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Greg Matloff: Conscious Stars Revisited

It’s no exaggeration to say that without Greg Matloff, there would have been no Centauri Dreams. After reading his The Starflight Handbook (Wiley, 1989) and returning to it for years, I began working on my own volume in 2001. Research for that book would reveal Matloff’s numerous contributions in the journals, especially on solar sail technologies, where he illustrated early on the methods and materials needed for interstellar applications. A professor of physics at New York City College of Technology (CUNY) as well as Hayden Associate at the American Museum of Natural History, Dr. Matloff is the author of, among others, Deep Space Probes (Springer, 2005) and Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel (with Les Johnson and Giovanni Vulpetti; Copernicus, 2008). His latest, Starlight, Starbright, is now available from Curtis Press, treating the controversial subject of today’s essay.

by Greg Matloff


Introduction: Motivations

As any web search will reveal, most of my research contributions have been in the fields of in-space propulsion, SETI, Earth-protection from asteroid impacts, planetary atmospheres, extra-solar planet detection and spacecraft navigation. Since I have consulted for NASA on solar-sail applications, I have trained myself to err on the side of conservatism. However, a true scientist cannot ignore observational data. He or she must base hypothesis and theories upon such results, not upon previous experience, ideology and dogma.

Image: Gregory Matloff (left) being inducted into the International Academy of Astronautics by JPL’s Ed Stone.

Until 2011, I never expected that I might contribute to the fascinating debate regarding the origin and nature of consciousness. On one side are the epiphenomenonalists, who believe that consciousness is a mere byproduct of bio-chemical activity in the complex brains of higher organisms. On the other side are the panpsychists, who believe that a universal field responsible for consciousness, sometimes referred to as “proto-consciousness,” reacts with matter to produce conscious activity at all levels. The philosophical arguments were fascinating, but to me as a scientist they were a bit disappointing. There seemed to be no way of elevating the argument from the realm of deductive philosophy to the realm of observational/experimental science.

But in 2011, as documented in my June 12, 2012 contribution to this blog – Star Consciousness: An Alternative to Dark Matter – I learned (much to my surprise) that it may be possible now to construct simple models of universal consciousness and test them against observational evidence.

I was primed for this work by several factors. First, an early mentor of mine and a coauthor of several astronautics papers, was the late Evan Harris Walker. With expertise in plasma and quantum physics, Harris (as his friends called him) was a pioneer in the infant field of quantum consciousness. Although I am far from an expert in quantum mechanics, I was fascinated by Harris’ attempt to explain consciousness by the quantum tunneling of wave functions through potential wells created by the inter-synaptic spacing in mammal brains [1].

After the success of The Starflight Handbook and other contributions to interstellar travel studies, I was asked by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin in the early 1990’s to join the team of scientific consultants for a science-fiction novel he was co-authoring with John Barnes [2]. For plot purposes, Buzz required the stable, long-term existence of a Jupiter-like planet at a 1 Astronomical Unit (AU) distance from a Sun-like star. When he asked me to check the possibility of such a planet, I was initially very pessimistic. When I told Buzz that most exoplanet experts believed that the Hydrogen-Helium atmosphere of such a planet would likely evaporate quickly (in cosmic terms), he asked me to check this assumption. I located an appropriate equation in a space science handbook and calculated the estimated lifetime of the giant planet’s atmosphere. I was surprised and Buzz was gratified to learn that the lifetime of the Jovian’s atmosphere at 1 AU would be billions of years. At that point in my career, I was an adjunct professor and consultant. Since I was unable to locate a derivation for the subject equation, I elected not to challenge scientific orthodoxy and attempt to publish these results in a scientific journal. After the discovery of “hot Jupiters” circling Sunlike stars a few years later, I became credited (by Paul Gilster and others) with predicting the existence of hot Jupiters in a science-fiction novel, but not in a peer-reviewed journal. I vowed to never repeat this mistake again and hold back data, if my results challenged established paradigms.

The third influence pointing me in the direction of conscious stars was an undergraduate, liberal arts student at New York City College of Technology. Between the time I became a tenure-track professor in 2003 and my retirement from full-time teaching in 2011, I organized and coordinated the astronomy program at New York City College of Technology (NYCCT). In the first term of the NYCCT astronomy sequence, students learn about astronomical history, aspects of classical and modern physics and solar-system astronomy. In the second term, they investigate the astrophysics of the Sun, stars, and galaxies, cosmology, and the prospects for extraterrestrial life. In one Astronomy 2 section, I was lecturing about dark matter. The existence of this mysterious substance has been invited to explain anomalous stellar motions. When a liberal arts undergraduate interrupted the lecture, I learned that he doubted dark matter’s existence. His supposition was that physics is at an analogous stage to the situation in 1900. A major shift in physical paradigms may be necessary to explain the many anomalies (including dark matter) building up in observational astrophysics.

In 2011, it all came together. Kelvin Long, who edits the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (JBIS), invited me to participate in a one-day symposium at the London headquarters of the BIS to celebrate the work of Olaf Stapledon, a British science-fiction author and philosopher who has greatly influenced astronomical and astronautical thought. In his 1937 masterwork Star Maker, Stapledon predicted nuclear energy, nuclear war, interstellar travel, space habitats and rearrangement of solar systems by intelligent extraterrestrials. Because I usually author papers on these topics and have often cited Star Maker, I elected to avoid astrotechnology in my contribution to this BIS symposium and instead concentrate on a core aspect of Stapledon’s philosophy: that the stars and indeed the entire universe are in some sense conscious.

A Toy Model of Stellar Consciousness and Astrophysical Evidence

Many people have written about consciousness. Since there is no agreed upon definition of this quality, I decided to investigate a symptom of stellar consciousness. This is Stapleton’s supposition that a fraction of stellar motions around the centers of their galaxies is volitional. According to Stapledon, stars obey the canons of a cosmic dance as they travel through space. Many researchers consider the seat of consciousness in humans and other lifeforms to be neurons or tubules [1,3,4]. I have little knowledge regarding the intimate details of the stellar interior. But I am pretty sure that neurons and tubules do not exist within stars. However, most cooler stars, including the Sun, do have simple molecules in their upper layers.

