Sunday, December 30, 2007

FAQ 11 - Is this about memes, creativity, connections?

(Click here for the complete Imagining the Tenth Dimension FAQ list)

11. Is this project about memes, creativity, connections across time and space?

No question! Here are some blog entries that discuss this set of ideas:

I Know You, You Know Me
Collective Intelligence, Cognitive Surplus, Chaos
The Geometry of Music
Music and the Dance of Creativity
The Universe as a Song
YouTube and Conceptual Framing
Memes / Tag Clouds / Spimes
Spirituality, Connections, and the Tenth Dimension
Selfish Genes and Selfish Memes
Facebook and Secret Societies
Information Equals Reality
Google, Memes, and Randomness

FAQ 10 - Is this about Kabbalah, chakras, meditation, hallucinogens?

(Click here for the complete Imagining the Tenth Dimension FAQ list)

10. Is this project about Kabbalah, chakras, meditation, hallucinogens, etc.?

Where Are You?
Jake Kotze and Mystical Numbers
David Jay Brown and Psychedelics
The Shaman
Modern Shamans
You are Me and We are All Together
Nassim Haramein
Jumping Jesus
Placebos and Nocebos
Song 16 of 26 - Turquoise and White (a song about meditation and positive visualizations)
Song 2 of 26 - Seven Levels (a song about the interesting connections to the number seven)

This was one of the surprising outcomes of this project for me: I'm no expert on these ideas, but a number of visitors to the tenth dimension forum and my channel on youtube have written in to say they see strong connections between some of the items on the list above and my way of visualizing reality. For a project that is trying to find a central meeting point between science and philosophy, physics and spirituality, this may not seem like a surprising outcome, but the breadth of the different belief systems that people have said they see connections to is a thrill. Here are some blog entries about this:

Tuning Into Reality
Crossing Your Arms to Change Your Trajectory
Boredom and Consciousness Part Three

You might also be interested in the "Altered States" area of the tenth dimension forum. And Tom Huston's article about this project in What Is Enlightenment magazine also touches upon these ideas, you can view a pdf of that article by clicking here.

FAQ 9 - Does God and spirituality fit into this?

(Click here for the complete Imagining the Tenth Dimension FAQ list)

9. Does God/spirituality fit into this way of imagining the dimensions?

Talk about a hot button issue! In the tenth dimension forum, questions surrounding God have generated hundreds of posts. But this is also the source of division in this project: some people become immediately suspicious when they see a scientific discussion that acknowledges the possibility of spirit, and some religious people assume that this project must be atheistic because it talks about science.

The goal of this project is to come up with a way to meet in the middle, and that is both its strength and its achilles heel. Luckily, there are a growing number of people in the world who are willing to discuss the middle ground this project is exploring: where science is revealing the truth about the nature of our reality, and that truth has to acknowledge the role of consciousness, creativity and free will.

Here are some blog entries discussing various ideas surrounding this topic:
What's Around the Corner
I Know You, You Know Me
God 2.0
Is God in the Seventh Dimension?
God? Or the Multiverse?
Gevin Giorbran - Gone But Not Forgotten
The Stream
Beer and Miracles
Happy Birthday Paul

Tom Huston's article about this project in What Is Enlightenment? magazine also does a good job of exploring the spiritual side of this project, you can view a pdf of that article by clicking here. And here is an interview where Tom discusses these ideas with me at some length.

A direct link to the above video is at

FAQ 8 - Is this Science? Philosophy? Both? Neither?

(Click here for the complete Imagining the Tenth Dimension FAQ list)

8. Is this Science? Philosophy? Both? Neither?

My answer, as you might expect, would be "both". This question was one of the first polls held at this blog. Since there are some opposing factions from both science and religion who believe that only their viewpoint is true, this can be a problem for projects like mine that move towards the idea that both might be describing the same thing using different terminologies and viewpoints.

Here are some of the blog entries about this discussion.

You Are the Point
Life is But a Dream
Time in Either Direction
Anime, Gaming and Cusps
Being More Fifth Dimensional
The Fifth Dimension Isn't Magic
The Fifth Dimension is a Dangerous Idea
David Jay Brown and Psychedelics
Creativity and the Quantum Universe
The Omniverse

FAQ 7 - Isn't free will an illusion?

(Click here for the complete Imagining the Tenth Dimension FAQ list)

7. Isn't free will an illusion, and isn't everything about our universe inevitable?

This hard line view of our reality is called Hard Determinism, and more people have been taught to embrace this grim viewpoint than I would ever have suspected. Is every choice I make, every action I take, already pre-determined? If it were, how could I prove otherwise? No matter what I think, do, or say, no matter what random event causes good or bad fortune to come my way, a hard determinist can declare that it's all just a mechanistic outcome of processes that were set in motion at the very beginning of the universe and which will continue until its end.

"Free will" is discussed in entries like You Are the Point, What's Around the Corner, The Past is an Illusion, The Spacetime Tree, The Fifth Dimension is a Dangerous Idea, The Flipbook Universe and Monkeys Love Metallica.

This Hard Determinist approach is sometimes also tied into the Anthropic Viewpoint: even if the potential for all those other universes where other probabilistic outcomes and choices might have come to be is acknowledged, there are scientists who will tell you that those universes are irrelevant, because they in no sense of the word ever really came to "exist": they were, and remain, only as unrealized potential. Click here to read an interesting debate as to whether the "other universes" of the multiverse should be thought of as real or not. This debate is between two well-respected experts in the field of quantum mechanics who I quote from regularly, Seth Lloyd, and David Deutsch.

The Forest gives us another way to visualize how our free will ties into this.
Beer and Miracles ties together unlikely probabilities and free will.
You are the Point provides another way to visualize free will as part of the quantum observer process.
Here are some blog entries about The Anthropic Viewpoint, Determinism, Randomness and Bohmian Mechanics, and the Flatlanders concept as it relates to the choices we make.
This entry is about the choices and we make and the stories we tell ourselves.

Things get even more mind-boggling when we start exploring theories about reverse causality, the idea that choice made "now" doesn't just affect our path into the future, but could also cause shifts in the "then" that came before. Related entries include:
Local Realism Bites the Dust
Our Non-Local Universe
The Flexi-Laws of Physics
Alien Mathematics
Changing Your Genes
You Have a Shape and a Trajectory
The Biocentric Universe
Poll 44 - The Biocentric Universe Theory
Placebos Becoming More Effective?

FAQ 6 - Can you really "fold" a dimension?

(Click here for the complete Imagining the Tenth Dimension FAQ list)

6. Is it really possible to "fold" a dimension, and what would happen if you did?

Click here to see a video and read a blog on "Wormholes".

Because some of us were introduced to the term through science fiction, we might jump to the conclusion that wormholes are completely fictional, but there has been some interesting work done by theoretical physicists like Kip Thorne and Stephen Hawking on the subject.

Here is a wikipedia article that leads off with a nice graphic showing how a wormhole is very much like a folding of spacetime. In the tenth dimension animation, when our ant pops out of existence from one branch and reappears on the other, we could imagine that the ant traveled through a wormhole to achieve this.

