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Category Archives: Scientific discussion

The Mechanics of Time?

My previous two posts in this series have speculated as the possible mechanisms by which consciousness may arrive and be experienced by the human individual. I now turn my attention to the question of the third component that creates the experience, that of time. At its basic definition, time is a direction which the individual experiences consciousness, usually defined by the biological body. However, it has been asserted by many great scientific thinkers that time is an illusion. Albert Einstein famously stated “This distinction between past, present and future is only an illusion.”

Current scientific theories are now actively promoting the concept that time is actually in reality, a series of 3 dimensional frames and that these frames are present at all times from both past, present and future. The simplest analogy to use would be the role of cinematic film with its series of captured images. The direction of time, times arrow as it is known is discussed in many books but at this present time, my thinking is influenced by this book that I am currently reading.

The concepts are quite involved and I could not do them justice without trying to do a post that would be at least 3000 words, which would not benefit anyone, so I’ll try to incorporate the general ideas with my own. To get around the many of the problems of a physical universe, science is now becoming quite fluid in its approach. This fluidity is now encroaching into areas previously assigned to the realms of the mystical. For many of the current models to work, there has to be an imposition of extra dimensions, dimensions that have been variously described by different physicists over the last 30 years or so. Here is one of the more generally known.

Our experience of time may be a result of our biological processes that create the direction our brain experiences these frames. If the premise that these frames exist in the universe individually and independently is correct, then time would be the mechanism used to direct the progression of these frames through the human or other biological brain. This tying of time to the biological brain is well evidenced by studies that have shown that animals experience time differently to humans. The difference seems to be that the human brain seems to possess a larger hard drive (to use a computer analogy) which provides humanity with a larger capacity for memory (episodic memory) and the ability to foresee or pre-empt the future, something not evidenced at all in the animal world.

If time is the direction by which we experience our lives, then much like a cinematic projector, it would appear to be reasonable to assume that different rates or increases in the numbers of these frames the brain processes could affect our perception of time. It is commonly evidenced that at times of great stress, such as in near death experiences caused by accidents, the perception of time slows for the affected individual. One may assume that if the frame reality of time is correct, then the brain may actually be processing a greater number of frames and much like a projector, if you speed up the number of frames processed in a given time, for example, lets say the brain process 20 to 40 frames per second to create “ordinary” reality (reality experienced as normal by the individual), then if that process accelerates to 60 frames per minute, reality will appear to be slowed down because of this information overload. Inversely, if we reduced the number of frames to say 10 frames per minute, then the resultant reality will appear to speed up. However, unlike a mechanistic projector that would present these images in a sometimes disjointed way because the change of information may be greater than we usually evidence, there are studies that suggest that the brain may actually “fill” these gaps by using information gained previously or may even “best guess” in anticipation. This best guess ability may be why, when questioned about a situation, witnesses sometimes appear to come up with conflicting information. One individual’s processing abilities may not be quick enough to deal with all the information so that individual’s perception is partially built by their brain filling in the gaps, whereas another individual’s processing power may be sufficient to do the job accurately.

Another of the current models of science at this time is the many worlds syndrome which I have dealt with before. Part of this asserts that all possible outcomes for interactions are present in the cosmos and that reality is a coming together of the greater number of similar outcomes. Assuming that the frames of reality scenario is correct, then one more function of the brain may be assimilation of these other realities. Think of this like a giant zipper, but instead of just two sides zipping together, many sides from different areas are thus zipped together to form our reality. The greatest number of similar scenarios present are zipped together resulting in our reality and time is the direction with which these realities are zipped together thus creating ordinary reality. The greater number of similar realities zipped together result in a cohesive and stable environment, but if this zipping ability varies from individual to individual and some individuals zip realities not so similar in outcomes, then their perception of reality may vary from what may be considered to be the “norm”. They are susceptible to a greater number of different frames of reality and as such, may experience reality differently.

