Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Final Jeopardy: The Reality Problem

The material below (following the dashes) is from the Introduction to a series of volumes (3 so far) that, collectively, give expression to Final Jeopardy: The Reality Problem. The first volume was released in December 2014, followed by Final Jeopardy: Physics and the Reality Problem Volume II in March of 2015 and Final Jeopardy: Cosmology and the Reality Problem Volume III which was published in late May of 2015. God willing, over the next year, or so, three more volumes will be added to the foregoing series of books, and these latter entries will deal with an array of topics in mathematics (Volume IV), philosophy (Volume V), and education (Volume VI). 
The topics covered to date include: medicine, psychopharmacology, evolution, neurobiology, psychology (all from Volume I), antimatter, constants, entanglement, Higgs mechanism, string theory, quantum mechanics, special relativity, particle physics, unified field theories (all from Volume II), the Big Bang, redshifts, cosmic microwave background radiation,  plasma physics, general theory of relativity (i.e., Einstein's theory of gravity), black holes, dark matter, dark energy, branes, Steady State Model,  and Landscape theory (all from Volume III).
The foregoing themes are engaged through a process of critical reflection which seeks to assess the strengths and weaknesses of much of modern science. The aforementioned volumes are works on and about science ... they are not books on and about: 'Theology versus science'. 
Although the material in the three volumes is not simplistic in nature, nonetheless, everything that is needed to follow the flow of the exploratory ventures taking place in each of the volumes is provided. Consequently, no previous knowledge of science is presupposed, and there are very few equations that appear throughout the contents of those works. 
Nonetheless, each of the three books in the Final Jeopardy series that have been published journey through some fairly complex conceptual terrain, and, therefore, one cannot sleep one's way through the material. Yet, if a reader is willing to put in the requisite effort, those efforts will, I believe, be rewarded many times over. 
I have had an interest in science since first entering high school, and, over the last five decades, I have pursued that interest fairly intensely. Science is an empirically rigorous, precise, and fruitful methodology, but scientists do not know as much about the nature of reality as they sometimes seem to believe -- or are intent on leading others to believe -- they do.
 Daniel J. Boorstin once said: "The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance ... it is the illusion of knowledge."We live in an age that is filtered through the illusion that scientists understand the nature of reality when this is simply not true. 
Over the last 400 years, or so, have science and scientists expanded our collective understanding in relation to a wide variety of topics? Yes, they have, but much of that understanding is fairly limited in nature (with many unresolved, problematic ramifications ensuing from the applications of what is known), and the foregoing three volumes of Final Jeopardy seek to point out some of those limitations and, in the process, separate scientific wheat from various forms of speculative, illusory chaff.
All three books are available through Amazon.com . If someone is interested in purchasing one, or more, volumes in the Final Jeopardy series, all one has to do is go to Amazon and type: Final Jeopardy Whitehouse into the search box, and the three books should appear. They each come in real world and Kindle versions, and, in addition, if someone has Amazon Prime, then, one can access the three books for free. 
Each of the three volumes stands on its own. In other words, one does not have to read Volume I in order to be able to understand Volume II or Volume III, or read Volume I and II to understand Volume III, and so on.
Moreover, the books are written in such a way that the chapters in any given volume do not have to be read in consecutive order. One can skip around the material as one's interests dictate.
Main Introduction
To date, I have written thirty-plus books. For a variety of reasons, the present work might be my last one.
Among other things, none of us knows when the word “Time” may be uttered in conjunction with one’s life. As if participating in some SAT-like test, when the fateful word is said, one will be required to stop in mid-sentence, turn in one’s test booklet along with an accompanying number-2 pencil to the monitors and, then, exit from the room.
Fortunate is the individual who is afforded the opportunities to give written expression to what flows through his or her being over the years … and I have been one of those fortunate ones. However, I am well aware of the fact that the grains of sand that mark the time still left to me are quickly disappearing from the container of my life … and this realization has had an essential role to play in shaping the structure of this book.
I have a few remaining creative projects awaiting my attention on my unofficial ‘Bucket List’. Those entries might, or might not, be completed, but they are not likely to be even remotely as time-consuming as the present book has been and continues to be.
More than two years ago I finished writing my last book (The Unfinished Revolution: The Battle for America’s Soul), and almost immediately began undertaking research for the current work. Some 50-60 books, 70, or so, articles, a variety of DVDs, and a great deal of reflection later, I am ready to try to fill up white space with black lettering – hopefully in a coherent, constructive, and insightful manner.
