Meru Foundation eTORUS(tm)
Number 24 – 20 August 2004
Copyright 2004 Meru Foundation
Edited by Levanah Tenen
As mentioned in eTORUS #23, in this issue Stan introduces a new
framework for considering the Hebrew letter-text of Genesis as
compressed information. For what Stan means by that -- see his comments
later in this issue.
As a way of introducing this topic, we're also including a letter
Stan wrote in response to an article by Paul Davies in the August 7,
2004 issue of New Scientist magazine. Davies' article, titled "Do we
have to spell it out?", addresses the difficulties of transmitting
information to an "alien entity" -- whether that entity is widely
separated from us in distance, time, or both.
One of our earliest presumptions about the Hebrew letter-text of
Genesis (see our first videotape, "Geometric Metaphors of Life,") was
that in order to convey something deeper than the narrative, the
letter-text would have to contain its own mechanisms both for
self-repair (since both distance and time could degrade it), and
self-decoding once it reached its "destination" (in the case of the
Genesis text, the "destination" is us). In part, our early research
focused on how the text, as it exists, might accomplish both of these
After you read the excerpts from Davies' article, and Stan's
response, you'll see how this all relates to Stan's newest perspective
on the Hebrew letter-text of Genesis as information.
We have begun to get a response to our first "PBS-Style"
fundraising campaign, announced in our last eTORUS. This year, we are
securing pledges and contributions in advance of the Massachusetts
winter, so that we will be able to concentrate on our work during the
cold months -- and plan to do our traveling, to meet with those of you
in California and other warm climates -- during the coldest!
I have been calling many of you who have previously ordered our
videos and other materials, bringing you up to date both on our work,
and on our fundraising progress, and recording your pledges or
contributions. It's always a pleasure for me to speak with you; I learn
from every phone call. Many, many different kinds of people are
interested in this research, and I have the privilege of being able to
listen to you all.
Even if you can't contribute funds at this time, you can still
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paragraph or two introducing Meru Foundation and our research, and
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introduction to us before distributing it, Stan or I could add a few
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If I haven't yet called you, and you would like me to -- or, if
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Yes, I know -- I sound like your local PBS station. <smile>
But our situation is similar -- with one big difference. PBS is
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providing Meru with the funding we need to continue our research, and
present our results in the most compelling ways possible.
You can reach me at 781-784-3462 (Boston area); or by sending
email to email@example.com. Thank you all for your help.
HOW TO ENCODE INFORMATION
Reprinted below are excerpts from an article in the 7 August 2004
issue of New Scientist magazine by Prof. Paul Davies, entitled "Do we
Have to Spell it Out?". Davies discusses some of the difficulties we
might have in identifying a message from a distant consciousness -- and
then he suggests that "junk DNA" might be one place to look. (For
subscribers to New Scientist magazine, the complete article is
available in their online archives at
In many ways, Meru Foundation research into the Hebrew letter-text
of Genesis responds directly to Davies' expressed concerns. A letter
Stan sent both to Davies and to the editors of New Scientist follows
the excerpts from Davies' article.
By the way, Stan and I subscribe (and have for years) to two
weekly science publications: New Scientist magazine (published in
England), and Science News (published by the nonprofit Science Service
on the US). New Scientist's articles are detailed, generally
well-illustrated, and readable. Science News, which has more of a
"digest" format, also includes short summaries of the week's most
important published scientific papers. Both magazines have websites
which are valuable in their own right: http://www.newscientist.com
. To keep up-to-date with the most recent developments in the sciences,
we highly recommend both New Scientist and Science News.
"Do we Have to Spell it Out?" by Prof. Paul Davies
Complete article published in New
Scientist vol. 183 issue 2459
07 August 2004, page 30
Paul Davies is at The Australian
Centre for Astrobiology at Macquarie University, Sydney, and author of
"The Origin of Life"
"SEARCHING for alien messages
a wild and speculative idea. For more than 40 years, a heroic band of
astronomers has been sweeping the skies with radio telescopes in the
hope of stumbling across a signal. Though the silence so far has been
deafening, this search is buoyed by the belief that the truth is out
there somewhere. But what if the truth isn't out there at all? What if
it lies somewhere else? Now may be the time to try a radically
[. . .]
