Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Computers and Consciousness

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bXACTqKIII

In May one of of my most popular blogs was called News From the Future, an entry which fancifully portrayed a moment two decades from now where we finally use technology to realize that humans are not nearly as unique as we've convinced ourselves. We continued the discussion of such ideas a few entries ago in "Do Animals Have Souls?". You may or may not be surprised when I tell you that this all ties to the entry prior to that as well, "Logic vs. Intuition", where we talked about Monica Anderson and her Artificial Intuition project. Monica's company Syntience is developing new algorithms which may help to make computers able to process The Stream , a potentially overwhelming flood of sometimes flawed information, in ways that parallel how humans are able to deal with these contradictions and holes and an incalculably large amount of incoming data: using intuition rather than logic (see Illusions and Reality for more about how humans assemble all this data together). Would such processes allow computers to some day become more self-aware? If you look in the column to the right, you will see that we are currently running a poll question here at the tenth dimension blog which asks visitors for their opinions on that very question.

I've been following Blogging the Singularity for related ideas to all this, a very active blog with a wide range of topics, check it out. As we saw in the above video "The Singularity is Near", the idea that we live in times that are rapidly accelerating seems to be driving us to a moment of a major paradigm shift, a "flip" into a new way of existing: such ideas are connected to the transhuman movement, which believes in a future where technology seamlessly melds with humans to make our lives better. The ideas in the above YouTube clip are related to Ray Kurzweil's book and upcoming movie, "The Singularity is Near": Kurzweil predicts that humans some day not too long from now will be able to upload the unique patterns that make them who they are into a computer, and effectively live forever as a result! In order for such a thing to happen, computers would have to be able to duplicate the processes that allow each human to have their unique perspective, a concept we talked about not long ago in "Where Are You?".

The Turing Test was proposed in 1950 by computing pioneer Alan Turing, and although it has its critics, it has been an essential part of the philosophy of Artificial Intelligence ever since. The picture at left is from wikipedia, which describes the test as follows: "player C, the interrogator, is tasked with trying to determine which player - A or B - is a computer and which is a human. The interrogator is limited to using the responses to written questions in order to make the determination."

Nowadays it's not so uncommon to be fooled by a "bot" for a moment, where sly programmers convince you that you're talking to a real human who really wants to offer you a one-of-a-kind deal before you leave their webpage, or who has just written you a highly personalized email. I've talked before about the amusing "Chat with Einstein" window over at the excellent Journey By Starlight blog, which is somewhat similar to ELIZA, a simple psychotherapy program that first appeared back in the 60's. Even though such programs can sometimes seem to make interesting intuitive leaps, they are certainly not what we are talking about when we say Artificial Intelligence or Artificial Intuition.

Nonetheless, they do reveal two sides of an important coin: anthropomorphism doesn't just apply to animals, and when we see a computer responding in a human-like way we're more likely to believe the computer has a personality, a point of view, all those things that point towards consciousness. But what if we played with the Turing Test, were asked to decide whether A or B was the computer, but this time we were actually talking to two humans? How long would it take us to decide there was something "off" about one of the responders, and pronounce that person to be the robot?

This is the slippery slope we find ourselves on: if we are really moving to a time when people will be able to upload their consciousness to computers, then I would say it follows that we must also be moving to a time when a computer will be conscious on its own. Rather than interpret this to mean that humans and computers will then be superior to all other living things, we have to see this as being part of the continuum that shows us how all living things have varying degrees of consciousness. As computers start to become "aware", they will not just suddenly wake up one day to become indistinguishable from civilized adults: this will be a gradual process, much as an embryo first starts to become aware of its surroundings. Interestingly, award-winning science fiction novelist Robert Sawyer, who has been writer-in-residence at the Synchrotron here in Saskatchewan for the last few months, has just released a novel called "Wake" which talks about some near future time when the World Wide Web starts to wake up, to become conscious. Here's a quote from my local newspaper, the Regina Leader-Post, about the novel:

In Wake, Caitlin, a blind female math genius gets a signal-processing implant that may give her sight. Instead, she starts to perceive the actual structure of the World Wide Web. While she's looking at it, she becomes aware that there's an entity or consciousness starting to bubble up into existence out of the vast complexity of the Internet. Caitlin gets it into her head to play the role of Annie Sullivan, the famous teacher of her hero Helen Keller, to this "nascent consciousness" of the Internet.
I love the idea that things are growing and changing at an ever-increasing pace, and what that could be mean to our new future. We're going to continue this discussion next time with more about technology, AI, intuition, and connections.

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Next: Connecting It All Together

Friday, June 26, 2009

Top Ten Tenth Dimension Blogs - June 09 Report

Previous lists:

. 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 .

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. Tenth Dimension Polls Archive - 31 to 40 (new)
2. News From the Future (6)
3. The Stream (9)
4. Does the Multiverse Really Exist? (new)
5. The Biocentric Universe (new)
6. Nassim Haramein (new)
7. Evolution's Fast Lane (new)
8. Augmented Reality - 10thdim Music Videos (new)
9. Surveillance (new)
10. Placebos and Nocebos (new)

And as of June 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. Our Non-Local Universe (11)
11. Astrotometry (10)
12. Going to the Light (12)
13. "t" Equals Zero (13)
14. New Translations of Imagining the Tenth Dimension (15)
15. You have a shape and a trajectory (14)
16. Illusions and Reality (16)
17. Dark Gravity Across the Dimensions (19)
18. Where Are You? (17)
19. The Musician (18)
20. The Time Paradox (25)
21. Google Suggestions - March 09 Update (23)
22. The Big Bang and the Big O (21)
23. Tenth Dimension Polls Archive - 31 to 40 (new)
24. Imagining the Omniverse - Addendum (new)
25. The Invariant Set (new)
26. Mindwalk and Twitter (new)

As I remarked last time, the fact that the audience for this blog has grown so much this year does tip the balance in the above list, to the point now where all of the entries on our top 26 list were published within the last six months. Here are the last few older (but hey, still very worthy) entries which were bumped off the list this time around:

You are Me and We are All Together (22)
Dr. Mel's 4D Glasses (20)
I Know You, You Know Me (24)
Scrambled Eggs (26)

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!

Rob Bryanton

Next: Computers and Consciousness

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Do Animals Have Souls?

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rM5VFnirTmg

A few days ago we had to say goodbye to the family dog, a seventeen-year-old mostly-Bichon named Buddy. Buddy was one of those amazing creatures who exuded love, forgiveness, and understanding throughout his days, and our lives are richer for having known him.

Anyone who has spent time getting to know an animal can clearly see that there is an awareness, something that could be called a form of "consciousness" in there, that reasons, yearns, develops likes and dislikes, is happy or sad, energized or depressed from day to day, the same as you and I. In my recent blog entry News From the Future, I talked about this idea from an extreme point of view, but this is not something to be taken lightly - anyone who tells you animals do not feel emotions is, I'm sad to say, operating under a paradigm that has been in both the religious and scientific mainstream for centuries: that old school of thought teaches that we are simply projecting our own thoughts and feelings on these animals, anthropomorphizing their mechanistic actions as we delude ourselves into seeing more than what's really there.

I'm glad to see all the scientific articles that are being published nowadays that indicate science is now waking up to the possibility that animals are not simple automatons, operating in a way that is completely inferior to the human experience. Here's some examples from New Scientist Magazine from the last few months:
June 17 2009 - Monkeys, Coots, Salamanders, and so on can count
May 21 2009 - Evidence of speech in various species
May 13 2009 - Prairie Dogs communicate surprisingly detailed information with their calls
May 12 2009 - Evidence of empathy, compassion and a sense of justice in various species
May 6 2009 - Evidence of a desire for "play for the sake of play" within the animal kingdom
May 1 2009 - Parrots demonstrate an ability to "groove along" with rhythmic music
April 2 2009 - New book demonstrating surprising animal intelligence
March 12 2009 - Chimps use geometry to navigate through the jungle

And of course, in a discussion of whether animals can think, who can forget Alex, the African Grey parrot who demonstrated speech, reasoning, and creativity in his use of language:

A direct link to the above video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yGOgs_UlEc
Scientist Irene Pepperberg published a book late last year about this amazing animal's achievements, called "Alex and Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Uncovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process".

One of the self-serving fallacies humans have bought into is that it's their giant brains that give them unique capabilities, and animals can therefore not be capable of the same achievements. While there's no question that brain size is part of the equation, we go too far when we assume a small brain can't exhibit any of our capabilities. The picture we're looking at here comes from an article published a few days ago by Reuters, titled "Fish Can Learn Despite Small Brains". Imagine how tiny the brain must be in the fish pictured here, which is called a nine-spined stickleback, and is found in streams across Europe. From the article: "Jeremy Kendal of Durham University and colleagues from St. Andrews University found in tests that 75 percent of sticklebacks were clever enough to know from watching others that a feeder in a tank was rich in food, even though they had previously got little from it themselves." The scientists described this as an unusually sophisticated social learning skill, normally only associated with humans. Isn't that amazing?