My last book (Unfinished Revolution) explored areas of: history, legal philosophy, political science, psychology, constitutional law, and economics. The present book is poised to venture into topical areas involving various areas of physics and cosmology.
I envisioned the two works – The Unfinished Revolution and Final Jeopardy (Volumes I, II and beyond) -- to be complementary to one another. I suppose the readers, if any, of the two works will have to make their own judgments on the matter.
In the foregoing paragraph I said “readers, if any”. I do not use the phrase advisedly because there is a very real possibility that no one might bother to read what I have written.
The foregoing possibility is not as ominous as it first appears to be. I am a writer, not an author.
Authors write for an audience. Writers, on the other hand, do what they do irrespective of whether or not there is, or will be, an audience to engage their efforts.
Don’t get me wrong (and notice that in saying this I am acknowledging a hope that someone will be reading my words), I am happy when people buy my books. Over the years, I have sold thousands of books in a variety of countries, but some books have succeeded better in this respect than other literary creations of mine have done, and some of those ‘successful’ books even have ended up on library shelves in a number of countries, including several prestigious universities.
However, there are some exemplars of my literary progeny that lead relatively neglected lives. It is like in those movies where the hero or heroine has written a book and is approached by a member of the audience after a lecture, and the latter individual indicates how much he or she liked one or another book written by the hero/heroine and the latter says with an ironic smile: “So, you are the one.”
A few years ago, I saw the film documentary: Stone Reader by Mark Moskowitz. The film delved into the somewhat strange case of an American writer, Don Mossman, who had written a novel entitled: The Stones of Summer.
For a number of reasons (e.g., the publisher went bankrupt shortly after the book came out, there had been very little marketing for the book, and the writer suffered a nervous breakdown at some point following the release of his work), very few people ever purchased the book. The aforementioned movie contained interviews with a variety of people who had read it and thought very highly of the book.
My wife saw the movie with me and, as a result, was inspired to buy the book. However, although she is an avid reader (and every year at Christmas I buy her a gaggle of books that constitute part of her reading list for the following year), she never was able to get very far with the Mossman novel.
In any event and for whatever reason, there might be many reasons why a book never goes anywhere. An independent bookseller in downtown Bangor, Maine has, on several occasions, been kind enough to display works of mine in his bookstore but has told me on each occasion that unless the book gets reviewed via one means or another, the chances of anyone purchasing my books are slim to none.
While some individuals seem to have the knack to induce others to become interested in what they are doing, I have never been one of those people … though, from time to time, I have tried to accomplish this but with almost invariably null results. Since I publish my own books and because there is no money in the budget to market them, the works tend to get tossed about by the cosmic winds … like some lonely seed that lands on fertile or barren soil as fate decides the matter.
During my research for the current book, I repeatedly was amazed by the number of individuals in the history of science and mathematics who discovered or created something of a very remarkable nature only to have their discovery/creation be ignored by fellow scientists and mathematicians for years, if not decades. I am not sure that what I have to say in this book can be considered to be all that remarkable, but it is strangely comforting to realize that even a very good work can go unnoticed for considerable periods of time.
Ultimately, however, even if no one were to read this book (or some of my other works), I am at peace with such a possibility. My writing is one of the ways that I try to bear witness to the truth … at least to whatever extent I have succeeded in accurately grasping some limited facet of reality’s complexity, depth and vastness.
Howling at the moon, so to speak, through my written words is a sort of modulated primal scream. It is my way of giving expression to an essential dimension of the facticity of my existence.
When faced with a choice between, on the one hand, never managing to have written something or, on the other hand, having managed to write something that no one will ever read, I would always select the latter option. Of course, the best of all possible worlds would be to write something, have it read, and for that piece of writing to have a salutary effect of some kind for those who have encountered it, but I am prepared to live with just being able to write something that I have wanted to write, and the present book is something that I have wanted to write for some time.
Quite independently of whether, or not, someone else reads what I have to say, I have benefitted from every book that has bubbled to the surface from the deep reflective pools within me out of which those creations originate. Writing helps to organize and clarify my thinking, and, then, there is also the amazing experience of seeing ideas and insights emerge during the course of writing that I had not anticipated prior to their appearance in my surface consciousness … as if ‘something’ is teaching me as I go along.
Approximately eighteen years ago, I wrote a book that eventually (after several naming sessions) was given the title: Evolution and the Origin of Life. The work encompassed (through a fictionalized court case somewhat akin to Inherit the Wind) a critical overview of the arguments that were directed toward providing an account of pre-biotic or chemical theories concerning the origin of life.