This also raises the possibility that because this processing in humans is fixed, although I suspect that the rate of information the human may assimilate may be increasing because of technology, assuming one accepts the premise of other life forms, they may possess the ability to zip realities together much in the same way as humanity although their rates of zipping may be different from ours and as such our two realities may not be synchronized the same, resulting in different realities. Because we do not share the same rate of reality zipping as them, our perception of them is limited, however, if we can alter our rate of zipping by such practices as meditation, we may place ourselves in a position of creating a rate similar to theirs and as such, may actually change our own reality and therefore may have some limited experience of their reality.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2010 in Scientific discussion

 

The Human Conduit

In my previous post I raised the potential perspective that consciousness, as a living process, was one that may work by influencing the smallest living parts of the human being, the cell. Of course, cells are not specific to humanity but are evidenced in most other forms of life on Earth, so they are to me, a natural contender for being part of the mechanism that consciousness uses to manifest itself here on Earth. As I have mentioned before, as an engineer by trade, I am motivated to construct mechanisms and processes that both explain and demonstrate the transformation of energy (particles, waves, etc) into different forms. By creating and working with these processes we develop the ability to make better informed judgments by working from a basis grounded in proven and evidenced facts.

The matter of consciousness is one that can be most perplexing. We know it exists because the results are evidenced in all of us. Yet, because of earlier attempts to define its purpose through the teachings, writings and theological frameworks of human religions, it has been subjected to different interpretations that were solely the results of second, third or multiple parties interpretations of experiences they were not part of. This is, in my opinion, the great failing of the religious frameworks that are based upon the writings of person(s) of dubious historical fact.

Therefore, the reader will find that my own approach is one that seeks to develop a workable framework that has enough basis in fact or evidence to be usable for people to develop their own experiences without the need for an “overseer” to translate and define those same experiences. If the framework has basis in demonstrable facts, then the results of using this framework provides that person with a basis to develop their own experiences knowing that other people may also be gaining the same or similar experiences (hopefully).

Therefore, my own viewpoint and motivation is one that seeks to remove the need for a third-party interpretation and to place in the hands of the individual, the framework with which to both develop and correlate their experiences. Some of my conjecture will prove to be challenging and I am happy to respond to any and all questions about what I am proposing.

Using my previous conjecture that consciousness may provide the cell, or even the bacteria present in us and all other living matter, with a potential interface for the absorbtion of this consciousness, I now turn my attention to the possible contenders for the transportation of this consciousness. In the universe we know as being based in our present reality, there are four known forces. As far as everyday living for humanity is concerned, the electromagnetic force would appear to be the most obviously influential one. The electromagnetic force is responsible for the transportation of light and heat, probably the two most physically evidenced properties experienced by humans.

As we progress in scientific areas, we are now (probably) living through a part of human history rich with potential for advancing our understanding of the known cosmos, overturning centuries of both misinformation and just plain wrong concepts of what actually represents reality. One of those concepts was best described by the old adage “I’ll believe it when I see it with my own eyes”. We now know that what we see with our own eyes is provided by the electromagnetic force yet we do not know the process, fully, to describe how light, hitting the surface of the eye, is transformed into the usable information perceived by the brain. What we do know, from recent work, is that the range of light humanity can actually perceive only represents 0.0000000001% of the total light spectrum. “I’ll believe it when I see it with my own eyes?” actually, I don’t think I want to restrict myself that much thank you!

The electromagnetic force is also responsible for the delivery of the heat of the Sun, necessary for the majority of life on Earth. Therefore, it is probably the most directly experienced force as far as everyday living is concerned. Does this, therefore, make it the favourite for being the carrier of consciousness? I would suggest not and will develop my thoughts.

Two other forces are the weak and strong nuclear forces. The processes and purposes of these forces are not well-known at this time and would appear to be involved in the workings of particles and protons in the very small-scale of the quantum mechanical world. One thing these forces share in common though, is they are evidenced as being present in the known universe and at predictable strength. One of the consequences and suggestions of the M-brane scenario is that the observed universe, now that it has been observed and confirmed as being essentially flat, restricts interactions with this universe through the available dimensions of that same universe. A flat universe, therefore, restricts its dimensions to left and right, up and down (limited) and forward and back. It is also been suggested that space / time may represent a fourth / fifth dimension, but either way, these forces are restricted by the nature of a flat universe.

This also lends itself to the speculation that this flat physical universe acts as a restricting factor on these three forces, tying them to a predictable magnitude of both size and power. Therefore, if one is of the opinion that consciousness is not tied to this physical universe, but permeates other realms of existence or other (brane or other) universes, I would contend that this very nature of consciousness rules out the three forces discussed. If these forces are limited by our flat physical universe, I would suggest they are not good candidates for the transportation of consciousness.

