A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkGlig_wqYs
What's south of the south pole? The same thing that's north of the north pole. This really relates to how each additional spatial dimension allows you to get to a state which is impossible to get to from the current dimension - no matter what dimension you're discussing, adding another dimension must add another degree of freedom, allow you to get somewhere that you couldn't get to from your current dimension.
What's before the big bang? The same thing thing that's after the end of the universe. Again, the meaning of the words requires you to think of something that doesn't exist within the dimension you're examining. The words really have no meaning within the current context, which is why we often use quotes in these questions. What's "before" the beginning? What's "south" of the south pole? Nothing. You can't get there from here.
What we have to get to is understanding that saying nothing is "before" or "after" our universe requires us to abandon the limits of our current dimension - in this case sequential spacetime, the fourth dimension. We have to imagine a dimension which enfolds our spacetime entirely, where before and after have no meaning because in that dimension everything happens at the same time. When we visualize such a state, we can see that even thinking of the big bang as a beginning is a limited way of thinking about what really happened - because from that dimension's perspective, all possible states for our universe, right from its beginning to its end, already exist.
Such thinking sometimes leads people to conclude this means free will doesn't exist, because the past, present, and future have already been decided and we're like passengers on a train, observing the scenery but with no way to change what we're going to see next. Understanding that we still have a certain amount of control requires us to accept a multiverse, and the parallel universes of Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation, which says that at this instant we are each observing one state out of many possible states that already exist simultaneously.
What's south of the south pole? What's outside of our system? Simultaneity. Timelessness. A perfectly balanced symmetry state, enfolded together into a big beautiful zero. Getting "outside" of our 4D spacetime allows us to see how our universe is a temporary deviation from symmetry, as physicist Sean Carroll said in Scientific American last year. This is an idea I've been explaining to any friends who will listen for the last twenty-five years, and have been presenting to the world since Imagining the Tenth Dimension launched in 2006.
Enjoy the journey,
The Long Undulating Snake
The Big Bang is an Illusion
Does the Multiverse Really Exist?
The Holographic Universe
What's Before and After?
Gevin Giorbran - Everything is Forever
Time in Either Direction
The Big Bang and the Big Pie
Next: The Map and the Territory
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
. April 08 . May 08 . June 08 . July 08 . August 08
. September 08 . October 08 . November 08 . December 08 .
Top 100 Blog Entries of 2008 . May 09 . June 09 .
Based upon number of views, here are the top blogs for the last thirty days. As always, the number in brackets is the entry's position in the previous month's report.
1. Do Animals Have Souls? (new)
2. Augmented Reality - 10thdim Music Videos (8)
3. Logic vs. Intuition (new)
4. Suffering in the Multiverse (new)
5. Computers and Consciousness (new)
6. The Big Bang is an Illusion (new)
7. Happy Birthday Paul (new)
8. Tenth Dimension Books on Bit Torrent (new)
9. Connecting It All Together (new)
10. Augmented Reality - Crazy Wakeboarder (new)
And as of July 26th, 2009, here are the twenty-six Imagining the Tenth Dimension blog entries that have attracted the most visits of all time.
1. Creativity and the Quantum Universe (1)
2. Slices of Reality (2)
3. Augmented Reality (3)
4. The Holographic Universe (4)
5. Urban Garden Magazine (5)
6. Modern Shamans (6)
7. Scott McCloud and the Brothers Winn (7)
8. The Comedian (8)
9. The Shaman (9)
10. Astrotometry (11)
11. Our Non-Local Universe (10)
12. Going to the Light (12)
13. "t" Equals Zero (13)
14. You have a shape and a trajectory (15)
15. New Translations of Imagining the Tenth Dimension (14)
16. Illusions and Reality (16)
17. Dark Gravity Across the Dimensions (17)
18. The Musician (19)
19. Where Are You? (18)
20. The Time Paradox (20)
21. Google Suggestions - March 09 Update (21)
22. The Big Bang and the Big O (22)
23. Tenth Dimension Polls Archive - 31 to 40 (23)
24. The Invariant Set (25)
25. Imagining the Omniverse - Addendum (24)
26. News from the Future (new)
By the way, if you're new to this project, you might want to check out the Tenth Dimension FAQ, as it provides a road map to a lot of the discussions and different materials that have been created for this project. If you are interested in the 26 songs attached to this project, this blog shows a video for each of the songs and provides more links with lyrics and discussion. The Annotated Tenth Dimension Video provides another cornucopia of discussion topics to be connected to over at YouTube. And as always, here's a reminder that the Tenth Dimension Forum is a good place to converse with other people about these ideas.
Enjoy the journey!
Next: What's South of the South Pole?
Posted by Rob Bryanton at 1:00 AM
Friday, July 24, 2009
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49sVWNYyqWk
(Image: Wolcott Henry/National Geographic/Getty)
Back in July 2006 over at the tenth dimension forum, here's one of the discussions we got into within its very first month: our universe exists within spacetime, and space is not the same as spacetime. If we have a 3D space without time, then we can define a set of co-ordinates within that space with values for x,y, and z: but without the direction of either "time" or "anti-time" these co-ordinates can't be changed, they're locked in. These co-ordinates could then all be referenced within a planck-scale "frame" of spacetime, which we can think of as a "point" within the 4th dimension. If we move to some other different 4D point, then all three values for x,y, and z can be changed. Taking that idea to the seventh dimension, we can see that if our universe is "locked in" by a single 7D point, then there must be an unchanging set of values for u,v,w,x,y and z, which would be six arbitrary letters assigned to the six degrees of freedom afforded by the six spatial dimensions below. Which leads to the question that was discussed at the tenth dimension forum, are there six aspects of our universe that remain unchanged throughout its existence? At the time, I suggested to forum regular Daniel McQueen that there seemed to be an interesting tie-in there with astrophysicist and cosmologist Martin Rees, whose book I had read a couple of years before.
Do those six numbers really connect to the first six dimensions as I've visualized them? Is it possible to consider a wavefunction of all possible outcomes for our universe and have them all be constrained by six values, six unchanging "positions" within sixth dimensional space? That's a tricky possibility to wrap your head around. On the other hand, the idea from string theory that our universe is "locked in" at the seventh dimension by a D7 brane does seem to be a more likely connection.
