Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Top 26 Blogs 1st Quarter 2009

Regular readers of this blog will remember that for much of 2008 I was posting monthly updates of the most popular blog entries:

. April 08 . May 08 . June 08 . July 08 . August 08
. September 08 . October 08 . November 08 . December 08 .
Top 100 Blog Entries of 2008.

Unfortunately, a glitch in the transfer of Feedburner's statistics tracking over to Google that occurred in mid-January has yet to be repaired, so I no longer have a way to do long-term reporting of the most popular blogs. I do, however, have a way to track what entries have seen the most traffic from mid-January up to today, which gives us the following new list of the most popular blog entries from this quarter.

1. Slices of Reality
2. The Holographic Universe
3. Augmented Reality
4. Creativity and the Quantum Universe
5. "t" Equals Zero
6. Going to the Light
7. The Shaman
8. The Big Bang and the Big O
9. Urban Garden Magazine
10. Other New Shows You May Not Have Seen
11. Modern Shamans
12. Astrotometry
13. Scott McCloud and the Brothers Winn
14. You Have a Shape and a Trajectory
15. New Translations of Imagining the Tenth Dimension
16. The Comedian
17. Tenth Dimension Polls Archive 26 to 30
18. The Musician
19. Our Non-Local Universe
20. Where Are You?
21. Aren't There Really 11 Dimensions?
22. More on Augmented Reality
23. Google and the Group Mind
24. Auras, Ghosts and Pareidolia
25. Elvis and the Electrons
26. A Point Within the Omniverse

As of about January 15th, 2009, this was the list of the twenty-six Imagining the Tenth Dimension blog entries that had attracted the most visits of all time up until then (the list below is one I saved just before switching my Feedburner account over to Google). As I say, until the Feedburner/Google bug is fixed, I don't have a way to integrate this list into the one above, but this information is still of some use for understanding what has been popular at this blog prior to the first quarter of 2009.

1. Dr. Mel's 4D Glasses (5)
2. You are Me and We are All Together (1)
3. Create a Universe with One Easy Click (10)
4. I Know You, You Know Me (2)
5. Scrambled Eggs (4)
6. Twisted Dimensions (3)
7. Predicting the Future (Here Come the Aliens) (8)
8. Dreaming of Electric Sheep (20)
9. Tenth Dimension Polls Archive 21 to 25 (11)
10. Time is a Direction (6)
11. The Past is an Illusion (7)
12. Tenth Dimension Polls Archive 26 to 30 (new)
13. Crossed Wires in the Brain (9)
14. We Start with a Point (new)
15. The Omniverse Almanac and the Federal Reserve (12)
16. Video Feedback (13)
17. New Stuff at the Store (new)
18. Foreword to Giorbran's Acclaimed Book (14)
19. The Big Bang and the Big Pie (new)
20. Welcome to Digg and YouTube Viewers (new)
21. Imagining the Omniverse (new)
22. Jake Kotze and Mystical Numbers (15)
23. Why Do We Need More Than 3 Dimensions (19)
24. David Jay Brown and Psychedelics (16)
25. Moving Dimensions and Synchromysticism (17)
26. Time in 3 Dimensions (18)

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.

Finally, just a little reminder here about the new 6 DVD set we're selling from the tenth dimension store:

A direct link to the above video is at http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=QoZ5YomCLrQ

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Next: The Invariant Set

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Google Suggestions - March 09 Update

Back at the beginning of 2008, I began a little "time capsule" project, tracking the suggestions that come up when you type a single letter into certain Google search windows (like the one in the top right of my Firefox window). Since one of the main thrusts of this project is that there are memes which exist outside of spacetime, connecting us together, I thought that tracking the changes that happened to those suggestions over time might give us some interesting ways of seeing the memes that have risen and fallen. The original entry is here. It was created in January 2008, but I have continued to update that list week by week since then.

In June 2008 I created an entry that graphed the changes that had happened in the first six months, you can read that entry here. Or you could take four minutes and watch the video I created to go with that blog entry back then:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgvy2GvJ7OQ

It appears that Google has now made a major change in these suggestions. Check out the list that comes up for me now when I type each of the 26 single letters of the alphabet into my Google search. Please note that I have put search terms in capital letters for any results that have changed for me since the previous week.

Sunday March 29 2009 9 am CST, Saskatchewan Canada
AIR CANADA, best buy, CANADIAN TIRE, dictionary, ebay, facebook, GMAIL, hotmail, IKEA, JOB BANK, KIJIJI, LIMEWIRE, MAPQUEST, NHL, OPRAH, PLENTY OF FISH, quotes, ROGERS, sears, TELUS, utube, VIA RAIL, walmart, XBOX, youtube, ZELLERS

Compare that with what I saw a week ago, a list of results that hadn't changed since February.

Sunday February 22 2009 11 pm CST, Saskatchewan Canada
amazon, best buy, craigslist, dictionary, ebay, facebook, google, hotmail, imdb, jcpenney, kohls, lowes, myspace, netflix, orkut, photobucket, quotes, runescape, sears, target, utube, verizon wireless, walmart, xbox 360, youtube, zappos

What does this mean? It appears Google has finally made these suggestions more geographically specific to my region! How do my March 29 results compare with yours now? If you are in the United States, I suspect that you will see much more in common with my February 22 list, but even that I have no way of knowing now. I would love to hear from people around the world who may also now be seeing a more geographically specific result, and that includes our friends in America.

