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Life is but a dream

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The multiverse theory has spawned another - that our universe is a simulation, writes Paul Davies.

If you've ever thought life was actually a dream, take comfort. Some pretty distinguished scientists may agree with you. Philosophers have long questioned whether there is in fact a real world out there, or whether "reality" is just a figment of our imagination.

Then along came the quantum physicists, who unveiled an Alice-in-Wonderland realm of atomic uncertainty, where particles can be waves and solid objects dissolve away into ghostly patterns of quantum energy.

Now cosmologists have got in on the act, suggesting that what we perceive as the universe might in fact be nothing more than a gigantic simulation.

The story behind this bizarre suggestion began with a vexatious question: why is the universe so bio-friendly? Cosmologists have long been perplexed by the fact that the laws of nature seem to be cunningly concocted to enable life to emerge. Take the element carbon, the vital stuff that is the basis of all life. It wasn't made in the big bang that gave birth to the universe. Instead, carbon has been cooked in the innards of giant stars, which then exploded and spewed soot around the universe.

The process that generates carbon is a delicate nuclear reaction. It turns out that the whole chain of events is a damned close run thing, to paraphrase Lord Wellington. If the force that holds atomic nuclei together were just a tiny bit stronger or a tiny bit weaker, the reaction wouldn't work properly and life may never have happened.

The late British astronomer Fred Hoyle was so struck by the coincidence that the nuclear force possessed just the right strength to make beings like Fred Hoyle, he proclaimed the universe to be "a put-up job". Since this sounds a bit too much like divine providence, cosmologists have been scrambling to find a scientific answer to the conundrum of cosmic bio-friendliness.

The one they have come up with is multiple universes, or "the multiverse". This theory says that what we have been calling "the universe" is nothing of the sort. Rather, it is an infinitesimal fragment of a much grander and more elaborate system in which our cosmic region, vast though it is, represents but a single bubble of space amid a countless number of other bubbles, or pocket universes.

Things get interesting when the multiverse theory is combined with ideas from sub-atomic particle physics. Evidence is mounting that what physicists took to be God-given unshakeable laws may be more like local by-laws, valid in our particular cosmic patch, but different in other pocket universes. Travel a trillion light years beyond the Andromeda galaxy, and you might find yourself in a universe where gravity is a bit stronger or electrons a bit heavier.

The vast majority of these other universes will not have the necessary fine-tuned coincidences needed for life to emerge; they are sterile and so go unseen. Only in Goldilocks universes like ours where things have fallen out just right, purely by accident, will sentient beings arise to be amazed at how ingeniously bio-friendly their universe is.

It's a pretty neat idea, and very popular with scientists. But it carries a bizarre implication. Because the total number of pocket universes is unlimited, there are bound to be at least some that are not only inhabited, but populated by advanced civilisations - technological communities with enough computer power to create artificial consciousness. Indeed, some computer scientists think our technology may be on the verge of achieving thinking machines.

It is but a small step from creating artificial minds in a machine, to simulating entire virtual worlds for the simulated beings to inhabit. This scenario has become familiar since it was popularised in The Matrix movies.

Now some scientists are suggesting it should be taken seriously. "We may be a simulation ... creations of some supreme, or super-being," muses Britain's astronomer royal, Sir Martin Rees, a staunch advocate of the multiverse theory. He wonders whether the entire physical universe might be an exercise in virtual reality, so that "we're in the matrix rather than the physics itself".

Is there any justification for believing this wacky idea? You bet, says Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University, who even has a website devoted to the topic ( http://www.simulation-argument.com). "Because their computers are so powerful, they could run a great many simulations," he writes in The Philosophical Quarterly.

So if there exist civilisations with cosmic simulating ability, then the fake universes they create would rapidly proliferate to outnumber the real ones. After all, virtual reality is a lot cheaper than the real thing. So by simple statistics, a random observer like you or me is most probably a simulated being in a fake world. And viewed from inside the matrix, we could never tell the difference.

Or could we? John Barrow, a colleague of Martin Rees at Cambridge University, wonders whether the simulators would go to the trouble and expense of making the virtual reality foolproof. Perhaps if we look closely enough we might catch the scenery wobbling.

He even suggests that a glitch in our simulated cosmic history may have already been discovered, by John Webb at the University of NSW. Webb has analysed the light from distant quasars, and found that something funny happened about 6 billion years ago - a minute shift in the speed of light. Could this be the simulators taking their eye off the ball?

