Monday, July 23, 2007

Physics or Philosophy?

That's this week's poll question, folks: "Is Imagining the Tenth Dimension about Physics or Philosophy? Or both?".

"Or neither?", some might suggest, should be the fourth answer, but I would argue that quantum mechanics tells us that's the same thing as "both". The simultaneous yes/no that we spring from in the "outside the system" realm of indeterminacy may sound like it has a zen-like yin/yang to it, but it can also be described thusly: "both the yes and no occur, and we have no way to know this information any more than that". This is one of the concepts explained so well in Seth Lloyd's book, "Programming the Universe": Seth is one of the pioneers in quantum computing. Is the universe really just a giant quantum computer, processing the information that is reality? I believe my proposed framework for imagining reality is very compatible with this idea.

Which gets to the basic question: is Imagining the Tenth Dimension a useful tool for helping to envision the nature of reality, even though it was created by someone who's not a physicist, and is not even pretending to be one?

Here's the thing: of course there are going to be other ways of imagining reality which happen to agree with physics! It would be far far stranger if there weren't other ways that science and art, or cosmology and philosophy/spirituality happened to agree on things that are essentially true about where our reality comes from and why we're here.

People from an astonishingly diverse range of backgrounds, then, who are drawn to the Imagining the Tenth Dimension animation and my book tell me they recognize things they know are essentially true, and this is what connects all of the fans of this project together. Today (Monday, July 23rd '07) we started a new experiment: the Live Chat window at the tenth dimension site now also has a Live Video feed within it, where I can converse with people in real time. A recording of today's first live camera feed can be found here, and a transcript of the text chat portion can be found here. This is just the beginnings of an experiment, but it shows lots of promise. Hey, new experiences are what life's all about!

A couple of weeks ago I had a new and humbling experience with a faith healer named Jason, who is an old friend who has now become a minister: we laid hands on my mom (thank you everyone for your prayers and good wishes), he prayed and sang, and mom cried and laughed at the same time at the power she felt pulsing into her from his hand on her. "A beautiful expression of the immense power of positive visualization, and one of the best parts about any faith-based belief system" was probably how I would have eventually filed the experience away. But then something changed the experience for me.

I was talking to my mom later that evening, who was still feeling energized by the session - and I remarked that I could see that as soon as Jason laid his hand on her forehead we could all see had an immediate and intense reaction. "Oh no, Robbie", says she, "it wasn't that hand, it was the other one, down in the middle of my back." Well, without even thinking about it I immediately told her the truth: that wasn't Jason's hand in the middle of her back, because that's where my hand was.

What can I say? Much as my mom has loved the occasional back rub over the last few months, there's never been a time I've put my hand on her back and she burst into tears at the beautiful and powerful energy she felt. Which leads me to my next physics/philosophy/all-of-the-above idea. Just for fun, let's try to imagine Jesus now as being an aspect of a powerful meme, a shape in the ninth dimension, that is carved out from the indeterminate yes/no choices of the information vs. reality realm the big bang has divided out for us down here in the fifth dimension. Does this smack of the dangerous blending of science and religion that Richard Dawkins has been trying to eliminate?

I am a huge Richard Dawkins fan, and I am a firm believer in our existence being the result of the selfish genes and the selfish memes that got us here today. But by keeping his focus so narrow on science and science alone, Mr. Dawkins runs a risk: deny that there is a spiritual aspect to our reality which is also true, and you give the impression that you believe there is no morality to our existence, no right or wrong.

Find the simultaneous yes/no and quantum mechanics tells you you've found the underlying truth about our existence. And I believe that leaves room for some optimism that we are actually headed towards something good within the timeless multiverse my animation portrays. Is that such a bad thing to imagine?

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

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