I sent out copies of the book to a variety of people. Some of those individuals were inclined toward some version of Creationist theology, and some of those recipients were proponents of evolutionary theory.
Neither of the two sides appeared to be interested in what I had to say on the matter. Stated in a slightly different manner, if the individuals I sent the book to did have an interest, that interest was not sufficiently great to induce them to enter into some sort of dialogue with me.
I do recall a conversation with a professor of anthropology from the University of Toronto that took place several years prior to the release of the aforementioned book on evolution. The exchange occurred during a recess that had been called with respect to a meeting about textbook bias that was being held under the auspices of the Ministry of Education for the Province of Ontario.
The professor – I was a graduate student in educational theory at the time – was incensed at, and full of sarcastic contempt for, the idea that anyone (namely, yours truly) could be so ill informed and scientifically backward as to question the truth of evolutionary theory. I was not advancing a Creationist position during the conversation, but, rather, I had a lot of questions concerning an array of lacunae in the evolutionary position with respect to the issue of the origin of life on Earth.
The professor refused to listen to anything that I had to say. He was open-minded, objective, and empirically oriented in a way that all too many professors have been that I have encountered over the years (both as a student and as one of their colleagues) … which is to say: not at all.
Be that as it may, I subsequently decided to add my two cents worth in relation to the great debate on evolutionary theory, and the result was the book: Evolution and the Origin of Life. The book was rooted in considerable research on the subject, and in the process I read, among other works: Watson’s Molecular Biology of the Gene, Lehninger’s Principles of Biochemistry, as well as textbooks on cell biology, cell physiology, developmental biology, membrane functioning, as well as a wide variety of technical research on evolutionary theory.
Upon completion of Evolution and the Origin of Life, I anticipated writing a sequel to that work within a reasonably short period of time … and even intimated as much in an earlier version of the foregoing book’s introduction. However, other projects and issues took priority, and, therefore, quite a few years passed by  -- approximately nineteen years’ worth -- before I could find an opportunity to even begin to pursue the possibility that had been envisioned so many years before.
By the time the foregoing window of opportunity opened up, the original idea for a sequel to the book on evolution became reconfigured in my mind. Although an updated engagement of the evolutionary issue continued to form part of the intended project, I wanted to expand things in a way that also would include forays into methodology, psychology, neurobiology, quantum physics, string theory, relativity (both special and general), cosmology, mathematics, philosophy, and education.
I always have been interested in searching for the truth … whatever the nature of such truth might be. Unfortunately, many people seem to feel there is an unbridgeable chasm between science and spirituality and that the two are involved in some sort of zero-sum game in which one or the other is the winner while the remaining side loses.
To be sure, there are certain kinds of theological perspectives that do not fare well when critically examined in the light of various evidential considerations. Consequently, those individuals who have tied their intellectual fate to theologies that appear to be untenable when filtered through the light of scientific evidence often tend to feel threatened by, and antagonistic toward, the presence of science.
Nevertheless, I never felt that evolutionary theory, quantum physics, modern cosmology, or psychology constituted direct threats to the idea of God’s existence. Instead, I entertained the possibility that the discoveries of scientists were inducements to re-think what I thought or believed I knew concerning the nature of my relationship to the Ground of Being.
Quite frankly, if one were so inclined (which I am not, and the series of volumes that make up Final Judgment is a testament to that fact), one could accept the vast majority of the basic tenets of modern science as true descriptions of the nature of reality and not encounter anything that demonstrated, or even remotely indicated, that God didn’t exist. One might have to rework one’s ideas about God’s relationship to the universe or what the nature of the laws were through which God operated, but there was nothing in science or mathematics that couldn’t be reconciled (and done so relatively easily) with a broader, richer, more nuanced understanding of the notion of an on-going Divine presence with respect to the manner in which the physical and biological universe is manifested in everyday life.
On the other hand, one also could critically examine the tenets of science and mathematics (which the current book does) and ask whether, or not, the best way to engage life should be limited to science and mathematics. Napoleon was once reported to have observed that there was nothing in a book on physics written by Laplace that mentioned the Author of the universe that was being described (the universe, that is, not the Author) by Laplace in the book at issue, and the scientist is reported to have said: “I have no need of that hypothesis”, but, perhaps, Laplace was operating out of an extremely impoverished and distorted hermeneutical framework when he said what he did.
