Archive for ‘Consciousness’

March 30, 2013

The Biocentric Universe Theory: Life Creates Time, Space, and the Cosmos Itself

Original Link: The Biocentric Universe Theory: Life Creates Time, Space, and the Cosmos Itself

Stem-cell guru Robert Lanza presents a radical new view of the universe and everything in it.

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The farther we peer into space, the more we realize that the nature of the universe cannot be understood fully by inspecting spiral galaxies or watching distant supernovas. It lies deeper. It involves our very selves.

This insight snapped into focus one day while one of us (Lanza) was walking through the woods. Looking up, he saw a huge golden orb web spider tethered to the overhead boughs. There the creature sat on a single thread, reaching out across its web to detect the vibrations of a trapped insect struggling to escape. The spider surveyed its universe, but everything beyond that gossamer pinwheel was incomprehensible. The human observer seemed as far-off to the spider as telescopic objects seem to us. Yet there was something kindred: We humans, too, lie at the heart of a great web of space and time whose threads are connected according to laws that dwell in our minds.

Is the web possible without the spider? Are space and time physical objects that would continue to exist even if living creatures were removed from the scene?

Figuring out the nature of the real world has obsessed scientists and philosophers for millennia. Three hundred years ago, the Irish empiricist George Berkeley contributed a particularly prescient observation: The only thing we can perceive are our perceptions. In other words, consciousness is the matrix upon which the cosmos is apprehended. Color, sound, temperature, and the like exist only as perceptions in our head, not as absolute essences. In the broadest sense, we cannot be sure of an outside universe at all.

For centuries, scientists regarded Berkeley’s argument as a philosophical sideshow and continued to build physical models based on the assumption of a separate universe “out there” into which we have each individually arrived. These models presume the existence of one essential reality that prevails with us or without us. Yet since the 1920s, quantum physics experiments have routinely shown the opposite: Results do depend on whether anyone is observing. This is perhaps most vividly illustrated by the famous two-slit experiment. When someone watches a subatomic particle or a bit of light pass through the slits, the particle behaves like a bullet, passing through one hole or the other. But if no one observes the particle, it exhibits the behavior of a wave that can inhabit all possibilities—including somehow passing through both holes at the same time.

Some of the greatest physicists have described these results as so confounding they are impossible to comprehend fully, beyond the reach of metaphor, visualization, and language itself. But there is another interpretation that makes them sensible. Instead of assuming a reality that predates life and even creates it, we propose a biocentric picture of reality. From this point of view, life—particularly consciousness—creates the universe, and the universe could not exist without us.

MESSING WITH THE LIGHT
Quantum mechanics is the physicist’s most accurate model for describing the world of the atom. But it also makes some of the most persuasive arguments that conscious perception is integral to the workings of the universe. Quantum theory tells us that an unobserved small object (for instance, an electron or a photon—a particle of light) exists only in a blurry, unpredictable state, with no well-defined location or motion until the moment it is observed. This is  Werner Heisenberg’s famous uncertainty principle. Physicists describe the phantom, not-yet-manifest condition as a wave function, a mathematical expression used to find the probability that a particle will appear in any given place. When a property of an electron suddenly switches from possibility to reality, some physicists say its wave function has collapsed.

What accomplishes this collapse? Messing with it. Hitting it with a bit of light in order to take its picture. Just looking at it does the job. Experiments suggest that mere knowledge in the experimenter’s mind is sufficient to collapse a wave function and convert possibility to reality. When particles are created as a pair—for instance, two electrons in a single atom that move or spin together—physicists call them entangled. Due to their intimate connection, entangled particles share a wave function. When we measure one particle and thus collapse its wave function, the other particle’s wave function instantaneously collapses too. If one photon is observed to have a vertical polarization (its waves all moving in one plane), the act of observation causes the other to instantly go from being an indefinite probability wave to an actual photon with the opposite, horizontal polarity—even if the two photons have since moved far from each other.

In 1997 University of Geneva physicist Nicolas Gisin sent two entangled photons zooming along optical fibers until they were seven miles apart. One photon then hit a two-way mirror where it had a choice: either bounce off or go through. Detectors recorded what it randomly did. But whatever action it took, its entangled twin always performed the complementary action. The communication between the two happened at least 10,000 times faster than the speed of light. It seems that quantum news travels instantaneously, limited by no external constraints—not even the speed of light. Since then, other researchers have duplicated and refined Gisin’s work. Today no one questions the immediate nature of this connectedness between bits of light or matter, or even entire clusters of atoms.

Before these experiments most physicists believed in an objective, independent universe. They still clung to the assumption that physical states exist in some absolute sense before they are measured.

All of this is now gone for keeps.

