“Humanity is going to need a substantially new way of thinking if it is to survive.” –Albert Einstein
I WOULDN’T FOLLOW just anyone down a rabbit hole. I’m a seeker, not a sucker. But when Nassim Haramein went bouncing across my field, I followed. I knew him once, and I couldn’t help but wonder where he’d been. Who hasn’t pondered the fate of the long-haired, pot-smoking ski-bum genius they inevitably meet when they first ride into a ski town? The one who skis like a master, lives in a van, free solo rock climbs (no rope, no partner, no protection), reads the heaviest esoteric books he can borrow from the library, and has stepped so far out of the mainstream you wonder if he’s riding a different set of rapids entirely? “The guy’s uncovered the ultimate secret to everything,” a friend says. “So I hear.” Follow that flash and you’re headed straight to Wonderland.
In 1994, Nassim Haramein was a top-level ski instructor working on Blackcomb. He was living rent-free in a basement apartment owned by tour operator Mike Dempsey, in exchange for keeping an eye on the dozen Australian kids on a ski-improvement course who were living upstairs. To us, Haramein was a bit of a guru; he had both a Level 4 Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance certification and a tolerance for our beer-drinking, weed-smoking ways. And even though Haramein was keen to engage with us about skiing, the mysteries of the pyramids, the recurrence of spirals and circles and patterns in nature, the Coriolis effect and the weird fact that water goes down the drain in one direction in Whistler and the opposite direction Down Under, we couldn’t have known that 15 years on, people would genuinely call him Guru.
He would be also be called woo-woo merchant, nutter, physicist, autodidact, mystic, genius, New Age prophet, and emissary of the Galactic Federation. He would spend more than a decade refining the theories he developed while living in his van after teaching back-to-back ski seasons, following the trail of his curiosity and seeking out partners and patrons who could help him develop them. He would teach himself enough higher mathematics and physics that he could present his theories in a format the scientific establishment could understand. He would present his theories at physics conferences and endure the mockery and disdain of that same establishment. He would be unashamed that he believed ancient civilizations offered insights as valuable as those provided by quantum physics. And finally, in 2008, he would attend a conference in Brussels, Belgium, where his presentation, The Schwarzschild Proton, which set out to prove that every point in space is a black hole containing an infinite amount of energy would, instead of generating the usual heckles, receive the award for Best Paper, a standing ovation and subsequent publication in the American Journal of Physics.
Something had changed.
Was it possible a self-taught “scientist,” high-school dropout, ski instructor and climbing bum, who had lived in his van for 15 years, could conceive the ultimate theory of everything? A unified field theory that would not only explain how the universe works in such a way that any observation can fit into the theory, but would bridge the chasm between the acolytes of Einstein and students of the mystic? To most members of the scientific establishment, tenure-track professors and researchers, it was completely incongruous. What the hell were his qualifications?
But Haramein’s theory didn’t really surprise the ski bums. They had always been bumping up against the structured world of reality. “When you’re living that lifestyle, things are really simple, in general,” says Lee Anne Patterson, a career skier and climber, who shared a house with Haramein during the summer of 1993. “It allows you a lot of time to think about other things. You’re not clouded by all the other little things that go on, as long as you’re getting your fix, and if skiing is your fix and you do it 8 hours a day, you have a lot of other time.”
This story, which appeared in the premiere issue of Coast Mountain Culture magazine, is now available at http://mount.ai/n/articles/free-radicals, where the CMC and KMC folk are housing longform in a beautiful digital container. But be warned. It might make your head explode.