The centre of the universe

Written by on August 25, 2011 in Commentary with 8 Comments

The Centre of the Universe
by Christian Joore

If you spend any time on crowded highways, in busy restaurants, or standing in line at any shop or market, you will surely know how some of us think we are the centre of the universe. And if by chance you are standing behind a man named Robert Lanza, he’ll tell you we are.

Robert Lanza: Doctor, Scientist and Chief Scientific Officer for Advanced Cell Technology (ACT)

Lanza’s theory called ‘Biocentrism’ simply states that life and biology are central to being and that ultimately life creates the universe instead of the universe creating us. A sort of backwards notion of how we regard the cosmos.

Under his theory, ideas of time and space are not absolute realities, but rather tools that emerge within the human mind. Meaning that our perception of what is ‘out there’ and what is ‘inside our head’s’ are essentially two sides of the same coin, created from the mind.

If the concept is hard to grasp, picture sitting in a chair, in your house watching a bird fly by the window, now turn everything inside out… the house, the bird and the chair are sitting inside of your mind, playing like a movie, one to which you are the only audience member and there is no theatre.

It is an interesting theory that does play nice with certain modern scientific ideas. In fact you don’t have to go any further than the basic concepts in Quantum Mechanics to know how the presence of an observer can affect the universe.

In Quantum Mecahnics (QM), subatomic particles (and systems of particles) exist in an undetermined state known as ‘superposition’, a sort of fuzzy ambiguity that can be described mathematically in terms of probability. The probability can be expressed in terms of a spread out wave that collapses into one distinct possibility once an observer ‘looks at it’. This is the Copenhagen Interpretation of QM.

If this is a new and curious concept to you, I urge you to investigate these topics: Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, Thomas Young Double-Slit experiement, Quantum Entangement.

What you will discover is the classic Quantum strangeness that has shocked both scientists and the general public over the past hundred years. Findings, that despite skepticism, have been proven time and again and can be attributed to many technological advancements. In fact, it will soon jump start a new era in computer technology, something known as Quantum computing.

As an aside – QM has become the prime reason I started this blog. In fact, its intent is to be a general guide for anyone who might be casually interested in broadening there consciousness, a place to dive in feet first and bring about a better understanding of life, reality and the universe. I am not an expert in any capacity, most of what I write comes from a variety of sources, ie. books, the web, forum discussions, etc – and although i try to balance and temper what i write across as many opinions as possible, occasionally I will form my own as well. I have been intrigued by QM and consider it to be an ‘authenitic’ magic in our lives, magic that dispenses of the ’rabbit in a hat’ and gives a rabbit hole instead, one that let’s you go as deep as you dare.

Back to QM – as a consequence, interestingly, if there is no observer to ‘collapse’ quantum superposition (determine the state of a particle), you may then ask – are physical things still the way they are if I am not looking? Or as Einstein onced commented, “I like to think the moon is still there even if I am not looking at it.”

It would surely be a daunting job to maintain the workings of the universe by employing thousands of people and scientists, working around the clock, to observe ‘everything’ so that the universe persists. So to avoid this, there’s Quantum Decoherence.

Decoherence describes the process of how a quantum particle or system of particles interacts with its environment by becoming entangled within it. This entanglement creates a mixture of states which suppresses the interference aspect of quantum superposition, essentially dissolving the weirdness of QM into the surrounding environment. What I question though is the scope that decoherence assumes. What sort of relationship does actual collapse have to Decoherence have? Can we really have one’s cake classically, and eat it quantum-ly at the same time?

However, is decoherence evidence for an actual separate physical reality? One that Biocentrism denies? If so, does this demote biological beings to the menial job of only putting the icing on the cake? Does decoherence put us back in our place, away from the centre of the universe?

