What Is Life? is a 1944 science book written for the lay reader by physicist Erwin Schrödinger. The book was based on a course of public lectures delivered by Schrödinger in February 1943, under the auspices of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies at Trinity College, Dublin. The lectures attracted an audience of about 400, who were warned “that the subject-matter was a difficult one and that the lectures could not be termed popular, even though the physicist’s most dreaded weapon, mathematical deduction, would hardly be utilized.” Schrödinger’s lecture focused on one important question: “how can the events in space and time which take place within the spatial boundary of a living organism be accounted for by physics and chemistry?”
Parmenides of Elea (late sixth or early fifth century BCE) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from Elea in Magna Graecia (Greater Greece, included Southern Italy). He was the founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy. The single known work of Parmenides is a poem, On Nature, which has survived only in fragmentary form. In this poem, Parmenides describes two views of reality. In “the way of truth” (a part of the poem), he explains how reality (coined as “what-is”) is one, change is impossible, and existence is timeless, uniform, necessary, and unchanging. In “the way of opinion,” he explains the world of appearances, in which one’s sensory faculties lead to conceptions which are false and deceitful.
Some selected quotes from the book:
“Contrariwise,” continued Tweedledee, “if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”
–Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871)
“In reality, Heisenberg said, all possibilities simultaneously exist, until a single one materializes upon observation.”
[Attention students of RHS:] “[T]he past isn’t something that has already irrevocably occurred. Rather, long-ago events depend on the present observer. Until they’re observed at this moment, the events didn’t really unfold, but lurked in a blurry probabilistic state, all ready to become an actual ‘past’ occurrence only upon our current observation. This astonishing possibility is called retrocausality.”
“I am reality without beginning . . . I have no part in the illusion of ‘I’ and ‘you,’ ‘this’ and ‘that.’ I am . . . one without a second, bliss without end, the unchanging, eternal truth. I dwell within all beings as . . . the pure consciousness, the ground of all phenomena, internal and external, I am both the enjoyer and that which is enjoyed. In the days of my ignorance, I used to think of these as being separate from myself. Now I know that I am all.”
–Adi Shankara (788 C.E. – 820 C.E.) was a philosopher and theologian from India who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta. He is credited with unifying and establishing the main currents of thought in Hinduism. Wikipedia
“I was studying for a physiology test when something in the textbook about the visual part of the brain suddenly gave me a split-second insight that the distinction between ‘external’ and ‘internal’ is unreal. Then that intellectual insight abruptly changed into something else. An enormous weight I’d never realized I had borne was suddenly lifted. An experience began that no words could convey. It was ineffable and life-altering. The best I can say is that ‘I’ was suddenly gone, replaced by the certainty of being the entire cosmos. There was absolute peace. I knew with total confidence, not logically–because, as I said, Bob was no longer present–that birth and death do not exist. That all is perfect eternally, that time is unreal, and that all is one. The joy was beyond anything I could have imagined. The to-the-marrow certainty could perhaps be better described as a recognition, an ancient familiarity of being Home.”
–co-author Bob Berman describing an experience he had in 2008
“We have known for a century that light is composed of waves of magnetism along with electrical undulations traveling at right angles to it. Neither magnetism nor electricity have inherent color or brightness, and thus even if there were an independent universe beyond consciousness, it would have to be utterly invisible. This bears repeating: At best, any separate external universe must be blank or black.”
“Reality is an active process that always involves our consciousness. Everything we see and experience is a whirl of information occurring in our minds, shaped by algorithms (represented here by digital zeroes and ones) that create brightness, depth and a sense of time and space. Even in dreams, our mind can assemble information into a 4D spatio-temporal experience. ‘Here,’ said Emerson, ‘we stand before the secret of the world, there where Being passes into Appearance, and Unity into Variety.'”
“The only things we can ever perceive,” said George Berkeley, for whom the campus and city were named, “are our perceptions.”
“That the universe (taken as a whole) does lie beyond our logic should be obvious, but somehow escapes the notice of cosmology textbooks. Look at our models: Many say a Big Bang started it all, but have no idea, not the foggiest, how you get an entire universe of matter/energy out of nothingness. The very idea makes no sense whatsoever, even if it may sound okay to the majority of people simply because it’s been repeated so often. (The very term Big Bang was actually coined pejoratively by Fred Hoyle in 1949 as a way to ridicule the notion as preposterous on its very face.)”
