Physicists Observe Branched Flow of Light – A Spiritual Insight

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Recently researchers have observed and reported on the phenomenon of optical branched flow in liquid soap films. [1] Physicists from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the University of Central Florida learned when waves propagate through a weak disordered potential with a correlation length larger than the wavelength of the laser, they form channels (branches) of enhanced intensity known as branched flow.  Branched flow has been predicted for microwave cavities, it is expected for waves with vastly different wavelengths, such as the focusing mechanism for ocean waves. This phenomenon is also predicted to occur in sound waves and ultrarelativistic electrons in graphene (i.e. last weeks study). Branched flow may act as a trigger for the formation of extreme non-linear events and as a channel through which energy is transmitted in a scattering medium. In this paper [1] researchers observed the branched flow of light inside of a soap membrane.

References

  1. A. Patsyk et al. 2020. Observation of branched flow of light. Nature 583, 60-65; doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2376-8 (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2376-8)

Instead of producing completely random patterns of light, the slowly varying disordered potential in soap films led to focused filaments of light that divide to form patterns which resemble branches of a tree. This phenomenon was first observed for electrons and for microwave cavities. A professor involved in the research in the college of Optics and Photonics at the University of Central Florida said, “We are familiar with the fact that waves spread when they propagate in a homogeneous medium. But for other kinds of mediums, waves can behave in very different ways.”  When using a disordered medium where the variations are smooth, the waves propagate in a particular way, they form channels that keep dividing as the wave propagates.  This phenomenon was observed when coupling laser light to soap membrane.  In optical research, the goal usually is to focus light and propagate the light as a collimated beam.  It was surprising how the random structure of a soap film naturally caused light to remain focused as opposed to having a dispersion effect (i.e. diffuse reflectance). These findings offers new ways to manipulate light, and opens up new opportunities for research.  This is coupled to the fact that the medium light is passing through can be characterized very precisely, it is possible to follow the light propagation effect very closely to understand what is happening.  The new applications that may result from this type of research may be to use light to control fluidic flow in liquids. This might be achieved by combining soap with fluorescent material to force the light to become more collimated or more laser like. This research will help facilitate greater understanding of fundamental waves, such as the transitions from ordinary scattering (i.e. diffuse reflectance) to branched flow (collimated), and the phenomenon of Anderson Localization. (In condensed matter physics, Anderson localization (also known as strong localization) is the absence of diffusion of waves in a disordered medium. This phenomenon is named after the American physicist P. W. Anderson, who was the first to suggest that electron localization is possible in a lattice potential, provided that the degree of randomness (disorder) in the lattice is sufficiently large, as can be realized for example in a semiconductor with impurities or defects.)

The Spiritual insight we may draw out from this type of research is related to how electromagnetic waves propagate through a weak disordered potential. When the correlation length is larger than the wavelength of the laser, the light forms channels (branches) of enhanced intensity known as branched flow as opposed to diffuse reflectance. This parallels something Yeshua said concerning light in the Apostolic Writings. 

Matthew 5:13-20

5:13 ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 5:14 ‘You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 5:15 ‘nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 5:16 ‘Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. 5:17 ‘Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 5:18 ‘For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 5:19 ‘Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 5:20 ‘For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (NASB)

This is the section of Scripture from Matthew is known as the Beatitudes. The Mount of Beatitudes (הר האושר, Har HaOsher) is a hill in northern Israel, in the Korazim Plateau. It is where Yeshua is believed to have delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Following Yeshua’s teaching of the beatitudes he said what we read in Matthew 5:13-20. Notice what he says in 5:16 which states that “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” This idea of allowing light to shine before men, it is a description of what might be called “diffuse reflectance” as opposed to branched flow of light (collimated).  The significant point I want to make concerning the Scientific research and these Words Yeshua is speaking is related to this concept of the directionality of light. Today, in some situations, i.e. in the various social media websites where people around the world share their thoughts, opinions, activities, etc, many people due to the anonymity (or supposed anonymity) of these websites cause them to behave in a manner that is directly opposite to what Yeshua is speaking of here in Matthew 5:16.  The best way to explain this is to say that Christians only behave as Christians around other Christians, but when left to themselves, or in an anonymous situation, behave as non-Christian as one could possibly behave. (Another way of saying this is one does not reflect the light of God in his or her life, but rather, lives  a very sinful life depending upon the situation, portraying one image to friends and family, and another image to the world, etc.) These differences are what the Scientific research is drawing out concerning the differences between branched flow (collimated)versus diffuse reflectance of light! We are called to reflect the glory of God and His righteousness in a diffuse manner and not in a colliminated manner!