In my book, in the chapter on time travel paradoxes and popular science fiction writing I go through the following explanation of wormholes as applied to this unique way of imagining the dimensions:

Granted, it would be easy to dismiss this entire discussion by simply saying “time travel is impossible, these are all works of fiction, so to worry about whether the logic of a particular movie or story’s depiction of time travel is accurate is completely pointless”. Nonetheless, it is not just science fiction authors but famous physicists who have postulated the concept of “wormholes” as a way to jump through space and time. A wormhole would be the equivalent of a “fold” in a higher dimension according to the framework we are exploring here, which means we’d be able to categorize what dimension the wormhole was “folding through” by the nature of the outcome. So, a wormhole that allowed you to jump to a different part of our current universe without the passage of time would be folding space, the third dimension, through the fourth dimension. A wormhole that allowed you to jump to a different part of our current timeline (our past or our future) would be folding time through the fifth dimension. A wormhole that allowed you to jump to a different past than the one we currently share would be folding “alternate space-times” (the fifth dimension) through the sixth dimension. And a wormhole that allowed you to jump to a completely different universe with different physical laws than our own would be folding our space-time through the seventh dimension (or above).

Other related blog entries:
The Fifth Dimension is Spooky
How to Time Travel
Aren't There Really 11 Dimensions?

FAQ 5a, 5b - I Don't Understand the Animation

(Click here for the complete Imagining the Tenth Dimension FAQ list)

5a. I've watched the animation many times but I still don't understand the logic. Can you help?
5b is below.

Some people get this set of ideas intuitively, some people watch the animation many times before the puzzle starts to fit together for them. Of course, those who believe that time cannot be thought of as a full dimension might tell you the reason you're having trouble understanding the animation is because it makes no sense past the fourth dimension. For those who can get over that mental hurdle, there are still those who have been left with questions. Since this project began, I have posted responses to this question using a large variety of approaches as text responses at YouTube, and in numerous discussions at the tenth dimension forum.

Here are some blog entries that work through the construction of the dimensions using different approaches:

What's Around the Corner?
You Are the Point
Why Do We Need More Than 3 Dimensions?
How to Make a Universe
You Can't Get There From Here
Infinity and the Boltzmann Brains
Hypercubes and Plato's Cave
Flatlanders on a Line

Matthew Buquoi started a thread at the tenth dimension forum (special thanks to Matthew and to Val Clifford for their valuable contributions to this discussion) called "Debunking the Tenth Dimension Video" which provided some good opportunities for discussion of where some of the common confusions lie.

A user comment at YouTube asked for clarification on the jump from the 5th to the 6th dimension, this is what I replied:

Think of the fifth dimension as our probability space. Our fourth dimensional line is being chosen from probabilistic branches that exist within the fifth dimension: our 4D timeline is like the stalk of a dandelion, and the 5D branches are like a dandelion gone to seed, branching out in different directions from the end of that stalk.
But there are many possible expressions of our universe that aren't available to us from our position in the fifth dimension because of what has come before: so no amount of choice, chance or circumstance will make those available branches include the version of our universe where it's 2008 and Kurt Cobain is still alive. To get to that version of the universe, then, requires us to move through the sixth dimension where every possible expression of our universe's "spacetime tree" exists simultaneously, including the branches that we will never be able to witness, and the ones that we will choose to never witness.

5b. Doesn't the animation misrepresent what a Flatlander would see?

In a word: yes. This idea is explained in the book but not in the animation. To watch a video and read a blog about this this, click here for "What Would a Flatlander Really See?".

Draw a picture of a flatlander on a flat piece of paper. Now pick the paper up and hold it horizontally at eye level, so that all you can see is the leading edge of the paper. Now you are in the flatlander's plane, and you can start to imagine what it would be like to have a flatlander's perspective: all the flatlander can perceive is lines within his plane. As with our own 3D world, whatever's closest conceals what's further away, so if you look very carefully at our drawing of our "one-eyed-Jack" flatlander in the animation, you would have to conclude that all this poor fellow can see is the inside of his own face!
Likewise, what we are seeing in the animation is a "top-down" perspective of the flatlander's world, as seen from our 3D perspective. In the animation, portraying what a flatlander would really see seemed like too big a logical leap to ask of people just starting to be introduced to these ideas, but this criticism does come up regularly so in retrospect I probably should have included this idea in the animation. Oh well!
Imagining a flatlander with two eyes allows us to think of a form of binocular vision where the flatlander's brain would be able to assemble the slightly different image of lines coming to one eye and the other, and tell which lines were closer, which ones were curving away, etc.: but this is no different from we humans, who are taking the mostly 2D information coming in to each eye and assembling that into a 3D representation in our minds. I say "mostly" 2D because we are also able to move our heads around, which even with one eye covered does give us some additional information about what is close and what is far away - so this would be the case for a "one-eyed-Jack" flatlander as well. If the flatlander moves his head around he is able to gather additional information about the lines he is perceiving, but to our 3D minds this information would most likely still be very confusing: because all the flatlander would see is a jumble of lines all in the same plane.

Here are links to a few of the forum entries where this is discussed:

Other related blog entries:
Are Pictures More Important in Science?
The Long Undulating Snake
What Would a Linelander Really See?

A link to this video can be found at

A link to this video can be found at

FAQ 4 - Aren't there 11 dimensions?

(Click here for the complete Imagining the Tenth Dimension FAQ list)

4. Doesn't science (M Theory) say there are really 11 dimensions?
This question was asked a lot more during the first few months of this project, when it was launched back in the summer of 2006. It still comes up from time to time. M Theory says there are 11 dimensions, but one of those is time. This framework for discussion says that time can be enfolded back into the ten spatial dimensions, and that time for whatever dimension you are examining is the way you move from one state to another. For we three dimensional creatures, we think of time as being in the fourth dimension. A two-dimensional flatlander would think of time as being in the third dimension. In any case, time is only a limited way of viewing the full dimension that it resides in.

Further reading on this:
Time is a Direction
Hypercubes and Plato's Cave
Aren't There Really 11 Dimensions?

Likewise, some people wonder why this project doesn't spend time talking about Calabi-Yau manifolds. There are some important tie-ins with this project to concepts from string theory that are worthy of note: for instance, string theorists are saying our reality is created by the interaction of a seven-dimensional (D7) brane and a three-dimensional (D3) brane. The idea from the Imagining the Tenth Dimension project that the basic laws for our three dimensional reality are defined at the seventh dimension could be thought of as a way to tie this in. Likewise, the idea that the higher dimensions are curled up down at the planck length and therefore invisible to us ties in quite easily: our "line of time" is being constructed from the available probabilistic choices at the fifth dimension, one planck length at a time. This means that, like the flatlander on the mobius strip, our line of time is actually twisting and turning in the fifth dimension but we are unaware. Imagining that the higher dimensions could also have a shape that we see as a Calabi-Yau manifold is really not that big a stretch: a Calabi-Yau manifold is just another way of visualizing how are universe is enfolded within the extra dimensions. It should still be noted, though, that string theory is not the main focus of this project, and the math tools that string theorists use are inherently vastly more complex than the way of visualizing the higher dimensions that we are playing with here.

For more on this:
Flatlanders on a Line
How to Make a Universe
An Expanding 4D Sphere
Slice of Reality
The Holographic Universe
What's Around the Corner?