For example, however impressive Laplace’s book on physics might have been, nothing in that book explained how life, reason, consciousness, intelligence, creativity, or language were possible, and, yet, all of these qualities helped make the writing of his book a reality. Therefore, at the very least, Laplace might be considered to have been a tad premature in concluding that he had no need for a hypothesis concerning Divinity with respect to the workings of the universe.
Furthermore, offering a description of something is not necessarily the same thing as providing an explanation for the phenomenon being described. Laplace could describe a variety of physical dynamics with a fair degree of accuracy, and, as a result, he could solve numerous problems in physics, as well as make reliable calculations concerning different phenomena.
Yet, Laplace had absolutely no explanation for what made any of the capabilities underlying his problem-solving and reliable calculations possible. Furthermore, Laplace could not explain why the universe was the way it was, but, instead, he was limited to describing the surface dynamics of only certain aspects of physical reality.
For instance, he could mathematically capture the effects of gravity. However, he had no idea (nor did Newton) what gravity actually was … only that it appeared to operate in accordance with a certain kind of regularity that could be described through mathematics.
Since the nineteenth century, scientists and mathematicians have added considerable detail that, in a variety of ways, both altered and deepened their understanding of such descriptions. Yet, there are still many, many unanswered questions concerning why the phenomena of the universe have the properties and qualities they do.
Given the foregoing, one is led to the following problem: How should one proceed? Are science and mathematics the best way forward, or should one entertain some other possibility, and, if so, what would the latter possibility entail?
In 1959, C.P. Snow, a chemist and novelist, delivered the Rede Lecture at Cambridge University. The first portion of his presentation addressed the idea of ‘two cultures’ and how those cultures seemed to be at loggerheads with one another in Western society and, as a result, were impeding the chances of making progress with respect to solving a variety of problems in the world.
The term: ‘two cultures’ alluded to the different kinds of social, intellectual, historical, and behavioral values that led to the rise, respectively, of the sciences and the humanities. Among other things, each culture seemed disgruntled with the ‘fact’ that individuals who were members of a given culture were largely illiterate concerning the nature of the culture to which they did not belong.
Scientists didn’t appear to know much about the humanities, and proponents of the humanities didn’t appear to understand much about the nature of science. When they talked with one another, their words seemed to tumble, unheeded, into the great darkness that surrounded and separated them.
I tend to believe the only culture that is worthy of being pursued is that which is dedicated to pursuing the truth. Neither scientists nor advocates of the humanities necessarily have priority when it comes to the issue of truth or the nature of reality … although each set of individuals may have important (but far from exhaustive or definitive) contributions to make with respect to such an endeavor.
When I was an undergraduate at Harvard back in the mid-to-late 1960s, I wrote a thesis and was required to orally defend it. During these latter proceedings, a member of the examination committee noted that he didn’t see much of current research reflected in my thesis, and he was right since I didn’t feel that current research in my field (which was psychology) reflected much of reality … although there were bits and pieces here and there which I considered to be of interest and value.
In other words, the criticism being advanced by my examiner appeared to be that I wasn’t a true card-carrying member of the culture of psychology, and, apparently, this was in some way troubling to, or disconcerting for, that person. I encountered the same sort of mindset later on during graduate school (in two different programs at two different universities) and, as a result, spent sixteen years in exile before discovering a way -- and a set of people – that would permit me to tangentially touch down long enough in such a culture to be able to obtain a doctorate.
While I certainly can’t claim that I have cornered the market on truth, the search for truth has always been close to my heart and mind. At different points in my life, the nature of the search was shaped and colored by my interests at the time.
For example, early on, I engaged things through religious filters. Then, over time, I tried on scientific, philosophical, psychological, political, and mystical glasses … each pair of lenses filtering reality through its own unique qualities.
Despite various differences among the foregoing sorts of filters, all were framed by the same kinds of questions: Who am I? What is the purpose, if any, of life? What is the nature of reality? What is the good, or the just, or the moral?  What makes reason, consciousness, intelligence, creativity, language, and life possible? What methods should I employ to seek the truth? How should I proceed in the face of incomplete and/or uncertain information?
When one is young, the future seems to be a matter of limitless possibilities. One feels confident that one has enough time within which to arrive at reliable answers for all one’s questions, but funny things happen on the way to the forum of final destinations.
Now, here I am, some five decades later, and I still am embroiled in the same questions, problems, and issues noted previously with no guarantee that I am any closer to the truth than I was all those many years ago. One major difference between then and the present, however, is that I strongly suspect that I don’t have much longer to come up with an answer for the problem of reality … the endless horizons of youth have been telescoped down to the ramshackle room of old age whose surrounding walls are moving relentlessly inward.