Contrary to what many of us learned in high school chemistry, the Van der Waals forces that hold the atoms in molecules together are not purely electromagnetic. Some of this attraction is due to the so-called Casimir Effect [5]. Vacuum is not truly empty. Instead, in tiny intervals of space and time, there are enormous fluctuations of energy and matter. Generally, positive and negative energies in these fluctuations exactly balance. But in the opinion of most cosmologists, the Big Bang was a stabilized vacuum fluctuation. All the matter, energy, space and time in the universe inflated from a tiny volume of dynamic vacuum during this event.

An echo of this most creative event in the universe’s history occurs in every molecule. Not all vacuum fluctuations can fit between adjacent molecules. A fraction of the Van der Waals force holding molecules together is produced by the pressure of these vacuum fluctuations.

With astrophysicist Bernard Haisch [6], I assumed that a proto-consciousness field operates through vacuum fluctuations or is identical to these fluctuations. I developed a very simple “toy model” in which this field produces a form of primitive consciousness by its interaction with molecular matter in the Casimir Effect (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. A “Toy Model” of Proto-Panpsychism.


But models, no matter how simple or complex, are useful in physics only if they can be validated through experiment or observation. So I conducted a Google search for “Star Kinematics Anomaly and Discontinuity”.

Contrary to my expectation, what appeared on my screen was amazing. There was a Soviet-era Russian astronomer named Pavel Parenago (1906-1960). In addition to his astronomical contributions, Dr. Parenago was a very clever man. Unlike many of his colleagues, he avoided an extended vacation in a very cold place by dedicating a monograph to the most highly evolved human of all times – Joseph Stalin!

The anomaly named after Parenago, which is referred to as “Parenago’s Discontinuity”—is his observation that cool, low-mass stars in our galactic vicinity (such as the Sun) move around the center of the Milky Way galaxy a bit faster than their hotter, higher-mass sisters.

I used two sources to quantify Parenago’s Discontinuity for nearby main sequence stars. One was a chapter in Allen’s Astrophysical Quantities, a standard reference in astrophysics [7]. The second was a compilation of observations of 5610 main sequence stars using the European Space Agency (ESA) Hipparcos space observatory out to a distance of ~260 light years [8]. Figure 2, a graph presenting this data, is also included in my June 12, 2012 contribution to this blog and the JBIS paper based on my contribution to the BIS Stapledon symposium [9].

In Fig. 2, star motion in the direction of galactic rotation is plotted against star (B-V) color index, which is a measure of the difference between star radiant output in the blue range of the spectrum and the center of the human eye’s visual sensitivity. Hot, blue, massive stars have low and negative (B-V) color indices. From Table 19.1 of Ref. 7, G spectral class main sequence stars such as the Sun have (B-V) color indices in the range of about 0.6-0.7.

Fig 2: Solar Motion in Direction of Galactic Rotation (V) for Main Sequence Stars vs. Star Color Index (B-V). Diamond Data Points are from Gilmore & Zelik. Square. Data Points are from Binney et al.


Note in Fig. 2 that cooler stars to the right of the discontinuity move as much as ~20 kilometers per second faster than their hotter sisters around the center of the galaxy. As discussed in the June 12, 2012 contribution to this blog and in Ref. 9, Parenago’s Discontinuity occurs near the point where stable molecules begin to appear in stellar spectra.

Recent Work and Consideration of Alternative Hypotheses

Science is essentially a testing ground of alternative hypotheses to explain observational and experimental data. Since data points to at least the local reality of Parenago’s Discontinuity, some astrophysicists have developed rival explanations to Volitional Stars.

One possibility is stellar boil-off from local stellar nurseries. Perhaps this results in faster motions for cooler, low mass stars. But this process should result in a greater velocity dispersion in low mass stars, not a higher velocity of revolution around the galaxy’s center. Also, stellar nurseries typically live for tens of millions of years [10]. Why is there no discontinuity in the motions of short-lived O and B stars?

If Parenago’s Discontinuity is a local phenomena extending out a few hundred light years from the Sun, at least one other alternative explanation is possible. This is the Spiral Arms Density Waves concept [11]. The matter density of the interstellar medium is not uniform. Although the typical density of ions and neutral atoms in the Sun’s vicinity (the so-called Intercloud Medium) is less than 0.1 per cubic centimeter, matter density in the cooler, mostly neutral diffuse nebula that operate as stellar nurseries in the spiral arms of our galaxy is orders of magnitude greater. If a dense diffuse nebula passed through our galactic vicinity in the distant past, low-mass, cool, redder stars might be dragged along faster by the dense cloud than hot, blue, more massive stars.

There are at least two ways to check the validity of the Spiral Arms Density Waves hypothesis. One is to investigate the typical size of diffuse nebula in the Milky Way galaxy. The second is to check observational consequences of this hypothesis.

In a recent book, I reviewed the sizes of diffuse nebula in Messier’s compilation [12]. As part of a recent research paper, I performed a similar review of the more comprehensive Herschel catalog and an on-line listing of New General Catalog (NGC) deep-sky objects [13]. These results are summarized in Fig. 3.

Fig 3: Fraction of Galactic Bright Diffuse Nebulae with Diameters > D Light Years from Messier (Blue), Herschel (Green) and Atlas of the Universe—NGC (Yellow) Compilations.


Note in Fig. 3 that, in all three compilations of deep-sky objects, diffuse nebulae with diameters greater than a few hundred light years are rare. Since the Hipparcos main sequence dataset used in Ref. 8 includes stars in a ~500 light year diameter sphere, Fig. 3 does not support the Spiral Arms Density Wave hypothesis.

But there is worse news for this hypothesis, also derived from Hipparcos data. Giant stars are considerably brighter than their less evolved counterparts on the main sequence and
are consequently visible over greater distances. Richard Branham, an astrophysicist based in Argentina, has analyzed the kinematics of thousands of giant stars in the Hipparcos data set [14]. His conclusion that Parenago’s Discontinuity is present in these results is demonstrated in Fig. 4.

