Our concepts of our environment do not die slowly. They neither crumble and rot into oblivion nor do they grow beautiful with old age. They are systematically killed by men themselves. First, suspicion is cast on them, and, they are defended for a while by traditionalists, but inevitably, they are swiftly dispatched by scientific exploration.
Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “A mind stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimensions.”
Classical physics took form when Newton developed his theory of gravity and the mathematics we commonly know as calculus. Newtonian physics were three dimensional: width, height and depth. Three hundred years ago Isaac Newton declared space and time to be eternal and immutable ingredients in the makeup of the cosmos; pristine structures lying beyond the bounds of question and explanation. Newton wrote in Principia Mathmatica, “Absolute space in its nature without relation to anything external remains always similar and immovable. Absolute, true and mathematical time of itself and from its own nature flows equably without relation to anything external.”
Newton’s theories of the universe, though they would be shown to be imprecise by Einstein, served science well for centuries. Despite their inadequacies, they enabled the technological innovations of the industrial revolution. A theory is a coherent model that guides one’s thoughts, a set of perceptions that can be modified until a better theory is advanced. Newton’s theories included his theory of gravity for which he developed the calculus to describe it, his concept of three dimensions in an infinite universe, his particle theory of light and his underlying belief incorporated into his theories that there were, in fact, straight lines in nature. Newton’s inquiries concerning the physics of light resulted in the particle theory of light; i.e. each light ray traveled in a straight line and had an incredibly small bit of mass.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the German physicist, Max Planck, tried unsuccessfully to apply Classical Physics to the smallest bits of matter and energy which the physics of large objects could not explain or predict. The smallest bits of matter and energy seemed to roil around independently defying all attempts to describe a predictable pattern. Planck concluded that energy exists only in distinct packages, which he called “quanta” rather than energy flowing in a continuous stream like water. Energy comes in tiny lumps, in packets. A single packet is a quantum and Planck’s ideas were soon called the “quantum theory.”
Planck’s quanta were not like Newton’s microscopic bullets of light. Quanta can behave like particles and quanta can behave like waves. It seems counter-intuitive, but, light can be both particles and waves and the difference depends fundamentally on how it is studied. When physicists try to measure light as a particle, it behaves like a wave. When physicists try to measure light as a wave, it behaves like a particle. This is known as the particle-wave duality. Quantum theory encountered powerful opposition but, it worked. It allowed physicists to understand things that could not be explained otherwise. Quantum mechanics opened the door to new discoveries and new inventions. Sixty years after Planck announced his theory of quantum mechanics the first laser was built. The computer, modern telecommunications, CAT scanners, radio telescopes, transistors and nuclear power plants could not have been developed without quantum mechanics. The work of Max Planck, the earlier discoveries of radioactivity and the photoelectric effect were bombshells in the revolution of physics.
In 1913 the Danish physicist, Nils Bohr, produced a basic explanation of the way that light interacts with atoms. His work showed how atoms produced photons and why the quantum theory correctly explained the nature of light. Electrons can orbit the nucleus at many different levels like satellites that orbit the earth at many different altitudes. Electrons can change their orbits going higher or lower depending on how much energy they contain. An electron can absorb the energy of an incoming photon and jump to a higher orbit. Such an electron is said to be “excited.” Not just any amount of energy will excite an electron. Each electron orbit is susceptible to only a very narrow range of incoming energy. The photon must have the right wavelength or the electron will not absorb it and will not become excited. Even when an electron does get excited, the duration of excitement is brief. In most cases the electron quickly jumps back to its original orbit and gives off a photon of precisely the same wavelength as it originally absorbed. Bohr showed the atom to be a dynamic thing, far more complex than the Newtonian idea of a miniature solar system in which the electrons obediently circled the nucleus. The quantum mechanics model of the atom depicts electrons hopping back and forth from one orbital level to another absorbing incoming photons and emitting photons constantly.
Dr. Richard Feynman said about quantum mechanics, “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.” Dr. Feynman received the Nobel Prize in theoretical physics on two separate occasions for his ground breaking work in the field. Despite the fact that quantum mechanics cannot be understood, it, nevertheless, is used to accurately calculate the dynamics of these packages of bits of matter and energy to an exceptional degree of accuracy.
Einstein revolutionized the physics of very large objects. Relativity added time as a fourth dimension to Newton’s three dimensions. Through general relativity Einstein forged a link between the physics of gravity and the geometry of space-time. Thus, gravitation was identified as a fifth dimension. Einstein’s Special theory of Relativity showed that photons are the speed champions of the universe. No particle in nature travels faster than light. Einstein showed that no physical object, from subatomic particles to the largest objects in the universe can travel faster than light. More than that, Einstein’s theory claimed that matter and energy are interchangeable. The most famous equation in science is E = mc squared. E is energy, m is the mass of the matter under consideration, and, c is the speed of light. The amount of energy inside of any piece of matter is equal to the mass of that matter times the speed of light squared. Atoms are storehouses of incredibly powerful amounts of energy.
