Deepok Chopra surprises me with his very lucid review of the hard problem of consciousness:
My friend George Dvorsky has a fantastic piece up at io9 about the latest experimental research being done on a real world warp drive by NASA physicist Dr. Harold White. His first goal is to see if can create a micro warp bubble at all in the lab. This is called an existence of proof — what he’s calling a “Chicago Pile” moment — a reference to a great practical example.
In late 1942, humanity activated the first nuclear reactor in Chicago generating a whopping half Watt — not enough to power a light bulb,” he said. “However, just under one year later, we activated a ~4MW reactor which is enough to power a small town. Existence proof is important.
This is based on the work of Mexican Physicist Miguel Alcubierre‘s seminal 1994 paper The Warp Drive: Hyper-Fast Travel Within General Relativity. A paper I think should earn him a Nobel Prize. The fact that we have moved from a mathematical paper of proof to real world experimental research on this in less than 20 years is very exciting.
For a more detailed account of Dr. White’s work, read the entire piece over at iO9.com.
Here’s a funny what if homework assignment. This is not the grand unified field theory (GUT) that unites all the known fundamental force forces, including gravity, which is now called the “Theory of Everything” (TOE). This is a formulaic unification of the three quantum-scale fundamental forces of electromagnetism, the weak and strong nuclear forces. Leading TOE contenders for uniting Quantum Mechanics (QM) with Einsteins General Relativity are String Theory, Quantum Gravity (QG). See also Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG), Supersymmetry and the Holographic Principle. Ultimately, a more complete Theory of Everything should include consciousness as a fundamental – see also David Bohm’s Implicate Order, Amit Goswami’s Self-Aware Universe and Michael Talbot Holographic Universe.
Extra Credit: Please integrate the quantum field of gravity into this equation (10 pts + Nobel Prize + immortal fame).
Here’s a mind map of particle physics based on the Standard Model (the closest thing we have yet to a Grand Unified Theory), sans dark matter or other exotica. But hey, it’s the exotica that are more fun, right? This is a fun and engaging map anyway:
In this Tricycle web exclusive, scholar B. Allan Wallace responds to George Johnson’s New York Times review of the Dalai Lama’s new book The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality.
I especially like Wallace’s call for a more complete approach to consciousness studies that includes both first person introspective methods combined with third person methodologies, something I’ve advocated from the very beginning here, here, here and here. I’ve been meaning to pick up his book, The Taboo of Subjectivity: Towards a New Science of Consciousness , for a while…now might be a good time to check it out…
Allan takes a more “integral” route in defense of the tetrameshing nature of consciousness:
Scientists have established that specific neural processes are necessary for producing specific conscious mental processes in humans and some other animals. In this way, correlations have been identified between brain and mind processes. Brain processes are detected with the third-person methods of biology, but mental processes are directly observed only by means of the first-person perspectives of individuals introspectively monitoring their own states of consciousness. This evidence proves that certain neural processes are necessary for producing specific mental events in humans, but not that they are sufficient causes of consciousness, nor does this indicate that consciousness itself is a physical phenomenon. Moreover, while many scientists believe that mental phenomena are emergent properties of brain, no one has ever objectively measured any mental event emerging from the brain, so that, too, remains an untested hypothesis that can be taken for the time being only on faith.