Fig 4: Giant Star Motion (V) in Direction of Sun’s Galactic Revolution. The reduction of Branham’s data to produce Fig. 4 is discussed in Chap. 23 of Ref. 12.


Note that Fig. 4 is not as neat as the corresponding results for main sequence stars in Fig. 2. This may be due to uncertainty in the > 1,000 light year distance estimates for many of the stars in Branham’s Sample.

An interpretation of the above results is that a local explanation for Parenago’s Discontinuity is unlikely. Existing galactic diffuse nebula are simply too small (and widely separated, as discussed in Ref. 12) to produce a stellar kinematics anomaly over a radius greater than 1,000 light years.

However, although the existing data does not support Spiral Arms Density Waves, the sample of stars, which numbers in the thousands, is not large enough to rule out this and other local explanations for Parenago’s Discontinuity. After all, the Milky Way galaxy contains more than a hundred billion stars.

Within the next few years, astrophysicists should know conclusively whether Parenago’s Discontinuity is a local or galactic phenomenon. In December 2013, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched Gaia as a more capable successor to the Hipparcos space observatory. While Hippasrcos accurately determined the distance and motions of perhaps 100,000 stars,
Gaia should gather similar data over the next few years for about a billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy. Gaia, its mission and capabilities are discussed in more detail in Ref. 12.

Fig 5: The European Space Agency’s Gaia Space Observatory (Courtesy ESA).


But even before the data from Gaia is analyzed and released, astronomers using different equipment have gathered preliminary data that may lead to the falsification of the Spiral Arms Density Waves hypothesis. Note in Fig. 6 the structure of M51, a typical nearby spiral galaxy not dissimilar from the Milky Way. The revolution of this galaxy is in the counterclockwise direction, from our point of view. Hundreds of millions of years are required for one
complete revolution [15].

A team of astronomers have carefully analyzed the light received from the leading and lagging edges of spiral arms of twelve nearby spiral galaxies. For the Spiral Arms Density Waves Hypothesis to be correct, differences should be observable between these two locations. Sadly for Density Waves (and happily for Volitional Stars), such an effect was not noticed.

Fig 6: The Whirlpool Galaxy M51 (courtesy NASA).


Since the universe contains ~100 billion spiral galaxies, this result is not conclusive. Using new telescopes, about 300 spirals should be observed to statistically rule out Density Waves. Density Waves is apparently limping, but it cannot yet be completely ruled out.

If observations from Gaia indicate that Parenago’s Discontinuity is a galactic phenomenon rather than a local phenomenon, some astrophysicists will attempt to develop explanations that are alternatives to Volitional Stars. As discussed in Ref. 13, this will be challenging. The only reasonable galaxy-wide explanation might be a collision between the Milky Way galaxy and another large galaxy in the distant past. While such a collision might have produced a galaxy-wide “starburst” episode of rapid star formation, simulations indicate that the ultimate result of such galaxy smash-ups is a giant elliptical galaxy, not a spiral such as the Milky Way.

Volitional Star Kinematics

In my June 12, 2012 contribution to this blog, I considered methods that a volitional star could use to adjust its galactic velocity. One possibility was stellar jets.

Many infant stars eject high-velocity matter streams (Fig. 7). Surprisingly, some of them are unipolar or unidirectional, ejecting more material in one direction than others [16]. In April 2015, Paul Gilster e-mailed a link indicating that solar winds from mature stars like the Sun
enter interstellar space in a complex system of jets [17]. The complexity of these jets is at least partially due to solar galactic motion and the interaction between the solar and galactic magnetic fields. Uni-directional matter jets from infant and young stars are discussed in greater detail in Chap. 15 of Ref. 12.

Fig 7: A Jet of High-Velocity Material Ejected From an Infant Star (courtesy NASA).


If Gaia observations reveal that Parenago’s Discontinuity is a galaxy-wide phenomenon, attention might turn to these unidirectional stellar jets. Are they generally aligned to accelerate molecule-bearing stars in the direction of their galactic motion? Since star galactic revolution velocities generally increase with distance from the galactic center, do jet velocities increase as well?

Although unidirectional material jets from infant and mature stars is one method that a volitional star could use, there is another possibility. This is the admittedly very controversial possibility of a weak psychokinetic (PK) force. Much has been written about the investigation of PK and related paranormal phenomena funded by US intelligence agencies.

As I have described in my earlier treatments of this subject, this is the only scientific controversy that I am privileged to know participants on opposing sides. On one hand are the physicists who claim that Uri Geller, the alleged psychic who scored best on their screening tests, could not possibly have cheated on these tests. On the other hand, I met a retired Time-Warner editor at a cocktail party years ago who demonstrated that Geller’s signature fork bending could be duplicated as a magic trick, and who also claimed to have enlisted a magician The Amazing Randi, to further investigate Geller.

Many web sources conclude that Geller is indeed a trained magician. When my friend Dr. Eric Davis of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin (Texas) mentioned (while reviewing a draft copy of Ref. 12) that there is no confirmation of Geller actually having attended a magician’s college, I decided to check what I consider the best reference available on the Geller-Randi controversy. I carefully checked a book by MIT physics professor David Kaiser on this topic and learned that Dr. Davis is apparently correct [18].

Eric Davis also sent me an electronic copy of a report he authored for the US Air Force in 2005. Many countries other than the US have investigated PK and related phenomena in studies funded by government agencies. Some of the results are positive and have reportedly been replicated [19, 20].

As discussed in Refs. 9 and 12 and my June 12, 2012 submission to this blog, a PK force required to accelerate a Sun-like star by 20 km/s during a ~1-billion-year time interval is many orders of magnitude less than that required to bend a kitchen utensil. Perhaps it is time for experimental physicists to put the Geller-Randi controversy aside and perform a new set of carefully controlled experiments to test the existence or non-existence of a weak PK effect.

