Monday, January 21, 2013

The Universal Order of Design - symbolism of the atomic world

This is a continuation of a series of blogs, in which I revisit the theory proposed by Arthur M. Young as described in his book, The Reflexive Universe, and reinterpret it in light of the visions of Emanuel Swedenborg. It is a different way of interpreting or approaching scientific knowledge. Most of our scientific knowledge is based on facts, and based on mathematics. But the main problem with science is that the knowledge is not structured or ordered: its a series of facts after facts, which must be memorized. This is a different way of approaching scientific knowledge, and it is based on substance and form, what is prior and posterior, and discrete degrees of order. Another concept is that the smallest thing in the universe is a microcosm of the largest thing in the universe, and vice versa: thus we are looking for patterns that repeat. The main pattern, is that there are seven planes of existence, and within each plane there are seven substages. And at times I have found if we look deeper, you can take a substage and find another series of seven states. The whole explains the part, and the part explains the whole. It reminds me of a book I once read, The Holographic Universe. Except here, we are applying it in a more useful and practical manner, where it has application to science and is not just an abstract philosophy. As William Blake once wrote,

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.


I want to revisit the atomic world, because I suspect there is a mistake in the way Young approached this plane of existence. The degrees of order within the atomic world are determined by the atomic number, and the electron shells. There happen to be seven electron shells. From wikipedia:
"The electron shells are labeled K, L, M, N, O, P, and Q; or 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7; going from innermost shell outwards. Electrons in outer shells have higher average energy and travel farther from the nucleus than those in inner shells. This makes them more important in determining how the atom reacts chemically and behaves as a conductor, because the pull of the atom's nucleus upon them is weaker and more easily broken. In this way, a given element's reactivity is highly dependent upon its electronic configuration."
Here is a diagram of the uranium atom with its seven orbitals:

Some have made comparisons between the atom and the structure of the solar system, how planets orbit around a sun. Electrons do not actually orbit the nucleus, a more accurate description is that they form standing waves at particular energy states. A more deeper truth, is that the atom is a microcosm of the universe: within the atomic orbitals, there are seven planes of existence. In fact, in the Ptolemaic system there was a strong tradition to associate the orbits of the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter an Saturn with seven heavens, as shown in the following diagram:

This tradition is ancient. In the Jewish Talmud, and some apocryphal literature related to Enoch, there are seven heavens. From this, the Quran of Islam states that there are seven heavens:

See you not how Allah has created the seven heavens one above another, and made the moon a light in their midst, and made the Sun a Lamp? (Sura 71:15-16)
Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion; and He is able to do all things. Who has created death and life that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the Almighty, the Oft-Forgiving; Who has created the seven heavens one above another; you can see no fault in the creation of the Most Gracious.(Sura 67:1-3)
Going even older, the seven heavens are found in Hinduism (the Puranas and Arthavaveda), and are as follows:

  1. Bhoor-Loka (भूर्लोक i.e. the Earth)
  2. Bhuvar-Loka (भुवर्लोक)
  3. Svar-Loka (स्वर्लोक)
  4. Mahar-Loka (महर्लोक)
  5. Jana-Loka (जनलोक)
  6. Tapa-Loka (तपलोक)
  7. Satya-loka (सत्यलोक)

Hinduism differs a bit as below the seven heavens, there are seven hells. Are these ancient myths and traditions correct? Yes and no. These myths are distortions of the original truth, and probably began when in ancient times Babylonian astrologer-priests misled people to worship the Sun, Moon and stars. There is an element of truth in these myths, which got distorted when they looked for evidence of heaven in the skies above them. There is evidence in ancient Babylonian tablets that they may have known of Neptune and Uranus: but this knowledge was kept hidden in myths. Although scripture assigns a level of importance to the number seven, you will not find reference to these seven heavens in the Bible. I have found evidence that the chronology of the ten patriarchs before the flood (Adam to Noah) - is based on synodic periods of the planets, including Neptune and Uranus, but strangely not Pluto. See The Ancient Astronomy of the Bible. Pluto, discovered in 1931, was originally classified as a planet, but was "demoted" as recently as 2006.