Earlier this year, Sir Martin Rees published an article in New Scientist called Mathematics: The only true universal language. Let's look at the opening paragraphs of this article:
IF WE ever establish contact with intelligent aliens living on a planet around a distant star, we would expect some problems communicating with them. As we are many light years away, our signals would take many years to reach them, so there would be no scope for snappy repartee. There could be an IQ gap and the aliens might be built from quite different chemistry.Rees then takes us through an exploration of the different mathematical breakthroughs which occurred in the twentieth century, which moves us on to superstrings as the dominant cosmological theory of our time. He mentions that despite the commercial success in the last few years of popular books claiming that string theory is "not even wrong", many of the brightest minds of our day continue to explore this promising field. Martin Rees writes:
Yet there would be much common ground too. They would be made of similar atoms to us. They could trace their origins back to the big bang 13.7 billion years ago, and they would share with us the universe's future. However, the surest common culture would be mathematics.
Mathematics has been the language of science for thousands of years, and it is remarkably successful. In a famous essay, the great physicist Eugene Wigner wrote about the "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics". Most of us resonate with the perplexity expressed by Wigner, and also with Einstein's dictum that "the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible". We marvel at the fact that the universe is not anarchic - that atoms obey the same laws in distant galaxies as in the lab. The aliens would, like us, be astonished by the patterns in our shared cosmos and by the effectiveness of mathematics in describing those patterns.
String theory involves scales a billion billion times smaller than any we can directly probe. At the other extreme, our cosmological theories suggest that the universe is vastly more extensive than the patch we can observe with our telescopes. It may even be infinite. The domain that astronomers call "the universe" - the space, extending more than 10 billion light years around us and containing billions of galaxies, each with billions of stars, billions of planets (and maybe billions of biospheres) - could be an infinitesimal part of the totality.Regular readers of my blog will recognize that Martin Rees is using a similar visualization to the one I used in my blog entry "The Holographic Universe": visualizing that space-time rather than space has a very slight curvature to it allows us to see how we could be like someone floating out in the middle of an ocean, perceiving a universe of a certain size and age, but that the universe itself could be much larger than what we are able to see. Imagining, then, that an alien race billions of light years away would also find themselves to be right at the very center of an equally spherical universe of a similar age ties to the surprising idea we explored in "Where Are You?": no matter who you are or where you are in the universe, you are right at the center! Extending this idea into a set of parallel universes for our own universe, and a multiverse landscape for all other possible universes, becomes even more boggling. Martin Rees writes:
There is a definite horizon to direct observations: a spherical shell around us, such that no light from beyond it has had time to reach us since the big bang. However, there is nothing physical about this horizon. If you were in the middle of an ocean, it is conceivable that the water ends just beyond your horizon - except that we know it doesn't. Likewise, there are reasons to suspect that our universe - the aftermath of our big bang - extends hugely further than we can see.
The multiverse confronts us with infinities, multiplied by other infinities - perhaps repeatedly. To bring sense to these concepts, we must deploy the mathematics of transfinite numbers, which date back to Georg Cantor in the 19th century. He showed that there was a rigorous way to discuss infinity and that in a well-defined sense there are infinities of different sizes. Without these exotic concepts, cosmologists will not be able to firm up the concept of the multiverse theory and decide, without paradoxes or ambiguities, what is probable and what is improbable within it.The final section of Sir Martin's article gets into ideas that seem to relate to our discussions from the past month, as we looked at Computers and Consciousness, Logic vs. Intuition., and Connecting It All Together. He concludes:
Maybe in the far future, though, post-human intelligence will develop hypercomputers with the processing power to simulate living things - even entire worlds. Perhaps advanced beings could even simulate a "universe" that goes far beyond mere patterns on a checkerboard and the best movie special effects. Their simulated universe could be as complex as the one we perceive ourselves to be in. This raises a disconcerting thought: perhaps that is what our universe really is.It's interesting to think about how the basic physical laws of our universe might be what we would use as a starting point in learning to communicate with an alien species from far, far away. In The Biocentric Universe and The Biocentric Universe Part 2, we've talked about the amazing new theories using "retro-causality": it has now been proven that observations made "now" can affect certain indeterminate conditions back "then". If this is the case, is it possible that the amazing amount of bio-diversity that we see around our planet might also be giving us more glimpses into what alien life is going to look like than we realize? In my book and this blog, I've talked about how there could be other completely different ways of expressing matter and energy that would still rightly be called "life", but perhaps those other formulations exist only within other parts of the multiverse landscape. Perhaps when we do finally find life elsewhere in the universe, the "fine-tuning" of our universe's conditions will have created forms that only seem as alien as the strange assortment of creatures we can find on our own planet. And if biocentricism is true, then it might be that the alien race we eventually encounter could have come from a first spark of life that appeared billions of years before life started on earth, and that it was actually that alien life-form that performed this reverse-fine-tuning of our universe's basic physical constants to allow all life as we know it appear within our universe!
It is fascinating to speculate whether hyper-intelligent aliens already exist in some remote part of our cosmos. If so, would their brains "package" reality in a mathematical language that would be comprehensible to us or our descendants?
Martin Rees is professor of cosmology and astrophysics and master of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. He was appointed Astronomer Royal in 1995 and is President of the Royal Society. This article is based on contributions to a discussion by a panel that included mathematicians Michael Atiyah and Alain Connes about the relationship between mathematics and science.
Enjoy the journey,
Next: Top Ten Tenth Dimension Blogs, July 09 Report
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emv4zQK3XTg
One of the ideas that relates very strongly to our recent discussions here at Imagining the Tenth Dimension is the experimentally observed proof of what is known as "Wheeler's Delayed Choice Experiment". Amazingly, this proof confirms one of the ideas we've talked about a lot with this project - that the branching possibilities that we as quantum observers make can select not only different paths within the future, but retroactively change things in the past as well!
While there have been a number of different experiments conducted to demonstrate Wheeler's concept since he first proposed it back in 1978, it wasn't until 2007 that the first "clean" experimental test was performed in France by the team of Alain Aspect, Philippe Grangier, and Jean-François Roch.