Let's back up for a moment. What do I mean then, when I say "soul"? Last week in "Happy Birthday Paul" I reviewed the idea that what is often thought of as the soul is really an interlocking system of memes and behaviors, a system that is constantly in a state of change and renewal, and which is connected outside of our physical bodies through ways that acknowledge the proven non-local nature of our universe. Last blog, in Logic vs. Intuition, we looked at a new approach to computer intelligence that might some day allow for the emergent properties of consciousness to arise in a very way similar way, using large numbers of tiny nested routines all working in concert with one another. Could the computer that some day demonstrates these emergent traits of consciousness be said to have a soul? Food for thought.

Here's one of the discussions I had about the concept of souls in my book:

Viewed as a set, one could describe the many memes that make up an individual as being their personality, or their way of looking at the world. One might also call this set of memes the soul. A common assumption is that each of us has a single soul which we carry with us from conception to death. But consider this: if we were to meet up with our own younger self from twenty years ago, what are the chances that we would share the very same set of memes? It should be obvious that the chances of direct correlation are virtually nil. According to this line of reasoning, the illusion that a single body contains a single “soul” is a fiction. Each of us is a dynamic system, mutating and developing over time. Certainly, there is a core set of physical memories that will be encoded over time into each of our brains that will create links from past to present to future unique to each of us. But the memes and belief systems that make up our “soul” are much more complicated and transcendent across time and space than the set of physical memories each of us carries in our neurons. The memory of “What I Had for Lunch Last Thursday” will stretch out across time only for as long as any individual’s brain cells recall it. Larger belief systems and emotions that make a person unique can extend well beyond the death of a body, and would be what survives, while the niggling details of day-to-day life would not.
Do animals have souls, some simpler, some more complex? It seems self-evident to me that they do, but as I mentioned there are branches of both religion and science which have insisted that animals' awareness of the world around them is not in any way comparable to our own. In Logic vs. Intuition we talked about scientific materialism, the old school of thought that says the only thing that matters is matter, and that consciousness has no part in the universe we are observing. Thankfully, that point of view is being gradually overturned, as new evidence comes to light that even bacteria communicate to each other, that our gene expression can be changed by changing our lifestyle and attitude, and all forms of life are not nearly so different from us after all.

Ultimately, we have to understand that humans are part of a continuum that connects from the simple to the complex, in fractal iterations that repeat at different scales, and we should abandon old ways of thinking that place humans as somehow being "better" than other life on the planet: the more that we can see that we are each just one part of a multi-layered system, the better the decisions we will make as a species. Here are some other past blogs where the subject of "what is a soul?" has come up:
Where Are You?
Could I Meet My Incarnation?
The Musician
You Have a Shape and a Trajectory
I Know You, You Know Me
Magnets and Souls

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Next: Top Ten Tenth Dimension Blogs, June '09 Report

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Logic vs. Intuition

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrReVlTUpLA

Currently the most popularly viewed entry of all time here at the Imagining the Tenth Dimension blog is called Creativity and the Quantum Universe. Here's the video for that entry:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBNv8LMbEPA

Life, consciousness, and creativity: these are all entwined together, different aspects of the same patterns. The idea that these processes somehow engage with spatiotemporal events in a way that embraces the proven non-locality of our universe is an important key here. Last blog we talked about imagining life and consciousness as an interlocking system which is constantly changing and revising itself throughout our lives. In his insightful book "What is Life?", Erwin Schrödinger pointed out that within our universe life is a unique process which creates pockets of "negative entropy" or increasing order: and within that context, consciousness and creativity can also be described the same way.

We've talked before about Schrödinger's Cat, the thought experiment which was originally intended to show how silly it is to apply quantum thinking to the macro world, and which instead has now become a useful jumping off point for understanding Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation and the multiverse landscape. A few entries ago, in Placebos and Nocebos I mentioned that I'm listening these days to an audiobook called Spontaneous Evolution, by Bruce Lipton and Steve Bhaerman, and one of the important points they make is that our world is now starting to move away from scientific materialism (the idea that what we observe around us is all there is to reality, and that everything about our reality is logical and predictable if only we collect enough data). Instead, we're starting to move towards a more holistic paradigm, as we see more and more evidence that in order to understand how everything fits together we need to embrace that there are hidden patterns and structures that exist "outside" of space-time, and some of those patterns are fractal or chaotic rather than linear or predictable. That's true as we see the growing acceptance that our universe is only one of many, that roughly 96% of our own universe is completely invisible and undetectable, that the way our genes are expressed and even which genes are passed on to our offspring is strongly connected to our attitude and lifestyle, and that our holographic universe comes from the fifth dimension, connected together outside of fourth-dimensional space-time in ways that boggle the mind.

So. Scientific experiments are proving that life is able to use instantaneous quantum connections to function much more efficiently, and I've been insisting that seemingly "impossible" quantum effects like entanglement and tunneling are much easier to visualize when we think of them as coming from "folds" of the fourth spatial dimension through the fifth. I reached this intuitive conclusion decades ago, and we're now coming up on the three year anniversary of the launching of the tenth dimension website which has given me the opportunity to share these ideas with people from around the world. Which leads us back to the title of this entry: "Logic vs. Intuition". Which is more useful?

Recently I came across a website called "Artificial Intuition". It talks about a new approach to the quandary of how to program computers to think, and suggests that "Artificial Intelligence" (or "AI") runs into problems because it fails to understand how the human mind really functions: while logic should work for specific problem-solving within controlled parameters, intuition and inference applied to a sometimes contradictory input set better describes our day-to-day functioning. The english language is a perfect example - drawing meaning from words on a page or spoken to each other often requires us to fill in the blanks, accept contradictions, and make intuitive leaps, and this is what makes our language extremely frustrating to learn, particularly for persons not exposed to it since birth.

I would connect this back to the discussion we're having here by saying that Artificial Intelligence represents a more scientific materialist approach, while Artificial Intuition represents a more holistic paradigm: one which embraces the idea that there is more happening here than what logic alone can describe.

Artificial Intuition is the brainchild of Monica Anderson, who has a Master's degree in Computer Science from Linköping University in Sweden, but who now works in Silicon Valley and is a US citizen. Her company Syntience is working on ways to bring her innovative approach to market (check out their Facebook Fan page here). At present they are still searching for funding sources: if you'd like to help support their independent research here's a link from the Artificial Intuition website.

Let me quote a few paragraphs from their website, this is from a page in which Logic and Intuition are compared:

Intuition and Logic are two strategies for prediction and problem solving.

We hear so much about the virtues of logic that we'd be excused to believe that logic was somehow the superior method, but a quick analysis shows that most actions we perform on a daily basis mainly use intuition.

Logic is not better, just different. Both strategies have their advantages and apply in different situations. Sometimes we need to use both. Sometimes we can use either one, because the problem is so simple it doesn't much matter how we solve it. Sometimes it matters; if we happen to choose the wrong approach, it may prevent us from solving our problem.

Computer-based intuition - "Artificial Intuition" - is quite straightforward to implement, but requires computers (a recent invention) with a lot of memory (only recently available cheaply enough).
If you look at the label cloud at the top of my blog, you'll see that intuition has been a running theme with this project since it began. This connects back to my song "Automatic", which makes the assertion that there are many times when that logical "narrator voice" of our conscious minds gets in the way, and that there are many complicated activities such as golf, playing a musical instrument, driving a car, or solving a large problem which will work better when we allow the more intuitive, less analytical part of our minds to take the forefront: in other words, when we can do these things "without thinking". This idea relates to a book I've talked about before, written by Julian Jaynes, called "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind": a challenging and fascinating work which suggests that the logical "narrator voice" of consciousness may only have developed in the last few thousand years, and that before that time all human beings operated in a mode where their conscious minds and the underlying "intuitive" parts of their minds were fully integrated. Although he died in 1997, the Julian Jaynes Society continues to promote his work, check it out.

And please spend some time over at the Artificial Intuition site learning more about this fascinating alternative methodology for making computers "smarter" in ways that more directly reflect our own strengths as human beings. This could hold immediate promise for tasks such as document understanding, speech recognition, OCR correction, and implementing the Semantic Web. In the long term, I suspect this could allow the creation of computers that develop the emergent traits of consciousness through using a huge web of tiny little processes that are running concurrently. In that sense, the Artificial Intuition approach would appear to have connections to the consciousness theories of Douglas Hofstadter, who I've talked about many times before in blogs such as You Have a Shape and a Trajectory, I Know You, You Know Me, and We're Already Dead (But That's Okay).

To close, here's that song: "Automatic".

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBJnWADnJr4

Enjoy the journey!


Next: Do Animals Have Souls?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Paul

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeG_gfx1b60

Tomorrow, June 18, is Paul McCartney's birthday. Happy 67th birthday Paul, wherever/whatever you are right now!

(This, of course, is the greeting I also posted for John Lennon and George Harrison on their respective birthdays this past year. Am I being morbid here? Not at all! Instead, what I'm trying to do is recognize that all of us are made up of patterns that extend well beyond the limits of our own physical bodies, and while that may be easier for us to imagine once someone passes on, it is just as true for those of us who are living right here, right now, in this current slice of the multiverse.)

Here's Paul singing "That Was Me": one of his more recent songs, and one that I think relates well to the discussions we've been having here.

