I want to think that the answer is ‘No’

There are two senses in which conscious beings collectively create reality. Is there any relationship between the two? I want to think that the answer is ‘No’.

The first is epitomized by a quote from (probably) Karl Rove that appeared in the New York Times Magazine in October, 2004. Speaking of the GW Bush Administration, he said “We make our own reality.” Rove may have been dropping a hint about the upcoming Presidential election, the first to be stolen electronically, with means hidden from the public by suppressing coverage by the very same New York Times and every other credible media outlet. But he may have been referring more obliquely to the mainstream narrative about 9/11 terror attacks, 19 brown-skinned men with box cutters and a mastermind hiding in a cave in Afghanistan–a story which the great majority of the public believed, despite its overall implausibility, and despite the blatant physical impossibilities in its essential features. For that matter, the description could be applied to stories about Lee Harvey Oswald or Sirhan Sirhan or James Earl Ray that disguised a slow-mo CIA coup that usurped power from elected government in the 1960s.

The second is a physical and metaphysical ontology. It’s not too strong a statement to say that in quantum physics, there is no objective reality. Reality is always in a state of potentiality with many possible realizations until it is observed. The particular observations that observers choose to make have an influence on the answers that they receive; and, more deeply, these choices on the part of observers are co-creating reality. Many philosophers of science and physicists themselves have interpreted this to mean that “consciousness is the ground of all being” [Amit Goswami], and that all of physical “reality” is a collective dream of all sentient beings. “We, as well as all other living organisms, are but dissociated alters of cosmic consciousness, surrounded by its thoughts. The inanimate world we see around us is the extrinsic appearance of these thoughts.” [Bernardo Kastrup] “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” [Albert Einstein]

If there is there any relationship between these two notions of “created reality”, it would imply that the corrupt powers that have bought control of our mainstream media are not just deceiving us, they are literally changing a reality which is fundamentally subjective. I have heard too many credible accounts of rooms full of people bending spoons to dismiss this notion out of hand. But I deeply want to believe that it is not true, and that we who have taken on the mission of pointing out deceptions in the media have something like an objective basis for the claims that we make.

Painting by Russian artist Victor Bregeda

Physics and Fundamental Reality

Particle physicists are among the smartest people in the world. They are drawn to the subject because they want to understand reality on the deepest level. What are the rules that govern the behavior and evolution of our universe? We all should be so bold!

An unstated assumption in their approach is that the way to understand the whole is to understand the parts. This is a carryover from 19th century physics, where it was enormously successful. Write down the equations that govern each tiny region of space, and integrate them together to get the big picture. (Sometimes these equations can be integrated on paper; but even when this is impossible, with modern computer techniques they can all be solved to a high degree of accuracy.)

Quantum mechanics fundamentally changes the relationship between the parts and the whole. You cannot understand the big picture by integrating equations for the small picture at each point. One way to look at this is that the equation for a single particle is manageable in 3-dimensional space; but each additional quantum particle adds 3 more dimensions. In classical mechanics, the equations for 2 particles require following 2 points in 3-dimensional space, and 3 particles means 3 points in 3-dimensional space. With 2 particles, the computer calculation takes twice as long as with one, with 3 particles, 3 times as long, etc. But for the quantum calculation, the second particle requires a billion times as much computer time, because it must be solved in 6-dimensional space. Adding a third particle multiplies the computer time by a billion again. In classical physics, the computational complexity scales linearly with the number of particles, but in quantum physics, the computational complexity scales exponentially. As Ev Dirksen once said, “A billion here, a billion there — pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” The scorecard: For tracking trajectories over time, with classical physics, a modern supercomputer can handle 700 billion interacting particles; with quantum physics, the same computer can handle 3. For more than three particles, even the simplest quantum mechanical equations can’t be solved on any computer that humans can conceive at present (except, of course, a quantum computer, not yet a reality). 

Another way to describe this situation is to say that in classical physics, the calculations are separable for each particle; but in quantum mechanics the configuration of particles is an indivisible whole. You might hear that quantum physics is the best-verified theory that humans have ever devised, with calculated values verified by experiments to a few parts in a billion. Yes, that’s true, but the experiments require extraordinary measures to isolate a single atom. This is done not because isolated atoms are so interesting, but because for anything more complicated the calculation cannot be done, even with the power of a supercomputer.