The diagram at left shows a version of Wheeler's delayed choice experiment. In a nutshell, it is based upon the classic experiments with photons passing through either one slit or two, and the confounding but well-known result of those demonstrations is that photons can be shown to be a particle or a wave, depending upon whether they pass through one slit or two. Wheeler's proposed experiment, then, was based upon not selecting the one slit or two slit path until after the photon had passed by, and Wheeler's seemingly counter-intuitive result he was proposing is that the photons will still demonstrate the properly corresponding wave or particle pattern by the time they then arrive at the final detector screen: it's as if the photons go back in space-time and "choose" to behave in the correct manner, as if the one slit or two slit pattern had in fact been there when it wasn't!
The explanatory diagram we're looking at here was attached to a New Scientist article published two years ago, written by physicist Paul Davies. This much-discussed article was called "The Flexi-laws of Physics": here's some quotes from that article.
SCIENCE WORKS because the universe is ordered in an intelligible way. The most refined manifestation of this order is found in the laws of physics, the fundamental mathematical rules that govern all natural phenomena. One of the biggest questions of existence is the origin of those laws: where do they come from, and why do they have the form that they do?
Until recently this problem was considered off-limits to scientists. Their job was to discover the laws and apply them, not inquire into their form or origin. Now the mood has changed. One reason for this stems from the growing realisation that the laws of physics possess a weird and surprising property: collectively they give the universe the ability to generate life and conscious beings, such as ourselves, who can ponder the big questions.
If the universe came with any old rag-bag of laws, life would almost certainly be ruled out. Indeed, changing the existing laws by even a scintilla could have lethal consequences. For example, if protons were 0.1 per cent heavier than neutrons, rather than the other way about, all the protons coughed out of the big bang would soon have decayed into neutrons. Without protons and their crucial electric charge, atoms could not exist and chemistry would be impossible.
Physicists and cosmologists know many such examples of uncanny bio-friendly "coincidences" and fortuitous fine-tuned properties in the laws of physics. Like Baby Bear's porridge in the story of Goldilocks, our universe seems "just right" for life. It looks, to use astronomer Fred Hoyle's dramatic description, as if "a super-intellect has been monkeying with physics". So what is going on?
A popular way to explain the Goldilocks factor is the multiverse theory. This says that a god's-eye-view of the cosmos would reveal a patchwork quilt of universes, of which ours is but an infinitesimal fragment. Crucially, each patch, or "universe", comes with its own distinctive set of local by-laws. Maybe the by-laws are assigned randomly, as in a vast cosmic lottery. It is then no surprise that we find ourselves living in a patch so well suited to life, for we could hardly inhabit a bio-hostile patch. Our universe has simply hit the cosmic jackpot. Those universes that can't support life - the vast majority in fact - go unobserved.
Keeping in mind that this article was published two years ago, one of the things that has changed since then is there are many more mainstream physicists willing to accept the idea of this "multiverse of universes", each universe having its own unique set of basic physical laws, and all of those universes just as real as our own. We talked about this change, for instance, in "Does the Multiverse Really Exist?". Later in the article Dr. Davies says this:
Four hundred years on, physicists still cling to this model of physical law, even though they have no idea what the external source of the laws might be. So long as science appeals to something outside the universe, we must abandon any hope of ultimately understanding why the universe is as it is. A large element of mystery will lie forever beyond our reach.Does this sound familiar? Regular readers of this blog will recognize this constantly recurring refrain: "information equals reality". The article then goes on to state ideas very similar to what we've been talking about lately with discussions of the Biocentric Universe theory - that the ability for observations now to change certain things in the past could be extended all the way to the idea that the emergence of life actually fine-tuned things about our universe, changing those "flexi-laws" of the indeterminate beginnings of our universe into more "locked in" laws - but the actual "locking in" doesn't happen when life begins. Rather, through the process of retro-causality it occurs back near the beginning of our universe! Again, these are ideas we've talked about from a number of perspectives in my book and this blog, but it's always nice to see mainstream physicists showing that these ideas are not as crazy as critics of my project have been claiming. Paul Davies then goes on to explain how the verified proof of Wheeler's Delayed Choice experiment confirms that it is possible for observations made "now" to affect the past, and ends with this concluding paragraph:
There is, however, another possibility: relinquish the notion of immutable, transcendent laws and try to explain the observed behaviour entirely in terms of processes occurring within the universe. As it happens, there is a growing minority of scientists whose concept of physical law departs radically from the orthodox view and whose ideas offer an ideal model for developing this picture. The burgeoning field of computer science has shifted our view of the physical world from that of a collection of interacting material particles to one of a seething network of information. In this way of looking at nature, the laws of physics are a form of software, or algorithm, while the material world - the hardware - plays the role of a gigantic computer.
In the orthodox view, the laws of physics are floating in an explanatory void. Ironically, the essence of the scientific method is rationality and logic: we suppose that things are the way they are for a reason. Yet when it comes to the laws of physics themselves, well, we are asked to accept that they exist "reasonlessly". If that were correct, then the entire edifice of science would ultimately be founded on absurdity. By bringing the laws of physics within the compass of science, and fusing nature and its laws into a mutually self-consistent explanation, we have some hope of understanding why the laws are what they are. In addition, we can begin to glimpse how we, the observers of this remarkable universe, fit into the great cosmic scheme.Next blog, we're going to continue this discussion of where the basic laws of our universe come from, as we look at an article written by cosmologist and astrophysicist Martin Rees.
Paul Davies is director of Beyond, a scientific think tank at Arizona State University, Tempe. His latest book is The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the universe just right for life? In the US it is called Cosmic Jackpot.
Enjoy the journey!
