Sunday, October 23, 2011

What is Life?

If we're trying to build an image which reflects "all aspects of reality", how do life and consciousness fit into this picture? Erwin Schrödinger's definition of life is that it's "a unique process which creates pockets of negative entropy". Physicists talk about the beginning of the universe being the most highly ordered/lowest entropy version of our universe, and how the "arrow of time" represents an overall climb in the amount of entropy, despite the efforts of life within these little pockets where (as Dylan Thomas put it so beautifully) it 'rages against the dying of the light'. This theme of life and consciousness being like a fire, a spark, that somehow engages with space-time and our fifth-dimensional probability space to keep itself moving forward is the theme of a number of the 26 songs I created for this project. I talked about those songs and this way of thinking about life and creativity in a blog entry called Novelty.

The phrase "self-excited circuit" comes from a paper published in 1979 by physicist John Wheeler, you can read about it in the wikipedia article on Digital Physics. As part of his "Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe (CTMU)", Christopher Langan (who some readers will know as "the smartest man in America") has published an animated version of the simple drawing Wheeler created for his paper on the self-excited circuit, showing a "U" (standing for universe), incorporating an eyeball representing the quantum observer, looking at its "tail" that represents the "information" side of the "information equals reality" concept that we talk about regularly with this project. Wheeler also coined the phrase "'it' from 'bit'"which ties nicely to these discussions.

So is the universe itself a self-excited circuit, that was most excited at the big bang and is slowly winding down from there? Or was the universe in a superposition of possible states until life first emerged somewhere, and began observing more organized versions of the universal wave function from that point on in the world line? The Biocentric Universe theory supports the latter idea. Perhaps Stuart Kauffman's God 2.0 supports the former? I think there's interesting evidence for both ideas, but ultimately I lean more towards the idea that there are organizing patterns in the extra dimensions which exist outside of time and space which have selected this (or any other) universe, and which keep the universe from dissolving into chaos. Love and Gravity is a blog entry from a year ago which takes this idea out to a more metaphysical level if you're interested. I have used similar logic to argue for dark matter and dark energy as evidence of extra dimensions.

In my follow-up book to Imagining the Tenth Dimension, which is a collaboration with visual artist Marilyn E. Robertson called O is for Omniverse, we devoted the letter "J" to John Wheeler:
j is for John Wheeler, a famous physicist
who drew a strange eyeball looking at its tail
as a way to imagine that some branches of our line
might be changed in the past as we look back from today
so the branching tree that extends from "now"
is even more surprising: it branches either way
Here's a video showing the letters "I" and "J" from that book, you can see a lot more if you go to

A direct link to the above video is at

Next: Timelessness and the Ultimate Ensemble

Previously in this series:
Wrapping it Up in the Tenth Dimension
Imagining the Ninth Dimension
Imagining the Eighth Dimension
Imagining the Seventh Dimension
Imagining the Sixth Dimension
Imagining the Fifth Dimension
Imagining the Fourth Dimension
Imagining the Third Dimension
Imagining the Second Dimension


Dana Lomas said...

Hi Rob ... just stumbled upon your wonderful blog and book and it occurred to me how nicely it seems to tie in with the work of fellow Canadian Nassim Haramein -- although you may of course disagree. Just wondered if you've had any contact with him, or his ideas?

Rob Bryanton said...

Hi Dana, thanks for your kind words! I've talked about Nassim's work a number of times in this blog, here's a link that will take you to the 10 or so entries I've tagged with his name.

No, I've never heard from Nassim, but I agree that there are some intriguing connections. The one sticking point, of course, is that he doesn't believe in extra dimensions, and that includes the first and second, so I'm not sure that he would see much that interests him with my project.


Dana Lomas said...

Thanks for the links, as well as the reference to "Everything Forever."

These should keep me blissfully busy for quite a while ... I think I may have discovered what to do in my retirement :]]

Here's another one I've found fascinating, you may want to ponder

Keep up the great work ... or play!

kind regards

Dana Lomas said...

Just realized you've already tuned into Randy Powell ... you're way ahead of me in the probable future ;-)

Tenth Dimension Vlog playlist