Adinkras are visual symbols used to convey a message. Created by the Akan in Ghana, Africa, there are around 400 such symbols that are used to express the Akan philosophy of the human experience. Adinkra symbols have taken on a new meaning to theoretical physicists that points to our experience within the universe.
James Gates Jr., professor of Physics at Brown University, is renowned for his work in supersymmetry and string theory. Gates describes supersymmetry as a feature of the universe used to help describe string theory, which in turn describes why the universe follows different rules depending on how big you are or where you are in it. In a 2012 interview with NPR’s On Being, Gates uses the word adinkras to describe “mathematical objects which sit inside of the equations with the property of supersymmetry… When we analyzed these objects very carefully, we found out that they have attributes of ones and zeros in precisely the same way that computers use ones and zeros to send digital information. And in particular, the kinds of codes we found, which was the most shocking thing for us, is that there’s a class of codes that allow your browsers to work in an accurate way. They’re called error-correcting codes. We found a role for error correcting codes in the equations of supersymmetry, and this was just stunning for us.”
Adinkras create a language system whereby we can discuss this philosophy of existence. Gates says, “In many cultures, the act of naming is regarded as a very, very powerful thing… The naming represents a celebration of becoming aware, of knowing the universe at a different level than we had known before.”
There is an intersection of the universe and humanity, Gates says. He describes how humans are genetically coded for symmetry (for example, when we look for symmetry in a face). Similarly, nature uses symmetry in a multitude of places, from flowers to snowflakes. But, Gates says, “then nature turns around and pulls a trick on us because, if the world were perfectly symmetrical, we could not exist. So nature in the end breaks symmetries… It’s by the breaking of those symmetries that the laws apparently of nature that allow human beings to exist occur in the way that they do.”
Theoretical physics helps us think in new ways about how the universe works, which helps us figure out our place in it.
Reality Changing Observations:
1. If we could examine our binary stream, and we exist inside a “program” that is the universe, how could we influence it?
2. Could we be part of the error-correcting code?
3. Is consciousness the hack that God made?