Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Quran and Theory of Pairs

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The Holy Quran and Dirac's Theory of Pairs
Sultan Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood
Robin Yasin Qusab

One of Newton's successors to the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge - was one of the greatest physicists of the 20th Century. According to Professor Abdus Salam, Dirac's work is one of the monu­ments of modern physical theory [5]. This paper highlights his great Work on the possible existence of all matter in pairs; and the revelation of the same theory in the Holy Quran, thirteen hundred years before Dirac's work.

It is not the author's purpose to convert his readers to his way of seeing the world. He will be satisfied if he is able to provoke thought in the reader's mind. Any con­structively made response, positive or negative, con­tributes to a debate on issues that concern us all. The Holy Quran Research Foundation would be happy to hear from any reader with questions, a thirst for more information, or even with disagreements. Above all, we do not ask you to suspend your disbelief while reading this brief text. Instead, we ask you to use your critical abilities to honestly consider the questions raised.

Dirac's discovery

Dirac had the honour of being the first scientist in history to demonstrate the principle that all particles in the universe must exist in pairs, that for each particle there must exist a corresponding anti-particle of exactly the same mass but with an opposite electrical charge. For all matter in the universe, in other words, there must exist an equal amount of anti-matter. Thus the existence of a proton must imply the possible existence of an anti-proton; if a hydrogen atom exists, there must equally exist an atom of anti-hydrogen, perhaps in some distant corner of the universe. [5]

Equal amounts of matter and anti-matter were produced in the first moments of the Big Bang. In our present universe, however, a particle will not be found co-existing peacefully side by side with its corresponding anti-particle. To understand this, we could retail the old European myth of the doppelganger, the perfect double of the unlucky hero. The message of the stones is always to avoid the doppelganger: if you meet your double you will be destroyed.

Just so, if matter and anti-matter meet they an­nihilate each other, their energy and momentum dissolv­ing into heat and light. According to Dr Abus Salam,
"in Dirac's language, anti-matter is ‘minus matter’; matter and anti-matter just cannot co-exist in the same part of the universe without the everimpending catastrophe of annihilation; and indeed some astronomers do believe that just this type of annihilation of galaxies and anti-galaxies is taking place at the sites of powerful X-ray sources in the heavens." [5]
Dirac predicted the existence of anti-matter in 1934, and the discoveries of specific anti-particles in the following years confirmed his prediction.

The Fish Problem

According to an apocryphal story popular in Cambridge, the germ of Dirac's breakthrough materialized front a mathematical brain-teaser seeming­ly unrelated to theoretical physics. During a meeting of the Cambridge Undergraduate Mathematical Society, the Archimedians, the following problem was presented. Those who like a challenge can try working it out for themselves. The answer is provided below for those whose brains become tangled by figures.

After a long day, three fishermen have caught a good amount of fish. They are about to set sail for home when a storm suddenly builds up. Under raging skies, they decide to seek shelter on a nearby island. They unload their catch and set a fire before falling asleep. A few hours later, one fisherman wakes up to find that the weather has settled enough for a safe return to he possible. Not wanting to disturb his friends, he divides the haul into three equal parts. There is one fish remain­ing, and this the fisherman throws back into the sea. He then leaves with his share.

A little afterwards the second fisherman awakes, also with the desire to get back home. Unaware that one of his friends has already left, he too divides the catch into three equal parts. Again there is one fish remaining, and again this is thrown back into the sea. The fisherman rows off with his portion. Finally the third fisherman arises and goes through the same process, dividing the remaining fish into three parts, finding one fish remain­ing, which he then throws back into the sea. He leaves the island with his portion.

And now for the problem: What is the minimum number of fish in the original catch? To put it another way, what is the smallest number which can be subdivided thrice, leaving one fish outstanding each time?

The Answer

Dirac thought for a while before arriving at the answer: minus two. If you divide minus two fish thrice, each third will contain minus one fish, with plus one fish outstanding. Each time a fisherman throws the plus one fish into the sea, and rows off with the minus one fish. Expressed in an equation, it looks like this:
-2 = -1-1-1 +1
Minus one fish is obviously no use to anyone, and this is certainly a brain-teaser. It is important only that it gave birth to the notion of anti-particles in Dirac's brain, and can help us to understand the mathematical prin­ciple behind his discovery. It led him to the conclusion that all particles exist in opposing pairs, and allowed him to see the symmetry of matter and anti-matter.

The Holy Quran and Dirac's theory

As we have already noted, Dirac was the first man in the history of science to make this profound discovery. For this he must be congratulated, and so must the modern scientific methods which have brought us so much practical information about ourselves and the universe in which we live.

Many centuries before Dirac, however, a text was revealed to an unlettered man in the Arabian desert. Its primary Message was of the existence of one Creator and of an Afterlife in which human beings would be rewarded or punished for their conduct while on earth. But this was no ordinary religious book, for it continually exhorted its readers to examine the natural world around them for the signs of God to develop logical and objective think­ing, and to place a crucial emphasis on education. This book broke down the artificial boundaries which divide material and spiritual study. In the Holy Quran, science and religion are entirely compatible. Indeed, they cannot be distinguished.