WRESTLING WITH GOLDILOCKS
The strangeness of quantum reality is far from the only argument against the old model of reality. There is also the matter of the fine-tuning of the cosmos. Many fundamental traits, forces, and physical constants—like the charge of the electron or the strength of gravity—make it appear as if everything about the physical state of the universe were tailor-made for life. Some researchers call this revelation the Goldilocks principle, because the cosmos is not “too this” or “too that” but rather “just right” for life.

At the moment there are only four explanations for this mystery. The first two give us little to work with from a scientific perspective. One is simply to argue for incredible coincidence. Another is to say, “God did it,” which explains nothing even if it is true.

The third explanation invokes a concept called the anthropic principle,first articulated by Cambridge astrophysicist Brandon Carter in 1973. This principle holds that we must find the right conditions for life in our universe, because if such life did not exist, we would not be here to find those conditions. Some cosmologists have tried to wed the anthropic principle with the recent theories that suggest our universe is just one of a vast multitude of universes, each with its own physical laws. Through sheer numbers, then, it would not be surprising that one of these universes would have the right qualities for life. But so far there is no direct evidence whatsoever for other universes.

The final option is biocentrism, which holds that the universe is created by life and not the other way around. This is an explanation for and extension of the participatory anthropic principle described by the physicist John Wheeler, a disciple of Einstein’s who coined the termswormhole and black hole.

SEEKING SPACE AND TIME
Even the most fundamental elements of physical reality, space and time, strongly support a biocentric basis for the cosmos.

According to biocentrism, time does not exist independently of the life that notices it. The reality of time has long been questioned by an odd alliance of philosophers and physicists. The former argue that the past exists only as ideas in the mind, which themselves are neuroelectrical events occurring strictly in the present moment. Physicists, for their part, note that all of their working models, from Isaac Newton’s laws through quantum mechanics, do not actually describe the nature of time. The real point is that no actual entity of time is needed, nor does it play a role in any of their equations. When they speak of time, they inevitably describe it in terms of change. But change is not the same thing as time.

To measure anything’s position precisely, at any given instant, is to lock in on one static frame of its motion, as in the frame of a film. Conversely, as soon as you observe a movement, you cannot isolate a frame, because motion is the summation of many frames. Sharpness in one parameter induces blurriness in the other. Imagine that you are watching a film of an archery tournament. An archer shoots and the arrow flies. The camera follows the arrow’s trajectory from the archer’s bow toward the target. Suddenly the projector stops on a single frame of a stilled arrow. You stare at the image of an arrow in midflight. The pause in the film enables you to know the position of the arrow with great accuracy, but you have lost all information about its momentum. In that frame it is going nowhere; its path and velocity are no longer known. Such fuzziness brings us back to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which describes how measuring the location of a subatomic particle inherently blurs its momentum and vice versa.

All of this makes perfect sense from a biocentric perspective. Everything we perceive is actively and repeatedly being reconstructed inside our heads in an organized whirl of information. Time in this sense can be defined as the summation of spatial states occurring inside the mind. So what is real? If the next mental image is different from the last, then it is different, period. We can award that change with the word time, but that does not mean there is an actual invisible matrix in which changes occur. That is just our own way of making sense of things. We watch our loved ones age and die and assume that an external entity called time is responsible for the crime.

There is a peculiar intangibility to space, as well. We cannot pick it up and bring it to the laboratory. Like time, space is neither physical nor fundamentally real in our view. Rather, it is a mode of interpretation and understanding. It is part of an animal’s mental software that molds sensations into multidimensional objects.

Most of us still think like Newton, regarding space as sort of a vast container that has no walls. But our notion of space is false. Shall we count the ways? 1. Distances between objects mutate depending on conditions like gravity and velocity, as described by Einstein’s relativity, so that there is no absolute distance between anything and anything else. 2. Empty space, as described by quantum mechanics, is in fact not empty but full of potential particles and fields. 3. Quantum theory even casts doubt on the notion that distant objects are truly separated, since entangled particles can act in unison even if separated by the width of a galaxy.

UNLOCKING THE CAGE
In daily life, space and time are harmless illusions. A problem arises only because, by treating these as fundamental and independent things, science picks a completely wrong starting point for investigations into the nature of reality. Most researchers still believe they can build from one side of nature, the physical, without the other side, the living. By inclination and training these scientists are obsessed with mathematical descriptions of the world. If only, after leaving work, they would look out with equal seriousness over a pond and watch the schools of minnows rise to the surface. The fish, the ducks, and the cormorants, paddling out beyond the pads and the cattails, are all part of the greater answer.