I have to confess to being partly responsible for this mischief. Last year I wrote an item for The New York Times, saying that once the multiverse genie was let out of the bottle, Matrix-like scenarios inexorably follow. My conclusion was that perhaps we should retain a healthy scepticism for the multiverse concept until this was sorted out. But far from being a dampener on the theory, it only served to boost enthusiasm for it.

Where will it all end? Badly, perhaps. Now the simulators know we are on to them, and the game is up, they may lose interest and decide to hit the delete button. For your own sake, don't believe a word that I have written.

Paul Davies is professor of natural philosophy at Macquarie University's Australian Centre for Astrobiology. His latest book is How to Build a Time Machine.

Taken from Sydney morning herald


[ 22. July 2004, 10:48: Message edited by: Ramon ]

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If your interested in Multiple Reality Theory here is half of a book on the subject:

A Physical Explaination for Manifesting, Magick and Miracles:

Postulate One

Every conceivable energy state exists

There is no one reality. Each of us lives in a separate universe. That's not speaking metaphorically. This is the hypothesis of the stark nature of reality suggested by recent developments in quantum physics. Reality in a dynamic universe is non-objective. Consciousness is the only reality.

The purpose of this short write is to suggest a model for quantum superposition of realities, the better to visualize how these quantum effects "leak out" into the macroworld and indeed define it.

This first postulate simply asks us to assume that every possible arrangement of matter and energy consistent with the laws of quantum physics exists. This postulate asks us to assume, among other things, that a universe exists "right now" somewhere that differs from our own only in that one electron on one remote planet of one distant star, in, say, the Andromeda galaxy is in a less excited energy state. Another universe exists that differs from the present universe only in that one photon, of all the photons in the room where this is being read, is positioned exactly one Angrsom unit to the left. Another universe exists in which the earth has two natural moons. Another universe exists in which the earth has two natural moons. Another universe exists in which there is no planet earth. Another exists in which Elizabeth Taylor has brown eyes. Another exists in which George Washington has a wart on his nose.

If a universe can be imagined, it exists. Nature abhors a vacuum and fills that "vacuum" with every conceivable universe.

The late sir James Jeans, the great British astronomer, was among the first scientists to recognize the universe as a creature of imagination. He wrote in 1932:


To-day there is a wide measure of agreement, which on the physical side of science approaches almost to unanimity, that the steam of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter; we are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter-not of course our individual minds, but the mind in which the atoms out of which our individual minds have grown exists as thoughts.

This new knowledge compels us to revise our hasty first impression that we had stumbled into a universe which either did not concern itself with life or was actively hostile to life.

Indeed, every conceivable arrangement of matter and energy, however improbably, is postulated to exist as a separate universe.

These universes are, however, static-not dynamic. dynamic concepts of energy and of motion and of time and of change with time have not yet been introduced into this discussion. While every conceivable arrangement of quarks, gluons, subatomic particles, atoms, molecules, photons and energy that could possibly be imagined is assumed to exists, this first postulate asks us only to assume that each such arrangement exists in a frozen state for all eternity. Each of these imagined universes is eternally like an ice palace or like a still from in a reel of motion picture footage. The frame exists forever simply because it is capable of being imagined, and because nature abhors a vacuum.

This suggestion is not entirely strange to quantum cosmology. Hugh Everett first postulated "parallel universes" in 1957. David Deutsch, a research fellow at the Department of Astrophysics, Oxford, and a professor at the University of Texas, tells us:


I think it's safe to say that there is a very large, probably infinate, number of these universes. Many of them are very different from ours, but some of them differ only in some minute detail like the position of a book on a table, and are identical in every other respect.

Paul C. W. Davies and J. R. Brown tell us:


If the many-universes theory were correct, however, the seemingly contrived organization of the cosmos would be no mystery. We could safely assume that all possible arrangements of matter and energy are represented somewhere among the infinate ensemble of universes. Only in a minute proportion of the total would things be arranged so precisely that living organisms, hence observers, arise. Consequently, it is only that very atypical fraction that ever get observed. In short, our universe is remarkable because we have selected it by our own existence!

Notice, however, that while Everett, DeWitt, Deutsch and others postulate an infinity of universes, each of their postulated universes is dynamic, moving, changing. Bryce DeWitt of the University of Texas tells us that under this theory "every quantum transition taking place on every star, in every galaxy, in every remote corner of the universe is splitting out local world into myriads of copies of itself. Here is schizophrenia with a vengeance!"