One possibility discussed by others is to include professional magicians on the experiment design team. Another possibility, raised by a responder to my June 12, 2012 contribution to this blog, is to perform PK tests on the interaction between human subjects and an Einstein-Bose condensate. As further discussed in Ref. 12, an Einstein-Bose condensate is a macroscopic state of matter in which all of the particles share the same quantum state. A human subject might be instructed to see if he or she could “will” the condensate to climb the enclosure wall repeatedly to the same level. This would test not only the validity of PK but the assumption that consciousness is related to quantum phenomena.

Conclusions: A Learning Experience

Since 2011, I have spent a large fraction of my creative time investigating whether the Volitional Star hypothesis can be considered scientific. As reviewed in Ref. 12, it is certainly a venerable concept. Shamans, astrologers, philosophers, mystery-cult members, poets, and fiction authors have considered this possibility for millennia.

It is also interesting that at least a few scientists have walked this path before me. Although the concepts of stellar or universal consciousness are certainly not in the scientific mainstream at present, scientific speculation along these lines is becoming more respectable.

One creative group that apparently welcomes these concepts is fine artists. The chapter frontispiece art in Ref. 12 created by C Bangs has been presented in several artistic forums, including the Arts Program at the 9th IAA Symposium on the Future of Space Exploration, which was held in Turin, Italy in July 2015. A version of one of these images is presented as Fig. 8. Modifications of 18 of these images on 11” X 14” panels painted on both sides in the form of an accordion book are on display at the Manhattan gallery that C Bangs is affiliated with: Central Booking Art Space, 21 Ludlow Street.

Fig 8: Modified Version of C Bangs Chapter frontispiece from Starlight, Starbright.


Recently, with my assistance, C prepared an Artist’s Book entitled Star Bright?. In July 2015, Star Bright? was collected by the Prints and Illustrated Books division of the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.

It is of course very premature to claim that the work presented here has proven the case for volitional stars. The toy model of proto-panpsychism is certainly too simple to have much traction in the theoretical world. But it is not impossible that this work might move panpsychism from the realm of deductive philosophy to the realm of observational astrophysics.


1. E. H. Walker, “The Nature of Consciousness,” Mathematical Biosciences, 7, 131-178 (1970). Also see E. H. Walker, The Physics of Consciousness, Perseus, Cambridge, MA (2000).

2. B. Aldrin and J. Barnes, Encounter with Tiber, Warner, NY (1996).

3. L. Margulis, “The Conscious Cell”, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 929, 55-70 (2001).

4. S. Hameroff, “Consciousness, the Brain, and Spacetime Geometry”, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 929, 74-104 (2001) and R. Penrose, “Consciousness, the Brain, and Spacetime Geometry: An Addendum”, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 929, 105-110 (2001).

5. H. Genz, Nothingness: The Science of Empty Space, Perseus, Cambridge, MA (1999).

6. B. Haisch, The God Theory, Weiser, San Francisco, CA (2006).

7. G. F. Gilmore and M. Zelik, “Star Populations and the Solar Neighborhood,” in Allen’s Astrophysical Quantities, 4th ed. A. N. Cox ed., Springer-Verlag, NY (2000), Chap. 19.

8. J. J. Binney, W. Dehnen, N. Houk, C. A. Murray, and M. J. Preston, “Kinematics of Main Sequence Stars from Hipparcos Data,” Proceedings of the ESA Symposium Hipparcos Venice
, SP-402, Venice, Italy, 13-15 May 1997, pp. 473-477 (July, 1997).

9. G. L. Matloff, “Olaf Stapledon and Conscious Stars: Philosophy or Science?”, JBIS, 65, 5-6 (2012).

10. E. Chaisson and S. McMillan, Astronomy Today, 6th ed., Pearson-Addison/Wesley, San Francisco, CA (2008), Chap. 19.

11. R. S. DeSimone, X. Wu, and S. Tremaine, ”The Stellar Velocity Distribution of the Stellar Neighborhood”, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 350, 627-643 (2004).

12. G. L. Matloff and C Bangs, Starlight, Starbright: Are Stars Conscious?, Curtis Press, UK (2015).

13. G. L. Matloff, “The Non-Locality of Parenago’s Discontinuity and Universal Self Organization”, IAA-FSE-15-06-03. Presented at 9th IAA Symposium on the Future of Space Exploration, Turin, Italy, July 7-9, 2015. Published in Conference Proceedings.

14. R. L. Branham, “The Kinematics and Velocity Ellipsoid of GIII Stars,” Revisita Mexicana de Astronomia y Astrofisica, 47, 197-209 (2011).

15. K. Foyle, H.-W. Rix, C. Dobbs, A. Leroy, and F. Walter, “Observational Evidence Against Long-Lived Spiral Arms in Galaxies,” Astrophysical Journal, 735 (2), Article ID = 101 (2011), arXiv: 1105.5141 [astro-ph.CO].

16. F. Namouni, “On the Flaring of Jet-Sustaining Accretion Disks”, Astrophysical Journal, 659, 1505-1510 (2007).

17. I. O’Neill, “Sun May Blast Two Jets of Plasma into Interstellar Space”, news.discovery.com, (March 4, 2015). Also see “A New View of the Solar System: Astrophysical Jets Driven by the Sun”, bu.edu (February 19, 2015).

18. D. Kaiser, How the Hippies Saved Physics, Norton, NY (2011).

19. E. W. Davis, “Teleportation: Mind and Intelligence”, Report to the US Air Force Future Technology Branch, Future Concepts and Transformation Division Workshop, Mitre Corporation, McLean VA (Oct. 21, 2005).

20. E. W. Davis, “Teleportation Physics Study,” Final Report AFRL-PR-ED-TR-2003-0034, Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Materiel Command, Edwards AFB, CA (2004): https://www.fas.org/sgp/eprint/teleport.pdf


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Greg Matloff September 20, 2015, 17:51

    Dear ljk

    Yes, things like the bar in many spiral galaxies are another anomaly. But I can only look at one anomaly at a time. You are welcome to this one.

