A few days ago, unexpectedly, I received an email from a young high school student from the little town of Wolbrom, near Krakow - the ancient capital of Poland. Her name is Dominika, and she explained that even though she plans to study architecture, she is participating in a national physics competition. One of the projects available to choose from is to conduct an interview with a physicist. Since she had been reading my Polish science blog, she selected me and asked if I would agree. I said, "why not?" So she sent me her fourteen questions. I think her questions are, perhaps, even more interesting than my answers, so here is the whole interview.

1. Why physics? Was it one of your childhood dreams?

Arkadiusz Jadczyk in school
© A&L JadczykArk Jadczyk, back row, left. Dreaming of being a fireman, a detective, and an Indian!
There were many childhood dreams. They went in various directions, overlapped each other; in some areas they positively strengthened each other while in others, they neutralized like waves on water originating from multiple sources. I dreamed of being a firefighter, a detective; I wanted to fight together with good Indians, or to be an electronics engineer like my older brother. Eventually, I became a physicist, you could say, by chance. I did so well in a national Physics Olympiad, that I was allowed to begin studies at the physics department of the university without having to take the entrance examination. Otherwise, I would probably have chosen the University of Technology.

I wrote "probably by chance," but I admit, I use the word "chance" reluctantly. We often describe events as "accidental", while at their roots lie unclear, obscure, or unknown causal chains. We are, perhaps, cutting corners this way. So maybe it was not a coincidence, maybe it was not just chance, perhaps it was 'destiny'? As a physicist, I'm a little bit of a firefighter because I am always putting out fires to uphold the truth. I am also a detective, because I follow Nature and seek to discover its secrets. I'm fighting at the side of the good Indians when I expose the scams in Science. The least thing I do is likely the work of an engineer, though even here there is a link, because as a physicist, I am interested in the world we live in, not just in a philosophical imaginary reality.

2. In 1991, you received the academic title of professor. This is a great achievement. It is said that there is no elevator to success, you have to go up the stairs. How did your academic career proceed?
Arkadiusz Jadczyk in school
© A&L JadczykArk learning physics in high school: swallowing chocolate upside-down.

Here too, chance - or destiny - helped me. I wrote a thesis on cosmology, and my supervisor was a slightly crazy mathematician, Prof. Andrzej Zięba. He taught me to have courage in my thinking and simplicity in human relationships. He hired me immediately to work at the College of Education in the city of Opole. Being still a junior teaching assistant, I was assigned to lecture on the foundations of geometry.

But I longed for physics, so a half year later I applied for doctoral studies at the Institute of Theoretical Physics of the University of Wroclaw - my alma mater. I was accepted, and Prof. Jan Łopuszański became my scientific supervisor. He came to like me, and allowed me to use his office; I got my own key to the library where I could roam free among all the books at night when the only other person in the building was a receptionist.

After a time, I became Professor Łopuszanski's right-hand and when he later became the director of the Institute, for many years, I served as a deputy director. So I combined scientific work with administrative functions which was, of course, to the detriment of the first. But thanks to that I came to know, as an insider, the administration and functioning of science, so I am not as naive as many of my colleagues.

As for climbing up the stairs in my career, it was probably my international contacts that played the most important role. Wroclaw was then one of the leading and most respected centers of mathematical physics in the world. Thanks to that, I quickly established personal contacts with leading specialists abroad. I was inquiring, asking them sincere questions, and they valued honesty and gave honest answers. For me, a young scientist, to hear from first-class experts that the problems that bother me are not stupid at all and are not completely solved, was a very important incentive.

3. Why did you decide to leave Poland? Is it easier for a young physicist to succeed abroad? What are your warmest memories of your native country?
Arkadiusz Jadczyk teaching
© A&L JadczykArk's first teaching job.

