If time is infinite we are in any point in time.
-Jorge Luis Borges, El Libro de Arena (The Book Of Sand)
Very recently I posted some random thoughts on a deeper universal system underlying everything that escapes our current understanding. Quite coincidentally, while lost on my various feeds I came across this interview at wired Magazine. This in turn took me to the original article at The American Scholar.
The theory is astonishing, controversial and revolutionary, the sort of thing that can shake the very foundation of everything we thought as absolutely true. I'll try to make a quick review of the article (Mr. Robert Lanza, sorry for butchering your writing the way I'm going to), and give my own thoughts and ideas on it, as lame as they might be.
The first statement is something not quite new, that science is biased due to perception. What we believe to be fact, is merely what we are allowed to through our consciousness. It was quite shocking to read "Most of these comprehensive theories are no more than stories that fail to take into account one crucial factor: we are creating them"; particularly so, when it cams from the pen of one of today's most prominent scientists.
Modern physics has become like Swift’s kingdom of Laputa, flying absurdly on an island above the earth and indifferent to what is beneath. When science tries to resolve its conflicts by adding and subtracting dimensions to the universe like houses on a Monopoly board, we need to look at our dogmas and recognize that the cracks in the system are just the points that let the light shine more directly on the mystery of life.
I can imagine some Physicists revolting while reading such statement, but the cry for new dogmas is very valid. Physics has become more abstract than a Kandinsky painting.
The universe is just too perfect to be the product of chance; [There are more] than 200 physical parameters within the solar system and universe so exact that they cannot be random. Indeed, the lack of a scientific explanation has allowed these facts to be hijacked as a defense of intelligent design. Or in other words, the universe is so well thought that the only explanation that has ever pleased anybody involved God, and the mention of Deities to Physicists is as heretic as the mention of Evolution to devoted religious people.
The idea that we're nowhere closer to the truth today than 5000 years ago i somewhat shocking. According to the article one can interpret that we have just switched myths or beliefs. In one age, we believe that the world is a great ball resting on the back of a turtle; in the next, that a fairy universe appeared out of nowhere and is expanding into nothingness. Everything we know about how the universe works, of how it was and what it will become lacks of sense; not as in "pointless", but in as not having a purpose.
Science has no real explanation for why we’re here, for why we exist now. According to the current physiocentric worldview, it’s just an accident, a one-in-a-gazillion chance that I am here and that you are there. The statistical probability of being on top of time or infinity is so small as to be meaningless. Yet this is generally how the human mind conceives time.
A new conception of time is proposed, based on the fact that, as biological entities, we are wired to think (and perceive) time as a continuum, a rolling wave always moving forward, with us standing on top of it, riding it without being able to look backwards or forwards, for ever trapped in the impossibly small now. But Lanza proposes a new way of thinking time, using a record as an analogy. Time is that old vinyl record; where the now, as we are able to perceive is the point where the needle is playing, but yet time is till there, all of it, and could be "experienced" simultaneously. Much for Swiss Watches manufacturers demise, the statement that clocks don't measure time, but rather the rhythm of events (a ticking of a clock, the vibration of quartz), which we, in turn, use to measure other rhythms (a day, a year, a lifespan).
Quantum mechanics is a marvelous thing. They simply go against all order any scientist has tried to state or establish. Some might say they even go against nature. Observation of an electron depends on the observer. Ain't that something for our egos? Yet our certainty thirsty egos get a blow on the jaw with the uncertainty principle: you can't know both the location and speed of a particle, you can only know one at the time.
John Wheeler is quoted saying "No phenomenon is a real phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon", this is actually the core of this new biocentric theory. This fact seems astonishingly supported by quantum physics and the two-hole experiment, in which if a sub-atomic particle is watched as it passes through a hole it behaves as a particle, otherwise it behaves as a wave.
The core statement on this new biocentric approach is that the world, the universe, time and everything don't exist if they aren't observed consciously. It sort of reminds me of the old idea that eyes shed light on objects and thus we were able to see.