FAQ 3 - Why Ten Dimensions?

(Click here for the complete Imagining the Tenth Dimension FAQ list)

3. Why ten dimensions and not some other number?

One of the common arguments surrounding this concept is a presumption that ten was arbitrarily picked, perhaps because we humans have ten fingers so we like the number. Some people prefer the idea that there are infinite dimensions, some people say there is really only one dimension (our physical reality), and of course some people have their own specific interpretation of the word "dimensions" that disagrees with other interpretations, which can also draw them to conclude that this project is not about dimensions at all. Here is a blog entry that discusses this project's use of the word "dimensions", and here is a blog entry which shows how this way of visualizing agrees with the most basic definition of that word from wikipedia.

Some believe that three-dimensional space is the only thing that qualifies for the word "dimensions". To their way of thinking, time is not really a dimension, it's just a quality that is overlaid on the first three spatial dimensions.

Most of us are used to the idea that space is three-dimensional, and even that spacetime can be thought of as four dimensional, but some are not willing to say that time is a full spatial dimension. Here is a blog entry about that idea. Entries like "Time is a Direction" and "Hypercubes and Plato's Cave" also explore this concept.

Some prefer to use the term "spacetime tree" to refer to what we're talking about here, and even those who use that term are not necessarily imagining anything more than the fourth dimension. From our big bang, at both the quantum and the macro level, there are a branching set of probabilistic outcomes, only one of which we are currently within. We look back in time and see a straight line of "time's arrow", which this project says is a line in the fourth spatial dimension. The only place where the entire spacetime tree for our universe is available is at the first instant of the big bang (or, within the Information Equals Reality paradigm, the very first step of the selection process that differentiates our universe from any of the others having different basic physical laws). From there on, certain probabilistic choices are no longer available because of previous outcomes, which is why our line of time does not wander into the parallel versions of our universe where it's 2010 and dinosaurs aren't extinct (for instance). The idea that the higher dimensions are invisible to us because they are "curled up" down at the planck length is completely compatible with this way of imagining reality. Different blog entries discussing the fifth dimension can be found here, here, and here. Other popular blog entries about the fifth dimension include "The Fifth Dimension Isn't Magic", "The Fifth Dimension is a Dangerous Idea", and "Your Fifth-Dimensional Self".

The sixth dimension, would be where we would find all possible branches for our spacetime tree, including the branches that are currently unavailable to us from our fifth-dimensional probability space because of what has come before, and those upcoming branches that we choose to never witness (like the branch where I stop typing this entry and run down the street naked instead). Blog entries discussing this way of imagining the sixth dimension can be found here, here, and here.

Seven is another number that commonly comes up for the highest imaginable layers to our reality, and the way of imagining reality that we're exploring here does indeed assign a special significance to that number. Here is a blog entry about that idea. As an aside, it does seem significant that string theorists are proposing that our universe is created from the interactions of a three-dimensional brane with a seven-dimensional brane.

According to this way of imagining reality, eight is most likely the highest dimension that can contain any physical expression of matter. In late 2007 a new theory deriving the basic forces and particles of our universe from an E8 matrix received favorable attention. Here is a blog entry playing with some ideas surrounding that discovery.

Some people who have stayed with this line of reasoning up to here have said that nine is really the last full dimension, since the tenth is only a point of indeterminate size. Since that point is the unobserved whole of every possible expression of matter and energy, of the information that potentially equals our reality, and it encompasses every possible expression of the dimensions below, I'm standing by my claim that there are really ten dimensions, but I understand why some think I'm bending the rules a bit as I get to the end. My blog entry "You Can't Get There From Here" talks about these ideas, as does What's Around the Corner?.

String theory says there are ten dimensions. M Theory says there are 11 dimensions, but one of those dimensions is time. If we can accept that time is not a dimension but the way you move from one state to another in a specific dimension (whichever dimension you care to examine), there is a way to fold all these ideas together. The fact that mystical systems like Kabbalah also assign a special significance to the number ten may be coincidence, or may be because of what I'm talking about: that eventually we are all going to arrive at a meeting place where science, spirituality, and ancient wisdom will be shown to be talking about the same things. Wouldn't it be far stranger if, when science finally comes up with the grand unified theory of everything, there was not something that felt intuitively right to us about those revelations, since we are participants within that reality?

Finally, here is an embedded player which should allow you to listen to a 47 minute interview conducted with me by Tom Huston, Senior Associate Editor of EnlightenNext Magazine, which gets into more of the arguments for picking ten as "the" number.

You can listen to this file right now using the above embedded player. The mp3 for this interview is available for download from under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share-Alike license - click here to download the file.

That same interview is also now available on youtube:

A direct link to the above video is at

FAQ 2 - Aren't there really only 3 (or 4) dimensions?

(Click here for the complete Imagining the Tenth Dimension FAQ list)

2. Aren't there really only 3 (or 4) dimensions and the rest is unproven?

The traditional viewpoint has been that there are three dimensions of space, and that time is not a full dimension but rather a quality which gets overlaid upon our 3D space. Some accept that spacetime can be thought of as four dimensional but that is far as they will go, there are no dimensions beyond spacetime.

Books like Lee Smolin's "The Trouble With Physics" have stated that the study of string theory (and its extra dimensions) became so prevalent that it was at the expense of other avenues of study that didn't require the existence of higher dimensions. In the past year, with Smolin's book and Peter Woit's "Not Even Wrong" catching the imagination of the mainstream press, it became fashionable to dismiss any higher dimensional theories as being nothing more than mathematical self-indulgence. That pendulum is swinging more to the center where it should be now.

Which is not to say that the idea of extra dimensions being unnecessary has gone away, but rather that areas of research that do and do not require their existence are now being pursued somewhat more equitably. While thinking of spacetime as being fourth-dimensional has support within the scientific community, the hunt currently continues for incontrovertible proof of any extra dimensions beyond four. One of the more interesting possibilities is the recent discovery of a void 1 billion light years across that contains almost no stars, galaxies, or dark matter: some scientists are proposing this could be the evidence of our universe colliding with another, an event which could be proof of extra dimensions, which also ties to the string theory idea that there could be ten to the power of five hundred universes within the multiverse.

For the general public, it's easy to understand why extra dimensions are questioned - we can't see them, they don't affect us, why should we believe they exist? Here are some of the blog entries discussing extra dimensions and their possible existence:

What's Around the Corner?
Time is a Direction
Hypercubes and Plato's Cave
Why Do We Need More Than 3 Dimensions?
Dr. Mel's 4D Glasses
Information Equals Reality
Scrambled Eggs
Aren't There Really 11 Dimensions?
Are We a 3D Sphere on a 4D Hypersphere?
Strength of Gravity, Speed of Light
Finite But Unbounded?

FAQ 1 -Who is Rob Bryanton?

(Click here for the complete Imagining the Tenth Dimension FAQ list)

1. Who is Rob Bryanton and why did he create this project?

My blogger profile is here, it is a brief introduction to who I am.

A blog entry about some of this project's underlying ideas is here.

A blog entry about how this book ended up being written is here.

The main Preamble link at also talks about my intentions.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Universe as a Song

To start off, here's a recent conversation I had with author Gevin Giorbran ("Everything Forever: Learning to See Timelessness") which relates to some of the ideas in this blog entry.

