New “Ether” Book from Stonehaven

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My book, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Einstein and Ether, is now available in an expanded, beautifully illustrated second edition.

AE&EtherThe new paperback, from Stonehaven Press, is 72 pages, perfect-bound, with 8″ by 5″ trim size. It is also the first Stonehaven volume to appear in ebook form: It’s currently available for Nook, iPad, and most other e-reader devices and software. We’ll have the Kindle edition uploaded any minute. (You can find both versions, print and electronic, at this link.)

Why does this book excite me? Well, I’m a journalist, and science is my beat. Journalists love scoops. It was once my privilege to scoop the Baha’i world with the first published analysis of Baha’i scriptural texts concerning ether, correlating these texts with modern scientific insights.

My original report appeared in 1993 in my book The Challenge of Baha’u’llah. Subsequent editions (1999 and 2005) featured the same basic material, but each time in greater detail as new documents came to light.

As a standalone small book, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Einstein and Ether was published in 2001, based on the data in Challenge.

When I say “based on”, I mean that Ether (as I’ll call it) was a synopsis — a light paraphrase of the account in Challenge. Printing and binding it ourselves, we kept it to a mere 28 pages to hold down costs. Some might feel it was too thin then even to call a “book” — perhaps merely a booklet.

No more! Our beefed-up second edition adds a wealth of new material, much of it unavailable in 1993 or even 2001. The book is now far more detailed and specific than the corresponding sections of Challenge. Drawings and photos add sparkle to the text. Among other enhancements is a timeline of quotes from Einstein himself, spanning his career, showing how his thinking about ether evolved.

Here’s the backstory:

‘Abdu’l-Baha is the son, successor and authorized Interpreter of Baha’u’llah, prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith. Among Baha’u’llah’s teachings is the sacred principle that scientific truth and divine revelation always must agree — to the extent, that is, that both are rightly understood.

That last proviso — “rightly understood” — may in practice prove difficult. The controversy surrounding “luminiferous ether” is a case in point. Physicists of the 19th and early 20th centuries believed that light consists of vibrations in a mysterious fluid called ether — a fluid filling all of space in much the same way water fills an aquarium.

‘Abdu’l-Baha Himself affirms the reality of ether. The talks and written statements in which He does so form a permanent part of Baha’i scripture. Today, however, many casual readers assume He simply was repeating the mistaken beliefs of His time, beliefs that have since been discarded. Is this true?

As an avid student of science history, I have long found this apparent discrepancy fascinating. Ether, though nowadays largely forgotten, once was the hottest topic in science. Questions about its nature and existence (or lack thereof) precipitated the collapse of Isaac Newton’s “old physics” and the rise of Albert Einstein’s “new physics”. The resulting theories of relativity and quantum mechanics led to atomic bombs, nuclear power, space travel, computers, the Internet, and other world-shaping technologies.

Digging into the details, I found, to my astonishment, that ‘Abdu’l-Baha in 1905 made statements about the nature of ether diametrically opposing what was then the standard theory. I was even more stunned to learn that many of today’s leading physicists embrace the same ether paradigm first described by ‘Abdu’l-Baha. (In fact, Einstein himself, in his later years, did so, despite his reputation as the physicist who supposedly “killed ether”.)

The “leading physicists” of whom I speak include Leon Lederman, director-emeritus of Fermilab, and MIT’s Frank Wilczek, an expert on quarks, cosmology, and superstring theory. Both men are Nobel laureates as well as bestselling authors. Lederman’s book The God Particle popularized the Higgs boson. Wilczek’s book The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces popularized — or perhaps re-popularized — ether itself.

Its theoretical importance aside, the controversy also illustrates important principles about science and religion, faith and reason, revelation and empirical research. My book barely touches on these ramifications: It’s first and foremost a window into modern physics. It’s better that the facts speak for themselves.

Did I mention my journalistic fondness for scoops? Since I first made public these findings in 1993, there has been an explosion of interest in ether, its history, its current standing, and its future. What becomes increasingly apparent is that it was ‘Abdu’l-Baha who, in 1905, scooped His expert contemporaries.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!


