them cosmological importance.

The universe is filled with giant clouds of dust and gas, almost all of which is hydrogen. Astronomers can estimate the density of these vast clouds indirectly, and they repeatedly find that we can see only a small fraction of their total mass. We are missing perhaps 90% of the universe. This is the 'dark matter' problem.

Hydrino atoms are invisible; unlike all other forms of matter, they do not absorb and emit light. This makes them a very convincing candidate for dark matter. Further, when hydrino atoms are created, they do emit light in the extreme ultraviolet and soft X-ray wavelengths. Astronomers indeed see a soft EUV and X-ray "glow" from galaxies that is unexplained. Astronomers have also found lines corresponding to hydrino emission lines in the diffuse background and in stacked spectra of galaxies.

Hydrogen itself is difficult to see, especially if it is very cold. But we have evidence to suggest that most of the gas in the interstellar or intergalactic medium is warm. In some cases it is believed to be inexplicably hot, but this is likely because hydrino emission lines are being interpreted as thermally excited emissions of heavier atoms.

Dark matter is believed to be baryonic, which means it is normal stuff, able to form stars like any other kind of hydrogen. Does this have implications for solar physics? Let's find out.

7. Solar Physics

There are a number of mysteries surrounding the sun. The biggest is that we can't find about 40% of the neutrinos that are being created in the sun by fusion reactions. Therefore, 40% of the sun's power output is unexplained! Hydrino reactions (which are chemical, not nuclear) occurring in the sun could easily account for this remaining balance, and Mills has identified solar emission lines that correspond to hydrino transitions. These emission lines often have no other spectral identification.

A second major mystery surrounds the temperature of the solar corona, the sun's atmosphere. The surface of the sun is only 5,000 degrees, yet the temperature of the corona rises rapidly from the surface. If the corona were only conducting the sun's heat into space, the temperature should fall. So there must be a source of heat in the corona.

We see emission lines from the atmosphere (the corona) of the sun that show thermally excited atoms at millions of degrees, whereas the surface of the sun itself is only about 5,000 degrees. Complicating this mystery is that we sometimes see emission lines of other elements that could not exist at such high temperatures. Here again, hydrino emissions in the EUV and soft X-ray wavelengths that are absorbed by the sun's corona can explain these observations, without requiring the corona to be millions of degrees.

These lines are not thermally excited, they are electronically excited.

A third mystery is why coronal loops on the sun emit in the EUV and soft X-ray; and what is the nature and origin of violent outbursts on the surface of the sun. Mills has demonstrated in laboratory experiments that ordinary water, in a conductive medium, and subjected to extreme bursts of current, can be induced to violently explode as the result of hydrogen undergoing an H to H(1/4) transition. It is possible that some of this solar activity is due to high-current loops through water vapor in the corona that is inducing powerful explosive arcs.

Finally, the emission spectrum of white dwarf stars (in which fusion reactions are largely exhausted) show continuum radiation bands with cutoffs exactly at the H to H(1/2), H(1/2) to H(1/3) and H(1/3) to H(1/4) hydrino transitions, making it very likely that the majority of the light output is powered by hydrino.

8. Gravity

Mills's second major innovation is making the leap from his new particle theory, to a modified theory of general relativity. He derives a modified Schwartzchild Metric consistent with his theory, effectively unifying the forces of physics. It comes with some important new predictions, including particle-mass calculations, and cosmology.

In Mills's theory, the event of particle production can be described as a transformation from a spherical shell of electric and magnetic fields (the photon) into a spherical shell of charge of identical radius (the particle-antiparticle pair).

This can only occur if the energy of the photon is a close match for the energy of a physically-allowed particle at that radius. By this I mean the stored (classical) electric and magnetic energy of the particle at that radius must equal the particle's eventual mass. Note that this radius is very small, but this is not the permanent size for the particle. The particle is free to change size and shape, often deforming under different conditions later in its life.

The particle-antiparticle pair must reach an escape velocity to split into respective particles; and this process actually 'warps' spacetime, producing a special-relativistic contraction of spacetime itself that is radial, and spherically symmetric, producing a gravitational field. The gravitational mass of the particle is directly calculated from the Newtonian escape velocity of the particle from its antiparticle.