Other blogs where we've talked about retro-causality and causal chains extending both forward and back from our "now":
The Long Undulating Snake
The Big Bang is an Illusion
The Biocentric Universe Part 2
John Wheeler and Digital Physics
Next: Alien Mathematics
Saturday, July 18, 2009
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKNJmrdA0Fg
CollegeHumor.com that we looked at last time, in "Ice Age in 4D")
One of the more well-known phrases from my original Imagining the Tenth Dimension animation is that when each of us thinks of ourselves as a shape in the fourth spatial dimension, we're more like a long undulating snake, a shape with a beginning, a middle and an end. I've talked before about futurist and science fiction writer Bruce Sterling who refers to this kind of fourth-dimensional information-set as a spime, and that's really the same concept.
In Suffering in the Multiverse, we took an extreme look at all of the universes that could be out there - not just in the parallel universes that result from chance and choice as per the proof published in 2007 by a team of scientists at Oxford under the direction of physicist David Deutsch, equating the quantum wave function with the different versions of our universe that result from chance and choice... but also in the multiverse landscape of all the 10 to the power of 500 potential universes that scientists like Brian Greene (who we just quoted in Does the Multiverse Really Exist?) are now beginning to say are just as real as the universe we find ourselves to be living within.
Then, in The Biocentric Universe Part 2, we looked at an amazing theory that shows how life creates time and the universe, and not the other way around. Does that sound crazy? Not when we think of ourselves from within the fifth dimension rather than the fourth.
Let's look at that "long undulating snake" visualization of ourselves within the fourth dimension. When you die, there will be one version of that shape which will represent the life you experienced from conception to death. But right now you are some place within that 4D shape, and there are many branches that lie before you. Those branches come from the fifth dimension, the dimension that Kaluza proved to Einstein is where our universe is defined, the dimension which the Holographic Universe theory says our universe is just a shadow of, the dimension where my project insists the "spooky" non-local nature of quantum mechanics makes sense when we realize that our 4D "line of time" is not continuous, because it's actually being created one planck frame at a time as our universe twists, turns and folds within our fifth dimensional probability space.
So, here you are at this very instant, someplace within that 4D shape. You can imagine that you have one long "tail" stretching from "now" back to conception, and then a "ray" of possible futures in the fifth dimension, making your shape more like a dandelion gone to seed than a "snake".
But it turns out that that's only half the story. As we've explored in blogs like The Past is an Illusion and Time in Either Direction, there are also an equally complex number of ways that you could have gotten to the "now" you're in at this instant, so in the fifth dimension you are really more like the very centre of the head of that dandelion gone to seed, forgetting about the stalk - there are branching, probabilistic versions of you that extend out into the past just as much as into the future.
Some people call this idea mind-blowing, I prefer to call it liberating. By understanding just how much freedom we each have at any particular "now" to navigate out of traps and negative loops, and visualizing the best-possible-versions of ourselves that already exist within the fifth dimension, we can head towards those goals. Think of the scientific evidence concerning the effectiveness of placebos and nocebos, and the burgeoning science of epigenetics (which shows that changes in attitude and lifestyle can change which genes are switched on or off): when you add those ideas in you can see just how intimately we are each involved in choosing one set of branches over another as we travel through our lives. This is not just about entering one parallel universe or another depending on whether I slept in an extra ten minutes this morning or not: this is about being fully engaged with the beautiful possibilities we have before us.
By understanding that the past is just as complex a structure as the future, we can start to visualize how such amazing theories as Lanza and Berman's Biocentric Universe make more sense - but all of this doesn't really start to gel until we start to imagine this "dandelion gone to seed" imagery from an even higher extra dimension, where all of those possible branches exist as a single point.
Then, finally, we've reached the purest expression of the concept that Einstein was thinking about when he said there is ultimately no distinction, no separation, between past, present and future.
But what about the law of the conservation of energy? How can there be all of these different versions of our universe without running out of energy? That law still stands: there is a certain total amount of energy within a particular version of each dimension, and that's one of the things that physicists use to calculate the amount of dark matter and dark energy that is affecting our particular universe. But each additional dimension multiplies the possibilities for the way that energy can be expressed. There are not nearly as many possible expressions of energy for our imaginary 2D flatlander as there are for us in the third dimension, for instance. And I really love the concept of digital physics because it tells us that ultimately, our reality is not based upon energy, but information. As MIT professor and quantum computing expert Seth Lloyd says in his mind-expanding book "Programming the Universe":
"The conventional history of the universe pays great attention to energy: How much is there? Where is it? What is it doing? By contrast, in the story of the universe told in this book, the primary actor in the physical history of the universe is information. Ultimately, information and energy play complimentary roles in the universe: Energy makes physical systems do things. Information tells them what to do."Information equals reality. And that long undulating snake imagery is really just another way of trying to get people to think about reality as information, because that is a liberating approach with far-reaching implications.
Enjoy the journey!
Next: The Flexi-Laws of Physics
Edit: The above blog entry was published in 2009. Here's a great entry published by physicist Sean Carroll in 2010 that gives a good explanation of how the laws of conservation of energy only apply locally. As our spacetime expands, so does the amount of available energy: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2010/02/22/energy-is-not-conserved/
Thursday, July 16, 2009
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2yyuxOIO70
This amusing video is posted over at College Humor:
As you'll see, they shamelessly used my unique way of visualizing the dimensions for their concept without giving me credit for the use of my ideas, so I'm sure they won't mind if I show fans of Imagining the Tenth Dimension their video here. Check out their site, lots of fun parodies and nonsense to enjoy.
Enjoy the journey,
Next: The Long Undulating Snake
Posted by Rob Bryanton at 5:21 PM
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZWVai-4DUU
In The Biocentric Universe, we discussed a mind-blowing theory from Robert Lanza and Bob Berman which states that without life, there is no space or time, no cosmos. We linked to an article in Discover magazine, which is based on Lanza and Berman's new book called "Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe". There is so much about their approach that aligns with the things I've been saying with my project that I am strongly tempted to quote the entire article, but after all, that's why I'm giving you the link. Here's just a few more paragraphs from that Discover article:
SEEKING SPACE AND TIME
Even the most fundamental elements of physical reality, space and time, strongly support a biocentric basis for the cosmos.