Recent quantum studies help illustrate what a new biocentric science would look like. Just months ago, Nicolas Gisin announced a new twist on his entanglement experiment; in this case, he thinks the results could be visible to the naked eye. At the University of Vienna, Anton Zeilinger’s work with huge molecules called buckyballs pushes quantum reality closer to the macroscopic world. In an exciting extension of this work—proposed by Roger Penrose, the renowned Oxford physicist—not just light but a small mirror that reflects it becomes part of an entangled quantum system, one that is billions of times larger than a buckyball. If the proposed experiment ends up confirming Penrose’s idea, it would also confirm that quantum effects apply to human-scale objects.

Biocentrism should unlock the cages in which Western science has unwittingly confined itself. Allowing the observer into the equation should open new approaches to understanding cognition, from unraveling the nature of consciousness to developing thinking machines that experience the world the same way we do. Biocentrism should also provide stronger bases for solving problems associated with quantum physics and the Big Bang. Accepting space and time as forms of animal sense perception (that is, as biological), rather than as external physical objects, offers a new way of understanding everything from the microworld (for instance, the reason for strange results in the two-slit experiment) to the forces, constants, and laws that shape the universe. At a minimum, it should help halt such dead-end efforts as string theory.

Above all, biocentrism offers a more promising way to bring together all of physics, as scientists have been trying to do since Einstein’s unsuccessful unified field theories of eight decades ago. Until we recognize the essential role of biology, our attempts to truly unify the universe will remain a train to nowhere.

Adapted from Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True

March 30, 2013

Why Does Life Exist?

This article is taken from:Why Does Life Exist?

For over 10,000 years we’ve looked to the sky and gods for answers. We’ve sent spacecraft to Mars and beyond, and continue to build even bigger machines to find the “God” particle. We’re like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” who went on a long journey in search of the Wizard to get back home, only to find the answer was inside her all along.

In “2001: A Space Odyssey” astronauts are sent on a quest to Jupiter. At the end, David Bowman finds himself pulled into a tunnel of colored light — beyond space and time — to learn the secrets (but merely finds another riddle). Loren Eiseley, the great anthropologist, summed it up best:

“If the day comes when the slime of the laboratory for the first time crawls under man’s direction, we shall have great need of humbleness. It will be difficult for us to believe, in our pride of achievement, that the secret of life has slipped through our fingers and eludes us still. We will list all the chemicals and the reactions. The men who have become gods will pose austerely before the popping flashbulbs of news photographs, and there will be few to consider — so deep is the mind-set of an age — whether the desire to link life to matter may not have blinded us to the more remarkable characteristics of both.”

Steven Weinberg, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979, concedes in his book “Dreams of a Final Theory” that there’s a problem with consciousness, and despite the power of physical theory, the existence of consciousness doesn’t seem derivable from physical laws.

When asked if he believed in God, even Einstein replied “There must be something behind the energy.” According to biocentrism, that something is the human (or animal) mind. It’s you, the observer, who collapses reality. Consciousness is one side of the equation, and matter and energy the other. In these days of experiment and disconnected theory, one point seems certain: the nature of the universe can’t be divorced from the nature of life itself. If they’re split, the reality is gone.

“It will remain remarkable,” said Nobel physicist Eugene Wigner, “in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the conclusion that the content of the consciousness is an ultimate reality.”

Here is the universe: our sense organs perceive atoms and galaxies to some 14 billion light-years, although we can’t see with the eye of reason that the world is for us animals merely a bundle of sensations unified by laws that exist in our understanding. We can’t see the laws upon which nature is built, from the intricate form of a seedpod to the periodicities of the planets and stars. We can’t see the laws that uphold the world, or that if they be removed, then the trees and the mountains, indeed the whole universe, would collapse to nothing.

In this world, only an act of observation can confer shape and form to reality — to a dandelion in a meadow, or a seed pod, or the sun or wind or rain. Anyway, it’s impressive, and your cat or dog can do it, too. And even the spider, there on her web, moored outside my window.

The answer to life and the universe can’t be found by looking through a microscope or inspecting spiral galaxies. It lies deeper. It involves our very selves. Our consciousness is why they exist. It unifies the thinking, extended worlds into a coherent experience and animates the music that creates our emotions and purposes — the good and the bad, wars and love. It doesn’t load the dice for you to play the game of life. True, there’s pain and strife everywhere. But as Will Durant pointed out, we need to see “behind the strife, the friendly aid of neighbors, the rollicking joy of children and young men, the dances of vivacious girls, the willing sacrifices of parents and lovers, the patient bounty of the soil, and the renaissance of spring.”

In whatever form it takes, life sings because it has a song. The meaning is in the lyrics.

March 30, 2013

Why Are You Here? A New Theory May Hold the Missing Piece

This nice article is taken from: Why Are You Here?