There can be no doubt that these pioneers envision multiple worlds that are dynamic, moving and changing.

PC.W. Davies and J.R. Brown speak of the imaginery experiment involving Schrodinger's cat, so named for the physicist Erwin Schrodinger, who first conjured up the idea in 1935. In this thought experiment a cat is palced in a box. A quantum event determines whether this imaginary cat is poisoned or not. Perhaps a Geiger counter is arranged to count the number of particles encountered in a defined time period, and if the count is odd, a hammer is tripped and a glass vial's deadly contents are inflicted on the cat. If the count is even, the cat is allowed to live. However the situation may be arranged, it is arranged so that a quantum event determines that cat's fate.

Quantum physics tell us that upon the happening of the event the cat goes into two superimposed states, one of being half alive and the other of being half dead. Only when the human experimenter arrives later to look into the box does objective reality "collapse" in upon the events. And then that reality instantly collapses back retroactively to the time of the fateful event. Speaking of this, Davies and brown tell us:


According to Everette the transition occurs because the universe splits into two copies, one containing a live cat and the other a dead cat. Both universes contain one copy of the experimenter too, each of whom thinks he is unique. In general, if a quantum system is in a superposition of, say, n quantum states, then, on measurement, the universe will split into n copies. In most cases, n is infinate. Hence we must accept that there are actually an infinity of 'parallel worlds' co-existing alongside the one we see at any instant. Moreover, there are an infinity of individuals, more or less identical with each of us, inhabiting these worlds. It is a bizzarre thought.

In Everett's view, because each of these worlds is dynamic, the live cat goes on living in the one world, while the other world someone presumably takes the carcass out of the box and buries it. David Deutsch tells us that Everett's universes all are "changing in content."

The present postulate differs from their thinking in that here each of the postulated universes is absolutely static, frozen, unchanging.

Postulate Two

Starting at any imagined energy state, there will be an infinate number of imagined energy states that differ from the starting energy state by one and only one quantum transition, and a larger, transfinite number of energy states that differ from the starting energy state by more than one quantum transition.

The term "energy state" is used synonymously with "imagined static universe" ---one static permutation or one conceivable arrangement of all the energy in the universe. An energy state or static universe that differs from another by just one quantum transition (for example, by the energy level of one electron attached to one atom) would be in the first category. An energy state or static universe that differs from another more radically (for example, by Elizabeth Taylor's eyes being brown) would be in the latter category, as many billions of atoms are involved in the color change.

A brief discussion of the two-slit experiment is here in order. An article in the Christian Science Monitor said it succinctly:


Through the ages, the nature of light has puzzled researchers. Most 18th-century physicists, including Newton, held that light was corpuscular-composed of tiny particles. Early in the 20th century that idea was confirmed by experiments showing that light consists of quanta of energy now called photons. Photons, it appeared, could knock electrons off atoms---acting somewhat like softballs hurled at dolls in a fairground tent. Moreover, you can count single photons as they strike a sensitized plate. So light, it seems, behaves like pellets shot from a gun.

Back in 1803, however, Thomas Young, a London physician and physicist, proved something else about light: It was also made of waves. His proof was based on the fact that when two separate wave patterns overlap, they don't simply blend, like different colors of paint. Instead, they produce something known as an interference pattern.

There's nothing mysterious about that pattern. It appears, for example, whenever you drop two stones close together in a pond. Knowing this, Young set up his famous two-slit experiment.

Light from a point source is passed through a card or other opaque material containing two parallel slits, landing on a wall or screen on the other side. If light were particles, one would expect the image of the two slits to project on the wall. If light were waves, one would expect an "interference pattern" of alternating bright and dark lines.

The astounding result of the experiment is that one gets an interference pattern even if the photons are released one at a time! A single photon should be able to go through only one of the two slits. Yet it appears that a photon going through one of the slits "knows" of the existence of the other slit. The so-called Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum theory-so named because its originator, Niels Bohr, was a professor at the University of Copenhagen in the 1920s---teaches that each photon takes all possible paths simultaneously, and that it is only by observation that one of those paths is "frozen" into reality! Pascual Jordan, one of the founders of the Copenhagen Interpretation, tells us that "the electron is forced to a decision. We compel it to assume a definite position; previously it was, in general, neither here nor there.

