The Kwisatz Haderach and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
Prescience as described in the Dune saga has been closely patterned after the relativity and uncertainty principles of modern physics. Most of the characters have strong backgrounds in these principles, and many of their exceptional abilities may be traced directly to a liberal interpretation of the Heisenberg equations and their derivations. By applying the special theory of relativity, Heisenbergs uncertainty principle, and Schrdingers equations, an explanation will be sought for the prescient and Mentat abilities of Paul Muaddib, his son Leto II, and their descendent, the Mentat Basher Miles Teg.
The basic principle of prescience, while not actually developed in the classical discussion of the equations, is nevertheless left open to speculation by the form of those equations. In Einsteins special theory, the limiting factor is
where v is assumed to approach c from below, thus ensuring the basic causality of events. As v approaches c from below, the time interval lengthens relative to an observer in a different inertial frame of reference. However, so long as v is less than c, events which happen in one order with respect to the inside observer will also happen in the same order with to the outside observer: effect following cause (although the closer v comes to c, the closer the two events will seem to simultaneity to the outside observer).
If this basic assumption is dispelled, so that v may approach c from either direction, the requirement of one-way causality is also suspended. The observer travelling faster than c will perceive cause and effect to be reversed for his slower counterpart, and vice versa. This may explain the nature of the higher awareness into which Bashar Teg was forced by the T-probe. The sensation of cause and effect has been reversed: while moving with dangerous speed (HOD, 366), Teg experiences a sensation of dj vu in which he knows every move they would make before they made it (HOD 367). Is Teg the Bene Gesserit Sisterhoods true Kwisatz Haderach, the literal Shortening of the Way (D 138)? Special relativity suggests that such a perspective can only be obtained from the point of view of one travelling at velocity c, thus enabling him, in effect, to be in many places at once (D, 456). As the Kwisatz Haderach, Teg would have entered the Alam al-Mithal, the mystical world of simultudes where all physical limitations are removed (D, 523), where Paul Muaddib barely managed to avoid losing himself.
It must be understood that these abilities are of the mind. During the time that he wandered in the Alam al-Mithal, Pauls physical body lay in a trance for three weeks. Leto II was forced to call on all his resources to escape from Jacurut under the influence of spice trance, and even then his physical body had been greatly weakened. His sister Ghanima avoided the spice trance altogether, fearful of the abomination she could become, which she saw mirrored in her aunt Alia: who herself came close to dying once when she took too much of the drug, anxious to penetrate the muddy waters of the future. Even Tegs body required a large intake of carbohydrates after his feats. Unlike the Honored Matres, the Bashars ability to move at great speed was specifically a product of the heightened workings of his mind, not a direct consequence of the connection between muscles and nerve ganglia.
Yet relativistic physics still leaves many holes, among the most gaping the ability to perceive a future which the perception of that future would alter. The Heisenberg uncertainty equations, by defining the minimum error possible in the measurement of position and momentum, of energy and time, also allow the exercise of such qualified prescience, with a broad range of view at the expense of precision, and vice versa. Pauls first experience with the Water of Life covers a wide landscape of futures:
he felt for the first time the massive steadiness of times movement everywhere he saw the source of blind time, the source of error in it The prescience was an illumination that incorporated the limits of what it revealed at once a source of accuracy and meaningful error. A kind of Heisenberg indeterminacy intervened: the expenditure of energy that revealed what he saw, changed what he saw. (D 305-6)
Paul, in trying to eliminate one source of error, forgets that he thereby forces the other variable to total uncertainty. The full equation is [equation to be inserted]: if one variable is known with complete certainty, the other must remain unknown. The prophet seeks greater definition in his future at the expense of awareness of other futures: Paul locks himself into the prescient path he has seen for himself, and does not even realise his error, even when Hayt chides him: Trying to live in this future do you give substance to such a future? Do you make it real? (DM, 112). Even Alia tells him, We must not grieve for those dear to us before their passing (DM 124): an exact paraphrase of Chanis earlier words, Then let them [the dead] have their time of life.