    Regards, Greg

  • Greg Matloff September 20, 2015, 17:59

    Dear Andy

    Yes, the Copenhagen interpretation might be imperfect. This was certainly Einstein’s opinion. But Bohr stuck to his guns and was vindicated when EPR was demonstrated. I am no expert in quantum interpretation. I lean on several sources by experts in my papers and books. These are:
    Rosenblum & Kuttner, “The Quantum Enigma”
    Kafatos & Nadeau, “The Conscious Universe”
    Stapp, “Mind. Matter & Quantum Mechanics”.

    Of course these and other experts in the field including Sir Roger Penrose may be entirely wrong. But that must be proven in peer-reviewed publications. If you can accomplish such a deed, congrats. You will have earned your Nobel Prize.

    Regards, Greg

  • Greg Matloff September 20, 2015, 18:02

    Dear Harold

    By all means write the book. But to keep it within the realm of science, show how your deductive concepts line up with existing experiment and/or observation and then show how they can be falsified or verified. Too many authors in this field and others fail in this regard.

    Regards, Greg

  • Greg Matloff September 20, 2015, 18:06

    Dear Alex and Ed

    If Parenago’s Discontinuity is indeed due to organic intelligence that has colonized stars, it works for masses somewhat greater than solar to about 0.1 solar. More massive stars do not have enough molecules for evolved consciousness, if the Stapledon/Matloff conjecture is correct..

    Regards, Greg

  • Greg Matloff September 20, 2015, 18:14

    Dear Anthony Mugan

    Scattering of stars from galactic center has been investigated by others. Apparently, some have actually been ejected from the galaxy. But Parenago’s Discontinuity applies, apparently, to stars in the disk, far from the hub of the galaxy. For more discussion on the concepts of sentience and self-organization in stars and other things, consult Erich Jantsch’s masterwork “The Self-Organizing Universe”. I lean on him quite a bit in my forthcoming book. PK research certainly has been muddied by the involvement of military and intelligence agencies. In my depressed moments, I almost believe that the Geller-Randi controversy is part of a vast cover-up. Like you, I hope I am wrong.

    Regards, Greg

  • Lawrence September 21, 2015, 2:33

    Fascinating post. I just want to focus on the PK thing, since the author can’t be expected to know everything about everything, but I have read up considerably on the serious academic literature and the like on PK. As far as Geller is concerned, the likes of debunkers like Randi have no credibility. Randi has admitted to being a liar (see W Storr’s The Heretics), he is a know-nothing, an atheist who disbelieves in the paranormal on principle. Just like the old CISCOP (CSI is its equivalent nowadays) with which he was involved, he cannot be taken seriously. I suggest reading Columbia U physicist Charles Panatti’s The Geller Papers (which he edited) for the experiments done with Geller in the early 1970s. Also Guy Playfair’s and J Margolis’s thorough biographies on Geller. All available online at Geller’s website. Cannot write up everything I would like to say here in a comment. Just read up on Hansen, Playfair, Sheldrake, Nichols, Inglis, and most recently Will Storr for the debunking of Randi on everything he says about the paranormal.

    But as far as PK is concerned, the literature since the establishment of the SPR in the 1880s is massive and extensive, and frankly indisputable. There is no need to even obsess about Geller. The PK phenomena associated with mediumship (having nothing to do with deceased spirits, that’s just one hypothesis about its causation), even though there was a lot of fraud, there is extensive evidence for genuine and radical PK effects from genuine mediums (aside from skeptics hand waving dismissals) like DD Home, Mirabelli, so many others. The literature on shamanism from Siberia to the Americas to African juju and Polynesia and beyond is extensive and shows despite trickery, much psi phenomena that cannot be explained by mundane science (just explained away by it). The lab work from the Rhines at Duke to H Schmidt and W Braud (see the serious literature from Rhine to D Scott Rogo to L McTaggart and S Braude and Pamela Heath’s extensive treatment) on PK is massive, and still growing.

    My point is it does give credence to PK effects from volitional stars, since PK among humans is real enough. And given how puny humans are compared to stars!, well surely the PK effects from stars (if real) would dwarf that of humanity (although physical size may have nothing to do with it really, but in a manner of speaking).

    Odd, I have always thought the stars were alive, as most all so-called primitive peoples have believed (but Western science thinks it knows better); but I never really thought through its incredible scientific ramifications. And yes PK would potentially be one of them. Of course this article is about much more than that, but that’s what I wanted to focus on in this article.

  • andy September 21, 2015, 3:09

    Of course these and other experts in the field including Sir Roger Penrose may be entirely wrong. But that must be proven in peer-reviewed publications. If you can accomplish such a deed, congrats. You will have earned your Nobel Prize.
    Bohm did the relevant work on the EPR paradox in the context of pilot wave theory in the 1950s, so unfortunately there probably isn’t a Nobel in it anymore.

  • Alex Tolley September 21, 2015, 5:01

    I extracted ~186k records from the RAVE database and plotted radial velocity vs temperature. Whilst radial velocity is not the same as velocity in the rotation of the galaxy, it is a simple proxy to test whether there is any obvious bias in the velocity of stars due to temperature. The data shows no evidence of any relationship between radial velocity vs temperature.

    I am assuming that radial velocity is the absolute velocity in relation to our sun in this case, and is a reasonable proxy for star velocity around the galactic core. I’m sure that extra computations using positions in the sky could be used to determine the true galactic rotation velocity.

    Given the large number of data points there is ample opportunity to slice and dice the data to get more useful results whilst still retaining a large number of values for tests.

    If this lack of relationship holds true, wouldn’t this refute the underlying basis for the “volitional star” hypothesis?

    Thoughts on doing this analysis more appropriately?

  • mem September 21, 2015, 8:27

    Maybe, instead of dark matter/dark energy or stellar consciousness or solar winds, you should use “electric currents”. And start reasoning from there on. I think it will be much easier to find a solution.

  • ljk September 21, 2015, 9:00

    Greg Matloff, I am curious as to your views on Strogatz’s sync ideas on patterns in nature, which I linked to in my last post here, thank you.