An article in The Economist tells us:


Taken at face value, quantum mechanics appears to say some rather odd things about the universe:

Thre are no such things as "things". Objects are ghostly, with no definite properties (such as position or mass) until they are measured. The properties exist in a twilight state of "superposition" unitl then.

All particles are waves, and waves are particles, appearing as one or the other depending on what sort of measurement is being performed.

A particle moving between two points travels all possible paths between them simultaneously.

Particles that are millions of miles apart can affect each other instantaneously.

Under this postulate, each possible path of the electron represents a series of energy states. Each of these states exists in objective reality. An energy state or static universe that differs from another by just one route taken by one of the photons encountering the two slits would be "contiguous" to the starting energy state. But an energy state or static universe that differs from another more radically would be non-continuous.

Postulate Three

All imagined energy states can be ordered

The postulated energy states or universes can be placed in an order, much as are words in a classic thesaurus or colors on a color wheel. I will call this ordered structure "superuniverse," borrowing a term from The Urantia Book, but giving it an entirely different meaning. I shall not use the term "multiverse," so popular in quantum physics for the reason that their multiverse is seen as consisting of multiple dynamic universes with no particular structure being specified. Here, the term I use refers to an orderly lattice or structure of static universes.

Let us now arbitrarily define energy sates, static universes, as either "continguous" or "noncontinguous." Two energy states that differ from one another by only one quantum transition are deemed contiguous. Two energy states that differ by more than one quantum transition are deemed noncontinguous.

The number of energy states continguous to any given energy state is in turn continguous to other possible energy states that differ from it by just one quantum transition.

All possible energy states are thus placed in a multi-dimensional lattice. It may be helpful to think of a sheet of paper filled with hexagons drawn such that each hexagon is continguous to six other hexagons. A tile floor made of hexagonal tiles illustrates in two dimensions a set of such continguous "universes."

If we go from this two-dimensional analogy to a three-dimensional one, it is easy to imagine a bubble-making machine blowing bubbles of equal size into a container. Each bubble standing alone would, of course, be a sphere. But pressed against the adjacent bubbles on a sides, with no intervening space or gaps, each bubble must share its walls with the adjoining bubbles and each bubble therefore takes sides in the form of planes. Polyhedra, in fact, may be useful as analogies. Cubes nest solidly with other cubes, such that each cube is bounded by six others, with no space wasted. Twelve-sided rhombic dodecahedra will nest solidly with other rhombic dodecahedra, such that ech dodecahdron is bounded by twelve others. Truncated octahedra likewise nest solidly with no gaps, and each shares fourteen faces with its fourteen neighbhors. Another geometric solid, the hexagonal cylinder, can be so arranged that each has as many as twenty identical continguous neighbors.

As we increase the number of dimensions in our analogy, we found the number of available sides and continguous interfaces increases. David Bohm feels that at the superholographic level the universe may have ten to the eighty ninth dimensions, as many dimensions as there are subatomic paricles in our three-dimensional universe.

It may well be that we can assume even more dimensions, since most every quantum event has innumberable possible outcomes. When an electron and a positron annihilate, for example, the resulting photon may head off in virtually an infinate number of directions. The one photon represents not just one dimension but a googolplex of dimensions, one for each possible path and each possible polarizatons it could take exiting the annihilated pair. Accordinly, each particle in the universe represents innumerable possible transitions, and each of these possibiliites is in fact a separate universe.

To comprehend the magnitude of this, some discussion of the concept of "googol" and "googolplex" seems warranted. The terms were introduced by Edward Kasner and James R. Newman in their classic 1940 book, Mathematics and the Imagination. The authors tell us:


It is a fair inference that kindergarten children can enjoy lectures on graduate mathematics as long as the mathematical concepts are clearly presented.

It was raining and the children were asked how many raindrops would fall on New York. The highest anser was 100. They had never counted higher than 100 and what they meant to imply when they used that number was merely something very, very big---as big as they could imagine. They were asked how many raindrops hit the roof, and how many hit New York, and how many single raindrops hit all of New York in 24 hours. They soon got a notion of the bigness of these numbers even though they did not know the symbols for them. They were certain in a little while that the number of raindrops was a geat deal bigger than a hundred. They were asked to think of the number of grains of sand on a beach at Coney Island and decided that the number of grains of sand and the number of raindrops were abut the same. But the important thing is that they realized that the number was infinate when they mean some big number, like a billion billion....

