Matti Pitkänen

Postal address:
Matti Pitkänen, Rinnekatu 2-4 A8, 03620, Karkkila, Finland

About me

It is difficult to tell 'about me'. The problem is not what I want to give an idealized picture about me. Rather, when trying to tell about me, I am forced to tell also about the society around me. This would be easy if my life would have been a success story. I could tell nice things about nice people. The last twenty years of my life have however been a continuous struggle to do science in almost intolerable conditions in a role of a mad scientist. Cutting out all these negative things away would not leave much of me to consider. Being a pathological truth teller (a disease of many mathematicians), I do not even know what I could say. So should I tell about that self centered, shy, negative person with poor self esteem, who has lived through an unhappy youth and unhappy marriage, is divorced, has been most of his life unemployed, and is regarded as a 'mad scientist' in the academic world of his native country and is driven by some ideas 'greater than life'. I must choose the latter alternative because I am not able to pretend to be something which I am not. Well, I have warned You and You can skip directly to the main page if You wish!

Basic data


Not so Golden Youth

Student time and marriage


The great experiences

How consciuousness theorizing began?

As a teacher in University

The era of Internet


To the Beginning


I was born in countryside, the thirtieth day of October, in a small village in Northern Savo, which belongs to Middle Finland. I was the eldest one of three brothers. My parents were farmers and farming was hard work at that time. My mother had got some education and had had her dreams. Both my mother and father had experienced a very hard childhood. My mother had been orphan and my father lost his father at a very young age and had been in school for only four years.

There are only very few photos about us as children taken at the age of only few years. In these photons we look like as we were suffering a severe depression! There is an especially deep anxiety on my face. Perhaps this was due to the shyness, which all three of us inherited from our mother. In any case, as far as I can remember that my childhood was rather happy. Childhood was certainly a period of most intense experiencing since my dreams still are located almost without exception in childhood. As if I would be living a parallel life in a second time. My younger brothers had very close relationship and I realized this very early and I felt myself lonely and isolated. Loneliness and isolation has been the dominating emotions also in my later life.

The most pleasant memories are related to a tame crow, which we called 'Ville'. We took this bird (rather cruelly, I realize now) from it's nest and fed it with worms. It must have been a really strong individual since it survived this diet. It followed us everywhere and was a charming personality. Thief! And clever as a devil! In a family in which showing positive emotions was almost a tabu, this lovely being received the love of everyone. In autumn it even followed us to school. Then, I think it was some day of October, Ville had disappeared. Someone had probably shot it. I remember that we shouted 'Ville,Ville,Ville,..' for many years every time we saw a flock of crows.

Stamps were my first passion. One day my father had bought stamps from the local bookshop. There were hundreds of Hitler's heads and I remember the huge sums of D-marks printed in these stamps. I remember also the beautiful stamps from African countries representing butterflies. My grandma received every Christmas Card from his brother in Minnesota and gave the stamp to me. Also my mother's sister received Christmas cards, from Canada. I can almost re-experience this happiness, when school had ended and I was returning home from visit to my aunt in a mild snowfall with the stamp in my wallet.

After stamps came crosswords. I was a real fanatic. I had a friend who brought me all the crosswords he could find. When I got the crossword, I said 'Thanks' and to his disappointment disappeared. Fanatics can be cruel to their closest without any intention to be so! If I had been born as a son of mathematician, mathematics would have probably satisfied myfanatic need to solve problems. I have many times wondered whether this need to solve problems is some kind of externalization and symbolic solving of personal problems.

While thinking about the life at that time, I realize how huge changes have occurred in our lives. There was only radio at that time and we listened it intensively, in particular to the radio plays. The relationships between neighbors were necessarily very close since neighbors needed each other's help. My parents spent hours in day with chatting and gossiping with their neighbors. Then came television and changed everything: nowadays also the people on the countryside live like their cousins in town. Today I am in the middle of intense information flow from every corner of the world but at the level of symbols only. No contacts with neighbors. I have not seen stars nor northern lights for years. My sensory input is dominated by the noises from traffic, refrigenerator, etc... There are very few moments of deep emotional experiencing. This is what the science, to which I have devoted my life, has done.

