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vol 8: Many in one
page 6: Money

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1: About
2: Synopsis
3: Development

Next: 7: Tribe
Previous: 5: Fidelity

4: Glossary
5: Questions

6: Essays
7: Notes
8: History

9: Persons

10: Supplementary
11: Policy



a personal journey to natural theology

This site is part of the natural religion project The natural religion project     A new theology    A commentary on the Summa    The theology company


Lecture 6: Money


1 Last week I finished up with a brief outline of my hopes for the last three lectures for 1988:

Why have we gone this way? Why do we seem set on reducing the entropy of our society to zero, destroying all the complex natural structure of our planet in the process?

The answer, in a word, is money. Money is like pure energy at infinite temperature. It has zero entropy. It is the same sort of pure violence as existed in the first moment of the big bang.

Because money has zero entropy it can carry no information. A pure money system has zero fidelity, and can communicate nothing. Money, like the pure energy of a thermonuclear weapon, destroys all structure.

From an historical point of view money and the authoritarian system needed to make money work have brought about the death of the tribe. The tribe, I think, is the natural system for the high fidelity reproduction of human beings.

...I want to begin what I see as the central task of these lecture: the reconciliation of money and tribe.

The plan

2 The work of reconciling money and the tribe has two steps. This week we will translate money and the tribe into physical ideas that are well understood. Next week we will see what information we can gather from the physics generalised in the light of the theory of peace


3 First thank you all those people who have talked to be about these programs. I get the impression that they are becoming easier to understand. I have been hoping for this.

4 The whole exercise has been for me an exploration into unknown territory. I have been trying to test a new compass which I hardly understand. That compass is the entity I routinely call A or The theory of peace.

5 The journey has been going remarkable well. Each lecture is another step forward, but as you know, the consequences of a particular step may not become obvious for a long time. I write each lecture in the heat of the moment, check it for overall consistency, and then broadcast it.

6 In each lecture I try to understand and explain some of the material in the one before it. This way I come to understand my theory better, and as I understand it better, I am in a position to make it more intelligible for you.

7 Your reports of progress suggest that I am getting somewhere. Writing is one of those jobs where it is very easy to go round and round in circles and get nowhere. Because I am getting somewhere, I am beginning to believe that my compass is good. The theory of peace is beginning to get warm, a sure sign of life.

8 I would like you to enjoy these lectures. I realise that they are a bit painful at times, and tend to labour the very very obvious. But as I get to express myself better, you get to understand better and the whole process becomes more peaceful and relaxed.

9 Each lecture is a step, or leap, through space, depending on how you feel about it. For me they are all leaps, and often quite dangerous looking ones at that.

10 Now the leap of imagination that I am trying to get at is the leap of imagination itself. The idea is that the whole universe is nothing but an incredibly interwoven network of interwoven leaps of the imagination, your imagination and mine, and the imaginations of every animal, plant, molecule, atom and subatomic particle in the universe. The activities of all the particles in the universe, communicating with one another, make the system what it is.

11 This is easy enough to say. The real task is to get the fantasy to practicalities. Life is something to be lived, not just thought about, and thought must lead to living. I believe that a route to peace lies through thought. I agree totally with Albert Einstein's dictum: Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be kept by understanding.

12 The fundamental task of that understanding is to remove prejudices. Every prejudice is a blockage in the web of human communication. Each blockage reduces the strength and size of the web, so reducing the security and size of the space in which we live.

13 What the thinking person eventually discovers, I believe, is that there is space in this world for everybody as long as we observe certain conventions in our communication with one another. We can learn these conventions by studying the rest of the universe, because its structure also comes from communication.

14 This study is physics. Physics is just the Greek word for nature. The task of the physicist is to discover how nature works. This information is then passed on to the engineers, who use it to build bridges and transistor radios and radio stations and to cure things like headaches and AIDS.

15 The theory of peace is therefore an hypothesis about nature. Its most succinct expression is the slogan: the universe is mathematics incarnate. The question now is: what does this mean? I am trying to understand its meaning at the simplest possible level

16 My approach is to assume that everything that can be known about the universe can be summed up in a very simple proposition. I have assumed this approach because I assume that the universe began as a very simple particle.

17 Since this particle is in some sense the mother of the whole universe, it must know everything there is to know about the universe. Because is is such a simple particle, this everything cannot be very much.

18 I have decided that the heart of my investigation must be the simplest thing I can imagine. This I take to be something which is one and undivided. What is one and undivided is experience. So we must take experience as our starting point.

19 Experience can be experienced but not communicated as it is. It requires theory to transmit experience. Theory is a particular point of view. When we talk about someone, we do not convey that whole person or even our whole experience of that person. We merely exchange points of view about a person. These points of view are theories, interpretations of that person.

