Parallels between Quantum Theory and ‘predictions’ in the ancient Indian ola (palm – Naadi) leaf horoscopes By
S. N. Arseculeratne
MBBS (Cey.), Dip. Bact. (Manch.), D.Phil. (Oxf.)
Emeritus Professor, Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya,
Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
The aim of this paper is to document a prominent feature of the ancient Indian ola (palm) leaf (Naadi) horoscopes on which two previous articles have appeared in the Journal (Arseculeratne 1998/1999; Arseculeratne & Sambandan 2001/2002); possible parallels between this feature and Quantum Theory, as discussed by physicists, are documented in the present paper.
The striking feature of these horoscopes is that data on the past, up to the time of their reading, is invariably and remarkably accurate, including names, events, attitudes of the subject. The accuracy of predictions for the future varies from accurate (for upto 32 years in one of the cases referred to earlier – Arseculeratne 1998/1999), to predictions that were partially accurate or inaccurate; reasons for this difference were suggested in that article were non-fulfilment of propitiatory measures, or accumulation and operation of new karmic accounts in the present birth. But these do not totally explain why the past was so accurate while the predictions for the future vary in their accuracy. The contrast with conventional astrology is marked; readings by the latter methods seldom
or never, in the experience of the author, have this dichotomy. It was suggested by some physicists at an international conference on parapsychology in Vishakhapatnam, India in 2006, where this phenomenon and its study were presented, that the ola horoscope ‘dichotomy’ problem with an accurate past but a variable future has a parallel in Quantum Theory, in the physics of fundamental particles. A discussion of this problem with two academics, a physicist and an engineer, is summarized below, while the author of this article makes no claim to be
an expert on Quantum Theory.
The parallels Newtonian mechanics is capable of dealing with macro-bodies e.g. billiard balls or planets. Prediction of all the mechanical properties associated with such an object is, in principle, possible provided (a) the forces acting on the object (including the location of the forces for a finite-sized object) and (b) say for example, initial information
(velocity and position) is known. “… in the old ‘classical’ physics, particles had definite properties.
They had precise velocity and precise position… However, from the viewpoint of quantum mechanics
(which, with Relativity theory, is the basis of modern physics) this is not so. Before a measurement is made – an observation of the system – the properties of a particle are indefinite. It is the case that the particle covers, or fluctuates over, a range of positions (or velocities) simultaneously” (Eysenck & Sargent 1982). Werner “Heisenberg showed that, at the subatomic level at least, you can’t ever know all the initial conditions of a situation – at best, you are dealing with probabilities and statistics” (Macrone 1994); commentators on the variability in accuracy of predictions in the ola horoscopes also regarded these ‘predictions’, in contrast to the accurate readings of past events, in terms of probabilities rather than specific predictions.
2. With subatomic particles, Newtonian Formalism (or its variations such as those of D’Alembert, Lagranges, and Hamilton) fails to deal with the dynamics of them, whose ultimate nature is controversial; e.g. is the electron a particle or a wave? Quantum Theory was developed to deal with these entities. It was not possible to make accurate
predictions, e.g. of the position or velocity of an electron; only a spectrum of several ‘probabilities’ could be derived from Schrödinger’s equations, expressing the probability of occurrence of the possible values in terms of a ‘wave function’, or more elegantly from the Dirac’s formalism which shows the equivalent of Heisenberg or Schrödinger
formalisms of Quantum Mechanics. When one of these ‘values’ or alternatives is realized (measured) by an actual experiment, the other probabilities ‘collapse’. Which value will be realized in the experiment? Quantum Theory can only predict the probability of occurrence of each possible value and nothing more. As the sum of the
probabilities must be unity, at least one of the values should always be realized. A quote from Einstein “Was Einstein a Buddhist?” appears to be relevant to this problem: ( http://home.btclick.com/scimah/einstein.htm ):
“… Both quantum theory and Buddhist teachings on sunyatā suggest that as soon as an observer’s mind makes contact with a superposed system, all the numerous possibilities collapse into one actuality. At some instant one of these possible alternative universes produced an observable life-form. The first act of observation by this mind caused the entire superposed multiverse to collapse immediately into one of its numerous alternatives”
Could there be an analogy of future events in ola horoscope predictions with subatomic particles in that probability theory could deal with both of them? If so, then an ola horoscopic prediction might fail as much as only one of several alternative ‘probabilities’ concerning the behaviour of subatomic particles might prevail while the
others fail. The key word in both instances is the ‘future’, dealings with which necessitate a theory of probabilities for the future. To repeat the quote from Eysenck & Sargent (1982); “… in the old ‘classical’ physics, particles had definite properties. They had precise velocity and precise position… However, from the viewpoint of quantum mechanics (which, with Relativity theory, is the basis of modern physics) this is not so. Before a measurement is made – an observation of the system – the properties of a particle are indefinite. It is the case that the particle covers, or fluctuates over, a range of positions (or velocities) simultaneously”. Does this qualification “… before a measurement is made…” equate with the ‘future’ in the ola reading, and in which the events are equally
indefinite? Eysenck & Sargent added: “… the particle we measure only acquires a precise velocity when we measure it”; does this equate with the accurate past in the ola horoscope at the time of the reading, and the uncertainty of future events?