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 9:13

    Dear Jack Sarfatti

    Hello Jack! Thanks fore the very constructive comments. I too wonder about the lower limit of sentience in celestial objects. Erich Jantsch, in his classic “The Self-Organizing Universe”, requires a sentient celestial star to have an energy-producing region near its center with the energy radiating outward to the environment. In his model, sentience resides in the upper layers. As you know, we have known for decades that about 1/3 of Jupiter’s radiant output is self-generated. As the recent Pluto probe revealed, even this tiny body may have an active interior. Thanks so much for the references on this topic.

    Thank you too for the correction to my paragraph on Van Der Waal force and Casimir Effect. I got a little too involved with popular terminology. But the significant part of this paragraph is reference to the fact that the vacuum fluctuations play a role in molecular bonds.

    I also appreciate your discussion of how to improve Bernie Haisch’s preliminary theory. Other people involved with Casimir-research over the years have speculated to me about what Bernie published. It must have taken great courage on his part to publish his ideas. I am interested in seeing your work on how to improve his theory and would have cited it if I had been aware of it. I would love to see a copy of your work in this field.

    Regards, Greg

  • Paul Gilster September 21, 2015, 9:22

    Greg, Jack’s full comment was too long to insert in its entirety, so I am sending you the full text back-channel.

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 9:26

    Dear ijk

    I believe that I responded. Sorry if it got lost. Correct me if I am wrong in thinking that the work you refer to deals with bars in the Milky Way and other spiral galaxies. It is interesting and may well fit in with what I am looking at. But I can only deal with one celestial anomaly at a time. So all the best in your studies of this one.

    Regards, GREG

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 9:31

    Dear Jack Sarfatti

    The Centauri-Dream responder mechanism apparently could not contain all of your message. Paul has sent the entire message. Thanks again for the leads to related research. I will look into them. C sends her best.

    Regards, Greg

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 9:33

    Dear Paul

    Thanks for sending the balance of Jack Sarfatti’s message. I responded to him through the link to the first part of his message.

    This is becoming very intense. I now am starting to wish that I had studied speed typing! But keep them coming!

    Regards, GREG

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 9:43

    Dear Lawrence

    Others have also questioned Randi’s credibility. My only comment is that both Geller and Randi got a lot of attention and banknotes from their very public controversy. I try to stay away from it for two reasons. One–law suits are not fun, in my opinion. Two–we all have to get beyond this debate. Some respondents question Geller; others question Randi. Science must put this aside–the truth is not knowable in this matter.

    I agree with you about PK effects. Thanks so much about the history of this work and discussion of non-western cultures.

    In my more cynical moods, I suspect that the Geller-Randi affair might be a huge orchestrated cover-up by intelligence and/or military agencies to hide their work on mind control. But the simple fact that we are having this discussion reveals that THEY can’t control all minds–YET!!

    Regards, Greg

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 9:45

    Dear Andy

    This may be a combination of your response and mine. But here it is.

    Of course these and other experts in the field including Sir Roger Penrose may be entirely wrong. But that must be proven in peer-reviewed publications. If you can accomplish such a deed, congrats. You will have earned your Nobel Prize.
    Bohm did the relevant work on the EPR paradox in the context of pilot wave theory in the 1950s, so unfortunately there probably isn’t a Nobel in it anymore.

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 9:55

    Dear Alex

    For some reason, I can’t directly respond to your comment. From my reading of Binney et al and Branham, Parenago’s Discontinuity refers mostly to proper motion of stars around the galactic center, not the radial motion towards or away from the Sun. I published because the existence of a proper motion effect is what I was looking for in my initial critique of Stapledon.

    Your comment on the huge number of data points is very relevant. When I presented my IAA paper at the July 2015 symposium in Turin, we visited an Alenia facility where the huge amount of GAIA data is being reduced. They told me that I must be patient. But if you know anyone on the GAIA team, perhaps you can get advanced information on the motions of ~1 billion stars.

    Regards, Greg

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 9:58

    Dear mem

    Your comments on terminology are absolutely correct. What astronomers and particle physicists call dark matter may not be matter at all. In one of his radio broadcasts, Neil de Grasse Tyson said something like “lets call it Fred”. For some reason, terminology seems to have an inertia and life of its own.

    Regards, Greg

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 10:01

    Dear ijk

    Thanks again for the source from your data base. I think that a required reference for all in this field should be Jantsch’s “The Self-Organizing Universe”. Certainly, if Janysch is correct, the galaxy bars may self-organize.

    Regards, Greg

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 10:06

    Dear Alex Tolley

    Yes, the number of data points in my Parenago figures is very small. But the number of stars used by Binney et al, Branham and others to generate this data is in the thousands. This is clearly not enough to say anything conclusive. Unless you have access to data sets larger than Hipparcos, I fear that we must patiently await the results of GAIA. But even if it turns out the Parenago’s Discontinuity is not galaxy-wide, my purpose in this exercise is accomplished. We can now look for evidence to prove or falsify panpsychism in the universe without ridicule.

    Regards, Greg

  • Michael September 21, 2015, 10:13

    Hi All

    ‘Hipparcos researchers including Binney et al reject this one, as I do. Stars are only close enough for such interactions in the birth nebula. And these don’t last long in cosmic terms. Also, such interaction might alter dispersion from average velocity for less massive stars, but it won’t greatly affect average velocity. But keep trying!

    Regards, Greg’

    This is the article I believe, I will need time to read through it.


  • ljk September 21, 2015, 10:16

    Greg – No, I had put links to two different concepts in one post. One was about galaxy bars, the other was on Steven Strogatz and his sync concept. I present the links to the latter again for your benefit:



    And a blurb about his book Sync from his Web site here:


  • Michael September 21, 2015, 10:57

    This paper states

    ‘Thus these data display very cleanly the classical Parenago discontinuity, which arises because the random velocities of stars increase steadily with time.’


    I will need to read both articles in more depth at the same time as putting a fence up in the rain!

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 12:18

    Dear Michael

    That is indeed a good article. Bonnie et al and Branham have done great, very detailed work. I am very glad that people other than myself are paying attention to them.

