Page 7: An Obsessive Compulsion I Call Freedom

"The force that through the green fuse drives the flower / Drives my green age..."
        Dylan Thomas (1934)

  1. The culmination of my life occurred during the week between April 24 and May 1, 2005. I was in New York City with friends to attend operas and a play. My friends had scheduled more performances than I and they enjoyed dining in Zagat-rated restaurants while I walked the streets and visited cheap, exotic eateries.

    While walking, I envisioned a new class of electronic devices. The visions were of Quad Nets. I had been reaching towards visions of Quad Nets for 35 years. My visions of Quad Nets satisfied my need to obtain practical knowledge, in the fashion of an engineer, about the origin and nature of freedom in human intelligence.

    I saw how a system of electronic devices could exercise freedom much as I was exercising freedom while walking the streets of New York City. I saw that a single, common principle of freedom unites activity patterns in Quad Nets, activity patterns in brains and patterns of pedestrian and vehicular traffic on the streets. The traffic patterns are the result of patterns of signals set by traffic engineers while exercising freedom and of each person exercising freedom for himself or herself by selecting a route of travel. The patterns interact with one another through structures of time control.

    The first device I imagined got the name "Broadway," after the boulevard that runs through mid-town Manhattan. Running diagonally, Broadway meets major avenues at Columbus Circle and at several "Squares," interchanges for traffic going cross-town, up-town and down-town.

    I saw that vehicles and pedestrians resemble nerve pulses, Broadway resembles the spinal cord and the "Square" interchanges act like spinal nerve complexes or yoga chakras, e.g., the nerve complex where the spinal cord branches to a person's arms.

    Imagery of "Broadway" turned into Image 19 of the Quad Nets paper. The flow of pulses in the device part resembles patterns of traffic signals and vehicles in a Broadway "Square." The activity of the device part resembles activity of a part of nervous system.
    The Quad Nets paper was published online in the Fall of 2006. The first Timing Devices paper followed. These two papers are points of origin for my psychology of deeds and resemblances and for my investigations into resemblances shared by disciplines of physical science, civil law and the Christian religion.

  2. As a boy, I was avid for science. I still recall text and images from one of my favorite childhood books, All About the Atom. I built crystal radio sets, moved on to vacuum tubes and soldering irons, studied QST, listened to worldwide short wave stations, learned Morse Code and got an amateur radio license. I saved allowance and gift money to buy a chemistry set. Zinc plus sulfur or saltpeter/sulfur/charcoal (gunpowder), obtained in various ways from various places, provided propellants for rockets launched by a neighborhood group.

    My parents, Albert and Carolyn Kovsky, were both Doctors of Optometry; and I read interesting parts of their pre-war copies of Grey's Anatomy and Zoethout's Physiology. Upon reading that gray matter in the brain had the nearly-unique characteristic of being unable to repair itself, I concluded that memory and experience must have a destructive effect on brain tissue, and that the non-repair characteristic must have a useful function, such as preserving a memory of an experience.

    When I became enthusiastic over an ad for a $20 toy computer (with switching logic), "Geniac," in Science Digest, my parents went to a lot of effort to get one for me. I wanted to build a copy of W. Grey Walter's light-seeking motorized "tortoise," Machina speculatrix, described in The Living Brain; and my father took me to an engineer who concluded that it was not realizable with available components. (I achieved that youthful goal recently, in a different way, with designs for "engineered organisms" in the timing device papers.)

    My high-school science teacher, Frank Gasper, obtained the electrical interiors of some illegal pinball machines that were being incinerated by the county. There were about 60 relays and related hardware in various formats and configurations. I spent most of my senior year re-constructing them into a rudimentary computer that performed five-bit arithmetic computations.

  3. I graduated from MIT in 1968, Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, with enrollment in honors societies Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu. Special studies involved interactions of electromagnetic fields with materials in motion, both in theoretical formalisms (thesis adviser Prof. H. A. Haus) and through construction of and work with electrohydrodynamical devices in the laboratory of Prof. James R. Melcher.

    In graduate studies through the Physics Department at U. C. Berkeley, I chiefly studied phase changes in metallic materials in the Materials Science Department; and investigated a possible Ph.D. thesis under Prof. Gareth Thomas that would have used electron microscopy to study electro-thermally-induced phase changes in a certain class of metallic materials. (Google "Ovshinsky chalcogenide" for technical details.) Prof. Arthur F. Kip generously provided a lab. As discussed below, these investigations were the primal source of conceptions leading to Quad Nets and my brain theory.

  4. I left academic science and engineering in 1971, receiving a degree of Master of Arts in Physics. The reasons for my departure, explored below, included enlargement of my consciousness as a result of new activities, e.g., backpacking, encounter groups and political activities, and on my conclusion that the conceptual environment of physical science was confining and limited.

    Thereon, I commenced professional education at the Boalt Hall School of Law at U.C. Berkeley, receiving the J.D. degree in 1974. Since that time, I have supported myself as a lawyer, chiefly providing legal research and writing services to other attorneys.

  5. At a critical moment during graduate school, I attended a course on Onsager's thermodynamical relations, an arcane subject in chemistry and physics. The course was rather curiously given by a professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department. The subject matter is a texture of mathematics based on convenient suppositions about sub-microscopic properties of materials - "linearity" is the most important such supposition. Directly addressing me during one lecture, the professor described physics as a "rich but narrow specialty," referring to cosmological pretensions surrounding the Onsager relations, which had been extolled as "a universal natural law" during Onsager's 1968 Nobel Prize Award ceremonies. I silently concurred but concluded that, for me, the judgment was not limited to physics.

    {Onsager was also a leading researcher into the Ising Model and Critical Point Theory; and I depend on his work in this area for the technical basis of Shimmering Sensitivity, my proposed approach to questions of consciousness and freedom. It is in this area that Onsager's work does indeed involve universality, but not of a cosmological kind. His achievements in this area were singular and extraordinary, called the "Onsager Revolution," by researcher/historian Cyril Domb.}

To be continued...


... A Witness for Freedom (opening page)

Contents of the Testimony.

The Quad Net Family of websites:

Quad Nets:  engineered designs for brain-like devices.

Timing Devices:   the original presentation of the timing devices model; timing devices are a special class of devices within the more general class of Quad Net devices. Timing devices show that brains are not computers.

Shimmering Silences in Beautiful Music -- suggesting a new psychology of classical music, as a paradigm for larger classes of activity, using a timing device system named "An Ear for Pythagorean Harmonics." Materials are in an early stage of development.

Embodiment of Freedom:  integrated models - based on Quad Nets - of brains and experience, physics and psychology. This site was a former project and has earlier views of matters yet to be stated here. Development of the former project has been superseded by the present site, Testimony of Freedom, that will re-state prior models and extend the inquiry into social and spiritual matters. (The site includes the Archive of materials from 1992 to April of 2005.)

Copyright © 2009 Robert Kovsky