Over the weekend I attended the Annual Conference of SSE (Society for Scientific Explorations) at Yale, and it was a mind-boggling reminder of many quirky features of nature that remain unexplained, and largely ignored, by “main-stream” science.

The SSE was founded 35 years ago with a goal of bringing scientific rigor to the study of anomalies. Some 600 active members continue that quest today. Over the past 3 days more than 35 papers and presentations including original research, research replication and research summaries on a wide range of topics including bio fields and energy healing, out of body and near death experiences and parapsychology as well as novel findings on water chemistry and low energy electromagnetic effects on health. Several presentations, including mine on emergence and intention (see: The How and The Why) also addressed foundational questions in physics, cosmology and the philosophy of science.

Water and Earth

Some of the most surprising findings were reported by Dr. Gerald Pollack of the University of Washington. Specifically, water demonstrates remarkable properties under naturally occurring conditions by forming electric charge gradients, which means positively charged water molecules move to one side and negatively charged water molecules move to the other side. This separation takes energy. It turns out the energy source is ambient infrared radiation from the sun, which is similar to light but invisible to the human eye. These charge gradients can be very powerful and have been shown in the lab to create strong flows through tubes in an aqueous medium. This effect may answer a key anomaly in biology that has never been addressed – the fact that the pressure of a beating heart is inadequate to account for the energy required to push blood cells through the capillary structures of the body.  

Dr. Pollack also noted that energy from the sun also builds a daily cycle of energy charge gradients between the earth, which holds negative charge, and the atmosphere, which holds positive charge. If you are wondering if there is any science to the idea that walking barefoot, spending time in nature or hugging trees is beneficial to your health – this is it! In addition, however, Dr. Pollack speculates that this daily charge gradient (which follows the path of the sun around the earth) may contribute to the observed pattern of easterly lower elevation trade winds, and westerly higher elevation jet streams. These energy flows may also add rotational energy to the earth’s spin – a factor that helps address another anomaly. It has never been clear how the earth’s initial inertial (spin) rotation could possible have been sustained over the earth’s entire history. Orbiting objects, including the moon, eventually lose rotation and end up with one face towards the gravitationally dominant partner. Perhaps additional research can confirm if the charge gradients produced by the sun solves that problem.

Science and Dogma 

Several presentations touched on the philosophy and culture of science. One common theme was the risk that “accepted science” can and often does slide into “dogma.” The powerful idea that only physical objects and forces that we can observe and measure can possibly have causal influence is one such dogma, sometimes labeled physicalism, scientism or materialism. I have written previously about this issue here.

The cure to dogma is humility, and the willingness to consider the possibility that the view you hold so strongly may be wrong. Indeed the history of science is replete with mistakes, missteps and reversals. In order to remain healthy, and to grow, the enterprise of science must remain open-minded and self-critical. Indeed, the same can be said of all human enterprises – including politics, religion or business. Sometimes, the recipe for progress is water (see:  What We Can Learn From Swamps), and sometimes it is fire (see: What We Can Learn From Fire).

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