    Regards, Greg

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 12:23

    Dear ljk

    Strogatz’ work looks like a wonderful book, in line with Jantsch’s Self-Organizing Universe. I would have cited it if I had known about it. I look forward to reading it.

    Regards, Greg

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 12:26

    Dear Michael

    If you can absorb the ideas and data in these papers while putting up a fence in the rain, you are indeed a versatile person. Please be careful.

    Regards, Greg

  • Alex Tolley September 21, 2015, 12:45

    I have uploaded a chart of star temperature vs radial velocity here

    The data is sourced from the RAVE survey (thanks ljk). The stars are selected to be within a window of galactic longitude 300 (+/- 5) and G latitude 0 (+/- 10). Stars are restricted to be within 1 kiloparsecs from the sun. 691 stars are plotted.

    Data shows radial velocity vs temperature.

    The data was selected to be within the main bulk of data points by the survey. The narrow window was selected to restrict the stars to a small piece of the galaxy to minimize effects of direction of rotation of the galaxy and to highlight the local velocity differences between the star types and to capture the velocities in one direction.

    AFAICS, there is no temperature effect on velocity at all. While the data doesn’t quite capture velocity in the galactic rotation plane, the data does seem to refute the temperature effect with star velocity. If correct, there is no support for the hypothesis that stars have volition based on differential stellar velocity.

  • Alex Tolley September 21, 2015, 12:48

    @ljk – the sync phenomenon is well known, from fireflies blinking their bioluminescence to nuns syncing their periods. I am not sure whether you are thinking more along the physical manifestation, like the metronomes, which is non-volitional, or flocking like birds which is.

  • JACK SARFATTI September 21, 2015, 12:57

    I actually have a well developed theory of conscious qualia not inconsistent with Bernie Hasich’s ideas. Here are some relevant URLs for details.
    http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~mdt26/PWT/lectures/bohm8.pdf slides 25 and 31 deal explicitly with my model.
    See also https://cornell.academia.edu/JackSarfatti
    for mathematical work still in progress
    I also post relevant information almost daily on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook as well as http://stardrive.org

  • Alex Tolley September 21, 2015, 13:02

    I am somewhat shocked by the support of commentators for psychic phenomena. If stars are able to move in preferred directions, then the coordination behavior of animals is the relevant phenomenon. This isn’t psychic, but rather the application of simple rules regarding neighboring animals in visual range. For stars it might be some “perception” of their neighbors perhaps based on neutrino or other emissions that impact the fusion process causing asymmetric matter emissions. This doesn’t even have to be volitional, more like bacteria swimming in response to environmental signals.

  • JACK SARFATTI September 21, 2015, 13:03

    PS I forgot to mention the recent video of my London Savile Club talk to members of the British Establishment (military (GCHQ, British Navy, intelligence, Church of England’s Vicar of Kensington etc.)
    short version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0AipdgHRtI
    longer version https://vimeo.com/132551816

  • ljk September 21, 2015, 13:41

    Alex Tolley said on September 21, 2015 at 12:48;

    “@ljk – the sync phenomenon is well known, from fireflies blinking their bioluminescence to nuns syncing their periods. I am not sure whether you are thinking more along the physical manifestation, like the metronomes, which is non-volitional, or flocking like birds which is.”

    I am thinking along the lines of let us examine and test every possibility that the observed actions of stars are not due to being alive and conscious before we can conclude otherwise.

    This could be Occam’s Razor, or this could be that we have a very limited and parochial idea of what life is regarding a cosmic scale.

  • ljk September 21, 2015, 13:46

    I know this is not the same, but the whole star temperature vs. radial velocity idea is reminding me of the resolution to the Pioneer Anomaly:


  • Michael September 21, 2015, 14:02

    @Alex Tolley September 21, 2015 at 12:45

    Well done Alex thanks for the chart.

    ‘Data shows radial velocity vs temperature.

    AFAICS, there is no temperature effect on velocity at all. While the data doesn’t quite capture velocity in the galactic rotation plane, the data does seem to refute the temperature effect with star velocity. If correct, there is no support for the hypothesis that stars have volition based on differential stellar velocity.’

    There is a slight retardation velocity of the hotter stars, whether this is due to a statistical quirk although the sample is high enough to have teased it out or it could be down to the lower massed stars gaining just that little extra velocity due to their small masses and longer lifetimes.

    Almost finished the fence, one panel left and will need to do it when it stops raining!

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 14:28

    Dear Alex

    If correct, this is in disagreement with the papers I cite by people who have evaluated Hipparcos data for main sequence stars and giant stars and everything else written on Parenago’s Discontinuity. Also, some of the Main Sequence data points I used come from Allen’s Astrophysical Quantities. Please see Table 19.21 in Chap. 19 by Gilmore and Zelik in the 4th edition published by Springer in 2000 and edited by Arthur Cox. Perhaps you ate correct and all others are wrong, but Allen’s is my Bible. We must await GAIA for conclusive data. I will look at Rave in the meantime.

    Regards, Greg

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 14:30

    Dear Alex

    I have downloaded your RAVE chart. It is for radial velocity. Parenago’s Discontinuity is for proper motion along the direction of star revolution around the galactic center. There is

    Regards, Greg

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 14:39

    Dear Jack Sarfatti

    Thanks for these links. I have downloaded the Bohm Metaphysics piece and will check out your Cornell stuff. This will happen as things settle down. With this blog and just-published book, I seem to be riding a wave perhaps like your trip with the Fundamental Fysiks group, as discussed by Kaiser. It is exhilarating, tiring, and very strange–as I am sure you remember.

    All the Best, GREG

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 14:43

    Dear Alex and ink

    I like your discussion of the sync phenomenon and your mention of Occam’s Razor. One of the crises in astrophysics, as brought to my attention by Paul Davies, is that the Metaverse would be favored by Copernicus and the Anthropic Principle by Occam. How do we resolve this??

