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I was brought back by my father very summarily from my wanderings; I had neglected to go to high school. The last formal school I had attended was Grant School in Oakland and my father said I had to go to university, so he sent me to a prep school in Virginia where I studied for about four months and took the New York Board of Regents and got into George Washington University. They regretted it from there on because I never seemed to stay with the curriculum. At last they said, “Well, after all, you’re not going to practice engineering. We might as well pass you in a few of these courses.”
This was a great relief to me, since my father was bound and determined that the only measure of excellence was A. My only measure of excellence was whether or not I learned anything about what I wanted to know.
Fired initially by Commander Thompson, I took up a search for life force. This is a rather strange and esoteric thing for a young man to take up, but we had to hand Professor Brown, an excellent man. His pupil, Gomez, the man who later catalyzed the entire atom bomb project, was there too. Professor Brown was teaching, for the first time in the United States, atomic and molecular phenomena. That may sound very much of an ear-cracking subject, but we didn’t even have a textbook. We had nothing but the old rules that Halley had laid down.
People were very impressed with atomic molecular phenomena, and I took the course because atomic and molecular phenomena might possibly give us some sort of a clue to life force. After all, we were studying rock bottom energy: What was energy? What could it do? For instance, occasionally in class somebody might hazard the fact that somebody, someday, might split an atom. This was unheard of, and they called these people wild radicals.1
In just such a radical way I was trying to find out, what is the fluid flow along the nerve channels? What is the memory storage device of human cells or of any cells? Can they remember? Obviously they must, but how? I used an old Koenig photometers with a gas flame. Today they have oscilloscopes to do this work. Professor Brown thought I was utterly mad puttering around there, but another man didn’t, and that was Dr. William Alanson White.
The old man was very skeptical that a man studying atomic and molecular phenomena would ever come up with any sort of an answer about human memory storage, until I showed him one day that it was impossible for existing knowledge of structure to be accurate because the mind obviously could not store memory. There was too much memory, it required too much storage space, and there were no known sizes of waves which could, in themselves, come into the brain and be stored in some fashion.
For instance, within the last year a navy scientist was trying to figure out this problem. He was building a big electronic brain for the navy which was to figure out strategy, and he had to do some figures on the human mind to find out how much memory it stored. He found out that even if it remembered only the most important things, it couldn’t possibly store more memory than is contained in three months. In other words, every three months the whole standard bank would have to be dumped in order to make room for the new.
So, we know practically nothing about structure. In spite of the fact that in the beginning I started out trying to isolate life force, I still find myself balked. Perhaps we will be able to sense, measure or experience this thing called life force, to put it on a meter, or perhaps pump it into a corpse. Who knows? But it seems to me, the further I go into the problem however, that religion has a lot to say in its favor. I don’t know where memory is stored in the mind, I don’t know where the personality is stored, I don’t know how these things come about; but I do know the various errors and their mechanics which cause the human mind to think incorrectly, aberratedly. Thompson, Dr. William Alanson White, George Washington University, Grant School, Koenig photometer, life force, memory storage, navy scientist
In Dianetics we know, in short, the bug that gets into the machine. We can trouble-shoot the machine. The state of Dianetics at the present time falls far short of knowing all there is to know about man, but it is far in advance of what we knew before.
Hubbard, L. R. (1950, 23 September). Further Introduction to Dianetics. Oakland Public Lectures, (5009C23A). Lecture conducted from Oakland, California.
- Isolating the life force has been a goal of magicians as early as Eliphas Levi (1810-1875.) Aleister Crowley’s yoga instructor, Charles Bennett, aka Ananda Metteyya, also did experiments on a galvanometer for registering the power of thought. See: World Buddhist Foundation In London Celebrates The United Kingdom Buddhist Day by Tilak Fernando ↩