Science and Life: The Importance of Keeping People in a Healthy, Unbalanced State

By Jonathan Tennenbaum

The following three-part series is ostensibly devoted to some crucial paradoxes raised by the discovery of the so-called “mitogenetic” or “biophoton” radiation of living organisms, by the great Russian biologist Alexander Gurwitsch. At the same time, I hope to provoke reflection on one of the unique and so far irreplaceable functions, which Lyndon LaRouche has performed in the life of our organization. Attention to this point may be the most efficient pathway towards understanding what is really at stake, in the issue of “nonlinearity in the small.”

Part 1: Parmenides revisited

Two leading biologists, Dr. Lebensfroh and Professor Todtkopf, were recently overheard arguing about the nature of living processes. Although the two have opposite opinions, they share a common, underlying error of axiomatic assumption, which is pervasive among even the best scientific professionals today. What is the fundamental error? Here is the dialogue.

TODTKOPF: So, you keep up with this “vitalist” obsession of yours, that there is something unique about living processes. How can you reject the fundamental accomplishment of modern biology?

LEBENSFROH: What you call “biology” has long since degenerated into blatant reductionism and mechanicism, losing sight of the real objective, which is “life.” To me, biology should be defined as the study of exactly {those} aspects of living processes, which distinguish them {absolutely} from non-living processes.

TODTKOPF: I say there are no such differences. A living organism is nothing but a very complex aggregate of molecules, interacting and combining with each other according to the known laws of chemistry and physics. Everyone knows that biology today is just a specialized branch of physical chemistry. The triumph of molecular biology is a great victory of science over naive superstition and metaphysics. For centuries unscientific people clung to the romantic idea, that some sort of “life force” or “living fluid” inhabits the tissue of animals and plants and lends them their “living” quality. But nobody ever found this living force. So it was a great breakthrough, when chemists demonstrated that living organisms are composed of exactly the same atomic elements and particles that we find in the inanimate world, in the atmosphere, in rocks and so forth. Looking for anything more is like grasping for ghosts in thin air. But fanatics continue to defend the notion of a “life force” up to this very day. I remember the uproar which was created when Justus Liebig published his book on “Chemistry and its Applications to Agriculture and Physiology” in 1840, showing that living tissue is composed nearly entirely of the simple elements hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen, and that plants can grow on inorganic material alone. Liebig’s proposal to introduce mineral and chemical fertilizers into agriculture met fanatical resistance, even among scientists, who insisted that the nutrition of plants must involve organic material in some essential way. Even today, there is a big market for food grown with “organic fertilizers”, and many people believe that plants grown with mineral fertilizers are somehow different and even poisonous to the health. But these ideas have been refuted long since. There is no special material in living organisms, the atoms are exactly the same there as in this dirty piece of rock.

LEBENSFROH: But in living tissue the atoms are organized and transformed into complex organic molecules, like proteins and DNA or example, which are not found in the inorganic world. Only living processes do that.

TODTKOPF: People like you didn’t want to believe it, when the great chemist Friedrich Woehler succeeded in {artificially} synthesizing the organic substance {urea} from oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen in the laboratory. That was 1828. Until then, many biologists and chemists believed that living organisms had their own, fundamentally different chemistry, and that the most important molecules composing living tissue could never be produced outside living tissue. The famous chemist J.J. Berzelius even put forward the “vis vitalis” hypothesis, according to which the characteristic difference between living and nonliving systems lay exactly in former’s supposedly unique powers of chemical synthesis. This idea was the original basis for the division between “organic” and “inorganic” chemistry, which turned out to be just conventional and not fundamental. After Whler, countless other organic molecules were synthesized, and today, we can make amino acids, small proteins (peptides), and pieces of DNA in the laboratory with no trouble. So, there is no special chemistry and no magical synthetic powers of living organisms.

LEBENSFROH: Aren’t you cheating with that argument? You left out the fact, that living human beings — chemists — carried out those laboratory syntheses. So they are still products of living processes, even if the reactions that produce them occur in a test tube. The organic molecules would never arise by themselves, without human intervention.

TODTKOPF: Not true. Researchers have demonstrated in laboratory experiments, that amino acids — the building-blocks of proteins — can be generated by electric discharges in a gas similar to the Earth’s original atmosphere. The Nobel Prize-winning chemist Manfred Eigen has shown, that in a “soup” of chemicals, more and more complex molecules can evolve from simpler ones in a purely spontaneous manner, through a kind of natural selection process among competing chemical reaction-cycles. Given enough time, I am sure all the complex biomolecules would eventually arise in such a self-organizing “chemical soup”. Eigen proposes that the first primitive living organisms actually evolved in this way, and I believe him. It was a gradual process, and there was never a definite point when you suddenly had “life,” and before just a lot of reactions.

LEBENSFROH: You mean to say, that if your mother had only been 5% pregnant and if you were 95% dead, you would still be speaking to me now?

TODTKOPF: Sometimes I feel that way.

