Science in Society Archive

Announcing new book 27/01/16

Meaning of Life & the Universe

By Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, World Scientific, ISBN 978-981-3108-85-1

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This collection of essays is selected from about a thousand works written over a period of 46 years. They elaborate on what it means to live in a quantum universe as opposed to a mechanistic universe. With quantum physics and chemistry as the pervading theme and reference point, the essays range over philosophy, anthropology, psychology, evolution, genetics and epigenetics, non-equilibrium thermodynamics, consciousness, neuroscience, art and the humanities, quantum electrodynamics of water, fractal mathematics and cosmology. In the process, practically every subject is rewritten in a new synthesis that redefines and transforms life itself. It is indeed my personal quest for the meaning of life and the universe.

I was fortunate to have encountered many teachers and mentors in my quest, most of them are mentioned in the essays. In particular, I am indebted to Fritz Albert Popp, who taught me almost everything I know about quantum theory. Another towering figure was Kenneth Denbigh, who gave me a thorough lesson in thermodynamics, a subject I singularly failed to learn as an undergraduate, and also most generously encouraged and helped me to extend his own theory of the steady state to the far-from-equilibrium regime, which eventually became the circular thermodynamics of organisms and sustainable systems. James Clegg’s work initiated me to the special state of water in organisms, leading to our discovery that it is liquid crystalline. Emilio del Giudice, honoured with a special essay in this collection, taught me quantum electrodynamics and the crucial importance of light-matter interactions.  Last, though by no means the least, Mohamed El Naschie introduced me to the fascinating world of discontinuous and non-differentiable mathematics, which may well describe the fabric of the quantum universe.

I also have numerous collaborators who are listed as co-authors of papers cited in the references. Among them are those with whom I have shared key discoveries, dreams, and adventures, and many exhilarating hours in and out of the laboratory. Franco Musumeci, a great friend, teacher, and fellow dreamer, generously invited me to work in his Catania laboratory for many years with Agata Scordino and Antonio Triglia on biophotons (pioneered by Fritz Albert Popp), which has not been supported by any funding agency to this day. Michael Lawrence made it possible for us to discover the liquid crystalline Rainbow Worm. Julian Haffegee and Zhou Yu Ming were my graduate students whose ingenuity and enthusiasm carried us through good times and bad. Stephen Ross volunteered in our laboratory for some years and produced the first quantitative analytical imaging software for collagenous and other liquid crystalline tissues.

Outside of scientific circles, I was most fortunate to have met pioneering ecologist Edward Goldsmith, who introduced me to indigenous knowledge, anthropology, and more; and Martin Khor, Vandana Shiva, and Chee Yokeling, who turned me into a science activist, and led me to the view that science is reliable knowledge of nature that enables us to live sustainably with her. They were instrumental in helping to set up the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) to reclaim science for the public good in all respects. We have been successful, thanks to Julian Haffegee, one of our founding members, who has remained with us ever since, and especially to fellow scientist Joe Cummins, already a champion of the environment, who joined us within the first years, and wrote numerous submissions to the US Environment Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration on our behalf. He is no doubt responsible for any good these agencies have ever done. Joe was among the first to warn of genetically modified organisms, the threat of neonicotinoid pesticides to bees and many other things that escape the mainstream media. Sadly, Joe died 8 January 2016 as this volume is going to press. He was a great friend, a kind, gentle and generous soul, and a pillar of strength when it comes to defending the environment and the public good.

Finally, without the love and support of Peter Saunders, my husband, collaborator, and co-conspirator, none of the essays would have been written, nor the scientific research carried out, nor the inspiration that gave birth to them.

With the exception of the poem “Why say consciousness?” published here for the first time, all other essays are based on previously published works. They have all been edited for style and to minimize repetition, updated, and annotated. Some essays are combinations of several articles. For these reasons, they depart from the published works to varying extent, while remaining faithful to the original themes.