I did not "decide". It just happened. Again, you can blame it on chance or you can talk about destiny. This time too, there were many different factors. In my science history, I spent fifteen years in various research centers abroad. As a result, I felt, in some sense, like 'a citizen of the world'. So my leaving Poland was not that unexpected. Before me, many others had done it - paving the way for this kind of decision. Why have I not gone back? Perhaps the main reason is that I no longer could fit in with the Polish scientific landscape. My interests had become 'too broad' and were criticized by my Polish colleagues who gossiped about me behind my back, and some of them actively worked to try to discredit me. You can fight with something like that, but the fight takes a lot of mental energy that is better spent on serious scientific work.

4. You have been awarded many prizes. Certainly, it motivated you for further work. Does one of them have a special significance for you? What do you personally consider your greatest achievement?

Rewards certainly work as a motivating factor, but they are also a source of envy. That's how it is in the human world. When I got an award for best students' tutor - the "Golden Shovel" - three times in a row, the then-executives of the Institute considered it indecent and did away with awards voted by students. I think, this award is the one I value most. The students themselves painted the shovel in yellow and attached a gold chain to it. It was probably my greatest achievement and reward for telling the truth during my lectures. When I considered something in the textbooks to be vague, I 'called a spade a spade'. Of course, many of my colleagues did not like that; they accused me of undermining the "authority of science."
Arkadiusz Jadczyk
© A&L JadczykArk Jadczyk at the time he was working on his Ph.D. in physics.

In addition to my teaching, there was my pure scientific work, research, of course, and in this field, the most important for me was probably the Humboldt Prize and the accompanying year-long stay in Bielefeld. This award meant that I could openly talk about my interests and, for example, invite to Bielefeld a physicist involved in parapsychology, even though I myself never undertook such studies seriously.

5. You were born in 1943. Before your eyes occurred the great technological progress of the 20th century. Computer, TV, Internet, are all now so common that they don't impress anyone anymore. What was a miracle of yesterday is not one of today. Do you think there is anything that is absolutely not possible?

Interesting question. It seems to me that what is absolutely impossible is only what is logically contradictory. What is not logically contradictory is within reach. And the same is true for and about every one of us. Very often we ourselves limit, quite unnecessarily, the range of what is still possible for us. We lack imagination, we lack courage of thought. It is said that "there are more things in heaven and earth than philosophers ever dreamed of." I'd go further and say "there are things and aims and goals available to us, that we do not dream of even in our most courageous dreams." I mean personal goals here. Often we are afraid to set an aim for ourselves because, in the moment, we cannot imagine a way to reach it. I think that is a mistake. Let us set goals for ourselves, and no matter how ambitious they are, let us trust that sooner or later, if we persevere, the path itself will emerge.
Arkadiusz Jadczyk
© A&L JadczykArk in London, 1972.

6. How do you envision the world in a hundred years? Holidays on the moon, robots smarter than humans, or perhaps time travel? Our ignorance is still decreasing. Does this, however, have a negative side? What should we be afraid of?

We should not spend our time worrying. Instead, we should spend our energy on acting consistently and continuously to prevent possible evils, as much as it is in our power. For such action to be possible, however, it is necessary to pursue the truth and to share what we discover with others. Yes, there are risks, there are many of them. But one just has to consider them soberly, and not be full of fear or anxiety. As for the knowledge that 'increases': with the increase of our knowledge, we realize better and better the immensity of our ignorance. The worst threat is the possibility of humanity forgetting that it is all about the pursuit of Truth.

7. Science and religion do not always go hand in hand. Is it hard for a researcher to be a believer? How far does the boundary go between what can be examined and what has to/will remain a mystery?

Science has many roots in religion. Unfortunately, it has inherited from religion an excessive respect for 'authority'. In the Greek myths (catalogued by Hesiod) about the creation of the world, there is the story of how Gaia (Earth) begot Uranus (Heaven) and wedded him. They begot the Titans, the youngest of them was Cronus. Cronus castrated his father for his cruelty to Gaia, but certainly he himself was not that good: he devoured his own children. I compare religion to Uranus, and Science to Cronus. Science also devours its own children - many brave scientists are persecuted by it, their work goes unrecognized for generations, and sometimes it takes centuries to break down a paradigm and open up to something new.
Arkadiusz Jadczyk
© A&L JadczykWinning the Humboldt Prize

8. You are interested in the paranormal. Does modern physics have an explanation for this kind of thing? Did you personally work on a logical, scientific understanding of such phenomena?