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWB8AM3xWfY

In entries like You are Me and We are All Together, We're Already Dead (But That's Okay), Everyone Has a Story, and Your Fifth-Dimensional Self, we've talked about one of the conclusions we are forced to look at when we think about our existence within a multiverse of other universes, most of which we couldn't exist within: is this nothing more than luck? Or could the new Biocentric Universe theories be correct, and our presence within the universe actually have "reverse fine-tuned" the constants and patterns that were previously indeterminate? Last week, the work of Professor Louis Crane was discussed at physorg.com, and he has some amazing theories about future (or past) civilizations using fine-tuned black holes to create future universes that support life, creating a potentially infinite chain from one universe to the next.

As I've said before: when you consider how unlikely our universe is, and when you consider all the bad luck or malicious intent that could have killed each person reading this before now, how could you not feel anything but wonder? And now, imagine yourself being Paul McCartney, looking back at a life that even with all of its heartache and challenges, has been incredibly blessed? In the above song, Paul pages us through a scrapbook of his memories, little snippets that sum up a life well-lived.

But why does he say "That Was Me"? Shouldn't it be "That is Me"? Isn't he still Paul McCartney?

I believe Paul, as he has done so many times before, is pointing to a profound truth here with a simple but catchy melody and a nicely crafted lyric. My song Change and Renewal and blog entries like Making New Connections have explored similar concepts to what his choice of verb tense is referring to here: Paul is not the same person he was when the Beatles became famous, all of the cells in his body have been replaced many times over since then, and many of the belief systems and meme patterns that made him who he was back then have been modified and replaced over the years.

The same is true for all of us, of course. While we each obviously have a direct fourth-dimensional connection to our younger selves through our physical bodies, it would be foolish to suggest that we haven't changed: that's what life, creativity, and the universe are all about.

Here's a few paragraphs from the end of chapter 5 of my book which discuss this higher-dimensional interlocking system that makes each of us who we are down here in the fourth dimension:

Parts of that system of beliefs will extend back through our lifetime, attached to our physical bodies through memory to become a feeling of “self” that may not ever change. But, as we have already discussed, there are also parts of that system of beliefs that will constantly be in flux, altering over time as life experience changes the ways that a person thinks about themselves and the world.
We could think of this constantly changing system as a “society of memes”. Like Minsky’s concept of consciousness and intelligence, there will always be a large number of memes within each physical body which are competing for dominance, and which are brought to the forefront or suppressed depending upon their relevance and usefulness at any particular moment. It is the physical being we have been since conception, combined with that interlocking system we think of as our soul, that entwine in the sixth dimension to create an ornate and highly textured shape that is each of us, and which we see only a tiny cross-section of as we move along our line in the fourth dimension.
The beautiful blossoming potential we see in a newborn child is an immensely attractive thing. The angels of possibility that swirl around a toddler’s head can be breathtaking if we catch even a fleeting glimpse. And there is nothing as sad as the tragedy of a child who has been mistreated or abused, and whose life may never be the same because of it. Even from our limited window in the lower dimensions, it is easy for us to intuitively understand what is magical and wonderful about the promise of a child, a promise that is held within the sixth dimension.
...and in chapter eight I said this:
The same is true of all the molecules in our bodies. We are constantly going through a process of exchange and renewal, so that in the passing of ten years many of the molecules inside our body are not the same as the ones that were there previously. Imagine the fourth- and fifth-dimensional net connecting the carbon that was in your body ten years ago with where it is today. Imagine the connections across time and space back to the creation of that carbon in the dying of other stars billions of years ago, since that is where all carbon in our universe comes from originally. Once again, the image of a fantastically huge new web of connections is made, and those connections are invisible and unknown to us within our limited viewpoint traveling along our narrow fourth-dimensional line.
So, Sir Paul, thank you for sharing this song and your many talents with us, and a very happy birthday to all the parts of you that are not only connected to your physical body at this moment, but to all the other parts that have been or will be, and which now float out there in the other layers of our reality.

To finish, here's a fun song, one of the 26 I wrote for this project. It's called "Hang a Left at the Lights", and it's about the process of choice, change, and renewal that each of us are constantly participating in as we observe our fourth-dimensional line selected from the available paths of our fifth-dimensional probability space.

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCTkcMADHk4

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Next: Logic vs. Intuition

Sunday, June 14, 2009


A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljzjYh0g6fI

(Edit: now that June 26th is past and all the positive reviews for this film have come in, I've published a list of some of my favorite quotes at this link: www.talkingdogstudios.com/news/ )

One of my guilty pleasures for most of my adult life has been horror films that get so outrageous that you have to laugh - 1986's House and 1987's Evil Dead 2 being examples from way back when. The last few years of what the media have come to call "torture porn" (grim films like Saw and Hostel) are definitely not what I'm talking about here.

Last blog I talked about a new classic from Sam Raimi, creator of the original Evil Dead/Army of Darkness series, and also now famous as the director of the blockbuster Spiderman movies: the film is called "Drag Me to Hell" and it has a level of inventiveness and an outrageous sensibility that makes this film exactly what I'm talking about: even when bad things happen, we as an audience are allowed moments to laugh at how unbelievably horrible it all really is. Some would call this style "black comedy", and as long as you can appreciate how "black" our main characters' futures can get in movies such as these, then I think "black comedy" is an entirely appropriate term for this, one of my favorite kinds of movie.

Imagine my thrill, then, to be allowed to work with Jennifer Lynch, who co-wrote and directed a film that will be in select theatres in North America later this month: "Surveillance". The image at the top of this blog is from the apple trailers website. Here, from YouTube, is one of the trailers for the movie:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvk5Lrgf3iQ

I'm honored to say that my company, Talking Dog Studios, created the music and 5.1 theatrical sound for the movie, which was invited to appear last year at the Cannes Film Festival where it received a standing ovation. Ray Bennett of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film these nice comments: "The film looks great, with cinematographer Peter Wunstorf using different stock and inventive angles to good effect while Todd Bryanton's score helps maintain a constant undercurrent of dread. Lynch fills the screen with elements that some viewers of the film will want to go back to watch more than once..."

Watching the trailer, you'll get the impression that this film is going to be ultra-violent and dark, and that's not far off the mark. But within this film, there is also a quirky sense of the absurd, and a slightly surreal approach that tells us the apple has not fallen far from the tree, as Jennifer Lynch's father is of course David Lynch, who acted as executive producer of the film. I'm sure this film is going to find an audience who will want to watch it many times over, and for me I think that is because as dark as this film gets, there is still a bemused humor that keeps peeking out to save us from being completely dragged into the abyss.

I do hope those of you who are fans of this genre will go out and see this movie. And enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Next: Happy Birthday Paul

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Placebos and Nocebos

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pg2Fxp7DgX0

Last weekend I had a great time watching a new movie from Sam Raimi: "Drag Me to Hell". Like some of Mr. Raimi's early work (Evil Dead II being the classic example), this is a film that successfully walks the line between horror and very black comedy. We've talked before about empathy, audiences, and comedy and in entries like The Comedian and The Musician, we're connecting to that idea somewhat here as well.

Coincidentally, Raimi's film can be related to a word I just learned a few days ago: the word is "nocebo", which is the opposite of "placebo". In entries like The Placebo Effect, Crossing Your Arms to Change Your Trajectory, and Evolution's Fast Lane, we've talked about the surprising scientific evidence that a person's attitude can affect their own health right down to the expression of their genes, and in The Biocentric Universe we talked about the even more remarkable information that this can affect what genes they pass on to their offspring! A placebo, then, can actually confuse the results of a study testing a new drug, because some of the people receiving the placebo (which should have no effect at all) will experience an improvement in their condition because they believe they are being given a drug that will help them. As it turns out, it's their own attitude which is effecting the positive change they experience.

How does a nocebo work, then? Let's say a doctor gives a patient a harmless placebo as part of a test for a new drug, but warns the patient of possible side effects. What does it mean if the patient then develops those side effects? They didn't take the drug, all they got was the sugar pill, and now their hair is falling out because the doctor warned that this was a possible side effect? In the same way that the placebo effect tells us that people can improve their health simply by changing their attitude, the nocebo effect shows us that a person can make themselves ill by the same process.

In Drag Me to Hell, the main character is cursed by a gypsy woman, and told that she has three days to live. How different would that story be if we replaced the gypsy woman with a cancer specialist, who then told the main character they had three months to live? If we are to believe an article published recently in New Scientist magazine, the answer is that both scenarios may be more similar than we realize. Here's a quote from that article, written by Helen Pilcher:

Take Sam Shoeman, who was diagnosed with end-stage liver cancer in the 1970s and given just months to live. Shoeman duly died in the allotted time frame - yet the autopsy revealed that his doctors had got it wrong. The tumour was tiny and had not spread. "He didn't die from cancer, but from believing he was dying of cancer," says Meador. "If everyone treats you as if you are dying, you buy into it. Everything in your whole being becomes about dying."