Anthropology, Philosophy & Psychology

  1. Natural Being & Coherent Society
  2. Towards an Indigenous Western Science
  3. Organism & Psyche in a Participatory Universe

Evolution, Genetics and Epigenetics

  1. Epigenetic & Developmental Dynamics,
  2. How Development Directs Evolution  
  3. Nurturing Nature
  4. No Genes for Intelligence in the Fluid Genome
  5. Natural versus Artificial Genetic Modification & Perils of GMOs
  6. Non-Random Directed Mutations & Quantum Electrodynamics

Consciousness & neuroscience

  1. The Biology of Free Will   
  2. Quantum Coherence & Conscious Experience
  3. Why Say Consciousness?                                                               

Art & Science

  1. Significant Form in Science & Art
  2. Why Beauty is Truth & Truth Beauty

Thermodynamics of sustainability

  1. Sustainable Cities as Organisms,
  2. a Circular Thermodynamics Perspective

Quantum Electrodynamics of Water & Life

  1. Water the Means, Medium & Message of Life
  2. Illuminating Water & Life, Essay in Honour of Emilio Del Giudice

Fractal mathematics & the Fabric of Nature

  1. Story of Phi
  2. Space-time is Fractal & Quantum Coherent in the Golden Mean

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There are 12 comments on this article so far. Add your comment above.

Fran Singer Comment left 29th January 2016 02:02:46
I have shared this on my Facebook timeline. Looking forward very much to reading it. How do I pre-order copies? Thanks

algimantas k bronisas Comment left 29th January 2016 04:04:31
a frog leapt on from underfoot a CONSCIOUS particle to boot lepton,lepton,lepton.....the human being thinks unconsciously until Consciousness reflects the thinking process and then one becomes self aware......Consciousness is thus the essential ingredient involved in every human discovery and insight, scientific or otherwise.....we may be dazzled by the ever increasing complexity we discover, minutely examining matter....when the intensity of expression of matter,eludes our further understanding...we "discover" energy, now ,this largest remaining duality must somehow be unified,dark matter and dark energy are posited as further solutions but remain evasive,the new theories of multiple dimensions and multiverses open doors to further inconceivable possibilities........meanwhile all around us stones are(slowly)becoming conscious .......2500 years ago a Chinese sage,Chuang Tzu said"something true seems to govern-but I cant find the least trace of it.It acts,nothing could be more apparent,but we never see its form.It has nature but no form.If we go looking for its nature,there is nothing to find."Bhudda had bravely defined the "it"as the consciousness within which, "all is one"........the "real"unified field...don't stop looking!

carole Comment left 28th January 2016 20:08:17
It is a little bit unnerving that war has been declared on the organization that bears the same abbrev. name as yours..Has it occurred to you to possibly change it? BTW, I think I would love to read the book. many thanks, carole

Charles McEwan Comment left 28th January 2016 02:02:08
Looking forward to publication date2

Suni Nelson Comment left 28th January 2016 05:05:41
I wonder if I could promote this on my website page:, Birthing Future Earth Paradigms. I have followed your newsletter for a long time as early on intuit, nature communicator, nature artist, classical pianist, art therapist, later delving into holistic health consultant; always knowing science, the arts, spirituality were one. You explain it. Look forward to reading this book as well; & thank you!

Mae-Wan Ho Comment left 28th January 2016 06:06:22
Thank you all for kind comments. Suni Nelson and anyone else, of course I'd be delighted for you to promote it on your website.

Alison Bleaney Comment left 28th January 2016 20:08:35
Your knowledge, communication skills and productivity are an inspiration. I will read this and would love to buy hard copies as presents; is the book in print? Thank you all for being there for all of us and extra thanks and hugs to Joe out there, who I never met but miss greatly. Alison

Rory Short Comment left 27th January 2016 22:10:33
When I first stumbled upon the ISIS news letter the ideas behind it spoke to me. It aimed too to recover science for humanity, what I felt was a desperate societal need. I have not been disappointed. This book will be a fascinating read I am sure even though I will not be able to comprehend everything in it.

Constantino Casasbuenas Comment left 28th January 2016 02:02:18
I would like to read this publication. It would help me to understand better things that I consider important in life and would motivate me to write on them. It will be great to see how to collaborate with ISIS.

david llewellyn foster Comment left 30th January 2016 19:07:02
I really can't wait to absorb this inspiring volume that contains a lifetime of meticulous insight and understanding. It will certainly be a primary source that I shall be citing in my own doctoral work in progress. Dr Ho's exemplary and incomparable influence is enduring and profound.

Wendy LeBlanc-Arbuckle Comment left 18th February 2016 07:07:23
Thank you, Mae Wan Ho, once again, for your dedication to truly serving society and our human journey. Where can I order this new book? xwendy

Lienke Katz Comment left 10th April 2016 11:11:48
I would love to be able to read this volume which sounds wonderful like all of Dr. Mae-Wan Ho's books I have read. Hopefully I can order it here?? Thanks! Lienke