During the twentieth century several theories in physics came up to explain different aspects of the universe (universe as in"everything"), explaining each their subject of research, but contradicting other theories in doing so. Thus the need of an unifying theory, that has been th holy grail for theorists around the globe. Furthermore recent astronomical observations are contradicting previous knowledge which is foundational to astronomy. The most obvious contradiction that has came up recently thanks to Hubble's telescope observations is that there are stars older than the alleged age of the universe. The implications of such observation are only starting to surface.
The theory presented by Robert Lanza is bold, controversial and radically challenging of today's standing dogmas. I can foresee that Robert Lanza will be the subject of controversy and ridicule. It is only natural, every radical theory in history (proven right or otherwise) has yielded this sort of reply from the scientific community status-quo.But given the current state of affairs in science this is what is needed. Something bold and challenging that forces Scientists and investigators to discard everything they consider truth, changing paradigms, challenging well established knowledge. Such things are core to drive science. If what is believed to be truth is not challenged periodically progress is impossible (remember the middle ages? when the church would not allow "free thinking" science, progress and technology were stuck).What is my opinion regarding this Biocentric theory? I regret to say I haven't yet arrived to any. The dust has not yet settled in the abyss of my mind; digestion is needed, I need further thought, reading and knowledge to start forming an opinion.
But some seedlings already show up. Recently Mark made a question on his blog, his question was really close in some points to this new theory; amongst this points is the issue of how science fails to even come close on answering some of humanity's deeper questions. That sure is an open wound for science.
Mark also referenced The Matrix and how we're limited by perception. This is the focus of biocentrism, the fact that everything around us exists as long as we are conscious about it. In the Matrix, most people did not have consciousness that their world was a reality projected into their minds. In the movie, there was a magical answer to know better: taking a pill. Regrettably things aren't all that simple in real life.
As humans we can't perceive x-rays, radio waves, ultraviolet, infrared, just to name a few. Yet we have managed to be able to detect such things with technology, increasing our ability to input data into our brains and thus be able to gain consciousness on data that would otherwise be hidden to us. I wonder how this fits into the biocentric theory.
Every time I read or hear about this sort of biocentric (or homocentric, or earth-centric or whatever-centric) theories I get the impression that we might be giving us more importance than we deserve and have. Surely enough as individuals, race and part of a living earth we influence the universe, probably in ways we might never fully understand, but I'm not quite convinced life (as in carbon-based life) is central to the universe. It might, and I'm open to be convinced that this is true.
That being said, a lot of facts seem too casual, too coincidental to be just universal accidents; thus we know there are millions of answers and new questions that still need to be addressed and thought of. I believe breakthroughs in science in upcoming years will be quite unexpected and shocking; we've already tried the obvious answers and failed, it is time to think differently.
A gentle night, a little hot, looking outside the balcony with Luciana, beer in hand.
While watching the city skyline I point out "there's Venus, and there's Mars". Which leads to an interesting discussion about the universe. I almost chose Astronomy instead of Music as a major, but several facts drove me towards music instead. Thus I was explaining Lu about Supernovas, the Big Bang, the Big Crunch, and black holes; then she strikes me with a question "but what is their function?".
Luciana is currently doing her doctorate, she majored in biotechnology. For biology and genetics-related scientists everything has a function, a reason to exist, something to do (or at least something they did in the past, a big percentage of our genome is just inherited rubbish, genes that used to have a function in some previous evolutionary point, but are rendered useless for human beings; the reason why this "genetic noise" remains is still under debate). In astronomy, on the other hand, there is no such sense of functionality. Things are studied or theorized just to explain or complement observations. Purpose is not a part of it, things just happen or are (or were).
Thus I went along the unavoidable path: What if there is an underlying sense behind everything in the universe? I don't mean in a religious way, that's something I won't get into.
What I mean is: is there a universal bigger picture astronomers and scientists are missing? A system with a purpose, instead of different events and facts that interact but seem rather casual, a means to an end, sort to speak.
I have to give this some more thought, though.