"An altogether more attractive
strategy from ET's viewpoint would be to plant artefacts containing
messages in the vicinity of any planets that have the potential to
evolve intelligent life at some unknown stage in the future. Then, if
and when a technological community emerged on that planet, it would
encounter the cosmic calling card on its doorstep. This is a favourite
science fiction theme: remember the obelisk in 2001: A space odyssey?
"The problem with this
"set-and-forget" technique of communication is that the information
content of the message may have to survive for hundreds of millions of
[. . .]
"A better solution would be a
legion of small, cheap, self-repairing and self-replicating machines
that can keep editing and copying information and perpetuate themselves
over immense durations in the face of unforeseen environmental hazards.
Fortunately, such machines already exist. They are called living cells.
The cells in our bodies, for example, contain messages written by
Mother Nature billions of years ago.
[. . .]
"'[J]unk' DNA - sections of the
genome that seem to serve no useful purpose - can be loaded with all
manner of genetic oddments without affecting the performance of the
cells. Inserting a message here would almost certainly be harmless.
[. . .]
"Looking for messages in living
cells has the virtue that DNA is being sequenced anyway. All it needs
is a computer to search for suspicious-looking patterns. Long strings
of the same nucleotides are an obvious attention-grabber. Peculiar
numerical sequences like prime numbers would be a clincher and patterns
that stand out even when partially degraded by mutational noise would
make the most sense. A great example was given by cosmologist Carl
Sagan at the end of his novel Contact, in which the supposedly random
digits of pi, when displayed as a two-dimensional array, unexpectedly
contained the figure of a circle. In the same way, if a sequence of
junk DNA bases were displayed as an array of pixels on a screen (with
the colour depending on the base: blue for A, green for G, and so on),
and a simple image like a ragged circle resulted, the presumption of
tampering would be inescapable. . ."
To the Editor, New Scientist
From Stan Tenen,
Re: "Do we Have to Spell It Out," by Prof. Paul Davies
New Scientist, 07 August
2004, page 30
While Paul Davies' idea that ET may have left us a message in
"junk DNA" is new, the idea that DNA is, or contains, information from
ET was proposed by linguist Dr. James Hurtak in his "channelled" 1977
book, "The Keys of Enoch". This idea has recently been turned into a
new-age cult favorite by Mr. Gregg Braden, who is widely quoted by
believers on the Internet.
Nevertheless, Paul Davies' suggestion deserves attention.
Most messages are likely to be somewhat more ambiguous regarding
the presence of deliberate meaning than a simple circle. Often, we
judge whether messages are meaningful or forced based on the
plausibility of their being found in different contexts. Paul Davies'
logic applies not just to intelligent extra-terrestrials, who might
want to communicate with us over many thousands of years of space-time.
It also applies to intelligent terrestrials who might want to
communicate across the millennia -- because after all, a few thousand
years of space-time is hardly different than a few thousand years of
earth-time, in that colloquial language can't do the job. Researchers
associated with Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena knew this when they
designed the Arecibo radiotelescope message, which made use of a
raster-scan of two prime factors, and a binary black-and-white TV
picture of the solar system, a man and a woman, and some features of
DNA. (A circle, per se, was not included.)
"Bible Codes" enthusiasts have destroyed the credibility of the
equal-interval-letter-skip patterns by ascribing prophetic meaning to
them, rather than investigating why they were "woven" into the text.
Putting the prophetic claims aside, this begs the question of whether
these woven patterns carry meaning, and what that meaning might be.
Here is one way to find a circle (actually, a spiral on a 2-torus)
by pairing the letters at the beginning of Genesis, based on counting
the letters by threes.
Insert this graphic here, if possible:
Two short graphic essays on this are available:
"Symmetry Woven into the First Verse of the Hebrew Text of
"Genesis and Sepher Yetzirah" at
Perhaps even more surprisingly, the shapes of the letters
themselves can be taken from different views of the orbit of the
double-covering, traditionally known as the "Philippine wine dance,"
the "candle-", "plate-", or "flame-dance", and identified with the
"Dirac string trick", which represents a circulation in 4-D. Both the
spiral form found by pairing the letters, and the Dirac string trick,
are representations of circles; the Dirac string connects an in-sphere
and an out-sphere. To see this, go to http://www.meru.org/dirac.html
The Hebrew letter-text folds itself into a meaningful
(non-arbitrary) 3-D form that generates 2-D views which match the
letter-shapes used to write the text. This self-reference is also a
form of circle. (It is essential that the 3-D spiral form be
meaningful. It is almost always possible to arbitrarily bend a length
of wire to include a loop or two in 3-D that can then be used to make
2-D "shadowgram"-outlines matching almost any letter-shape.)