In 1919 a total eclipse of the sun allowed astronomers to check a prediction Einstein had made on the positions of certain stars. This prediction was based on his general theory of relativity, which was published in 1915, ten years after he published his special theory of relativity. Einstein’s general theory of relativity stated that a strong gravitational field, such as the gravitational field of the sun, could bend beams of light. Newton’s classical physics assumed that light traveled in straight lines. The general theory dealt with the new theory of gravitation. Einstein’s prediction proved correct. Light is affected by gravitational forces. Thus, light travels in curved paths, not straight lines.
In the 1920’s Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schroedinger introduced what has come to be called the uncertainty principal, a logical consequence of Quantum Mechanics that is often misunderstood. Simply stated, the uncertainty principal says that you can’t measure the position of a subatomic particle and its momentum (motion) at the same time. You can get a good fix on a particle’s location, but, then you won’t be able to tell where it is heading, or, you can determine its momentum, but, you won’t know where it is. When most people measure the distance to something they do it by sight. Most people’s measuring tools are vision oriented. When people use rulers or tape measures this involves bouncing photons off of something and receiving those photons in their eyes. When we get down to the sizes of subatomic particles, they are so tiny that photons push them around. If you send in a photon to measure the location of a subatomic particle, it actually pushes the particle as it bounces off it. When the photon returns to your receiver, it can tell you where the particle was when it struck it, but it can’t tell you where it is now. That is the essence of the uncertainty principal.
By the middle of the 20th century physicists had answered the question, “What is light?” Light is a form of electromagnetic energy, a narrow slice of wavelength in the very wide spectrum of electromagnetic energy. Other wavelengths are used for radio, television and x-rays.
SUPER STRING THEORY
Today’s theoretical physicists continue to search for the grand unified theory that will encompass all physics. As far as physics has come, even yet, it has not advanced enough to comprise the sought after Grand Unified Theory. In recent years the Super String Theory has been advanced which, if accepted by physicists, may be the linkage between relativity and quantum mechanics. In order to understand Super String Theory, one must discard their conventional concept of a 3-dimensional world, or, after Einstein, a 5-dimensional world.
String theory advanced the idea that, instead of 5 dimensions, there are 10 dimensions, the tenth dimension being time. The theory was not broadly accepted. The later theory denominated “Super String Theory” called for 11 dimensions, the eleventh being time. Super String Theory has broken through in one specific area. Super String theory connected the physics of gravitation with the physics of electro-magnetism by applying Super String Theory. Thus, Super String Theory has tied together the physics of the 3 conventional dimensions of Classical Physics, the two dimensions from Relativity; time and gravitation; and the dimension of electro-magnetism.
Allow me to pause and ask, “Are any of you thinking outside the box right now?” I thought you might be. Now that you are thinking outside the box I would like to introduce mediation… outside the box.
In Chapter 1 of his book, “The Beauty of Light” Ben Bova writes, “Most of the information we get about the world around us comes into our brains through our eyes. Vision provides more than 10 times as much information as hearing principally because light waves can carry enormously more bits of information than sound waves.” Bova continues, “Sight is the most important of the five senses for most humans.” “We acquire much larger amounts of information through vision than through hearing.” Bova concludes that, “Our minds depend on sight.”
The quiet genius, Eric J. Lindblom PhD, wrote, “Sound is 360 degrees. Light is not.” He continued, “When I was doing therapy, I’d pay more attention to the intonation of a person’s voice, often, even more than to what they said. I’d read between the lines that way.” Dr. Lindblom was gathering unobtrusive data. Mediators can learn how to do so too.
The socialization process teaches people to disguise their facial expressions in negotiations. The words “poker face” and “putting a good face on” are easy examples of the subtle socialization process. However, it is very difficult to disguise one’s voice. To gather unobtrusive data during a mediation I carefully listen to tone of voice, rate of speech, nervous tendencies, clearing the throat, word choice, tempo, timbre and timing. I take careful note of silences. There are silences due to hesitation, silences due to reflection, silences due to an effort to control anger, elation, frustration, joy, nervousness and rage. Non-verbal cues such as shuffling feet or tapping a pencil or pen on the tabletop generally indicate nervousness which may preface circumlocutions and evasions. These auditory observations allow me to evaluate the level of response, thus, assisting me to move the mediation forward more precisely.
Incorporated in my process of careful listening is a conscious awareness that responses from the parties indicate agreement, non-disagreement, non-agreement and disagreement. Several examples may clarify this point.
1. In a mediation which has progressed to the caucus phase, I find it extremely valuable to listen to the response when I, with pre-authorization, present a settlement offer to the other party.