For the last fifteen months I have always entered my time zone and my location above these lists. Now, it looks like that information is going to be much more relevant. If you do provide me with a list, please provide the same information: the date, the time, and your location.

Thanks! And enjoy the journey.

Rob Bryanton

Next: Top 26 Blogs 1st Quarter 2009

Edit: Additional notes

Reader Apocalypso Facto provided this list:
Friday, April 03, 2009, 13:49 UTC-4:30, El Tigre, Venezuela:
amazon, best buy, chase, dell, ebay, facebook, google.com (!), house, images, jobs, kayak, lost, myspace, news, obama, paypal, quotes, recipes, skype, target, ups, verizon, weather, xbox 360, yahoo, zune

Sunday May 3 2009 9 am CST, Edmonton, Alberta Canada
air canada, best buy, canadian tire, dictionary, ebay, facebook, gmail, hotmail, ikea, job bank, kijiji, LOTTO 649, mapquest, nhl, OLG, plenty of fish, quotes, rogers, sears, TWITTER, utube, via rail, WEATHER NETWORK, XE, youtube, zellers

Reader This and That provided this list:

Sunday, April 26, 2009 1 pm MT Colorado, USA

amazon, best buy, craigslist, dictionary, ebay, facebook, gmail, hotmail, imdb, jcpenny, kohls, lowes, myspace, netflix, obama, photobucket, quotes, radio shack, southwest airlines, target, usps, verizon wireless, walmart, xm radio, youtube, zip codes

Sunday May 18 2009 5 am CST, Saskatchewan Canada
(Hmm, what a strange collection of changes. Most of this appears to be a return to the American-dominated list we were seeing previously, but then what's the Australian airline Qantas doing here? And what's OLG, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation doing here? Also worthy of note, this is the first time in well over a year that "utube" was not the response for "u".)

Sunday May 24 2009 3 am CST, Saskatchewan Canada
amazon, best buy, CENTRELINK, dictionary, ebay, facebook, gmail, hotmail, irs, jcpenney, kohls, LIMEWIRE, myspace, netflix, OPTUS, photobucket, QUOTES, realtor.com, southwest airlines, TICKETEK, usps, verizon wireless, walmart, XE, youtube, zillow
(Another active week, with a few more surprises. Centrelink is an Australian government agency, Optus is an Australian telecommunications company, and Ticketet is an Australian event ticket seller. Why would these show up on this list while all of the Canadian-oriented responses we've been seeing since the end of March are still missing in action? Very odd. Makes me wonder if these updates are more real time now, perhaps I'm seeing Australian responses because it's late afternoon in Australia at the moment?)

Sunday May 24 2009 10 am CST, Saskatchewan Canada
amazon, best buy, CRAIGSLIST, dictionary, ebay, facebook, gmail, hotmail, irs, jcpenney, kohls, LOWES, myspace, NHL, OLG, photobucket, quotes, ROGERS, southwest airlines, TARGET, usps, verizon wireless, walmart, XM RADIO, youtube, zillow
(Okay, the plot thickens! Seven hours later and the Australian responses are gone. It appears, then that Google is now trying to make these recommendations more - dare I say it - Twitter-like? Or could they be rotating these results over a twenty-four cycle? Hmm.)

Sunday June 7 09 11 am CST, Saskatchewan Canada
AIR CANADA, best buy, craigslist, dictionary, ebay, facebook, gmail, hotmail, irs, jcpenney, kohls, lowes, myspace, netflix, ORBITZ, photobucket, QUOTES, realtor.com, southwest airlines, TWITTER, usps, verizon wireless, walmart, XBOX 360, youtube, ZILLOW

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Imagining the Omniverse - Addendum

A direct link to the above video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MptYznkv14

Last blog, we talked about the scientific fact that our universe is non-local: since this project is about imagining the patterns that exist outside of the "now" of this moment in spacetime, non-locality is a key idea to the puzzle of thinking about our universe from a timeless perspective.

Here's two of my favorite video blogs from a few months back, Dreaming of Electric Sheep, and Imagining the Omniverse.

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALkDA0mmZIA

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6D3CgF8_qk

With those two videos, we used an amazing networked screen saver created by Scott Draves, called Electric Sheep. We used the program's fluid, fractal, recursive images as a visual aid to help us imagine how the omniverse could contain all these random fluctuations, and yet within all that randomness and noise a selection pattern could arise which would view that pattern of information from just the right angle, and voilà, the wave function representing a spacetime universe and all of its probabilistic outcomes could spring into being: not with a big bang, but with a causal tree that exists timelessly, with all possible timelines already existing as per Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation. This means that what looks from our perspective to be the "big bang", "now", and the "end of the universe" are all already-existing subsets of the underlying symmetry state which I've been calling The Omniverse.

Did I lose you there? Okay then, try this. Here's a delicious little game that was just pointed out to me by guidewire.

