The Real World

September 21, 2013

The other night I mentioned a dream I recently had.  In the dream I went through a process of disconnection from the “bubble” world I was living in, veering off the main “path” and finding that I lived in a much more majestic and wonderful universe than I had imagined.

In the dream I became frustrated and the world pushed me off into a new direction where there were beautiful plains, crystal clear waters, and all sorts of strange creatures who lived in beautiful pristine environments.  Words can’t really do it justice, but Sir David Attenborough has a way of accomplishing this.  Take a look at this clip and you’ll see some of the creatures I was dreaming of.

How do you put into words those brilliant blues as he was scuba diving in the depths underneath the ice?  How do you capture the elegance of that snow owl swooping down through the trees?  Or what about those little sea horses?

It’s not just our world to think about.  There are countless worlds, all spiraling about one another in a panoramic firework display.

That is reality.  There are so many galaxies, you could never begin to count them.  It may well literally go on forever.  Cosmological theories such as cosmic inflation predict that this may just be one of many universes popping out of nothing.

“Within the framework of established knowledge of physics and cosmology, our universe could be one of many in a super-universe or multiverse. Linde (1990, 1994) has proposed that a background space-time “foam” empty of matter and radiation will experience local quantum fluctuations in curvature, forming many bubbles of false vacuum that individually inflate into mini-universes with random characteristics. Each universe within the multiverse can have a different set of constants and physical laws. Some might have life of a form different from ours; others might have no life at all or something even more complex or so different that we cannot even imagine it. Obviously we are in one of those universes with life.”

– Physicist Victor J. Stenger, “Is The Universe Fine Tuned For Us?”

And those crazy black holes I posted in the video just yesterday?  There are theories that those are new big bang bangs, creating new universes.

“A star that collapses into a black hole very quickly squeezes down to infinite density and time stops — that’s according to general relativity. And basically that moment when time stops is deferred by quantum mechanics, by quantum uncertainty, and rather than collapsing to infinite density, the star collapses to a certain extreme density, and then bounces back and begins to expand again. And that expanding star becomes the birth of a new universe. The point where time ends inside a black hole becomes joined to the point where time begins in a Big Bang in a new universe.”

– Physicist Lee Smolin, Do Black Holes Create New Universes?

To think that all this just burst into existence.   From where?  From what?  How?  Maybe it’s an eternal process of creation and destruction?  Or was there a creator?  Just think of the immensity of space and time.  Think of all that’s out there.

There’s probably all kinds of life all over this cosmos, much of it far more advanced than we’ll be for quite some time.  Think of life-forms where their technology and society has been advancing for billions of years.  They’d be like gods.  I bet they’re immortal, profoundly wise, and so powerful we couldn’t distinguish them from gods.  I have little doubt that beings like that exist all over the cosmos, of all shapes and varieties.

I find myself wondering what beings like that do with themselves.  What are they building?  What are they thinking about?  I’m sure I could never understand it.

Why is all of this here?  Why are you here?  What is all of this?  Why are we conscious of any of it?  What are things made of?  How did it get here?  Why is it here?  What are we?  Have things always been this way?  How do we relate to this bigger picture?  Or is there a bigger picture?  Does this universe go on forever?  Did it have a beginning?  Will it end?  Is there something beyond death?  What is life?  What is consciousness?

Open yourself to all of this.  Think deeply about it.  Connect with the universe because that’s what we are.  Once you feel and understand that, just quietly contemplate the process that created you.  Reflect on it.  You’ll realize it’s beyond most categories of thought, emotion, or understanding.  I find that deeply satisfying.  If this place is truly infinite in all directions, as I believe it is, there is no center.  Everywhere is the center.

nature great simplicity

If the universe is an infinite mural that goes on and on with new and novel things in every direction, small or large, this way or that way, you’re always at the center.  There’s no need to rush off thinking that someplace else is where the real action is going on.  It’s happening all around us.   The world is built in a way in which its secrets are visible in everything, small or large.

feynman nature weaves

Since we’re here, let’s take a close look at this place and enjoy the experience.  Look closely at what is, right here from our human vantage point, and just admire it.  There’s no need to rush.  Get off the super-highway.  It doesn’t go anywhere.  I guess what I’m trying to say is we should tap into nature’s imagination, which is far beyond ours.  Look, listen, and learn.

feynman imagination quote

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Topics: Philosophy | 2 Comments »

Monsters Of The Cosmos

September 19, 2013

Melodysheep produced another Symphony of Science video, this time on black holes!

