Towards A Science Of Life As Creative Organisms ~ Norm Hirst June 1, 2008
Read Norm Hirsts paper published in Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy  Click Here

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How Life Dances Us into Being

Here in Mae Wan Ho's beautiful descriptions, we go deep into the organism life, in which we all exist, to learn how it is creating us, with wonder and magical order. She calls it Quantum Jazz. Enjoy this read.

What is quantum jazz? Mae Wan Ho

Quantum jazz is the music of the organism dancing life into being, from the top of her head to her toes and fingertips, every single cell, molecule and atom taking part in a remarkable ensemble that spins and sways to rhythms from pico (10-12) seconds to minutes, hours, a day, a month, a year and longer, emitting light and sound waves from atomic dimensions of nanometres up to metres, spanning a musical range of 70 octaves (for that is the range of living activities). And each and every player, the tinniest molecule not withstanding, is improvising spontaneously and freely, yet keeping in tune and in step with the whole.

There is no conductor, no choreographer, the organism is creating and recreating herself afresh with each passing moment.

That’s why ordinary folks like us can walk and chew gum at the same time, why top athletes can run a mile in under four minutes, and kung fu experts can move with lightning speed and perhaps even fly effortlessly through the air, like in the movie Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon. This perfect coordination of multiple tasks carried out simultaneously depends on a special state of wholeness or coherence best described as “quantum coherence”, hence quantum jazz.

Quantum coherent action is effortless action, effortless creation, the Taoist ideal of art and poetry, of life itself.

Maximum local freedom and maximum global coordination

Quantum coherence is a state of maximum local freedom and maximum global coordination. There is no equivalent for that in the mechanistic paradigm that dominates mainstream biology and mainstream discourse, in which the local and the global, the individual and the collective are inevitably in conflict. But quantum jazz says it all. It shows just how mistaken the dominant paradigm is.

It is all explained in my book The Rainbow And The Worm [2]; hope you’ll all read it.

It’s about the physics of organisms in place of the physics of dead matter in mainstream biology and the world at large. It is why we are stuck in debates about the hazards of mobile phones and genetic engineering, or the benefits of complimentary medicine. There is nothing in mainstream biology that deals with wholeness or coherence, nothing that tells you how, because the whole body is interconnected, even very weak electromagnetic fields could be harmful or, if appropriately applied, beneficial. And because we fail to see nature as an interconnected whole, life appears entirely as a struggle for survival of the fittest, one against all and all against nature. We wage wars and exploit our planet to death.

Let me concentrate on basic biology for now, on what happens inside the body.

Where the biology of dead matter fails

Prof. William Stewart, now Chair of the Health Protection Agency, told the BBC and The Guardian last year that children under eight should not use mobile phones, and those between 8 and 14 should use them only when absolutely necessary [3] (Mobile Phones & Brain Damage). He issued the same warning five years ago when he chaired an independent enquiry that resulted in the report, Mobile Phones and Health, which was ignored. A new report was published last year, which said there are possible health implications from new research but still no hard evidence.

The new research was a large Europe-wide study, lasting four years and costing more than 3 million euros that once again eschewed any suggestion that electromagnetic fields from mobile phones and other sources are health risks even though they confirmed some disturbing findings that mobile phones do terrible things to the genetic material of cells [4] (Confirmed: Mobile Phones Break DNA & Scramble Genomes).

The biggest barrier to progress in understanding the biological effects of weak electromagnetic fields is simply that there is nothing in conventional mechanistic biology and physics, the physics of dead matter, which could make sense of them [5, 6] (Fields of Influence pt. 4 - The Excluded Biology; Non-Thermal Electromagnetic Field Effects).

Contrary to the picture perpetrated in biology textbooks, which is largely a projection from our dysfunctional hierarchical social organisations, there is no controller versus the controlled within the organism. No instructions emanating from some central controlling agency to the line managers and onto the workers. Furthermore, the organism is not a machine made of replaceable molecular nuts and bolts controlled by the genes working in linear causal chains, as genetic engineers would have us believe.

Biochemist Henry Kacser at Edinburgh University was among the few who really understood biochemistry and genetics ahead of most of his peers [7]. He coined the phrase in the 1970s - “molecular democracy of distributed control” - to describe how all the molecules actually work together, with lots of feedback and feed-forward loops.

Indeed, since the early 1980s, molecular geneticists have already discovered the fluid genome, a molecular dance of life in which messages fly back and forth between the genes, the organism and the environment, not infrequently changing the genes themselves.

The reality is that each and every part of the organism is intercommunicating from moment to moment. Each player, down to an individual molecule, is as much in control as it is sensitive and responsive. And that’s what the organic whole is about, as opposed to a mechanistic whole.

You can read about that in my book, Living with the Fluid Genome[8]. And get further updated on these important issues, on life, the universe and everything in successive issues of our must-read magazine, Science in Society.

Pioneers of the physics of organisms

I’d like to tell you about some of the scientists who have inspired my work. First among them, quantum physicist Erwin Schrödinger, who dared to ask the big question, What is Life in his book first published in 1944 [9]. And he devoted the last chapter of that book to the meaning of life.

Schrödinger began with the statement: “..present-day physics and chemistry could not possibly account for what happens in space and time within a living organism”, and proceeded to explore what kind of physics and chemistry was necessary.

He is usually credited with having predicted DNA as the genetic material, but that’s only half of the story. The other half of his book dealt with the problem of coherence, how organisms could function as a perfectly coordinated whole, and that half is still missing in present day mainstream biology. My book The Rainbow Worm is an update on the big question What is Life, on coherence, and also, the meaning of life.