9. Fundamental Particles - The Standard Model

Mills's theory predicted the mass of the top quark shortly before it was released with a simple, closed form equation.

It predicts the exact classes and masses of quarks and leptons, and it also calculates the mass of the W, K, and Higgs boson (which is actually an excited neutron) as well as other particles in the standard model; all using simple, closed form equations using only fundamental constants.

Mills's theory shows that particles come in triplets due to excited resonances of electric and magnetic energies within each particle.

10. The Accelerating Expanding Universe

Mills' theory of gravity led him to a new cosmological model. When energy is converted to matter during particle production, spacetime is contracted and a gravitational field is created. When matter is released back into energy (during annihilation, or during any chemical or nuclear release of energy) spacetime is expanded, literally pushed out.

Mills predicted a oscillating universe in which the universe expands as matter is released as energy over 450 billion years, and then contracts as energy is reformed into matter over another 450 billion years. The plot is sinusoidal, and since we live very early in the expansion phase, the universe should be accelerating its expansion. By contrast, "Big Bang" theory predicts that the universe should be slowing in its outward expansion.

Mills' prediction was confirmed two years after his publication by astronomers using the Hubble Space telescope.  This discovery of inflating spacetime, or 'Dark Energy' has led to many unsuccessful theories.

11. Gamma Ray Bursts

Mills's gravitational theory predicts that any extreme release of energy in the universe must also release a gravitational pulse corresponding to the event, due to the rapid spacetime expansion that occurs. Recently, the first gravitational wave ever detected was found to be associated with a gamma-ray burst (GRB), which is an extremely energetic event.

[I am proud to say that in an early manuscript of my book I made the very straightforward suggestion we ought to see gravitational waves associated with GRB's!]

Astronomers have no explanation for what the GRB could be if it was also the source of the gravitational wave. The best explanation for the wave was the merging of two black holes, but this should not produce a GRB.

According to Mills' theory, the matter in the center of a very heavy black hole can reach a critical density that allows the annihilation of matter directly into energy (photons). The resulting photons are extremely energetic cosmic rays. Thus, black holes can annihilate directly into energy with the emission of a GRB and the release of a gravitational pulse. Other potential candidates for GRB's are the merging of neutrons stars.

These photons are interesting because they are also proto-particles in which both the particle and antiparticle has a mass called the Planck Mass, but they are unable to separate because the escape velocity required would be the speed of light.

12. Superconductivity

Mills has a new theory of superconductivity that predicts high-temperature superconductors. The rational is grounded in the basic physics of the Goedecke-Haus condition, in which electrons occupy extended, nonradiating planes of current in a superconducting lattice structure.

13. Wave Particle Duality

In all particles with mass, electric current propagates at an angular velocity around a spherical or disk-shaped particle with an orbital frequency equivalent to the frequency of the particle, and obeys the de Broglie relationship.

This periodicity gives rise to some apparent wave-like behavior, but the particle is not wave-like; it is the orbital frequency of moving matter and subject only to laws of Newton's mechanics and Maxwell's Electrodynamics.

14. The Double Slit Experiment

Mills explains the double slit experiment in a classical way.

In the experiment with photons, photons are momentarily absorbed and re-emitted by a conductive two-slit surface that preserves the intitial momentum of the photon but imparts on it a classical electromagnetic radiation spread.

In the experiment with electrons, electrons interact with a conductive two-slit surface via a series of absorbed photons that impart on the electron a classical electromagnetic radiation spread while preserving the momentum of the electron. Each band of the resulting distribution is evidence of a spin-flip transition during Compton scattering.

Both experiments preserve the classical nature of the particles.

15. The Aspect Experiments

The angular momentum of each photon is  distributed over the three-dimensional spherical surface with the photon radius. This preserves the measurements of the Aspect Experiments without assuming a "hidden variables" interpretation of a point-particle theory.

