Friday, November 6, 2009

O is for Omniverse - C and D

A direct link to the above movie is at

Next in the book is another one of Marilyn's thought-provoking illustrations, we don't really get the impact in this tiny little representations in this blog, but in the book these images are great to meditate upon as we ponder all the different ways of organizing the information that becomes reality... the selection patterns that become our universe or any other.

Here's Marilyn's text for the above illustration, which adds some useful commentary to the ideas we're exploring. She writes:

Think about one single human cell. It doesn't look like much, but within that cell is all the information needed to produce a human being. All possible characteristics are held there, waiting. Fertilization provides the right conditions to begin moving towards what it is to become.

And within the seeds of plants and trees is held all the information needed to grow into their future selves. When conditions are right, they too begin to move towards "what happens next".
The idea that there is something mysterious and marvelous about life and the building blocks that create life, is a recurring theme within this project. In Beer and Miracles, I talked about scientist Raul Cano, who made the astonishing discovery of yeast cells that had been trapped dormant in amber for 45 million years. When Dr. Cano extracted the yeast and provided the proper growing conditions, the yeast immediately sprang back to life. If that isn't a powerful demonstration of how life is a process that is engaged with our reality through connections that extend beyond the "now" we are currently in, and into the possibilities of "what happens next" then I don't know what is. Other blog entries where we've talked about life, spacetime, and connections that exist outside of spacetime include Creativity and the Quantum Universe, Our Non-Local Universe, The Quantum Solution to Time's Arrow and The Biocentric Universe Part 2.

"c is for cosmology, the study of the cosmos
the study of the universe we find ourselves in
from chaos, and fractals, to space and time
to energy and mass, and quantum spin--
look up at the stars at night and that's a tiny slice
of the cosmos we're within.
And when you look into the sky
what does the looking?
what is this I I'm calling me,
that travels on a line, and observes the quantum waves?
consciousness, another useful c"

The idea that we only see a "tiny slice" of the underlying structures that create our reality is referred to more than once in this book, because it's so important to our understanding of not just the incredible universe we find ourselves to be within, but also our understanding of all of the other possible universes which are part of the multiverse landscape, and ultimately the omniverse where all of that potential information is enfolded together. Is the universe really infinitely old and infinitely big? Believe it or not, the jury's still out on that one. Even though evidence points to our universe being 13.7 billion years old, and what we can see appears to be of only a certain size, there's still almost certainly much much more beyond what we are able to observe, as astronomer Brent Tully explains in this nicely written NOVA Online article called "How Big is the Universe":

Part of the difficulty in determining how big and how old the universe really is relates to the fact that we can't see beyond the cosmic microwave background, or the "surface of last scattering" as it's sometimes called (we talked about this recently in Seeing Time, Feeling Colors, Tasting Light). This scattering occurred about a half million years after the beginning of the universe, and it creates a relatively smooth sphere which we find ourselves to be right at the very center of. In entries like The Statistical Universe, An Expanding 4D Sphere, and Alien Mathematics, we've talked about the cosmological horizon, and how that horizon can be compared to being in the center of the ocean: even though we see an ocean horizon that is an equal distance away in each direction, we know that there is much more beyond that horizon. In The Holographic Universe we showed an animation conveying how just as it's the slight curvature of our earth's 3D sphere that creates our observed ocean horizon, it's the slight curvature of our universe's 4D spacetime that creates the illusion that we're right at the center of our spherical universe, and prevents us from seeing any further back in time than 13.7 billion years.

So the idea that we're at the very center of the observable universe makes perfect sense from a cosmological viewpoint. Yet when we say the same thing from a philosophical viewpoint, critics dismiss it as new age "woo-woo" thinking. We've explored the relationship between consciousness and the universe each of us is observing in a number of blogs, including Where Are You?, The Shaman, You Have a Shape and a Trajectory, and Placebos and Nocebos. Where the ideas of consciousness and cosmology really start to blend together is when we add in quantum indeterminacy and the mysterious role observation plays in locking in one outcome or another. We've talked about some of the amazing scientific theories that stem from this in entries like Creativity and the Quantum Universe, The Biocentric Universe, The Biocentric Universe Part 2, and The Flexi-Laws of Physics. Are each of us creating our own version of the universe through our observation and the choices we make? You bet we are.

Okay, for those of you keeping score the above graphic was on page 10 in the book, and on page 11 is another of Marilyn's fascinating and evocative illustrations. You really have to hold the book in your hand to appreciate the fine detail here, but even the high resolution pdf does a much better job of capturing the brilliance of her work than what we're able to show here in this blog.Then on page 12:
"as we ride along our line
we see a tiny slice
four per cent of all that there should be!
The rest is in dark matter, and dark energy
so dark is a very useful d
d's also for dimension
and each new dimension
is at "right angles" to the one before
that's easier to imagine
with our first four dimensions
but harder to picture as we add on more"

The mysteries of dark matter and dark energy may be the biggest hole in modern science's understanding of how reality really works. In The Statistical Universe, I quoted theoretical physicist Raphael Bousso on why he believes it is important to consider the multiverse of other universes and the extra dimensions of string theory as we try to understand dark energy. Dr. Bousso offered this succinct explanation:
This may seem laughable, but without the multiverse our finest theories predict that empty space should contain about 10123 times more energy than it actually does. This is known as the “cosmological constant” or “dark energy” problem. It has been called the “worst prediction in the history of science” and the “mother of all physics problems.” And it was the main reason why Polchinski and I, building on work of Steven Weinberg and others, began studying the multiverse of string theory.
In Dark Gravity Across the Dimensions, I discussed a new scientific theory that appears to echo what I proposed four years ago in my first book: that science tells us gravity is the only force that exerts itself across the extra dimensions, the "pulling together" of dark matter and the "pulling apart" of dark energy are examples of gravitational attraction being exerted from additional dimensions in different ways.

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Next: O is for Omniverse - E and F

A direct link to the above video is at

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