Before you ponder these questions, read below…

If we look at the light of a distance galaxy, what we see is not the galaxy as it is now but as it was thousands, millions or billions of years ago. The oldest object we have observed through a telescope thus far is more than 13 billion years old. Wikipedia reports that the earliest possible emergence of life in the universe is about 12.7 billion years ago – a time after the universe was born but before the first supernova’s would have created the elements for life, namely Carbon, Nitrogen, and Oxygen.

So, logically, if we can see a time before the emergence of biological life, then an actual physical universe must have existed independently from any biology.

Or could it be that a universal consciousness existed instead, perhaps a ‘super-consciousness’ that didn’t originally stem from a physical being but propagated later within biological creatures as a natural evolution of matter in the universe.

The Good Word

To summarize, Biocentrism states that life does not occur independent of an absolute physical universe but exists because space and time emerge as tools of the mind, providing depth to our experience of reality by allowing the perception of change in a de facto physical universe.

Meaning that if we believe we are sitting on a chair reading this  blog entry, this may be just a fanciful projection in our mind. Indeed, every experience in our life is a just a projection, or an interpretation from sense data delivered to our brain, sense data from a questionable objective reality.

And because of this, it seems that we can only inferred the existence of an external reality from the electromagnetic forces we feel from atoms other than our own, atoms which are an insubstantial and ambiguous thing anyway. 

Or as Albert Einstein once said, “Reality is merely and illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

I wonder if an objective point of view is not a question of where, but when, as my ‘oldest light’ comment in the article suggests.

On a negative note – Biocentrism could be criticized as being a shallow theory because it does not go far enough to explain how or why consciousness exists at all. I guess no matter what levels of comprehension we achieve, there will always be the question of why – this is the human condition.

Deepak Chopra (Indian Physician and writer) says that Lanza’s insights are consistent with ancient eastern wisdom traditions which state that consciousness is the basis of all being and where the physical world sprouts into existence. So it seems it is deeply seated in some established philosophies already.

My own personal view on this is that I like how it plays with our natural assumptions about an ‘external world’. It really gets us thinking more critically about what and where we are with respect to it ‘all’. This idea also floats well within my own thoughts about higher-dimensions and consciousness – contributing to a sense that we definitely are connected to something more that what is apparent.

Yet on the other side of my own coin I question if Biocentrism is a cultural thing. An indication of a deeper social phenomenon stemming from a modern rejection of an omni-present supernatural God, combined with an inflated sense of self-importance facilitated through the projection of our personal lives via social media and the like. Think of it as a global narcissism that has permeated our spirituality and perhaps wants us to believe we are the centre of the universe.

Regardless, there is good science to back it up, and besides it sure is fun to give a thought or two.

About the Author

About the Author: .

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

8 Reader Comments

Trackback URL Comments RSS Feed

  1. Karl Coryat says:

    I applaud your open-mindedness. Lanza started quite a thing with his book, but sometimes the way he explains the concepts leaves the theory open for “debunking” by self-proclaimed skeptics. It’s a good start, but the physical concepts are more subtle than Lanza would have the lay reader believe.

    You’re familiar with QM, so you probably know about decoherence — it, not “consciousness,” is the mechanism through which information is generated in what are generically called observations. However, decoherence and observation do not require consciousness — a Geiger counter can “observe” and perform what Bohr called “an irreversible act of amplification.” The salient point though is that Geiger counters are designed and built by biological beings.

    Ultimately, without the appearance of biological life, no particles would be detected, no wave functions would “collapse” (kind of an archaic term these days), and there would be no distinction between object and observer, anywhere in the universe. So it would remain nothing but a “fog of timelessness” as you put it.

    You’re invited to read the FAQ and watch the videos at our website, which takes a closer look at the physics aspects of the theory.

    • gooduniverse says:

      Thank you for your comment Karl.

      My understanding of decoherence, and please correct me if I am wrong, is that it’s more of an interim shadow of what a true determined state might be, or put another way, what a system is inherently inclined to be in the absence of an observer.

      With that said, to what degree decoherence represents a real ‘state’, I am not sure… apparently enough to coerce a click out of a geiger counter I guess. Do I have this right?

