Christian Huygens – Did his invention pave the way for the biggest revolution the world has ever seen?
Christiaan Huygens is a very smart over-achieving Dutch physicist and mathematician. He helped in the development of modern calculus. He discovered Saturn’s moon Titan. He was the first one to observe the Orion Nebula through a telescope and drew its sketch.
What’s more, Chris is the one who formulated what is now known as the second law of motion… the net force on a body is equal to its mass multiplied by its acceleration. (But Chris formulated it in a quadratic equation. Isaac Newton reformulated and generalized the law, gave it a catchy name, and made it popular.)
But the one thing Chris is best known for is the invention of pendulum clocks! The pendulum clock – invented during the Christmas of 1656 – was a major timekeeping breakthrough. In fact, it was world’s most accurate time keeper for more than 270 years – from 1656 all the way to 1930s! (Since then, the world has switched to the much more accurate quartz clock standard – invented in 1927. But that’s another story.)
Sympathy of Two Pendulum Clocks
In 1665, Chris – now 36 years old – was severely ill. While lying in bed, he noticed something wondrous. The two pendulum clocks on two opposite walls in his room always swung so that each pendulum was precisely opposite the other. Even if he intervened and disturbed the rhythm – the pendulums always synched back up the same way on their own and within 30 minutes. Chris described this phenomenon as “the sympathy of two clocks!”
The World Synchronizes Itself
Since then, many others have observed this synchrony in nature.
- Biological scientists have found that many species of fireflies synchronize and flash together.
- There are 10,000 pacemaker cells in your heart. And each of them could have their own beating rhythm. But they don’t. All of these 10,000 cells synchronize together – making sure your heart beats coherently.
- Scientists have found that the menstrual cycles of women living together often synchronize.
- Behavioral psychologists have found that huge crowds always clap in synchrony. Next time, try disturbing the clapping rhythm in a crowded room by being half a second late. You’ll find the entire room of hundreds of people match your claps within a few seconds!
Understanding synchronization has led to new technological breakthroughs too! For example, understanding and developing a system of synchronized light waves led to the invention of laser (used in everything from printing to eye operations today)!
But the biggest breakthrough due to synchronization is happening in the world of neuroscience! Some neuroscientists now believe that what distinguishes conscious-ness from other forms of brain activity is the synchronized firing of the cells involved at specific frequencies close to 40 cycles a second.
Synchronizing & Optimizing Thinking Patterns
Can you imagine the potential of forcefully synchronizing your conscious thought by firing specific frequencies to… improve your mood…become more confident… accelerate intelligence… improve your concentration powers… remain more alert and energetic?
How to Synchronize Brain Waves
The question arises: how do you actually synchronize your brain thought waves to a specific frequency? And this time, the solution doesn’t come from scientists. Rather, it comes from a very unexpected source: the Tibetan Zen monks!
Herbert Benson – a professor at Harvard Medical School – heard rumours about how Tibetan monks could control their rates of metabolism and their body temperature simply by meditation.
In 1979, when the Dalai Lama came to visit the Harvard University, Herbert Benson asked him about it. The Dalai Lama assured that these rumours were true. And also promised to help Herbert out in his research. In 1982, Herbert Benson visited India to meet a few of the Tibetan monks and involve them in experiments to test the rumour out.
The experiment: In a monastery in northern India, thinly clad monks sat down in a chilled room where the temperature was 40 degrees Fahrenheit. These monks entered into a state of deep meditation using a yoga technique known as “g tum-mo.” Long cloth sheets soaked in cold water (49 degrees Fahrenheit) was then placed over the monks shoulders.
If you or me were placed in such a situation, we would shiver to death. But steam began arising from these sheets on the monks’ shoulders. And within an hour, the sheets were dry!
A monk prepares to go to an advanced stage of meditation while his vital signs are measured.
Realize that conscious thought arises in the cerebrum part of our brains. While rates of metabolism, body temperature and other automatic body functions like breathing and heart beats are managed by the brain stem (medulla). The medulla works 24/7 without our conscious interference – whether we are awake or asleep.
But these Zen monks had apparently found a way of firing specific thought frequencies that interfered with the subconscious medulla!
Further research showed that anyone could learn these deep meditation techniques. But it would take as many as 20 years to master them.
By deconstructing the meditation process, it was found that these monks entered into deep states by the power of focused thought and the use of “mantras”. Mantras are phrases that you repeat over and over again that help you in meditation.
Sidenote: In India, where many villages don’t have any electricity and no hot water, kids are taught to brace themselves against cold showers by repeating the mantra “ra-ma-ra-ma-ra-ma-ra-ma.” Apparently, the phonemes “ra” and “ma” help in generating body heat.
Ah-ha! The short-cut solution was to make use of sound waves to trigger specific thought waves!
Everyone knows that music affects your emotions and moods. Some science also shows that listening to Mozart improves your intelligence. So could we take the power of sound one step ahead and use it to synchronize our brain waves?