Cases such as Shoeman's may be extreme examples of a far more widespread phenomenon. Many patients who suffer harmful side effects, for instance, may do so only because they have been told to expect them. What's more, people who believe they have a high risk of certain diseases are more likely to get them than people with the same risk factors who believe they have a low risk. It seems modern witch doctors wear white coats and carry stethoscopes.

The idea that believing you are ill can make you ill may seem far-fetched, yet rigorous trials have established beyond doubt that the converse is true - that the power of suggestion can improve health. This is the well-known placebo effect. Placebos cannot produce miracles, but they do produce measurable physical effects.

Ideas telling us that we live in troubled times, where there is little hope for the future, that environmental toxins are slowly killing us, or secret government agencies are deliberately poisoning us, then, take on a whole new significance. Could modern society be creating a dangerously poisonous environment with a constant influx of fear-based input? Could it really be so simple as avoiding entertainment and news that are designed to scare us, and we'll become a healthier society? Here's another few paragraphs from that New Scientist article:

Alarmingly, the nocebo effect can even be catching. Cases where symptoms without an identifiable cause spread through groups of people have been around for centuries, a phenomenon known as mass psychogenic illness. One outbreak (see "It's catching") inspired a recent study by psychologists Irving Kirsch and Giuliana Mazzoni of the University of Hull in the UK.

They asked some of a group of students to inhale a sample of normal air, which all participants were told contained "a suspected environmental toxin" linked to headache, nausea, itchy skin and drowsiness. Half of the participants also watched a woman inhale the sample and apparently develop these symptoms. Students who inhaled were more likely to report these symptoms than those who did not. Symptoms were also more pronounced in women, particularly those who had seen another apparently become ill - a bias also seen in mass psychogenic illness.

The study shows that if you hear of or observe a possible side effect, you are more likely to develop it yourself. That puts doctors in a tricky situation. "On the one hand people have the right to be informed about what to expect, but this makes it more likely they will experience these effects," says Mazzoni.

How many people thought they might have caught the H1N1 virus in the last month or two but were actually fine? How can we protect ourselves from the nocebo effect when we are bombarded with information about how sick we are about to get? If we really are all connected together in ways unseen, then we have to get better together. Certainly, laughing at to the boogeyman can help (another reason I bring up black comedies like Drag Me to Hell), but clearly there really are things that make us sick, and recognizing which is the nocebo effect and which is a real danger to our health and our future requires us to not bury our heads in the sand.

As another coincidence, I just started listening to an audiobook called Spontaneous Evolution, by Bruce Lipton and Steve Bhaerman, and not far into the very first CD it too mentions the nocebo effect. Here's what they have to say about it: ultimately, knowing about nocebos should be no different than knowing about placebos - in both cases, we are shown that we have more control over our own lives than we've been led to believe, and all we have to do is recognize the patterns that make us the way we are now, and find ways to change the patterns that we don't like. Lipton and Bhaerman caution us, though, that some of these patterns are so deeply ingrained from a very early age that it can be hard for us to even recognize which patterns are limiting us: as with most of what we've been talking about here, it's our need to move beyond the "now" of our limited position within spacetime, and embrace the much larger "everything" that is timelessness, that will help us to find the way to a better version of ourselves and our universe.

To finish, here's a video for my song about using the power of the mind, imagination, or meditation to get to a safe and healing place: "Turquoise and White".

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89oKPEmMT_k

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Next: Surveillance

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Augmented Reality - 10thdim Music Videos

(Edit - you might also be interested in playing with our Augmented Reality - Crazy Wakeboarder, just for fun)

Last blog, we talked about the tenth dimension helix logo, which you see spinning away on the main page at the tenthdimension website. We made note that the "zero" and the "ten" in this design are connected together, as both represent different ways of heading towards infinity, while the other numbers are connected to each other in their own ways. For instance, the repeating "line/branch/fold" of my way of visualizing the spatial dimensions is represented by the numbers representing a line (1,4, and 7) being stacked upon each other, and so on, but I've also remarked that you can start at any number and imagine two spatial dimensions stacked upon that one, and science calls this approach to visualizing any number of spatial dimensions the point/line/plane postulate.

Now, we've come up with a way for you to hold this rotating helix in the palm of your hand, or on your desk, or anywhere you might care to see it. How? With augmented reality, an exciting new technology we've talked about in several previous blogs. Watch this video to see how it works:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsehKGygClQ

Regular readers of this blog will know that I've been quite fascinated by the concept of Augmented Reality, enough so that my company, Talking Dog Studios is now offering Augmented Reality as one of its new services. The idea that there are hidden patterns behind our observed reality which we might be able to see given the right mindset or the appropriate technology ties very nicely to my Tenth Dimension project, but there are many other creative, educational, and serious applications which can spring from this, and we're very excited to see where this is all going to lead.

We're calling what we've created for you here an "interactive augmented reality music video". Go to either www.talkingdogstudios.com/10thdim or www.talkingdogstudios.com/10thdim2 (each is for a different song) click on the link to download and print the Talking Dog AR tag, click "Allow" to give Flash permission to access you webcam, then when you're ready push the big "Play" button to start the music. When your webcam "sees" the tag (if you're having trouble with this you may need more light shining on your tag, turn on a desk lamp or something), the rotating tenth dimension helix should rise up on the tag. With practice, you should then be able to make your own entertaining visuals in time with the music by pressing the 2,3,4, or 5 on your computer's keyboard, while pushing "1" on the keyboard should turn all these effects off at the same time. Have fun!

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Next: Placebos and Nocebos

Friday, June 5, 2009

Nassim Haramein

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OZj1XAjcTY

We've talked in previous blogs about fractals, sacred geometry, water and its connection to life and inspiration, and how the "zero" and the "ten" in my way of visualizing the dimensions are really two complimentary ways of looking at the same thing: perceiving the underlying perfectly balanced symmetry state that our universe or any other springs from. One thing I've remarked upon before is that the "zero", as a point, represents the push towards the infinitely small, and the "ten" represents the push towards the infinitely large, but both are part of the same continuum (and are represented as such in the graphic created for this project - the zero and ten are on a line, and the other dimensions are "outside" of that line). Within my way of visualizing the dimensions, then, the zero and ten are of indeterminate size, and the other dimensions represent ways of slicing up infinity to get to more specific subsets of reality, including a universe such as our own.

A number of people have remarked to me that physicist Nassim Haramein has a Unified Field Theory which seems to connect in some interesting ways to the ideas I've been talking about. If you're in a hurry, start listening to the video below at about 7:45, because pretty well everything up to that point is preamble. At 7:45 he begins to talk about there being much more to our reality than what we see around us, and that he (like me) had an intuition about this at the age of seven which he became fascinated with.

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPgII_4ciFU

By the end of this first clip, you can see him starting to describe the same way of visualizing spatial dimensions which I talk about in my original animation, and as I've remarked previously in entries like We Start With a Point, A Point Within the Omniverse, and Aren't There Really 11 Dimensions?, this is known as the point-line-plane postulate. In the following video, you'll see that he says the first and second dimension don't really exist, and then he says by that logic the third dimension doesn't exist, since it's made out of things that don't exist!

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TV3a09vFYI

To solve this quandary, he goes back to the zero that we start from, the point of indeterminate size, and posits that the fractal nature of our reality tells us that everything is constructed from points, each point recursively/infinitely embedded within all other points, and therefore all points are connected to each other. He tells us that his theories are now being peer-reviewed at several American universities.

He points out that this idea may seem similar to the theory of the big bang, which says our universe sprang from a "dot" the size of Planck's length. But in Nassim's theory, all "dots" contain the potential for a universe, because they are all connected together. In the following video he shows clips from a couple of movies: the opening sequence of "Contact", and the ending of "Men in Black", both of which give us graphic ways of visualizing a universe that is embedded in other universes. I've remarked elsewhere that the "universe embedded in a rose in an abandoned parking lot" idea from Stephen King's Dark Tower series is another interesting fictional portrayal of this recursive/fractal idea.

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRWeyCfCE1M

The universe is infinite. How do you fit infinity within a finite space? Fractals. In the above video he shows how this could possibly be imagined through infinite recursion, watch the video and you'll see what I mean. Or check out the following two animations from the wikipedia article on fractals: the object at the left is known as a Sierpinski Triangle, and to the right is a Koch Snowflake.

If you were to imagine drawing a circle on a piece of paper, then fitting either of these shapes within that circle, you would see a very similar idea to what he's talking about here. Although both of these animations only show the first ten steps or less, in both cases the process we are seeing could be repeated forever, as each new step proceeds down to a smaller scale than the one before. In the following video he continues this idea:

A direct link to the above video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-RjjNgBDyk

.. and here's how he sums it up (I've edited him a bit here):

"Although I can place an infinite amount of triangles in a circle, I will never exceed the first boundary I made for myself. Never. I just showed you how infinity fits in a so-called finite space: because you can divide to infinity within a circle!