In Tehillim / Psalms ג שְׁלַח-אוֹרְךָ וַאֲמִתְּךָ הֵמָּה יַנְחוּנִי יְבִיאוּנִי אֶל-הַר-קָדְשְׁךָ וְאֶל-מִשְׁכְּנוֹתֶיךָ:) 43:3)  we read David saying the following: “O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places.” (NASB) David asks that the “light” of God go forth before him and he states “let them lead me” (הֵמָּה יַנְחוּנִי). Based upon a Hebraic way of thinking, light is synonymous to God’s truth, and innocence is synonymous to walking peacefully with our God and with men (i.e. walking in Justice, Truth, and Righteousness).  Being a light unto the nations is emphasized in Shemot / Exodus 29. Here the Scriptures tell us Moshe consecrated Aaron and his sons as priests with a bull and two rams without blemish (Shemot / Exodus 29:1). The putting on of the special garments for service before the Lord (29:5-6) and anointing with oil (29:7) may be paralleled to ordering one’s life before God and being filled with the Spirit. These things describe how the Levites had a special emphasis on their lives as being holy, living in innocence, and walking in truth before God as they served God in the Tabernacle daily.  In addition to Moshe consecrating Aaron and his sons and the Tent of Meeting, the Lord God says He will also consecrate the tent of meeting, the altar, and the sons of Aaron as priests. The way the text is written, it speaks of a cooperative relationship, both man and God working together to consecrate this holy place. This also speaks to our lives when the Torah Portion Tetzaveh concludes with the Lord saying “I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God.”  These things foreshadow the power of God in our lives and the aspects of consecrating and setting apart that God is doing in our lives due to His dwelling in our midst and our willingness to allow Him to work!

The concept of light, truth, innocence, righteousness, justice, and holiness are all Torah principles.  In the rabbinic literature, often the rabbis make statements that both instruction and the Torah are the light of God.  In the Torah according to Shemot / Exodus 27:20-21, we are told that the menorah stands in the inner sanctuary and is to be kept burning continually.  

ספר שמות פרק כז,  כ   וְאַתָּה תְּצַוֶּה | אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ שֶׁמֶן זַיִת זָךְ כָּתִית לַמָּאוֹר לְהַעֲלֹת נֵר תָּמִיד: כא   בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד מִחוּץ לַפָּרֹכֶת אֲשֶׁר עַל-הָעֵדֻת יַעֲרֹךְ אֹתוֹ אַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו מֵעֶרֶב עַד-בֹּקֶר לִפְנֵי יְהוָֹה חֻקַּת עוֹלָם לְדֹרֹתָם מֵאֵת בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל:

SHEMOT / EXODUS 27:20-21, 27:20 ‘YOU SHALL CHARGE THE SONS OF ISRAEL, THAT THEY BRING YOU CLEAR OIL OF BEATEN OLIVES FOR THE LIGHT, TO MAKE A LAMP BURN CONTINUALLY. 27:21 ‘IN THE TENT OF MEETING, OUTSIDE THE VEIL WHICH IS BEFORE THE TESTIMONY, AARON AND HIS SONS SHALL KEEP IT IN ORDER FROM EVENING TO MORNING BEFORE THE LORD; IT SHALL BE A PERPETUAL STATUTE THROUGHOUT THEIR GENERATIONS FOR THE SONS OF ISRAEL. (NASB)

Israel is instructed to bring clear oil, uncontaminated, pure, derived from beaten olives to be used to keep the menorah burning.  This is to be a perpetual statute throughout their generations for the sons of Israel.  Because of the way these scriptures are written, the rabbis devote the majority of Midrash Rabbah Shemot, Parashat 36 to the concepts of olive oil, righteousness, light, God’s instruction and Torah.