According to biocentrism, time does not exist independently of the life that notices it. The reality of time has long been questioned by an odd alliance of philosophers and physicists. The former argue that the past exists only as ideas in the mind, which themselves are neuroelectrical events occurring strictly in the present moment. Physicists, for their part, note that all of their working models, from Isaac Newton’s laws through quantum mechanics, do not actually describe the nature of time. The real point is that no actual entity of time is needed, nor does it play a role in any of their equations. When they speak of time, they inevitably describe it in terms of change. But change is not the same thing as time.
To measure anything’s position precisely, at any given instant, is to lock in on one static frame of its motion, as in the frame of a film. Conversely, as soon as you observe a movement, you cannot isolate a frame, because motion is the summation of many frames. Sharpness in one parameter induces blurriness in the other. Imagine that you are watching a film of an archery tournament. An archer shoots and the arrow flies. The camera follows the arrow’s trajectory from the archer’s bow toward the target. Suddenly the projector stops on a single frame of a stilled arrow. You stare at the image of an arrow in midflight. The pause in the film enables you to know the position of the arrow with great accuracy, but you have lost all information about its momentum. In that frame it is going nowhere; its path and velocity are no longer known. Such fuzziness brings us back to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which describes how measuring the location of a subatomic particle inherently blurs its momentum and vice versa.All of this makes perfect sense from a biocentric perspective. Everything we perceive is actively and repeatedly being reconstructed inside our heads in an organized whirl of information. Time in this sense can be defined as the summation of spatial states occurring inside the mind.
I'd like to thank one of our Tenth Dimension Forum members who goes by the name "skand1nsky" for providing me with the following seven principles which also come from Lanza and Berman's Biocentric theory:
1. A First Principle of Biocentrism: What we perceive as reality is a process that involves our consciousness. An "external" reality, if it existed, would by definition have to exist in space. But this is meaningless, because space and time are not absolute realities but rather tools of the human and animal mind.Critics of such theories say this is like a return to the ancient beliefs that the heavens revolve around the earth. As I said not long ago in Where Are You?, what we are talking about here allows us to finally see how each of us really is right at the very center of our own version of the universe, and this has nothing to do with thinking that the earth is flat or that the sun revolves around our planet. In order for us to accept this vision, though, we also have to see that each of us is not all alone. Instead, this means we are all connected to every other living thing, and to everything else in the universe, as the Biocentric Universe theory makes clear: and as more and more people realize that this is really how our reality is constructed, the world becomes a better place.
2. A Second Principle of Biocentrism: Our external and internal perceptions are inextricably intertwined. They are different sides of the same coin and cannot be divorced from one another.
3. Third Principle of Biocentrism: The behavior of subatomic particles, indeed all particles and objects, is inextricably linked to the presence of an observer. Without the presence of a conscious observer, they at best exist in an undetermined state of probability waves.
4. Fourth Principle of Biocentrism: Without consciousness, "matter" dwells in an undetermined state of probability. Any universe that could have preceded consciousness only existed in a probability state.
5. Fifth Principle of Biocentrism: The structure of the universe is explainable only through biocentrism. The universe is fine-tuned for life, which makes perfect sense as life creates the universe, not the other way around. The "universe" is simply the complete spatio-temporal logic of the self.
6. Sixth Principle of Biocentrism: Time does not have a real existence outside of animal-sense perception. It is the process by which we perceive changes in the universe.
7. Seventh Principle of Biocentrism: Space, like time, is not an object or a thing. Space is another form of our animal understanding and does not have an independent reality. We carry space and time around with us like turtles with shells. Thus, there is no absolute self-existing matrix in which physical events occur independent of life.
Enjoy the journey!
PS - Here's another article about Lanza and Berman's new book, this one is from MSNBC's science editor Alan Boyle.
Next: The Long Undulating Snake
Saturday, July 11, 2009
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tcsu0rwoeAQ
Here's a series of images you might remember from a blog I published a year ago called "What Would a Flatlander Really See?". The image on the left shows what an imaginary 2D flatlander (in this case, our "one-eyed Jack") looks like to us as we 3D creatures look down from "above": above is a word that would make no sense to a flatlander, since his world has only length and width. As we move right through the above images, we are imagining rotating our point of view down into the "plane" that the flatlander exists within, and although there are five images here we should understand there is a sixth image which would be a line with no depth, something that we could never see with our 3D eyes. The point, here, is that the flatlander (who we're going to assume has a visual apparatus that is somehow able to deal with these lines) would live in a world where everything appears to him as nothing but lines all in the same plane.
A direct link to the above movie is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xN4DxdiFrs
In Hypercubes and Plato's Cave, we looked at an animation of a tesseract, a four-dimensional cube, and discussed how what we see here is really just a representation of a three-dimensional shadow of that 4D object. A still image of a tesseract (or "hypercube") is much less useful in helping us to imagine it - we have to click "play" on the animation for what is unique about this shape to become apparent. The ways that it appears to change shape as we view it using the fourth dimensional direction of "time" defy reason for a three dimensional object, in exactly the same way that the lines a flatlander would see as a 3D object passes through his plane would appear and disappear in ways that would seem very strange indeed to the flatlander.
In "The Past is an Illusion", I talked about a fun little flash game called Z-Rox, which you should try if you would like to spend further time considering how a flatlander might be able to puzzle out the 3D shape of an object as he watched it pass through his plane, but this would be much harder to do with an object like a human who was moving around than it would be with a simple object like a balloon.
Where I am going with all this? Here's the point - something that may be a simple or symmetrical shape when viewed in one spatial dimension will appear to behave very strangely when viewed from a dimension "below" that one. Which takes us to the big bang. Here's what I said in my book about the big bang:
If we can agree that our conception of time as a one-way “arrow” is an illusion created by our unique point of view, then ultimately we can come to the viewpoint that the big bang is also an illusion, as it is just a side effect of collapsing the tenth dimension with the very first yes/no. The point at which we enter the tenth dimensional system becomes the big bang (that is to say, the beginning) for the dimensions below. The currently accepted version of the big bang is known as “inflationary cosmology”, in which it is proposed that the size of the universe increased by a factor greater than a million trillion trillion in less than a millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second. Does this mind-boggling amount of sudden inflation not sound more like the flipping of a gigantic yes/no toggle switch?When I originally wrote those words, I had not heard of a branch of science called Digital Physics and I had not read anything by quantum computing expert Seth Lloyd. As it turns out, though, the point of view I expressed back then is very similar to their schools of thought, and can be summed up with 3 words I've used many times now: "information equals reality". This gives us a very useful way of imagining what the big bang really represents: it tells us that within the extra dimensions there is a comparatively simple pattern representing the wave function of all possible outcomes for our universe which, just like the flatlander images at the start of this blog, or the animation of the rotating tesseract, appears to do something impossible when it's perceived within the dimensions below. Before it "slid into view", time did not exist, and when the universe ends time will not exist again: and as we've discussed in entries like Time in Either Direction and Scrambled Eggs, this reflects the viewpoint of physicist Sean Carroll who says that "before" and "after" the universe is the same thing, a perfectly balanced symmetry state, and our universe from its beginning to it end is just a temporary deviation from that state.