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A Nice Dream

September 18, 2013

Earlier today, I was browsing videos on Closer To Truth, one of my favorite websites.  The neuroscientist Dr. Robert Lawrence Kuhn interviews top intellectuals from the fields of physics, technology, philosophy, neuroscience, theology, and other disciplines, asking them about the nature of consciousness, the cosmos, God, and all sorts of interesting things.  I was watching videos related to sleep in the consciousness section and was reminded of a nice dream I had the other night.

I was in my very first car, an old 1987 Nissan Sentra, cruising on this massive super-highway, pushing that old car as fast as it could go.  (That is NOT a picture of me by the way.  I would never have posed for a picture in front of that car.  It only lives on in memory.)

nissan sentra 1987 hatchback

A powerful thought kept flowing through my mind, “This highway leads to success!”  If I could just stay on that road, I’d be set!  I wasn’t where I wanted to be, but that was all temporary.  I was on my way.  How glorious it would be once I made it to my destination.  Where was that exactly?  I didn’t know, but that highway led there.  I just knew it.

Before too long I came across a small team of police officers and road blocks.  It was a detour.  They were forcing me to get off the main highway and I didn’t want to.  I argued with them and even held up traffic, telling them that I had to get through, but they wouldn’t let me.  So  I had no choice but to turn down the gravel side-road.  And wouldn’t you know it, I was soon lost.  To make matters worse, the old Sentra broke down and I was stuck on foot.

As I was walking down the old country roads, out in the middle of who knows where, I started seeing “visions” of all my regrets.  It was almost like the air had magical properties, drawing out nasty experiences and bursting them into flashes of light which would paint a scene in the sky, forcing you to remember things you’d rather forget.

I kept walking down these roads for what seemed an eternity, lost, watching these terrible experiences from my past.  I was first back in high school and I watched a girl I liked get with some other guy and I had to sit there listening to her tell me how much she liked him.  Then I remembered watching my Uncle Layton die, then my grandmother die.  I saw myself at their graves and their funerals.  I relived my entrepreneurial days, working 12 hour days, much of it never amounting to much.  I regretted missing out on experiences I could have had — instead I was just working.  I remembered watching my old friends struggle in life and there was nothing I could do to help.

As I wandered these backroads, I ran into all kinds of people, all of them miserable.  They were all unhappy, depressed, and unable to find the strength to do something with themselves.  They had no motivation to even get up to greet me, most of them staring blankly off into the distance, lost in these back roads.  I had compassion for them, but nothing I said or did helped.  Eventually I told them I was going to keep pressing forward, trying to find a way back to the super-highway.  They weakly cheered me on and I asked if anyone would come with me.  None of them would.

Eventually I got tired of those country roads.  I couldn’t stand seeing those “visions” of regret and I yelled out that I didn’t want to see them anymore.   They kept coming so I said to myself, “Screw these roads.  I’ll cut through the woods and fields.”  By that point I was really lost.  I kept wandering through open plains, crossing rivers, and cutting through dense forest.

With time I came to beautiful open pastures with flowing rivers and crystal clear waters.  There were deer grazing, flowers in bloom, and a nice breeze.  I said to myself, “Now this is nice!”  There were even people there but they were different.  They were scientists and philosophers, thinking people, and they wandered around these places, studying and recording everything they found.  They’d tell me, “There are strange creatures living over here.  Come with us!”  Another would lead me deep into these caverns and we explored their depths, admiring the glow-worms.  I told one of them, “It’s like a starry sky.”  Then he told me, “It IS a starry sky!”  We were actually near the entrance of the cave again and there was a large opening to the sky, a glowing Milky Way.

I found that I really enjoyed the time I spent with those guys.  They were engaged with the world and had a child-like curiosity for the mysteries of life.  After some ten odd years, I had completely forgotten about the super-highway.  I was completely happy wandering those beautiful plains with my fellow scientists.

One day I set out on an expedition to chart a distant set of hills and found a new path.  It was strange because we hadn’t charted this area yet.   Somebody must be nearby, so I followed it.  It went for a ways, winding about the hills, through the trees, and eventually popped out in a surprising place — the super-highway!  I rubbed my unshaved, bristly chin, thinking, “My my my.  It can’t be!?”  Nobody was anywhere to be found.

I saw the road-blocks which by this time were worn down by the weather.  I gently pushed them aside and made my way down this mega roadway.  It was huge, featuring curved banks for high speed travel, just like a Nascar race track, but it hadn’t been tended to for quite some time.

ku-xlarge

It was really something, even grander than I originally remembered.  I walked a short ways, probably less than a quarter mile, and then I came to a short hill.  As I got to the top I realized that the pavement abruptly ended, crumbling due to erosion, and there was a row of trees in the distance.  It just, ended.

End Of Road sign. Depression. Problems. Despair. No more options.