The game comes from a company called Bobblebrook, kudos to them. In the same way that thinking about What a Flatlander Would Really See, or how Time is a Direction, or how our Holographic Universe of 4D spacetime is really a shadow of a fifth dimensional pattern (which relates to discussions we've had in Hypercubes and Plato's Cave, Flatlanders On a Line and Aren't There Really 11 Dimensions?), I would say that this game from Bobblebrook can be used to give us an intuitive way of visualizing how what looks like randomness from one perspective could be, from another perspective, a selection pattern which chose our universe from out of the Omniverse.

And not only that, the game is fun to play!

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Next: Google Suggestions - March 09 Update

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Our Non-Local Universe

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBPBc4iZtro

Entanglement-at-a-distance does physically exist, in the sense that it has physically verifiable (and verified) consequences. Which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that some of our most engrained notions about space and causality should be reconsidered.
- theoretical physicist Bernard d'Espagnat
(I've talked before about the underlying patterns of information that create our universe, and of ideas that connect us all together, and how much I like the term Richard Dawkins gave us for this concept: "memes". Memes, as ideas that instantaneously connect together "outside of spacetime" are a great example of thinking about our universe from a timeless perspective. I saw another great example of the kind of synchronicities that arise as people around the world think similar thoughts right after I finished writing today's blog entry. The above quote is from a blog entry posted just a few days ago by award-winning theoretical physicist Bernard d'Espagnat. Click here to read his blog entry in full, and you will see a great many parallels to the blog entry you're about to read.)

Principle of locality
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In physics, the principle of locality states that an object is influenced directly only by its immediate surroundings. Quantum mechanics predicts through Bell's inequality the direct violation of this principle. Experiments have shown that quantum mechanically entangled particles violate this principle: they have been shown to influence each other when physically separated by 18 km, thus the principle of locality is false.
As the above wikipedia definition clearly states, our universe is non-local, despite what our intuition might tell us as we look around at our world. Understanding that our 4D spacetime is really just a shadow of patterns that exist outside of time, within the fifth dimension and above (see The Holographic Universe) gives us a way to visualize how entangled particles can be connected in ways that seem impossible, and this also gives us a way to see how the Shamanistic viewpoint regarding hidden forces which are outside our physical domain makes sense in this context: it's all part of our non-local universe.

The above picture comes from the National Human Genome Research Institute website.

The National Institute of Health published an article recently about ground-breaking new DNA analysis procedures that look at the helix not as a sequential ladder, but as a 3D shape. To quote from the article:

The sequence of the 3 billion DNA base pairs that make up the human genome holds the answers to many questions pertaining to human development, health and disease. Consequently, much research aimed at understanding the genome has focused on establishing the information encoded by the linear order of DNA bases. In the new study, however, researchers focused on how those bases chemically interact with each other to coil and fold the DNA molecule into a variety of shapes.

"We often think of DNA as a string of letters on a computer screen and forget that this string of letters is a three-dimensional molecule. But shape really matters," said Dr. Margulies, who is an investigator in NHGRI's Genomic Technology Branch. "Proteins that influence biological function by binding to DNA recognize more than just the sequence of bases. These binding proteins also see the surface of the DNA molecule and are looking for a shape that allows a lock-and-key fit."

I've talked many times about Richard Dawkins and his "River Out of Eden" concept, thinking about genes as being shapes that are connected across time (or as I like to say, the fourth spatial dimension, since for us "time" is just one of the two possible directions in that dimension). When we've already been encouraged to think of a genome as being a fourth dimensional shape (or as Bruce Sterling likes to say, a "spime"), I have to admit I assumed that 3D analysis of DNA was already in place!

This all relates to trying to think about our reality as existing outside of spacetime - if you think of reality as being only a linear sequence of events relentlessly moving forward on our "arrow of time", you are missing an important part of the picture.

Discover Magazine put up an amusing article on their website a couple of weeks ago, called Twenty Things You Didn't Know About Time. The last two entries in particular caught my eye:

19 Time has not been around forever. Most scientists believe it was created along with the rest of the universe in the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago.

20 There may be an end of time. Three Spanish scientists posit that the observed acceleration of the expanding cosmos is an illusion caused by the slowing of time. According to their math, time may eventually stop, at which point everything will come to a standstill.

With my project, I insist that those two ideas are related - both "before" and "after" the beginning and end of our universe are the same state: but to understand that idea requires a perspective which is "outside" of time as we know it. One of my personal favorite blog entries about this idea is "Local Realism Bites the Dust", which you might want to check out.

Quantum physics tells us that our reality is connected together in ways that seem impossible: instantaneous effects with widely separated but entangled particles make no sense within our sequential physical world... unless you can embrace the idea that our universe is non-local. An article in the March issue of Scientific American, written by David Z. Albert and Rivka Galchen, offers an explanation of Bell's Theorem which arrives at this important concluding paragraph:

Researchers carried out experiments using entangled photons instead of electrons (which alters the angles to use but makes the experiment technically much less difficult) and found results that conformed with quantum mechanics’s predictions. And so by Bell’s theorem there must not be any determinate values carried by those photons. And because that contradicts EPR’s conclusion, the assumption that nature is local is also wrong. And so the universe we live in cannot be local.