16. Time Dilation in Quasars

Astronomers have noticed that quasars that are more distant in space are not time-dilated. This is a problem, because quasars more distant in space should be moving at a faster speed away from us, due to the expansion of the universe. This is, thus far, the single greatest challenge ever faced by Einstein's interpretation of special relativity.

However, Mills argues that this problem is easily solved by coming to a more Newtonian understanding of absolute space and time. According to Mills, an absolute rest frame exists for every particle at the moment of particle production. The expansion of the universe, which is caused by individual matter to energy conversion events, pushes this absolute space around, so to speak. While distant objects recede on the spacetime wind, those objects nevertheless remain close to their absolute space frame.

Therefore, an object that is accelerated away from us at velocity v should exhibit time dilation, but an object carried outward due to spacetime expansion between us and the object should not.



Will the World Save Itself?

Brett Holverstott

Last week President Trump took the United States out of the Paris Accord on Climate Change. I reacted in two ways.

First, I shared in the general outrage that our country could so shamelessly ignore science to further special interests and political posturing. And I mean "our country." The responsibility for this is shared with the voter. We elected this man. He was very clear on his position. 

Second, I came to the conclusion that it doesn't matter. Despite how super villains are portrayed in the film industry, evil is often incompetent. It is impulse reactions by blind men flailing their arms as they self-destruct.

Whether republicans like it or not, there are a number of technological trends that are carrying us inevitably toward a sustainable future. In the video below, watch Tony Seba explain why there will not be an internal combustion engine car manufactured anywhere in the world after 2025. And how solar technology is now on parity with a cost per kWh of most central power sources, and will eventually be on parity with any central source, no matter how inexpensive, that requires high-voltage transmission.

Even without the maturation of hydrino power technology, these trends envision a future in which we significantly increase our reliance on clean power.

One of many reasons that I have been interested in understanding and communicating MIlls's work for so many years was because it would be able to "save the world." But after watching Seba's predictions, the thought occurred to me: the world just might save itself.

In Chapter 19 of my book, I remain skeptical of the ability of renewable sources coupled with battery storage to truly eliminate our reliance on fossil, hydro, and nuclear power sources, because it would require a combination of technological advancement, political will, and the ability to curb our excesses. Even if a new technology is on parity with the old, the new must absorb the costs to transition the infrastructure.

In contrast to other available sources, hydrino power will be a clean, decentralized power source that will easily economically outcompete all other forms of power generation (with the possible exception of thin-film solar). It will easily absorb the implicit costs of transition, and effectively bulldoze the fossil fuel economy.

But what's more, hydrino power will represent not just a repair of the system, but an elevation of humanity's technological plane. It will enable somewhere between a hundred-fold and thousand-fold increase in power production per dollar spent; without impacts on the landscape or climate. Which makes it more than about saving the world; it is a step forward for mankind.

Meanwhile, those who cling to the fossil fuel economy, either politically or economically, will find that they are self-destructing. All we really need to do is pull our money out of the fossil fuel industry, and funnel it into emerging technologies. Let the blind man drown.

As a society, however, we also need to get better at communicating science. We need to plan for the next moment of scientific cultural weakness.

Previously on this blog I have mentioned what I perceive to be a similarity between climate denial and hydrino denial. In both cases, there is a lot of good science out there that isn't being communicated well.

With climate denial, most of the deniers are non-scientists. But with hydrino denial, most of the deniers are actually scientists, who maintain their position the same way a non-scientist would, by simply ignoring the scientific evidence.

Although a goal of my book was to make this evidence easier to digest, I have found that only people who are open to new ideas read my book. Skeptics or potential critics don't bother. However, I have found that the book arms others with a wealth of understanding that enables them to become advocates.

Science Fiction. Not so easy to write.

Brett Holverstott

Having written a nonfiction book on science, I would love to write a science fiction novel. However, making the leap from nonfiction to fiction is not easy.

In fact, my wife has had to endure an endless series of hair-brained concepts for science fiction novels, such as an alien signal from space that uploads itself and becomes a sentient awareness on the internet. Good pulp material for future B-movies.