I'm interested in the paranormal as a hobby. I read a lot, correspond with others who are interested, talk to interested colleagues, but in my published work there is only pure science. Of course, my interests have some influence on my selection of scientific topics. For example, I co-authored a monograph on multi-dimensional worlds. You can easily infer that my interest in the paranormal overlaps the physics and geometry of extra unseen dimensions. But it is not surprising, because many of my fellow physicists have confided in me that they are passionate about science fiction - it stimulates their imagination and influences their choices of one or another subject of research.

Of course I'd like to understand at some point whether or not the phenomena now called 'paranormal' actually occur, and how. For that they occur - there is evidence of that and the evidence is no less convincing that the evidence of many facts accepted by mainstream science. It is just harder to dig to it. We have no explanation of these phenomena today. I have working hypotheses, but the road from a hypothesis to an explanation is long and difficult.

9. If you could go back and withdraw only one physical finding that has had negative consequences for humanity, what would be your decision/choice?
Arkadiusz Jadczyk
© A&L JadczykLecturing in Mexico.

I think that humanity entered a very bad and dangerous path by starting working on nuclear energy. In my opinion this line should have been closed, as the line of the philosophy of Nazism has been closed.

10. Do you recognize someone as your personal authority in the field of physics?

In science, there should be no authority at all. However, there were - and are - wise men. But even a wise man can talk nonsense from time to time. On the other hand, a so-called fool can happen to say something very clever. The only authority in science should be Truth. From time to time one manages to get its phone number from the telephone information service, but it is not listed in the phone book; and then, you can talk to it! This is quite an experience!

11. Physics is a fascinating and beautiful discipline, but many students do not see it. Across Europe, the interest in it decreases. How would you convince young people that physics is something you can like and enjoy?

The decline of interest in physics has its source in politics and excessive control and occurred due to a morbid interest in money. It's not exactly the same everywhere in the world, though. I would not convince anyone by force that physics can be liked. Instead, I would persuade them that without truth humanity is doomed. The paths to truth are many and at any point in time one should choose the most effective one.

12. How do you like to relax?

I rest best by working. Could there be anything better than doing, without any obstacles, what attracts us deeply?!

13. I read about your soon-to-be-published book. 'It was cold in Paris'. That's a great subtitle. When will it be released?

Will my book be released? I'm not so sure. Although I signed a contract with the publisher, the content of my book, may not correspond exactly to what the publisher expected. It may turn out that the publisher considers the contents of my book too controversial. For example, there is a lot in there about the history of ignored, or even persecuted, researchers of the paranormal and about the corruption of mainstream science. I also criticize - naming names - some other physicists and authors of popular books. I have written about how science devours its own children callously and cruelly.

These topics may not be in the 'publisher's profile'. But, two and a half months of working on this book - from early morning to late at night - was a great rest for me. Now, I'll continue resting while finishing my new paper on multi-dimensional worlds as soon as possible, as my work on that was paused in the middle to write the book.

14. You have achieved so much. Are you an accomplished man in the field of science? Is there anything more you would like to achieve? What are you working on, what are you dreaming of, as a physicist?

Arkadiusz Jadczyk
© A&L JadczykWork is pure pleasure, especially with such able assistants!
Nowadays, I work more than ever before. I can now devote myself to my beloved work nearly 100% of my time. And my dreams have not changed; they are still the same: to control gravity; to communicate with superluminal speed; to travel in time; to understand quantum physics; to understand consciousness. I can say that this is what I am working on, though it is nowhere explicitly stated in my scientific publications. I think I'm closer to the fulfillment of my dreams today than I was ever before - because I have bigger and broader knowledge and much more experience too.[Added during the translation: I would say that, at almost 70 years old, as far as I can tell - my intellectual powers have not diminished (perhaps due to the brain enhancing diet my wife feeds me), and I have no expectation of slowing down.]

(Original text in Polish)