Therefore we turn our attention to the last known force, that of gravity. Gravity is a force that has been the thorn in the side of physics for most of the time it has been known to science. It is speculated to being a major player in the formation of the universe (creating the conditions for the singularity of the Big Bang theory to develop) but unlike the other three forces, its relative strength is not proportional as is thought it should be. This weak force of gravity (proportionally) therefore, has meant that rather than deal with the consequences or reasoning of why this should be, physicists have actually chosen, in a lot of instances, to take gravity out of a lot of their theoretical equations and indeed, it is only possible for a lot of these very same equations to work without the disproportional influence of gravity. Upon learning of this course of action, I couldn’t help but think of the child who, not wanting to hear what it’s parents were trying to say to him / her, stuck their fingers in their ears singing La La La at the top of their voices! If we don’t see / hear it, it doesn’t exist!

However, for the purpose of this piece, the actual properties of gravity, especially using recent scientific speculation, lends itself to presenting the case as a potential part or full transporter of consciousness. This may not be as instantly outrageous as it appears at first sight. As we have speculated, one of the properties of consciousness is its apparent ability to transcend the physical and influence the non physical. Current scientific speculation into the many worlds or universes theory speculates that the existence of these other worlds / universes is only detectable by using the force of gravity. Gravity, it has been suggested, is so weak here, because it is the only one of the known forces that has the properties to pass through our universe and into another one. It has further been speculated that if we could use gravity in the same way as we use the light properties of the electromagnetic force, this would give us a window into these alternative worlds / universes. In short, it presents one of our best means to verify, at this time, the existence of other universes.

This speculation, therefore, may lead one to conclude that the properties of gravity are not dissimilar to those of consciousness, using our current understanding of what actually constitutes consciousness. It would appear to possess the same qualities as consciousness, to transcend both the physical and non physical (or scientifically, the non proven) yet has a direct influence in both creating the conditions of both the formation and continuation of the physical universe. It would also appear to be central to mechanisms observed in black holes, contenders also for potential viewpoints into alternative universes.

So, if we take the leap and suggest that gravity is a possible contender for the transporter of consciousness, we have a possible means by which this consciousness is experienced by humanity. We could not exist on this planet without the effect of gravity weighing us down and thus preventing us from spinning off into the vacuum of space. It is felt by each and every one of us in a direct way.

If therefore, gravity may be the mechanism by which consciousness is “delivered” to the Earth, part of the function of the physical body may be the transference of this consciousness (which may actually be a constituent of gravity) into the biological processes of the human body. Therefore, the human body (and indeed, most other biological bodies known and possibly other forms of existence speculated at currently ) may well be viewed as conduits for an energetic transference of this consciousness from its “raw” state present in gravity, into a different state transformed by the biological body.  The term transmutation springs readily to mind here. There is not a part of the Earth or indeed our solar system (and further, I would suggest there is good evidence to suggest no part of our known universe) that is not subject to gravity and if one takes the viewpoint that there is not one part of creation that is not subject to consciousness, the similarities are striking. The human body, the conduit, may be a transmutation device that realizes the potential of consciousness through the biological processes inherent in all of humanity. Other lifeforms may also demonstrate this transmutation effect to a greater or lesser extent.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2010 in Scientific discussion

 

“Bottom up” Consciousness

I have been considering the subject of consciousness in an animistic context. Most of the advocates of animism agree that consciousness pervades every thing in our known, and speculatively the unknown, cosmos. The mechanism is not understood but for many, this is an irrelevance as their experiences dictates their understanding. This is, I would contend, to be a reasonable position but leaves the individual open to claims of delusion if those same experiences appear to go against the norm. Being an engineer by trade, I tend to look at these things from a process perspective, if I can establish the means by which this process could take place, then the basis for the analysis for the results is on firmer foundations.

One thing I have recently realized is that a lot of the perceptions of the individuals who are brave enough to venture an opinion or share some of their perceptions, seem to consider consciousness as a “top down” process. That is to say, the reasoning assumes that consciousness is seated within the brain, with the brain processing the information resulting in sensory experiences. No doubt this has its roots in the modern disciplines of psychotherapy and the likes. The thought processes are deemed to be behind most of the experiences and if we do something to affect the brain, through the likes of different drugs or using different thought processes, the underlying principles accredit the change to these and other types of brain alterations.