20 Let us imagine communication as a flow of information between two structures, and see what physics can tell us about communication.

Fermions and Bosons

21 Physicists have found it possible to divide all particles in the world into two sorts which are called fermions and bosons. Fermions are named for the physicist Enrico Fermi. Fermi and his colleagues built the first artificial nuclear reactor.

22 The properties of fermions were worked out by Fermi and Paul Dirac. Fermions are said to obey Fermi-Dirac statistics.

23 Fermions are particles with a spin of one half or an odd number of halves. You will have to accept spin as a mystery quality of all particles. Two fermions cannot occupy the same quantum mechanical state, so that they must spread apart and form structures.

24 The electronic structures of all the chemical elements, and consequently their chemical properties, depend upon the fact that electrons are fermions. Life, among other things, depends upon the properties of the chemical elements. I will summarise this idea by saying that fermions are structure particles.

25 Bosons are named for the Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose who studied them and worked out their behaviour in collaboration with Albert Einstein. Bosons have integral spin, and obey Bose-Einstein statistics. Unlike fermions, which cannot occupy the same state and must get away from one another, bosons can occupy the same state and like to flock together.

26 One result of Bose-Einstein statistics is the rainbow. The rainbow is the spectrum of the simplest possible structure in the universe.

27 While fermions are structure particles, bosons are communication particles. The best known boson is the photon, the particle of light or radio waves. Right now photons are conveying the information contained in this lecture from the 2BOB transmitter to the antenna of your radio. There they are interacting with the electrons in the antenna and all the rest of your receiver to bring you the sound of my voice.

28 The whole of the physics of radio transmission (and of life) is bound up in the interactions of electrons and photons. Bosons reflect unity; fermions reflect diversity. The mathematical question of the relationship between one and two is thus reflected in the physical question of the relationship between bosons and fermions.

29 Although bosons and fermions are different families of particles, one can change into the other. The electron and its antiparticle, the positron, are both fermions. When they meet they lose their electronic structure and become photons, that is bosons. It is not necessary for fermions to be annihilated to become bosons. All that is necessary is to bring an even number of them together, like the proton and the neutron in the nucleus of deuterium

30 I believe that this sort of behaviour is so general that we can see it in human beings. We fluctuate between boson behaviour, where we like to flock together, and fermion behaviour, where we like to spread apart. The whole business of designing society revolves around this fluctuation. Sometimes we want to be together and work as a unit. Sometimes we wish to be on our own.

31 Violence enters when people who wish to be apart are forced together, or those who wish to be together are kept apart. The elimination of violence and he organisation of peace seem therefore to have a lot to do with the physics of fermions and bosons.


32 Now I am trying to be scientific, which means that I am trying to base my ideas not just on mathematics, which is the science of number, but on experience.

33 One or two of the comments I have received about these lectures is that there is a bit too much emphasis on my sexual problems with the Catholic Church. I can now reveal both the reasons for this emphasis.

34 The first, of course, is that one is generally unaware of the individual parts of ones body. Parts become conscious only when they experience either pleasure or pain. Pain tends to be localised, pleasure diffuse. Both pleasure and pain drive knowledge. We seek to know to avoid pain. We seek to know to increase pleasure.

35 The catholic system contributed much of the pain that is driving this theoretical exercise. As I experienced it, it did this by trying to cut me into two beings, one sexual and bad; one not sexual and good.

36 By doing this it opened the possibility of finding a physical theory of sexual force. What we discover in nature is that when we try to pull things apart, our efforts are generally opposed by a force. That is why huge rockets must be used to drag tiny satellites from the grasp of mother earth.

37 By trying to separate me into two parts the Church revealed to me the force that bound me together. I have been studying that force ever since, and the theory of peace is my current theoretical understanding of it.

38 The second reason for the interest in sexuality has nothing to do with the Catholic church at all. Recall that the theory is about the relationship between one and two. Recall, also, that it as an attempt to be scientific. That is it is an attempt to marry experience and mathematical theory.

39 Sexuality is an experience of two becoming one, and of one becoming two. Sex is therefore part of the experiential basis of this theory. If it cannot explain the experience of sex, then it has no more claim to be a universal physical theory that a theory which cannot explain the relationships between electrons and photons.


40 How are we to link the idea of unity and separateness? Last week we concluded that the fundamental resource in the universe is bandwidth. Because bandwidth is a resource, it is what limits growth. Since it limits growth, we are all likely to be competing for it and fighting over it. If we wish to eliminate fighting then we have to work out a way to create unlimited bandwidth.