To the Beginning

Not so Golden Youth

There is myth about Golden Youth. I must confess that, although my childhood was rather happy, my youth was not totally golden. I was anxious and shy and was afraid of becoming mad. This derived from certain very humiliating accident at the age of ten and this changed totally my social role from the leader to the lowest one in the cruel social hierarchy of the ten year old children. I have often wondered what my life would have been without this day. Was it my extreme sensitivity to this kind of humiliation which others would forget in two days, which mattered and would something equally miserable occured sooner or later in any case? Or was this this accident really an accidental blow of fate changing my whole life? Or was it perhaps willed by some higher consciousness?

I became lonely soul but at the age of about fourteen came music and filled my life with meaning. Beatles were popular and I had to get guitar. I got it. TV had come already and then one day I saw and heard Carlos Montoya to play flamenco. It was a miracle: it was absolutely impossible that anyone could create this kind of music. The decision was made in a flash: one day I will play like Montoya! Soon I learned about the existence of other Gods and Segovia was the greatest. I knew about every piece of music for classical guitar coming from radio and TV and had to invent all kind of excuses to get the opportunity to listen them at summertime, which was the time of hard work. I began to order notes from 'Musiikki Fazer' in Helsinki and my parents got now and then cold shower, when mailbox contained a notice telling that one could fetch from the local post office notes paying so and so much.

Despite having no absolute ear and really poor memory for melodies, I learned to play classical guitar but flamenco was not for me. I experienced the same frustration, when I tried to learn how to play jazz, in particular Django's manner of playing. Somehow the minds of a problem solver and flamenco player are totally different. I became quite a good player of classical guitar (according to the standards of that time!) but was too shy to tell to anyone about my skills. Only at the last class of high school, in graduation party, the secret was finally revealed and I was the hero of the day! My best memories from youth are related to music. I remember especially vividly one winter morning. It was snowing. I had been playing Tarrega's little composition 'Lagrimas' all the morning. I was waiting for bus and I remember how happy I was while playing the piece in my mind. Also I remember, when we played together with one of my friend and his father, who played violin.

Besides music there was Freud. I think I was about thirteen or fourteen, when I experienced some kind of intellectual awakening. I found some books of Freud in library. I read the 'Psychopathology of Everyday Life'. This book had quite an effect. Gone was the world of childhood with its Saints and Heros and Good and Evil fighting against each other. Endless self monitoring and inspection of other people and theorizing about the real motivations began. Every linguistic slippery was noticed. Every book was interpreted in the Freudian framework (whatever it might have been for me with that life experience!). There was no-one to friendly tell me that not everything that is printed is truth. Few years later I found Nabokov's books and his salty and ironic comments about Freudism began to create a healthy distance to Freudism. Only many years later I realized that Freud's theory was just a theory, it was even built in the format of the classical mechanics!

To the Beginning

Student times

After finishing the high school at the age of eighteen I had to decide what to do. I was beginning to feel that I do not have the needed patience and love for details to become a real classical musician and that I did not have neither the needed memory nor the musical imagination to be a composer. I got interested in literature: Henry Miller was my hero: for some time I tried to generate in my mind word floods in the style of Henry Miller: the attempts to to put this flow on paper however failed completely. And the lifestyle of Henry!: I realized that despite my self-centeredness I was quite too well-behaved to be capable to such hedonism as Henry the Great. Then I realized that mathematics was for me. Problem solving was my real love! I read some popular books on mathematics and natural sciences, I would be happy to remember the writer of the series, and the thing was settled.

At the age of eighteen I went to army. This year was unpleasant time. Pasiphism was in fashion at that time and I was a pasiphist (and am still) and hippie (not anymore) without the courage to refuse from going to army. I could tolerate it only by spending my time in a kind of secret Henry Miller mode. I took it as a surrealistic comedy. I tried to learn mathematics and physics at evenings using books taken at random from the library but without success. It was great moment to start as a student in Helsinki University after that at the age of twenty. How happy I was! It soon became clear that mathematics was for me. I even managed to get rid for my pathological shyness. But only for a while.