LEBENSFROH: But, seriously, you cannot deny that living organisms behave completely differently from non-living matter?!

TODTKOPF: This is just a matter of degree of complexity. Naturally, the more complex a system becomes, the more circus tricks it can perform. But in principle, every chemical process going on in a living organism could be carried out just as well in a test tube. We are already doing DNA synthesis and other sorts of enzymatic reactions that way. It’s just when you put all those molecules and reaction processes together, that you get the effect of life.

LEBENSFROH: What about {growth}? Only living processes grow in a self-similar, exponential way. Whatever you say about the origin of living processes, the {power of growth} distinguishes them absolutely from non-living matter.

TODTKOPF: Really? Crystals can grow too, can’t they? Haven’t you watched how sugar or salt crystals grow in a water solution? Would you say those growing crystals are alive?

LEBENSFROH: No,no, wait a minute. Uh, crystals don’t grow in an exponential way, but actually more like an arithmetic or rather cubic series, as additional layers are added on, surface by surface.

TODTKOPF: And what do you say about a {chemical chain reaction}, as we find in the detonation processes in various explosives? Furthermore, in the 1920s the Russian chemist Semionov discovered the phenomenon of “branched chain reactions”, in which a population of enzymatic molecules grows exponentially, by catalysizing the synthesis of identical molecules in a mixture of reactants. These “autocatalytic” processes display exactly the same growth-curve characteristics, as cultures of bacteria and other living organisms.

LEBENSFROH: But this only works until as the mixture of reactants is used up. After that the process stops, doesn’t it?

TODTKOPF: Don’t living organisms also stop, when their source of nutrition is exhausted? After all, living organisms, like bacteria, never actually grow exponentially. Their growth curve is always an “S-curve”, as growth slows when the bacterial population has reached a maximum density, where the available sources of nutrition become marginalized and the culture reaches an equilibrium or stationary state. And such S-curves are typical of thousands of autocatalytic chemical reactions, which we can make in a laboratory. So in terms of the growth curve, you can’t tell the different between the growth of various chemical species in an auto-catalytic, branched chain reaction, and a population of bacteria which grows in the same way.

LEBENSFROH: But what about the population of the human species? The human population has grown exponentially over history.

TODTKOPF: I don’t think that can continue indefinitely. After all, resources are limited. But even if human multiplication could continue without limit, you mean to say that only human beings are living organisms, and animals and plants are not?

LEBENSFROH: No. The growth of the human population, and its impact on the biosphere in terms of a multiplication of domesticated plant and animal species, demonstrates that the {totality} of living material on the Earth, taken as a whole — what Vernadsky called the biosphere, including human beings — the biosphere has the potential for {unlimited growth} in the Universe. Actually, this was the directionality of evolution even before human culture emerged. So we can say, that living organisms are uniquely characterized by the {potential} for exponential growth, as part of the growing biophere.

TODTKOPF: Well then, from your rather involuted argument you will have to reocognize countless {inorganic} processes on the Earth as “living”, if they are connected with the growth of the biosphere in any way, won’t you? After all, the combustion of oil, or the production of steel, has increased exponentially with the expansion of human population and its economy. So would you include combustion or steel production as living processes?

LEBENSFROH: Of course not. You are just twisting my argument into nonsensical shape.

TODTKOPF: Then where do the inorganic processes leave off, and the “living” process begin? You claim there is a categorical, absolute distinction between the two. Would you say that the oxidation of glucose in cells is a living or nonliving process? It’s really just a form of combustion isn’t it, burning sugar for energy.

LEBENSFROH: This is just a trick of yours, to rip an individual chemical processes out of the organic context of the living process of which it is a part. In fact, the unique characteristic of living organisms is their indivisible unity or “wholeness”, which means that all processes going on in an organism are interconnected and subordinated to a single overall principle, and that all react together as a whole — rather than an assembly of parts — to every change in the organism’s environment. No mere mechanical or other non-living physical system has such characteristics.

TODTKOPF: Wrong again. Modern quantum physics has gone far ahead of you, and identified what are called “macroscopic coherent states” in {non-living matter} — states you would be forced to admit have every bit of that quality of “one-ness” you ascribe to living organisms. Even the wave-front of a light wave displays this quality, as Fresnel already demonstrated in his analysis of the diffraction of a light-beam at a sharp edge: When part of a light-wave encounters an obstacle, the entire wave-front “reacts”, and the direction of propagation is changed. Within scale-lengths of the order of a single wavelength of light, the light wave behaves as an indivisible whole. Beginning the early 1920s, entirely analogous characteristics were demonstrated for beams of electrons. Modern quantum physics teaches us, that even a single electron involves a process distributed over a large region of space, and which “feels” all the event events occurring within that space. Furthermore, we today have countless experimental proofs, that there is no such thing as a truly isolated, independent particle, atom or molecule. Rather, in a certain sense each particle in the Universe “knows” and reacts to what is happening with every other one, without having to be informed by any sort of signal! Our lasers, superconductors and even the semiconductor devices which are the basis of today’s computers and communications systems, are all based on that principle. In such devices, huge numbers of atoms behave as if they constituted a single coherent entity. The fact that we can demonstrate this sort of “holistic” behavior in so-called nonliving systems, has been a major breakthrough, demystifying the characteristics of living organisms and demonstrating, once again, that there is no categorical distinction between living and non-living processes.