Why do you happen to be alive on this lush little planet with its warm sun and coconut trees? And at just the right time in the history of the universe? The surface of the molten earth has cooled, but it’s not too cold. And it’s not too hot; the sun hasn’t expanded enough to melt the Earth’s surface with its searing gas yet. Even setting aside the issue of being here and now, the probability of random physical laws and events leading to this point is less than 1 out of 100,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, equivalent to winning every lottery there ever was.

Biocentrism, a new theory of everything, provides the missing piece. Although classical evolution does an excellent job of helping us understand the past, it fails to capture the driving force. Evolution needs to add the observer to the equation. Indeed, Niels Bohr, the great Nobel physicist, said, “When we measure something we are forcing an undetermined, undefined world to assume an experimental value. We are not ‘measuring’ the world, we are creating it.” The evolutionists are trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. They think we, the observer, are a mindless accident, debris left over from an explosion that appeared out of nowhere one day.

Cosmologists propose that the universe was until recently a lifeless collection of particles bouncing against each other. It’s presented as a watch that somehow wound itself up, and that will unwind in a semi-predictable way. But they’ve shunted a critical component of the cosmos out of the way because they don’t know what to do with it. This component, consciousness, isn’t a small item. It’s an utter mystery, which we think has somehow arisen from molecules and goo.

How did inert, random bits of carbon ever morph into that Japanese guy who always wins the hot-dog-eating contest?

In short, attempts to explain the nature of the universe, its origins, and what’s really going on require an understanding of how the observer, our presence, plays a role. According to the current paradigm, the universe, and the laws of nature themselves, just popped out of nothingness. The story goes something like this: From the Big Bang until the present time, we’ve been incredibly lucky. This good fortune started from the moment of creation; if the Big Bang had been one-part-in-a-million more powerful, the cosmos would have rushed out too fast for the galaxies and stars to have developed. If the gravitational force were decreased by a hair, stars (including the Sun) wouldn’t have ignited. There are over 200 physical parameters like this that could have any value but happen to be exactly right for us to be here. Tweak any of them and you never existed.

But our luck didn’t stop with the laws, forces, and constants of the universe. Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Orrorin tugenensis, Ardipithecus ramidus, Australopithecus anamensis, A. afarensis, Kenyanthropus platyops, A. africanus, A. garhi, A. sediba, A. aethiopicus, A. robustus, A. boisei, Homo habilis, H. georgicus, and H. erectus — among other hominid species — all went extinct. Even the Neanderthals went extinct. But alas, not us! Indeed, we happen to be the only species of Hominina that made it.

Our special luck continues in the present time. Asteroids could strike Earth at any time, producing a surface-charring blast of heat, followed by years of dust that would freeze and/or starve us to death. Nearby stars could go supernova, their energy destroying the ozone layer and sterilizing the Earth with radiation. And a supervolcano could shroud the Earth in dust. These are just a few (out of billions) of things that could go wrong.

The story of evolution reads just like “The Story of the Three Bears,” In the nursery tale, a little girl named Goldilocks enters a home occupied by three bears and tries different bowls of porridge; some are too hot, some are too cold. She also tries different chairs and beds, and every time, the third is “just right.” For 13.7 billion years we, too, have had chronic good luck. Virtually everything has been “just right.”

It’s a fascinating story to tell children, but claiming that it’s all a “dumb” accident is no more helpful than saying “God did it.” Loren Eiseley, the great naturalist, once said that scientists “have not always been able to see that an old theory, given a hairsbreadth twist, might open an entirely new vista to the human reason.” The theory of evolution turns out to be the perfect case in hand. Amazingly, it all makes sense if you assume that the Big Bang is the end of the chain of physical causality, not the beginning.

Indeed, according to biocentrism, it’s us, the observer, who create space and time (which is the reason you’re here now). Consider everything you see around you right now. Language and custom say it all lies outside us in the external world. Yet you can’t see anything through the vault of bone that surrounds your brain. Your eyes aren’t just portals to the world. In fact, everything you experience, including your body, is part of an active process occurring in your mind. Space and time are simply the mind’s tools for putting it all together.

Theoretical physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow recently stated:
There is no way to remove the observer — us — from our perceptions of the world … In classical physics, the past is assumed to exist as a definite series of events, but according to quantum physics, the past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.”

If we, the observer, collapse these possibilities (that is, the past and future) then where does that leave evolutionary theory, as described in our schoolbooks? Until the present is determined, how can there be a past? The past begins with the observer, us, not the other way around as we’ve been taught.

The observer is the first cause, the vital force that collapses not only the present but the cascade of past spatio-temporal events we call evolution. “If, instead of identifying ourselves with the work,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson, “we feel that the soul of the workman streams through us, we shall find the peace of the morning dwelling first in our hearts, and the fathomless powers of gravity and chemistry, and, over them, of life, pre-existing within us in their highest form.”