Comments

New “Ether” Book from Stonehaven — 17 Comments

  1. Hi Gary,
    I noticed last nite that you’ve published an update, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Einstein and Ether’. I haven’t read it yet but, clearly need to. I share your interest in such matters and if you’re agreeable, there are a number of links I’d like to share with you that I believe you would find of interest. I know you’re busy and I don’t want to impose on your time.
    Re: the ether, are you familiar with Dayton Miller’s exhaustive interferometer experiments and Einstein’s interest and communication with Miller? Here are a couple of papers on the subject: http://www.orgonelab.org/miller.htm
    http://www.orgonelab.org/DynamicEther.pdf
    I’m not sure what to make of some of the DeMeo’s other ideas but, his treatment of this subject seems solid from an evidentiary standpoint. If you have a chance to comment, I’d be interested.

    • Mike, thanks for the great information. I’ll study these links.

      From my initial scan of the sites, it appears Einstein saw Miller’s results as results which, if confirmed, would undermine and invalidate the special and general theories of relativity. Yet most physicists today (and, I believe, Einstein himself, if he were alive) would insist that a steadily growing preponderance of evidence has upheld Einstein’s theories in such a way as to discredit the old “ether drift” hypothesis.

      Einstein himself believed in ether in the sense that so-called “empty” space has physical properties which transmit radiant energy. This “ether” is mathematically consistent with relativity and quantum electrodynamics. My impression, however, is that it is not consistent with the older ether-drift hypothesis because, as Einstein says, “the idea of motion may not be applied to it”.

      The approach taken by modern physicists who support ether (such as Frank Wilczek and Paul Davies) is mainly to reconcile old terminology with the most modern mainstream science. This was Einstein’s own approach. So these physicists are basically peacemakers. Miller, if my first impressions are correct, took an approach that if successful would discredit Einstein as well as the foundations of modern physics.

      That in itself doesn’t prove him wrong. But as Carl Sagan loved to say, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Should Miller’s data stand the tests of time, the scientific fireworks should be fun to watch!

  2. Dear Gary,

    I appreciate your taking the time to reply and, similarly, I need some time to digest the the details. However, two things come to mind. Firstly, the speed of light is not, as Einstein asserts, ‘an invariant’, (see Sheldrake’s remarkable TED talk on this and related issues in links: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/04/10/banned-ted-talk-rupert-sheldrake-the-science-delusion/ & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SGzu8TJsyo&feature=share ) and secondly, there are a number of fundamental errors that pervade Relativity. Happily, it doesn’t require advanced math to understand them. For example, Donald Scott points out in his excellent book ‘The Electric Sky’ – a must read, IMO – and in this short article:

    “Ratcliff easily falsifies the hypothesis that a moving clock slows down via the following example. Consider two clocks, A and B, moving toward each other along a straight line joining them. Relativists consider that a clock that is moving within any frame of reference with respect to one that is fixed to that frame, runs slow. Referred to A, B goes slow. Referred to B, A goes slow. But they cannot each go slower than the other one. So the idea is mutually contradictory.

    To quote Ratcliffe, “The mistake [Einstein] makes, one he commits consistently throughout development of Special Relativity Theory, is that he confuses his frames of reference and does not adjust for varying travel times of constant-velocity signals covering different distances.”

    I would add that, more importantly, Einstein mistakenly glosses over the distinction between an observer’s perception of reality and reality itself. Reality exists. Reality will continue to exist even after you and I both die and are unable to perceive it. ” http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2010/arch10/100427einstein.htm

    The event that made Albert a worldwide, scientific rock star and media darling is particularly fascinating. You can find the whole story of the 1919 Eclipse here: http://www.the-einstein-case.eu/English/5._Eclipse.htm
    The subsequent shockingly unscientific short circuiting of one of the world’s most prestigious scientific body’s protocols by Eddington and Thomson at the Royal Astronomical Society meeting is, as Wal Thornhill remarked to me, seen to have more in common with show business and politics than the scientific method.