41 How do we relate bandwidth to the idea of one and two? You heard the answer last week. In the process of creating a new human being, two human beings become momentarily one. They become one because the communication between them is so intense that individuality is lost. We will call this state of unity the state of infinite bandwidth.

42 Bosons are linked by infinite bandwidth. This is why they are indistinguishable particles that tend to flock together.

43 Infinite bandwidth explains unity, so we would expect zero bandwidth to explain diversity. Two particles are different when they are not communication with one another. Fermions appear to be distinct precisely because they are not communicating with one another.

Signal to noise ratio

44 We need just one more idea to close the circle and bring us home.

45 This is signal to noise ratio. The beauty of FM radio is that it gives a very good signal to noise ratio. This means that you hear pure clear music without any of that krrrch that characterises a bad radio channel.

46 The pure clear music is the signal. The krrrch is the noise. The signal to noise ratio is the power of the music divided by the power of the noise. A channel with infinite bandwidth is a channel with infinite signal to noise ratio, that means all music and no noise.

47 To get such a channel we need to get rid of all the noise. Before we can do this, we have to know what noise is. For the purposes of this discussion, noise is the same as inconsistency. The elimination of noise means the elimination of inconsistency.

Full duplex

48 I am trying to communicate to you some ideas about communication. What does this mean? I have an idea in my mind, which I call a theory of peace. I am trying to communicate this idea to you. This ideas is encoded in the structure of my brain.

49 My brain is an immense community of nerve cells. These nerve cells are connected together in an intricate web. Each connection is called a synapse. The synapses in the brain are the communication links between the individual nerve cells, and we believe that the information stored in the brain is in some way stored in the synapses.

50 Studies in the synapses in the brain suggest that the way they differ from one another is in the amount of a transmitter substance contained in each. Synapses with plenty of transmitter substance act as a strong link between two nerve cells. Synapses with a small amount of transmitter substance are weak links.

51 As our ideas change, so the quantities of transmitter substance in various synapses changes. Changing the amount of transmitter substance in the synapses is the same as changing the strength of the links between nerve cells.

52 Now my purpose in this lecture is to take the structure which I call the theory of peace and convert it into a string of words that can be transmitted over the radio. My hope is that you, by listening to the string of words, can use it to build a similar structure in your mind.

53 If this operation succeeds, you will end up with an understanding of my theory of peace. I will have taken a structure in my mind, dismantled it into a string of words and communicated them to you. You take the string of words and rebuild them into a structure in your mind. In the language of physics, the theory of peace has gone from being a set of fermions to a set of bosons and back to a set of fermions.

54 Now what are the chances that this operations has gone off perfectly? Very small. As you sit there trying to understand my words, questions keep coming into your mind. What does this mean? What does that mean?

55 You cannot ask me because this is a one way radio. Also it is a mass medium, meaning that one of me is talking to dozens of you. There is no way I could answer all your questions and still get through the program. I am not conversing with you, I am broadcasting.

56 This is not a very satisfactory system, but the best we have been able to manage so far. It is akin to the authoritarian system of government where the central authority makes laws and the citizens have to obey, whether they like it or not.

57 How do we fix this? The communication has got to become a two way process, not a lecture but a discussion. Each round of the discussion will remove a question from your mind and clarify my presentation so that this question does not arise. After enough discussion, the idea will come across perfectly. The bandwidth and the signal to noise ration will become infinite.

58 This is how we see communication working in nature. The flow from boson to fermion to boson is a loop. If we wish to make a precision measurement, the uncertainty principle says that we have to take many circles around this loop. We can measure the properties of an electron to a precision of ten decimal places or more, but only by observing it for a long time. A long time means collecting many photons from the electron. Each photon collected adds to the precision of the measurement.


59 Now at last we can get to a physical understanding of money. There are two flows in the economy, one of money, the other of goods. They are connected by valuation.

60 You can see these flows in operation at the supermarket. A lot of people come in with money in their pockets. They wander round and select a trolley full of goods, each of which has a money value printed on it. Then they take the trolley through the checkout, and put as much money into the till as the total value of the goods that they are taking out of the shop.

61 Goods are like fermions. They have structure. They take up shelf space. You cannot put two packets of weetbix in the same place. They are static. They just sit there until someone comes and takes them away.

62 Money, on the the other hand behaves like a boson. It has no structure, it take up no space. Of course the actual notes and coins take up space, but they are just symbols for the money. You can write a cheque for a dollar or a million dollars on the same piece of paper.

63 In the physical world we get continual interaction between fermions and bosons, and the same happens in the economy. You give some of your life to your employer. Life is a structure, like a fermion.

64 In return you get money, a boson. You take the money to the supermarket and get food. The food gives you energy, that is bandwidth or the ability to communicate, a boson. You use this bandwidth to communicate your knowledge on behalf of your employer, a fermion. You get money, a boson, and so the cycle goes round.


