Faster than faster than light
“I think that mind is as fundamental to nature as light or electricity.”
with Nick Herbert
Nick Herbert holds a Ph.D. in experimental physics from Stanford University. He was senior scientist at Memorex, Santa Clara, and other Bay Area hardware companies specializing in magnetic, electrostatic, optical, and thermal methods of information processing and storage. He has taught science at all levels from graduate school to kindergarten including the development, with his wife Betsy, of a hands-on home-schooling science curriculum. Nick was the coordinator (along with Saul-Paul Sirag) of Esalen Institute’s physics and consciousness program and has led many workshops on the quantum mechanics of everyday life. He is the author of Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics, Faster Than Light (published in Japan under the title Time Machine Construction Manual), Elemental Mind: Human Consciousness and the New Physics, and he devised the shortest proof of Bell’s interconnectedness theorem to date.
He has written on faster-than-light and quantum theory for such journals as the American Journal of Physics and New Scientist, and is Fringe Science columnist for Mondo 2000.
We interviewed Nick April 23, 1989, on a hill overlooking Santa Cruz, California. Nick spoke with us about the implications of Bell’s Theorem, superluminal loopholes in physics, and the secret technologies behind time travel and contacting the dead, including step-by-step instructions on how to build your very own time machine. Nick is an ardent disciple of quantum theory’s left-hand path, and his ability to humanize science and his imaginative speculations on time travel make him both fascinating and fun. He has a way of making even the most complex concepts of quantum physics easily understandable. He is very warm, has a contagious sense of humor, and has an uncanny talent for making the mundane seem mysterious.
DJB: What was it that originally inspired your interest in physics?
NICK: I started out in a Catholic prep school. I took religion and Latin there, and the idea was to become a Catholic priest. That was my goal, and somewhere through that I got derailed. I decided that wasn’t the ultimate thing. I changed my mind, and decided science was probably the place where all the hot stuff was. The hottest part of science was physics, so I went to Ohio State and majored in physics. I think it’s kind of a quest for what’s the hottest thing going in this time I thought it was God, but now I think, at least for me, it’s science.
DJB: Kind of a quest for the ultimate nature of reality?
NICK: Yes. My patron saint is Saint Christopher. You might know about him as the guy in automobiles, the patron saint of travelers. But actually he’s the patron saint of people who are seeking to serve the ultimate power. He was the strongest man in the kingdom, and he went around offering his services to kings and princes. He wanted to give this power that he had to the highest service. He always found that the kings had feet of clay, and they weren’t really worth serving. He’d quit one king and serve another, but it would be just the same. So then, after giving up on kings and princes, he decided, well one thing I could do is I could take people across this river. That was what he did with his life. He took people across this river that didn’t have a bridge.
Finally this one little kid came along and he said, “Can you take me across?” “No problem,” he says, and Christopher starts taking him across. The kid got heavier and heavier and heavier. Finally he could barely hold this guy. He stumbled across to the other side, and said, “Whew, what was that?” The kid says, “You were carrying Christ, who holds the whole world on his shoulders.” So he finally found the person to serve. That’s why he’s called Christopher–the Christ bearer. I like that story, and I’m still trying to find some ultimate master to serve. Right now it’s some kind of science. So that’s the physics. I’m looking for the ultimate problems, and trying to do my best, whether it be religion, science, or little things on the fringes of science.
RMN: Could you explain to us the essence of Bell’s Theorem, and the ideas about the nature of reality which those experiments have inspired in