I met my future wife in a small party arranged at the end of the first term. One could say that it was love at first glance. At least it looked like it. It soon led to a very deep dependence on my side. Our relationship might have developed into a harmonic relationship but we both had our problems and we could not help each other to solve them. Instead, we began to play some kind of a role game. I adopted the role of completely unpractical social idiot, who lives in the world of abstractions. Young genius, who cannot tie his own shoelaces! Soon I began to believe in this character myself. My wife took care of all practicalities and communication with the external world and adopted a role of a social genius and was soon devoting most of her attention to the external world and forgot our relationship. Five years later our relationship led to unhappy marriage (as far as our mutual relationship is considered) and to a very painful divorce 18 years later. We have four children and they are the most important persons in my life. Still I must say that this relationship meant a regression in the development in my social skills, which had just promisingly started.

In my student times mathematics and theoretical physics were competing interests and for long they seemed to be mutually exclusive. I think it was 1973 or so when I got seriously interested in particle physics. Because of my pathological shyness I could not however even think of making contacts with people involved. I was however absolutely convinced of being able to do something great! The first great thing I was to do was the mass problem of elementary particles. In some mysterious manner, I got convinced that with a suitable boundary conditions I could quantize ordinary wave equation describing simple scalar particle to get the observed elementary particle masses! I knew that elementary particles are not quite so simple but somehow I managed to bypass these little complications. I worked some months with the idea and had to accept that it was not so easy! At that time I did not know that it would take more than twenty years before I was really able to say something nontrivial about elementary particle masses.

Then came a second idea, which does not deserve to be even mentioned and led to a graduate work. The work was a complete flop but taught me that mathematics is not just 'maths' or the 'unavoidable algebra' as we had taught in licenciate courses of theoretical physics. I painfully learned that the idea of geometrizing physics is extremely deep, not just funny Greek letters appearing as tensor indices. Also I discovered, that although I had gone through all basic courses in theoretical physics, I had learned practically nothing during student years. The real process of thinking had however begun in my mind. What I did not realize at that time was that this process actually begins in very few minds and when it begins it tends to induce hostile reactions.

After a short romance with ideas related to topological explanation of half odd integer spin I finally ended up with the basic idea of TGD. It was in autumn (probably in October) when I got the idea: sace-time as a surface in some higher-dimensional space as a solution of the energy problem of General Relativity! Somehow it was absolutely clear from the beginning that this was it!

From the distance of twenty years, this five year Odysseia looks a little bit comic and it is easy to be self ironic but this time was the hardest period of my life because I was constantly wondering if I had really gifts to do anything significant or not. And the fact is that anyone who wants really to do something more than apply already existing formulas and recipes in science, must go through this stage. The discovery of the great idea did not make my life easier at all, actually after then the real practical difficulties began. I however felt myself happy after that: I had found a new continent and my life was to be an intellectual adventure, which is still continuing.

To the Beginning

Life with Topological GeometroDynamics

There is no reason of pretending that TGD would not have been something bigger than life for me. After having discovered such a wonderful idea, and in the innocent self-centeredness of young man, I was pretty certain of getting all the needed financial support. The cold shower was that I lost my job as an assistant in University shortly after having made an application for a research position. They regarded me as a mad! And perhaps this was what I looked like. I was pathologically shy and lost completely my self confidence as a consequence of my unhappy marriage and the unsuccessful graduate work. This meant the beginning of a long period of academic Zombieness, which continues still as far as the scientific community in my native country is considered.

I however managed to get some kind of unemployment job in the Technical University of Helsinki. I had room at my use and and I had to do minimum amount some formal job to earn my little monthly salary. The remaining time was just TGD:eishing. The personnel, mostly engineers, had friendly attitudes towards me. This was really a happy period of life. During these years I gradually discovered the phenomenological picture behind TGD. I still associate automatically hadrons as string like objects with holes containing quarks on their boundaries with warm and green spring evenings, when I had arrived by bus from Otaniemi and was walking the few kilometers to my home with head full of ideas and feeling how wonderful it is to live. My younger son was born in the first spring after TGD. This was happy time in our life.

It took five years (from 1978 to 1983) to write a thesis about TGD. I wrote with the electric typewriter. I could use correction ink but despite this the writing was a painful process. When I read the book for few years ago I found it somewhat childish but almost all basic ideas presented in it have remained as such during the later years.

