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Omaha World Herald, Saturday, January 23, 1999, Article Read:

Spirituality, Physics Forum to be Held Academic experts from diverse fields will conduct a public panel discussion at 2 PM Sunday in Omaha on spirituality, consciousness and quantum physics.

About 20 theoreticians and researchers from around the country, representing fields as mathematics, philosophy and physics, have met since Thursday in a kind of think tank called the Sequoia Symposium. They met at the Thompson Alumni House at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where Sunday’s tow-hour forum will be held.

Among those participating are Jack Kasher, UNO physics professor who also lectures on the paranormal, and Lynnclaire Dennis of San Francisco, author of "The Pattern."

Dennis had a near-death experience in 1987 in which she saw a lighted geometric pattern that has attracted the attention of researchers, some of whom see her description of it as a potential bridge between physics and metaphysics.

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[Image] Quest
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"Twelve years ago," the caller said, "I was killed in an accident."

Uh-huh. I was tempted to politely hang up, but the woman said Jack Kasher had suggested she call.

Jack is a respected physics professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha who is also open-minded enough to believe in angels and to think that Earth might not be the only place in the vast universe that supports life or beings.

The caller [Image]
last week was [Image]
Lynnclaire [Image] [Image]
Dennis, 47, Lynnclaire Dennis
who had a [Image]
near-death [Image]
experience in 1987 in a hot-air balloon race over the Austrian Alps. The balloon rose to 17,000 feet,where there is little oxygen, and she lost consciousness. When people noticed her, she had no vital signs.

The pilot quickly dropped altitude, and a physician on board, her fiance, revived her.

But while she was up there, something happened that is kind of "out there." She not only saw a bright light - as many people with near-death experiences report - but also a detailed geometric pattern of light.

In her state, maybe she was just dreaming. Or hallucinating. But over a period of years, she was able to recall the knotlike pattern in such detail, and to have it reduced to drawings, that it has caught the attention of researchers from across the country.

Some of them met for four days during the weekend at UNO, ending with a panel discussion that drew 130 people besides the 20 or so researchers.

Not "X-Files"?

This topic is not your usual newspaper fare. Frankly, I wasn't sure I wanted to write about it.

It's not exactly from the "X-Files." Then again, I looked around the room Sunday at UNO's Thompson Alumni Center to see if Agents Scully and Mulder had slipped in the back door.

With Lynnclaire Dennis' "pattern" as their geometric guide, researchers from such diverse fields as philosophy, mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology are looking for nothing less than a unified theory of the universe.

Einstein unsuccessfully sought to solve that puzzle, and the search continues for the key. If they can decode the pattern, scholars say, it could have real-life ramifications for such areas as health and energy production.

Dennis is not academically trained in this field. She says she was a successful businesswoman, "running in high-heeled shoes and winning."

She has written a book, "The Pattern," but is not on a book tour. And she said she refuses to be part of the "exploitive, loopy, New Age, woo-woo scene."

She added: "This can't ever be about making money."

Kasher said the list of scholars trying to make sense of her pattern is impressive.

"They wouldn't give her the time of day," he said, "unless they thought there was really something here."

But what?

Among those meeting in Omaha last weekend were Louis Kauffman, mathematics professor and "knot theorist," University of Illinois-Chicago; Ashok Gangadean, professor of philosophy, Haverford College, near Philadelphia; and Pierre Noyes, professor at Stanford University.

Sequoia Team

This was their third meeting in a year, after two in California. The group calls itself the Sequoia Symposium, after the Cherokee chief who gave a written language to his people. (The scholars from diverse fields are trying to agree on a common "language.")

I interviewed participants Friday and struggled to understand. Dennis said the group would have its first public panel Sunday and asked if I could put something in the paper about it.

I didn't even know what to call it. She said it was about "spirituality, consciousness and quantum physics."

I chuckled. Quantum physics?

For some people, I thought, this might take a quantum leap.