    Interstellar space is teeming with ubiquitous Plasma, a diffuse soup of ordinary matter and charged particles such as free electrons, neutrinos and ions. It exists in varying degrees of concentrations and densities and when sufficiently excited by the electric flow of Birkeland currents, it gives off visible light and xrays. 99.9% of all the observable matter in the universe exists in this form, which rightly deserves the appellation of ‘The First State of Matter’ rather than the Fourth. While not a perfect electrical conductor, it is exquisitely sensitive, far exceeding any metal or other substance in its conductive efficiency. So, what does all this mean in the context of your book? I believe the takeaway is this: waves, as common sense dictates, actually DO require a medium in which to wave, evidence suggests this medium exists in a real, tangible manner, Einstein’s SR and GR have some serious inconsistencies and errors and it appears that `Abdu’l-Bahá’ was correct in his pronouncements regarding the ether.

    Sincerely,
    Mike Morris

    • Okay, Mike, but what about ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s emphatic statement that ether is an “intellectual reality” having no material form, volume, or substance — one not subject to mechanical models, or even occupying space?

      One thesis of my book is that He portrayed ether as a non-material reality as described above. Does this not conflict with the material model of ether that prevailed at the time He spoke, in 1905?

      I’m not saying it does. I’m just a journalist! I report what other people say about things like this, people more qualified than I am to evaluate the evidence on its technical merits.

      That said — you mention Rupert Sheldrake, whom I find fascinating and admirable.

      • Well, Gary, I’m a bit perplexed. Please send the link you’re referring to, I need to study that. I’m led to the opposite conclusion regarding the ether’s real existence from the Master’s remarks in ‘Some Answered Questions’ on page 190 where He says:

        “If we wish to deny everything that is not sensible, then we must deny the realities which unquestionably exist. For example, ethereal matter is not sensible, though it has an undoubted existence. The power of attraction is not sensible, though it certainly exists. From what do we affirm these existences? From their signs. Thus this light is the vibration of that ethereal matter, and from this vibration we infer the existence of ether.”

        To properly understand this quote it is necessary to determine a precise intended meaning for the word ‘sensible’. Given the context and subject, I think it’s plain enough that by ‘sensible’ He is referring to that which our natural perceptive senses are able to perceive rather than a “intellectual reality” having no material form, volume, or substance, as you indicate. Why do I maintain that’s the correct way to understand this issue? Because `Abdu’l-Bahá’s assertion that, though ‘inferred by it’s signs’, the existence of ‘ethereal matter’ is both ‘certain’ and ‘undoubted’. Maybe, I’m missing something but, it seems unambiguous on it’s face.

        My suspicion is that a major part of the so called ‘controversy’ rests with the fact that the famous Michelson-Morely ether drift experiment of 1887, even though poorly sited, conducted in the shielding basement of Case Western Reserve University, was widely, and completely erroneously, reported to have found a ‘null’ result. Not so, the result, though of a much smaller magnitude than expected was, in fact, positive and real as Miller’s later, exhaustive, meticulous work with a much more sensitive apparatus and superior mountain top location clearly confirmed. But, ‘null result’ is what was printed, remembered and assumed to be correct. The error has helped screw up physics, astronomy and cosmology ever since. It’s all carefully detailed in that link about Dayton Miller’s work. One can see how this bit of ‘knowledge’ helped lead Einstein into intellectual quicksand. It’s proof, once again, that: ‘It is better to be ignorant of 100 actual facts, than to ‘know’ one wrong thing.’ Don’t the writings tell us that of all the Names of God, Knowledge has shed the most copious tears of blood over how often she has become a barrier between the created and the Creator?

        With respect,
        Mike Morris

        • Mike, thanks once again for your thoughtful and substantive comments!