I burst into laughter, threw my hands in the air and yelled out, “There is no road!”  I couldn’t stop laughing!  I could hardly contain myself.  All that excitement woke me up and I felt so good inside.  Such peace.

For several days this dream was all I could think about.  At first I felt it meant that I was never on a detour, that I was always on the main road.  All of those things that happened were just a catalyst to prod me to find the beautiful fields.   Then I thought that it may have a deeper meaning as well.

That location with the roadblocks represented “now”.  The eternal now.  In the beginning I was so busy trying to get someplace else, I just couldn’t enjoy the present.  That caused me to go on the detour and suffer, a sort of purification process.  Then after the long detour loop, I ended up exactly where I started, but unlike before, I wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere.  That’s when I was ready to see the “truth”.  There may not be a highway, but I didn’t feel scammed, or angry, or let down.  I just laughed.  I could now see the world in a grain of sand or a blade of grass.  I always had what I needed, I just didn’t realize it.

It really was a wonderful dream.

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An Anesthesiologist’s Views On Consciousness

September 13, 2013

If you’d like to hear an interesting discussion on how quantum mechanics may be related to consciousness, check out this interview with Dr. Stuart Hameroff, Professor of Anesthesiology and Psychology, and Director of Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona.  He was also a co-creator of the Orch OR model, along with the physicist Sir Roger Penrose, which states that quantum mechanical phenomenon within the brain’s microtubles are directly related to consciousness and free will.

He mentioned some research that I was unaware of.  Apparently Japanese nanophysicists have grown microtubules in the lab, placing tiny electrodes at the ends and sending AC currents down them.  At certain frequencies they become super conducting at room temperature, and he believes this is what accounts for consciousness within us human beings.  Hameroff’s working with them now to perform further experiments by using anesthetic gases to see if they remove the quantum coherence within the microtubles.  If so, he feels confident that this proves why we lose consciousness under anesthesia.

He also noted experiments done with psychedelic drugs, particularly psilocybin.  Patients were directly injected with the drug and had wild subjective experiences, however if you looked at their FMRI brain activity, they looked like a patient in a coma.   He said this was because FMRI scans only measure metabolic activity between neurons, but that has little to do with consciousness.  Real consciousness is happening with the microtubules, and the electrical signals within them is altered by the drugs.

He then starts talking about ideas he’s speculated about.  If their Orch OR model is correct, ideas about the afterlife and the soul become much more compelling.  He seems to believe all physical matter is “proto-conscious”, and when it comes together in certain structures, the deeper aspects of who we are can work through it.  The universe splits off into these bubble universes, and when we make a decision, we jump to different “bubbles”.  Anyways, he goes into it all in the video.  Just watch it if you’re interested!

Most scientists do not agree with these ideas.  I feel it’s all so complicated, I’m not qualified to have a strong opinion.  I’ll keep studying physics and researching things, and in time maybe I’ll weigh in on the issue.

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No War With Syria

September 12, 2013

The only thing less popular than Congressional approval ratings is the White House’s attempts to get us involved in Syria.  All the Gallup polls are telling the President that we do not want to arm the rebels or drop bombs.

Congressional Approval Rating

Congressional Approval Rating

I was pleasantly surprised to hear that not even Congress wants this war.   That probably has a lot to do with the scores of people crying out to their representatives, “No more war!”  This is a perfect example of why we must never give up hope.  If we actually take time to contact our representatives and let our voices be heard, we can change things!

“Everyone’s happy there’s no vote,” a senior GOP Congressional aide told The Cable. “Republicans were being bombarded by constituents who were largely uneducated on Syria. If the president couldn’t even articulate a clear rationale for the strikes, how were they supposed to?”

Foreign Policy

They seem to think we’re all too stupid to get what’s going on.  If only we knew what they knew, then we’d approve of the strikes!  But of course, all of that information is classified.  Even so, Rep. Alan Grayson is telling us that many of the most informed policy makers were strongly against the strikes.

“I’ll tell you, I’ve had classified briefings with members who hadn’t publicly committed but were vehemently opposed to the strike,” he said. “The administration asked those members to remain publicly uncommitted and told them that doing that might assist in the United States’ efforts in the region. Some of those members decided to honor that request.”

– Rep. Alan Grayson, Foreign Policy

A June 2013 Gallup poll found that 54% disapproved of supporting the Syrian rebels while only 37% approved.