A notice of the meeting, described as Dennis suggested, appeared on an inside page of The World-Herald Saturday. I thought a handful of people might show up.

Shocked at the turnout, I counted the crowd -150 is no exaggeration.

We're all on a journey, all seeking meaning. And that, I think, is why this bright group of local people attended and asked penetrating questions.

More on that in Thursday's column - along with a picture of the pattern Lynnclaire Dennis says she saw when she saw the light.



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Michael Kelly: Mind Journey With Pattern

[Image] 'Pattern'
[Image] [Image]

As a child, Lynnclaire Dennis watched cartoons of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, wishing she could travel in their Wayback Machine.

Time travel [Image]
was easy for [Image]
the [Image] [Image]
intellectual 'The Pattern'
pooch, [Image]
Peabody, and [Image]
his trusted boy: "Set the Wayback Machine, Sherman, for 1492."

In real-time Sunday at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Dennis, a divorced mother of two grown children, stood before 150 open-minded people, including philosophers, mathematicians and physicists.

The scholars have formed the Sequoia Symposium, and met for four days at UNO to try to make sense of a vision Dennis had during a near-death experience.

Tuesday's column told how Dennis passed out at 17,000 feet during a 1987 balloon race and had no vital signs. She was revived and endured a long recovery, eventually recalling in detail a holographic matrix of light.

"The Pattern," as she calls it, has intrigued scholars - and, apparently, a number of Omaha-area people who attended a panel discussion Sunday.

So what is the pattern?

The leader of the discussion, philosopher Ashok Gangadean of Haverford College near Philadelphia, has written: "The Pattern expresses the living union of finite and infinite, of mind and matter, of space-time continuum."


Scholars hope that by understanding the pattern's intricate geometry, they can decode the basic structure of the universe.

Sunday's gathering wasn't about science fiction or time travel - but certainly minds journeyed in wonderment. Participants must have pondered at times how little we really know, and whether Mr. Peabody's machine is altogether an impossibility.

Nasseim Haramein, a researcher from Santa Cruz, Calif., who has studied the geometry of vacuums for 15 years, said: "Time is nonlinear."

This was no Star Trek convention, but people discussed "wormholes" in the universe, the "curving" of time and the theory that every point in the universe is actually close to every other point.

Louis Kauffman, mathematician and "knot theorist" from the University of Illinois-Chicago, joked that he hopes that's proved and harnessed - to cut down on his travel time from Chicago.

Among the local people commenting or asking questions Sunday were a physician, a retired professor, a former Catholic priest, a psychotherapist and a woman studying witchcraft.

A hospice worker was drawn to the meeting partly because she regularly comforts the dying, who say they see angels and people who have died before them.

The Sequoia Symposium includes many scientists, but they say their discussion blends the scientific and the spiritual.

Lynnclaire Dennis' pattern, one scientist said, represents a whirling dome of electromagnetic energy, with a whirling crystal in the center. Is it all just imagined? Or does it represent some kind of "overriding geometry" of the universe?

Practical, Too

Foster Gamble, a researcher from Woodside, Calif., said the meetings last weekend in Omaha were "one of the happiest times of my life."

Among others, he sees practical applications. On Dennis' Web site, Gamble writes that the Sequoia Symposium foresees possibilities such as:

[Image] Creating stronger building materials and structures with less consumption of resources.

[Image] Achieving breakthroughs in the understanding of cellular and molecular structure, promoting healing and possibly preventing the formation of tumors.

The optimistic group of deep thinkers even predicts better human relations in the next millennium.

Gangadean, the philosopher, calls the work of the Sequoia Symposium historic and momentous - scientifically and spiritually.

Participants, he said, are not only trying to clarify "the ultimate pattern, the missing fundamental logic," but also are discussing "the reality of heart, mind and soul."

The Sequoia folks aren't mystics. Maybe they're on to something and maybe they're not.

But their search for a grand unified theory of the universe represents an attempt to raise us all to a new level - to a higher meeting of the minds.



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