Contrary to my wishes the thesis did not help to get funding. I had to find some part time job. I knew nothing about computers: this was solely due to my extreme shyness which had prevented me to learn the basics. In the hope of finding some easy manner to do money (say, programming part timely) I decided to go to a course about information technology: computers, programming and the first PC:s. This was a good choice. I had soon my own Commodore and this made possible systematic documentation and development of ideas by endless argumentation and counter argumentation.

After the course, I got a kind of a trainee job in a Finnish petroleum refinement company. I had to develop model for the removal of sulphur from oil. It was not a full time job. The periods of work lasted few months and then I could concentrate on TGD again. During that time I made some poor quality papers related to attempts to construct quantum TGD. I however identified already then some basic ideas; for instance the idea of geometrizing everything, even quantum theory, and the necessity of underlying huge symmetries. The difficult circumstances made me feel almost like Galois desperately writing his memoirs in his last night and this led to the production of publications of poor quality. I drove to job by a car for 75 kilometers every morning and same in every evening. I could tolerate this for a couple of years and then I suffered what could be objectively regarded as a total physical and mental breakdown. Acute psychosis caused by the difficult life situation might be the diagnosis. Personally I regard it as a turning point experience of my life, nothing less that a sudden expansion in the level and extent of consciousness.

To the Beginning

The great experiences

Two great experiences made me a consciousness theoretician. The first great experience (at spring 1985 most probably) was associated with a physical illness with a completely wrong diagnosis. This altered state of consciousness lasted for a couple of weeks and its effect was so deep that I did not hesitate to talk about it as an enlightment experience. This experience shattered totally my particle physicist's simplistic world view. Actually I had now and then felt that the reductionistic world picture did not actually help me at all in the attempts to understand the everyday world around me. According to the standard dogma these macroscopic things, also living things, should have been describable using only Newton's equation's! My own experience insisted that this was not so but I tried to tell myself that I just do not have the needed maturity as a theoretical physicist to understand everything!

The first great experience deserves more detailed description. I was lying in the corridor of a medical center and had horrible head ache and high temperature. Then something happened. I felt myself totally calm and peaceful. It was something unbelievable. All my life I had been anxious about all possible things. And now I felt completely happy and relaxed. I felt the pain still but some it was somehow external to me. I just enjoyed looking the parallel streams of pictures, like cartoons, flowing in front of my eyes. I really saw my thoughts! The surrealistic and erotic pictures, much like those in paintings of Dali, Bosch and Brueghel, were dancing in the rhytm of the silent music I heard from loud speaker. There was also a feeling of understanding. I understood everything although I could not tell what it is!

This state continued for several days, perhaps for a week, I do not actually remember, and during it I lived in a very concrete manner through many archetypal ideas. First came the idea of self reference, which I found later from the 'Gödel, Escher, Bach' of Hofstadter, one of the finest books I have ever read (I read it five times!). I literally experienced myself as being a computer sitting at it's own terminal. I wrote in my mind questions for this super human computer and saw the questions written in the virtual monitor. The computer wrote the answer immediately. Either directly or in oracle like manner. I realized that I have become in contact with what I called Great Mind and I began to make questions. How long I live was of course one of the first questions. The answer was endless series of numbers running and running! Of course, I asked about the importance of TGD, my great work! There was only a silence, perhaps this was godly diplomacy of the Great Mind!

Later I realized that it was not necessary to write anything on this virtual monitor: I just made the question in my mind. This realization made me wonder whether this someone with whom I was discussing was really separate from me. Perhaps in some mysterious manner I am asking these questions from myself! So, perhaps I am in some sense really God myself or have just become a God. Perhaps we all are Gods! Loneliness had been the central element of my life and I somehow realized that Gods are probably very lonely beings. I asked if we are doomed to be always alone. The answer was oraclelike:'You are a God!(:-). The '(:-)' tries to express the amused tone of the answer. Only quite recently I realized that this what I experienced must be more or less identical with the Atman=Brahman experience of Eastern religions.