In the Quran, we find the following verses, direct­ly relevant to Dirac's discoveries of the pairings and symmetries of the universe's structure:-
"Glory to Allah. Who created all things in pairs, Those that the earth produces, as well as their own (human) kind, and things of which they have no knowledge." (Sura 36:36)
The line ‘Who created all things in pairs’ clearly shows that the Quran is referring to a law of nature; all things on earth and in the heavens, animal, vegetable or mineral (and even sub-atomic), have been created in pairs. (And modern science has evolved around the study of pairs, from the male/female pair which generates animal and plant life to the pairings of quarks and leptons which arc the most basic building blocks of the universe).

The line 'Things of which they have no knowledge' suggests that the theory of pairs is of univer­sal scope. It applies equally at all points in time and space; even in worlds of which we have no knowledge.

Elsewhere in the Quran we find a statement which modern science has spent its history in confirming:
"We have created, in exact measures and proportions." (Sura 51:49)
The line "In exact measures and proportions," is most revealing from a scientific point of view. The Quran was revealed long before the dawning of the scientific age, but it contains the unambiguous lessons that the universe follows certain rules and that it is structured according to a perfect symmetry. Every force in the universe is a definite, of exact measurement and propor­tion following precise laws:-
"And there is not a thing, but its storehouse is with Us, and We send them down, but in definite ascertainable measures." (Sura 15:21)


God, the Absolute Singularity

The Holy Quran refers to God as The first (Al-­Awwal) and The Last (Al-Akhir). The Outermost (Az­-Zahir) and The Innermost (Al-Batin).
"He is the first, nd the Last, He is the Outermost, and the innermost, and He is the knower of all things..." (Sura 57:3)
This verse the first and the last relate to the time domain and 'the outermost' and 'the innermost' to the space domain. As such time and space are the first pair of nature. By extension all pairs are finally unified in the only Singularity in the universe: God. All pairs are aspects of the same reality, to which they all must return the oneness Of God.

But the Quran does not only give us information about the universe. It goes a step further, requiring us to use this information to develop our thinking. As always, the Quran demands the active participation of its reader.
"And of everything, we have created in pairs, that you may reflect." (Sura 51:49)
The Quran here asks us in think, offering both a mental challenge and a proof of God's existence. If we reflect on the paired structure of the universe by using the methods of scientific reductionism, breaking a com­plex system clown into its simplest units, we will finally come back to a single originary point, an absolute sin­gularity, the one source of time and space: ALLAH. (4). As the Quran says:-
"And an that is in the heavens, and all that is in the earth, it is from Allah; and (in the final analysis) Everything will return to Him." (Sura 3:109)


Guidance for the modern age

The Quran comments on many areas of interest to modern science, from medicine to geology. Many verses of the Quran have taken on added significance as new scientific discoveries have been made. In fact, it seems that science has been following the Quran’s lead for centuries.

Furthermore, in an age when progress in such fields as genetic engineering or chemical weaponry has raised complex ethical questions, the Quran teaches the salutary lesson that science should be the servant of mankind, not vice versa. It provides a model for all our endeavours in which symmetry is a prime value. Tech­nological progress must be balanced by a symmetrical spiritual development. The new freedoms that we have won through our expanding knowledge must be balanced by an awareness of our new responsibilities. Otherwise our achievements will turn upon us, polluting our environment, increasing rather than diminishing our suffering. Without the guidance of Islam through the Quran, man with his scientific achievements will be like a child surrounded by dangerous toys.

This book provided the light by which a great scientific culture once thrived. The Muslim world today, cursed as it is by illiteracy, intolerance and superstition, is a poor reflection of that former glory. This is the fault of human beings, not of the message of Islam, whose light continues to shine. Its light is every bit as available to a non-Muslim as it is to someone who has grown up in a Muslim environment. Once we move beyond our habitual beliefs and prejudices, all of us can profit from the message of the Quran. An independent and free­thinking mind is all that is necessary to see its light. If we read, discuss and reflect upon the Quran, we can use that light to guide us now in our explorations of the universe and ourselves.

For this reason, we appeal to you to read the Quran. The example of the Quran's truth presented in this paper is only one starting point. The Quran reveals further riches with each reading. The light of this book, which spoke to 6th Century Arabs of things of which they had no knowledge, can teach modern man too.

References and Recommended Reading

[1] The Holy Quran: with English translation and Commentary by; Mr. Yousaf Al, Mr. Muhammad and Maulana Darya Aback
[2] Maurice Bucaille:"The Bible, the Quran & Science" (The author, a French scientist, became a Muslim after making this study of the relationship between modern science and the scriptures).
[3]Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood: "Doomsday and Life after Death" (234 pages) published by the Holy Quran Research Foundation, Islamabad, 1991.
[4]Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood: "Symmetry of the Universe and the Quran" a paper published in the journal "Science and Technology in the Islamic World, Vol 5, No. 1, Jan 1987. Pub. by the National Science Council of Pakistan.
[5]Abdus Salam: 'Symmetry Concepts in Modern Science". published by the Atomic Energy Centre, Eahore, 1966

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