Do these "circles" count, when they're found where they shouldn't
be -- woven into the letter-text of the Hebrew Bible? (Outside of
science, the ultimate ET is sometimes referred to as God -- though I
doubt this is what Prof. Davies had in mind.)
My essay, "The Shape of Information: How to Talk to an
Extra-Terrestrial", can be found in the Noetic Journal (Orinda) Vol. 3
#2, April 2002. The Noetic Journal is available from the editor:
<firstname.lastname@example.org> ISSN 1528-3739 CD-ROM, and ISSN
1094-0359 in print. "The Shape of Information," which expands on the
ideas above, is available online at http://www.meru.org/Noetic/ShapeofInfoA3HiTOC.pdf
Director of Research,
PO Box 503
Sharon, MA 02067 USA
LETTER-TEXT AS INFORMATION
©2004 Stan Tenen
The subject of this essay was suggested by a comment on a Jewish
e-list about the "cryptic nature of the Torah." (Torah, of course, is
otherwise known as the (Five Books of the) Hebrew Bible, the
Pentateuch, or the "Five Books of Moses." The entire Hebrew Bible,
including the prophets and writings, is referred to as Tanach, which is
an acronym in Hebrew for "Torah, Prophets, and Writings".)
This essay provides an example, in the context of Jewish
teachings, of how and why religious traditions come to establish their
moral teachings and yearly ritual cycles in order to preserve and
"decompress" their texts and teachings in people's lives. It's probably
not the only example -- although it may be the primary example in the
Abrahamic traditions, which all rely on the Hebrew Bible to one degree
or another. Something similar is likely in the Vedic and Sanskrit
literature, and possibly in other cases as well, but we haven't
examined this yet.
The primary purpose of the Hebrew Bible is to carry and preserve
information. While the Sod- (foundational-) level letter-text of Torah
is primary and unchanging, it is also, to use modern terminology,
Several techniques are used to compress information. Standards are
not transmitted. For example, carrier frequencies can be suppressed.
The carrier frequency for Torah is one day out of seven, the Sabbath.
For why this is necessary, have a look at my essay, Shabbos and
, at http://www.meru.org/ShabbosResonance.html
When information is compressed, often the only thing that is
transmitted is what's changing. When a compressed video signal is sent,
the background is only transmitted once, because it doesn't change,
while the moving character in the foreground is changing, and thus this
information must be transmitted.
Also not sent are what might be called "boundary conditions", such
as frame rates, and clock frequencies, and other "transmission
standards". For example, we don't send the information as to whether a
radio signal is AM or FM. The receiver has the ability to look for AM
signals, or FM signals, or both, and the standards for these signals
are not transmitted -- they are built into the transmitter and the
receiver. These assumptions are analogous to the "oral tradition" of
Written Torah can be thought of as the maximally compressed
information needed to create the world, and our lives. Since the text
is maximally -- probably 100% -- compressed, the information it carries
cannot be detected by statistical means (which pretty much rules out prophetic meaning for the
equal-interval letter-skip patterns in
Torah). And of course, because until it is uncompressed, there is much
missing, and the text as it appears cannot be read directly,
meaningfully, and unambiguously.
Written Torah is uncompressed by us via our following the rules
given in the written text, and expanded on in Oral Torah (Talmud). When
we observe the Sabbath every seventh day, we re-insert the "carrier
frequency". When we follow the "commandments", we are bringing to life
the boundary conditions and other transmission standards needed to
uncompress a written text and make it real in the world and in our
Think of it this way. Torah, uncompressed, is dry. But when we
"water" Torah ("Don't say, 'water, water'" may be a traditional
reference to this) with our lives, the desiccated (another metaphor for
"compressed") text "rehydrates", so we can appreciate, "digest," and
live by it.