MIDRASH RABBAH SHEMOT, PARASHAT 36, PART 3, ANOTHER EXPLANATION OF, A LEAFY OLIVE TREE.  JUST SEE HOW THE WORDS OF THE TORAH GIVE FORTH LIGHT TO A MAN WHEN HE STUDIES THEM; BUT HE WHO DOES NOT OCCUPY HIMSELF WITH THE TORAH AND DOES NOT KNOW IT, STUMBLES.  IT CAN BE COMPARED TO ONE WHO STANDS IN A DARK PLACE; AS SOON AS HE STARTS WALKING, HE STUMBLES AGAINST A STONE; HE THEN STRIKES A GUTTER, FALLS INTO IT, AND KNOCKS HIS FACE ON THE GROUND, AND ALL BECAUSE HE HAS NO LAMP IN HIS HAND.  IT IS THE SAME WITH THE ORDINARY INDIVIDUAL WHO HAS NO TORAH IN HIM; HE STRIKES AGAINST SIN, STUMBLES, AND DIES, WHILE THE HOLY SPIRIT EXCLAIMS, HE WILL DIE FOR LACK OF INSTRUCTION (MISHLEY / PROVERBS 5:23); AND INSTRUCTION MEANS THE TORAH, AS IT SAYS, TAKE FAST HOLD OF INSTRUCTION, LET HER NOT GO (MISHLEY / PROVERBS 4:13).  HE DIES, BECAUSE HE KNOWS NOT THE TORAH AND GOES AND SINS, AS IT SAYS, THE WAY OF THE WICKED IS DARKNESS; THEY KNOW NOT AT WHAT THEY STUMBLE (MISHLEY / PROVERBS 4:19).  BUT THOSE WHO STUDY THE TORAH GIVE FORTH LIGHT WHEREVER THEY MAY BE.  IT IS LIKE ONE STANDING IN THE DARK WITH A LAMP IN HIS HAND; WHEN HE SEES A STONE, HE DOES NOT STUMBLE, NEITHER DOES HE FALL OVER A GUTTER BECAUSE HE HAS A LAMP IN HIS HAND, AS IT SAYS, THY WORD IS A LAMP UNTO MY FEET, AND A LIGHT UNTO MY PATH (TEHILLIM / PSALMS 119:105), AND ALSO, AND IF YOU RUN, YOU WILL NOT STUMBLE (MISHLEY / PROVERBS 4:12), AND ALSO, THE SPIRIT OF MAN IS THE LAMP OF THE LORD (MISHLEY / PROVERBS 20:27).  GOD SAID, LET MY LAMP BE IN YOUR HAND AND YOUR LAMP IN MY HAND.  WHAT IS THE LAMP OF GOD?  THE TORAH, AS IT SAYS, FOR THE COMMANDMENT IS A LAMP, AND THE TEACHING IS LIGHT (MISHLEY / PROVERBS 4:23).  WHY IS THE COMMANDMENT A LAMP?  BECAUSE IF ONE PERFORMS A COMMANDMENT IT IS AS IF HE HAD KINDLED A LIGHT BEFORE GOD AS IF HE HAD REVIVED HIS OWN SOUL, ALSO CALLED A LIGHT, FOR IT SAYS, THE SPIRIT OF MAN IS THE LAMP OF THE LORD (MISHLEY / PROVERBS 20:27).  WHY IS TEACHING CALLED LIGHT?  BECAUSE IT OFTEN HAPPENS THAT WHEN ONE IS EAGER TO FULFILL A PRECEPT, HIS EVIL INCLINATION WITHIN HIM DISSUADES HIM, SAYING, WHY DO YOU WANT TO PERFORM THIS COMMAND AND DIMINISH YOUR WEALTH?  INSTEAD OF GIVING AWAY TO OTHERS, GIVE IT TO YOUR OWN CHILDREN.  BUT THE GOOD INCLINATION SAYS TO HIM, GIVE RATHER TO A PIOUS CAUSE; FOR SEE WHAT IT SAYS, FOR THE COMMANDMENT IS A LAMP; JUST AS THE LIGHT OF THE LAMP IS UNDIMINISHED EVEN IF A MILLION WAX AND TALLOW CANDLES ARE KINDLED FROM IT, SO WILL HE WHO GIVES TOWARDS THE FULFILLMENT OF ANY COMMANDMENT SUFFER A DIMINUTION OF HIS POSSESSIONS.  HENCE, FOR THE COMMANDMENT IS A LAMP, AND THE TEACHING IS LIGHT.

According to Midrash Rabbah Shemot, Parashat 36, Part 3, the rabbis teach that the words of the Torah give forth light to a man when he studies them. This is how we diffuse reflect the light of God in our lives, just as Yeshua was saying in Matthew 5. The Midrash continues saying he who does not occupy himself with the Torah and does not know it, stumbles.  Examples are given to clarify the meaning of stumbling without the light the Word of God provides us. The goal of the Torah is to inform us by defining sin and disobedience. This leads us to repent and seek the Messiah of God! (see Romans 10:4) The most important principle that we are being taught is that one must know God’s Word, one must have the Lord God dwelling in his or her midst by His Spirit, and one must have the help of God to overcome sin so he/she will not stumble due to sin and die.  The point the rabbis are making is without the Torah one would not know he sins, and the example given is according to the words of King Solomon in Mishley / Proverbs 4:19 saying that “The way of the wicked is darkness; they know not at what they stumble.”  Those who do not know the Lord God of Israel do not know the difference between right and wrong. The Midrash states that the Torah functions as a lamp for us to see where we can walk without stumbling due to sin (Tehillim / Psalms 119:105).  In addition, the proverbs tells us that “The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord” (Mishley / Proverbs 20:27). We see how the Lord God is working in our lives, and how we are living our lives for the Lord, there is again a cooperative work that is designed to demonstrate both our own willingness and God’s willingness to work together. The most fascinating aspect of the midrash is the statement which states:

“God said, Let My lamp be in your hand and your lamp in My hand.  What is the lamp of God?  The Torah, as it says, For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light” (Mishley / Proverbs 4:23).