          We agree that ether, according to ‘Abdu’l-Baha, has a “real existence”. In calling ether an “intellectual reality”, He’s saying, first and foremost, that it is a reality. He says: “Even ethereal matter, the forces of which are said in physics to be heat, light, electricity and magnetism, is an intellectual reality…” (SAQ 83-84) In the preceding sentence (p. 83) He defines an intellectual reality as one that “has no outward form and no place and is not perceptible to the senses”. Notice the words “no outward form and no place“.

          Besides ether, He gives other examples of realities that He considers intellectual: consciousness, for example. As well as the human soul, which is the seat of consciousness. The soul itself according to ‘Abdu’l-Baha exists, and is connected with the brain and body; but the soul “has no place … no special spot or locality … for it has never had a place; it is immaterial”. (SAQ 242) God Himself is an “intellectual reality” in this specific sense: He is not a material reality with any outward form or semblance, and has no location. Yet He exists — indeed, God is infinitely more real than any of the material substances He creates and sustains.

          ‘Abdu’l-Baha even states that “nature itself in its essence” is an intellectual reality. When He made these assertions in 1905, they sounded weirdly non-sensical, even meaningless. Yet the single most profound part of the physics revolution since Michelson-Morley is this: Physicists have been forced, kicking and screaming, to abandon their cherished belief in “locality”. As we dig deeper and deeper into the sub-atomic microverse, we reach a level where no object, no event, no process or phenomenon has any definable position in space or time! Only at the “macro” level — the world of very large things, like us — does locality seem real, and then it is largely an illusion. These are ideas physicists discuss mathematically, but cannot express accurately in terms of mechanical models.

          Against this backdrop, Einstein redefined ether, not as a material plasma with form, volume, or motion, but as an abstract mathematical construct that is utterly and completely real. It produces physical effects. It occupies no space because it is space. My thesis, in ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Einstein and Ether, is that the substance and terminology of the Master’s teaching is completely consistent with this paradigm. And it is a paradigm that has stood the test of time, as Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek argues in his recent book The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces.

          But your interpretation here is as good as mine, if not better. Where the scientists you cite fit into the framework I’ve described, I’m not qualified to judge. For all I know, they may have produced evidence that will undermine it completely. If they have, then they will prevail, however long it takes. Good scientists like Einstein and Wilczek are humble enough to admit that most of what they believe may turn out to be wrong. Hence my never-ending fascination with scientists like Sheldrake, and the ones you cite.

          The truths that remain to be discovered are vastly greater than what we now know. And once we know them, they’ll surely change a lot of what we now think we know.

  3. Gary, first let me express my gratitude for the opportunity to dialog on this subject. It’s been a challenging and thoroughly enjoyable experience, one that I’m not able to indulge in all that often. I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts and the relevant passages so

    SAQ (83-84)

    OBJECTIVE OR SENSIBLE REALITIES

    One is the knowledge of things perceptible to the senses—that is to say, things which the eye, or ear, or smell, or taste, or touch can perceive, which are called objective or sensible. So the sun, because it can be seen, is said to be objective; and in the same way sounds are sensible because the ear hears them; perfumes are sensible because they can be inhaled and the sense of smell perceives them; foods are sensible because the palate perceives their sweetness, sourness or saltness; heat and cold are sensible because the feelings perceive them. These are said to be sensible realities.

    INTELLECTUAL REALITIES

    The other kind of human knowledge is intellectual—that is to say, it is a reality of the intellect; it has no outward form and no place and is not perceptible to the senses. For example, the power of intellect is not sensible; none of the inner qualities of man is a sensible thing; on the contrary, they are intellectual realities. So love is a mental reality and not sensible; for this reality the ear does not hear, the eye does not see, the smell does not perceive, the taste does not discern, the touch does not feel.

    THE PROBLEMATIC STATEMENT

    Even ethereal matter, the forces of which are said in physics to be heat, light, electricity and magnetism, is an intellectual reality, and is not sensible. In the same way, nature, also, in its essence is an intellectual reality and is not sensible; the human spirit is an intellectual, not sensible reality.