From this perspective, the Biblical commandments provide the
logical/informational boundary conditions. The prime example of this is
the Sh'ma. "Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One"
(Deuteronomy 6:4-9) establishes that we are to hear (be in the field
of) the Unity of Hashem/Elokim (Lord/God). Thus, the primary boundary
conditions of Torah are the utter identity of the complete Oneness of
Hashem, and the all-inclusiveness of Elokim. These are the boundary
conditions of the universe/cosmos, and of our minds. By logical
exist somewhere between absolute
Singularity, and all-inclusive Wholeness. This is the reference to
Hashem/Elokim as "Sun and Shield" in Sha'ar Hayichud Vehaemunah ("The
Gate of Unity and Faith"), in Tanya (a principal Chassidic text). For
an essay and graphic, go to Man
, as it appeared in B'Or
, at <http://www.meru.org/1203/ManBitesDogReprint.pdf
These boundary conditions (Hebrew: "huqim", "unexplainable laws")
move our 2-dimensional-appearing letters, into 3- and 4-dimensions.
Each letter is a different view -- a different articulation -- of one
single model "First Hand(tm)" worn on the hand. Thus, each letter
corresponds to a pointing direction in 3- and 4-dimensions. (For
examples of how the letters are produced this way, have a look at the
alphabet-gesture chart at <http://www.meru.org/Gestures/Atbashgest.html
When academic scholars who do not consider Oral Torah (Talmud)
leave out God, the Sabbath, and the other commandments from their
analysis, they must be examining only the compressed text as it
appears. Their readings are ambiguous because they're looking at only
the part of the information that has been "flattened" into a story.
Re-introducing the 3- and 4-dimensional levels of the Meruba Ashuris
(rabbinic form of Torah-scroll) letters metaphorically "rehydrates" the
text, and brings it back to its full dimensionality.
The Ten Commandments can be thought of (and made use of) as the
logical requirements needed to maintain the integrity of the
information. Their expansion in Oral Torah (Talmud) provides even
greater detail and fine tuning.
Oral Torah (Talmud) and its living tradition is where the
information needed to uncompress the deep information in the written
Torah is kept. The ritual calendar and ritual objects carry vital
information. Tallis (prayer shawl), tefillin (phylacteries), tzitzis
(knotted fringes on 4-cornered garments), challah (braided bread for
the Sabbath), etc., and even the "hamentashen" pastry, preserve vital
information. An example of this is given in an essay I wrote for the
Purim holiday (commemorating the story of Queen Esther) a few years
ago, called Eating Our Words
It's at <http://www.meru.org/eatingwords.html
And finally, written Torah must be ambiguous, because it's
intended to be lived by us humans, who are constantly changing. Oral
Torah (Talmud) is the interface between the fixed written text, and our
changing world, and our changing selves.
Here's another analogy. Think of written Torah as like DNA. It
carries the essential information. But DNA, left alone in the world,
would dry and desiccate, and not survive. In order for the DNA in, for
example, the germ of a new oak tree, to survive, it must be enclosed in
an acorn, which acts as a vessel to protect it, and to give it food and
room to expand and grow into a new oak tree. Living by Written and Oral
Torah makes us the necessary
vessel for maintaining the integrity of
the information. This is also why there can be room for disagreement
and some ambiguity. It really doesn't matter if an acorn is somewhat
bashed and beaten, or if no two acorns look exactly alike. What's
required is that the acorn -- the particular rules, conventions,
customs, and teachings we live by today -- be intact, and held by an
ongoing living tradition. Written Torah needs a community of common
beliefs and practices, that forms the vessel that carries Torah through
You might say that while God gives us Torah, we have to receive
it. It is in this sense that we are co-creators. Without our
cooperation (which includes occasional disobedience, of course), there
would be nobody on the receiving end.
With signal compression, both the transmitter and the receiver
have to be in synch.
Written Torah is known by its "Bible stories", which were ordered
by Ptolemy Philadelphus for the Alexandrian Library (ca. 285 BCE). The
Bible stories are the lowest dimension, and most ambiguous level, of
Torah, and thus we have many nations that tell us they honor the Bible,
but they all do so somewhat differently, and without regard for the
foundational (Sod) or letter-text at all. This has been a mixed
Stan Tenen, July 26 2004.
HELPING MERU FOUNDATION WITH YOUR FEEDBACK
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