February 10, 2013
to be posted on nobabies.net

Dean Keith Simonton
Department of Psychology
University of California at Davis
California 95616

Dear Professor Simonton:
I read your article (Dean Keith Simonton Scientific Genius is Extinct NATURE vol. 493 no. 7434 January 31, 2013 page 602) finding it pleasant and illuminating.  But I take the tack that a genius will be appointed when the politics calls for it.  Take Darwin.  Evolution was better, to my mind, understood and earlier by Alfred Russell Wallace, but he was unsavory (superstitious, alas) and Darwin got the laurels. 

Politics is all about control.  An infant has an absolute need to control an adult and many seem not to outgrow that so politics isn’t going away.  Just now the political scene does not demand a genius.  Sorry.  It’s just my sense of things.

But the more interesting question is whether there are truly fundamental ideas yet to come or is it just going to be incremental.  Obviously most of the time it is going to look like incremental will go on forever.  But let me run over a few things.  First let’s start with time, matter and distance.  They all appeared at once several billion years ago.  Gee.  All at the same time.  Now that is going to need some explaining.  And two of them, distance and time, come with three dimensions.  Oh does time only have one dimension?  Ignoring the rotation of the earth, shining a light up will lift it part way out of a gravity well.  Since light is energy, energy and matter are inconvertible, and matter has mass, going up means losing energy.  That is manifest as a longer wavelength.  Since the speed of light is constant (in a local environment at least) time must be going slower for you than for where the light is headed.  Horizontally, over a short distance, there is no change.  So time has as many dimensions as space.  How odd.  But mass has only one.  Curioser and curiouser. 

So the universe started as a tiny thing, which given its immense mass must have been down an unthinkably deep gravity well.  Things should have happened v e r y  s l o w l y.  But they didn’t.  The universe started expanding.  Now for a gravity well that intense, obviously light could never escape.  The energy of a photon is finite.  So it could not possibly have expanded.  But it did.  Nobody seems worried.

Then there was what they call “inflation.”  The physical laws that govern everything but gravity somehow crystallized with the release of a lot of energy that pushed the universe apart at faster than the speed of light.  Not possible.  Oh, yes.  They do say that the energy “warped space.”  It was the space that inflated, not matter moving through space.  So if energy can warp space that way, why can’t my rocket ship?  It has energy. 

The laws of nature seem to be the same everywhere, which could not happen if the universe were expanding at the speed of light.  It would never have been able to equilibrate.  Ah, but inflation took each local area, which indeed could equilibrate, and smeared it out.  Sorry.  Won’t wash.  The observable universe alone has not had time to equilibrate and never will.  But recent studies indicate that the “fine structure constant,” a function of basic constants, actually has a slight gradient, just as you would expect from inflation.  So that’s all right, then.  Only nobody has noticed. 

As the universe expands, everything in it has to be somewhere.  Just as telephone numbers have increased in length as the number of accessible phones has increased, it takes more information to specify a location in a larger universe.  So where does that information come from?  It can’t be magic (sorry, Wallace).  The party line is that as the universe expands it cools.  The information inherent in the knowledge of where an object is is a function of the temperature of the object.  Were that the whole story, an object cooled to absolute zero should suddenly localize anywhere in the universe.  Locally it would vanish.  So maybe absolute zero is unattainable.  Nay, by arranging very cold atoms one at a time it is possible to achieve negative temperatures.  At some point the collection must go through zero.  The atoms are moved, they do not jump by quantum transition.  So the whole experiment should vanish.  It doesn’t.  So there is an as yet unidentified value to the knowledge of the location of an object irrespective of its temperature.  But nobody has noticed.

The universe appears to be accelerating as it expands because of “dark energy” pushing it.  But that energy must be doing real work, so it isn’t negative energy.  That means it must have a mass equivalent that is positive, so it doesn’t get you out of the initial black hole.  It adds to the mass of the universe.  

It just might work if you run time backwards.  Start with chaos, create a black hole by happenstance, inside that black hole energy will pile up, things will get more crowded and information will pile up.  There is thus ample information for specifying the future state of the universe.  That is why the past is fixed, the smaller state of the universe, and the future is indeterminate even given total knowledge of the present.  You’d think somebody would have picked up on that.  It’s child’s play.

So yes, order piles up, just not in the direction you expect.  So yes, there is life.  Orderly systems are found.  At just about every level there is order upon which life depends.  You may be able to move galaxies around and leave them habitable, but scramble our galaxy, or solar system, our planet, our bodies, or cells and so forth and life ends. 

You can be for life or you can detest it.  I don’t care.  But if you want life you want structure.  Among other levels, populations have structure.  Not even cities have truly random mating.  In traditional societies as in nature that population structure is very tight.  You don’t get enormous numbers in the gene pool.  That’s because if you did, speciation effects would eliminate the whole species.  Check it out on nobabies.net.  Look at the way chromosomes (or parts thereof) are handled.  That should have been obvious a century ago.  Nobody follows the logic even though it makes cat’s cradle or proving there is no rational square root of two seem utterly baffling. 

We, like other civilizations, sacrifice population structure for the political structure.  Sure enough, our fertility is lethally depressed.  In theory then, any civilization should have a finite lifespan. And, again check the site, sure enough they do.  There is a theory of history.  The data are public property.  Nobody has put it together. 

And the whole thing is the same observation.  So I find I must make demur with the proposition that there are only going to be incremental changes with no profound reassessments of science.  And that’s coming from a burned out old country doctor (read “no political clout).  Imagine what would be evident to somebody with a relevant education and a young brain.  And even that pales in comparison with the complexity of what is probably actually going on. 

Besides, if boys outgrow the need to control, they still are under a compulsion to challenge other males even if it’s in the friendliest way. 

What do you think?


M. Linton Herbert MD


Dr. Simonton sent an immediate and acknowledgement saying he was swamped with replies to his article and would not be able to answer them all or even read them all for some time.  I would like to register my gratitude for his courtesy.

On the other hand, I’m not happy with Google analytics.  They say we have had 57 unique visitors.  I now suspect that this mean that many in the past month.  So there were 24 new visitors as of February 3 so that should mean 61 new visitors since Godaddy reneged on their promise.  If I can just member to check on the third of every month I should be able to give you a running tally, but just what is being counted remains a mystery to me. 

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