...The number of atoms in the average thimble is a good deal larger [than the number of grains of sand on Coney Island beach]. It would be represented by perhaps 1000000000000000000000000000. The number of electrons, in size exceedingly smaller than the atoms, is much more enormous. The number of electrons which pass through the filament of an ordinary fifty-watt electric lamp in a minute equals the number of drops of water that flow over Niagra Falls in a century.

One may calculate the number of electrons, not only in the average room, but over the whole earth, and out through the stars, the Milky Way, and all the nebulae. The reason for giving all these examples of verylarge numbers is to emphasize the fact that no matter how large the collection to be counted, a finite number will do the trick....

...words of wisdom are spoken by children at least as often as by scientists. The name "googol" was invented by a child (Dr. Kasner's nin-year-old nephew) who was asked to think up a name for a very big number, namely, 1 with a hundred zeros afer it. He was very certain that this number was not infinate, and therefore equaly certain that it had to have a name. At the same time he suggesed "googol" he gave a name for a still larger number: "Googolplex." A googolplex is much larger than a googol, but it is still finite, as the inventor of the name was quick to point out. It was first suggested that a googolplex should be 1, followed by writing zeros until you got tired. This is a description of what would happen if one actually tried to write a googolplex, but different people get tired at different times and it would never do to have Carnera a better methematician than Dr. Einstein, simply because he had more endurance. The googolplex then, is a specific finite number, with so many zereos after the 1 that the number of zeros is a googol. A googol plex is much bigger than a googol, much bigger than a googol times a googol. A googol times a googol would be 1 with 200 zeros, whereas a googolplex is 1 with a googol of zeeros. You will get some idea of the size of this very large but finite number from the fact that there would not be enough room to write it, if you went to the farthest star, touring all the nebulae and putting down zeros every inch of the way.

Yet if we are ultraconservative and assume just one dimension for each of the tenth to the eighty ninth particles in the universe, the number of hyperfaces to each hyperpolyhedron in our model still staggers the imagination. The problem is similar to that of sphere-packing. It seems fairly settled that a sphere can have no more than 12 identical spheres placed adjacent to it in a three-dimensional lattice. (If poloyhedra or geometric solids are used instead of spheres, as discussed above, the number is slightly greater.) In either case, as the number of dimensions increases, so does the "kissing number," the number of spheres continguous to a given sphere. By the time one reaches just 24 dimensions, the number of spheres continguous to a given sphere is 196,560. Operating in tenth to the eighty ninth dimensions or more, the number of universes contiguous to any one given universe would exceed a googolplex.

Perhaps the leading authorities on sphere packing are John H. Conway and Neil J.A. Sloane. Professor Conway teaches mathematics at Princeton University, while Neil Sloan works at Shannon Lab in Florham Park, New Jersey. (Mathematical models for sphere packing are useful in calculating the number of telephone conversations that can be carried simultaneously on a wire, fiber or microwave channel.) Conway and Sloan have written a book that includes an algebra for sphere packing in a space of infinate number of dimensions.

It is impossible for our human minds to picture a hypersphere (a sphere of more than three dimensions) or a hyperpolyhedron (a polyhedron of more than three dimensions) or a hyperpolyhedron (a polyhedreon of more than three dimensions). Our minds function in three dimensions of space, and our ability to visualize seems limited to those three dimensions.

At what point would one "contiguous" universe touch another? At all points in space! Let us reason by analogy. Hexagons are two-dimensional figures in two-dimensional space. Contiguous hexagons touch along an edge. Thus, two-dimensional figures touch along a one-dimensinal line. Rhombic dodechedra or truncated octahedra are three-dimensional figures in a three-dimensional space. continguous geometric solids touching along faces. Thus, three-dimensional figures touch in two dimensions. N-dimensional figures touch in (n-1) dimensions.

Hyperpoloyhedra of ten to the eighty nineth plus dimensions would be contiguous in far more than just our three familiar dimensions. Every point in three dimensioal space---every molecule on earth out to the farthest galaxy, would be "contiguous" to the next universe, touching it at every point! We would not consciously perceive these contiguous universes as such because we as humans are capable of perceiving just three spatial dimensions at a time. Our minds, however, can and do in fact move from contiguous universe to contiguous universe as shall be explained.

To imagine these "contiguous" universes from our limited perspective, picture these shadowy universes as virtually superimposed on one another.

No mention has been made of time as a "forth dimensions," or of "spacetime" as an entity. Time will re-enter this discussion shortly, but not as a dimension. Albert Einstein taught that time is the forth dimension, and Hermann Minkowski suggested that space and time are indistinguishable from one another. Recall Minkowski's famous quotation:


The views of space and time which I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.