So let us consider an alternative. If we examine the human cell, we find some remarkable facts. The human cell wall comprises of some 30,000 different types of proteins, configured as enzymes, organelles, DNA & the like. Each cell has more parts than people in a medium-sized city. It feeds itself, excretes waste, rebuilds internal parts, creates bio-electricity, reproduces and chooses when to die. When it replicates through division, it replicates all this including the 3 billion plus DNA base pairs of the double helix. This cell could share the head of a pin with about 10,000 of its comrades.

The potential for different courses of interactions are mind-blowing. The amount of suitable material considered suitable for food must make the a la carte menus of the best restaurants as somewhat inadequate. Then there are all the possible consequences of chemical reactions within that same environment, some beneficial, some positively hostile. And yet, the scientific community would have us believe that cells are nothing but automatons, who simply react to environmental stimuli. Close scrutiny however, shows this position to be both inaccurate and selective in its interpretations. If these cells were nothing but automatons, then the consequences of these cells interactions should be all uniform in the evidence, with little or no variance. Of course, factors such as cell makeup and the likes will account for a small deviation in results but overall, the actions of the cells should be uniform.

So, let us take a leap of faith here and grant these cells the capacity of “free will”. This free will would be provided by consciousness. It would be demonstrated by the individualistic choices of these cells, microbes & bacteria present in the biological body. The environment these cells (I’m going to use the term cell to cover all other capable and qualifying entities here) find themselves in may present far more challenges than what the “we” find in our own cultural environments. For example, in favourable environmental conditions, it would not be beyond reasonable conclusions to presume the potential foodstuffs may number into the hundreds, possibly the thousands (think of the sea, for example and the plankton present there). When looking at a typical menu in any well-known fast food outlet, if you group foodstuffs into their original constituent groups, I doubt it would number much above ten.

Then we look at the possible chemical reactions that may occur when cells enter differing environments. Some of these environments may result in physical damage which the cell, minus the supposed source of intellect, a brain, then repairs for optimal use again. The 3 billion plus pairs of DNA in the double helix give the cell the materials with which to equipment itself with the necessary tools for repair, but how does this process originate? The obvious answer is the autoimmune system, but that is dependent, to an extent, of being driven supposedly by the brain. I find it difficult to place all this activity being orchestrated by that same brain. Intuitively, for me, it makes more sense that the cells possess enough autonomy in their actions without directions from a distant organ. It also makes more sense that the information provided by these cells, if provided in great enough numbers, may be the spark that create a synaptic pathway with the resultant thought being created in the brain.

Consider the choices we encounter in everyday life. How many number beyond say six choices? When driving, for example, it’s usually just two. Is it possible that the autonomous workings of these cells actually provide the service of eliminating choices until the resultant number available to us is of a sufficient low enough denomination for the brain to be able to make a better informed choice? If this is the case and organisms without that most human characteristic, a brain, do possess the ability to use free will, and thus demonstrate both independence in action with the ability to relay these results to another organ then the purpose of the brain may now be viewed as the centre where all the information is correlated primarily, and its primary role may not be one that sends out information for cells to act on, as is thought to be the case in many circles at present, but one where the flow of information going into it may well far outweigh the information being sent out. Ironically, the brain may actually be responsible for “dumbing down” this information.

Of course, if this independence in actions is viewed in cells outside the human body, then the consequences for the perception of life may also be in need of a revision.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2010 in Scientific discussion

 

The Universe on a Brane

String theory, the premise that the basic substance of the universe is composed of vibrating strings of energy, is one of modern physics more interesting concepts. The classical representation of the substance of the universe was one that was composed of small “dots” of matter, and was seriously first challenged over three decades ago. As is evidenced with a lot of physics, its rise to popularity is one comprising of false starts and initial rejection.

As someone with an essentially animist cosmological view, the theory sits within that which is both an instinctively and experientially valid personal concept. In the world of science, this theory, like a lot of the modern concepts, is qualified by some experimentally observed evidence along with a lot of theoretical calculations. At this time, and if one correctly understands the magnitude of scale needed to qualify the existence of these strings, it’s entirely possible that their existence may never be observed unless technology can provide a window in to the world of the ultramicroscopic. A conservative estimate is that they are probably around 0.00000000000000001 of a centimetre, although this has yet to be definatively established, and some estimates make it even smaller.