The idea being put forward here is concerning the one who performs a commandment (maasim tovim) it is as if he has kindled a light before God.  The midrash states “The Torah, as it says, For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light” (Mishley / Proverbs 4:23).  Both the concepts of performing a command (mitzvah) and applying a teaching (instruction) to our lives are paralleled to a lamp or light.  The rabbis ask the question of why is teaching called a light? they say, “Because it often happens that when one is eager to fulfill a precept, his Evil Inclination within him dissuades him, saying, Why do you want to perform this command and diminish your wealth?”  Why do you think the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination) is used as the Nimshal (נמשל, i.e. the deeper truth being hinted at in the story) to explain the rabbinic analogy on “teaching” being called “light?”  The desires of the flesh tend to work in this way being described as the Yetzer Hara arguing against the Torah command. The example given is charity, to give to others or to take care of the poor.  Charity is the giving to a stranger, not to your own children. Giving wealth to children causes one’s wealth to not leave the family.

All of these things reveal to us what this type of research is drawing out, related to how electromagnetic waves propagate through a weak disordered potential. When the correlation length is larger than the wavelength of the laser, the light forms channels (branches) of enhanced intensity known as branched flow as opposed to diffuse reflectance. Yeshua said that we are to be a light unto the world. The concept of “God’s light” means that the Lord is the source and measure for all that is true. These things should be evident in our lives to all who know us, regardless of the situation we find ourselves in! We are to diffuse reflect the glory of God, not directionally reflect to some and live sinful lives to others. Considering truth and light, and how the rabbis interpret the importance of the Torah, these statements suggest to us that nothing is truly understood until it is understood in the light of the Word of the Lord.  This is why Solomon said what he did saying, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Mishley / Proverbs 1:7).  Studying the Scriptures is essential for each and every one of us! This must be coupled to our willingness to receive the Lord God into our lives, to humble our hearts to hear His Word, and then to apply that word of truth as we go through life in public and in private! The Lord is the source of all that is true, and the reason the Apostle John used the word “light” in his opening verses to the Gospel of John because the light carries a positive connotation that God’s word is truth, and God’s truth is found in Yeshua the Messiah.  In addition, these things draw out the concepts of how we are to be living our lives, not as two separate people.  The light that God gives us is not to be unidirectional. It is to be diffuse, as a light on a lamp stand, as a testimony to all the world! These are the reasons John used the word “light” as it illustrates the truth of God. This is also the reason the Torah is called the “light of God because contained within the pages of the Torah is the truth of God full of joy and hope.  One of the major aspects of the “light” of the Torah is the truth, hope, and joy that is found in the command, not only in our walking with the Lord in His ways, but in the expectation of being in a relationship with the God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua! 

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Duane D. Miller received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Akron Ohio. He is currently a Chemical Engineering Researcher. Duane’s research expertise has focused upon functional materials development for the control, conversion, and release of process gases in Energy production technologies. His R&D interests include computational chemistry, developing novel technologies for converting biomass to fuels and studying their fundamental interactions during the chemical conversion process. His past experience includes sorbent development for pre- and post-combustion CO2 and SO2 capture, selective absorption of H2S from methane streams, O2 capture for oxy-fuel combustion, photocatalytic reduction of alcohols, NOx reduction catalysis, the development of oxygen carriers to combust fossil fuels (CH4 and coal) for the chemical looping combustion processes, and the extraction of rare earth elements using patent pending sorbents. His research expertise has focused on operando-characterization using Infrared, Raman, and UV-Vis spectroscopy to observe the nature of the catalytic active sites and reaction intermediates under realistic reaction conditions, allowing direct correlation of molecular/electronic structures with catalyst performance during Gas-Solid / Liquid-Solid Adsorption and Photocatalytic Processes with real time online analysis of reaction products using ICP-MS and mass spectrometry. His current work involves a multi-disciplinary approach to developing, understanding, and improving the catalytic gasification of coal and methane, high temperature chemical looping combustion, and the catalytic decomposition and gasification of biomass and coal using novel microwave reactor.​ He has been studying the Hebrew Scriptures and the Torah for 20+ years and sharing what he has learned. The studies developed for MATSATI.COM are freely to be used by everyone, to God be the Glory!