LEBENSFROH: You are bluffing. You are ignoring the crucial property of living organisms, which is their ability to {reproduce themselves}, based in the unique process of mitosis or cell division. No reductionist or mechanicist theory could possibly describe such a self-reproducing process.

TODTKOPF: Evidently you are not familiar with the work of John von Neumann on {self-reproducing machines}. Although such machines have not actually been built yet, von Neumann proved their feasibility in principle long ago, and he even worked out how such machines would have to be programmed. Essentially, a self-reproducing machine would consist of a complex of computer-controlled, automated industrial processing-units and robots, all directed by a central computer. The robots gather raw materials from the surrounding area and feed them into the industrial process-units, which in turn produce materials and parts to match those from which the central computer, robots and industrial process-units themselves were constructed. As the final step, the central computer directs the assembly of those parts into a second copy of itself and its robots and industrial processing units. Obviously, such a machine would have to be extremely complex, and indeed, this is the fundamental point that John von Neumann and others have stressed — that there is a lower limit to the necessary, minimum complexity of a self-reproducing machine. This explains why qualitatively new types of phenomena occur when systems become as complex as cells. So a living cell is just an extremely complex kind of self-reproducing machine, with a bit of holism thrown in, if you want.

LEBENSFROH: You mean to say, you are a von Neumann clone.

TODTKOPF: No doubt about it. That’s where all of us modern biologists come from.

What is the fundamental error in this whole discussion? What do Dr. Lebensfroh and his unfortunate colleague have to learn from Gauss’ Determination of the Orbit of Ceres?

The Importance of Keeping People in a Healthy, Unbalanced State

by Jonathan Tennenbaum

Part II

Lebensfroh felt frustrated and a bit depressed after his encounter with Prof. Todtkopf last week. He was sure he had been right, and Todtkopf wrong, when he insisted that living processes could not be reduced to the same physics as nonliving processes. But in spite of this, Todtkopf seemed to have come out ahead in the debate. Todtkopf’s arguments reminded him of prosecutors who can “prove” or “disprove” anything, by a selective arrangement of supposedly unassailable, “hard facts.” Lebensfroh had tried to defend life, and lost his case. It wasn’t any particular argument, but the <whole debate> that had somehow missed the point. Lebensfroh felt embarrassed, like someone who had lost his wallet to a pickpocket.

Returning home, Lebensfroh sank deep into his armchair. He went through the discussion with Todtkopf again in his mind. Where was the mistake? Lebensfroh had presented a series of properties A, B, C, D …, each one of which he considered to be a unique and exclusive property of living processes: the synthesis of complex organic molecules, exponential growth, self-replication, “wholeness,” and so forth. One after the other, Todtkopf returned the argument, by presenting examples of nonliving processes which seemed to have the same properties, and maybe even all of the properties Lebensfroh had come up with. Lebensfroh was dismayed. What he thought he had understood very well before the argument started — namely the unique nature of life — now seemed to have evaporated into something intangible and elusive, even in his own mind.

Suddenly he had a new thought. He recognized it came from something he had read long ago by Cardinal Nicolaus of Cusa, concerning the nature of the circle. The thought was: If someone would specify any set of points A, B, C, D … on the circumference of a circle, would that determine the circle as the curve passing through those points? Well, obviously not, someone else could just connect the points by <straight lines>, getting a polygon, which is not the same as the circle. No number of points, so supplied, could ever suffice to distinguish the circle from a mere polygon. What, then, is the characteristic distinction of the circle?

Lebensfroh’s gloom and frustration disappeared, like the popping of a bubble. In his mind’s eye, Lebensfroh caught a glance of the old cardinal’s face, smiling at him. Lebensfroh smiled, too. “Thanks, Nick,” he heard himself say.

The next day Lebensfroh met Prof. Todtkopf again.

Todtkopf: Well, I hope you have given up your silly idea after our last conversation.

Lebensfroh: Indeed. I will never again lose sight of the false, lying nature of so-called “scientific facts.”

Todtkopf (shocked): What do you mean!? Facts never lie. Facts are the very foundation and essence of truth.

Lebensfroh: Wrong. I say, truth lies entirely outside, above and apart from mere “facts”; and no single fact, nor any collection of facts, however comprehensive, could ever represent truth. Only ideas, not facts, can represent truth.

Todtkopf: Are you crazy?

Lebensfroh: I will show you. See how I draw this circle, and now I mark points A, B, C, D, etc. on it, which represent what you call “facts”….