65 I have come to the physical insight I am looking for. I am trying to reconcile tribe and money. Tribe is a human structure, a fermion. Money as a boson. All we have to do now is examine the link between them.

66 The link is valuation. How much should the boss pay me for my activity? A dollar an hour? Ten dollars an hour? Or is my time in fact priceless? How do we arrive at a valuation? Economists tell us that valuation is the task of market forces.

67 In my back paddock is a lovely big forest. How much is it worth? It all depends on how I look at it and what I want to do with the paddock. If I want to put in some pasture, the trees are just a nuisance. It will cost me thousands of dollars to remove them, and so their value to me is negative.

68 On the other hand, I might want the timber. The trees then have a positive value to me. Since many of them happen to be cedar, a timber which is rare and highly valued, the whole forest might be worth quite a bit in positive dollars.

69 But a creek runs through the forest, and it is full of platypuses and other native animals. These are protected, and I will draw a heavy fine if I destroy the creek in the process of logging the forest.

70 The upshot of all this is that there is no definitive valuation for my forest. In the end result its value could be anywhere between a huge positive number and a huge negative number of dollars.

71 What holds for my forest holds for the money valuation of all other things. In the modern world we find that even the valuation of money is not fixed. We have to deal with varying interest rates, inflation rates and exchange rates, all of which have the effect of giving different money values to money.


72 I believe that with the question of valuation we have reached the heart of the matter. The structure of society, ultimately, is determined by the valuations that a society puts on each of the components of society.

73 In practice, this valuation is determined by a mixture of religion, politics and economics. The problem of valuation looks exceedingly complicated, but it must have been solved in the physical world or the universe as we know it would not exist. Bosons are a valuation of fermions. Fermions are a valuation of bosons.

74 Valuation is a measure. In physics it is called a gauge, and modern physical theories belong to a class called local gauge theories. I have made a rough correspondence between tribe, fermion, money and boson. With that correspondence I can now bring some of the physical ideas of local gauge theory to bear on the structure of human society.

75 The results, I believe, will be the hoped for reconciliation of money and humanity. If I can get it together. For me, its back to the drawing board until next week.


Originally broadcast on 2BOB Radio, Taree, NSW on 19 July 1988


Buchan, James, Frozen Desire: the meaning of money, Farar, Strauss and Giroux 1998 Jacket: 'In Buchan's view, money is civilization's greatest invention. ... As Buchan explains, money is "frozen desire" - and because money can fulfill any mortal purpose, for many people the pursuit of money becomes the point of life. In a learned and elegant survey, Buchan illuminates the many differnt views of money across the centuries. ... Whether or not money is humanity's greatest invention, its meanings reveal a great deal about human nature; in showing us what we think of money JB shows is who we are.'  Amazon  back
Groenewegen, Peter, Public Finance in Australia Theory and practice, Prentice Hall 1990 Jacket: 'This well respected and widely used text covering both the theory and practice of Australian public finance has now been thoroughtly updated and revised. The text has been revised with significant expansion of such topics as growth of the public sector, public expenditure analysis, business taxation and broad-based consumption taxation.'  Amazon  back
Hawken, Paul, Natural Capitalism : Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, Little Brown and Company 1999 Traditional capitalism, the authors argue, has always neglected to assign monetary value to its largest stock of capital - namely the natural resources and ecosystem services that make possible all economic activity, and all life. Natural capitalism, in contrast, takes a proper accounting of these costs.'  Amazon  back
Keynes, John Maynard, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Macmillan 1936-1964 fback
Lancaster, Kelvin, Mathematical Economics, Dover` 1987 Preface: 'The book does not aim to push forward the frontiers of economic analysis, but to transport as many economists as possible up to, or within sighting distance of, those frontiers. There are some new results and several revised, corrected and expanded versions of existing results, but these are mere by-products of the more important aim of careful and complete exposition. (vi)  Amazon  back
Powell, Alan A, Inside a Modern Macroeconometric Model: A Guide to the Murphy Model, Springer 1995 Chapter 1: 'The main purpose of this monograph is to give a detailed account of a modern macroeconometric model. ... We believe that the Murphy Model (MM) is the best in the newer generation of macroeconometric models. Its is our hope that the detailed exposure of MM presented in this book will be a useful guide to others setting out to build practical macro models.' (1)  Amazon  back
Sayers, R S, Modern Banking, Clarendon Press 1938-1970 Jacket: 'The book remains an economists's view of the nature of banking an an analysis of the working of modern monetary systems with particular but not exclusive reference to Britain.'back
Smith, Adam, The Wealth of Nations: An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes, Modern Library 1994   Amazon  back


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