Yet this is exactly what Paul does not do:
hed felt himself hemmed in by the forces of a multitude. Their fixed purposes demanded and controlled his course His curse lay in the fact that he saw the cage. (DM 155)
He sensed that there were other oracles seeing other futures, and he was frustrated because events were not moving as precisely as he had seen them. (DM 93)
In the end, Paul binds himself into the single path he has foreseen so tightly that he can fit the vision to his missing sight, with even the smallest detail of Rajifiris clothing accurate, going so far as to personally pilot Chanis thopter to the sietch where she she was to have her children. Even his vision is not perfect, however, and Chani bears two children, not one: one of the many Dune echoes of the persistent Herbert theme of the chaotic streak forcibly inserting itself into the most controlled reality. From that moment onwards Pauls vision becomes increasingly erratic, finally fading into darkness altogether during Scytales attack. Yet Paul has succeeded in his goal: his subjects are inextricably bound into his vision. It requires another of equal talent his son Leto II to break free of that vision and the unforeseen stagnation and eventual extinction that must accompany it.
Leto II uses his prescience in precisely the opposite manner to his father. Where Paul refuses to seek Tupile, claiming that the action of seeking itself might hide it (DM, 52-3), Leto actively seeks such places out. However, Leto also does not limit himself to a single vision, but appears to experience the entire series of paths branching from a single decision simultaneously. There can be very few surprises with such a broad view: however, there can also be little, if any, certainty about a specific path. Leto does not seek certainty, however. Instead, he strives to breed the one who is invisible to his prescience, Siona Atreides. Through this accomplishment, Leto is returning the potential for surprise to the universe, ensuring that no prophet can ever limit it to a single path again since Sionas descendants, being hidden from the prescient gaze, will always be a random element.
Teg is one of those descendents. His latent prescient-related abilities are not awakened until relatively late in his life, and then only through the agony of the T-probe: even as both Paul and Leto had awakened to their abilities through the agony of the spice essence conversion. It seems that only through agony does awareness become heightened, and greater possibilities become manifest. Like both Paul and Leto, Tegs first experience with conscious prescience is within the Mentat construct, an apparent summation of data to produce insight: however, the ability soon grows to encompass extremely fast movement as a direct consequence of the greatly speeded-up functioning of his mind. Like Paul, Teg becomes able to perceive the state of his own future existence even moments into the future:
Teg was alerted but he sensed no immediate threat. He could see himself eating the food without ill effect. (HD 401)
the waiter [said] Would you require a snooper, sir?
Not while youre serving me, Teg said he felt a bit of a fraud because doubled vision told him the food was safe. (HD 460)
At times Teg, like Paul and Leto before him, feels trapped by the finality of his visions:
his doubled vision showing the immediate peril, he saw himself as the whirlwind rampaging through this building bodies scattered behind him Must I do that? he wondered. (HD 446-7)
But, although he seems in danger of being trapped the same way as Paul, through a limitation of the range of prescience to gain greater accuity, his next perceptions free him:
He saw the necessity of it, though, as he saw at last the Tyrants design. The pain he could see for himself almost made him cry out but he held it back. (HD 447)
The necessity was very clear He could see outward now, into many necessities It could only happen if he let it happen, he knew. (HD 456-7)
Teg is more like Leto II than the God Emperors father he senses the Golden Path and consciously chooses to follow that road. In so doing, he does not lock humankind into a single path as Muaddib had, but continues Letos efforts toward a universe of surprise. Ever the doer of the unexpected, Teg turns his ability to see the no-ships into a desperate diversion on Rakis, a decoy to allow Odrade, the wild talent he himself had fathered, to escape the planet with Sheanna (another unpredictable Atreides descendant), the largely unknown Duncan, the Honored Matre Murbella and the crucial worm, a part of the God Emperor himself and a physical reminder of the Golden Path Teg has chosen to serve.