In my blog entry "How to Make a Universe" I worked through my description of the ten spatial dimensions in reverse order, as a way of visualizing how this process of our universe "sliding into view from a higher dimensional pattern" can be equated to moving through the multiverse landscape to other different-initial-conditions "starting points" within the extra dimensions. This is a process that could create our own universe, or it could create other universes very different from our own.
Is the big bang an illusion? Viewed from the place where the distinction between past, present, and future is meaningless, that would be true. This is why I prefer the digital physics viewpoint - that the big bang really starts with the first binary yes/no that begins to choose a universe from out of all other possible universes (and after publishing my book, it was great to come across quantum computing expert Seth Lloyd expressing this same idea in his book Programming the Universe). What do we call the selection pattern that chose our universe from out of the omniverse? Whatever name you give it, that selection pattern exists.
Here's that list again, working through the hierarchy of dimensions as I've portrayed them, but this time moving from the "top" down:
10. The timeless omniverse/the enfolded and perfectly balanced symmetry state/unobserved indeterminacy
9. Big-picture memes, ways of organizing/grouping/subdividing the "information" that becomes reality, including those which cannot be expressed as physical realities
8. Ways of expressing mass/energy that encompass multiple oscillating or changing basic physical laws
7. Ways of expressing mass/energy that encompass a single sliding constant (this would be the seventh dimension as a line). Since certain physicists believe they have evidence that the speed of light for our own universe may have varied slightly since the very distant past this "line" may be a way of describing our universe. A single unmoving "point" within the seventh dimension would be a way of expressing mass/energy where the fine structure constant and all basic physical laws are locked in from beginning to end, and our universe has generally been believed to be one where this "locked in" quality is the case. The fact that string theory says our universe is created by the interaction of a seven dimensional brane interacting with a three dimensional brane within a Calabi-Yau manifold seems to be an interesting tie-in to my concept of our universe being "locked in" at the seventh dimension.
6. All possible timelines for the universe we have created, including ones that will never actually be observed but which remain as potential.
5. All branching timelines both forward and backward from the particular point that we call "now" (the idea that our 4D universe comes from the fifth dimension comes up again and again with this project!). Thinking back to how we created our universe, the branches from the very first "point", then, would be the same in both the fifth and sixth dimension, but for every other quantum frame the fifth dimension would not be able to include every possible expression contained within the sixth because of the limitations introduced by choices and outcomes that had already occurred within our spacetime tree.
4. One very specific set of frames, from the big bang to "now", or in the biggest picture of all, one very specific timeline out of all of the possible timelines from the beginning to the end of the universe we created.
3. A specific expression of the 3D space that is a quantum frame as per our description above.
2. A specific expression of one of the 2D planes that can be contained within the quantum frame we're examining.
1. A specific expression of one of the 1D lines that can be contained within the quantum frame we're examining.
0. Not a dimension, but a point of indeterminate size, which could be infinitely small as in geometry, or could be infinitely large, encompassing in the most extreme case all of the dimensions. Some people like to think of the "zero" as time, some like to call it the quantum observer, some people like to think of it as being nothing more than the way that you move to a specific subset of the dimensions below the tenth. All of these, I believe, are different ways of expressing the same important idea about the underlying enfolded, fractal, recursive nature of our reality or any other.
Last blog was called "Suffering in the Multiverse". In it we took a mind boggling journey guided by philosopher David Pearce through the moral implications of the set of all possible states which we are talking about here. Next blog we're going to narrow back down to the idea of there being a selection pattern which is choosing our universe from out of all possible universes: an idea we touched upon recently in The Biocentric Universe. In fact, our next blog will be called "The Biocentric Universe part two".
Enjoy the journey!
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Regular readers of this blog will recall that we gave you an Augmented Reality Tenth Dimension Music Video creator, click the link to see more about that.
In the context of Imagining the Tenth Dimension, what fascinates me about "augmented reality" as a technology is it provides us with a way of thinking about how there could be hidden patterns encoded into our reality, and all we need is to find a way to visualize them. Here's a video of a project we created here at Talking Dog that doesn't have any deep hidden meanings about the structures of the cosmos, but it's fun to watch and fun to play with. If you've got a webcam, go to www.talkingdogstudios.com/sasktourism and try it out for yourself.
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4E7QW-mMzM
Enjoy the journey!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38seBd3ptm8
Does the multiverse really exist? In a recent blog entry about the question, we celebrated the fact that well-known physicists like Brian Greene have finally come around to saying that the other universes of the multiverse are not just theoretical, but as real as our own. Read this article from arstechnica which says we could see evidence of the answer to that question of whether the multiverse really exists within the next month:
Early in our Universe's history (before the mulitiverse's inflation pulled things apart), it was possible that the Universe bumped into a neighboring one. If that's the case, there should be remnants of that event buried in the cosmic microwave background. Less than a month from now, the ESA's Planck mission should arrive at the L2 Lagrange point with instruments sensitive enough to pick up this signal.Many Worlds, Many Choices
Embracing Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics requires us to accept that there are branching timelines possible for our universe where each of us make the bad choice, do the wrong thing, have the unlucky twist of fate, and so on. In my project, I try to make it clear that there's a big difference between knowing that such potentials exist, and actually choosing to participate in those timelines. The version of the universe where I got out of bed this morning and killed all my neighbors must exist within the wave function of all possible versions of our universe, but that's not the version I chose to observe. Having not observed it, I can accept that the potential for it to exist was there but I will never be able to conjure that particular version of reality into existence now that this morning is passed. This is what I mean when I talk about the fifth dimension being a probability space - the probability of me entering a parallel universe where I killed my neighbors this morning is now zero per cent. Such universes continue to exist within the sixth dimension, but those outcomes have nothing to do with me, because I can't (and don't want to!) get to those versions of the universe: they're inaccessible (or decoherent, as physicists say) to the probability space of the quantum wave function that I'm currently navigating within.