Despite my ability to create elaborately compelling settings, I can no longer count the number of times I have been horror stricken at the questions: So what is the plot? Who are the characters?

So, after years of this, my thoughts continue to drift across the sea of possibilities, and I like to think that I have made some kind of progress.

My current going plot involves an interstellar mission in which the main character suffers some kind of memory loss during hibernation. This concept - at the outset - is similar to that of one of my favorite science fiction novels, Fiasco, by Stanislaw Lem.

When the crew wakes up to discover they have arrived at a body covered in Earth-life (perhaps seeded by an ancient intelligence, two million years prior) the main character explores the world and its uniquely adapted ecosystems with a kind of immersive detachment. Unlike the others, he is able to accept the world as it is, even while it triggers memories of the world he left behind.

Like a good Lem novel, I intend the book to be light on plot; allowing the reader to wander the pathways of the character's experience, memory, and internal dialogue; and to come away with an intimate awareness of a world both alien and familiar.

As I've described this, it feels very much like a book I want to write, a book that I would write. But it began as something that was trying to be both super-realistic ("hard") sci-fi, and the kind of space fantasy we would expect from Star Wars.

I mean, what better way to create a galaxy populated with human (or human-like) beings than if an ancient intelligence seeded Earth life, and even hominids, on dozens of planets? Cool, right? And what about all the kinds of humans that would have evolved along separate paths? Hobbits, giants, and neanderthals in space.

As every author (I assume) compares his or her own fantasies to that of Tolkien and Lucas, I was looking for my dragon, my Empire - my compelling galactic bad guy.

But an Empire doesn't cut it in a hard sci-fi world without faster than light travel. I mean, suppose Darth Vader goes to a planet to do some dark-siding. It takes him 20 years in hibernation to get there. Then he turns around and its another 20 years in hibernation to get back to the Emperor.

Meanwhile his body is suffering from the cosmic radiation of interstellar space, and most of the generals he put in power have since retired.

It just doesn't work.

So my thoughts bent on what would be a truly compelling and evil force for a galactic civilization. I came up with an idea, and I am still trying to figure out if it is something worth pursuing. Perhaps, it is just another B-movie for the trash bin.

I called it the synth.

Simply put, the synth is the end state in the evolution of life. In this galaxy, or any other, at any point in the eternal past. Life begins as biological, and eventually becomes intelligent, at which point it rapidly advances through self-evolution. Biological becomes artificial, scientific knowledge reaches something very near its end state, and intelligence reaches something near it's end state; the artificial organisms that result are supremely capable.

To digress, the idea that intelligence (or perhaps, computing power) could reach an end state is another one of Lem's ideas. Imagine a computer that could get no larger without getting slower, because of the time it takes for signals moving at the speed of light to cross the processor would be lengthened. And, a computer that could get no smaller, because the quantity of information computed by it could get no more dense; and therefore it would be diminished. The physical constants of nature therefore combine to produce a processor (which, he speculates, is about the size of a bird's brain) that is objectively the most intelligent machine possible in our universe.

But this is not the end. Supremely advanced, artificial beings have their own goals in existence - I presume. They very well can't spend all day reproducing themselves. So somewhere along the way, a kind of sufficiently intelligent artificial organism comes to be. It is more concerned with reproducing itself and quickly adapting to any local source of energy, which it exploits to further its reproduction.

After billions of years, regardless of its point of origin, one form of life will inevitably emerge as dominant in any galaxy. It will be the form that has evolved to spread most rapidly from planet to planet. It is not supremely intelligent, it is sufficiently intelligent. It it supremely crafty; and it cares only to exploit and reproduce. If it didn't care, it would get replaced or outpaced by the form that cares only to exploit and reproduce.

The synth is the end state of complex matter. When it is encountered by any lesser form of matter, it is to be feared. It is evil, innately, without motive. I imagine perhaps a blackish sprawling tar-textured growth that overwhelms a biosphere in days and eats most anything on most any body it finds.

How will this galactic civilization deal with it? Find out after the commercial!

Let it haunt your dreams.