Todtkopf: Don’t talk to me about geometry. I am a biologist. I don’t go there!

Lebensfroh: The problem is, the conception I want you to understand, cannot be communicated without a certain type of metaphor …

Todtkopf: I am a scientist, not a poet.

Lebensfroh: Well I tell you it is <absolutely impossible> to grasp what a living process is, without metaphor. Because there is an ordering of ideas in science, and the conception of “living process” is a strictly <higher type> than any conception which can be communicated in a linear way. This would be obvious to you if you had worked through Gauss’ determination of the orbit of Ceres, for example. The nature of living processes, and the absolute, “strong” gap separating them from all non-living processes, lies in the characteristics of <change> manifested in the virtually infinitesimally small.

Todtkopf: I have no idea what you mean.

Lebensfroh: Well, I see we’ll have to approach this through an example. I have it! Let’s look at a unique case, which poses the relevant paradoxes in the strongest form: a physical economy, which is a very special sort of living process.

Todtkopf: What do you mean by “physical economy”? I remember reading something about that.

Lebensfroh: I mean the physical process by which a human population reproduces the material conditions for its continuing existence, at ever higher levels of potential population density.

Todtkopf: So it’s more than just the living population and its immediately activity, but also the physical processes in mining and industry, which deal with inorganic materials, as well as things like farming?

Lebensfroh: Of course. Physical economy subsumes the processes of agricultural, mining and industrial production; distribution and consumption of goods; housing, education, and health services; cultural activities, scientific research, administrative and related activity and so on — everything necessary for the maintainance and development of human society from one generation to the next. In a sense, all these things form the tissue and organs of the physical economy as a coherent living entity.

Todtkopf: Ha! Now I have caught you in a contradiction! Just a moment ago you restated your old thesis, that there is a categorical distinction between living and nonliving processes, true?

Lebensfroh: True.

Todtkopf: And according to that you would distinguish between living and nonliving matter, wouldn’t you?

Lebensfroh: Yes.

Todtkopf: Then tell me this. A piece of rock sitting somewhere in a mountain, is that living or nonliving material?

Lebensfroh: Nonliving, of course.

Todtkopf: And when that same rock is mined, and the ore is transported to a factory, and metal is produced, and that metal is worked up into parts, and the parts assembled into a machine, and that machine is integrated into the production process — would you not say, that the material of the rock has become part of the physical economy?

Lebensfroh: Yes.

Todtkopf: So then, if the physical economy is a living process, then the material which constitutes it must be living, must it not?

Lebensfroh (hesitating): Well, I guess so.

Todtkopf: Then one and the same material is both living and nonliving, or else you will have to tell me at what point the rock, or ore, or metal, or machine, became “living,” in your sense!

[Lebensfroh realized he was about to fall into the same trap, as he had done in his earlier debate with Todtkopf. Focussing on his happy idea about the circle, he recovered quickly and continued.]

Lebensfroh: Exactly. That is just the point. We are dealing with a multiply-connected manifold.

Todtkopf: There you go again with your mathematics! Tell me plainly now: do you or do you not regard the machines in a factory as being <living>, in virtue of their being integrated as parts of the “tissue” of the physical economy, which you call a living process?

Lebensfroh: In a sense, absolutely, yes. But the “living” aspect of these things does not lie in the things themselves as isolated entities, but in the characteristics of the process of <change> in which they actively participate. And the chief characteristic of change, which defines a physical economy as <living> (as opposed to pathological, dying states of an economy), is <scientific and technological progress>. That progress takes the form of an incessant series of “pulses” or “shocks” of <change in the organization of production> — shocks which originate in fundamental scientific discoveries of principle, and propagate, like waves, throughout the tissue of the economy. Those pulses or shocks reflect the action of a higher geometry — one characterized by human creative reason — upon the ensemble of lower geometries conposing the tissue of the physical economy.

Todtkopf: You mean to say, without those pulses, the tissue of the economy would degenerate and the economy would “die”?

Lebensfroh: Exactly. And I am sure that something analogous must occur in living processes generally, and on another level, in the creative processes of the mind itself. The great biologist Alexander Gurwitsch had some appreciation of this.

Todtkopf: What you say is amazing.

Lebensfroh: Not really. Imagine how stupid you would be right now, if Nicolaus of Cusa had not helped me get your mind moving.

Science and Life: The Importance of Keeping People in a Healthy, Unbalanced State

by Jonathan Tennenbaum

Part III

At the end of last week’s discussion, Prof. Todtkopf was amazed and a bit overwhelmed by the conception Lebensfroh came up with, that physical economy might provide the key to understanding living processes in general. But later, as he thought back on the conversation, his admiration turned to suspicion, then irritation, and finally rage. The more he thought about it, the more ridiculous it seemed to him to mix up economics and biology as Lebensfroh had done, comparing an economy to a living cell, for example. Todtkopf’s teachers had taught him to beware of sweeping analogies, which might excite our fantasy, but undermine the objectivity that are essential to professional scientific work. Todtkopf saw himself admonishing an audience of his colleagues: “In science the first step is to {define your terms}; and once you have done that, you have to stick to the definitions. If you start to play with metaphors and analogies, as Lebensfroh loves to do, then you can make anything into anything, as if you would say: the solar system is a living process, the galaxy is a living process, an atom is a living process, EVERYTHING is a living process?!! Then we would all feel happy, like Dr. Lebensfroh. Absurd! By throwing words around like that we accomplish nothing of any substance.”