(Continued in another post at a later date)...

While their insight was brilliant, and while "world lines" and "light cones" have their usefulness, it may well be that it is inappropriate to think of time as a true dimension, or as anything other than a subjective experience. More reflective of the modern approach is the thinking of Henryk Skolimowski, professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan. He writes:


The mind is one of the lasting mysteries of the universe. It is not the slayer of the real, as some Hindu traditions maintain. It is the creator of the real. Whatever we know, we know through the agency of the mind. The mystery of the mind is thus doubly profound: not only is it an extraordinary creation of nature---exquisite and puzzling in its own right; it is also the shaper and creator of reality. On the way the mind works depends the nature of our knowledge, and (a step further) the shape of the external world. What the mind cannot render, the world cannot bear. And what the world bears is exactly what the mind renders...

...We are now at an altogether different juncture. What we need is not an update of Einstein but a different model of reality, and a new theory of the mind. This is then our program---to create a new model of the mind that truely makes sense of this participatory universe and our role in it. Needless to say, we want to create a theory both rational and coherent. Yet this rationality must not be at the mercy of the criteria of mechanistic rationality, which is a peculiar product of empiricism and a guardian of its conceptual universe.

The ability of mind to influence matter at a distance, and over eons of time, is perhaps best illustrated by the "gravitational lens effect." In space, a quasar, a brilliant source of light very distant, can lie directly behind and in the same line of sight as an intervening galaxy. Rather than the nearer galaxy blocking the view of the more distant quasar as one might expect, the gravitational field of the intervening galaxy acts as a sort of "lens," bending the light so the quasar directly behind it can be seen. the quasar, however, appears in multiple images, above, below and to the sides of the intervening galaxy! The intervening galaxy, of course, is massive, and has a diameter of at least 100,000 light years. Depending on how the observing equipment is set up on earth, the incoming light behaves exactly like waves passing around the intervening galaxy on all sides, or like particles each of which takes a definate route to one side of the intervening galaxy or another. John Wheeler says:


But the new feature about the delayed choice version of this experiment is that we can wait until the light or photon (that is going to activate one of the counters) has accomplished almost all of its travel before we actually choose between the photon going by both routes or a photon going by only one of the two routes...

...The photons reaching us started out more than five billion years ago---that is, before there was anyone on earth. Waiting here on earth we can today cast a die and at the very last minute decide whether we will observe an interference photon (that is a photon which has come, as we jokingly describe, 'both ways') or change our method of registration so that we will find out which way the photon has come. And yet the photon has already accomplished most of its travel by the time we make this decision. So this is delayed choice with a vengeance!

Yet if a human mind today can influence the route or routes taken by a photon as it left its quasar five billion years ago, how much easier is it for that mind to influence the course of an electron at the synapse in the brain? yet in each case, as well as in Alain Aspect's experiment to be discussed, the question in reality is not one of whether the human mind can influence the route taken by a photon (or in the case of the Aspect experiment, the polarity of a photon). The question is rather into which still "frame" the consciousness of the observer will enter, taking that frame as it is, including its representation of events that "happened" eons ago!

The present writer's model of reality does not treat time as a "dimension" in any way. This author feels that time can no longer be thought of as "just another dimension."

By this third postulate we have now put every imaginable universe into an ordered latticework of all imaginable static universes. We'll call this the superuniverse, distingushing it from the multiverse of conventional quantum physics. This superuniverse too is static, unchanging, eternal. All imaginable energy states are represented, and all are interconnected by a continguity that envisions one quantum change at a time.

Postulate Four

Mind or spirit exists independently of the physical brain

Paraphrasing Descartes, I think, therefore I am a spirit. My consciousness is the one phenomenon secular humanism cannot explain. Materialism can explain the evolution of my body and brain. It can even explain much of my behavior---why unthinking matter-in-motion would act as if it had a conscious mind as well as an unconscious mind: A "bicameral mind" has survival value.

Julian Jaynes of Princeton theorized in 1976 that man initially evolved to have a "bicameral mind," i.e., a compartmentalized mind with an "executive part" and a "follower part." Jaynes then postulated that consciousness somehow evolved out of the breakdown of this bicameral mind. He gave no credence to any mind apart from the physical matter-in-motion of the brain: "Somewhere here in a mere three-and-a-half pound lump of pinkish-gray matter, the answer has to be."