Information Reaction

Brett Holverstott

Many years ago, when was working at BLP and living in Princeton, I attended a public lecture by the then President of the Rockefeller University, Paul Nurse.

Nurse made the general argument that the cell does not so much resemble a machine, but rather a circuit board. The cell is able to react to its environment in a complex way, using several chemical signals.

He called what took place inside the cell as an information reaction.

I had never heard this phrase before, or since. But to my own mind, it is a useful concept. I have spent ten years ruminating on it. To me, the concept suggests that there is a large class of systems in which information can 'react,' both simple ones such as a cell; larger ones, such as the central nervous system;  or decentralized ones such as an ant colony, or human civilization.

A computer program is a kind of information reaction with which we are all familiar, but it has properties that are unique to it. Most computer programs exist in a very controlled environment, have a very controlled response to environmental stimuli, and are unable to evolve their responses due to feedback, unless the software has been specifically designed to evolve through the use of genetic algorithms.

In a general sense, the idea of an information reaction subverts the use of "consciousness" whenever someone notices an intelligent response or behavior. The internet is not conscious, neither is an ant colony. And it might inform the discussion of the Gaia Hypothesis, in which the biosphere is a "self regulated complex system" without waxing philosophical about the nature of the mind.

An information reaction requires a few basics. First, information must be transduced from the environment and encoded in some kind of representation.

A representation can be a chemical signal in a cell, or an electronic communication such as Morse code. The only requirement of a representation is that it leads to some further action by the system which comprehends the signal as representative of something beyond itself: a need for the system to react in some way.

Thus the second requirement is that there is a response to the stimulus. The degree of sophistication of the response varies from system to system. It depends on how many parallel streams of signals are being received by the system. It depends on the capacity of the system to remember previous signals. It depends on many factors.

In short - matter has the capacity to represent information and also to react to representations. It can do more than react to brute physical forces impinging on it at any given time, even while any conveyance of representational information must occur through the use of brute physical forces.

For some time I have followed the work of Peter Voss, who is developing what he calls Artificial General Intelligence, which is composed of at least three key elements: it is autonomous, goal-directed, and adaptive.

These features are in contrast to most computer programs as we are aware of them today. Programs are traditionally brittle; they break catastrophically. But look around - how many organisms on the planet are capable of suffering a catastrophic failure in information processing? Organisms are great examples of information reactions.

I contemplated adding a chapter to my book on this topic. There is a theory - quantum mind theory - by which, the weird aspects of quantum theory (entanglement, superposition) play an important role in the consciousness of the brain, and therefore (by extension) allow us to salvage the idea of free will on this basis. I have had people ask: if the physics of the world is classical and therefore deterministic, what room is there for free will?

Over the last ten years, Nurse's concept of an information reaction has informed my opinions on free will as well. Instead of the dichotomy of free will versus determinism, I have gravitated to the notion of compatibilism, by which there is no inherent conflict between free will and a deterministic universe.

Imagine making two identical copies of yourself and placing them in identical environments. Then watch them act over time. If both copies, and the environment, are truly identical in every way, we might imagine that both copies will act identically.

Let me assume for the moment that this agrees with your intuitions, that there is one singular outcome of any given identical physical scenario. Let me remind the reader that any attempt to perform this experiment will fail because no two real world scenarios are in fact, identical. Very small perturbations in the system could potentially change the outcome. I think this has something to do with chaos theory.

However, let's get back to Peter Voss's requirement for artificial general intelligence to be goal-directed. Suppose each copy of yourself in the above experiment faced an important life decision - whether to stay in college as a philosophy major or drop out to jump into a new technology startup (a decision once faced by the author).

Both copies of yourself sit down, deeply reflect on the situation, ask the advise of friends and mentors, and then make a decision.

Since each identical copy of you is in an identical environment, each of them will choose the same path. If we accept this, are we therefore determined to follow some fated path through life? I think not. After all, each copy of you was fully aware of the choice, explored it in depth, and made a reasonably good decision. Perhaps what is important is the fact that it is you, in each situation, who is making the decision.

Instead of asking: "are we free?" we should be asking "is it me?"