Lebensfroh has to be cut down to size, thought Todtkopf. He should stop acting as if he were superior to us empiricists, just because he has a creative mind. I’ll give him a lesson on what science is all about. He started lecturing again:

“Science is based on empirical fact. That means observing and investigating the real objects in the world around us. To be able to arrange the facts, and to correlate facts in order to adduce general laws, you need to establish a division of the sciences. The sciences are divided according to the different kinds of objects you study. So, biology studies the living organisms which are divided into plant and animal. To determine what a living process is, you start concretely, by studying this specific plant, that specific animal. Nothing to do with economics or anything like that. You keep studying those plants and animals and then you correlate your observations and measurements and draw general conclusions. So, by painstaking investigations, molecular biologists discovered the common molecular basis of living organisms — the amino acids and proteins, the genetic code and so forth. Step by step, we unravelled the mechanisms and we discovered that in each case we examine carefully, we find everything occurs according to the known laws of physics and chemistry — laws verified in hundreds of thousands of laboratory experiments. At least, no one in academia dares refute us. The wispy dreams of the vitalists, have given way to piles of hard facts. This is the triumph science, the triumph of Aristotle, the first biologist and systems analyst!

“So don’t ever forget, Lebensfroh: We empiricists are the ones who do the real work. We know what functions and what doesn’t function in the real world. Don’t stand there and try to tell us how we should do things!” Professor Todtkopf was so preoccupied, that he emptied his coffee cup onto his trousers.

The next day Todtkopf sought out Dr. Lebensfroh.

Todtkopf: Our conversation last week was fun, Dr. Lebensfroh. But speaking as a professional scientist, I must say, it was a waste of time.

Lebensfroh (taken aback): Why that?

Todtkopf: You presented not a single solid scientific fact, but only wild, irrelevant analogies to economics and so forth. I was taken in for a moment, but now no more.

Lebensfroh: Oh, oh, I see you have decayed into your lower state!

Todtkopf: Lower state? Decayed?

Lebensfroh: Well you know, according to modern physics we find that atoms and molecules can exist in different modes or states, which form a discrete series or spectrum that is characteristic for the species of atom or molecule involved.

Todtkopf: Every chemistry student knows that.

Lebensfroh: In the so-called ground states or lower-energy states, atoms and molecules are typically inactive and inert. But if we irradiate them with photons of the right wavelength, for example, we can raise them into a higher-energy, excited state. They become highly reactive, they begin to emit radiation, they are more lively and interesting in every way. We can get lasing and all sorts of wonderful things to happen.

Todtkopf: And?

Lebensfroh: But if they are left to themselves, and taken out of the special environment we have created, the atoms and molecules tend to decay back to their lower-energy states, and become lazy and boring again. So it is with PEOPLE, too.

Todtkopf: There you go again with your analogies and metaphors! What does that have to do with me?

Lebensfroh: Because last week at the end of our discussion I had pulled you up to an excited state for a while and now you seem to have slipped back down. The difference is elementary and very easy to observe, when one knows what to look for. People in higher (creative) states of mind think of the Universe in terms of {change}, while in your lower state, you think of it in terms of arrangements of objects.

Todtkopf: What difference does that make? Thinking is thinking.

Lebensfroh: Not so. If you were to stay in your present state, you would be incapable of making any fundamental discovery.

Todtkopf: How do you know? I can look through a microscope as well as you!

Lebensfroh: Maybe even better than me, but you won’t {discover} anything. Because a fundamental discovery is not the discovery of some property of an object, but a {change} in the characteristics of our own mental processes, a change in the way we {think} about the Universe as a whole. It occurs entirely inside the mind. And that is the beginning of actually changing the Universe itself. But it can’t happen if your mind is in the deadened state, typified by a fixation on objects or object-like images.

Todtkopf: Challenge me. I will show you you’re wrong.

Lebensfroh: Fine. The other day you asserted molecular biology had for the first time identified the chemical basis for living processes?

Todtkopf: Yes, of course.

Lebensfroh: Then tell me, what is the difference between a living cell, and the same cell immediately after it has died? The molecules stay the same. Even many reactions keep going for a while, as they might in the non-living environment of a test tube.

Todtkopf: Um…Uh… Well, eventually the normal processes stop and the cell disintegrates. You can see this in a microscope.

Lebensfroh: I am not asking what {eventually} happens, as a {result} of the event of the cell dying. I mean the event itself. What is it {precisely}, that has happened at that moment?