Our non-local universe allows for connections that transcend the "now" that we are in at this instant, and that is not some kind of mystical mumbo jumbo, that is an accepted scientific fact. Since that idea can be used to explain so many of the other mysteries we've been exploring with this project (most recently in entries like Creativity and the Quantum Universe, The Shaman, and The Musician) only adds weight to this conclusion, as non-intuitive as it may seem.

Embrace your non-locality! And enjoy the journey.

Rob Bryanton

Next: Imagining the Omniverse - Addendum

Sunday, March 22, 2009

More on Augmented Reality

We talked back at the end of January about Augmented Reality. I'd like to show you a few more Augmented Reality demos that hint at some more of the promise of this technology, and then I'd like to show you a little augmented reality project we've been playing with here at my studio.

Here's a video of an "Augmented Reality Wormhole" that was created by Seb Lee-Delisle of Plug-In Media.

Papervision3D augmented reality wormhole from Plug-in Media on Vimeo.
A direct link to the above video is at http://vimeo.com/3016059.

As regular readers of this blog know, I'm fascinated by Wormholes: I think they can be used to demonstrate some of the basic ideas about this way of visualizing the ten spatial dimensions. While the above video isn't really a wormhole, it does tie in nicely with the discussions we've had here about Douglas Hofstadter's I Am a Strange Loop, and recursive processes like video feedback that give us insight into the mysteries of consciousness.

Here's a little virtual race car being controlled by an xbox controller, this video was created by squidder.

Augmented Reality Driving Demo (flash + flartoolkit + xbox controller) from squidder on Vimeo.
A direct link to the above video is at http://vimeo.com/3364864

Here's Toyota's new entry into the world of Augmented Reality:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_7NW_u3VFo

And here's a new project which adds augmented reality to a book about UFOs:

A direct link to this video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eV36Gs5-nxw

Most of what we're looking at here are just whimsical experiments, fun to play with but what's the point? A couple of days ago I attended (and, I'm proud to say, presented the awards at) an Interactive Media Conference in Saskatoon where "Serious Games" was a recurring theme - there are lots of initiatives under way to incorporate these kinds of technologies into serious applications. For instance, what if a doctor could use Augmented Reality to show a patient exactly where in their body their cancer tumor was, so that the patient could look at themselves in the computer monitor, turn one way or another and "see" inside themselves to understand exactly the location and size of the tumor, how it was oriented, and so on? This would be much more intuitive than looking at flat x-ray pictures, and therefore the discussion of treatment options could be simplified.

Advertising and entertainment will also be able to use this technology more and more to help engage their audience. Here's an example of how Lego are now using in-store kiosks to show what that box of Lego pieces will look like when you put everything together - not just as a picture on the top of the box now, but as an animated 3D model that appears when you show each box to the camera!

Lego's 3d Boxes from MyOnline VideoStorage on Vimeo.
A direct link to the above video is at http://vimeo.com/3387723

Which brings us to the little animated reality project we've been playing with here at my studio. Here in Canada, a month ago Doritos announced a "name the new chip flavor and create the advertising campaign for it" contest. After giving it some consideration, I thought this would be a good excuse for us to demonstrate how Augmented Reality could be used to promote a product. The chip flavor name we came up with for these chips is "Queso Diablo", and we're calling our campaign "What's In Your Bag?". Here's the text we used for our submission:

What's in your bag? Doritos Queso Diablo! Five cheeses, tomato, and a delightfully spicy burn, all perfectly blended together. The innovative marketing campaign for these chips uses something called "Augmented Reality": anyone with a webcam can hold the chip bag up to their computer and see the new flavor's devil-mouse mascot, having a party right in their Doritos bag! For a "work in progress" demonstration of what this will be like, go to www.talkingdogstudios.com/chips and see for yourself.
Let me be clear, I'm not telling you about this because I want you to go to the Doritos site and vote for our entry - the public voting has ended and we now wait to see whether the judging panel will pick our entry as one of the five finalists. There were a lot of interesting entries, some of them much more edgy or satirical than ours, so whether our concept is funny enough to match the usual "Doritos attitude" remains to be seen - but I think what we have here is a great concept that we could apply to many other products. What if every Kellogg's cereal had a tag on the front that let you see the mascot for a particular cereal dancing around inside the box you were holding? It could be great fun for kids to actually see themselves with Tony the Tiger or Toucan Sam (and so on). This could also be a great way to entice kids to eat foods that are currently considered to be "healthy" rather than "fun".

Here's the commercial we entered:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjQecb7izmk
The above commercial invites you to go to doritos.ca and click on What's In Your Bag: obviously that link would really only exist if won the contest. As it says in the text description above, in the meantime if you would like to see our "work in progress" demo of what this would look like, please go to www.talkingdogstudios.com/chips and follow the directions.

Frivolous use of a promising new technology? Sure. But this all can be easily related to a number of the blogs we've posted lately about Shamans and Modern Shamans, Comedians and Musicians: if Imagining the Tenth Dimension is about how our reality is defined by shapes and patterns that exist beyond spacetime, "just around the corner" in the fifth dimension and above, then augmented reality as a technology could prove valuable for helping us to visualize those things as well.

Enjoy the journey!


Next: Our Non-Local Universe

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Where Are You?