In some ways my situation reminds me of the television show Jeopardy. More specifically, after the contestants have gone through several rounds of providing answers in the form of questions, toward the end of the show the participants are confronted with the challenge of the ‘Final Jeopardy’ phase of the program.
During this facet of things, the contestants are given one last question by their host, Alex Trebek. The former individuals can bet as little or as much as they like from the funds they have available to them for having correctly answered questions raised in the earlier part of the program.
The three participants contemplate their respective financial situations and reflect, in silence, on the answer that is to be given in response to the ‘Final Jeopardy’ question. If a person bets a lot and is wrong, then, depending on what other contestants do, he or she likely will not be the individual who will get to appear on the next edition of Jeopardy to defend her or his title. On the other hand, if an individual bets a little or a lot and gives a correct answer to the ‘Final Jeopardy’ question, then – and, again, depending on what other contestants do -- that person may come out on top and get to participate in a future show … maybe even face off against a computer somewhere down the road.
The fact of the matter is: Whether we like it or not, we are all engaged in our own version of Final Jeopardy. The question for all of us is: What is the nature of reality? The bet we are placing is doled out in the denominations of our lives, and the period we spend contemplating our response – with or without the accompanying Final Jeopardy music -- represents the time we have left on this Earth to form an answer.
Of course, the existential challenge with which we all are faced is a lot more complex than the sorts of categorized factual questions that are asked by Alex Trebek. Consequently, it might be a little cumbersome for any of us – per program rules – to state our answer in the form of a question, and, therefore, perhaps the rules of the real life form of Final Jeopardy should be relaxed a little to permit contestants to write, in declarative form, as little or as much as they like in responding to the Final Jeopardy challenge.
This book (and the other volumes in the series) represents, in a sense, my response to the aforementioned Final Jeopardy question – namely, what is the nature of reality? I have no idea whether the answer I am giving is right or wrong, but I am fully committed to the answer being expressed, and in that sense I am betting my life that the answer being stated herein is correct … more or less.
Now, Alex Trebek is a pretty smart guy and has studied philosophy during his years of attending university in Canada. However, I’m not sure that he has been supplied by the ‘powers that be’ with the official answer to the foregoing Final Jeopardy question.
However, at the risk of mixing metaphors, I have it on good authority that the following words of Ed McMahon have been heard reverberating in and around us as we contemplate the nature of our answers to the Final Jeopardy question:
"I hold in my hand the envelopes. As a child of four can plainly see, these envelopes have been hermetically sealed. They've been kept in a #2 mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnall's back porch since noon today. No one knows the contents of these envelopes, but you, in your borderline divine and mystical way, will ascertain the answers having never before seen the questions."
The Great Carnac supplied many questions to many answers. Our task is to supply one answer to one question.
Will the answer I offer match the one to which reality gives expression? Will the answer you give in response to the Final Jeopardy question reflect the nature of reality?
Some people might wish to claim that the whole Jeopardy analogy is irrelevant. In other words, irrespective of whether, or not, a person decides to answer the foregoing existential dilemma, there are no actual consequences with respect to how – or if – we respond to the Final Jeopardy question.
For example, such individuals might say none of us is in any actual jeopardy to lose opportunities in relation to participating on future shows. Or, no one is going to come along after the fact and be able to authoritatively inform a person that the answer she or he has offered is correct (or not). Or, irrespective of whether one is correct or incorrect, nothing follows from it … we give our answers (or refrain from doing so) and that is the end of the matter.
Now, the foregoing sorts of considerations might, or might not, be correct. In a sense, they are the kinds of answers that some individuals might give in response to the Final Jeopardy challenge … but that is all they are: Responses to the Final Jeopardy question.
They don’t settle anything but are themselves in need of settlement. Furthermore, the people who give the foregoing kinds of answers are betting their lives that they are correct with respect to such matters.
Even if one were to suppose that this Earthly life is all there is to existence, the Final Jeopardy challenge remains relevant. How a person responds to the reality problem tends to shape his or her life, and, therefore, the manner in which such an individual spends her or his: Time, money, resources, and talents will be affected by how that person engages the Final Jeopardy challenge.
None of us knows when “Time” will be called in conjunction with our lives. Every moment of our existence is, in effect, spent in Final Jeopardy, and every moment of our lives – whether, or not, we are cognizant of this -- is confronted with the problem posed by the Final Jeopardy question: What is the nature of reality?