    This, surely, does not mean that heat, light, electricity and magnetism are intellectual realities in the same manner as love, gladness and ideas are. Such forces, as well as gravity, are sensible, even if, in some cases, the physical senses require augmentation from technological instruments to expand the scope of our perception. We may not directly sense gamma or x rays either but, their objective, sensible existence becomes all too apparent if we are subjected to sufficient levels of exposure. I think this is plain.

    Notice how the Master employs the word ‘essence’ as a modifier of meaning in regards to both ‘nature’ and, ‘..in the same way, ethereal matter.’ and vice versa. It is of interest that both nature and ethereal matter are likened to each other is in regards to their essences being an intellectual reality. This distinction may be of critical importance, in my view. In like manner, does He not assert in His writings that all created, phenomenal entities such as rocks, plants and animals have associated with them an essence that is causative and determines their morphology and sensible characteristics; furthermore this essence is entirely beyond our ability to perceive.

    Then there is this startling possibility, a game changer, as they say; by ‘ethereal matter’, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá meant something entirely different than ‘the ether’ which we have been discussing. I Googled the term and first up was ‘The Encyclopedia of Spiritual Concepts’ which says:

    “Ethereal matter refers to that part of the World of Matter which lies higher than the World of Gross Matter and form the transition point to the world of the Animistic. It is lighter, higher and consists of an entirely different substance from the World of Gross Matter. Human beings on earth also have the body of the ethereal substance within.
    The World of Ethereal Matter already belongs to the lighter realms of this Creation. The products of our evil intuitive volitions do not reach the World of Ethereal Matter. These forms are held mostly in the World of Medium and Fine Gross Matter. Consequently most people when they pass on do not even reach the Ethereal realm at all. They are caught up in the World of Gross Matter to experience the consequences of their thoughts, words or deeds.”
    While the idea can be traced back to Pythagorean philosophy it was also current in Theosophist circles in the early twentieth century and may have been familiar to His audiences at the time. This is from Wikipedia on esotericism:
    Charles Webster Leadbeater fundamentally described and incorporated his comprehension of intangible beings for Theosophy. Along with him there are various planes intertwined with the quotidian human world and are all inhabited by multitudes of entities. Each plane is purported as composed of discrete density of astral or ethereal matter and frequently the denizens of a plane have no discernment of other ones. Other Theosophical writers such as Alice Bailey, a contemporary of Leadbeater, also gave continuousness to Theosophical concepts of ethereal beings and her works had a great impact over New Age movement.[40][41] She puts the nature spirits and devas as ethereal beings immersed in macro divisions of an interwoven threefold universe, usually they belong to the etheric, astral, or mental planes. The ethereal entities of the four kingdoms, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, are forces of nature.

    Indeed, the more we discover about the nature of matter the more it is realized how much there is yet to discover and unravel. Evidence is emerging that indicates that what we think of as subatomic particles are more like fuzzy, resonant orbiting charges and are, so far, beyond our ability to sense with any degree of sureness. Obviously, it does not follow that these phenomenal realities are solely intellectual, “…having no material form, volume, or substance — one not subject to mechanical models, or even occupying space?” in the same way that thoughts and emotions are. I think that His remarks below may help to clarify the issue when seen from this perspective outlined above.

    SAQ 190
    “If we wish to deny everything that is not sensible, then we must deny the realities which unquestionably exist. For example, ethereal matter is not sensible, though it has an undoubted existence. The power of attraction is not sensible, though it certainly exists. From what do we affirm these existences? From their signs. Thus this light is the vibration of that ethereal matter, and from this vibration we infer the existence of ether.”

    Besides the wrongly characterized and reported ether drift experiments of Michelson and Morely, Dayton Miller; there have been others and when their data has been properly interpreted, they all, except for one, have found that the speed of light varies with the direction its path takes in regards to a medium. This variation is regular and cyclical. As such, the interferometers and other devices employed are qualitatively no different than a Geiger counter, or X ray film and so on, which we employ to sense a variety of objective realities beyond the capability of our biological senses.