There were also really amazing telepathic experiences. And a vision about my personal life as an endless series of lives as a mathematician, which was my true identity. In these lives I would meet my wife again and again and we would live happier and less happier lives but we would certainly meet again in some other galaxy or perhaps in some totally different form of existence. One of the mathematical experiences was that the number three is somehow the basic number of mathematics and of whole existence: this is of course the Holy Trinity of religions and mystics. There were visions about parallel lives which I am living here on Earth. For instance, I learned that I would live as a military person and would die in air plane accident in some year, which I do not remember anymore.

There was also the idea of something I called 'flogiston' without recalling that it was the caloric fluid introduced in the first attempts to build thermodynamics. It was something which made living systems living and they were continually fighting, killing and eating each other to get this mysterious 'flogiston'. Amusingly, also this vision could be regared as a precognition of ideas about biosystems as macroscopic quantum systems (quantum entanglement and wormhole Bose Einstein condensates).

The second great experience occurred during Christmas vacation, probably three years later, shortly before the divorce. I was very sick, depressed and bitter: our marriage was become about to end. Suddenly came a complete peace. I could really forgive and I felt absolutely concretely that my past changed. Somehow all the bad deeds, creating bitterness in me, simply became undone. It was wonderful to realize that what we call our past is not absolute, in the moment of Mercy this deadly heavy load disappears. There were also a kind of mathematical enlightment: I had a precognition about p-adic numbers. I understood that I had to construct a theory about numbers, which where infinite but completely physical. Well, I tried but it took two days to get convinced that I do not have a slightest idea what these numbers might be! I learned much later about p-adic numbers, which are typically infinite as ordinary rational numbers.

Perhaps the most important realization in both great experiences was that the really interesting problem was the mystery was consciousness. And related to this the realization that free will is actual and that in some sense our subjective past is a fiction or at least something 'editable'. All these ideas I have later rediscovered in attempts to find a consistent interpretation for TGD without even immediately realizing that a rediscovery was in question.

To the Beginning

How consciousness theorizing began

The first thing to do after the great experience was to finish the job in the petroleum refinement company. I had had a precognition about my future life as somekind of little boss in the foreign department of the firm and this had created such a horror in me that the decision was easy.

During these years I tried desperately to understand what my experience was about. I read books about meditation and Buddhism and all that. Much of it sounded rubbish and guru institution was something which I simply could not swallow. The books of Krishnamurti were however an exception. I realized that we have very probably had similar experiences. Krishnamurti told again and again of the need to get rid of 'I', rid of the attempt to achieve something, rid of all desires. Only in this state could enlightment begin. This was precisely what I had experienced to happen spontaneously two times.

The teachings of Krishnamurti were in glaring conflict with my 'scientific' world picture and the hedonistic philosophy of life: without the experience I would have never been able to take the books of Krishnamurti seriously. I began to get more and more convinced that our celebrated science is perhaps like primitive drawings of a child rather than the final truth and might even hinder us to expand our consciousness. I began realize that the hedonistic lifestyle, the practioners of which I had so admired and which I simply could not practice after all, might be only a source of suffering. I began to realize that happiness could really be a state of mind, not the state of the world.

Gradually consciousness theorizing became a part of TGD. Actually I often have the feeling that my mission is to construct a theory of consciousness. Perhaps this is hubris but I feel that a new view about consciousness is necessary for human kind to survive. I cannot avoid the feeling that the dominating materialistic philosophy is about to destroy human kind. Materialism really dominates: the ordinary people who have never heard of philosophy, faithfully realize materialism in their everyday life. After these years I can locate materialism in the map of philosophies and know its obvious shortcomings and emptiness. But it is dominating folk philosophy and it is frustrating to realize that dominating folk philosophies do not change in a decade.

To the Beginning

The period as a University teacher

At 1986, I hope I remember correctly, I got an invitation to Potsdam to give a lecture about TGD in the centennial festivities of Schröndinger's birth. I visited Potsdam and Einstein's summer cottage. This symbolic recognition of my work had the effect that I got a teacher position in Helsinki University. I taught elementary calculus and later also electrodynamics. Of course, my colleagues made it clear that they would never take me seriously as a scientist but I could tolerate that. The teaching work left time for the development of TGD and afterwards it is clear that period was crucial for the development of quantum TGD despite the fact our divorce occurred during this period.