“For we convinced physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
–Albert Einstein shortly before his death in 1955
“In 2012, a team at the University of California, Berkeley, studied 900,000 galaxies and found that large-scale space shows no sign of warping. The conclusion? This flat large-scale topography indicates that the universe is probably infinite, since a finite cosmos would display a curvature in its space-time, caused by the enormous mass of its combined galaxies and dark matter. This new discovery indicates that the cosmic inventory of galaxies and planets is endless. In April 2013, Debra Elmegreen, then president of the American Astronomical Society, shrugged it off to one of the authors who’d asked what she made of this news that the visible cosmos is enveloped in an infinitely larger matrix: “Even if we can only observe a very small fraction of the universe, that’s plenty to keep us busy.” But she slightly misspoke. It’s not a very small percentage that’s observable. You see, any fraction of infinity is zero. It means we cannot see even a few paintbrush strokes of the celestial masterwork. Thus, as briefly noted in chapter, 1 all we can ever hope to study is zero percent. And when a sample size is zero, no conclusions are trustworthy. Thus this illusion extends to everything we think we know about the cosmos.”
“‘There is,’ wrote Thoreau, ‘always the possibility . . . of being all.‘ By a conscious effort of the mind, Thoreau made clear that he could stand beside himself, aloof from actions and their consequences; and all things, good and bad, went by him like a torrent. ‘I may be either the driftwood in the stream, or Indra in the sky looking down on it.’ What is not in doubt even in these early research stages is that the observer is correlative with the cosmos. That time does not exist. And perhaps the most cheerful takeaway from biocentrism: Since there’s no self-existing space-time matrix in which energy can dissipate, it’s impossible for you to ‘go’ anywhere. In a nutshell, death is illusory. So far as actual direct experience is concerned, you will continue to find what you’ve always observed: Consciousness and awareness never began, and will never end.”
“If you wound someone, there is always an intimate connection. Whether it continues being destructive depends on how you deal with the wound after it has been made.”
–Emma Thompson (born April 15, 1959) is a British actress, a comedian, and a writer. She is known for her portrayals of reticent women and playing haughty or matronly characters with a sense of irony, often in period dramas and literary adaptations. Wikipedia
“I have to get the little Caruso out of the way so I can let the big Caruso sing.” (quote courtesy of Alex Gambeau)
George Henry Sanders (3 July 1906 – 25 April 1972) was an English film and television actor, singer-songwriter, music composer, and author. His career as an actor spanned more than 40 years. His upper-class English accent and bass voice often led him to be cast as sophisticated but villainous characters. He is perhaps best known as Jack Favell in Rebecca (1940), Scott ffolliott inForeign Correspondent (1940) (a rare heroic part), Addison DeWitt in All About Eve (1950), King Richard the Lionheart in King Richard and the Crusaders (1954), Mr. Freeze in a two-parter episode of Batman (1966), the voice of the malevolent man-hating tiger Shere Khan in Disney’s The Jungle Book (1967), and as Simon Templar, “The Saint”, in five films made in the 1930s and 1940s. (Wikipedia.org)
By Tara MacIsaac, Epoch Times
The Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677) wrote in “Ethics I”: “Nothing in Nature is random. … A thing appears random only through the incompleteness of our knowledge.”
In modern physics, certain quantum processes are deemed fundamentally random.
“As we currently understand it, quantum randomness is true and absolute randomness,” said theoretical physicist York Dobyns in an email to the Epoch Times. “Nothing in the universe can predict quantum outcomes except at a statistical level.”
Put simply, things are considered fundamentally fuzzy or indeterminate in quantum theory. A particle may behave as a wave; Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle states that we have a limited ability to know more than one physical property of a particle (such as position and momentum) at the same time; radioactive decay is unpredictable, it results from a particle quantum tunneling into or out of the nucleus.
As far as physicists can tell, quantum mechanics includes true randomness. But Spinoza may still be right.
Uncertain Footing of Quantum Theory’s Uncertainties
Dobyns admitted that it is possible even quantum randomness is not truly random. If that is so, quantum theory would have to be majorly reworked.
Physicists expect such a reworking. Quantum theory has major gaps and scientists are seeking a new major theory to replace or complement it.
Science is torn between classical physics and quantum physics. Each holds true in certain circumstances, but neither can explain how everything works.
“Current quantum theory can and will be replaced if a better theory (one that explains more) can be devised, and a theory that can make accurate predictions of events that are random according to the current version of QM [quantum mechanics] would be a great candidate,” Dobyns said.
If quantum theory is replaced by a so-called “Theory of Everything,” the idea of randomness may also disappear. No theory that can predict random quantum events has been proposed, so for now we must assume they are truly random.
Random Number Generators
Machines called random number generators (RNGs) use the quantum processes to generate encryption keys for banks. They are also used as tools for various scientific experiments.
RNGs have particularly been used in psi (the unknown “psychic” factor that cannot be explained by known physical and biological mechanisms) experiments; for example, researchers have used them to test whether a person could exercise psychokinesis by causing the machine to produce a pattern instead of randomness.