If the response is, “No”
Voice 1: ( 0) Voice 2: ( 0)
communicates more than just a rejection of the settlement offer. By carefully listening to the tone and the pitch of the answer I can usually learn a significant amount of information that will speed a settlement. Click on each of the above and listen to the single word. What do you hear? Other than a rejection of the offer, there is much more information contained in the tone, timbre, pitch and pattern of the rejection. Allow me to ask the reader to listen to the two rejections and answer these questions:
1. Which of the two voices indicate that an anchor is already in place?
2. Which of the 2 voices indicate a greater flexibility to negotiate?
3. Which voice will respond more favorably to a quick request for a counter offer?
4. Which voice will respond more favorably to a discussion of the components of the damages and how they were computed?
2. Which of the two voices below exhibits the timbre and timing that tells you that they are about to prevaricate?
Voice 1: ( 0) Voice 2: ( 0)
Did you choose voice 1 or voice 2? Why?
At the beginning of choice number 2 the voice hesitates and then answers. Choice 1 does not. The hesitation is the key and tells you that a prevarication is about to follow.
Let’s try one more.
3. During a joint session one party’s attorney makes a statement. The party speaks immediately after his/her attorney.
Voice 1: ( 0) Voice 2: ( 0)
Listen to the voices and decide which you think is the real settlement figure that will be acceptable?
Now that you have experienced some of the subtle differences in the multi-dimensional qualities of a voice, it is time to advance to examples of the differences between agreement, non-disagreement, non-agreement and disagreement. Listen to the voice clips below and consider the questions that follow.
Voice 1: ( 0) Voice 2: ( 0)
Voice 3: ( 0) Voice 4: ( 0)
It is easy to discern which voice clip expresses agreement and which voice clip expresses disagreement. The question then is, “Which of the voice clips expresses non-disagreement and which expresses non-agreement?”
Voice clip 1 ( 0) expresses disagreement.
Voice clip 3 ( 0) is a clear expression of agreement.
Voice clip 2 ( 0) expresses non-disagreement.
Voice clip 4 ( 0) expresses non-agreement.
As mediators you are already excellent listeners. The question then becomes, “How do I improve my listening skills to take advantage of the information available via the sound vector?” The answer is duplexing. Duplexing is a word used in psychology to described thinking on two levels simultaneously. Imagine a residential duplex with a unit downstairs and a unit upstairs. When you are speaking and listening, consider this to be the downstairs tenant talking with the mailman or a salesman just outside the front door. The upstairs tenant is looking out the view window at the conversation in progress with the windows open and the voices drifting up clearly. That is the perspective which constitutes duplexing. You, the upstairs tenant, are watching yourself, the downstairs tenant, as the downstairs tenant engages in a conversation with someone. From your upstairs perch you can see much more than the downstairs tenant can see. You are watching and listening not to what is being said, but, more importantly, you are listening to how it is being said. It is as simple as that. Practice it for a while and the more you practice, the better you will become at using another part of your brain to track the conversation and to notice subtle things such as pauses, clearing the throat, circumlocutions, evasions, etc. as previously discussed.
The field of cognitive science has ventured into the realm of the brain subdividing it into multiple cortexes. For the purposes of this paper we need only consider the visual cortex, the V cortex, and, the audio cortex, the A cortex. The V cortex is located at the back of the head. The A cortex is located on the left side of the head in front of and a little higher than the ear canal. The V cortex and the A cortex operate separately, yet, there is crossover and data sharing. The other three senses occupy very little space to operate in the brain. Cognitive science has advanced to determine how the brain maps incoming sensory data. This mapping process can be influenced and taught to share sensory data more energetically than it does normally. Duplexing is a quick way to develop this area of the brain to generate better sensory data sharing.
Another way to develop the A cortex is to listen to television from another room. A video movie can make an excellent teaching device to aid you in the process of expanding and enhancing the A cortex. You will ultimately discover that most meaning comes through the sound vector and, therefore, is processed by the A cortex. Tone, timbre and timing as well as the other aforementioned carriers of meaning will help guide your mediations to efficient, effective settlements.
FN1: Newton’s law of gravity is as follows: The gravitational force between any two bodies is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.
FN2: Duplexing is a term applied to information feedback in its many variations. In psychology, it is used to describe thinking on two levels simultaneously. (duplexing is used to describe the simplest form of multiplexing) It is also used to describe neuronal activity where it denotes electrical excitation applied at the distal end of an axon propagating “up the down escalator” towards the soma.
The author wishes to acknowledge Joseph Franklin Klatt as a reviewer of this article. Joseph is my son. He has attended several mediation courses with me as my reader including Loyola Law School. Joseph begins law school in the Fall. The author also wishes to acknowledge Mike Stalsby for his technical assistance with the finalization of this article. Mike is a law student at Abraham Lincoln University School of Law.
An upfront confession— I have no idea what the future of mediation holds—and I don’t think anyone else does either. I still can’t believe Ronald Reagan was elected President (or...By Bernard Mayer