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Befk-LZVOg0

Laughing and crying, you know, it's the same release
- Joni Mitchell, from her 1974 song "People's Parties"
As I mentioned two entries ago in The Comedian, I'm from the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, and am proud to have been working on the hit Canadian TV show Corner Gas for the past six years (Corner Gas is a smart comedy about people living in a fictional town in Saskatchewan). Artist/musician Joni Mitchell, quoted above, is also from Saskatchewan, and last blog entry we talked about the new scientific studies showing how learning to play music can rewire the brain towards having more empathy. Empathy has been a running theme for the last several entries, and we're continuing that discussion here.

When I typed the above lyrics into google one of the top hits that came up was this:
This is an article written by Shari Covens which blends ancient mysticism with a modern viewpoint. She mentions the seven chakras, and as I've mentioned before seven also holds an important position within my way of visualizing the dimensions: my song Seven Levels is about that idea, and its opening verse includes a mention of chakras as one of the fascinating possible tie-ins to this concept.

Stay with me now, these threads really do all weave together in their own strange way. Joni Mitchell started her career in the 60's as a folk singer, and sometimes played at a folk club here in my home town called "The Fourth Dimension" (another very tiny tie-in to my project). Joni Mitchell released her first album in 1968. That same year, a psychedelic folk music band from Scotland called the Incredible String Band released a song called Douglas Traherne Harding.

Last month we also talked about John Thomas Bryant, creator of Astrotometry. Here's a lovely video John recorded of artist/musician Margaret Fabrizio, talking about Douglas Harding:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=CA&hl=en&v=WzN76a8Ubls

Which leads us, finally, to the title of this blog entry: Where Are You?

There's a site called Perceiving Reality that asks the same question. If you have nine minutes, watch this thought-provoking video, which seems to be connected in various ways to the discussions we've been having here:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0drT_L4G8w8

If you got to the end of the above video, you may have been as surprised as I was to see that it was about the teachings of the Kabbalah, a system of ancient mysticism I know little about, but which seems to have some very interesting connections to my way of visualizing reality - including, as others have pointed out to me, and as I showed in my blog entry Jake Kotze and Mystical Numbers, some fascinating parallels between the helix logo created for this project and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.

Here's another video that connects to all this - Maxwell Igan talks about the "nothing that is behind your eyes" and how that ties into consciousness and empathy, vibrations and patterns, connectedness and love.

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=CA&hl=en&v=v9AH7JZGAp0

Understanding the ways that we are all connected has been a running theme with my project. I've talked a number of times lately about two of my blog entries from last fall which use Beatles lyrics to tie together modern physics and ancient wisdom - I Know You, You Know Me and You are Me and We are All Together seem to keep coming up in this conversation. In the latter of those two entries, I described a highly unusual dream I'd had a few days before: I'm not in the habit of recounting dreams in this blog, but this one was quite different from any others. Imagine my surprise, then, when I came upon the Maxwell Igan clip above, which would have been released just a week or so after I had my dream, and this blog entry from comedian Joe Rogan, in which he talks about having had the same insight this past summer:


To be clear, I'm not suggesting that "we are all one" is some new idea that has just arisen within the last year - I discuss the same idea in my book, and of course various threads of spiritual and mystical thought have said the same thing for millennia. What I'm remarking upon here is only my own personal journey, where I had an insight, then was surprised to find other people expressing the same ideas in short order, and that experience is part of the pattern-matching process that all of us go through as we recognize the connections between the memes all around us.

In the above blog Joe describes how high he was when he came up with his insight, and of course the ideas I'm talking about from those Beatles lyrics are also connected to their experiments with psychedelics. The fact that I came up with the same idea without drugs (as I've said many times now, I have no personal experience with psychedelics) is something I find very interesting: and as I just mentioned in The Comedian, I'm becoming more and more intrigued as I read Graham Hancock's book Supernatural about what that could mean. Is it possible that the visions seen while in various states of altered consciousness (which includes much more than just drug-induced states), as experienced by Shamans throughout mankind's existence, and continuing to be part of many very different people's experience up to today, might be more real than we've been led to suspect? Is it possible that shared thought patterns and new inspirations are giving us tangible glimpses into the memes, the patterns of information that exist outside of time and space? And as I've said many times in this blog, and also touched upon in my book: could meditation, trance, and other altered states be providing ways for us to glimpse other aspects of our reality which are just as real but hidden from view?

This position is easily ridiculed, I know. As I've discussed in entries like Daily Parrying and Ever Seen an Aura?, there has been a tradition, particularly within the scientific community of the past century, to dismiss anything that acknowledges the participation of our consciousness within the creation of the reality we are witnessing as being superstition and ignorance. But what are we to make of it when scientists start expressing related ideas about how all matter is connected together, about hidden dimensions that hold patterns that create our reality, about there being ways of viewing reality in which "time" has no meaning? Let me finish this blog with a famous quote from Albert Einstein:
A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty... We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.
- Albert Einstein
Was Albert smoking the same stuff as Joe? Probably not, and neither was I. But each of us, in our own way, are describing the same idea about how each of us is part of a larger whole.

Where are you
in all this? You're right at the very center of your own version of the universe. But you are connected to everyone else, and to everything else, in ways that are very important to remember: and as more and more people realize that, the world becomes a better place.