But the fact that something has survival value does not explain how it came into being, much less how it operates. Assume arguendo that there would be survival value in man's teeth being made of industrial-strength diamonds rather than of calcium. That feature's excellent survival value alone could never have caused homo sapiens to evolve to have diamond teeth. Diamonds can be synthesized only in high-pressure blast furnaces, it must be remembered, and furnaces are singularly lacking in the embryonic environment.

It's a long leap from saying that some feature has survival value to explaining how that feature could ever hope to evolve from available materials and existing processes. To say that man should behave as if he were conscious sheds little light on how consciousness operates or by what process consciousness "evolved" out of thin air. Like diamond teeth in a living being, consciousness invites a better explanation of how it got there and how it operates.

Surely a mindless computer could be programmed to act as if it had feelings and an awareness of its own existence. But that fact and the computer's ostensible behavior do nothing to explain my actual feelings and my very real awareness of my own existence. I don't just act as if I feel; I feel, and I know I feel. I have a spirit, and the fact that that may have survival value explains nothing of what my spirit is, where it came from, or how it operates.

Jaynes's thinking is typical of the school of philosophy known as matrerialism. Matrerialism is one of several schools of thought. Professor Subhash Kak of Lousiana State University explains:


Countermodels to materialism begin with the argument that as ordinary matter does not appear to have self-awareness, a machine like man should not have it unless it had an existence of its own. This belief in a mind which is more than epiphenomenon raises several difficult issues of its own. For instance: What is the seat of the mind in the body? Does the mind outlast the body? Does an overmind, a consciousness, pervade the universe of which the individual minds are temporarily separated fragments? Does the mind enter the body at conception or does it emerge ouf the the developed body later? Can mind influence matter? and so on. The suggestion that the mind exists as a subtle body inside the brain has often been made. This represents man as a machine with the mind dwelling within him as a pilot. In another view matter is perceived to be a mere figment of the mind, which makes it hard to explain the observed regularity and commonality of the physical world. To conclude, then, several views exist with regard to the mind-body problem. Some of these are:

1. Materialism: Mind is a record of sensory impressions. Consciousness is a by-product of certain complex neutral events and is first emerged at some state in phylogeny.

2. Panpsychism: Mind is associated with all matter and as inherent attribute. It is reflected as sentience or consciousness in the higher animals.

3. Dualism: Both mind and matter have independed existence and consciouness is a reflection of the mind on the body. The material world is causally closed.

4. Monism: The fundamental energy of the universe is consciouness. It is not know how the physical universe springs from this entity. Nevertheless, to understand the universe one needs to understand consciousness.

The currently fashionable view may be described as "functionalist." Mind is looked upon as software. Among the leading functionalists are Douglas Hofstadter, Paul C. W. Davies and Karl Pribram. Davies and Hofstadter see consciousness as the product of a "strange loop" between different levels of structure, while Pribram posits a holographic model for the mind and brain.

Karl Pribram, a neurophysiologist at Stanford University, sees consciouness as a hologram. Pribram claims that memories are not stored in any specific location in the brain. They appear to be distributed over the whole brain, much as any portion of a holographic image is distributed over the whole film.

True, there are certain special places in the brain that control certain special functions---centers or specific places for vision, centers or specific places for speech, et cetera. Talbot tells us that an early American psychologist, Karl Spencer Lashley (1890-1958), whom Talbot claims was a neurophysiologist, discovered back in the 1920s that damage to any one specific portion of the brain interfered with the functioning of the sense that one part of the brain specifically controlled. However, Lashley later learned that higher-level brain functions, including memories and the ability to remember, were not destroyed.

Lashley is the originator of the school of thought known as antilocalisationism. In his research, Lashley would teach animals to perform tasks and then destroy a specific area in the animal's brain Lashley then noted the effects. He found that all cortical areas can substitute for each other and that the reduction in learning is proportional to the amount of brain destroyed. Lashley's name is also associated with phrenology, the semi-occult practice of "reading" bumps on one's scalp or skull much as a practitioner of palmistry "reads" lines on one's palms.

To further consider the holographic model, when a portion of a photographic film containing a holographic image is destroyed, no portion of the hologram that the film produces is destroyed. Instead, the entire image is simply weakened or made fainter. Talbot tells us that many neurophsiologists now take the fact that memories are not destroyed when a part of the brain is damaged as proving that the functions of memory are not located in any specific place in the brain, "but are distributed over the brain as a whole in much the same way that the image of a hologram is enfolded in all of its parts."

