November 29, 2017

Sounds Like the Mystic's Viewpoint

Quanta magazine has interviewed Princeton physicist, Edward Witten, known for his M-theory, or theory of everything. In my opinion, Witten, now 66 years old, sounds perplexed about making sense of physics. He told the interviewer that he was reading an old essay by the 20th-century Princeton physicist John Wheeler and said, "He was a visionary, certainly. If you take what he says literally, it’s hopelessly vague. And therefore, if I had read this essay when it came out 30 years ago, which I may have done, I would have rejected it as being so vague that you couldn’t work on it, even if he was on the right track."

(Interviewer) You’re referring to "Information, Physics, Quantum", Wheeler’s 1989 essay propounding the idea that the physical universe arises from information, which he dubbed “it from bit.”

(Witten) When I was a beginning grad student, they had a series of lectures by faculty members to the new students about theoretical research, and one of the people who gave such a lecture was Wheeler. He drew a picture on the blackboard of the universe visualized as an eye looking at itself. I had no idea what he was talking about. It’s obvious to me in hindsight that he was explaining what it meant to talk about quantum mechanics when the observer is part of the quantum system. I imagine there is something we don’t understand about that.

Source: A Physicist’s Physicist Ponders the Nature of Reality

October 12, 2017

Good Panel Discussion on Near Death Experiences

Join neurologist Kevin Nelson, psychiatrist Peter Fenwick, orthopedic surgeon Mary Neal, and emergency medicine expert Sam Parnia as they share some remarkable near death experience (NDE) stories and discuss how they analyze such experiences in light of their own backgrounds and training.

Mary Neal is convinced, after having her own NDE, that near death experiences take us to a place outside the boundaries of modern science and medicine.

Video is from New York Academy of Sciences, Wednesday, December 11, 2013.

September 27, 2017

Mathematician and Physicist Roger Penrose 7 Minute Video Discussing the Physics of Consciousness

Penrose is an extremely brilliant mathematician and physicist, and he theorizes that a huge gap in quantum mechanics can be used to explain consciousness, or something existing "outside a computational system". He wrote the book, "The Emperor's New Mind". Working with a biologist led him to wonder if microtubules in the brain might hold the "soul" of the body.

Penrose is an odd mix of atheist, philosopher, and believer in consciousness outside the body. He appears to see this as a nonspiritual condition, simply an explanation to explain laws of physics which may live inside and outside the brain.

But, this statement is interesting from a Nautilus Magazine interview:
As I wondered why Penrose keeps hammering away at his theory on consciousness after all these years, I asked him if he thinks there’s any inherent meaning in the universe. His answer surprised me. “Somehow, our consciousness is the reason the universe is here.”

For more on this subject, also see this very recent article from Quanta Magazine:
(I)f a new hypothesis proves to be correct, quantum effects might indeed play some role in human cognition. Matthew Fisher, a physicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, raised eyebrows late last year when he published a paper in Annals of Physics proposing that the nuclear spins of phosphorus atoms could serve as rudimentary “qubits” in the brain — which would essentially enable the brain to function like a quantum computer. (Read More>)

September 24, 2017

Listen to the Music of Hildegard of Bingen

Today, I went to a 65 minute documentary about Hildegard of Bingen titled "The Unruly Mystic", produced by Michael Conti. She was a German Benedictine abbess mystic. Besides being given insights from Nature and writing medicinal books containing herbal and natural remedies, she wrote divinely inspired music which has gained quite a following for its ability to convey peace and bliss. This is not easy music to sing as it spans a two and one-half octave range.

Hildegard of Bingen lived to the age of 82 during the 12th century. Following her death, it took 800 years for her to be discovered, discussed, and written about. Her original writings were in Latin, translated to German.

On October 7, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named her a Doctor of the Church, a designation which has also been given to Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Next, are words written to the music of Hildegard of Bingen's. Note that she wrote her own words for all of her compositions.

The Holy Spirit, life that gives life and moves all things
and is the root of every creature and cleanses all things of impurity, wiping away sins
and anointing wounds:
this is the radiant and admirable life, awakening and reawakening all things.

And always you teach the learned,
those made happy by the inspiration of wisdom.

So let there be praise to you who are the sound of all praise and the joy of life,
who are hope and powerful honor, granting the gifts of light.

- Hildegard of Bingen, 12th century AD, from her song "Spiritus Sanctus vivificans vita"