"What does that mean? Let me give an example for physics: we build faster and faster accelerators that cost billions of dollars, to get smaller and smaller. If we were to understand this principle of fractals, we would see very quickly that you can always keep dividing: so we would give up the search for some fundamental particle that's going to end the search. And we would start to understand that what we need to discover is the dynamic of the division, the dynamic of the quantization... rather than continuing to see how much further we can keep going down into infinity."
If you've followed him this far, you will now start to hear him say things about our connectedness, and our interface with reality that very strongly connects to the things I talk about regularly with my project. Here's one thing I want to make absolutely clear: Nassim is not promoting a worldview that comes from ten spatial dimensions, but he is promoting a very similar concept to what I portray as being the tenth dimension: an infinite "set of all possible states" that contains all possible expressions of matter and energy, all enfolded together into an underlying whole, a zero which is "full rather than empty" as Gevin Giorbran explained so well in Everything Forever. When you read blog entries like The Invariant Set, Imagining the Omniverse Addendum, Google and the Group Mind, Dreaming of Electric Sheep, and Why Do We Need More than 3 Dimensions?, you'll see fractals discussed from various approaches. The thing that we should all be clear about here is that fractals are often defined as having "non-integer" dimensions: and as you'll see if you read the wikipedia article on Hausdorff Dimensions, that Sierpinski fractal (which we looked at above) has a dimensionality of approximately 1.585. By the time we are imagining reality coming from ten dimensions but when those dimensions can contain any number of "fractional" dimensions, it really does seem like my description of the ten dimensions allows for us to include an infinite number of vectors within that set: as Nassim says, this is another way of thinking about how an infinite set could be contained within a so-called finite space.

The word "multiverse" has come to have multiple definitions. When someone uses that word, are they talking about the set of parallel universe outcomes for our own universe as described by Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation, or are they talking about the ten to the power of 500 universes with different initial conditions from our own universe which are predicted by string theory? Often, the definition of this word depends upon who you are talking to. Because my way of visualizing the dimensions provides a way to enfold and relate both of those concepts into a hierarchy, I have come to prefer to use the omniverse as the word that combines all of those possible states into one.

If you'd like to hear more from Nassim Haramein, please go to this youtube channel, iiisis2, where all forty-five videos that make up the presentation we're looking at here are posted.

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Next: Augmented Reality - 10thdim Music Videos

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tenth Dimension Polls Archive - 31 to 40

Poll 31 - What's Before and After?

"Physicist Sean Carroll says our universe is a temporary deviation from symmetry. This means that "before" the beginning and "after" the end of our universe, then, is really the exact same state: enfolded symmetry." Poll ended January 13 2009. 70% agreed, while the rest disagreed.

I've talked many times about Gevin Giorbran's amazing book, Everything Forever - Learning to See Timelessness. The fact that Gevin is no longer with us but asked me to take over the promotion of his book since his death has nothing to do with my mentioning it here: as I've been saying since I first came across Gevin's work a couple of years ago, his is a groundbreaking text about the nature of the multiverse, and he provides us with remarkable insights into understanding the underlying enfolded symmetry state that our universe both comes from and is headed towards.

Gevin's work dovetailed very nicely with the logical way of visualizing the ten spatial dimensions I've shown to the world with my project, and Gevin was even so kind as to devote a few pages of his book towards describing how well he thought our two approaches fit together. In the almost three years since my book was published, I have been using this blog and the tenth dimension forum to catalog the many advances that have happened in the work of theoretical physicists that appear to be moving us towards the same understanding that Gevin and I had been talking about when we wrote our books. In fact, I've been doing this not just with science, but with a great many other subjects, including ancient spirituality, mysticism, and philosophy, and it's been remarkable to see how many of these threads can be pulled together.

On the science front there are many theories out there as to the mysteries of dark matter, dark energy, gravity, the multiverse, extra dimensions, and so on. When I see a viewpoint that has resonances with what Gevin and I pointed towards, I promote it. Does that mean that I'm picking and choosing, and when I come across a new theory that might oppose the direction Gevin and I were heading in, I generally don't report it? Of course! In the same way, a scientist who is adamantly convinced that there are no extra dimensions is more likely to pursue theories which exist only within the four dimensions of spacetime.

Which brings us to physicist Sean Carroll, whose work I paid tribute to in a blog entry called "Time in Either Direction":

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0j8oYNFFbw

I also talked about Sean's ideas in my entry "Scrambled Eggs"...

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFZVd_Ez23g

...and in my blog entry "The Big Bang and the Big Pie".

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiP12-u2GYY

Our poll question we're looking at here is about a theory which Scientific American attributed to Sean Carroll, but his theories are easily connected to an idea that has been promoted by myself, and by Gevin Giorbran. I would sum the idea up like this: there is a way of thinking about the fabric of reality which is outside of spacetime, in a place where the wave function of all outcomes for our universe happens simultaneously (as we mentioned last blog entry, physicist Tim Palmer has just published a paper where he calls this idea "the invariant set"). Once you have that image in your mind, it becomes possible to visualize how our universe is a temporary deviation from an underlying symmetry state, which exists both "before" and "after" our universe, in a state that is "outside" of space-time.

Here's a link to a powerpoint presentation from Dr. Carroll in which he talks about the nature of time and space and how a universe as unlikely as our own could spring from the multiverse: http://preposterousuniverse.com/talks/time-colloq-07/. Sean Carroll is also a regular contributor to the science blog Cosmic Variance, a good place for lively discussions, check it out.

Notice how Sean calls his site "preposterousuniverse.com"? Let's finish with a song of mine about our highly unlikely universe: "The Anthropic Viewpoint":

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kfe_3bEH-jE

Poll 32 - Is Time a Direction?

Poll Question 32 - "In the same sense that "up" is not a dimension, "time" is a direction, not a dimension. Poll ended January 28 2009. 56% agreed while the rest disagreed.

These polls can be very instructive to me - some concepts that I think will be contentious end up with much more agreement, and some - like this one - that I think the majority will be willing to agree to come out close to a tie.

Let's talk a little more about this question.

What dimension is "up" a dimension within? If we call the first dimension length, the second dimension width, and the third dimension depth, is "up" in the first dimension? This is where the confusion begins. What dimension is "east" a direction in? What dimension is "forwards" a direction in? None of these questions make sense, because a direction can be in any dimension, and the direction only makes sense as a dimension when we consider the opposite direction at the same time.

Okay then, in what dimensions do we find "up/down"? "East/west"? "Backwards/forwards?" The questions still don't really make sense, because we need even more context. Depending upon your orientation within 3D space, any of these words could apply to any vector within that space: but as soon as you arbitrarily establish one of those sets as being your current orientation, you then bring to mind two additional sets of directions that make sense within that context, and each of those sets is at right angles to the others.

Discussions of the fourth spatial dimension, then, are bothered by all the same possible miscommunications. Is "time" a direction in the fourth spatial dimension? Sure, it could be one of them, but depending upon your orientation within that space, you could just as easily say that "up", "forwards", or even "east" is a direction within 4D space. As soon as you pick one of those words, you then limit what you can call the other directions. As it says in the wikipedia article on the fourth dimension, one of the proposed sets of names for the two new directions in the fourth spatial dimension would be "ana" and "kata". For our own entropy-driven reality riding the "arrow of time", I've been encouraging people to think of the two directions in the fourth spatial dimensions as "time" and "anti-time", and to think of that dimension as a whole as "duration".

If "up" can be a direction in any spatial dimension, does that mean that "time" could be as well? Sure! It just depends upon your orientation, your frame of reference. This is why I say that for a 2D flatlander, they would perceive "time" to be in the third spatial dimension. Generally speaking, I would say that "time" is a direction in the next dimension up from the one you're examining, but that is only one of the possible ways of describing how one spatial dimension relates to another.

This is an idea I'm passionate about, as it's central to this way of visualizing the dimensions. In "Aren't There Really 11 Dimensions?" I show how important this is: the ten dimensions that physicists talk about are spatial dimensions. Spatial dimensions have a clear relationship to each other, each is at right angles to the one before, which means (as hard as this is to visualize) that all spatial dimensions are at right angles to each other. One useful way of thinking about this is with a set of nested spheres, with each new dimension enfolding all of the other previous ones.

Another way of approaching this idea is to think of those ten spatial dimensions as a tower, but if the fourth dimension is "time" rather than a full spatial dimension encompassing the two directions of "time" and "anti-time", then that tower is built on a shaky foundation. No wonder there are still scientists who refuse to believe that there are any extra dimensions at all!

Here's the video for "Aren't There Really 11 Dimensions?", which includes an animation showing this "tower" visualization.

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfhOBevrN2U

Based upon the results of the above poll question, it looks like this is a flag I'm going to have to continue waving. Some of the other videos where I've talked about the idea that time is just a direction in the fourth spatial dimension include Hypercubes and Plato's Cave, Time is a Direction, Dr. Mel's 4D Glasses, Time in 3 Dimensions, Wormholes, and "t" Equals Zero.

To close, here's one of my songs about trying to achieve that perspective where, as Einstein, liked to say, the distinction between past, present and future is meaningless. The song is called "Big Bang to Entropy".

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-atlgyfQkOc

Poll 33 - Could I Meet My Incarnation?

Poll 33 - "If, as Einstein said, the distinction between past present and future is only an illusion, then I could meet another incarnation of myself right now." Poll ended February 12, 2009 - 54% agreed while the remainder disagreed.