To finish, the song we mentioned above - our own universe is defined at the seventh dimension, a fact that has mystical, spiritual and scientific connections. The song is called "Seven Levels".

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7r2NJop0cs

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

P.S. - After writing this entry about memes and hidden patterns that connect us together, I came upon an entry posted last week in C. Om's What Is Really Good? blog which adds some thought-provoking tangents to this question - click here to read "Ever Seen Yourself?".

Next: More on Augmented Reality

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Musician

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXYuhCsWq0E

In entries like Magnets and Souls and Positive Vibes, we've talked about the Steven Strogatz book Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order. Dr. Strogatz talks about entrainment as being one of the underlying factors that can create order even within seemingly random systems. In entries like Unlikely Events and Timelessness and Randomness and the Missing 96%, we talked about other ways of seeing how order can be found in patterns that may appear to be chaotic, and in Dreaming of Electric Sheep and Imagining the Omniverse we talked about how seeing those patterns may have more to do with the filters or selection patterns being used to observe these complex systems that exist simultaneously within timelessness... because Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation tells us that the patterns themselves continue to exist whether we're aware of them or not.

That's all quite lofty sounding. But in very simple terms, what we're talking about are the kinds of things that connect us together with each other. Seeing those connections is one of the most basic functions of the human mind - as I've said in entries like Auras, Ghosts and Pareidolia, and Do You Believe in Ghosts, our brains are all about finding the patterns with the noise. Once we find those patterns, we tend to lock in on them and a feedback loop can make those patterns appear stronger and stronger to our pattern-recognizing minds.

This takes us to our last entry, The Comedian, where we talked about how charismatic individuals can enthrall a live audience, and "take them on a ride". How can this happen? It's a form of entrainment, similar to the ones discussed by Steven Strogatz. To use a more emotional word, we can call that entrainment "empathy".

Empathy is usually thought of as a one-way street - an empathetic individual tends to be more sensitive to the emotions of others. But the effect is even stronger when it works both ways: an individual performer who understands, through their own empathy, what affects the hearts and minds of others, can then use that awareness to make their performance that much more emotionally engaging for others, and the more empathetic the audience the stronger the feedback loop. When that loop is in place, both the performer and the audience become transmitters and receivers, both tuned into that channel we call empathy.

The topic of this entry is "The Musician". So. Rather than re-hash the old sayings about the power of music to touch people's hearts, which is the most obvious connection to empathy and what we've been talking about here, I'd like to quote 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."

Earlier studies suggested that musicians are especially good at identifying emotions expressed in speech, such as anger or sadness. But it wasn't clear what kind of brain activity makes the difference.

Trained brain

To find out, Kraus and her colleagues recruited 30 musicians and non-musicians, aged 19 to 35. Entertained by watching a subtitled nature film, they repeatedly heard a baby crying through earphones (hear an example). Using scalp electrodes, the team measured the electrical response to the sounds in each volunteer's brainstem, which links the auditory nerve to the cerebral cortex.

In the musicians, the response to complex parts of the sound, in which the frequency rapidly changes, was especially high. But the musicians had lower responses than non-musicians to simpler sections of the baby's sound.

"It's as though the musicians are saving their neural resources for the complex portions, which the non-musicians didn't respond to particularly well," Kraus told New Scientist.

Both more years of musical experience and learning to play an instrument at a young age increased a musician's response to the complex sounds. That suggests music practice makes the difference, rather than simply having a natural talent for music in the first place.

Therapeutic tool?

"It used to be we thought sensory systems were pretty passive – they took the sound and just passed the information to the cerebral cortex where all the hard work and thinking was done," says Kraus. "But now we're understanding that as we use our sensory systems in an active way, this feeds back and shapes the sensory system all the way down through the brainstem to the ear."

The results suggest musical training might be useful for kids with dyslexia, some of whom have trouble processing sounds.

Often, these children have trouble processing the complex sounds for which musicians develop an especially good ear. Autistic children might also benefit, if improving their responses to complex sounds helps them interpret emotional speech.

It may also be possible that measurements of brainstem responses to sound could help diagnose autism and language disorders in an objective and reliable way.

For me, the idea that learning music can rewire the brain and repair potential problems relates nicely to the newly growing science of epigenetics, which we looked at in entries like Changing Your Genes 2, The Placebo Effect, and You Have a Shape and a Trajectory: isn't it amazing that scientific studies have now proved that changes in lifestyle and attitude can switch good genes on and bad genes off? One of the important themes from my project is that there are a lot of things about our bodies and our lives we have been traditionally taught cannot be altered, because they are a part of the "hand we've been dealt" and there's no way to change them. New ideas like these show us that things are much less locked in than we've been led to believe. Since I'm a musician myself, I have to admit to some personal bias here - but I think the study talked about in this article shows some exciting implications for understanding the power of music to help re-organize the brain and improve its all-important pattern-matching skill-set. The more we can see how Everything Fits Together, the better we are able to function within the world.

In the long run, though, I believe discussions of empathy still have to come down to understanding what makes us all be individuals with unique points of view, and at the same time what draws us all together: like a performer and an audience, we're transmitters and receivers of the patterns of information that we are all navigating through and traveling within. We're going to talk about that more next time in an entry called "Where Are You?"