As a commentator on the ola horoscopes wrote: “The question remains that at the time the ola were written, everything was in the future. How then did the writer predict so accurately the (past) events that would be given at the time of the reading? I do not think the fundamental puzzle has been fully resolved”. The problem deepens when it is seen that up to the time of reading, which is sometimes remarkably foretold in the leaf, (‘you will get this reading in your mid-fiftieth year’) the facts are accurate; it is only in the future, from the date of reading, that the variations in accuracy occur.
In the case of conventional astrology that deals with the transits, location of the ‘planets’ in the native chart, asterisms in which planets at birth are deposited, and planetary rulership periods and sub-periods, given that the motions of the planetary macrobodies are amenable to Newtonian mechanical calculations, the problem of the
dichotomy between past and future does not arise; if analyses are wrong with this method (for both the past and the future), the reason is probably a faulty horoscope or an incompetent astrologer.
3. Some statements from Explaining the Unexplained by Eysenck & Sargent (1982) seem apposite to this problem and, generally, to the interface between psi [= paranormal phenomena, that include the ola horoscope phenomenon] and Quantum
– “Nevertheless, John Hasted has argued that the many-universes interpretation of quantum physics may help us to explain psi…”.
– these authors consider ‘hidden variables’ in the quantum system, that cause collapse of the wave function; they state that “there are certain reasons for thinking that there might be a link with parapsychology here”.
– they refer to the Einstein-Podolski-Rosen (EPR) paradox – “an observer can affect an event taking place at almost any distance away from him. The collapse of the wave function can be spatially invariant. In certain treatments of this paradox the collapse can have features of temporal invariance”… “These look very like psi events”. “Olivier Costa de Beauregard goes yet further; he states categorically that psi events must occur as a result of the spatial and temporal independence aspects of the EPR paradox”. H. R. Nagendra commented on these views (personal communication 2006): “This is exactly what I explained to you. The past events have happened and therefore belong to the Reality realm of our world. Therefore they are deterministic and can be dealt with by Newtonian mechanics.
The future events are probabilistic. There is an element of freedom given to everyone of us. If we exercise it we will be able to change the course of events.”
The author thanks R. P. U. Karunasiri and Arjuna de Zoysa for discussions on Quantum Theory
Arseculeratne, S. N. 1998/1999, Studies on the paranormal- 1: The Indian ola-leaf horoscopes and the ideas of karma and reincarnation. Sri Lanka Journal of the Humanities, 24/25 (1&2): 231-246.
Arseculeratne, S. N. & Sambandan, S. 2001/2002, Studies on the paranormal- 2: Further investigations on the authenticity of the ancient Indian ola (palm) leaf (‘Nadi’) horoscopes and the question of ‘free will’ versus ‘determinism’.
Sri Lanka Journal of the Humanities, XXVII/XXVIII (1&2): 185-196.
Eysenck, H. J. & Sargent, Carl. 1982, The Physics of Psi. In: Explaining the Unexplained:
mysteries of the paranormal. London, Book Club Associates. pp 133 – 154
Macrone, Michael. 1994. A Little Knowledge: What Archimedes really meant and 80
other key ideas explained. London, Ebury Press.