Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nobel Nutcase

Brian David Josephson, FRS[1] (born 4 January 1940; Cardiff, Wales[2]) is a Welsh physicist. He became a Nobel Prize laureate in 1973[3] for the prediction of the eponymous Josephson effect.[2][which is basically nonlocal communication-quantum tunneling]

As of late 2007, he was a retired professor at the University of Cambridge, where he is the head of the Mind–Matter Unification Project in the Theory of Condensed Matter (TCM) research group. He is also a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.[4]


Josephson is one of the more well-known scientists who say that parapsychological phenomena may be real, and is also interested in the possibility that Eastern mysticism may have relevance to scientific understanding.[12] He has said that one of his guiding principles has been nullius in verba (take nobody's word), saying that "if scientists as a whole denounce an idea, this should not necessarily be taken as proof that the said idea is absurd; rather, one should examine carefully the alleged grounds for such opinions and judge how well these stand up to detailed scrutiny."[5][12]

In 2001 Josephson's views on the paranormal were under the spotlight when he wrote about them in a booklet to accompany six special stamps to honour the 100th anniversary of the Nobel prize.[14] The Royal mail had sent Josephson a request to write a small article about their award and the implication of research in their field they could use in conjunction with the special Nobel Centenary stamp issue.[14] He wrote the following:

"Physicists attempt to reduce the complexity of nature to a single unifying theory, of which the most successful and universal, the quantum theory, has been associated with several Nobel prizes, for example those to Dirac and Heisenberg. Max Planck's original attempts a hundred years ago to explain the precise amount of energy radiated by hot bodies began a process of capturing in mathematical form a mysterious, elusive world containing 'spooky interactions at a distance', real enough however to lead to inventions such as the laser and transistor. Quantum theory is now being fruitfully combined with theories of information and computation. These developments may lead to an explanation of processes still not understood within conventional science such as telepathy, an area where Britain is at the forefront of research."[12]

He came under criticism from several fellow physicists including David Deutsch, a quantum physicist at Oxford University who stated: "It is utter rubbish. Telepathy simply does not exist. The Royal Mail has let itself be hoodwinked into supporting ideas that are complete nonsense".[14]However, Josephson maintains "There is a lot of evidence to support the existence of telepathy, for example, but papers on the subject are being rejected - quite unfairly".[14]

In 2005, Josephson said that "parapsychology should now have become a conventional field of research, and yet parapsychology's claims are still not generally accepted". He compared this situation to that of Alfred Wegener's hypothesis of continental drift, where there was initially great resistance to acceptance despite the strength of the evidence.[15] Only after Wegener's death did further evidence lead to a gradual change of opinion and ultimate acceptance of his ideas. Josephson said that many scientists are not yet swayed by the evidence for parapsychology and the paranormal. Josephson contends that some scientists feel uncomfortable about ideas such as telepathy and that their emotions sometimes get in the way.[15]~Wikipedia

1 comment:

  1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2000/jun/14/guardianletters3