Enjoy the journey!


PS - Here's a song that ties into all this as well - about how our constant process of taking on new patterns as we move through our lives, and how the traditional viewpoint that we are powerless to overcome the "hands we've been dealt" by our physical bodies and our circumstances denies us knowledge of how much control we have (not an unlimited amount of control, but certainly much more than many of us have been led to believe). The song is called "Change and Renewal".

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

Next - Where Are You?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Comedian

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0XhvytW7TI

Last blog we talked about Scott McCloud, comics artist and well-known author: I've talked before about his insightful book Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. Scott makes great observations about the underlying connections that give different graphic approaches their impact and underlying meaning - to my way of thinking, his ideas tie very nicely to my own discussions about memes as extra-dimensional patterns that connect us together in ways unseen.

In The Shaman and Modern Shamans, we talked about how this way of seeing reality is a basic part of a shaman's job description: as it says in the wikipedia article about this topic, a shaman bases their actions on the understanding that there are invisible forces that come from outside our reality. Graham Hancock's book Supernatural makes some fascinating arguments that shamanic visions are not just "hallucinations" (images produced by disrupted brain chemistry), but may actually be glimpses into patterns, shapes, and even life-forms that exist across other dimensions! Again, if you're willing to go there, it seems very easy to tie those claims to my way of visualizing how our reality is constructed.

In You Have a Shape and a Trajectory, we quoted from a New Scientist Magazine article about MRI studies done on an impersonator, showing how a professional impersonator was using different parts of his brain to "become" his different characters, activating parts of his brain that are not used in normal speech.

How does an actor "become" a different person? Empathy. Next blog, we're going to talk more about empathy and what that concept means within my way of visualizing the dimensions: but today I'd like to talk about another group of people who use empathy in their work: comedians. Here's a clip from the opening scene of the very first episode of a hit television series produced right here in my home province of Saskatchewan, Canada, centered around a gas station in the fictional prairie town of Dog River.

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Veu-Cm7aHMw

For the past six years my company, Talking Dog Studios, has had the privilege of creating the music and sound for the above show: Corner Gas, Canada's number one Canadian-produced program. Creator and star Brent Butt has participated in the creative process right from the start to the finish, and as sound guys we've been fascinated to learn Brent's unique viewpoints on what should and shouldn't appear in the final audio mix, and how important these decisions are towards whether an audience will laugh or not. Brent tells us that years of working the comedy clubs have shown him just how subtle the difference can be between a joke the audience finds hilarious and one that gets not much response, and that those subtle changes are what can make a big difference from night to night.

Like any other live art, it can be a magical experience to be part of a crowd that becomes completely engaged with the performer on stage. I've talked before, in entries like Information Equals Reality, Music and the Dance of Creativity, and Magnets and Souls about how the physics concept of entrainment can be related to these ideas. When a skilled comedian like Brent Butt gets a crowd of people laughing, his deep empathy for his audience and masterful timing can make the evening become funnier and funnier: in that sense, empathy is a form of entrainment.

That feedback loop between performer and audience also works in film and television, and shows how important "the ride" as opposed to "the joke" can be: the best comedies, once they get you giggling, can sweep you along, keep you smiling, keep you ready for the next big laugh, and most importantly give you time to laugh before moving on with more stuff. In a live environment, a comedian can play the audience like a conductor plays a symphony orchestra, and as a result every performance can be different depending upon the audience's responsiveness, participation, and what might distract them from "the ride" on a particular evening. In a film or television show (particularly ones like Corner Gas done in the modern style with no laugh track), the writing, performing, editing, and mixing all have to have their focus on understanding where the big laughs are going to be, and what things might distract the audience from getting to those laughs. Brent, my hat is off to you, the huge success of Corner Gas is a testament to your deep understanding of what makes comedy work.

So. A comedian's job, like all great artists, is all about empathy with his audience. Interestingly, a lot of comedians, Brent Butt included, also play a musical instrument. Next blog entry, in The Musician, we'll continue this exploration into empathy, and what connects us together in ways unseen.

To close, here's a clip from rebel comedian Bill Hicks (1961-1994) that takes some of the ideas we've just talked about and expands them into a cosmic view of reality:

A direct link to this video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7criyE09uy0

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Next: The Musician

Friday, March 6, 2009

Scott McCloud and the Brothers Winn

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjxAqd7nS0k

Last blog we talked about the new fan video versions of my animation which have been posted in other languages. This time around we're going to talk a little more about some other people's work related to my project.

I'm thrilled to see that one of my heroes, Scott McCloud, has just had some nice things to say about my project in his blog. The image here is a screengrab from his recent post, go to http://scottmccloud.com/?p=32 to see the original, and be sure to check out other parts of his website while you're there.

You may recall that I mentioned Scott not too long ago in my entry called Auras, Ghosts and Pareidolia. As I said back then, Scott is well-known for his insights into the underlying meanings of different forms of graphic representation, and a respected comics artist in his own right. In his blog entry pictured here, entitled "Information Wants to be Loved", he compares my original 11-minute animation with a video for the song "Remind Me" by the Norwegian duo Röyksopp, which won the 2002 MTV Europe Music Award for best music video (I've seen this video before and it really is worth watching, an arresting sequence of visuals takes us through what I presume is some kind of virtual world a la The Sims, but there are elements within it that make us wonder what we're really seeing: a video game? A virtual reality simulation? Our own reality as a set of data? Here's what Scott McCloud has to say comparing the two videos:

"They’ve both been around for a while (2006 & 2002), but if you’ve never seen either I strongly recommend both.

