Confinement and Liberation

As I study natural processes, especially in the context of physics, I see 2 fundamental explanatory factors in play. I have referred to these factors as ‘Binding Action‘ and ‘Freedom Seeking‘ in the past. Perhaps a better terminology for these fundamental factors would be ‘Confinement’ and ‘Liberation‘.

Minimum number of explanatory factors is 2

In the realm of the mind we have to have at least two factors to explain things. One factor cannot be explanatory. The minimum number of explanatory factors is 2.

Many philosophers tried to answer the question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Most promising answers start with the pair concept (two aspects, two polarities, etc.). Throughout history, philosophers and sages have used various pairs to explain the deeper reasons for existence. In the East, Purusha/Prakriti, Yang/Yin and many other pairs have been expounded. In the West, philosophies based on dialectics were very influential. Another Western pair concept is worth mentioning here.

“The [hypostatic] union is made out of two elements, one active, one passive; the active element subsists per se, but can only act through the other; the passive element need not subsist per se, but is the means by which the active element acts.” – Leibniz

Explanatory factors are supposed to be independent but…

The two fundamental factors are supposed to be independent but we know deep down that no two factors are really independent. Besides, our two factors have to couple for anything interesting to happen. Fundamental coupling may manifest in many different ways. The two fundamental factors can have many inter-play modes. There may be intra-play modes within each factor as well. We could build rich models of Reality if we knew the characteristics of these modalities. But, we don’t!

Full understanding of the inter-play and intra-play modalities between ‘Confinement‘ and ‘Liberation‘ factors may not be possible. The proposed project is as difficult and as big in scope as the String theory discussed in physics. Until someone demonstrates the usefulness of this approach by establishing the connections to physics nobody will be convinced.

What about 3 or more explanatory factors?

The fundamental pair of explanatory factors is the starting point. As we try to explain phenomena we realize that more explanatory factors are needed. This is why, in the East, the theory of 3 gunas emerged because more detailed models of Reality could be constructed using 3 explanatory factors.

Ancient philosophers of the Western world tried to explain physical phenomena using 4 factors (earth, fire, water, air). In the Eastern world, in addition to the 3 gunas, there were also the 5 factors: akasha tattva (etherial factor),vayu tattva (aerial factor), tejas tattva (luminous factor), apa tattva (liquid factor), ksiti tattva (solid factor). 

Too many explanatory factors in physics

The problem in physics is that there are too many explanatory factors. This is a reflection of how little we know about natural processes.

In Quantum Field Theory (QFT) there are multiple quantum fields that function as explanatory factors. Physicists say that quantum fields are fundamental and particles are incidental. What is an electron? Electron is a ripple on the electron field? What is a Higgs particle? It is a ripple on the Higgs field.  So far only the electromagnetic force and the “weak nuclear” force have been unified in a theoretical framework. The “strong nuclear” force and the gravitational force could not be brought into the unification framework. Maybe it will be more productive to work towards the unification of the fields rather than the forces.

Some might argue that “field” and “force” are just two different words referring to the same entity in QFT. There is a subtlety here. There is the electron field and there is the electromagnetic field. The units of these fields (electron and photon, respectively) interact. QFT does not unify the electron field and the electromagnetic field. Rather, QFT describes the interaction among the units of these fields. 

Unification of the collective entities (fields) is more difficult than finding a unified description of the interactions among the units of those fields. With QFT we are able to explain the interactions between electrons and photons but we are unable to explain what electron is or what photon is. If we could unify the electron field and the electromagnetic field we would then have a unified description of electrons and photons.

QFT fields can be classified into matter fields and force fields. According to QFT each particle type has its own distinct matter field. Similarly, each force has its own distinct field as well. Higgs field is rather special. The quantum of Higgs field is known as the Higgs particle which is the only non-spinning (spin=0) elementary particle in nature. Elementary matter particles (electrons, neutrinos, quarks) have their distinct fields as well. Interactions among quarks are carried by gluons which are units of another distinct field.