Teg appears now to have gained both sides of the Heisenberg equation: both acuity and a broad field. This is a mistaken perception. Only the specific path he chooses at any given time could have that degree of precision, but there really is only one path that will continue the process that the Tyrant began. To continue the Golden Path is to break with the Golden Path, a conscious severing of Letos heritage:
she [Odrade] explained: We were trapped too long in the Tyrants oracular maze What she [Taraza] really wanted was the elimination of almost all the worms They were an oracular force holding us in bondage.
Duncan [asked] But what about
That one? Its just one now no single force will rule all of our futures completely, never again. (HD 478-9)
Yet probability continues to rule their future, as it has always done. Ever since the Butlerian Jihad Mentats had been capable of extrapolative prediction, a manipulation of Schrdingers equation in which people substituted for the basic wave relation, to determine the pattern of future events. The probability of finding a particle at a given location is given by Schrdingers equation as
where l P(x) l dx = 1.0 (absolute certainty) and P(x)dx = (x) dx where (x) = A sin(kx) at (x,t=0). [equations and terms to be fixed] This leads to the basic one dimensional time-independent form of Schrdingers equation:
where P(x) represents the probability of finding a given particle at a location x (or, in the case of P(X x), between two locations), represents Planks constant divided by 2 pi, m is the mass of the particle, V is the potential energy, and E is the total energy of the system. [term symbology to be fixed]
By applying this equation to human systems it is possible to see how the analytic prescience of a Mentat might function. Certainly energy is a fundamental concept in the Dune universe. One must not leave people with their energies unspent (D 347). Moneo points out: Have you not considered how much easier it is to control a walking population? (GED 132) Even the Honored Matres recognise this basic fact in their attempt to rule with sexual energy:
When logic fails, another tool must be used.
Waff [asked]: What tool would the Honored Matre suggest?
Her answer surprised him. Energy? In what form and how much? (HD 85)
Waff himself makes use of religious energy, the power of the Great Belief, to structure his universe. Siaynoq began as such an accumulation of potential energy:
As he stood beside Leto in the hall of Siaynoq, Idaho admitted to himself that he had seen something of enormous power which might create the kind of human universe Letos words projected Idaho felt the restrained passion in their touch and knew the deepest fear in his experience. (GED 202-3)
Key leaders make use of potential energy, often of a religious nature, to consolidate their own position, while at the same time burning off other forms of energy in the populace which might prove harmful to them if left unaltered. Siaynoq is degraded to a method for such a burning off of dangerous energy:
Odrade recognized and respected the energy in this phenomenon The waste of it disturbed her. Such things should be channeled and focused All it did now was drain away forces that might prove destructive to the priests if left untapped. (HD 194)
The balancing of these forms of energies may be one way in which Mentats achieved their high degree of success at extrapolative prediction.
It should not be forgotten that Paul Muaddib, Leto II, and Miles Teg were all capable of Mentat projection. (Although not specifically trained in the art, Leto carried the memories of more than one Mentat.) All three experienced their first prescient visions as extensions of Mentat computation. Schrdingers equation defines a wave form as well as a particle, by de Broglies equation:
where p is momentum. The wave may be found at any location where the wave is allowable, even beyond forbidden zones created by potential barriers, but may never be observed within the forbidden zone itself. One textbook examples describes frustrated total internal reflection:
Consider the case of total internal reflection of light waves how does the light wave know that there is air on the other side of the boundary? As long as the light wave is entirely inside the glass, it cannot know what is beyond the glass. To find out, it must penetrate into the forbidden air a short distance before it realizes that entry is forbidden If, however, a second piece of glass is placed within the penetration distance, the beam can reappear in the second piece of glass (Krane 142)
The penetration distance is, of course, defined by Heisenbergs uncertainty principle. Compare this to the Bene Gesserit proverb:
Any road followed to its end leads precisely nowhere. Climb the mountain just a little bit to test its a mountain. From the top of the mountain, you cannot see the mountain. (D 76)
By thinking of prescience as the manipulation of waves rather than particles (although the two are equivalent), it is possible to better understand the nature of the Kwisatz Haderach. Initially, Paul perceives his gift as the computation of most probable futures, a spectrum of possibilities (D 201-2), which is an exact correlate of the Schrdinger probability relations; but he soon realises that his ability is something more:
He felt a new sense of wonder at the limits of his gift. It was as though he rode within the wave of time, sometimes in its trough, sometimes on a crest and all around him the other waves lifted and fell, revealing and then hiding what they bore on their surface. (D 329)
Alia said you stand in a valley between dunes. I stand on the crest. I see where you do not see. And, among other things, I see mountains which conceal the distances. (DM 84)
Always there is the reference to time as a wave: but this is exactly what Schrdingers equations state! The relationship between time and energy defines their inherent uncertainty, framed within the secondary physical image of sand as wave and sand as particle and sand as the atom in the universe that drives the universe. In the perception of particle-as-wave, quantatisation of the wave is the best that may be hoped for, since as one narrows the location of the wave by superimposing other waves, one necessarily loses its precise form.