Today is Michael Jackson's public memorial service. In the same line of reasoning, the versions of our universe where Michael Jackson is still alive today do not even exist as potential from within our fifth dimensional set of causally related outcomes, and that's true from the quantum level right out to the biggest, most macro picture of them all. According to the way of visualizing the dimensions that I'm proposing here, those versions of our universe exist only within the sixth dimension, and that's why "we can't get there from here" as we choose from our fifth dimensional probability space one planck frame after another.
Here's a link to an amazing essay by philosopher David Pearce, co-founder of the Abolitionist Society:
In Computers and Consciousness, we touched on the transhuman movement, and David is a key proponent of those ideas (as we said then, transhumanism is about finding ways to use technology to improve our lives, up to and including approaches which increasingly blur the line between the technology and the person). Abolitionism is a related movement which proposes transhumanist solutions must work towards the abolition of all involuntary suffering in the world. In that sense, this relates to a fanciful blog entry I published not long ago called News From the Future.
Let me quote a few sections from the David Pearce essay, but I do invite you read the entire piece: this is a thought provoking exploration of the ideas that we deal with regularly in Imagining the Tenth Dimension. First, let's read a section where Pearce sums up all the different multiverse scenarios where suffering takes place:
...contemporary theoretical physics suggests that even the multiverse of Everettian quantum mechanics doesn't remotely exhaust the totality of suffering. For there may be googols of other multiverses. Suffering may exist in other post-inflationary domains far beyond our light cone; and in countless other "pocket universes" on variants of Linde's eternal chaotic inflation scenario; and in myriad parent and child universes on Smolin's cosmological natural selection hypothesis; and among a few googols of the other 10500+ different vacua of string theory; and even in innumerable hypothetical "Boltzmann brains", vacuum fluctuations in the (very) distant future of "our" Multiverse. These possibilities are not mutually exclusive. Nor are they exhaustive. Thus some theorists believe we live in a cyclic universe, for instance; and that the Big Bang is really the Big Bounce.Then, later in the essay, he discusses the possibility that even when future humans figure out a way to eradicate all suffering, there may continue to be some branches of the multiverse where, quite inexplicably, suffering is allowed to continue:
Of course, the theories alluded to above are speculative. They are far removed from our everyday experience. Even if one or more of these theories is correct, it is tempting implicitly to suppose that the suffering of sentient beings occupying such realms is (somehow) less real than our own: metaphysical theories imply, in some sense, only metaphysical suffering. This comfortable assumption would be wrong-headed, not to say complacent. If any of the above hypotheses are substantively true, then the suffering of victims embedded therein is no less real than our own. Moreover in the case of other branches of "our" multiverse, it's debatable whether the branches are even "metaphysical". Not merely is their existence implied by empirically well-attested theory. Strictly speaking, interference effects from other quasi-classical branches never disappear; they merely become vanishingly small. Interference effects between different "worlds" can in principle be quantified by decoherence functionals. Their inferred real existence isn't just airy philosophizing.
Faced with this fathomless immensity of suffering, a compassionate mind may become morally shell-shocked, numbed by the sheer enormity of it all. Googolplexes of Holocausts are too mind-wrenching to contemplate. We might conclude that the amount of suffering in Reality must be infinite - and hence any bid to minimise such infinite suffering would still leave an infinite amount behind. A sense of moral urgency risks succumbing to a hopeless fatalism.
A beautifully written piece, Mr. Pearce, my hat is off to you. Here are some of the blogs where I've explored similar ideas, though admittedly not with the number of ideas-per-sentence that you were able to achieve with your brilliant essay:
This discussion contains a controversial assumption which if confounded will make the story sketched here even darker. The controversial assumption is that when intelligent agents have attained the technical means to abolish the biological substrates of suffering, they will almost invariably do so. Thus by implication, suffering will be abolished in the great preponderance of branches where humans [or their functional counterparts] decipher their own genetic source code and develop biotechnology. A subsequent cross-branch reproductive revolution of designer babies is effectively inevitable. This generalisation might seem an extraordinarily reckless prediction. Forecasting is perilous enough even if one is a classical one-worlder. So predicting that a highly speculative scenario (i.e. the abolition of suffering) will eventually play out in the vast bulk of branches of macroscopic worlds with inhabitants attaining our level of technological development - and conversely, predicting that only a vanishingly small density of such branches will retain suffering indefinitely - might seem foolhardy in the extreme. Perhaps so. Recall how opiophobia still retards the medical treatment of even "physical" pain. But let's suppose instead that the analogy with anaesthetics holds up. After the discovery of general anaesthesia, its surgical use was contentious for a decade or two. But pain-free surgery soon became universally accepted. In our current state of ignorance, there is no way we can rigorously calculate the probability density of branches of the Multiverse where anaesthesia was discovered and rejected. But at worst, it's fair to say the proportion of branches is extremely small. Branches where governments outlaw pain-free surgery aren't sociologically credible. Of course the abolition of psychological distress is a less clear-cut case than anaesthesia. Technologies to abolish mental pain are in their infancy. But let's assume that in future they can be made as technically clean and successful as surgical anaesthesia. In what proportion of such branches will some or all people reject mental superhealth indefinitely? Again, a case can be made (though it won't be attempted here) that the proportion will be vanishingly small. Unfortunately, the proportion of life-supporting branches of the Multiverse whose dominant species reaches this stage of technical development is extremely small too. So the anticipated local success of the abolitionist project touted here is not as wonderful news as it sounds.