      In fact, this may answer a question I have always had… If I have never seen the pyramids in Egypt before but a friend of mine has, then I plan a trip to witness them for myself, why does my experience match with my friends? Is it because the pyramids have a quantum tendency to be a certain way because of decoherence?

      Is decoherence then evidence for an semi-actual external world?

      Also, please excuse my terminology, it seems I keep a certain vintage of information on my bookshelves.

      Thanks for the link BTW, I will definitely start digging through the site.

      Christian.

  2. Karl Coryat says:

    I’ve never heard that description of decoherence before. It’s an actual physical mechanism that can be demonstrated experimentally, and it explains why macroscopic objects such as “Schrodinger’s cat” do not exist as a superposition or mixture of states. I think it’s pretty much settled science. The Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_decoherence) is not a great introduction, but here’s a basic run-down of the idea:
    http://eddiecurrent.blogspot.com/2011/01/decoherence-destroyer-of-quantum.html .

    In the pyramids question, if you mean why are there distinct pyramids in distinct places for you in the same way there are the same pyramids for your friend, yes, decoherence is responsible for that — and that’s true whether you believe in a biocentric universe or the conventional (absolute) universe. It’s the reason why macroscopic objects are seen in distinct places by all observers.

    I wouldn’t say decoherence is evidence for a real or semi-real external world. A better way to put it is: It’s the mechanism by which one subsystem of the universe (the “object,” whatever that may be) becomes distinguished from the rest of the universe, from the perspective of an “observer” (whatever that may be). In the Geiger counter example, the object is a particle, and the observer is the detector tube. Decoherence is how the macroscopic Geiger counter finds a distinct microscopic particle at a specific place and a specific time.

  3. gooduniverse says:

    Thanks for the links, especially Eddie’s blog, I am seeing decoherence a little clearer now.. there’s a joke in there somewhere. And the Wiki article, which was a bit of struggle, hit home a little too. Heres snippet from that

    -Decoherence does not generate actual wave function collapse. It only provides an explanation for the appearance of wavefunction collapse. The quantum nature of the system is simply “leaked” into the environment. That is; components of the wavefunction are decoupled from a coherent system, and become identified with the immediate surroundings or material universe. A total superposition of the global or universal wavefunction still occurs (i.e. – it remains coherent), but its ultimate fate remains an interpretational issue. –

    Strangely though, doesn’t the wiki article still support a state of superposition for Schrodinger’s cat? As per the last line, or have I taken it out of context?

  4. Karl Coryat says:

    Technically, Schrodinger’s cat remains in superposition, as does every object in the universe and the universe as a whole. But it doesn’t appear to be that way to us, because the information regarding all but one state of the cat has “leaked” into the environment in an irreversible manner, and all of that information is effectively non-retrievable. This is the standard position on decoherence, which also assumes that decoherence set in very soon after the Big Bang to produce the single reality we know today. But a troubling question in quantum cosmology is, what led to the spontaneous decoherence of the early universe? How was the distinction irst made between “object” and “environment”? I once asked this on the Physics Forums, where very rarely do people say “good question — I don’t know,” but that’s essentially what I was told (http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=417573).

    The biocentric theory would say that this early decoherence never happened at all. This is a dynamite resolution to the huge problem of initial conditions and “fine-tuning”: If you go back to the beginning, the universe had all sets of initial conditions in superposition. Stephen Hawking and Thomas Hertog call this view “top-down cosmology” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/3345641/Stephen-Hawkings-explosive-new-theory.html), and it’s consistent with the biocentric theory as well as string theory.

  5. gooduniverse says:

    Thanks Karl,

    I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind to elaborate on how decoherence is regarded within Biocentrism. Indeed the Geiger counter is an object created by biological beings, but decoherence happens independent of us (it seems) all the time and everywhere. I guess I confused on how we as the centre can create or project this mechanism outwards from us.

  6. gooduniverse says:

    I have edited the article to include decoherence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top