    There are further evidences for the existence of an ether medium. The rate of radioactive decay for a variety of isotopes varies in a regular pattern with sidereal time. The rate of a pendulum’s swing is changed during an eclipse and gravity, as well as the speed of light, as Sheldrake noted in his TED talk are not constants. They vary with the nature of the electrical environment that our solar system, galaxy and cluster are moving through. These ubiquitous Birkeland Currents of electricity, evident throughout the cosmos, spanning millions of light years require a conductor. All of these phenomena indicate that the ether, like a rock or nature, has both an objective, sensible aspect to its reality as well as an intellectual one outside of the constraints of physicality.

    Anyway, that’s how it seems to me thus far. And, of course, I’ve been wrong about lots of stuff before and still have lots to learn. Some important bits came from your book. Let me just say, thanks, while I’m thinking of it.

    Kindest Regards
    Mike Morris

    • Good point, Charles. Modern physicists model “empty space” mathematically as a “seething ocean” with a “foamy structure”, tossing out a constant fizz and bubble of “virtual particles” that flicker in and out of semi-real existence. Weird stuff, eh?

      In this model, the foamy “quantum vacuum” replaces the old, mechanistic ether. That’s the way Einstein, Dirac, Wilczek, and many other preeminent physicists have understood it. Both in substance and terminology, their views seem to me to echo some pretty amazing things stated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha much earlier.

      But as Mike Morris notes in his comments above, there are other scientists who challenge the current paradigm. Whether their views are correct — and whether those views can be reconciled with Baha’i scripture — well, I’m only a journalist. I report the findings of experts in this field, but that doesn’t make me an expert: I just follow the story as it unfolds. This one appears to be still unfolding!

  4. Have you ever heard of the “Casimir Effect”? When 2 perfectly flat plates get very very close together, something pushes them the last bit of the way together with a measurable force. Apparently, some sort of “quantum waves” or “virtual particles” (or whatever, -who really knows ?) can’t fit into the space between the plates and the particles or waves outside the plates then push the plates together.

    Another example is a device called a “Quantum Vacuum Plasma Thruster” (QVPT). NASA has a guy named Harold White experimenting with this. It uses crossed electric and magnetic fields to push against charged virtual particles (or whatever they may actually be,) which exist briefly in the so-called vacuum of space. QVPT could be used to drive spaceships to other planets without using rockets. In effect, the QVPT pushes against the ether to create thrust. If the ether did not exist in some way, these devices would not work.

    • Thanks, Ralph. You’ve really done your homework!

      The Casimir Effect is discussed by physicist Paul Davies in his popular article “Liquid Space” (New Scientist, November 2001). I forget whether Davies referred to the effect under that name, but his description of the phenomenon matches yours. His article appears in the text and bibliography of my book.

      And yes, although it’s not in my book, I’m watching closely the work of Harold Sonny White, the famous engineer who’s been tasked by NASA to research the quantum thruster you describe (also known as the Alcubierre “warp” drive). His Wikipedia entry is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Sonny_White_%28NASA_Scientist%29.

      White’s proposed space-propulsion principle — which NASA and others take very seriously — involves shrinking the “empty space” in front of a spacecraft, while expanding the space behind it, thus creating negative mass. (How does that work? Don’t ask me!) The practical effect would be faster-than-light travel, cheating Einstein. Actually, the ship would not exceed lightspeed within the confines of its own local container-space, since that space is warped. Thus Einstein’s principle — that no mass can travel faster than light — still technically holds true. But who cares, if we really can reach distant stars within a few months, instead of centuries or millennia?

      White’s initial test runs will debut (on a very small, laboratory scale) within a few years. I note that Wikipedia says: “A modified Michelson interferometer will allow the Eagleworks team to detect small changes in space-time and observe a potential warp field effect.” It was the original Michelson interferometer that supposedly disproved the existence of ether. How fitting and ironic it would be, were that same device to provide crucial evidence reinstating ether in its revamped relativistic form!

  5. Thank you dear Gary . I received the book and I love it. I had it before but gave it away to a great thinker, who appreciates it very much.

