August 14, 2010 § Leave a comment
“Physarum spends most of its life as a large mat called a ‘plasmodium’, which is a single cell that contains many nuclei. The plasmodium searches for food by moving along like an amoeba and sending out a network of tendrils. Its search patterns are very sophisticated for a brainless organism. A Japanese group found that if they placed the mould among food sources arranged like Tokyo’s urban centres, it created a network that closely resembled Tokyo’s actual railway system. The slimy network was optimised to transport nutrients to the main plasmodium.”
“But how does Physarum make decisions at all without a brain? The answer is deceptively simple – it does so by committee. Every plasmodium is basically a big sac of fluid, where each part rhythmically contracts and expands, pushing the fluid inside back-and-forth. The rate of the contractions depends on what neighbouring parts of the sac are doing, and by the local environment. They happen faster when the plasmodium touches something attractive like food, and they slow down when repellent things like sunlight are nearby.” Read the full story
July 19, 2010 § 8 Comments
I am a little obsessed with bubbles. As you may have read on this blog, I had an awakening a couple of years back. It was brought on by many factors including physical and mental trauma. Not the least of which were a couple of mini-strokes that happened while I was “dead” or being revived. The point being that my brain seems to have rewired itself in some strange and wonderful ways. Before this enlightenment, I had almost no knowledge of quantum physics, astrophysics, particle physics, etc. So, When I had this eye-opening experience and all these pieces started falling into place, my mind started racing out of control. It was almost too much to handle. I have never been a very disciplined person. I said “Shit, I need to learn to meditate.” Once I calmed myself down, I started reading as much as I could online and watching every documentary I could find on the evolution of well… everything. I had a picture in my head that I could not articulate because I did not have the language. First, the language center of my brain is a little messed up. Second, I don’t have the education. I took one physics and one trigonometry class in high school. I think I took one advanced algebra class in college but that is it. Of course I knew of the Big Bang theory but could not discuss it in detail. My knowledge of string theory didn’t go beyond my love for the series Quantum Leap.
I knew that what I put together in my mind was important. It was something the world should know. But who the hell was I to tell anyone anything. I felt an urgency to find some word, some image, just someplace to start looking for someone to tell what was in my head. I knew it was that important. Then I saw a documentary on M-Theory. I turned to my husband and said “Everything’s OK now. They’re already working on it.” All the anxiety and urgency melted away. The thirst for knowledge did not. I still read every thing I can. (it takes a long time) And watch every documentary.
Yes I am quite aware of how utterly nuts this all sounds. I am myself a skeptic. If I read this on someones blog I would cry “bullshit”. But I am not trying to convince anyone of anything. I am not trying to sell anything. I don’t care if you believe me or not. For a long time I was convinced I was alone in this experience. Upon further research, it is quite common.
Now for the obsession with bubbles. BUBBLES! Forgive me. Yes, it does have to do with bubble universe theory. It is also a very sweet inside joke with my husband having to do the movie Finding Nemo and of course the character Bubbles. We are now the type of happy couple I use to make fun of back when I was a cynical person.
Parallel Universes is a 2001 documentary produced by the BBC’s Horizon series. The documentary has to do with parallel universes, string theory, M theory, supergravity, and other theoretical physics concepts. Participants include Michio Kaku, Paul Steinhardt, Neil Turok, Burt Ovrut, Alan Guth and other physicists. It is not the documentary I was watching that day, but it is one of our favorites. If you have not seen it please take the time. Even if you have no interest in physics. It will rock your world. If you have seen it. It is worth another viewing. We have watched it several times.
July 15, 2010 § 1 Comment
This was ‘The question‘ posed by Andrew Brown, of the Guardian. Every week the Guardian poses a question and their panel of experts speak their minds. Susan Blackmore’s response was insightful and inspiring.