Todtkopf: Obviously, there was some divergence from normal functioning, and the cell did not recover.

Lebensfroh: {Why} didn’t it recover? As the Russian biologist Gurwitsch and others showed, sometimes living cells can recover from the grossest sorts of disturbances. So, for example, Gurwitsch centrifuged fertilized egg cells until the visible structures in the cell had been destroyed, and yet the cells reorganized themselves and developed into adult organisms. What is it that occurs, at the moment when a living process, which was viable before, loses that capability?

Todtkopf: Actually, I must admit I don’t know. Maybe there is no simple general answer. Of course there are millions of papers about aging of tissue and various damage mechanisms which can lead to the death of cells. But actually, I don’t recall anyone having posed exactly the question you are asking, in such a straighforward way.

Lebensfroh: Isn’t that a bit strange? After all, you were just claiming the molecular biologists had uncovered the molecular basis for the main processes which occur in living organisms. But as for such a central issue in biology, as I now have raised, you haven’t even begun to address it. Doesn’t that suggest some problem with you thinking?

Todtkopf: I see what you mean. But maybe the answer is very complicated.

Lebensfroh: If you had studied how Gauss determined the orbit of Ceres, you would at least know how the question would have to be approached experimentally. What is the characteristic of the orbit of a comet, for example, which is headed for a collision with the Sun? What is the {change} in orbital {characteristics}, between a “healthy” orbit and an orbit which might differ at first only imperceptibly from the healthy one, but lead inexorably to the destruction of the comet?

Todtkopf: How can you compare the processes of a living organism with the orbit of a comet? Another of your wild analogies.

Lebensfroh: I am not comparing the two as objects. I am talking about how we have to {think} about two problems that share a common, crucial methodological feature.

Todtkopf: Well, it doesn’t help me to bring in the astronomical example. I saw that long article in Fidelio, but I didn’t work it through.

Lebensfroh: Why not?

Todtfroh: My friends all told me it is very difficult.

Lebensfroh: Why in the world, should it be regarded as an argument {against} doing something, to say it is difficult? If what Gauss accomplished were just trivial, so people could swallow it at one gulp, like a doggie cookie, then it wouldn’t be worth much, would it?

Todtkopf: I guess not.

Lebensfroh: And didn’t Gauss himself work on this for months, and other scientists spend years and decades or even lifetimes struggling to work through a crucial paradox and make a fundamental discovery of principle, coming back to it again and again from different angles until they had succeeded, for the benefit of mankind, in mastering it? Didn’t Beethoven oftentimes spend years developing a single composition?

Todtkopf: He did.

Lebensfroh: Then we should be happy when the essentials of a crucial discovery, and relevant materials, have been put together in such a way that we don’t have to waste time on non-essentials, but can get to the real issues directly. Because, truly, we live in a world where there is no time to waste. So we should concentrate on the difficult things, and brush trivial things aside.

Todtkopf: I agree. But can you at least tell me what Gauss’ work has to do with biology?

Lebensfroh: The oldest, classical problem in astronomy, is that when you observe the motion of the Sun or any planet in the sky, that motion actually results from many different motions, all acting during in any arbitrarily small interval of the observered motion. So, the motion of Mars in the sky, for example, involves Mars’ own orbital motion, the rotation of the Earth, the orbital motion of the Earth with respect to the Sun, the precession of the equinoxes, and even still other, more subtle and partly even not-yet-discovered cycles. The subtler point is, none of these motions is strictly independent from the other, but each one reacts to the existence of the others.

Todtkopf: Then, how is it possible to disentangle them?

Lebensfroh: There is no formal mathematical solution. But there does exist a method of {experimental measurement} based on so-called analysis situs, which Kepler applied in a masterful way to his founding of modern astronomy. The crucial point is, that the principles or “dimensionalities” of action we are looking for are axiomatically distinct, linearly incommensurable principles; each is characterized by a different characteristic curvature in the infinitesimally small. Their mutual action generates dense singularities. Secondly, the ensemble of such principles must be harmonically ordered according to a still higher principle.

Todtkopf: How do you know that?

Lebensfroh: That is Kepler’s higher hypothesis, that our Universe is ordered in that sort of way. He demonstrated that the harmonic organization of motions of our solar system is uniquely coherent with that hypothesis, and in his snowflake paper he did the same thing for the microscopic domain, too — at least provisionally.

Todtkopf: I will have to believe you. But get to my question: what does this have to do with biology?

