Tuesday, January 23, 2007


This book has an odd genesis that is perhaps well worth describing. Though I have participated fully in the economic and social life of this world, I have also a separate life in my mind, in a way that I suspect is uncommon. Since I was nine, I read avidly wherever my interests took me. This has generally meant about a book equivalent a day. This has become somewhat easier now that we have so many resources at our fingertips.

In high school, I developed a passion for mathematics and the sciences, read all the literary classics that I could get my hands on, and generally devoured history and the sciences. In the end I opted to complete an honors degree in applied mathematics from the University of Waterloo from 1967 to 1971. This period was an intellectual forced march of the first color.

I do not pretend that I was a star, but I did make it. More importantly, I did this solely for myself and not for some doubtful career choice. In my forth year, knowing that the coin did not exist to go further in my studies, I loaded up on an extra course or two including a 900 level course in relativity by Hanno Rund. His group was responsible for eliminating the need for the additional assumption of mathematical linearity employed uncomfortably by Einstein in the General Theory of Relativity.

In other words, I challenged myself rather than try to max out the marks. I gained an invaluable and ingrained mindset that has stayed with me to this day. If anything I think I am still too lazy in my articulisation of my ideas.

On leaving the academic environment I was disturbed by the fact that I had not generated new ideas from this period of my life. At the same time, my initial thoughts on K numbers had emerged during late high school. On thinking through this phenomenon, I considered the extraordinary rise of the Greeks. It struck me that these philosophers were merchants first and philosophers second. And I thought that this is just about right. A merchant must be able to make inferences and communicate the same based on insufficient information and a general lack of certainty. This is anathema to the cloistered scholar in academe.

I thusly found it more palatable to engage my external life in the field of business or more specifically the field of securities. On the other hand I never gave up my insatiable reading and the various enthusiasms that informed my inner life. It has also been my wont to read everything available on any subject of interest. This does tend to cover the sources.

Through the years I would find myself with a new interpretation of some topic of interest and conclude that the idea was good enough to hang a book around. Unfortunately, the traditional approach to produce such a book is to use the central idea to framework all the prior source material in a good scholarly fashion. Having already read the source material, I found it difficult to envisage rereading and rewriting this same material. In fact the idea made me somewhat nauseous and my training in mathematics had selected me for literary compression, not expansion.

I did find that exposure to the trading environment of the securities industry made shifting perspective second nature and the reinterpretation of data a constant companion to my thought processes. So for the past thirty years I have discovered many new paradigms that were intellectually more satisfying than what was been presented.

Sometimes one just gets lucky and becomes encouraged. Back in 1976, I went with a group to look at an ore discovery in Idaho. I saw a rhyolite hosted base metal deposit showing two large zones of enrichment. The rhyolite was overlain by a manganese rich limestone suite and generally underlain by a volcanic porphyry suite. What I observed as unusual was the invisible crystalline structure of the ore. I queried the attending geologists about this and got no satisfactory answer. I then posited that the ore must have been laid down in a sub sea environment in which the water quickly drew off the heat. Limestone reefs had then buried the structure. Two years later the first smokers were discovered illustrating this effect.

From time to time I continued to work with K numbers. At another time I took up the idea of a fundamental particle and the problem of time. At some point I generated the general cyclic function and played a little with them. This gave me encouragement to think that the K number technique may be important. Eventually my thoughts on the fundamental particle led me to the problem of a useful descriptive function which led me back to generalized cyclic functions which promised to resolve Dirac’s big number hypothesis. There were years in between.

All during this time I thought about prehistory and economics theory and followed the many speculations coming into or going out of vogue. In the end I had too many books to write and no prospect for doing so.

It finally occurred to me that the best approach was to take a page from Marshall McLuhan. His approach was to pack his book with a stream of supporting insights that he had gathered through many years of contemplating his theme subjects. The result was a romp through a series of insightful examples supporting his central concepts. This is a far less tedious way to present a range of new ideas, and it has the added advantage of simplifying the central theme down to the interconnectedness of these ideas.

This book is the result of that decision. It allowed me to synthesize a lifetime's investigations and conclusions within one volume. Any given segment however can be thought of as the foundation of a line of inquiry often sufficient for a well-developed book on its own merit. I also recommend diving into chapters that interest you personally and then try to read the book through. I do not wish to lose you on material for which you have no preparation.

I have made no particular attempt to generate a detailed bibliography. The advent of the Internet has made direct research extremely simple and it is fairly easy to dig up specific resources. There is also the adventure of tripping into new commentary. It is also fair to say that conventional books of the various subjects are generally consistent with each other and that reading one will capture the tenor of the rest. The only technical guidance I will provide is that in the historical material, I have pushed out the time bounds as much as possible. We have far too little hard data to be secure on hard dates. My dating approach reflects the earliest possible appearance, not the earliest known appearance. Millennia of dreamtime may have followed the advent of possibility.

This book is concerned with new interpretations, not old. This means that I spend little space either describing or developing these older concepts. I am not here to bore the informed or to teach the work of others. We are championing new ideas and letting the proverbial chips fall where they may. This also permits a broad debate to begin on many of these issues, which I expect could lead to an even more expansive second edition.


RBK, 2004

Vancouver, BC

1 comment:

caledonia said...

hi RBK

many thanks for your note and for looking into my artificial history of mankind article.

In so doing I arrived at the farming hypothesis set out in xenopolitics.

best wishes

andrew hennessey