A direct link to this video is at

This time, I'd like to work through more of a poetic take on this way of imagining how our reality is constructed: The Universe as a Song. My song "Big Bang to Entropy" ends with this verse:

It begins as nothing, silence at the end
Every song's the same after or before
But the parts in between, there are so very many forms
More than we could ever hope to know...
So what we're exploring in this blog entry is the idea that a particular universe can be thought of as a particular song. Lots of people have at least some ability to play a particular musical instrument, and this idea works no matter what instrument you play. But this is also an interesting part of the metaphor, because each instrument has its own limitations and its own strengths: not every song can be played on every instrument. Bagpipes have their own unique characteristics that make them very good at playing a certain subset of all possible songs, but not so good at playing four-part fugues. Since my instrument of choice is the piano, that's what I'll use for this example, but the same still holds true: not every song in the world can be played on the piano, and the piano's strengths and weaknesses are what make it more likely to be used to play one song over another.

Okay, I sit down at my piano, and at this point I am still in the unobserved realm of indeterminacy, the multiverse of all possible songs. Now I play the first note or chord: by doing so, I immediately collapse out from all possible songs only the songs that start with that particular configuration of notes. That first musical "event" still defines a seemingly infinite number of songs that could have started that way, but that first event also has become a "binary yes/no" that, by playing that first note, removes all of the other songs that don't start that way.

I've remarked here before that I'm surprised at how often the following point of view comes up: some people believe that the big bang set in motion a certain number of processes that make everything about our universe inevitable. This includes our illusion of free will: according to this worldview, each of us is acting out a pre-defined script that cannot be changed. If I were to sit down at my piano then, and strike one note or chord, and let it die to silence (a la the climactic last chord of the Beatles "A Day in the Life") this single musical event would be a song representing that "hard determinist" view of the universe. All of the textures and shifting harmonics we hear as certain parts of the sound die more quickly than others would be defined only by the physics and basic laws of the universe: how hard the chord or note was struck, what particular notes were chosen, whether the instrument had an innately long or short sustain, what resonant characteristics were specific to that instrument, how reverberant the room the instrument was in happened to be, and so on: all of this richly nuanced interplay of harmonics and texture as the sound decays would be the inevitable result from the impetus of that single music event.

Since I believe that a certain amount of choice is involved in the ongoing creation of the universe and the world we live in, I'm going to continue now to the second note or chord of my song. This second event is as important as much for its placement as for what it is: as many famous musicians have remarked, the spaces between the notes have at least as much intellectual/emotional weight as the notes themselves. So, whether my second note is a few milliseconds or a few minutes after the first, that second musical event again narrows down the logical choices for what is going to follow, for what song I am likely to be playing.

Another worldview that is often advanced is that everything about our universe is random: imagining the spacetime tree of possible parallel universes that could have sprung from our big bang, that school of thought says we are on one branch of that tree right now purely because of a series of random occurrences. Those random occurrences caused matter to coalesce, life to begin, evolution to proceed, and so on. In the metaphor we're talking about here, then, if I were to sit at my piano and play a completely random set of notes of varying duration, speed, and volume, I would create a unique song, different from all other songs, and that would be the universe we live in. Since there are so many recurring patterns within our universe and our awareness, the idea of a universe that is completely randomly generated may seem unlikely to some, but even in that random song I just played there will have to be places where a certain amount of organization will seem to be evident: there will be places where more high notes than low notes happen next to each other, places where there seems to more or less density of notes, places where more soft notes happen next to each other, even places where the same note occurs several times in a row: that's the nature of randomness.

(However, since our brains are so strongly designed to crave and discover order out of a potentially overwhelming sea of incoming data, the idea of me physically playing a truly random collection of notes is most certainly impossible... but a computer program generating a truly random piano performance would still generate a "song" that had pockets of perceived order. Designing a computer program that rejects the next possible note if it is too similar to the one before would be a way to avoid these pockets of perceived order, but then the output would no longer be truly random.)

"I Can Name That Tune in Five Notes"
Name That Tune was an old game show where contestants had to guess what song was being played, and the competition was based upon how few notes a person could identify a particular song within. Continuing with our metaphor, then, we're going to move on to the third, the fourth, the tenth, the eighty-seventh note, and so on. Each succeeding note or chord defines the song we're playing more specifically, until there is no question that we are definitely playing one song and not another. Still, this is not the hard determinist song we are talking about: even if we are talking about something as rigidly structured as a Bach Two-Part Invention, there is still lots of room for interpretation in every performance of any piece of music. This also includes allowing for mistakes (randomness), and even the possibility that the performer will get bored and switch to a different piece of music half way through (free will).

In "How to Make a Universe", we worked through how quantum mechanics allows us to imagine the universe as a move from indeterminacy to a specific starting point that we look back upon now and think of as the big bang. By sitting down at a piano rather than picking up a set of bagpipes, I already defined a certain starting point for what possible song-universe I was going to select from, which corresponds to the choices for gravity and the speed of light that are part of the first few "notes" that begin to define a particular universe out of all the possible universes that could potentially exist out there within the multiverse, and that would be just as true for any other universe with different fine structure constants as it is for our own.

Let's look at our song as a recorded waveform. Before the song, we see a straight line, which represents the indeterminate state, the zero of no sound, no musical events. Then we see the waveform leap out in width to represent the very first note of our song. Now, whether we are thinking about the single event universe of hard determinsm; or the Dawkins-style universe of random notes which, through the nature of randomness, achieve a revealed order; or if we are thinking of a universe that has been created by some kind of conscious interference; in all cases these universes will share one other common feature. No matter what, that shared feature occurs at the end of the song, as the last note dies to silence, and the positive and negative parts of the waveform gradually balance each other out and we return to the same straight line of silence from which we started.

This brings us back to my song lyrics quoted at the start, and the ideas that Gevin Giorbran has described so well in his book: what happens just "before" the maximum grouping of the first yes/no that selects one possible song from all others, and what happens with the enfolded zero of maximum symmetry just beyond the end of the song (no matter what song we are talking about) are one and the same, and both are "outside the system" in the sense that Gödel speaks of with his Incompleteness Theorems.

We can think of that unobserved quantum fabric that is my way of portraying the tenth dimension, then, as being equivalent to the Zero that we start from. In our song metaphor, we can imagine that Zero as a giant ball that contains every musical event and gesture possible. We choose to start some specific place on the outside layer of the ball with the first note or chord, and move within the ball on a specific winding path as we select one musical event after another to create our song. Then, no matter how short or long the song was, and no matter how inevitable, random, or deliberately composed the song might be, as the last note of our particular song dies we end up back outside of the ball, ready to start some place else to create a completely different song.

A lot of these same ideas can also be applied to thinking of any particular person's life as being a song: this is one of the ideas I touch on in my book as well. Whether we are talking about the overall duration of the universe, or the tiny line that one person's life draws through the probability space of available choices from birth to death, the concepts are similar, and fun to imagine.

