Author: Hubbard, L. R.
Document date: 1952, 6 February
Document title: Dianetics: The Modern Miracle
Document type: lecture transcript
Event: LRH Recorded Lectures
Location: Wichita, Kansas
Document ID: 5202C06
Description: Hubbard claims he studied the energy of the human mind in his 1930 experiments at George Washington University. He speaks of his memory experiment and of his poetry project with the Koenig photometer. He claims he discussed his experiments and progress with Dr. William Alanson White, superintendent of St. Elizabeths Hospital.
In the twenties I was fortunate enough to know Commander Thompson of the Medical Corps of the United States Navy. He was a colorful man; he was very poised, was very traveled; he was curious in half a hundred sciences. And the United States Navy, having heard of the work of Freud, naturally, took ahold of Thompson and they sent him over to Vienna, and they had him soak up anything that Freud had to say and study very thoroughly under Freud himself.
Commander Thompson came back to apply that information to the United States Navy. I was just a kid and Commander Thompson didn’t have any boy of his own, and he and I just got along fine.
Why he took it into his head to start beating Freud into my head, I don’t know. But he did. And I wanted very much to follow out this work – wanted very much to. I didn’t get a chance. My father, a naval officer – a very fine officer but a very, very dogmatic officer about his own opinions – said, “Son, you’re going to be an engineer.” So I talked right back to him and I said, “Yes, Father,” and went and took engineering.
Well, the engineering course which I embraced, taken at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. – Washington, D.C. had a lot to offer, and one of the things the university had to offer was something that I suppose no one will ever see the like of again: It was the first course, as far as I know, of atomic and molecular physics. We called it at that time atomic molecular phenomena, and today they call it nuclear physics. And by the way, there are very few nuclear physicists who have ever studied nuclear physics. Most of them study just basic physics.
We had a lot of fun; we were trying to measure light and so on. It was all new; it was a brand new world of Alice in Wonderland. Anything went, and amongst the things that went was the fact that I wanted to find out what is the smallest particle of energy in the physical universe? What is it? Now, is it ultraviolet light particles or what is it? The smallest particle of light, and where would I look for it?
Well, I looked for what I considered to be the smallest container of the “mostest,” which is the human mind. Obviously the human mind had to have an awfully small order of energy in order to operate at all. Well, as a matter of fact, I had considerable encouragement to go ahead and research this. Nobody was against a boy researching this sort of thing in those days.
It was my idea that the brain was something like a very good electronic computing machine that ran on some kind of energy. That was an interesting study, and I found various things startling and unknown about the mind.
Here, all of a sudden, we had an engineer and he was looking at the mind, and he was not looking at the mind through anybody else’s glasses; he was just looking at energy and phenomena.
One of the projects would amuse you very much: it was how to write poetry which invariably makes the mind respond – how to write poetry which invariably gets response – by the use of sounds; a study of the effect of sound on the mind itself, so that you can write nonsense poetry which will make the person sit down and cry. It is what sound does to the mind. Interesting studies. They, of course, led to nothing very much. But I found out, for instance, the brain operated on 2.4 watts. And I found the rate of nerve impulses flow, the possible kind of energy that flows along nerves. Very interesting stuff.
And then one day I found out that no physical-universe energy known to man could be responsible for the operation of a human mind – just like that. It was impossible. There was no order of energy that small. And I looked at it and looked at it and scratched my head and tried to figure. And then I figured out, if this memory that we get was stored in punched protein molecules – oh, just lots of memory stored in one molecule, maybe a thousand memories stored in a molecule . . . There are ten to the twenty-first power binary digits of neurons in the human brain. That is an awful lot of them. And there are an awful lot of molecules in the human brain. I sat down and figured out how much a person observed for how long in order to answer up this problem; I found out a man had enough memory to last him three months.
Every three months we inevitably must get amnesia. We can’t possibly remember earlier than three months if the mind runs on energy as we know it, because there is no place to store it. It was interesting to me that one of the boys out at Ma Bell (you know, the big Bell Laboratories) – we know quite a few of those boys and we have a lot of fun sitting around shooting the breeze about what might be and what might not be – had just repeated this same experiment. He didn’t know I had done it already. And he found out that, obviously, if the mind runs on energy, the human brain does not function any longer than three months. In other words, you couldn’t possibly remember who you married or if you were married, if you were married more than three months ago. It is as ridiculous as that.
Well, puppy to the root, I thought, “Oh my, this is wonderful. This is wonderful. Now I’ll go to the man who knows.”
Well, there was Dr. William Alanson White, a very fine man. He was head of the big St. Elizabeth’s, the big mental institution there in Washington, D.C., and he had been a friend of mine for quite a while. I had met him through other friends of Dr. Thompson’s. And I went over there and very proudly I said, “Now, look what I’ve done.”
He took a look at it and – “It doesn’t run on energy, huh?” I hadn’t realized it, but he hadn’t ever considered that it even ran on energy. He had just never looked at it from this viewpoint, that it was a machine, that it was an electronic computer, that it was any of these things. And he was very, very nice about the whole thing and he told me the sky is the limit, and he said, “If you carry out these researches, if you’ve got nerve enough to do it, then one of these fine days,” he said, “you’ll certainly, undoubtedly wind up with something. Bad or good, you’ll certainly come up with an answer.” After that he used to see me every once in a while, and he would smile at me and we would have a talk about the subject. We were in different worlds as far as that was concerned, because he was a Jungian and he believed in the soul and basic instincts.
Hubbard, L. R. (1952, 6 February). Dianetics: The Modern Miracle. LRH Recorded Lectures, ( 5202C06). Lecture conducted from Wichita, Kansas.