Dobyns designed and implemented data processing strategies for the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) lab at Princeton University, where RNGs were often used in psi experiments.
Dean Radin, chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, has also used RNG generators to conduct psi experiments. He explained how the randomness of RNGs is tested statistically.
RNGs produce random bits. They’re often described as electronic coin-flippers; they randomly produce either a 1 or a zero.
To test the RNG, researchers run tens of millions of bits produced by the RNG through statistical tests (one such suite of statistical tests is called Die Hard, developed by mathematician George Marsaglia at Florida State University). They test the distribution of bits in many ways, using variables that mathematicians have determined should indicate if the RNG is behaving randomly.
“If it passes all of the tests, then you say, ‘As best as we can tell, this is behaving like a true random system,’” Radin said. “But it’s quite true that you actually never know. Because it could be that after you’ve tested the 10 million random bits that the next 10 million might all come out the same, or some silly thing like that.”
“You assume that the sample of the tested bits is a fair representative of the whole population of bits and accurately reflects how the RNG works,” he said.
Some RNGs use computer algorithms instead of the “noise” created by quantum processes. These are sufficient for certain uses, but the resulting sequences are deterministic, and some uses require truly unpredictable, non-deterministic sequences.
TED Talk | TED.com: What is the blockchain? If you don’t know, you should; if you do, chances are you still need some clarification on how it actually works. Don Tapscott is here to help, demystifying this world-changing, trust-building technology which, he says, represents nothing less than the second generation of the internet and holds the potential to transform money, business, government and society.
By Michael Rosenblum (huffingtonpost.com)
August 25, 2016
Donald Trump is going to be elected president.
The American people voted for him a long time ago.
They voted for him when The History Channel went from showing documentaries about the Second World War to “Pawn Stars” and “Swamp People.”
They voted for him when The Discovery Channel went from showing “Lost Treasures of the Yangtze Valley” to “Naked and Afraid.”
They voted for him when The Learning Channel moved from something you could learn from to “My 600-lb Life.”
They voted for him when CBS went from airing “Harvest of Shame” to airing “Big Brother.”
These networks didn’t make these programming changes by accident. They were responding to what the American people actually wanted. And what they wanted was “Naked and Afraid” and “Duck Dynasty.”
The polls may show that Donald Trump is losing to Hillary Clinton, but don’t you believe those polls. When the AC Nielsen Company selects a new Nielsen family, they disregard the new family’s results for the first three months. The reason: when they feel they are being monitored, people lie about what they are watching. In the first three months, knowing they are being watched, they will tune into PBS. But over time they get tired of pretending. Then it is back to the Kardashians.
The same goes for people who are being asked by pollsters for whom they are voting. They will not say Donald Trump. It is too embarrassing. But the truth is, they like Trump. He is just like their favorite shows on TV.
Trump’s replacement of Paul Manafort with Breitbart’s Steve Bannon shows that Trump understands how Americans actually think. They think TV. They think ratings. They think entertainment.
We are a TV-based culture. We have been for some time now. The average American spends 5 hours a day, every day, watching TV. After sleep, it is our number one activity.
More shockingly, we spend 8.5 hours a day staring at screens — phones, tablets, computers. And more and more of the content on those devices is also video and TV.
If you spend 5-8 hours a day, every day, for years and years doing the same thing it has an impact on you. For the past 40 years, we have devoted 5-8 hours a day staring at a screen — every day. And we haven’t been watching Judy Woodruff. We have been watching reality TV shows. That is what we love. That is what we resonate to. “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
The French may love food. The Italians may love opera. What we love is TV. We are TV culture. It defines who we are.
In the 1950s, early television was allowed, with many restrictions, to be an observational guest at political conventions. They were quiet “flies on the wall,” carefully and quietly commentating on what they saw way down below. They did not get involved in the process. Today, they ARE the process. Today, political conventions are nothing but carefully directed TV shows. Likewise “debates.” They exist only to entertain a TV audience. TV and entertainment now dictate everything political. It is a never-ending show. The biggest reality show on air.
And Donald Trump is great TV.
He knows how to entertain.
He understands ratings.
Hillary Clinton is crap TV.
She may be smarter, better prepared, a better politician. It won’t matter. She is terrible entertainment.
That’s just how it is. Depressing, but true.
He is Kim Kardashian. She is Judy Woodruff.
Who gets better ratings?
Who would you rather watch for the next four years?
In 1825, the great French gastronom Brillat de Savarind said, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” Today, in America, we can safely say, “Tell me what you watch, and I will tell you what you are.”
And what do we watch?
It isn’t “PBS NewsHour.”
As previously posted in TheVJ.com