In the above video conversation with Gevin Giorbran, I tell him that his book caused me to rewrite the chorus of my song Big Bang to Entropy. The idea that our universe is destined to end in a meaningless heat death of maximum entropy is what many scientists still propose. The idea that the end of the universe is a return to the enfolded timelessness of maximum symmetry and absolute zero is, I believe, a much more satisfying answer and the one that will eventually be accepted by mainstream science. As I say to Gevin, the chorus for this song used to be just the phrase "Big bang to entropy" repeated three times, but that is no longer the case: now the chorus is "Big bang to entropy/Big bang to symmetry/Big bang to everything". So, to finish off, here is a new video for the revised lyrics version of my song "Big Bang to Entropy", as performed by Ron Scott.

A link to this video can be found at

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Saturday, December 22, 2007

You Can't Get There From Here

A link to this video can be found at

A link to this video can be found at

One of the things people like about this way of imagining the dimensions is that it shows how the higher dimensions are the same as the lower ones, and how each dimension that is added follows the same logical hierarchy. While there’s no question that our particular vantage point within the dimensions (as 3D creatures traveling down a 4D line of time) gives those other dimensions their defining characteristics, that has more to do with our unique point of view than it does with the idea that the higher dimensions are not to be thought of in the same way as the lower.

For our reality, there are two things that seem locked in – 3D space is the most obvious one, and some people believe that that is the only thing that is real, even to the extent of dismissing the first and second dimension as being impossible to conceive of outside of their participation within 3D. The other “locked in” aspect to our reality is the basic physical laws, or fine structure constants as they’re sometimes referred to. String theorists are saying that our reality is created by the interactions of a 3D brane with a 7D brane, which is interesting to me because in the way of imagining reality we’re exploring here, the seventh dimension would be where the basic physical laws of our universe are locked in.

There are many ways I have described how each dimension relates to the others. This time, we’re going to use the idea of “You Can’t Get There From Here”. The full statement of this idea would be “You Can’t Get There From Here Without Moving Through the Next Dimension Up”, which isn’t quite as catchy, and doesn’t even have a pronounceable acronym: “YCGTFHWMTTNDU”, or “yacugget-fwimmit-tindoo”. Oh well!

The basic idea for dimensions is that they should be able to be represented on a graph: this is easy to visualize for the lower dimensions, but for our 3D minds becomes more abstract with each dimension we add. So, representing a 2D system with values for (X,Y) is easy to do on graph paper. Representing a 3D system with values for (X,Y,Z) with a 3D graph is still something we can easily get our minds around. Representing a seven dimensional graph, though, with values for (T,U,V,W,X,Y,Z) is not something our brains are wired for, but the concept remains the same: each additional dimension must add an additional degree of freedom for what is being represented, or it isn’t a new dimension. Another way of saying this, then, is You Can’t Get There From Here. Let’s work through each dimension and see how that idea applies.

We’ll start with a one-dimensional line. How do we get to a different one-dimensional line? You Can’t Get There From Here without moving through the second dimension.

Now we’re on a 2D plane. How do we get to a different 2D plane? You Can’t There From Here without moving through the third dimension.

Now we’re in a 3D space. Regardless of whether you believe that time is the next dimension up, or just a quality that’s overlaid on 3D space to create spacetime, it’s still clear that if we want to get to a different 3D space (the one where your arm is up rather than your arm is down, as a very simple example), you have to move through time to get there. By accepting that time really is the fourth dimension, we can see how the metaphor continues: you can’t get from one 3D space to another without moving through the next dimension up.

At this point, those who believe time is not a full spatial dimension will say things stop making sense. If everything that follows from here didn’t also have so many other strong connections to what we know about our reality, I believe their arguments would hold more weight: but still, to be fair to those critics, I’ll pause here and acknowledge that some people do not believe that time is a full spatial dimension which we, as 3D creatures built from chemical processes that obey the thermodynamic laws of entropy, are experiencing in a uniquely limited way. Still with me? Then let’s proceed.

Now we’re in a 4D timeline. Let’s say it’s exactly noon right now, and as per the example I just gave, I've just raised my right arm. How do I get to the version of that 4D timeline where it’s noon and I didn’t raise my arm? Well, that’s impossible. If it’s noon I’ve either raised my arm or I haven’t, end of story. So that other version of reality is now on the “You Can’t Get There From Here” list for my 4D reality: that is, unless I was to move through the fifth dimension.

The fifth dimension is something I have been referring to as “Probability Space”. I believe it’s also directly connected to what David Deutsch’s team at Oxford have proven: the “bush-like branching structure” of possible outcomes that exist at both the quantum and the macro level are, as I have always proposed with this project, directly equivalent. The fifth dimension would be where quantum fields can be simultaneously perceived as waves and particles, and where it could be noon and I would simultaneously have raised and not raised my arm. I think it’s interesting that Kaluza proved and Einstein eventually agreed that the field equations for gravity and light work out in the fifth dimension, and that string theorists have said the fifth dimension is invisible to us because it’s “curled up” down at the planck length, because that’s what I’m proposing here as well: our 4D line of time is being created one unit of planck time after the next, from the available choices of the fifth dimensional Probability Space we are twisting and turning within. Our 4D spacetime is being created from the fifth dimension.

What’s on the “You Can’t There From Here” list for our version of the fifth dimension then? As freewheeling as the fifth dimension might sound, it's still a Probability Space, and the reason the Next Available Choice for our 4D line of time doesn’t suddenly move us to some other completely different version of our universe (where the moon is no longer in the sky or I’m circling Mars) is because there are only certain states available to us within the Probability Space of the fifth dimension. So, no matter how much I exercise my free will of putting my arm up or putting my arm down at noon today, the bush-like branching structure of available fifth dimensional choices for noon today don’t include the version of reality where 9/11 didn’t happen, or dinosaurs aren’t extinct. You Can’t Get There From Here: unless you move through the sixth dimension.

So now we’re in the sixth dimension, where every choice made and not made can exist simultaneously, even the ones that were not available from our position within the probability space of the fifth dimension. Surely this is as far as we need to go? What’s next on the You Can’t Get There From Here list? This is where that fine structure constant comes in. No amount of quantum indeterminacy, choice, or probability within our sixth dimensional frame allows us to move to a universe where our basic physical laws are different. To move to one of those universes, then, requires us to move through the seventh dimension.

Welcome to the seventh dimension! Now we’re moving from one universe to another, each universe having its own unique value for gravity, its own value for the speed of light, its own values for its fine structure constant. Each “point” in the seventh dimension contains within it its own unique version of the dimensions below, from the sixth down to the first. Those six dimensions, when you’re within them, would seem just as real as our own, but no amount of quantum indeterminacy or choice would ever allow matter or energy from within that sixth dimensional construct to interact with the other universes (including our own), because of that basic You Can’t Get There From Here rule. Physicists call this “decoherence”, and that’s the same concept. And again, the idea that part of our universe is constrained within a 7D brane seems like a very interesting tie-in here.

What’s left to imagine now? How about universes that don’t rely upon one specific value for each of their fine structure constants? Those would be impossible to get to without entering the eighth dimension. And how would we move from one of those incredibly strange (and most likely unstable) universes to another? By moving through the ninth dimension.