The most interesting mysteries in physics are hiding in plain sight, as they affect our real world and our everyday experience. They are not the questions physicists are fond of talking about as fundamental–the structure of space on the Planck scale a billion trillion times smaller than a proton, or the Theory of Everything that will reconcile general relativity with quantum principles. The most interesting questions are about how the microscopic rules that we already know produce the world of our everyday experience, and also the anomalous phenomena that conventional science refuses to recognize, deeming them “impossible”. The judgment of “impossible” is based on the reductionist paradigm, because that is virtually all the science that we know. Even though quantum theory is shouting at us that THE WORLD IS HOLISTIC, still, we don’t know how to think holistically, and we have yet to imagine what a holistic science would look like.

Quantum Biology May Help Solve Some of Life’s Greatest Mysteries


You and I have bacteria living on the food in our intestine that play a vital role in regulating our hormones and our moods, not just digestion.

Carpenter ants have bacteria that have actually moved inside the cells of the intestinal lining and integrated themselves into the cellular metabolism. The symbiosis has become so close that the bacteria actually moved in, and the ant’s own cells made a home for them.

There’s a whole set of adaptations that make this possible. When a carpenter ant starts life as a fertilized egg, the single egg cell doesn’t divide, but instead just the nucleus divides. Again and again, until there is a giant cell with hundreds of cell nuclei. Of course, all this while, the digestive bacteria are also reproducing within this giant cell. When the cell is finally ready to divide itself up, one nucleus per cell, the bacteria shift almost all to one end, and that cell that breaks off with the greatest number of bacteria is destined to become the intestine. Of course, a few bacteria are also sequestered into the cells that are destined to become the gonads, so they are already preparing to be passed on to the next ant generation, to seed their intestines.

Viviane Callier tells the story at Quanta Magazine

Close-up photo of a carpenter ant queen carrying eggs.

Meet the new normal. Same as the ancient normal.

This is our mythic prehistory. Some medicine man told us peons what the Spirits demand from us in exchange for breaking the dry spell or leading the caribou back into the hunting grounds, and it seemed to work often enough to keep us believing and obeying.  We paid no attention to the fact that the thing the Spirits needed so often coincided with the glorification of the medicine man himself.

Then, in historic times, kings ruled by divine right. Egypt had its Pharaohs. In Japan, the emperor was a Shinto Tenno. Southeast Asia was ruled by Khmers, and the Subcontinent had Rajas. Christian and Muslim armies both fought holy wars, and, through the Middle Ages, the King’s closest advisors moonlighted as Cardinals or Caliphs.

Separation of church and state was supposed to put an end to all that. Gone for good was the divine authority of kings, replaced by rule of the democratic majority. The Enlightenment was about human rights, freedom and emerging democracy. But above all, the Enlightenment was a triumph of clear-eyed scientific thinking over superstition. Most enlightened of all were the people who realized that religion is no different from superstition.

But a funny thing has happened on our way to the end times of history. Science has developed an annointed priesthood, a fixed dogma, daily rituals—all the trappings of a religion. Today, we cover our faces in public and cross the street when someone approaches on the sidewalk, signaling to one another, “My religion is science.”

This is not the science that Doctor Mirabilis bequeathed us in the 13th Century. Bacon’s science is a process, not an outcome. The discipline is adherence to logical thought based on clear-eyed perceptions.

True science is not obedience to a man in a labcoat. True science is a cacophony of voices vying to offer competitive narratives about the available observations. It is a common agreement about criteria of evidence and logic that enable some tentative truths to emerge from this jumble of independent thinkers.

When you hear someone say the words, “settled science,” question first whether he has a pecuniary interest in your accepting his version of the truth. Then begin the hard work of gathering your own evidence and forming your own conclusions.

atheists | Religious Forums

They have senses that we have lost

Caterpillars change their colors to match the stick that they are resting on. And they can do this even when their eyes are blacked out.

Researchers raised more than 300 larvae of the peppered moth (Biston betularia) in the lab. After the caterpillars grew up a bit, the scientists placed them in different boxes containing artificial sticks painted black, brown, green, and white (pictured). Some of the larvae were blindfolded using black paint. The blindfolded caterpillars changed their entire body color to match the stick they were sitting on as well as their seeing counterparts did, the team reports in Communications Biology.