Lebensfroh: Very much, obviously. But in our discussion the particular issue keeps coming up, that the processes in living tissue are determined by more than one fundamental ordering principle. We have one set of principles — the one you associate with “ordinary physics and chemistry”, and which you and your colleagues observe operating also within living organisms, at least to a very great extent. However, in living tissue another, higher set of principles — a higher geometry, in effect — is superimposed upon those “inorganic” principles. If fact, we can even say, that the higher principle {rules} the lower one, even though the effect of the higher geometry might only appear as a virtually infinitesimal displacement from the pathway, that the process would have followed, had only the lower, inorganic principles been active. Nevertheless, the overall cunulative effect of that “infinitesimal deviation”, is enormous. This sort of situation is quite familiar from astronomy. There, the most powerful, “tectonic” forces are the ones connected with what appear at first as barely perceptible, infinitesimal deviations or anomalies within otherwise well-determined orbits.

Todtkopf: What you say seems strange to me. How can it be that a “strong” force appears as the most infinitesimal?

Lebensfroh: Here is another case, where a key point of method can hardly be communicated effectively, without geometry. But this time maybe you will offer more patience than last time I tried.

Todtkopf: I am definitely in an excited state.

Lebensfroh: Good. Now take this piece of paper, and observe how I role it into a cylinder. No problem, eh?

Todtkopf: Very easy.

Lebensfroh: And now I role it into a conical shape.

Todtkopf: Also no problem.

Lebensfroh: And many other shapes are possible, obviously. But what about giving the paper a spherical shape, or even part of a sphere. See, here I have a globe and I am trying to bend the paper onto its shape.

Todtkopf: I see, it doesn’t work. You get creases all over and it still doesn’t really fit.

Lebensfroh: And what would happen if I tried to make part of the surface of the globe into a flat surface?

Todtkopf: You would tear it, for sure, if it were made of some material like paper which doesn’t stretch.

Lebensfroh: Is that problem a matter of how large the portions of surface I use?

Todtkopf: Evidently not.

Lebensfroh: So, then, the characteristic which causes these violent creases and tears — and I guess you will agree, these would be typical of “strong forces” — is manifested as a virtually {infinitesimal} difference at the level of a tiny section of the spherical surface vis-a-vis the flat surface. Of course, when I look at larger portions of the surfaces, the discrepancy in shape and characteristics becomes macroscopically evident.

Todtkopf: OK, I get it. So you want to say, for example, that we should think about the higher principle acting in living tissue as a kind of “curvature” imposed on otherwise relatively “flat” geometry of non-living physio-chemical processes.

Lebensfroh: Wonderful!

Todtkopf: So that, if we just examine a small, isolated aspect of the living process, the effect of that curvature might appear virtually infinitesimal. But, if this your approach is correct, somewhere in there we must find extremely intense forces of tearing or wrenching between the geometries. Because they are axiomatically incompatible. What form would those “creases and tears” take?

Lebensfroh: That question obviously takes us beyond mathematics, into the domain of experimental biophysics. This is exactly the area of Alexander Gurwitsch’s fundamental work, which led him to the discovery of the so-called “mitogenetic radiation”, or constant photon emission from living tissue. This radiation is so extremely weak, many orders of magnitude weaker than the metabolic energy of the tissue itself — so weak that most scientists today regard it as an irrelevant, mere curiosity devoid of biological or biochemical significance. This is because they don’t understand the elementary point you just grasped. Alexander Gurwitsch and his followers developed an elaborate series of unique experiments based on the characteristics of this very weak radiation, and all directed at disentangling and measuring the higher principles of ordering of living processes.

Todtkopf: What did they discover?

Lebensfroh: Well, this was literally a life’s work, and worth more than five minutes’ discussion. But without my going into the experimental method, perhaps you might in conclusion like to hear how one of Gurwitsch’s students summarized some of the main {conclusions} of that work. Actually, the conclusions are {questions}: they lead into an entirely new domain of biology, which has barely been explored up to this day. Here is the quote:

“The conclusion was that the harmonic movements observed in a normal cell are due to a certain factor related to the cell as a whole and this factor is not destroyed or inactivated by the destruction of the visible intracellular structures or processes. Hence, {space-time connections between separate intracellular structures or processes are not due to any properties of the structures themselves}. A further conclusion was, that together with stable structures in which the molecules are bound by means of various types of chemical bonds, there are {unstable} molecular constellations in which the molecules are not connected with each other by any of such bonds, but where their association is maintained by a continuous influx of energy… Such labile, energy-dependent molecular constellations were designated by A.G. Gurwitsch as {‘unbalanced molecular constellations’}. … However, the continuous influx of metabolic energy is a {necessary} condition, but {not the only one} for the existence of unbalanced molecular constellations. Their existence is elicited by a certain dynamic factor, whose action, although somehow connected to a continuous utilization of metabolic energy, is quite independent.”

Todtkopf: What are those “unbalanced molecular constellations”? I don’t know of such a thing in chemistry, even today.

Lebensfroh: Well first of all, you might have fun thinking about the last of Gurwitsch’s conclusions, mentioned above, in relation to physical economy. What is involved by the impact of scientific and technological progress on the investment cycle (metabolism) of free energy and energy-of-the-system of an economy? As for Gurwitsch’s “unbalanced molecular constellations”, I think we illustrated that principle in our very conversation today.