The size of scale therefore, places these strings into the world of the unseen. An unseen energetic field that permeates all of the observable universe. There is some debate as to whether these strings are part of both dark energy and dark matter, which together are thought to represent up to 95% of the universe. The supposition that the observable universe, the part of the universe that the planets, stars and all of life, represents just 5% of the totality of the universe, is a somewhat sobering thought and gives some representation as to what, at this time, science thinks is the approximate size of the universe.

By the early 1990’s, there were at least five competing versions of the original string theory, all of them resulting in different, but apparently valid outcomes. It took the tangent thinking of Edward Witten who established that if the theories were sited in an area consisting of eleven dimensions, then they all would work, because their results would be demonstrating different facets of string theory. This grand theory uniting all the competing ideas of string theory became known as M-theory.

So, physics presents to us, a theory that states that all matter, when reduced to it’s constituent parts, consists of tiny vibrating strings. The frequency and length of these strings determine the physicality of the matter it then creates. Now, for me, the really interesting part comes when it is further speculated that these strings, if they have open ends, are fixed to a universe that takes the form of a brane, a smooth surface.

These branes can consist of any number of space / time dimensions, from one to eleven. Therefore, it may be the case that we live in a four dimension universe (the dimensions of left & right, up & down, forward and backwards, along with time).

The fixing of the number of dimensions would be a result of the vibrating strings and their frequency and because they are fixed to this four dimensional universe, anything existing in this universe would only be receptive to those fixed dimensions. It is speculated that other strings, known as closed loop strings, because they have no open ends fixed to a brane, are not restricted in the same way and may pass through this universe unhindered or obstructed, without any interaction with matter in this universe.

We have, therefore, some theoretical speculation as to the existence of a whole category of energetic matter present, but as yet, unquantified. It is furthered speculated that other universes, possessing dimensions not present in our own universe, may exist in parallel to our own universe. This hypothesis is being actively pursued by many physicists at this time.

It is interesting that science, and physics in particular, is giving ground to the idea of co-existing realities. As someone for whom this type of interaction has been present for some time now, and without wanting to seem to present a personally driven agenda as to the possible outcomes of such a co-existence, the establishment of such a thing gives one hope that that which has been experienced in the intuitive level of consciousness, may soon have the vehicle by which to establish a valid means of interaction.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2010 in Scientific discussion

 

The Fabric of the Cosmos

This is the title of a book I’m currently reading by Brian Greene. I first came across some of his work here which captured my attention enough to warrant buying this book. I’ll do a review later when I’ve managed to read all 500 or so pages, however, I suspect this will provide some material for posts over the next month or so.

As a physicist, I have to say that his style is not as academically dry as some others and I have benefited already by his observations and general style of communication. As someone who fundamentally believes in non verbal and non local communication, the history of the rise of quantum theory is a most interesting, though sometimes totally incomprehensible, journey.

Quantum mechanics has been used to justify a lot of pseudo scientific theories. There are various ways to view this. The academically trained invariably give short shrift to anything that has no basis in peer-reviewed material. Yet, there is no denying that the ramifications of some of quantum theory’s evidenced material does lend itself to some spiritual world views. It has been my experience not to completely dismiss most things as there is always the possibility of some element of truth in these theories, however arrived at and everyone has the potential with which to further add to our understanding of the bigger picture. So, much to the annoyance of some, I tend to spend time contemplating material from these sources. I am also unwilling to place all my world views into the hands of a community that has been observed to be as fractious and splintered as any world religion.

As someone who holds a generalized animist perspective, quantum entanglement speaks of interactions based upon, what may be speculatively suggested as, a form of relationship. Greene goes further than this and suggests the entanglement of pairs of particles may actually represent the basis of an entity, which for a physicist is a pretty bold statement! The nature of this inter-relationship has been placed in some quarters as being reliant upon a “wave” of probability, the wave being the mechanism by which these particles travel upon. The action of observance causes the wave function to collapse and the particles are linked by this collapse. What is interesting though, is that spatial distance plays no part in the how the wave collapse is transmitted to the particles. Distance seems to be no object in the instant collapse of this wave. So, if the speed of light was the limit to how fast anything could travel, there would have to be a delay between the collapse of the wave here and where-ever the second particle traveling on that wave happened to be. Experiments have proven this not to be the case, the collapse is instantaneous across any spatial distance and would appear, therefore, to suggest light speed is not the upper limit to velocity that Einstein thought.

So the mechanistic viewpoint of the physical limitations applied to the nature of interactions will have to be addressed again. These are interesting times we live in!

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2010 in Scientific discussion