It may seem that I’m moving too fast here, or trying to skip past some of the higher dimensions. Other ways of imagining the higher dimensions do indeed seem easier to follow when you start from the tenth and work your way down to the first, but that’s not the concept we’re playing with here right now. So let’s continue: what could be on the “You Can’t Get There From Here” list for the ninth dimension? By now we’ve included all possible universes, all possible expressions of matter and energy, all possible ways of organizing the “Information Equals Reality” concept from quantum physics that I’ve talked about in this blog many times now.

So, the only thing that’s left is the Singularity: the enfolded whole where we perceive absolutely every possible state simultaneously: that’s the only thing You Can’t Get To from the ninth dimension without entering the tenth dimension. This is the timelessness that Gevin Giorbran describes so well, and this is the unobserved quantum fields that physicists tell us our reality springs from. Attempting to observe absolutely any aspect of those fields immediately pops us out of that overall indeterminate state and into at least some part of the dimensions below.

For a version of imagining these dimensions that starts from the tenth and works its way down to the first dimension, that’s a whole different blog entry, which I call “How To Make a Universe”.

To finish this entry, I'd like to play one of the 26 songs from this project, which explores the "You Can't Get There From Here" concept a little more as it relates to our version of spacetime and the currently available probability space: "What Was Done Today".

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

A link to this video can be found at

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The End of the World, Death, and the Tenth Dimension

A link to this video can be found at

Since it's the holiday season, here's a blog entry to lighten the mood: "The End of the World, Death, and the Tenth Dimension". :-) The songs in this blog entry are from the 26-song collection attached to this project, in this case these are songs recorded very simply with me sitting at my beat up old piano.

Twenty years ago I was writing the music for a play about the end of the world. Placed twenty thousand years in the future, it was probably ahead of its time: its premise was that our ongoing environmental abuses had destroyed all plant and animal life and made our planet so unstable that the last remaining inhabitants were being forced to leave the Earth forever.

Let's think back to twenty years ago. The 80's, quite frankly, were not a real great decade for environmental consciousness. The "Me" Decade, as it's sometimes called, was looking back at the horrific environmental warnings of the sixties and seventies and saying "Look! Nothing happened! We're all fine! Relax!". This got me thinking that no matter what time in history you're looking at, there's always been a small contingent waving their arms and saying the "end is nigh"! In the 80's, trying to get the audience to imagine that the end was coming as a result of our pollution of the environment seemed to me to have some difficulties: but eventually, I reasoned, there's going to have to be a time when one of those end of the world predictions come true, whether that be tomorrow, or twenty thousand years from now. Was there a way, I wondered, to make those predictions seem more real to the audience right now?

I should mention here that (as I describe in my book) I had been pondering the ideas of branching timelines and important "cusps" that each of us experience as far back as the age of seven, and a wonderfully subversive book by Madeleine L'Engle called "A Wrinkle In Time" that I read a number of times as a child definitely had already caused these ideas to have started brewing way back then.

I should also mention here that I was really worrying about things that were none of my business: I was the composer, and the playwright creating the text for this project had already come up with a story rich in metaphor and texture. But there was still something about the environmental catastrophe angle that, for me, seemed to need a little bit more. So I kept thinking.

This is when the way of imagining reality that became the tenth dimension project first became locked in for me. The first three dimensions are easy: think of a line, that's the first dimension, draw a second line that crosses the first (which creates a plane), that's the second dimension, bend those lines and you're in the third dimension. I was reading an article about quantum physics, and trying to imagine how our reality could be so strange: down at the quantum level, everything is a wave until it's observed, at which point its wavefunction is collapsed into one state or another. How, I asked myself, can the act of observation be what causes subatomic particles to stop being waves? It was just too weird. The way I decided to explain it to myself, then, was that this must mean that those waves exist in the fifth dimension, and that it is us moving down our 4D line of time, picking one part of the waveform out from the other, that gives us the quantum observer effect. But what, I asked myself, if this was also happening not just at the quantum level, but also within our physical reality of spacetime? If we think of our timeline as being in the fourth dimension, then that would mean that there are other parts of the fifth dimension where end of the world predictions had already come true, and that if you wanted to get to those other timelines you would have to jump through the sixth dimension to get there.

I remember sitting in a coffeeshop with the playwright, excitedly drawing little diagrams of lines and branches on a napkin and showing how you could fold the napkin to jump from one reality to another. This, I said to him, is how you can explain how the end of the world is constantly coming: because if it had already come, we wouldn't be around anymore to ask why these end of the world predictions never seem to come true. This would mean, I reasoned, that at the end of the play the characters were waiting to be rescued by someone from one of these other realities where the end of the world hadn't happened yet: some place out there in the fifth or sixth dimension. And the clincher, for me, was that once we got to the seventh dimension that was as far as the logic could be taken, and the fact that so many spiritual and mystical systems also assigned a special significance to the number seven seemed to add to the impact of what I was imagining.

Now I'll be the first to admit that I may not have explained these ideas back then as well as I could have, but the upshot is that the playwright looked at me like I was crazy and the conversation was dropped. So. Twenty years ago I was a guy with an unusual idea about a way to imagine how our reality is constructed, out in the middle of the Canadian prairies, and that was where the idea and I stayed. Over the following two decades I showed these concepts to a number of other people, trying to get them interested in working on projects that explored these ideas: some people seemed to get what I was talking about but there were also quite a number who gave me that "you're crazy" look.

Still, for me, the idea never went away, and about five years ago I decided to write some songs about the ramifications of all this: let's just say my obsession was still strong, because in my spare time I ended up writing over forty songs in about two months surrounding the ideas that sprang for me from this way of imagining reality. In the back of my mind I was planning that some day these songs would end up on a CD with a little booklet explaining the ideas. As it turns out, that CD project ended up flipped on its head, because I ended up with a 220 page book about these ideas, and the lyrics to 26 of those songs I wrote back then are printed at the end of the book.

Okay. Now let's move on from the cheery topic of the End of the World, to talk about Death.

A link to this video can be found at

Four years ago, in 2004, I almost died. I went in for routine laparoscopic surgery to have my gall bladder removed, and the surgeon accidentally sliced open a large (and unusually positioned, apparently) vein on my liver. My entire chest cavity quickly filled with blood, making it impossible for them to see exactly where the bleeding was coming from, so they jammed some packing into the general area and closed me up. I woke up the next day blown up like a large balloon with almost half of my blood not flowing in my veins, but pooled in my chest and gut. The surgeon explained that this was the best option, because the blood was pressing on my vital organs from the outside, and that if they had drained the blood off, my blood pressure would have dropped to the point where I most likely would have gone into shock and died.

The internal bleeding took several days to stop completely, and it took almost three months before all of that blood in my gut had been absorbed back into my system and I stopped looking (and feeling!) like I was very pregnant. So there I was, lying in the hospital, with my family putting on a brave face for me but knowing how close it had been. Within a day or two of this disaster, my eldest son was at my bedside, and I again started trying to tell him about this way of imagining reality: although he didn't give me the "you're crazy" look (bless him for that), he did confess later on that he presumed this was just the ravings of a man stoned on morphine.

But that's not where our story about death ends.

About two and a half years ago, in 2005, I went on a trip to Australia. Up to that point in my adult life I had been reading mostly science fiction novels and Stephen King thrillers for my entertainment, and of course the never-ending stream of equipment manuals I was constantly poring through as part of my day job as a composer and studio owner. But it was around this time that I had decided to start reading more "serious" science books, and that's why the light reading I took with me to Australia was by physicist Michio Kaku, an eye-opening book called "Hyperspace: a Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension".