Moreover, irrespective of how one might feel about all of this, one is, nonetheless, required to give an answer to that question. This is so even if that answer – like those contestants on Jeopardy who do not answer the final question because they don’t want to risk whatever funds they have -- is not to issue any formal response.
I have a preliminary – and, at this point, a fairly general -- hypothesis concerning how to go about answering the Final Jeopardy question. More specifically, as valuable as science and mathematics are, I do not believe they can provide an adequate response to the Final Jeopardy challenge with which we all are faced.
This is not to say that science and mathematics couldn’t form part of any such answer. Rather, the foregoing claim is, in part, a way of alluding to the fact that science and mathematics are committed to the long game – that is, the process of searching for the truth over a period of decades, centuries, if not millennia.
Furthermore, the depictions of reality that science and mathematics provide tend to change on a fairly regular basis. This is not necessarily a bad thing … especially if that changing understanding is able to describe different facets of reality with increasing accuracy.
Nonetheless, the average, current lifespan of a human being in the United States is 75 years, or so (a figure that varies in relation to such factors as: geographical location, gender, socioeconomic status, and so on). The truths that science and mathematics might discover 50 years from now will be of absolutely no assistance to the individual faced with the Final Jeopardy issue now – especially if those future “truths” change again another fifty years on further down the road of progress … life demands its answer in the present, not in the future.
However, there is an additional set of reasons for why I do not believe that science and mathematics should form the essence of a person’s approach to addressing the challenge posed by the existential counterpart to Final Jeopardy. Just like many theologians, some scientists and mathematicians often cannot distinguish between their theories and reality … not because the former necessarily reflects the latter but because there often tends to be all manner of interpretation that permeates those theories and weaves available “facts” into an understanding or filtering system that might not serve truth very well.
In fact, surprisingly, there seems to be a great deal of “magical thinking” in the mental processes that some scientists and mathematicians exhibit. In other words, there appears to be a tendency among some scientists and mathematicians to suppose that because they think that something is the case, therefore, this means that this is the way reality is, and, consequently, it is the way they want the rest of humanity to understand the nature of reality … and they will go to considerable lengths to control political decisions, media presentations, academic programs, and the distribution of resources in order to serve their approach to things.
Quantum theory, special and general relativity, evolution, neurobiology, cosmology, and mathematics all – each in its own way -- suffer from the foregoing sort of malady. I believe that scientists and mathematicians can describe a great many phenomenal aspects of the universe with considerable accuracy, but I also believe that scientists and mathematicians actually understand, or are able to fully explain, much less than what they seem to suppose is the case.
Terms such as: randomness, infinity, space, time, dimensionality, evolution, field, energy, redshifts, mass, virtual particles, gravity, and so on are thrown around as if the individuals uttering them knew what they are talking about. However, I don’t believe such people necessarily understand what they are saying … even as they seek to convince other people that they do.
Much of what follows is a critique of the modern, scientific worldview, along with some commentary directed toward philosophy and education. During the process of exploring various facets of methodology, evolution, neurobiology, psychology, quantum physics, string theory, special relativity, general relativity, thermodynamics, cosmology, mathematics, philosophy, and education, I try to preserve what I consider to be of value in such areas while simultaneously attempting to point out what I believe are many of the problems and questions that permeate those same areas.
Along the way I seek to provide an overview of what I think a plausible and defensible response to the Final Jeopardy challenge might look like. That response includes science and mathematics, but it also goes beyond those pursuits in a variety of ways.
Beginning in the late 1950s, I have had a tendency – unplanned though it might have been – to focus on issues of science and mathematics from time to time. Usually, and for whatever reasons, those forays almost invariably have occurred during the last three or four years of a given decade, with an occasional overlap, here and there, that might have extended into the first part of the following decade.
Since I might not make it to the latter part of the present decade, I have jumped the gun somewhat and decided to put forth -- before the mid-point of the current ten-year period -- what might well be my final kick of the can concerning such matters. However, even if I were to live to the end of this decade -- and perhaps beyond -- I am not sure that I would have the energy, health, or command of faculties to undertake another go around in relation to science and mathematics … so, carpe diem.

Should any actual readers decide to engage this book, I hope that engagement provides you with as many ideas to constructively reflect upon as the process has that encompassed my research and entailed the writing of this book. Whether you find yourself in full agreement, partial agreement, or substantial disagreement with the contents of this book, I hope that your answer to the Final Jeopardy challenge will serve your pursuit of the truth well in both the present and as well as in conjunction with your sojourn into the Big Sleep … perchance to dream.