E = MC2 is the most famous equation in the world. Einstein’s dazzling insight was to come up with a mathematical description of the relationship between matter and energy. The E stands for energy, the M for mass, and C represents the speed of light. I am not a scientist or mathematician, so I can’t elaborate any further than that, but I know that this equation was a game-changer for physics, one that has virtually brought the modern world into existence. It is elegant, profound, and above all revolutionary.
But it’s wrong.
I may not be a scientist but I’m a big fan of the things that science has given us. I confess I’m one of those nerdy guys you find standing in line to be the first to own the latest electronic gadget, the next generation of this or that mobile phone or computer. I presently wear a watch that tells me, in seventeen different languages, to remember to put my coat on if it’s chilly outside. All through my adolescence and into adulthood technology was changing so rapidly that most people, at some point, found themselves left behind, making do with outdated stereos and TV systems. Not me. I made the jump from VHS to DVD quicker than my up-to-date MacBook Air can process the square root of nine.
It’s no coincidence that I had a lucrative career in I.T. sales before I turned to life and business coaching, long before I’d ever heard of NLP or The Three Principles. But now that I’ve seen for myself how we human beings are equipped with our own unique, self-correcting ‘operating system’, running 24/7, with no need for regular backups, needing no more input than a couple of square meals a day and a few hours’ sleep, my relationship to all the ‘toys’ and gadgets that I’ve collected over the years has subtly changed.
Scientists are the first to admit that they don’t have all the answers. If they did, there’d be no more need for science, the word itself would be consigned to the history books. What they have, in abundance, is a lot of theories about how the world works. The word ‘theory’ has been greatly misunderstood in recent times to mean something like ‘guess’, by some who have a vested interest in denying the claims of modern science, (naming no names -creationists, for example). In fact a theory is much more than a guess, even an educated one. A theory is a model of the physical world that has been tested and re-tested and found to deliver predictable results every time. If only one result deviated from what was expected, the theory would have to be replaced by something else. Newton’s Theory of Gravity worked well for hundreds of years and famously took humans to the moon and back, but it was only true in the context of the scientific equipment available at the time.
When Einstein began his work in the early 20th Century his imagination, coupled with the more sensitive measuring devices that the modern world had to offer, proved conclusively that Newton’s laws, though useful, were not entirely accurate. Now, a hundred years after Einstein, we are discovering the same thing about his famous equation. Again, I’m not qualified to describe, or even understand, what exactly is wrong with it, but the point is this: no theory ever becomes fact. There is always more to be discovered, and there always will be.
Sometime before his death in 2009, Syd Banks was speaking to a conference of scientists about The Principles. During their discussions, one of the scientists mentioned Einstein and his equation, the most famous equation of all time. Syd became interested, and asked the assembled scientists to explain the symbols to him. When they had done so, Syd thought for a while, then told them “The equation is wrong”. After the laughter had died down, he was asked to say how he’d come to this conclusion. (After all here was a man with barely any education, who hadn’t even known what the symbols meant a few minutes before). But Syd calmly explained that the term to the left, Energy, is infinite, the terms to the right, mass and the speed of light, are not. The scientists scoffed once again. The speed of light is a very big number, they explained. “But it’s not infinite”, came the reply.
He was right. The top scientists of today have discovered there are small but significant errors in the equation. But Syd Banks, a labourer with a ninth-grade education, had got there first.