Last poll, I remarked upon how instructive these polls can be for me - for instance, I would have thought the idea that "time is a direction, not a dimension" would have gotten a lot of people to agree, since it's central to this way of visualizing reality, but that poll came in with very similar results to this current one. On the other hand, I would have thought that the idea that one could meet an incarnation of themselves right now would have seen more disagreement, since this is one of the more unusual ideas from my project. 54% of the visitors to this forum are willing to agree with that notion? I'm pleasantly surprised.

This is one of those ideas that occurred to me many years ago as an extension to my way of visualizing the dimensions of reality stacked one upon another, a concept that I had been showing to anyone who would listen for the last twenty-five years or so. Back in 2002, I wrote about 50 songs that explored the tangents that come from this way of visualizing reality, with the plan that I would pick my favorites and record a CD. I was also thinking that I would write a little booklet to accompany the CD in which I would explain how this "new way of thinking about time and space" tied all of the songs together.

When I actually got around to writing the CD booklet in 2005, it grew to 220 pages, and that "new way of thinking" eventually became my popular 11-minute animation which has been seen by millions of people around the world. Since the book's publication in 2006 my songs have become somewhat secondary to the project, which is fine, but I believe there are still ways that song lyrics can make these ideas more accessible. One of the 26 songs I attached to this project is called "Connections". The last verse of that song went like this:

I think I met myself today
I think I saw my eyes
Another me in another body
Livin another life
Likewise, with my song "Burn the Candle Brightly", I was thinking about the patterns representing us that carry on after death:
So when this journey is over
And that beautiful spark is finally gone
We can see that the vessel is empty
But we know that the light carries on
... and my song "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" also talks about this idea from the first person perspective:
Now I lay me down to sleep
To rest my weary head
If I should die in slumber deep
Remember what I said

It’s not the end of the world
It’s not the end of the dream
It’s just the end of a body
Not the end of a soul
One of the books I've referred to a number of times in this blog is Douglas Hofstadter's "I Am a Strange Loop". Let me quote a few paragraphs from this enlightening and inspiring book, much of which is about the structures and forms that create the mysterious "I" of consciousness. In the latter part of the book, though, he expands these ideas into what it means to have a representation of other people - your spouse, your children, your parents, a very close friend - held within those same structures. Specifically, how much of that can be thought of as being an actual part of what it is that makes that person uniquely who they are? And if any part can be thought of in that way to any degree, then what happens when the real person dies? Hofstadter writes:
The bond created between two people who are married for a long time is often so tight and powerful that upon the death of either one of them, the other one very soon dies as well. And if the other survives, it is often with the horrible feeling that half of their soul has been ripped out. In happier days, during the marriage, the two partners of course have individual interests and styles, but at the same time a set of common interests and styles starts to build up, and over time a new entity starts to take shape.
And later on...
The following should be a much easier question (although I think it is not actually easier). What was the nature of the "Holden Caulfield symbol" in J. D. Salinger's brain during the period when he was writing Catcher in the Rye? That structure was all there ever was to Holden Caulfield -- but it was so, so rich. Perhaps that symbol wasn't as rich as a full human soul, but Holden Caulfield seems like so much of a person, with a true core, a true soul, a true personal gemma, even if only a "miniature" one. You couldn't ask for a richer representation, a richer mirroring, of one person inside another person, than whatever constitutued the Holden Caulfield symbol inside Salinger's brain.
In my own book, I suggest that what each of us think of as our unique "soul" is actually a large and interconnected set of memes, some of which rise and fall in prominence over a lifetime, and memes by their very definition are patterns of information that exist across space and time, connecting together in ways that are beyond the physical limitations of the world we see around us. This leads me to some conclusions that are related to what Mr. Hofstadter is talking about, but I go a little further out on the same conceptual limb:
Here’s another way to look at this idea: if each of us has a unique soul, where are all the new souls coming from? Our planet’s population has exploded in numbers, so there must be new “soul material” being created from somewhere (if there really are only a certain number of souls allocated to this planet, then the chances of any one of us being the reincarnate soul of a person who lived here in the last few thousand years are approaching the chances of winning a lottery!).
In the New Age community, theories abound regarding what that source of all those new souls might be. All of those theories may be held within the version of reality that we are advancing here: if our soul is a conglomeration of memes that exist outside of time, then other versions of that soul could exist in other universes, in other locations within our universe, in other parts of the history and future of our universe, and even right now in other parts of our own world. The idea that it’s possible to meet another incarnation of yourself right now may take some getting used to, but it is an important aspect of the version of reality we are exploring.
And later on:
It may appear, then, that if we imagine a particular meme that has existed since the perceived beginning of our universe, collapsing a specific version of reality out of the wave of potential universes through the act of its observation, that we are imagining an aspect of the Creator-God. But there is a second way to view this puzzle. Could the feeling of “self” that each of us holds within us also be “just geometry”? In other words, what if this interlocking web of memes were exactly like the interlocking web of physical realities implied by the Many Worlds theory? This would mean that the potential for all ways of viewing the world, and the potential for all the different systems that we think of as being our own soul, are also held within an indeterminate wave of potential at the tenth dimension that has always existed, and will always exist.
In entries like Everyone Has a Story, Being More Fifth-Dimensional, You are Me and We are All Together, The Big Bang and the Big O, and Going to the Light I've continued my exploration of how ideas from cosmology and philosophy, from science and spirituality, can be blended together into an understanding of our reality which embraces a timeless perspective. Once we've arrived at an appreciation of the timelessness that exists outside of our spacetime, an enfolded symmetry state from which our universe or any other arises, it becomes easier to think about how it really could be possible to meet another person right now who is basically you, living another life, in another body, experiencing the world with their own unique perspective but intimately connected through those underlying information patterns which exist outside of spacetime.

Other recent blogs about enfolded symmetry:
Dreaming of Electric Sheep
Imagining the Omniverse
We Start with a Point
A Point within the Omniverse
"t" Equals Zero
Going to the Light
The Invariant Set
Illusions and Reality

To finish, here's one of the songs we quoted from above: "Burn the Candle Brightly".

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ydru-VYfybU

Poll 34 - God? Or the Multiverse?

Poll Question 34 - "Do you believe in God? Or the Multiverse?" Poll ended February 25 09. Interestingly, this poll saw the most participants so far of any of the polls we've had here: it seems people have strong opinions whenever the word "God" comes up in a question. 13% picked "God" as their answer, 32% for "Multiverse", 14% for "Neither", and 39% picked the most popular answer, "Both".

In Polls Archive 27, in which we discussed the question of whether there is really only one electron since they are all completely identical, we talked a bit about recent news items like the following, which suggest we may have to choose between "God or the Multiverse". Here's the opening two paragraphs of Mark Vernon's article, which appeared in the December 8 '08 issue of guardian.co.uk:
Is there a God or a multiverse? Does modern cosmology force us to choose? Is it the case that the apparent fine-tuning of constants and forces to make the universe just right for life means there is either a need for a "tuner" or else a cosmos in which every possible variation of these constants and forces exists somewhere?

This choice has provoked anxious comment in the pages of this week's New Scientist. It follows an article in Discover magazine, in which science writer Tim Folger quoted cosmologist Bernard Carr: "If you don't want God, you'd better have a multiverse."
Just ten days ago, the same conversation was brought up again in a New York Times opinion piece called "God and the Multiverse".

This is a good question, but a complicated one. There's a 45 minute interview on YouTube where Tom Huston, one of the editors of What is Enlightenment magazine, discusses similar questions with me:
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MteowQVkEHs

In the above interview I explain how I believe that there are selection patterns that created our universe, which depending upon your point of view are God, or just naturally occurring patterns that exist within timelessness, and in that sense I am thinking of a God that fits in with "deism". Our universe is so amazing, huge, complex, detailed, unlikely, that even if we don't ascribe consciousness to those selection patterns they are still something so humbling and intricate that they're worthy of our gratitude and praise.

Unlikely Events and Timelessness

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=CA&hl=en&v=Hpf3y_EdHco

I also believe that consciousness is connected together in ways we can't directly see from down here in spacetime, and that connectedness is something that some people think of as God. So phrases like "I am an aspect of God" or "God is in me" make sense within that context. Douglas Hofstadter's book "I am a Strange Loop" and Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's book "My Stroke of Insight" both tie very easily to that concept as well.