This isn’t surprising as we’ve heard this story before.  It’s become cliche by now.  There’s some evil middle-eastern dictator using terrible weapons on his own people and we need to go in there to save them.  It’s the exact same scam they used on us with Iraq.  If you listen to Secretary of State John Kerry, supposedly we’re going in there to save innocent women and children from Assad who is using chemical weapons on his own people.  Then a funny thing happened.  A reporter asked Kerry what it would take for us to stand down.  What are we wanting Assad to do?  Kerry told the crowd that if Assad hands over his chemical weapon arsenal, there would be no military intervention, but he assured us that would never happen.  Lo and behold, Russian President Putin talks with Assad and Syria agrees to hand over their chemical weapons.

Now the White House is in a real bind.  With Assad willingly handing over the weapons, the public is wondering why we need to be over there at all.  Even so, we can see President Obama along with Secretary Kerry pressuring Congress to approve the war.  What in the world’s going on?

There’s an explanation for this.  Let’s step back to the September 11th attacks.  George Bush then filled his administration with neo-conservatives who had been lusting to rebuild the middle east since the 1960s.  To ensure that their plan would survive even after they were out of office, they installed key leaders into the U.S. military industrial complex to fulfill that mission long after they’re gone.

How do I know this?  I’d recommend you all watch Adam Curtis’ documentary series The Power of Nightmares, produced by the BBC.   It talks about the rise of neoconservative power, even interviewing key members like Richard Perle, a top adviser under Bush and Reagan.  Curtis asks him if Bush’s middle-eastern policies will survive the end of his second term.  Perle assures him that they’ve installed their people into all the key positions within the Pentagon, CIA, and other key military offices.

Take a look at this map of U.S. military bases in the region.

us_bases_surrounding_iran_syria

Take close notice of Iran and Syria.   See all the U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq?  We’ve been hard at work these past ten years or so.  But Syria and Iran have not yet been conquered.   They were next on the list, but people are wising up to all of this.  We don’t want bases or conquest.  We’d rather see those trillions of dollars spent at home on things such as our failing infrastructure.

So why did the Russian president get involved?  Well, Russia and China both have been concerned about the eastward march of NATO ever since World War II.  Slowly their countries are being encircled by the United States and our allies.  This is why Putin has been supporting both Syria and Iran.

Here’s a map of NATO nations.

nato-countries

And here’s a map of U.S. military bases around the world.

U.S. Military Bases Around The World

U.S. Military Bases Around The World

You can see that we’re slowly moving into the Middle East, building bases to both control Middle Eastern oil as well as encircle Russia and China.  You have to remember that Russia and China are their own thing.  They are far more self-sufficient.  When we were all suffering under the madness of the financial crisis, they were unaffected.  They’re not as closely tied into our institutions, though they do peacefully trade with the rest of us.

Here is a clip from a few years back where Secretary of State Clinton is annoyed with Russia and China for protecting Syria.

Putin actually ran his campaigns telling the Russians that he would not submit to powerful foreign interests wanting to subjugate their people.  He’s been expanding his military arsenal to send a clear message, “Leave us alone.”  He’s also been testing and building ever more powerful nuclear weapons.  This next clip from 2008 is of President Putin speaking about NATO’s eastward expansion.

President Putin just recently attempted to reach out to the American public in a personally written op-ed piece which he submitted to the New York Times.  He makes a lot of interesting points.   He basically says that if the United States continues to ignore international law and the United Nations, there is no where for countries to turn for justice and protection.  Their only alternative is to develop nuclear weapons programs to ensure their protection.

It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”

But force has proved ineffective and pointless. Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day. In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes.

No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect.

The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This is logical: if you have the bomb, no one will touch you. We are left with talk of the need to strengthen nonproliferation, when in reality this is being eroded.

We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.

A new opportunity to avoid military action has emerged in the past few days. The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government’s willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction. Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action.

My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

– Russian President Vladimir Putin, New York Times

In the past President Putin has condemned NATO as a giant coalition of powerful countries ganging up on weaker countries, forcing them to conform to their wishes.  That’s exactly how they view what happened in Libya just a short while ago.

In this clip Noam Chomsky offers similar perspectives on NATO, basically pointing out that it’s a U.S. led coalition to protect and control Middle-Eastern oil as well as sea lanes.

All of this being said, I don’t think any of this is about the poor children who got gassed by Assad.  It’s about power and conquest.  Different world super-powers are flexing their muscles, protecting their interests.  Our foreign policies are making the world a more dangerous place.  Our invasions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq have led to a rise in radical Islam and extremist terrorists.  They want revenge for all the innocent civilians who have died.  And while we’re claiming to save the women and children of Syria, in actuality we’re putting the entire world at risk.  Our unilateral action against weaker nations is escalating tensions with other sovereign nations who fear they’re next.  They’re therefore building up their militaries and nuclear arsenals, preparing for conflict.

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