This, then, is what Paul tries to do. By projecting himself into the future to look back, he has narrowed out one wave among many, and effectively blinded himself to the other possibilities. This single wave (path) he perceives with extremely high accuity. When the path of his visionary future strays from the actual events, he is truly blinded. Leto, in contrast, is content to leave himself at the nexus of past and future, guiding his Golden Path with an iron hand where he perceives that his attempt to break from his fathers vision may be threatened, but otherwise letting the forces he has set in motion do his work for him. With the Atreides of his breeding programme he is ruthless, as well as with any who have the potential to derail his plans, but his Fish Speakers themselves ensure that Letos memory will not soon be forgotten:
When I set out to lead humankind along my Golden Path, I promised them a lesson their bones would remember. (GED 179)
Teg incorporates this lesson thoroughly. Much of his skill as a Bashar comes from doing the unexpected: his close friends have learned the same lesson. Taraza realises the necessity for what he does intellectually, although she does not think of it as a logical extension of the Tyrants Golden Path. Teg understands it intuitively, partly as an unavoidable result of his Mentat analysis of available data, partly through his penchant for surprise:
He could feel awareness of his own future spreading outward like waves as the power grew in him He felt the energy expand. With it came understanding and choices. (HD 457)
Crisis had tipped him over into another dimension of human possibilities He could see outward now into many necessities. (HD 457)
Tegs ability is still evolving. Only later does he realise the further implications of his skill:
[QUOTE} Teg had reached a new awareness, driven by necessity and the wild genes in his Atreides ancestry. The positions of the no-ships on and around Gammu were visible to him like threads leading from one bauble to another [/quote]
The no-ships are merely localised waves in the background of spacetime. Even as Leto is able to infer the existence of the Ixian no-ship from the shadows it left behind, so could Teg perceive the no-ships through their interaction with the structure of spacetime. All waves interconnect, and the no-ships are merely another type of wave, as is the worm which brought Odrade, Waff, and Sheanna. Yet Letos heritage prevails: unwilling to define precisely the change in himself, even though he knows the Reverend Mothers can see it, Teg never does tell them what has happened to him forcing the Sisterhood to reincarnate him once again as a ghola in a futile attempt to learn more of his abilities. In the end he escapes with Sheanna, Duncan, Scytale, and the essential worm on the captured no-ship, the ultimate in randomness. Truly, Teg is a product of the God Emperors Golden Path, unpredictable to the last.
Paul Muaddib, Leto II, Miles Teg: all possessed the ability to foresee the future. Each one uses that ability differently. Paul Muaddib tried to force the future onto a single path, which would have led to the extinction of the human race through stagnation. Leto also shaped the future, but towards the rediscovery of accident in the universe rather than into a static certainty. Only Miles Teg, with the examples of both to learn by, was truly able to abandon the universe of enforced cause and effect, to escape into a void where surprise is supreme, and to leave behind a world free of prescient control.
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