Daily Parrying:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5HyTz9xaBc

I Know You, You Know Me:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfq5kKkA6pw

You are Me and We are All Together:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbGAPR70tTY

As I say in my entry "Daily Parrying", though, this doesn't really support the idea of a God who you can pray to and He will make the other football team lose and your team win just because that's what you asked Him for. I talk about this in my book:
The reader may notice here that it would be very easy to substitute “God” or “The Creator” in place of “the observer” in the above paragraphs. In fact, if the reader is comfortable with the concept of each of us being an expression of God, “created in His/Her image”, each with a holy spark within, then the two viewpoints are quite compatible. On the other hand though, the image of a God who is separate from, standing in judgment of, and meting out punishment to us all is much less compatible. What we are describing here is a reality where each of us is creating an expression of a specific aspect inferred within the “white noise” of the tenth dimension through our individual roles as quantum observers. If the reader finds it easier to accept the phrase “I am an aspect of God” than they do the previous sentence, then they should feel free to use that as their jumping off point instead. As we discussed before, the tenth dimension as we are conceptualizing it here is really the boring part of our discussion, because it simultaneously contains all possibilities. If we choose to imagine a Creator-God who is manifesting Himself/Herself through each one of us, we are imagining an observer who is cutting cross-sections out of the tenth dimension to examine the much more interesting and highly detailed subsets of reality which are contained within the dimensions below.
God 2.0:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-Y4xseftgQ

With this project, I've been trying to show people that there are ways of aligning a spiritual viewpoint with the traditionally atheistic scientific viewpoint. If I say "I believe in God" that immediately creates an image in someone else's mind which may be completely different from what I'm trying to convey, so I tend to not want to say things as simply as that. To finish, here's a song that says whether you believe we come from God or the multiverse, there is still something amazing, complex, and wonderful about the universe in which we live: "Thankful".

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIfN1RM9X6I

Poll 35 - Do We Come From a 5D Hologram?

Poll Question 35 - "Our 4D universe comes from a 5D hologram." Poll ended March 10 2009. 71% agreed, while the remainder disagreed.

This poll question connects to two blog entries published in January. The first, "Slices of Reality" talked about interference patterns and provided a fascinating visualization of just such a pattern that resulted from the unique way an iPhone takes its pictures. The blog entry that followed, "The Holographic Universe", talks about the exciting new evidence from the GEO600 project that appears to confirm one of the central ideas my project is based upon: our reality is not continuous. Rather, it is divided into planck-unit sized "frames" of space-time. Some people look at this and presume it only refers to the planck length, 10 to the minus 35 meters, but that's only a measurement of 3D space. A 4D "frame" of space-time has length, width, depth, and duration, and its size in all four dimensions is determined by Planck's Constant. Understanding this immediately gives us a way to understand the string theory idea that our experience of the fifth dimension and above is "curled up at the planck length" - it's because of the granular nature of space-time, which means we can only view the fifth dimension through these planck unit sized "grains" of spacetime which occur one after another on our 4D line of time, giving us the illusion of the continuously existing reality we see around us.

There's much more to discuss about all this, please read my entry The Holographic Universe for more. Or, here are the "vlog" versions of those two entries, and these are part of a collection of over 200 videos I've posted over at my youtube channel.

Slices of Reality:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nheaNclVe2Y

The Holographic Universe:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMLVjFrtq6Q

Poll 36 - Do Plants Use Quantum Effects?

Poll 36 -"Plants use quantum physics effects in photosynthesis, and this is why it is such an efficient energy conversion process." Poll ended March 25 2009. 72% agreed, the rest disagreed.

This was another poll created as a companion to a specific blog entry, in this case "Creativity and the Quantum Universe". That post was inspired by an article published in the February Issue of Discover Magazine which really caught my eye - written by Mark Anderson, it was called Entangled Life. The article is an interesting summary of lab experiments and serious theoretical propositions that suggest plants do use quantum effects to make photosynthesis such an efficient process, and that such effects as entanglement and tunneling could also be imparting unique fragrances to molecules that are almost identical, imparting healing qualities to substances like green tea, and perhaps even directly contributing to consciousness.

Here's the video for "Creativity and the Quantum Universe":

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBNv8LMbEPA

Essentially, then, with this poll question I was asking whether visitors agreed with the suppositions advanced in Mark Anderson's article and reported in my blog, and I'm pleased to see how many were willing to agree with this idea. While I would encourage you to go back and read my blog entry and that Discover magazine article mentioned above, let me underline the interesting parallel I suggested back then.

Paragraph from Discover Magazine article:
Instead of haphazardly moving from one connective channel to the next, as might be seen in classical physics, energy traveled in several directions at the same time. The researchers theorized that only when the energy had reached the end of the series of connections could an efficient pathway retroactively be found. At that point, the quantum process collapsed, and the electrons’ energy followed that single, most effective path.

My paraphrased version to show how creativity might be a quantum process:

Instead of haphazardly moving from one idea to the next, as might be seen in work that has no focus, creative ideas travel in several directions at the same time. By simultaneously exploring a set of connections, the "eureka" of a new inspiration can be found. At that point, the exploration process is "collapsed", and the creative person follows the new idea that they find most inspiring.

Several weeks later, in Our Non-Local Universe, I continued the discussion of how our world is connected together in hidden ways that transcend the limited "now" of space-time, and how the principle of non-locality is an accepted fact in mainstream science. With this project, I am insisting that this non-locality is direct evidence of extra dimensions, and that a great many other seemingly mysterious processes can also be understood when we see how the information that underlies our reality exists in additional dimensions. I find it fascinating that this "timeless" perspective is gaining ground, as more and more people accept that our universe is just one of a multiverse of many other universes, and that perhaps all of those universes and multiverses might be assembled into one perfectly balanced underlying symmetry state which physicist Tim Palmer has recently called The Invariant Set and which I (and others) have referred to as The Omniverse.

Which leads back to the parallels I drew above, between the accepted viewpoint that our universe is non-local, between scientific evidence that plants use non-local effects for photosynthesis, and my notion that all life is a creative process, and which means that creative processes are non-local. While 79% agreed with the non-local nature of photosynthesis being what makes it so efficient, I wonder how many visitors to this blog would be willing to follow me further out on that same limb if I were to re-write the poll question in the same way that I re-wrote the above paragraph. What if I were to ask for agreement/disagreement on this statement?
Life uses quantum physics effects such as tunneling and entanglement to engage with reality "outside" of space-time, and this is true of all creative processes.
For me, this statement logically follows, and is a very important part of understanding the way of visualizing the dimensions that I'm exploring with this project. As I say in my book and have repeated in this blog, I would define "life" as any process that is interested in "what happens next", in other words that finds ways to use the non-local nature of our universe to allow itself to thrive and continue. That would be just as true of the first chemical reactions that became the seeds of life in the primordial soup as it is for you and I. Would you agree? Let's find out. You will now find a poll question over to the right here at the tenth dimension blog which asks that question.

Poll 37 - Do Shamans See Other Dimensions?

Poll 37 - "In his book 'Supernatural', Graham Hancock notes the remarkable similarities between ancient cave paintings from across tens of thousands of years and around the world. This shows that ancient shamans were able to see patterns from other dimensions." Poll ended April 11 2009. 38% agreed while the rest disagreed.

I've only recently finished reading this book. (At almost 500 pages, Supernatural is not a book you read in a night!) Along the way, I've alternated between wrestling with my own in-grained skepticism and a feeling that Hancock is lifting the veil on extremely important material. His work connects to a number of the ideas I've promoted with my project: that our reality is connected together in ways unseen, that there are patterns that exist outside of spacetime that are participating in the ongoing process of creation, and that there are a number of ways for people to become more sensitized to these hidden processes. In my book, I lumped altered states resulting from meditation, trance, repetitive tribalistic activities like dance and drumming, and visions seen under the influence of hallucinogens as all being part of the same kinds of processes that could be allowing people to glimpse these patterns, and my song "From the Corner of My Eye" is also about that supposition. In my blog entry The Shaman I added more traumatic experiences such as fasting or intense pain to that list (as these are also not uncommon in shamanistic practices from around the world), but while doing so I noted that even though all of these altered states I've listed may somehow be related, many people immediately jump to the conclusion that any discussion of altered states is really just talking about drugs. This, I think, is unfortunate because it can allow some people to jump to the conclusion that altered states are "unnatural".

For the last century in particular, most of us have had it drummed into us that anything seen under the influence of mind-altering drugs is not to be taken seriously, that it is merely the chemistry of the brain being disrupted, and no good will come of it. When I was writing my book, including psychedelics in the list of useful altered states for sensing extra dimensions was an intuitive leap based upon reading other's reports, since I have no experience with these substances myself. Still, as I've documented elsewhere, I was surprised upon the release of my book to be contacted by so many people who had taken LSD, mushrooms, and so on, telling me that what they saw under the influence of these substances seemed easier to explain within the context of my way of visualizing the dimensions. Nonetheless, I have to admit that most of what I thought they were talking about were geometric patterns and time-shifted artifacts... glimpses into the fifth spatial dimension. Almost six months after launching my project, I decided to set up an "altered states" area over at the tenth dimension forum as people with seemingly-related drug experiences kept contacting me. Since then, I've heard more and more stories from persons using DMT, ayahuasca, salvia divinorum and other drugs, and those people have described some really mind-boggling visions: but to me these were no more mind-boggling than the insights revealed, for instance, in Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's journey into the connections of her own mind to the universe that she recounted in her marvelous "My Stroke of Insight".

In Supernatural, Graham Hancock provides a context to altered states of all kind that is much deeper than what I had suspected, but now that he has done so I see more of the same connections in the stories I have been told by people writing to me in emails or at my forum. He makes some very persuasive arguments that the visions seen under those states have remarkable connections and similarities across tens of thousands of years and around the world, and this highly-detailed repetition alone indicates that our minds are really being allowed to "tune in" to other modalities of existence that actually do exist, but which were inaccessible without entering these altered states (in the same way that a radio can "tune in" to different radio stations - the waveforms coming from those other stations are already out there, just waiting to be heard).