Now, some people will tell you that my way imagining reality is not the one that's currently taught in physics classes, but what kept happening for me as I read Kaku's book was that I could see ways that string theory and cosmology could quite easily be pasted onto what I had been thinking. More importantly, what that book showed me is that my way of imagining didn't go far enough, because it accounted only for the universe we live in, as a point in the seventh dimension. What, I reasoned, if the other different-inital-conditions universes Kaku was talking about were other "points" in the seventh dimension? My immediate inspiration was that this meant the line, branch, fold pattern I had already imagined to get to the seventh dimension could be repeated a third time, leaving us with absolutely every possible expression of reality up there within the tenth dimension.

But we're still talking about death here. So on my way back from Australia to Canada I developed blood clots in my legs (a not uncommon problem from sitting too long on the plane), which gradually migrated to my lungs. Feeling increasingly weak and short of breath in the weeks that followed, I finally got to the point where I couldn't even fall asleep because I kept having to gasp for breath, and I ended up in the hospital's Cardiac Surveillance Ward for almost two weeks, hooked up to heart monitors and that lovely oxygen tube.

For someone looking for a two week holiday, I highly recommend the Cardiac Surveillance Ward (just make sure you're in there with nothing actually wrong with your heart!): the nurses are friendly and work very hard to keep you calm and peaceful. The beds are comfortable, and once the blood thinners they put me on started to work and the clots in my lungs started to clear, I actually felt pretty good.

So there I was, with this recent insight about how my way of imagining reality could interface with leading-edge theories about cosmology and extra dimensions. I had my wife Gail bring in my laptop and during my two week stay in the hospital, I wrote the first draft of my book. I've been asked more than once what drugs I was taking when I wrote all my unusual ideas down: but lots of people still think I'm kidding when I say I was on "oxygen"!

During the following year, I took that ninety page first draft I had written in the hospital and did a lot more reading about physics and cosmology. I was thrilled to discover that my way of blending quantum waves and branching timelines from twenty years before was in fact a real and recognized scientific theory, first advanced by Hugh Everett III, and it was commonly known as the "Many Worlds Interpretation" of quantum physics. Everett went to his grave in 1982 largely unrecognized for the significance of his work, but over the past ten years or so his theory has been increasingly embraced by the modern physics community.

And while I was adding all this research into my book, I also created the audio soundtrack for an eleven-minute animation I was envisioning, that would more clearly illustrate those concepts I had been drawing on napkins in coffeeshops twenty years before. The talented folks at OH! Media here in Regina Saskatchewan Canada worked with me to turn my simple hand-drawn sketches into the interesting visuals which are seen in the book and the animation, and in the accompanying website which was launched at the end of June 2006. Within a few days, the website vaulted to popularity, and this project became known all over the world.

If anything, the project continues to gradually become more popular now because of the growing fascination people are having with the middle ground I'm trying to portray: a place where science and spirituality, physics and metaphysics can be shown to all be talking about the same thing. The website is currently averaging almost two million hits a month, and my little book, written as I lay in a hospital bed wondering if my heart was about to do me in, has been sold all over the world.

Why has this project been so popular? Because it isn't just about physics: it's about creativity, and inspiration, and souls, and memes (which are ideas that can be transmitted across time and space). It's about the place where information equals reality (a quantum physics idea that applies to many other things), which in our modern accelerated world of information, means people with shared beliefs are connecting to each other more quickly than ever before.

And, with the increasing fascination these days over the Mayan Calendar's predictions of the "end of time" happening in 2012, and futurists like Ray Kurzweil predicting a rapidly approaching "Singularity" where humans and technology merge, the fact that this project began as a way of thinking about the End of the World adds new resonance (but to be clear, both Kurzweil and promoters of the Mayan Calender are not talking about an apocalypse, they are instead talking about a great leap forward in the way our conscious minds interface with space and time... so, not an End of THE World, but an end to the antiquated ways of our current world).

Twenty years ago I was a guy with an unusual idea in the middle of the Canadian prairies. Now I'm a guy with an idea that millions of other people around the world have seen and enjoyed, and which more and more people are becoming convinced is not crazy at all, and just may be the truth about the nature of our reality. Perhaps most amazingly, all of this happened with almost no advertising or promotion, just through the power of shared ideas in our modern hyper-connected world. How cool is that?

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

PS: to close, a song about hope for the future.

A link to this video can be found at

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Boredom and Consciousness Part Three

A link to this video can be found at

A link to this video can be found at

In Boredom and Consciousness Part Two we talked about how boredom is very much a "conscious" part of our minds. If you are driving a car properly, you are performing a constant series of checks completely automatically: your conscious and subconscious minds are working as one. The brain is entirely capable of taking you from one side of the city to the other without your "narrator voice" interfering with what you're doing. But what if that narrator voice, instead, had been telling you how boring the drive was? You would be much more likely to have had an accident through being inattentive to all of the possible danger signs that our subconscious minds deal with constantly as we drive. Even something as simple and uncomplicated as falling asleep is almost impossible to do if you can't find a way to quiet that darn narrator voice of consciousness, as anyone who has tried to find sleep when they are upset or excited knows only too well.

Do you like to garden? Some people can't stand it because it's so boring. Other people love simple repetitive activities like these because it gives them peace... in other words, gardening can be a form of meditation. And meditation, of course, is actually not that far away from boredom: because meditation is an activity that encourages us to move through and beyond our line of time with an integrated mind, quieting that nagging narrator voice that says "this is boring" and moving into the state that Julian Jaynes tells us we used to always exist within.

Here's what I say in my book about meditation:

Meditation is a particularly interesting example of how people can use the power of the mind to change their health and circumstances. Researchers analyzing the EEGs of persons in a meditative state have seen that the parietal lobe, which processes incoming data to give a person the sense of their location in time and space, becomes much less active during meditation. If the parietal lobe would be what anchors us in the first-through-fourth dimension (time and space), then, could suppressing that part of the brain be what opens the person who is meditating up to the healing paths available to them in higher dimensions?

This same Scientific American "Mind" article on boredom we were discussing in part two also talks about the rising popularity of "mindfulness" training in education, medical, and office settings, which is a form of meditation that helps people to become more in tune with the wonder of their day-to-day lives. Elsewhere in the issue is a review of a book by Jeff Warren called "The Head Trip": Jeff describes consciousness as a wheel that can be broken into twelve states from highly alert to deeply asleep. I was interested to see that what started him down the path of writing this book was exactly what we're talking about here: he was working a potentially boring job as a tree planter, and became fascinated with how his perception of time seemed completely different while doing this job. While some people would look at a menial and repetitive job such as this and find their day agonizingly slow, he found that time passed by almost without him noticing. In other words, one person's boring is another person's meditative state, or even another person's novelty.

When people who have watched my 11 minute animation or read my book say that it's "mind-blowing", my fervent wish is that I have helped to renew and expand their sense of wonder about this amazing universe we live in. There are a great many self-help books and breathing exercises and visualization techniques out there that people can use to change their way of perceiving the world. Imagining the timeless fabric that our universe and all other universes spring from is another: that's why I describe this project on the back of the book as a "mind-expanding exercise that could change the way you view this incredible universe in which we live".