    Regards, Greg

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 14:47

    Dear ilk

    Nice analogy. The resolution of the Pioneer anomaly demonstrated that there is little or no dark matter in the solar system. I hope that our exercise and discussion helps resolve the dark matter paradox in the galaxy.

    Regards, Greg

    ps: I am sorry that I misspelled your name in the previous response.–GM

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 14:49

    Dear Michael
    I replied a few minutes ago to Alex about the RAVE chart. Thanks for sending it. But it does not conflict with everyone’s work on Parenago. Paring is for star proper motion in the direction of star revolution around galactic center. The RAVE chart sent to me is for radial motion. No conflict here.

    Regards, Greg

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 14:57

    Dear Alex

    I agree, but I would say I am somewhat disheartened by some of the responses dealing with PK. One reason for the book, my second academic paper on this subject and this blog post is my new knowledge regarding the existence of uni-directional jets in young stars–and the link Paul sent me about a possible directionality in the solar wind.

    It seems that a lot of people from both sides of the aisle are still very hung up on the Geller-Randi controversy after all these years. With the help of a magician or two on the research team and use of new stuff such as Bose-Einstein condensates (as suggested by a responder to my first blog post on this subject), it might be possible to resolve the debate regarding existence or non-existence of PK. But perhaps some people would rather argue than resolve.

    Regards, Greg

  • Alex Tolley September 21, 2015, 14:59

    Here is a nice visual reference (lecture 2012) concerning galactic structures and velocities. Dynamical evolution and the kinematics of disk stars – I. Neill Reid. It examines a number of theories for star streams, structures and the spectral type/age and velocity relationship.

    If I understand this correctly, gravitational effects due to the movement of spiral arms might account for the observed phenomena.

    [A this point I accept the Paranego discontinuity, or at the very least a velocity relationship with stellar type/age. It seems too well established in the local star groups to be incorrect. Whether it is just a local phenomenon I don’t know, but newer data may be able to determine that].

    I really liked your longer piece Stars That Wander, Are You Bright: Are Stars Conscious? although I still think you have ruled out simple physical mechanisms too quickly in order to explain the dark matter being unobservable as being “ether” and thence to the idea of volitional stars.

    One issue I have with the Parego Discontinuity curve is why it would have that shape. The increase in velocity with age below the discontinuity (and therefore volition) as a physical process. Above the discontinuity, the increase in velocity with age is flat. To me this would seem unlikely unless the argument is that cool stars try to slow themselves down. But the data shows the dispersions in velocity do not rapidly increase, something we might expect if stars can move themselves. More likely it seems to me is that the age effect shows that insufficient time for the mechanism to operate across all star ages, or that it was absent during the early galactic formation.

    Amy, fun to speculate about, but I think we should be looking for physics rather than volition to explain the effects first. In many respects, I would prefer it if KII/KIII civs were responsible for the stellar movement, rather than the stars themselves.

  • Alex Tolley September 21, 2015, 15:07

    @Greg – I concede that I am probably wrong. The data I use is not the same as the Hipparchos data. The chart is out to 1 kpc, whilst the papers use stars within 80 pc, (0.08 kpc) I did try filtering down to 80 pc but the relatively few data points don’t change anything. It is also certain that the RAVE data I selected is looking in a very different part of the sky – I selected what I thought was the best way to use radial data so that I didn’t have to try to separate the U,V & W velocities. Who am I to contradict far more competent astronomers with a simple analysis? Better to accept published findings in this case and let the astronomers update their findings with new data.

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 15:14

    Dear Jack

    Nice talk in wonderful venue. Seville is a bit more elegant than BIS headquarters! I liked your mention of “nano-scale biotechnology”. My late friend Dr. Salvatore Santoli directed a company initially in Rome and later in London that investigated this concept. Did you know him?

    Regards, Greg

  • Michael September 21, 2015, 15:19

    I remember reading somewhere that more massive objects tend to fall towards the Galactic centre quicker than less massive objects, black holes been an example. Is this why the velocity of the more massive stars which burn hotter are more radially negative in velocity as they are slowly moving towards the centre giving up momentum to smaller less massive stars speeding them up. Unfortunately most of these massive stars don’t make it as their burning lifetimes run out before they get anywhere near the centre, their corpses may though.

  • andy September 21, 2015, 15:28

    @Greg: Ah, apparently it ignored the blockquote element… maybe I had a typo in one of the tags?

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 15:55

    Dear Andy

    Could you please remind me about this. I don’t understand.

    Thanks, Greg

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 16:16

    Dear Alex Tolley.

    I am glad that you accept the reality of Parenago’s Discontinuity. If his spirit is around in some fashion, I am sure that he is happy as well.

    Spiral Arms Density Weaves has been suggested as a possible explanation. But I cite observations of 10 or 12 nearby spirals that do not support density waves. Also, in the Fig. 3, I examine diffuse nebula size from Messier, Herschel, and an on-line treatment of NGC. Diffuse nebula in the Milky Way seem too small to cause Parenago across the ~500 light-year main sequence sample, let alone the >1,000 light year giant star sample.

    I am glad that you like the Baen piece C and I had fun doing it. I only looked at the two proposed Parenago Discontinuity explanations that I could find in the literature.

    Certainly, dispersion should be considered. Also, when the GAIA data is in, it would be nice to evaluate the slope of the discontinuity and computer it with molecular abundance variation in the stellar atmosphere. Please go ahead with this if you like–all of the interest in this blog and the new book will, I suspect, eat into my research time for a long time to come.

    Yes, scientific speculation is fun. But it must be done right. Locate an anomaly, propose a solution, look for supporting evidence, and finally propose observations that will falsify/verify the original assumption.

    Certainly, you should be encouraged to look for alternative explanations. That is, as you know, how science is done. Various explanations are put forward. The data decides. Right now, the data certainly does not rule out a panpsychic explanation. But I think we must await GAIA.

    Regards, GREG

  • Greg Matloff September 21, 2015, 16:18

    Dear Michael

    I have not heard of this effect. But it seems to be reasonable, at least near the galactic center. But I wonder how it affects stars 27,000 light years or so from the central black hole.

    Regards, Greg