It is also possible to see the space-time of General Relativity theory as a field but, as you can imagine, we are far from understanding the relationship between the force/matter fields and the space-time field. Field unification may actually be impossible because of the crazy multiplicity of fields. There is no fundamental principle that promises field unification anyway. As useful as it is, the “quantum field” concept may not yield to unification after all.

Short hand notation

Let’s refer to ‘Binding Action‘ or Confinementas \mathbb{C}

Let’s refer to ‘Freedom Seeking‘ or ‘Liberation‘ as \mathbb{L}

Nature loves to hide

Ancient Greek aphorism says “Nature loves to hide”. I suspect it is true.

\mathbb{C} acts and \mathbb{L} reacts. This is a simplistic description. The inter-play and intra-play modalities can be very rich. \mathbb{C} is relentlessly active and \mathbb{L} is relentlessly reactive and they are both very innovative. I suspect the {\mathbb{C},\mathbb{L}} interplay keeps evolving with many innovations in all stages of manifestation. If so, is there any hope for humans to comprehend any part of the Nature Play?

It seems to me that human intelligence, human intuition, and the insatiable desire of humans to know more is part of the Divine Play which is bigger in scope than the Nature Play. We are meant to understand some of the mechanisms, patterns and modalities of the Nature Play.

Modern science is doing its best in this regard. I firmly believe that there must be an all-out effort. This effort should include independent scientists and philosophers as well. In today’s world anyone can publish their ideas but reaching scientific consensus is becoming more difficult. It is very hard to attract the attention of influential physicists. Regardless of reception, we are supposed to present our ideas in a timely manner.

Classification is the first step

Classification is an important part of analysis but we should be aware of its limits. Sometimes classification is presented as physics. In particle physics there is overreliance on group theoretical analysis. We all accept that classifying elementary particles based on their intrinsic spin is a very important insight but unfortunately we are still far from a fully explanatory theory of elementary particles.

I will try to classify domains of physics based on whether they are primarily expressions of \mathbb{C} or \mathbb{L}. As I said, classification is not physics but it is an important first step to develop insights.

Gravity is an expression of \mathbb{C}

Gravity binds all because gravity cannot be shielded. With the exception of the magnetic force which can extend vast distances, other forces of nature are shielded. Outside of the atom there is only a fraction of the electric force, just enough to facilitate chemistry. The other two, the strong and the weak nuclear forces, are confined to the nucleus of the atom and they are completely shielded. Gravitational force, on the other hand, operates in the microscopic world and operates in the macroscopic world without any hinderance.  

If gravity is an expression of \mathbb{C} what is the \mathbb{L} reaction to gravity? In the case of stars the \mathbb{L} reaction manifests as thermonuclear processes in the core of stars. In the case of Black Holes more interesting \mathbb{L} reactions may be possible. Gravity – an expression of \mathbb{C} – forms the Black Holes but due to the quantum effects – expressions of \mathbb{L} – Black Holes evaporate in time. This process is known as Hawking radiation. In addition to Hawking radiation there may be other types of \mathbb{L} reactions in Black Holes.

Quantum effects are expressions of \mathbb{L}

When a particle is confined it starts exhibiting quantum behavior. For example, the position and momentum of an electron confined to an atom cannot be measured simultaneously. The energy levels of the confined electron becomes quantized.

In general, a confined particle tries to escape the confinement by exhibiting quantum behavior. This may involve the effects mentioned above, or particle-wave duality or many other effects. In other words, quantum effects are expressions of \mathbb{L}.

Intrinsic Uncertainty

According to Quantum Mechanics, the more precisely the position of a particle is determined, the less precisely its momentum can be known, and vice versa. If you locate the particle you will not know its momentum precisely and if you measure its momentum you will not know its location precisely. This is known as the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

It is important to emphasize that quantum mechanical uncertainty is not statistical uncertainty. Quantum mechanical uncertainty is not related to measurement errors either. Quantum mechanical uncertainty is intrinsic (ontological) uncertainty.