Here are some other pioneers. Ludwig von Bertalanffy of general systems theory [10], Ilya Prigogine of the theory of dissipative structures [11], and Kenneth Denbigh [12], the thermodynamics of the steady state. In different ways, they, too, grappled with the major problem that life could not be understood in terms of the physics of dead matter.  I was especially inspired by Kenneth Denbigh, whom I came to know personally, and with whom I corresponded on his thermodynamics of the steady state, which I extended, with his approval, to derive the “zero-entropy” model of the organism and sustainable systems.

Yes, I soon noticed that sustainable systems are just like organisms. Based on that, we plan to set up a zero-waste, zero-emission food and energy farm to tackle climate change and the energy crisis [13] (Dream Farm 2 - Story So Far). So answering the big questions can often lead to useful applications.

Now, back to why organisms could be sensitive to electromagnetic fields. Researchers such as Harold Saxon Burr starting in the 1930s [14] and Robert Becker in the 1960s to 1990s [15] had detected electric fields in developing embryos and adult organisms, and provided evidence that electric currents and fields are what the body uses for intercommunication, to function as a coordinated whole, to heal itself, and in some cases, even regenerate lost parts. But this line of research has been almost completely ignored by mainstream biologists to this very day [5].

There is no excuse for that, as electric currents flowing throughout the body, even from single cells, can be detected with the highly sensitive SQUID (superconducting quantum interference device) magnetometer, which has been used in imaging the electrical activities of the brain starting in the 1990s [6].

Another scientist who greatly influenced me, and whom I came to know, was solid-state physicist Herbert Fröhlich [16, 17]. He pointed out that the organism is densely packed with dielectric molecules (as in a solid-state device), which both react to and generate EMFs, and hence the laws of solid-state physics would apply to the organism as first approximation. He proposed that the energy the organism gets by metabolising food could ‘pump’ the living system into a state of “coherent excitations”, the way that pumping energy into a solid-state device could make its light-emitting atoms vibrate in concert to produce coherent light or laser.

The term “coherent excitation” is wonderfully evocative. Think of a motley collection of dancers responding to the seductive rhythm of good music, and working themselves up to a frenzy of excitement when they end up moving in coordinated fashion without being choreographed to do so.

Unlike an ordinary laser light that’s coherent in a single frequency of EMF, the living organism is coherent over a multitude of frequencies spanning many orders of magnitude, 10 or more. As a result, the organismis sensitive to the entire range of EMFs, from the extremely low frequency radio waves to the microwave region and beyond, because it is effectively tuned by its coherent activities to all those frequencies.

The usual denial that very weak electromagnetic fields cannot have any effect is based on the argument that the energies in these fields are “below the thermal threshold” of random motions of molecules, which will certainly swamp out the signals. But coherently vibrating molecules, far from swamping out the weak signals, will sum up their response to the weak signal, and hence result in a substantial effect. To use another analogy that engineers understand, the organism is like an exquisitely tuned receiver (and emitter) for EMFs over the widest possible range of frequencies.  That’s why the quantum jazz of the organism is so fantastic; its antennae are tuned to signals from many frequencies, even those from faraway galaxies, and will respond to them with new music. But its music could also be sabotaged by malignant interference.

The rainbow worm and the coherence of organisms

While I was coming to grips with all those ideas, we made a remarkable discovery in my laboratory that gave concrete evidence to Fröhlich’s hypothesis.

By half-accident, we found that all living organisms – especially those that are most actively moving around – look like a dynamic liquid crystal display in all the colours of the rainbow [2, 18, 19] (what you saw in the video just now), hence the “rainbow worm”. The first rainbow worm I set eyes on was the fruit fly larva, and I had been working with the fruit fly for 15 years by then, and never suspected I would see it in that light.


Recent Papers

Value-Intelligence In All Creative Organisms ~ Skye Hirst with Assistance from Norm Hirst. August 2010

Robert Hartman discovered a value intelligence inherent in all life as early as the 1950's but he was ahead of his time.  Now learn how this value lens is formed within and how we can access it using the HVP.

Using the Hartman Value Profile as used in coaching by Hirst she discovers the absolutely unique inner landscape within that each individual has developed, we discover the world of values and value dynamics/intelligence from which we human beings and perhaps all organisms find effective action for life and living.
Published in The Robert S. Hartman Institute Annual Journal CLICK HERE

What People Are Saying

 What I Learned from Norm and Sky Hirst And How It Changed My Life
by Rodney Plimpton

Before I met Norm and Skye I had a pretty good handle on how Life worked, or so I thought.  I had a PhD in Social Psychology from Stanford, had studied Human Potential for Five years with Jean Houston, knew all about stimulus-response and something about cybernetics.  I didn’t consciously realize how much my model of life was based on a popular concoction Darwinism, materialism, elitism, and computer science.

Medicine in a New Key

Conventional medicine is dying ultimately because it is based on an obsolete dominant mechanistic model that does not recognize the coherence of the organism

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho explores how a science of the organism could underpin a new organic medicine that would best serve the nation.

Visit to learn more.

New organic Way for Medicine

The philosophy of Hans Jonas inform this paper by Schwartz and Wiggins to surmount the mind-body dualism plaguing Western thought. They show us the ways of organism; the difference between inorganic and organic reality and how each being must begin from its own direct experience of life in self and in others; and then how the two meet in the living being.  Since life is ultimately one reality, their theory presents the polarities that must be reintegrated by psyche with soma such that no component of the whole is short-changed, neither the objective nor the subjective.  Here they define the polarities within living beings and the requirements of organisms to live and thrive.



"The creation of significant form is the basis of knowledge, possibly for all living species; it holds the key to aesthetic experience in science and art, and depends on the inextricable entanglement of all beings in nature." ~ Dr. Mae-Wan Ho