"Funny thing is, I love the first one [Imagining the Tenth Dimension] because it’s all about pure information—spare, monochrome, one idea at a time—and I love the second one because it’s just the opposite: a cascading waterfall of mostly useless infographics. Maybe it’s just the sensation of being taught. Maybe it’s just porn for info-geeks like me. Either way I can’t take my eyes off them."
Thank you Scott for mentioning my work, you have made my month for sure! Here's my video again:
... and here's the aforementioned award-winning music video by Röyksopp:

Now I'd like to introduce you to the Brothers Winn, whose site "What You Ought to Know" is a collection of video blogs about a diverse and amusing range of topics. Why do I bring them up? Because a couple of days ago they published a fun blog entry about my work called "Time Traveling the Multiverse". Here's their video for the entry, please check it out and be prepared to laugh:

You can see their original entry with this video at http://www.whatyououghttoknow.com/show/2009/03/03/time-traveling-the-multiverse/
This video is also posted on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wx4GZJpL8W0

One of the important questions raised in the Winn Brothers video is the subject of impossible universes. If there's a multiverse of all possible initial conditions, then does that mean there's a universe where everything turns into shrimp, or where gravity reverses its direction every second Thursday? Here's what I wrote back to them in response:
Hi Brothers Winn, thanks for mentioning my animation, I really enjoyed your fun discussion of these ideas. Over at the Imagining the Tenth Dimension blog, I’ve posted a link to your entry in my Interesting Links section.

I also have over 200 videos posted on my channel at YouTube, there’s other ones that expand on the ideas from this 11-minute animation you’re talking about, which is basically just the ideas from chapter one of my book. These videos include discussions about what is and isn’t possible within the multiverse, and other ways of thinking about dimensions. Here’s some youtube links you might enjoy:

The Fifth Dimension Isn’t Magic
What Would a Flatlander Really See?
Aren’t There Really 11 Dimensions?
The Holographic Universe

It's fun to see all the new connections that are springing up around this project. In particular, in recent weeks I've been enjoying a lot of challenging and uplifting conversations with people at my youtube channel. As I've said before: this project is all about tying together a huge number of threads which some don't believe have any business being shown to be interrelated. Thank you everyone for your encouragement and your great questions!

Enjoy the journey,


Next - The Comedian

Monday, March 2, 2009

New Translations of Imagining the Tenth Dimension

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ba8jMhT7cyg

Coincidentally, two new translations of my original eleven-minute animation were released recently. First, a Russian website called SmartVideos (www.smartvideos.ru) has translated and re-voiced the animation in their language.
Russian Translation:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnNcq4VYwtQ

Also recently posted by Marcin Mały, who teaches English for Information Technology at the Technical University of Cracow, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Poland, is the following new version with Polish subtitles. Marcin suggested this to one of his students (Slavo) as a translation exercise, and Marcin edited and supervised the results. I should also mention that Marcin now has some of his students working on translation for several other video blogs of mine, so we can look forward to seeing those in the months to come as well.
Polish Translation:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6580BRPL6KA

These videos join a version that was created quite a while back, here's the video with Greek subtitles created by Christos Georgiou.
Greek Translation:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13LyPlKAA2A

Another request that has come up from time to time from English-as-a-second-language viewers of my animation is to have subtitles in English added. Just a couple of weeks ago, a YouTube user from the Central African Republic created and posted just such a thing: thank you, SleepAura for your work in creating this version.
English Subtitles version:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNvHdCosX08

Here are some other interesting developments: last year a Youtube user "heartsmagic" posted a translation into Turkish:

A direct link to part one (above) is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dq4maaG9JaY

A direct link to part two (above) is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMl4ITUWAwY

Another YouTube user, AcAciaZizzo has added Chinese subtitles!

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

And here is a translation from YouTube user manchyc00l, into Arabic:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kkfu-Tux90

(Update, May 18 09) Erez Garty of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel has just released a version with Hebrew subtitles. His website page for this translation is here.
Hebrew Translation:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxyJ0UXmr8U

(Update May 19 09) Today I found a version has just been posted by a YouTube user from Argentina, ELSUBTITULADOR, this one has Spanish subtitles.
Spanish Translation:

A direct link to part one (above) is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-v0NAJFj3z4

A direct link to part two (above) is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LD-g4eTMOtA

Wow, that's Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Polish, Russian, Spanish and Turkish! I really do continue to be amazed at the worldwide interest in this project. Over 4 million unique visitors have now been to www.tenthdimension.com, where the traffic from return visitors continues to average about two million hits per month. Our youtube channel continues to receive various recognitions for the high amount of traffic and new subscribers there, my blog's readership is constantly growing, and my book continues to sell in well over forty countries around the world. Thank you everyone for your interest in my crazy little project to get people to see reality, time, and space in a different way.

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Scott McCloud and the Brothers Winn

Tenth Dimension Vlog playlist