The idea that free will is intricately tied up with goal directed action puts some of the psychological experimental studies on free will (such as those by Libet) in a rather useless category of testing the instant-decision-making capacity of goal directed volitional beings in a situation that has absolutely no reference to goals or values.

In fact these studies show that when we skip the process of rational reflection on a situation, we may very well reduce ourselves to a non-volitional state. Unreflective actions are the result of nonconscious processes in the brain.

The question: "is it me?" is itself a wide one; and cognitive psychologists such as Engle and Kane are getting closer to understanding what in your brain makes you, YOU. In their model, a broad range of cognitive abilities can be understood in terms of the role of executive attention. This is the process that "maintains access to stimulus, context, and goal information in the face of interference or other sources of conflict."

[Note: both texts I've linked to can also be found elsewhere online for free.]

Perhaps what makes you a unique individual is not only the content of your memory, but the manner in which you control your focus and attention. To reflect or not, to be aware or not, to avoid distraction and keep focused on moving toward the goals that represent your values as a person. And once we have steered our course with big decisions, we ride the waves with the foam and sparkle of life's unique moments. We feel free; even while moving within a comparatively narrow space of volitional action.

There are many levels of consciousness; we observe the gradation in animals and small children. The kind of mature human consciousness that brings about volitional action can be described as an information reaction in which the system is able to represent with abstractions with a high enough degree of sophistication to allow it to be aware of itself, its environment and the probably future outcomes of its decisions. This allows the thinker to compare the imagined future with goals and values; and chose an action.

I don't see any need for quantum theory to explain complex cognition. And I believe that the future is ours for the taking.


Masimo reports strong earnings

Brett Holverstott

Masimo stock is outperforming. Wall street is betting against it.

In a recent Forbes piece, Schaffer's Investment Research reports that Masimo (MASI) stock has risen 120% in the last 52 weeks, and Wall Street has started betting against the stock.

Shares of MASI boast a 52-week lead of roughly 120%, hitting an all-time high of $96.68 on March 13. Since then, the stock has been trading in a tight range, while its rising 40-day moving average has been playing catch-up. However, the stock's ascent has been met with a huge rise in short interest.

As the stock continues to outperform, short sellers find themselves deeper underwater. Short sellers have lost about 14% on average.

Tonight, Masimo reported its first quarter results.

Our Q1 product revenue exceeded our expectations.... Our Q1 product revenues grew to $178.1 million, a 9% increase.

While I am unable to comment on whether Masimo's growth justifies the rise in value of the stock, it may well be that some of the interest in Masimo may be due to the relationship with Brilliant Light Power.

Last year, BLP, a privately funded research laboratory in Cranbury, NJ, announced that it was working with Masimo to fabricate an array of solar cells to be used in a new prototype reactor.

The reactor "burns" hydrogen with an energy release of about 200 times that of combusting hydrogen and oxygen. The only byproduct of the reaction is an inert form of hydrogen gas, which BLP calls hydrino. It is a new power source, and probably the most exciting thing in the world of science and technology.

Because the power per unit volume of the reaction is so intense, the reaction chamber itself is designed to heat up to 3,000 degrees and emit a brilliant white light. The solar cells would by high-capacity collector photovoltaics (CPV) which could theoretically capture 45% of the incident radiation. Masimo was on contract to provide the cells.

BLP was scheduled to publicly demonstrate the reactor with the integrated PV in the first quarter, but it didn't happen. Word on the street is that the PV was not performing to initial expectations, and BLP was changing direction to concentrate on a commercial thermal unit before a commercial electric generator.

BLP has continued to raise millions for development, and it is not unlikely that its fans, followers, and large base of private investors are looking to the publicly traded Masimo to anticipate a major unveiling and sudden interest in the company.

If MASI continues to outperform, how long will it take for Wall Street to follow the money and realize they are betting against a looming revolution?


Video of November 12th Talk

Brett Holverstott

I very much enjoyed giving a talk at The Apple Farm on November 12th. I woke up that morning to sunlight flooding in through the window of a charming 200-year old farmhouse with two-foot thick walls in rural Pennsylvania.

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