Friday, May 2, 2014

Element 117

Today we learn about a super heavy element co-created by Australian researchers at a German laboratory. Temporarily known as element 117 after the number of protons in its nucleus. Only four atoms of the super heavy element were observed and given its rapid radioactive decay it disappeared within one tenth of a second. This was, however, enough to independently corroborate the element's first observation in 2010 (Physical Review Letters on 5 April 2010, "Synthesis of a new chemical element with atomic number Z=117”).

The minuscule size of the element created makes practical use unfeasible, focus will be placed on how the science behind the element's creation can lead to even heavier substances. The team, rightly suggest that the trick is to understand the quantum physics at play.

Learning of this news reminded me of Empedocles and Jung’s work. According to Empedocles, the Greek philosopher, scientist and healer who lived in Sicily in the fifth century B.C., all matter is comprised of four  "roots" or elements of earth, air, fire and water. The interaction of the four elements is influenced by the relationship between the two great life energies of Love and Strife. How’s that for an eternal insight in the human psyche.
Empedocles' philosophy was influenced not only by Pythagoras, but also by the ancient Greek mystery traditions, which included the Orphic mysteries and the underworld cults of Hades, Hecate, Demeter, Persephone and Dionysos. In his own thinking and writing, and in works and practices of the alchemists, Neoplatonists and Gnostics that further developed his theories, the four elements are not only material and spiritual forces, but also facets of a human being. Their varying combinations result in different personality types. 
Now Jung, you might recall, contributed greatly to the theory of type. Jung found that different people think, feel, and experience the world in fundamentally different ways. His type theory has helped us understand how people function. He identified four fundamental psychological functions: thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. Each function may be experienced in an introverted or an extraverted fashion. Generally, one of the functions is more conscious, developed, and dominant. Jung called this the superior function.
Jung focused initially on the polarities of introversion (directing one's attention inward toward thoughts, feelings and awareness) and extroversion (directing one's energy outward toward people, actions and external objects), combining each polarity with predominances in thinking, feeling, sensing and intuiting, to develop eight basic personality types. The four personality variables of the Meyers-Briggs test (and its offshoots, the Keirsey test and the DDLI) also appear to be a further development of this psychological philosophy. 

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