Sir John Eccles is a dualist who won a Nobel Prize in 1963 for his work on the synapse. He believes mind or spirit is sepeate and distinct from the physical machine called the brain. He believes man has an immortal soul.

Mind is postulated to exist independently of the physical brain. As we shall see in another context, the brain may be a mere "tuning mechanism" to receive the non-local signals.

I think, therefore I am. My spirit exists.

Either I am the only spirit in this universe, or other spirits also exists. If other spirits also exist, they abound. Surely I cannot be the greater of these. My spirit, therefore, is testimony to the existence of a greater spirit than mine. My awareness of my own existence is all the proof I need to the existence of a higher power.

Postulate Five

Existence consists of sequentially experiencing contiguous energy states.

It is here postulated that all sentient consciousness exists independenly of any one physical universe, and moves from continguous energy state to continguous energy state at quantum speed, lingering in each unverse for only a "jiffy," the smallest imaginable quantum unit of time, ten to the minus fourty three seconds, being that fraction of a second represented by the number 1 over the number 10 followed by 42 zeros. During so, the sentient being experiences the illusion of a continuous existence in one dynamic uiverse with quantum interactions taking place, all in accordance with the laws of physics.

We're talking about the mind, soul or spirit moving through literally ten trillion trillion quintillion energy states per second. Perceived reality consists of this "movie" made up of an incredible number of still frames selected on a mix-and-match basis. A time line for a "mind" moving on a route through continguous universes would thus look like a random meandering line drawn on a floor made of hexagonal tiles, where each tile prepresents a separate continguous universe.

The pioneers of the many-worlds hypothesis do not see it this way. Just as they envision multiple worlds that are dynamic and not static, so too they envision multiple consciounesses... (book continues....)

M.R. Franks

[ 22. July 2004, 22:49: Message edited by: Orb ]

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Postulate 5 would be the one closest to my view of reality

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Perhaps if we look closely enough we might catch the scenery wobbling.

---oh shit.

now my idea that salvia (& all the other psychoactives) is part ov an alien consciousness in "the real world" dimension, that allows you to see into the "real world" dimension---but also allows "them" to see you; doesn't sound quite so stoopid---not sure i like that

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thanks for posting that.

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The more I learn about how strangely the physics of this reality work the more I think it's all some kind of virtual reality that we either volunteered to or were forced into and we're not supposed to look behind the curtain!

Maybe psychedelics are glitch makers, bugs in the system....

I'm reading a new book called The Dreaming Universe tonight, finding it very interesting.



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his most boldy speculative inquiry to date, physicist Wolf ( Taking the Quantum Leap ) argues that dreams are a vital aspect of evolution, enabling an individual to develop a concept of self. The dream, in his formulation, is a map of possibility, a realm where synchronistic (i.e., noncausal yet meaningfully connected) events occur, producing self-awareness. Our dream images, even if we don't remember them, invade our waking consciousness as patterns that shape our lives, he insists. Wolf posits an "imaginal realm," halfway between material and mental reality, that manifests in lucid dreams (wherein an alert dreamer can control unfolding dream events), in near-death experiences, and possibly in UFO abductions. In this mind-stretching synthesis that challenges accepted beliefs across many fields, Wolf bolsters his thesis that dreams connect with physical reality by drawing on quantum physics, the works of Freud and Jung, modern dream research and Australian aboriginals' concept of an eternal "dreamtime."

Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

New Age border-crossings that blur more than clarify where physics and the dreaming psyche meet. As in The Eagle Quest (1991), physicist Wolf extends Jung's idea of synchronicity to explain the connection between an individual's dream and the ``dreaming universe.'' He finds Freudian dream theory analogous to, and as limited as, Newtonian physics- -it's no surprise that Jung in turn is praised as being analogous to Niels Bohr, ``the father/mother of quantum physics.'' Reverting to ideas explored... read more --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

In The Dreaming Universe author Fred Alan Wolf examines the psychological and scientific elements of this most personal yet most enigmatic of human processes. By linking research ranging from the ancient Greek "dream temples" and modern experiments in telepathy, REM, and lucid dreaming to his own research on human consciousness, he theorizes that dreaming is the basis for consciousness, and that it is through dreaming that we are able to manifest a sense of ourselves.

[ 29. July 2004, 21:37: Message edited by: Orb ]

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