The root cause of intrinsic uncertainty is the {\mathbb{C} , \mathbb{L}} interplay. Measurement process is an expression of \mathbb{C}. For every \mathbb{C} action there has to be an \mathbb{L} reaction. As \mathbb{C} tries to achieve precision in the measurement of a physical attribute, \mathbb{L} will react by creating uncertainty in other attributes of the system.

Quantum fluctuations

Quantum Mechanics and its descendant Quantum Field Theory claim that vacuum is not empty. Vacuum is full of virtual particles flickering around the real particles. Vacuum fluctuations are also known as zero-point fluctuations or simply as quantum fluctuations.

Virtual particles cannot be observed directly but their effects can be measured in terms of their contribution to various physical attributes. For example, the measured value of electron magnetic moment can only be explained by the presence of vacuum fluctuations. This is about possibilities. If a certain type of particle is observed in particle collider experiments even for a fraction of a second then we know that this particle can also exist as a virtual particle therefore represent a possibility. We have to take that possibility into account and calculate the impact of that virtual particle on the physical attribute in question. When we do this with all the known particles the calculated value of the electron magnetic moment agrees with the measured value to an incredible precision (0.2 parts per billion). Casimir effect and Lamb shift provide more evidence for vacuum fluctuations.

Ontological basis of quantum fluctuations is the {\mathbb{C}, \mathbb{L}} interplay. \mathbb{C} is always stirring to create elementary particles. \mathbb{L} reacts by trying to prevent formations of elementary particles. This constant tug-of-war between \mathbb{C} and \mathbb{L} manifests as fluctuations in the quantum field.

Quantum Entanglement is an Expression of \mathbb{C}

Many experiments have demonstrated the reality of quantum entanglement. Clear expositions of quantum entanglement are rare. I highly recommend Frank Wilczek’s article at the Quanta magazine titled “Entanglement Made Simple“. Another exposition I recommend is this article by Sabine Hossenfelder.

When a system of 2 components are quantum entangled certain regions of the probability space of that system are removed. This can be interpreted as system being confined to the remaining regions of the probability space. This is an expression of \mathbb{C}. There will be a \mathbb{L} reaction trying to restore the original state of the probability space. The \mathbb{L} reaction manifests as correlations between the entangled components. These correlations can be non-local but remember that non-local quantum correlations are non-signaling. In other words, these non-local correlations do not violate the universal speed limit (speed of light in vacuum) which applies to all entities carrying information. Caveat: I do not know whether the classical concepts like space and time and associated principles like the universal speed limit are valid concepts over extremely small distances.

Gluons are Expressions of \mathbb{C}

Inside the atomic nucleus there are nucleons (protons and neutrons). Inside each nucleon there are quarks and gluons. The term gluon refers to the quantum of the “strong nuclear” force which holds quarks together. Gluons also bind protons and neutrons together in the atomic nucleus. Gluons are pure \mathbb{C}.

We owe the existence of atoms to gluons. Atoms other than hydrogen have multiple protons in their nucleus. Without gluons the electromagnetic repulsion among the protons would split the nucleus apart. In the case of hydrogen which has a single proton in its nucleus gluons are also very important because without gluons the proton itself could not exist.

Free quarks have never been observed. In particle colliders such as LHC (Large Hadron Collider) proton-proton collisons create a tremendous stir within each proton and the proton is split apart but even then quarks cannot break free. The tremendous force of the proton-proton collisions at LHC may form various mesons (quark-antiquark pairs) or baryons (bound states of 3 quarks) but it is impossible to isolate a single quark. Similarly it is impossible to isolate a single gluon. Energetic gluons quickly turn into other elementary particles.