What is a more accurate statement of the truth, is that the seven planes of the electron shells of the atom are a microcosm of the seven planes of existence, which are:
1. Space-time
2. Subatomic force and matter particles
3. Atoms 
4. Molecules
5. Plants
6. Animals and Man
7. (an unknown state of existence)
The seventh is the spiritual world, which I will cover later. These are discrete degrees of order. Likewise, the electron shells of the atom are discrete. Electrons can jump from one shell to another, but can't lie in a state in between. Thus Planck discovered that energy came in discrete "packets" - this was called a quantum of action, and it is heavily used in quantum physics. As atoms emit energy, electrons drop to a lower state, but as they absorb energy, the electrons jump to a higher state.  Arthur Young notes that the world of the atoms correspond with the plants, in that plant absorb light. Moreoever, as atoms have a north and south magnetic pole, so plants can only grow up and down along an axis. This symbolic correspondence between different planes of existence is an important concept.

Here is the periodic table again:

In his book The Reflexive Universe, Young divided the atoms into seven categories as follows:

1. Hydrogen (H).
2. Helium to Fluorine (He to F).
3. Neon to Chlorine (Ne to Cl).
4. Argon to Bromine (Ar to Br).
5. Krypton to Iodine (Kr to I).
6. Xenon to Astatine (Xe to At).
7. Radon to #118 (Rn to Uuo).

Well not quite true, the upper elements of the periodic table had not been discovered when Young published his book. But he makes a slight error. The rows or groups of the periodic table are according to the electron shells of the atom: each substate of the atomic world should be according to the electron shells. So let's correct it slightly, where we just simply follow the rows of the periodic table:

1. Hydrogen to Helium (H to He).
2. Lithium to Neon (Li to Ne).
3. Sodium to Argon (Na to Ar).
4. Potassium to Krypton (K to Kr).
5. Rubidium to Xenon (Rb to Xe).
6. Caesium to Radon (Xe to Rn).
7. Francium to #118 (Fr to Uuo).

There are only 2 atoms that have just one electron shell: Hydrogen and Helium. So...what thing in the universe is composed almost entirely of Hydrogen and Helium?  Well, the suns and stars.  Here is a breakdown of the elemental composition of the Sun:

So, remember how I said those myths which related the sun, moon and planets to the seven spheres of the heavens are obviously false?  Well some of it is true. Because now we see that the first electron shell of the atom "corresponds" to the Sun. In a literal sense the myth is false. In a symbolic sense, the myth is true. Our solar system as seen from earth is an approximate symbolic representation of the seven electron shells of the atom.

As the form of the atoms progress and become more complicated, another pattern emerges. Although categories are debated for some of the atoms, we can classify the atoms into seven main categories according to their groups (columns in the periodic table):

1. Alkali Metal2. Alkaline Earth Metal3. Transition Metals (including Lanthanides and Actinides)
4. Post-transition metals and Metalloids5. Nonmetals6. Halogens7. Noble gases.
For the third category, Transition Metals, it includes three types: Transition metals, Lanthanides and Actinides. It reminds me a bit of the weak nuclear force - the third subtype of the subatomic plane - which has 3 subatomic particles: two W bosons an one Z boson. Note that the elements of brass, silver and gold reside in this category, and all belong to the same column or group (#11). As these metals are mentioned in scripture, we know of their symbolic significance from Swedenborg. Here is a quote from Wikipedia:
"Most scientists describe a "transition metal" as any element in the d-block of the periodic table, which includes groups 3 to 12 on the periodic table. All elements in the d-block are metals. In actual practice, the f-block is also included in the form of the lanthanide and actinide series."
There is a lot of debate about the fourth group: it is hard to define. Why?  For Metalloids, here is a statement from Wikipedia:
"A metalloid is a chemical element with properties that are in-between or a mixture of those of metals and nonmetals, and which is considered to be difficult to classify unambiguously as either a metal or a nonmetal. There is no standard definition of a metalloid nor is there agreement as to which elements are appropriately classified as such. Despite this lack of specificity the term continues to be used in the chemistry literature."
Note how they belong to the fourth stage: which corresponds to the turn at the bottom of the arc in Young's diagram, representing the transition from minerals to life forms.

The Nonmetals belong to the fifth group.  Now, if we look at the fifth plane of existence, it is the realm of plants: it is where life begins.  Now here is the elemental composition of the human body:

Oxygen (O), Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H), Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), Sulfur or Sulphur (S), all belong to the Nonmetal group. They are the elements of life. Calcium is used to make the bones, which tends to survive the longest after death.

The seventh and last category are the Noble gases - all in gaseous form. Since their outer shell is full, they tend to not chemically react with other elements, and they are invisible and odorless. From symbolic correspondence, we can presume that this corresponds to the seventh plane of existence which is the spiritual world. In Hebrew, the words "spirit" and "breath" are one and the same. The general pattern we see is thus from base minerals or metals, transiting to elements needed for life forms, transiting to gases which represents the spirit.

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