    • Vahid, I’m glad you like the book. As you’ve no doubt noticed, the new edition is nearly three times as thick as the first edition you owned before. (For details of what makes it thicker, please see my reply below, to Elahe.)

  6. Gary, the one that I have is the 2001 edition in 26 pages and has no comments section. Would you please give me a rough idea of what exactly has been revised or added?

    • Thanks, Elahe. Your question about the “comments section” was prompted by my less-than-clear wording in a Facebook link I posted. Sorry about the confusion!

      The comments section to which I referred on Facebook is the comments section of my website — this website, not the book.

      The book itself, now 70-something pages, adds diagrams and photos, including pictures of many of the physicists quoted. The text is expanded to include updates from newer editions of The Challenge of Baha’u’llah. There also are two sections of all-new quotations from Einstein, showing how his views and terminology evolved throughout his career.

      Although the content enhancements are significant, my favorite thing about the new edition is its look-and-feel. It has the heft, the thickness, the spine, and all the other physical characteristics of a “real book”. The 2001 version is a lightweight monograph, almost too thin to dignify with the name “book”. I’ve had people tell me, “This isn’t a book; it’s just a booklet!” Some days I felt that way myself. When folks would ask me how many books I’ve written, I was never sure whether to count that one. With the new, greatly improved edition, there’s no doubt it counts.

      That said — the gist of the book stands as originally written. Both the 2001 and 2013 editions carry the same back-cover heading: “SOLVED — a century-old mystery!” The solution remains intact, and the version you own explains it completely. Since the original publication, ether has gone from being an obscure historical footnote to a central controversy of mainstream physics. A wealth of new material has come to light during that same interval. However, these developments only reaffirm and reinforce the findings of the first edition.

      • Thanks, Gary. So, it’s getting bigger and bigger. Thank God! You know, I’m a popular physicist; that is, physics is a hobby for me and not my profession or education for that matter. I have more than three hundred books on the subject of quantum mechanics and related issues. I feel there is perhaps a void about this subject in the Baha’i literature; although some speakers awkwardly attempt to relate the Faith to quantum physics, but fail to substantiate their talk for lack of understanding of one or both subjects. So, I’m glad you expanded your book and hope to see more on the subject. Otherwise, I will have to do something about it myself… And I’ll be on the lookout to buy your book .

        • Three hundred books — wow! You certainly have me outclassed and outgunned. Next time I need insight into superstring theory, bubble universes, inflation cosmology, or whatnot, it’s you I’ll yell to for help.

          My earlier (1993) book, The Challenge of Baha’u’llah, represented my own possibly awkward attempt to relate the Baha’i Faith to quantum physics. When I shared the pre-publication manuscript with advance readers, most advised me to remove all the science sections, especially the physics stuff. They argued that despite my intention to translate everything into plain English, the material was inherently “too technical” for a mass audience. I’d lose everyone (they insisted). Keeping the material in would marginalize the book by placing it “over the heads” of its audience. (But none of those advance readers considered the material over their own heads! I notice little clues like that.)

          After prolonged soul-searching, I chose to leave the material in the book (chapter 5). Part of my motive was that I wasn’t really writing for anyone else; I was writing the book I would have wanted to read if I were investigating the Baha’i Faith as a not-yet-Baha’i. But I also believed that a mass audience is perfectly capable of following modern science, and finding it fascinating. A science writer’s job is to speak plainly, in popular language, without dumbing down the material. I also noticed that Stephen Hawking’s book, A Brief History of Time, had spent more than a year at the top of the NY Times bestseller list while I was working on mine. And his, by whole orders of magnitude, is vastly more technical.

          How did that work out? Well, as I’ve noted elsewhere, the most vocal, most consistently positive feedback I’ve gotten on Challenge has been on the science sections — particularly on the quantum-physic ones. Those accolades have come from ordinary people just learning about modern science, from pop-physics enthusiasts like you and me, and from top-level professional physicists. Your own 300-book library on the topic may be atypically large, but your level of interest is not: There are a lot of us out here. And you’re of course correct: Baha’i literature has yet to fully address that interest.

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