Photons (force carriers of the electromagnetic force) do not interact with each other because photons do not carry any charge. In contrast, gluons (force carriers of the “strong nuclear” force) always interact with each other. Gluons and quarks carry the so-called “color charge” which is the root cause of their interaction among themselves and the reason why quarks and gluons can never be isolated.

\mathbb{C} is singularity seeking

\mathbb{C} is very strong, stronger than anything we can imagine. \mathbb{C} is so strong that without the opposing effects of \mathbb{L} there would be only singularities in the universe.

The subject of elementary particle formation is ignored by physicists. They compute the probabilities of various outcomes but that’s not understanding. There is no established theory that explains how fermions are created in pairs. There is no established theory that explains how gluons turn into other particles. I strongly suspect that in the formation of elementary particles \mathbb{C} is the main factor. \mathbb{C} is singularity seeking. Elementary particles would be total singularities without the singularity-fighting processes of \mathbb{L} which manisfest as quantum effects.

\mathbb{C} is more general than string tension

In the context of String Theory of physics the string tension explains why elementary particles are so small. The string tension is assumed to be so large that it shrinks the string (open or closed) to the minimum size allowed by the quantum uncertainty principle. Clearly, the string tension is another expression of \mathbb{C}.

What is the difference between saying ‘\mathbb{C} is very strong’ and “string tension is very large?” In the physical realm we are talking about the same principle. The important point is that the {\mathbb{C},\mathbb{L}} interplay is more general than physics. The {\mathbb{C},\mathbb{L}} interplay is present at the pre-physical stage as well.

\mathbb{C} forms cognitive cores

Elementary particles have intrinsic properties such as charge and spin that determine the particle behavior as much as the surrounding forces. Various charges and spin constitute the cognitive core of elementary particles. Similarly, the nucleus of an atom, the nucleus of a biological cell, the nucleus of a galaxy functions as the cognitive core. Behavior of entities can be partially explained by the attributes of their respective cognitive cores.

Any explanation of change requires both concepts: cognitive core and interaction. One obvious example, of course, is the evolution of organisms. DNA is the cognitive core. Environment is the interaction. Evolution of an organism is partially determined by its DNA and partially by the environment.

Explanation of change (evolution) gets more complicated after the emergence of the brain/mind which may be considered by some as the third category of explanatory factors. I see “mind” as a blend of the “cognitive core” and the “interaction” categories.

Can cognitive cores exist without interaction? Cognitive core is a resultant of \mathbb{C} while interaction is a resultant of \mathbb{L}. Therefore, cognitive cores cannot exist without interaction because there has to be \mathbb{L} reaction to \mathbb{C} action.


Energy originates from the cognitive core. The forward motion that emerges from the cognitive core is the freedom seeking energy which is an expression of \mathbb{L}.

If freedom seeking (kinetic) energy is an expression of \mathbb{L} then potential energy is surely an expression of \mathbb{C}.

Since cognitive cores are formed by \mathbb{C}, cognitive cores must contain potential energy. Cognitive cores emanate kinetic energy but they also contain potential energy.

I will make a bold claim here by saying that any expression of \mathbb{C} manifests potential energy. Similarly, any expression of \mathbb{L} manifests freedom seeking (kinetic) energy.

In the physical stage of manifestation, examples of cognitive cores are: nucleus (charge,spin,mass) of an elementary particle, nucleus of an atom, nucleus of a biological cell, nucleus of a galaxy. These nuclei certainly contain potential energy.

Other examples of cognitive cores are codes or information that partially determine the behavior of an entity. DNA is certainly a cognitive core of this kind. Certain symbols could have this functionality (partially determine the behavior of an entity) as well. Those kind of symbols contain potential energy.

No progress until we discover the inter-play and intra-play modalities

Classification is not physics. We need to discover the inter-play and intra-play modalities of {\mathbb{C},\mathbb{L}}. Mathematical presentation of those modalities will help the physicists to work out the implications in physics. The new framework may simplify certain calculations, and hopefully point to new physics.

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