What practical lessons, if any, should be drawn from this bleak analysis of Reality? Assume, provisionally at any rate, a utilitarian ethic. The abolitionist project follows naturally, in "our" parochial corner of Hilbert space at least. On its completion, if not before, we should aim to develop superintelligence to maximise the well-being of the fragment of the cosmos accessible to beneficent intervention. And when we are sure - absolutely sure - that we have done literally everything we can do to eradicate suffering elsewhere, perhaps we should forget about its very existence.
We're Already Dead (But That's Okay)
The Biocentric Universe
The Past is an Illusion
Infinity and the Boltzmann Brains
Enjoy the journey,
Next: The Big Bang is an Illusion
Saturday, July 4, 2009
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abB0S-22h-E
Happy Anniversary! It was exactly three years ago that the internet discovered my project, Imagining the Tenth Dimension, which continues to draw an audience from around the world. I still find it kind of amazing that typing the words "tenth dimension" into google returns so many pages related to my project as the top results - thank you to the almost four and half million unique visitors who have been to my website, triggering an ongoing average of almost 2 million hits per month. You made this happen!
As most of you know, I have been selling my book and Gevin Giorbran's book Everything Forever from my store, along with T-shirts and DVDs. From the digital items store, I have been selling pdfs of the books, as well as mp3s of my songs related to the project and high-resolution flash and quicktime versions of the original animation which continues to catch new people's attention daily.
The pdfs I have been selling have always been non-copy-protected, and I realize this means people have been free to share them with their friends ever since they were released. To celebrate the third anniversary of Imagining the Tenth Dimension, I am now posting these eBooks to bit torrent. Why? Because these are important ideas that need to get out into the world. I think that the success of iTunes has shown that even when something is available for free, there are lots of people in the world who would still rather buy their own copy to support those who made the content. Plus, reading a book on a screen is okay, but there's a lot to be said for a having a book you can hold in your hand, so if some of you like the pdf enough to want to buy a hard copy, that's great!
So: for those of you who use bit torrent, here are the links to the seeds for the non-copy-protected pdfs of these two books:
Imagining the Tenth Dimension (3rd Edition, Revised and Expanded)
Everything Forever - Learning to See Timelessness
Now, on with today's blog entry.
The following video was forwarded to me a few days ago by my new friend Michael P. Gusek, who is also attached to Syntience, the Artificial Intuition project I've talked about a few times lately. The video features Gerd Gigerenzer, a respected German psychologist from Berlin's Max Planck Institute discussing human consciousness, the psychology of decision making, and the importance of intuition over logic in the processes humans use to reach their most important decisions. His book "Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious" is about the same set of ideas.
A direct link to the above video is at http://fora.tv/2008/02/08/Intelligence_of_the_Unconscious
Since my own project also places a great deal of importance on intuition and the creative process (as we just discussed in Logic vs. Intution, and also touched on in Creativity and the Quantum Universe), the idea of an algorithm that allows computers to include intuition in their toolset to help them process complex and sometimes contradictory data appeals to me immensely. I can't wait to see some demonstrations.
My new friend Mariana Soffer, a natural language programming (nlp) researcher from Argentina's Avatar S.A. has been providing me with much food for thought lately on similar topics to those I've been exploring with my project: Sing Your Own Lullaby, her free-wheeling blog has (in a demonstration of the wonderful mysteries of synchronicity) been exploring an often parallel set of discussions to my own, with her blog most recently touching upon depression, social networks and the big picture, placebos, and The Stream.
Mariana also connected me to Thoughts on Thoughts, a blog on consciousness by Janet Kwasniak: another excellent blog for wide-ranging discussions of the question of just what I mean when I say "I".
Likewise, my new friend Chuck Salyers of California has been providing me with a huge number of fascinating tangential connections to these discussions, a number of which have found their way into my blog over the last couple of months. Isn't life interesting when you can talk to people around the world who are thinking about similar things, working towards the same ends? In his novel "Cat's Cradle", Kurt Vonnegut called this a "karass". In his "Dark Tower" series, novelist Stephen King talked about a similar word, "ka-tet" to describe groups of people who seem to be bound together towards a common goal. In these modern, increasingly connected times, it's easier than ever for us to find our karass, to be drawn forward by our ka-tet.
There are numerous other people who I've had wonderful and challenging conversations with, and valuable input from, over the last three years, you know who you are. In comments here at this blog, or at the tenthdimension forum, or on my youtube videos, or contact through facebook, twitter, email... I've learned a lot from you all. For me, this is all part of that growing feeling of connection that people around the planet are starting to wake up to, and I'm very excited to be participating in my own way with this huge explosion of knowledge and awareness.
Which returns us to an idea I've explored a number of times in the last couple of months: humans are not so unique, and in a recent blog we discussed how there are many other lifeforms on the planet that can duplicate the feats of memory, logic, intuition, and empathy which we are capable of. Meanwhile, computers are being moved steadily closer to algorithms which will endow them with similar sets of reasoning and observation capabilities to those of a human.
As I mentioned last time in Computers and Consciousness, the subject of anthropomorphism will therefore naturally come up in these discussions of connectedness, and there will always be a certain part of humanity who want to convince themselves that we are somehow unique and special, placed in a position above the rest of the universe. The more we learn, the more we can see that we are part of a fabric which extends to all living things, to the entire planet, and ultimately to all particles in our non-local universe. The sooner we can embrace this, the better our collective decision-making is going to become.
Like predictions of the end of the world, predictions that change is happening more and more quickly are really not unique to today, people have been saying such things throughout history (this is where we can cue a sound montage of parents through the ages complaining about "kids today, where do they get these crazy ideas"). This is not to say that accelerated change is not happening now, but rather to say that this has been an ongoing process of slowly accelerating growth for thousands of years which we may or may not see the culmination of within our lifetimes. Still, as I've said many times before, embracing Everett's multiverse requires us to accept that there were already times when the most extreme predictions (for a sudden shift to a new awareness, or an event that ends it all) came true, we just haven't happened to be on one of those particular timelines up to now. We're going to discuss some of the more challenging extensions of this idea in our next blog.
Enjoy the journey!
Next: Suffering in the Multiverse