To be clear, what Hancock is referring to here is not just similarities in geometric shapes or visions of bright lights, he has a long list of iconic images and creatures that occur again and again from the recorded visions of ancient man right up to modern time. He makes the bold assertion that these experiences are at the root of the development of civilization, and that all of the world's religions have as their source the ecstatic visionary experiences of those who shared their visions of these "other worlds" with others around them.

I would suggest reading the following blog entries, in the order below, if you would like to follow my reasoning for supporting the challenging conclusions of Graham Hancock's groundbreaking book. And if you have read the above paragraphs and decided to reject these ideas outright (as did 61% of the visitors answering the above poll question), I have some sympathy for that position: it is only through the process of reading Mr. Hankcock's book that I have come around to an acceptance of these ideas, and I am almost certainly not going to convince any skeptics in a few paragraphs when it took Mr. Hancock almost 500 pages to carefully lay out his case for these ideas.

The Holographic Universe
The Shaman
You Have a Shape and a Trajectory
Creativity and the Quantum Universe
The Comedian
Where Are You?
Our Non-Local Universe
Illusions and Reality

To finish, here's a somewhat tongue-in-cheek song about those ancient mysteries that connect ancient shamans to you and I: "What I Feel for You".

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w06IRgChaMY

Poll 38 - Do Musicians Have More Empathy?

Poll 38 - "Learning to play a musical instrument can rewire your brain in ways that make you more empathetic, more sensitive to other people's emotions." Poll ended April 27 2009. 91% agreed while the remainder disagreed.

This poll was created as a companion to a series of blogs created in March that focused on empathy, and in particular an entry called "The Musician", in which I quoted from an article written by Hazel Muir which appeared in the March 5th edition of New Scientist magazine:
Musicians are fine-tuned to others' emotions

Musical training might help autistic children to interpret other people's emotions. A study has revealed brain changes involved in playing a musical instrument that seem to enhance your ability to pick up subtle emotional cues in conversation.

"It seems that playing music can help you do all kinds of things better," says Nina Kraus from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. "Musical experience sharpens your hearing not just for music, but for other sounds too."

To read a longer excerpt from the article, please refer back to my blog entry The Musician. Based upon the above poll results, the idea that learning to play a musical instrument might heighten a person's ability to feel empathy seems to have already "struck a chord" with visitors to this blog, so I'll not belabor the point here. For further reading, here's a collection of some of my previous blog entries where we explored how empathy fits in with this way of visualizing reality:

Are Animals and Kids More Fifth-Dimensional?
Local Realism Bites the Dust
The Big Bang and the Big O
The Comedian
The Musician
Where Are You?
Illusions and Reality

To finish, here's a song about vibrations, entrainment, and empathy: "Positive Vibes".

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzUIpJzCjNI

Poll 39 - Can Memories Be Transplanted?

Poll Question 39 - "Is it possible that a person who has received a heart transplant could take on bits of the memories or behaviors of the donor?" Poll ended May 12 2009. 43% agreed that this could be "Possible", while the rest said "Impossible".

Back in Poll 33, we asked whether this way of visualizing reality could allow for the possibility of meeting another version of yourself, living another life, right here in the present. The question we're looking at here is somewhat related to that concept, but does require us to make another major conceptual leap if we're going to accept this additional supposition.

Check out the following set of videos, which is from a program shown on the Discovery Health channel a few years ago. This is from a documentary series called Mindshock, and the episode is called "Transplanting Memories?".

Part 1:
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sudmW97FZA0

Part 2:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky6eEiVbgMg

Part 3:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ei6FmA6-N14

Part 4:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY5SiWHDInQ

As we can see from the poll results, the idea that a heart transplant patient might take on memories or behaviors from the donor is pretty "out there", and more people disagreed than agreed with this as a conjecture. Would the poll results have been somewhat different if every person answering the poll were obliged to watch at least part of the above documentary? Perhaps. Certainly, for many of us this is a new idea: and to be clear, this "transplanting memories" concept is not a conclusion I arrived at in my book or have promoted with my project up to now. The idea does seem to be connected to Rupert Sheldrake's ideas about morphic resonance, though, and Sheldrake's work has received some attention in my book and in this blog. Here are some of the past blogs where I've talked about related ideas:

Are Animals and Kids More Fifth-Dimensional?
Souls as Interlocking Patterns
Underlying Patterns
Magnets and Souls

"Transplanting Memories" is not without its detractors - like many of the other ideas we've explored here in this blog, there are skeptics who automatically ridicule the above documentary, and that extends to any suggestions that there could be unseen connections linking our reality together. Setting those knee-jerk reactions aside, though, requires us to think about the possible consequences of this - if some imprint of a certain organ's previous owner remains, does that mean a heart from a murderer or a suicidal person could dramatically alter the behavior of the recipient? The mind boggles at the implications.

In blog entries like Auras, Ghosts and Pareidolia, Do You Believe in Ghosts?, Ever Seen an Aura?, and Going to the Light, I've looked at some of the possible ways that a person's unique patterns might continue on after death. For me, the idea that a transplanted heart from a murderer could cause the recipient to become one too seems too far-fetched. It seems more possible to me that some parts of the donor's awareness might continue to focus on the timeline of the recipient and exert some minor influences , but I'm reminded of what hypnotists say - no person in a hypnotic state can be induced to do something that goes against the basic morals of that person. I think the same could be true of the subtle influences seen in these situations: the patient might find themselves becoming interested in a new food or willing to listen to a kind of music that previously held no interest for them, and there are transplant recipients interviewed in the above documentary who experienced just such effects. But like the hypnotized subject, these people are not going to take on any new characteristics that they wouldn't already have been willing to accept regardless of where they came from.

Although the source of these new influences might seem troubling, when you stop and think about it this is not particularly different from the process of growth, discovery and taking on new patterns that each of us goes through within our lives each and every day. As I say in my song Change and Renewal:
Every minute of every day
I keep changing, I keep changing
Nothing ever stays the same
All replacing, rearranging
Every cell that’s in me now
Was not the same when I was born
In an endless constant flow
Renewing when they’re old and worn
Am I the same person I was twenty years ago? No! And neither are you. We learn, we change, we grow. But there are threads that connect us each to our previous selves, and the unique journey each of us is on is what makes this all so interesting.

Poll 40 - Living in the Now vs. The Future
Poll 40: "People who focus on the "now" rather than their possible future paths are more likely to be moody, indecisive, and envious." Poll ended May 26 2009. 45% agreed while the majority disagreed.

A number of visitors to the blog had some trouble accepting this supposition, which relates to a specific entry I published last month called "The Time Paradox". In it, I talked about a book of the same name by Philip Zimbardo, professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford University. In a promotional video for his book he tells us that tests given to children showed a clear link years later to which of them were more successful and well-adjusted as they entered adulthood: four-year-olds were offered the choice of a marshmallow right now, or two marshmallows if they were willing to wait for twenty minutes. Those children who jumped at the single marshmallow rather than thinking about the greater future reward coming if they would wait, to use Dr. Zimbardo's words, grew into young adults who were more likely to be "moody, indecisive, and envious". Those who did wait went on as adolescents to score an average of 210 points higher on the Scholastic Aptitude Test and to be much more likely to be rated by independent examiners as "competent" or "attentive", while those who were not able to delay gratification were more likely to be described as "sulky" or "irritable".

As I mentioned in my previous blog about the Time Paradox, the difficulty some people have in accepting these results may be connected to the current popularity of Ekhart Tolle's writing: The Power of Now, he tells us, is better than the ego-based striving for tomorrow and fretting about the past. Sometimes, though, living in the Now is living in a trap of endlessly repeating negative patterns, and that is not the way to make your life better. Who would disagree that "attitude affects outcome"? What psychiatrist would disagree that healing can't really start until it comes from within? What entrepeneur would disagree that "the eye of the tiger" is how you get to the future version of yourself that you hold as your heart's desire? What athlete would disagree with the power of positive visualization techniques? What health care provider has not seen people who lose their interest in tomorrow, their will to carry on, and death follows?

All of these are related to the processes of engaging not just in the "now", but in the branching future paths that exist as potential for each of us. In The Placebo Effect I talked about the surprising results of medical studies showing how difficult it can be to test new drugs when patients given placebos will also do better because of their assumption that they are being given some new treatment. In Changing Your Genes Part 2 I talked about the amazing new science of epigenetics, which proves that people can actually change their own gene expression through changes in lifestyle and attitude. And in Creativity and the Quantum Universe, I talked about how this "engaging in the future paths" concept has been proved to be basic to our universe and to the basic structures of all living things.

And where are all these future paths that hold this amazing promise, these powerful tools that people around the world are using to moving beyond a "now" that is not to their liking and to a possible "then" that exists within their set of all possible future states? According to my way of visualizing, this is all within the fifth dimension, within a probability space that connects to Everett's Many Worlds and the hidden patterns of the universe, and which each of us are navigating within one planck after another right at this very "now".

Welcome to a better future you. And enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Next: Nassim Haramein

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