In part one of this entry we talked about the quantum physics idea that it's actually possible for consciousness to change the past: an idea that hadn't occurred to me, perhaps not surprisingly since I have spent so much time thinking instead about how this way of imagining reality expands out what our possibilities from this moment forward might be. But even if the idea had occurred to me first, I suspect I would have just dismissed it as being too "out there" even for me. However, with esteemed physicists like John Wheeler pointing the way, and the research of physicists such as Rosenblum, Kuttner, Krauss and Dent (all of whom are mentioned in that previous blog entry), this idea takes on interesting resonances when we think about meditation and the integrated bicameral mind as being the mental processes where we stop being bored, and start freeing our conscious minds from our linear 4D succession of frames we call "time".

This week's poll question is about 2012, where do you stand? Could those predictions of a coming global transition be tied to McKenna's Novelty Theory (also known as Timewave Zero), or Kurzweil's approaching Singularity, or the many other impending predictions being pointed to by prophecy and ancient wisdom? Our minds, as pattern recognizing machines, have ways of connecting across the information of time and space. Our bodies, built from chemical processes that obey the laws of entropy, can only move in one direction in time, but if it really is possible for consciousness to "tune" the universe, as John Wheeler suggested, then we would have proof that our consciousness can freely move in any direction, and at any "angle" we choose. Thinking of an accelerating shift, where everyone's consciousness tilts at an ever more extreme angle to our 3D space to eventually encompass all of time, allows us to imagine the potential for our world to enter a timeless mindset. The idea that this possibility appears to be approaching at an increasingly accelerated pace is also one of the ramifications of this that is getting more and more people excited around the world. Are you interested in what happens next? I know I am!

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Boredom and Consciousness Part Two

A link to this video can be found at

A link to this video can be found at

Are you bored with your life? One of the ideas I've been promoting with this project is an all-encompassing definition of life as being "any process that is interested in what happens next".

As regular visitors to this blog will know, I have come to believe that there were certain organizing patterns and forces that can be seen to have influenced the creation of our universe right from its beginning, and that each of us is a participant in the ongoing act of creation that was set in motion back then and which continues to this day. In Boredom and Consciousness Part One, we talked about the respected physicists like John Wheeler have even suggested that the quantum observer could change not just the present or the future, but the past right back to the big bang! Still, no matter what perspective you approach this idea from, we have to recognize the name that is given to those organizing patterns and forces is contentious: and since some people are uncomfortable with words like "God", I have tended to call these the "big picture memes" that we can see were a part of the narrowing-down processes that caused our particular universe to be the one selected out of all possible universes within the multiverse.

Most of us (but not all of us!) believe that we have free will, which implies that we have some degree of control over "what happens next" as we travel down our 4D line of time, twisting and turning in the fifth dimension down at the planck length. What this means, then, is that very simple truths like "attitude affects outcome" have profound implications if in fact the parallel universes that are created by the branching choices of our actions really do exist, and we have talked in previous blogs about some of the modern cosmologists who say that this is indeed the case. Are you bored? Depressed? Ill? Then of course you will tend to make different choices than if you were excited/happy/healthy. There's nothing unscientific about simple statements like these.

In my book I talk several times about what happens when we stop being interested in what happens next:

...many of us are painfully familiar with the experience of watching a loved one who, due to illness, extreme depression, or simple old age, have had their soul material gradually dissipate or be ground away. This can reach the point where we can see that the person that used to occupy that body is no longer there, even though the body continues to function. Where did they go? Perhaps they really did lose coherence and drift away. Or, more likely, most of the meme-set that made up that person lost interest in the diseased and tired body they were in and has already freed itself from its confines.
Witnessing the death of any living creature shows us one of the great mysteries of the universe: what leaves the body?

For our planet, every living thing is based on water. To quote from Paul Davies' article on alternate lifeforms on earth in the December issue of Scientific American:

...even the hardiest microorganisms have their limits. Life as we know it depends crucially on the availability of liquid water.

A couple of blog entries ago we looked at the relationship between music and creativity, and not long before that we looked at a song of mine ("Change and Renewal") which proposes that creativity and water may be more closely tied to each other than any of us realize. In a sense, this is because the opposite of creativity is death: with no water, there's no life, and therefore no creativity. So, as I say in the song: "take a drink of water and find a new idea". :-)

We could also say that the opposite of boredom is novelty. But boredom and novelty are much more subjective terms, because they are based upon the way that our conscious minds perceive reality: in other words, one person's boring is another person's novelty. In part one I talked about synchronicity: the joyous connections our brains can make from seemingly unconnected bits of information, and how that can make it feel like the universe is trying to tell you something. I had been planning last week to write about Julian Jaynes and the bicameral mind, but then two magazines arrived in my mailbox the same day and I saw so many connections to what I was thinking about that I felt it was important to explore them.

The first of the two magazines is the new special issue of Scientific American "Mind": the cover story is dedicated to the study of boredom, and there are quite a few articles within that issue that relate very nicely to what we're talking about here. The other magazine was the latest issue of New Scientist magazine, which has as its cover story "The Smart, Strange World of the Subconscious".

The article in New Scientist makes the point that neurobiologists sometimes prefer to use terms like "non-conscious", "pre-conscious", or "unconscious" in these discussions about the subconscious. This is because it's much easier to define what is a conscious activity for our minds, than it is define all of those other processes which are bubbling beneath the surface, some of which are operating at much higher operations per second, and some of which are stretched out into much slower processes. We have already talked in this blog about how consciousness is thought by modern science to be a process that, for most people, operates at between thirty and ninety "bings" per second.

One of the studies discussed in the Scientific American "Mind" issue concerns persons with long-term substance abuse problems: an ongoing study of 156 addicts at a New York methadone clinic revealed that the only reliable indicator of whether an addict is about to relapse was their reported level of boredom. My song "Addictive Personality" talks about the pitfalls that can happen when people are trapped in repetitive loops that lead them to believe that "what happens next" will always be the same as "what happened before", a sure-fire recipe for boredom:

Julian Jaynes, in his epic masterwork "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind", proposed that our current mode of operation, with a conscious part of the brain that is "narrating" our activities from moment to moment, and a subconscious (or non-conscious/pre-conscious/unconscious) part of the brain that is processing data "behind the scenes", is a fairly recent development. He proposed that only a couple of thousand years ago humans lived in a more integrated form of consciousness, where conscious and subconscious processes were not divided. This seems to imply that everyone existed in a semi-dreamlike state, a state which modern society has taught us to be suspicious of: which is strange, because there are still many activities that we perform much better when we are not "Thinking" about what we're doing. Athletes talk about being "in the zone": the place where they become one with their activity, rather than thinking about all of the component parts, is how they achieve success. Be it musicians, public speakers, or a teenager on their first date: the times that we become self-conscious about what we're doing or saying, we are much more likely to not be at our best. Here is another video with me in discussion with master musician Jack Semple where we touch upon some of these ideas:

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

PS - We wrap up this exceedingly long entry in part three. Click here to read part three now.

Tenth Dimension Vlog playlist