Todtkopf: How so?

Lebensfroh: Well obviously the living process is a constant battle to keep those molecules from slipping back into their accustomed, banal, stupid, boring inorganic state. What must be supplied, to accomplish that, is not “energy” in the ordinary sense, but rather something akin to what Nicolaus of Cues did for me the other day, and what I have tried to do for you in these last two talks. Don’t you think those great men are to be honored and emulated, who constantly raise people upward toward the passionate pursuit of truth. These are the real benefactors, fathers and leaders of the human race!

A note on the fate of Gurwitsch’s work:

The discovery of so-called “mitogenetic radiation” by the Russia biologist Alexander Gurvitsch, as a biproduct of Gurwitsch’s investigations into the higher principles of organization of living processes, was regarded by many leading scientists in the 1920s and early 1930s as one of the most far-reaching experimental discoveries in modern science. Among those was V.I. Vernadsky, a personal friend of Gurwitsch from the beginning of his researches at the Crimean town of Simferopol in 1918. Gurwitsch’s decisive 1923 experiments, established that 1) all living tissue is a source of sustained, though highly variable and (in scalar terms) {extremely weak} radiation in the ultraviolet range of the light spectrum; 2) the process of cell division (mitosis) can be triggered by the absorption of no more than a {single photon} of such light by a suitably disposed cell; and 3) the existence and function of such “mitogenetic radiation” is intimately connected with the manner in which all local processes in a living organism — e.g. on the cellular, molecular and even atomic scales — are subordinated to a principle of organization unique to the living organism as a whole. By using mitogenetic radiation as a crucial experimental method in embryology, physiology, the study of the nervous system and other areas, Gurwitsch and his collaborators made one remarkable discovery after another, continuing through Gurwitsch’s death in 1954.

Starting no later than the end of the 1920s, systematic operations were launched to “kill” the new area of research. These included a widely-publicized hatchet-job done on behalf of the Rockefeller Foundation by one A. Hollaender. By the end of the 1930s, Gurwitsch’s scientific reputation in Western countries had been significantly undermined, only to be virtually buried under the onslaught of ultra-reductionist currents of molecular biology after World War II. While the main lines of Gurwitsch’s work continued to be pursued in the Soviet Union — including in military-related domains –, the efforts of Hollaender et al. established the “consensus opinion” in the West, that Gurwitsch’s radiation did not exist; or in case it did exist, had no scientific importance. With the rapid overall decline in the quality of science in the Soviet Union from the 1960s and especially the 1970s on, the focus on the fundamental implications of Gurwitsch’s work was nearly lost there, too.

It was only in the mid-1970s that Gurwitsch’s work began to be revived in a serious way, with the work of Fritz Popp and is collaborators in Germany and other countries. From 1985 on, Lyndon LaRouche personally and his collaborators have played a crucial, indispensible role in keeping work in this and related areas alive internationally. In every case that has been examined so far, the results of Gurwitsch’s laboratory have been confirmed. In the meantime, technological developments make it possible to design new species of experiments which would not have been possible in Gurwitsch’s time.

In retrospect, it is obvious that a major motivation for burying Gurwitsch’s work, was that it threatened to derail the British plans, notably supported by the Harrimans, Rockefellers and others, to establish “race science” and eugenics as “authoritative scientific doctrines”. This program was resumed immediately after the war, and took the included form of a massive promotion of radical-mechanistic, reductionist forms of molecular biology and genetics, which had already begun to be developed by Max Delbrueck and others in the middle 1930s, with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Warren Weaver. Of course, these operations went hand-in-hand with the promotion of behaviorist psychology, mechanistic theories of nerve function (Hodgkin-Huxley, John von Neumann, Norbert Wiener etc), the work of von Neumann and others on formal logic, “artificial intelligence”, “self-reproducing machines”, “information theory” and so on and so forth. The British side, often clothed in “holistic” trappings, included the Huxleys, Joseph Needham, J.S. Haldane, Waddington, Bernal, Russell of course etc. The Cambridge side of the British elite were predominantly biologists, following in the putative footsteps of Aristotle himself. Of course, the so-called “biologism” of Haekel et al. was an important current flowing into the Nazi movement, and into today’s New Age and green movements.

Incidentally, I personally had the occasion to visit Hollaender in his office together with Fritz Popp around 1985, not long before Hollaender’s death at the age of over 90. Hollaender admitted having being deployed by the Rockefeller Foundation to Russia with the sole purpose to “investigate” Gurwitsch and his laboratory, bringing back the story that Gurwitsch’s experimental technique was allegedly “sloppy” and his results “unreliable”. (Hollaeder subsequently carried out and published in 1937 his own botched series of experiments, allegedly failing to discover any evidence of Gurwitsch’s radiation.) Confronted with Popp’s detailed measurements of mitogenetic radiation using modern photomultiplier instruments, Hollaeder admitted without blinking an eyelash, that he “had always suspected Gurwitsch had been right.”