Lakshmi Supriya, writing in Science


Plants are people, too

Stefano Mancuso studies what was once considered laughable – the intelligence and behaviour of plants. Mancuso’s lab started work in 2005. “We were interested in problems that were, until that moment, just related to animals, like intelligence and even behaviour,” he says. At the time, it was “almost forbidden” to talk about behaviour in plants. But “we study how plants are able to solve problems, how they memorise, how they communicate, how they have their social life and things like that”. One of the most controversial aspects of Mancuso’s work is the idea of plant consciousness. “Let’s use another term,” Mancuso suggests. “Consciousness is a little bit tricky. Let’s talk about awareness. Plants are perfectly aware of themselves.” A simple example is when one plant overshadows another – the shaded plant will grow faster to reach the light. But when you look into the crown of a tree, all the shoots are heavily shaded. They do not grow fast because they know that they are shaded by part of themselves. “So they have a perfect image of themselves and of the outside,” says Mancuso. Far from being silent and passive, plants are social and communicative, above ground and beneath, through their roots and fungal networks. They are adept at detecting subtle electromagnetic fields generated by other life forms. They use chemicals and scents to warn each other of danger. When corn is nibbled by caterpillars … the plant emits a chemical distress signal that lures parasitic wasps to exterminate the caterpillars.

— read more from The Guardian

A Mystic-Physicist

Until about 1979, physicists thought that the laws of physics were just what they were, without rhyme or reason, and life arose taking advantage of whatever laws it found, building ordered, self-reproducing structures with the available tools.

But in that year, Bernard Carr and Martin Rees published an influential paper that consolidated some earlier ideas to put the Anthropic Principle on the map. They made a case that physical laws capable of supporting life were very special. “It’s as though the Universe knew we were coming.”

I was an astrophysics student, and I read the paper of Rees and Carr with great excitement when it came out. But it was only yesterday that I learned that Carr has had another role, as VP of the Society for Psychical Research.

The number of people in the world who find their path to mysticism through physics is small, but I am especially intrigued, and eager to learn from them.



Eat manganese

Photosynthesis is the energy foundation for all (?) life today. But photosynthesis was invented by cyanobacteria half a billion years into the history of life on earth. Life is older than photosynthesis by more than half a billion years. So what did life do for energy in the time before photosynthesis.

During this time, oxygen was rare in the atmosphere. The oxygen was almost all tied up in CO2. This means that metals that now exist as metal oxides in the earth’s crust were once in their shiny metalic form, not oxidized. There was an opportunity to make a living by swapping carbon out of CO2 and combining the oxygen with metal,

Now for the first time, a modern bacterium has been discovered that does just this. It lives on manganese (which is surprisingly common in the earth’s crust) and it was discovered by accident in glassware in a Caltech laboratory.

Story at ScienceBlog.com


Think it doesn’t take matrix mechanics to understand a simple spinning top? Think again. I studied physics for 4 years of undergrad and 6 years of graduate school, but it comes as a complete surprise to me that

A spinning object in free space with its nose forward will turn itself around so it is spinning in the same direction nose backward, and will continue indefinitely forward…backward…forward…backward.

(As it flips, the angular momentum is conserved so it is always spinning in the same direction. In other words, if you are looking at it from the nose and it is spinning clockwise, you will find yourself looking at the tail, but it is still spinning clockwise.)

This is true of any object that has 3 different moments of inertia along its 3 principal axes. In the video, a wingnut is the example.  In fact, the phenomenon was discovered by a Russian cosmonaut who watched a wingnut spinning inside his spacecraft.

The finding was classified and kept secret by the Soviet Union for several years, for fear that the finding applied to the earth. Maybe the earth periodically flips around so its North pole is down and its South pole is up.

The video argues, tentatively, that this has not happened in the past and presumably is not going to happen.

Tipping Point

The idea of a tipping point came into common parlance along with chaos theory, the hundredth monkey, and black swans during the computer age. But it was less than a hundred years ago the idea had sketchy scientific support, and was regarded with skepticism.

In 1920, in a world recovering from a global flu pandemic, a German physicist named Wilhelm Lenz set out to understand why heating a magnet past a certain temperature causes it to suddenly lose its attractive power, as Pierre Curie had discovered 25 years earlier. Lenz thought up a simple model, in which each atom in a crystal is a tiny magnet, and its energy depends on how it is oriented compared to adjacent atoms in the crystal. He tasked his graduate student, Ernst Ising, with working out the details.

Gif of a grid of arrows whose directions flip up and down.

Read more from Charlie Wood, writing at Quanta Magazine