This happy period lasted six years. At 1992 I applied for a docenture in Helsinki University in order to get right to have lectures about TGD. I was very optimicist since TGD had just got a very positive recognition in a conference held in Norway: it was even mentioned as one of the promising theoretical ideas. Two young Finnish professors, mathematician and theoretical physicist, who had just got their positions, were the persons who would write a report about my work. The report was a shock. The claim was that the fruits of my total devotion of fifteen years, summarized in 'Topological Geometrodynamics', satisfy absolutely no criteria of a scientific work. The message of the report was that its author is either a madman or a fraud. No detailed analysis was given. No errors were pointed out. The deadly sin was the claim that TGD predicts new physics in all length scales: this was a blow against the particle physicist's version of reductionistic materialism. Even worse: I had went to apply TGD based sace-time concept in biosystems and even mentioned the world 'consciousness'! The world 'consciousness' gave the right to ridiculize my work totally. From various internal inconsistencies of the report, it became clear that the young professors had read only the introduction to the book. Later I learned from several people that only the other one had bothered to read it. It is really difficult to try to see this as one episode from distance as kind of comedy called 'big science' and not to regard this simply an academic execution.

Although I had got rid of most illusions about the moral standards of the academic community, this report was too much. I could have continued teaching in a role of academic village fool but I could not but leave the University and became unemployed. It became impossible to publish anything about TGD. Having got the label of a mad scientist it was clear that I had no opportunities in the academic world. It became gradually that this was the situation also outside the academic community. For instance, I tried to get publicity for what I regarded as a blatant injustice but did not succeed: I was really regarded as a madman. The consequences of this report for my personal life were quite dramatic. Unemployment money is my only income (400 dollars per month) and I have lost all what I owned at that time. If measured in terms of money, the statement of these young professors has cost for me something like .3 million dollars (a rather conservative estimate). Certainly, if these two young professors had realized how dramatic consequences their report would have, they would not have written it. But they had just got into the taste of the academic power and were like children playing with a gun without realizing it was really a gun. Perhaps I would have done same thing if I had had the power. The problem is that the people living in the virtual reality of mathematical symbols easily lose their contact to the everyday reality and begin to treat also human beings as mathematical symbols or characters of a computer game.

This episode reflects also a general problem of big science and especially science in my native country: the belief in organization instead of self-organization. Things are forced to happen instead of allowing them to happen and this results in a lot of publication industry but not much of good science.

To the Beginning

The era of Internet

The emergence of the new electric communication tools meant an unexpected twist in the story. Homepage and email discussion groups provided the needed communication channels. There is also an important psychological factor involved: the need to communicate new delopments in this kind of life long project is almost intolerable and discussion groups and homepage make possible to satisfy this need.

These communication channels are rather effective and at least the existence of TGD seems to be quite well known for quite a many people. All kinds of people are interested in TGD and really want to understand what these three letters are about. There is however a notable exception: Finnish physics community and the community of particle physicists in general: these people refuse to hear anything about TGD. The irony of this is that the most spectacular predictions of TGD are in the field of particle physics. Sadly, the legendary arrogancy of particle physicists is not a myth.

To the Beginning


Our marriage lasted thirteen years and ended up to a divorce in 1988. We have four children, two sons and two daughters. My children have lived with their mother during these years and visited me during weekends only. I am really happy that I had friends who helped me through the difficult period after divorce. I am living alone and my children give the social meaning for my life: work alone could not do that.

My oldest son, Paavo, is now 22. He works six hours per day as a trainee. He gets no salary, the only income being the unempoyment money. Twenty years ago anyone would have called this slavery. Things have changed in Finland during these twenty years! My younger son Timo has now started to study mathematics in University and I am happy to teach him (this interaction can be quite stormy not and then). My daughters, Eeva-Riikka and Marja-Elina, are at the age of 16 and 13 (I wrote this long time ago!) and still in the basic school and I feel myself proud of being their father. I have the feeling that my children have survived the divorce quite well after all. I dreamed much more about our marriage and about what I could have been as a father but I am happy with what I have been able to be.

Back to the main page