Howard Bloom’s God Problem Tour

March 19, 2013

The God Problem

What the hell is Howard Bloom up to now?  Nothing.  One of the most important nothings confronting science today, he says.

Bloom is a scientific thinker who has been called “next in a lineage of seminal thinkers that includes Newton, Darwin, Einstein, [and] Freud,” by Britain’s Channel4 TV, “the next Stephen Hawking” by Gear Magazine, and “The Buckminster Fuller and Arthur C. Clarke of the new millennium” by Buckminster Fuller’s archivist Bonnie de Varco.

And he is about to blitz Boston, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Los Angeles with a book talk  that has blasted minds at places like the Harvard Coop and the Columbia University Bookstore.  Bloom is discussing his latest book, The God Problem: How A Godless Cosmos Creates.  And more.  Or is it less?

Bloom’s 46-minute God Problem talk has generated after-talk dialogs that have lasted from three hours to nearly seven hours.  At Brooklyn’s Body Actualized Center, for example, Bloom’s God Problem performance was up against the opening night of the Rolling Stones’ 50th Anniversary Tour at the nearby Barclay Center.  Yet Bloom packed the place.  And the audience insisted on staying and dialoging from 7 pm to an astonishing 1:45 am in the morning.

Why?  Bloom tries to get across a scientific mystery.  A mystery right under science’s nose.  Take science’s most often-used metaphor, the wave.  A wave generated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean travels over five thousand miles to reach the coast of Japan.  And it retains a visible identity the entire way.

What’s more, it can have enormous power.  If it is a tsunami, it can sweep entire parking lots of cars and villages of homes in, let’s say Fukushima, away.  In fact the wave can wipe out as many as 16,000 lives.  Or 230,000 lives in the case of the tsunami that hit Indonesia in 2004.

And yet, says Bloom, the wave doesn’t exist.  It is a nothing.  A no thing.

Surely that’s absurd.  The relatives of the victims of the tsunamis in Fukushima and Indonesia will tell you just how real a wave is.  But, says, Bloom, imagine you are a molecule of water in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  How do you spend your time?  You bob up and down.  You circle in place.  When you bob up to the top, you help make the peak of a wave.  When you bob below the surface, you make that wave’s trough.

But here’s the weird part.  When you circle back to the surface the second time, you make the peak of yet another wave.  Yes, another wave.  A wave with yet another identity.  A wave whose impact on the shore may have its own, separate consequences.

So what travels the miles from a seabed-quake zone to the shores of Fukushima?  Nothing.  No thing.  No water molecule makes that trip.  What, then, crushes homes in Fukushima and carries their remains inland?  Says Bloom, an immaterial pattern does that damage.  A pattern that picks up recruits in one spot, grabs them in a fist, then abandons them and picks up new recruits.  An immaterial pattern that somehow manages to maintain its shape, its form, its identity.  A pattern that accomplishes this despite its utter promiscuousness about the matter it musters; the matter it seduces, kidnaps, recruits, and organizes; the matter it momentarily contains,,,and then abandons.

Bloom shows you the power of a wild variety of these nothings, these no-things.  Why? To make you think.  To immerse you in science’s next big questions.  And to hopefully make you part of the answer.

What is Bloom’s God Problem tour about?  The power of nothings.  One of the most mind-stumping and important powers in this cosmos.


3/23 7 pm EnlightenNext, Studio Soto, Channel Center St, Boston, MA 02210

3/28th 6 pm Elliott Bay Books, 1521 Tenth Avenue Seattle, WA 98122

3/30th 7:15 pm Live Wire Radio, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Portland Or, Alberta Rose Theatre,  3000 NE Alberta St,  Portland, OR 97211, (503) 719-6055

3/31 7:30 pm Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W Burnside, Portland, OR, 97209

4/2 Stanford University Bookstore, 519 Lasuen Mall Stanford, CA, 94305

4/3 Books Inc. in Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102

4/4 University of Southern California Bookstore, 840 W 36th Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90089