“Science explains, not describes
The experience of consciousness seems incommunicable and ineffable. Yet science can hope to explain how it arises
When Andrew Brown first posed this week’s question to me he asked “Can science describe everything?”. My instant, unreflective reply was “No”. He implied that this might be a less restrictive question than “Can science explain everything” and yet my instant reaction to this one was “Yes”. I’d like to explore this curious difference….” Please click here to read the rest of her post.
July 14, 2010 § 2 Comments
This is a ‘must see’ TED Talk. I almost had a brain-gasm I was so excited. It is so amazing to me still, that people I have never heard of know exactly what I have been trying to articulate. Once again I have to say to someone Thank you Matt Ridley for saying what I have been thinking but did not have the words to say.
At TEDGlobal 2010, author Matt Ridley shows how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It’s not important how clever individuals are, he says; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is.
Ideas can only be shared if you have the freedom to share them. We have the First Amendment in the United States but do you use it to share ideas or to suppress ideas of people who don’t agree with you? Before you answer that question consider the speech Phil Plait gave at TAM8 called “Don’t Be A Dick”
July 7, 2010 § Leave a comment
I just finished reading the first chapter of Dr. Susan Blackmore’s book Consciousness: An Introduction. She seems to be posting it in one chapter at a time in pdf form on her website. There is no way I could afford $53 for a paperback book. Maybe someday she will do an audio book version for us visually impaired. It has helped me so much and confused me so much more. Which is great, it made me think and it is only the first chapter after all. I was also right about Dr. Blackmore being good place to start my search for information on Consciousness. I can’t wait to read chapter two. I think I should sleep first.
One of the many helpful people mentioned in her book is Professor David Chalmers. He is a philosopher at the Australian National University, a Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Consciousness, a Visiting Professor of Philosophy at New York University. He works in the philosophy of mind and in related areas of philosophy and cognitive science. He Is especially interested in consciousness, but is also interested in philosophical issues about meaning and possibility, in the foundations of cognitive science and of physics, and a bunch of other things. (According to his website). He introduce the “Hard Problem” That Dr. Blackmore discussed in the video on my blog 7/6/2010.
July 6, 2010 § 13 Comments
A couple of days ago I was reminded that there was another big question to be answered. The first big question is scattered throughout this blog. It boils down to a theory of everything. I am leaning towards M-Theory. This of course is not based on any scientific or mathematic knowledge of mine. It is based solely (o.k. stick with me here skeptics. This is where it gets a little crazy.) on a whole bunch of images and ideas in my head that all came together all at once. I have described this before as an enlightenment or an epiphany. Anyway after learning how to meditate, I calmed my mind down enough to know I needed more information. So I studied until I found out that closest match to what was going on in my head was M-Theory. I think. Quantum Mechanics is heady stuff.
At the moment of writing this I pretty sure I believe in the theory of bubble universes, 11 dimensions, and The Cyclic Universe. It took me about two years of reading, watching documentaries and internet research to figure it all out. To be clear, all I figured out was what the crap in my head meant. I just matched it up with what real scientist had actually done. I have the most patient husband in the world. He knew he married a partially blind woman with Bi-polar disorder, and a bad heart. But he didn’t know he was in for someone who was going to have debates with the television about the nature of black holes.
Since my quest for understanding the universe is on hold until LHC finds or doesn’t new particles, it is time to look at the other part of this mystery. Obviously I am not psychic. I am intelligent but not enough to learn quantum physics overnight. All this information had to be stored in my memory somewhere. My mind was simply open to seeing it at that moment. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I did not start meditating until after this awakening. However, now that I look back at what led up to I guess I had been doing a type of meditation.
At the time of my enlightenment, I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. My Mother had died a couple of years before. My Father had died a few months before. A business venture my new husband and I had entered into with my brother had gone terribly bad and we had lost all of the money my parents had left me. (Never do business with family.) I was still recovering from… well dying. Less than a year earlier a blood clot got stuck on my mechanical heart valve causing my lungs to fill with blood. I thought I had pneumonia so I put off going to the doctor till it was almost to late. I died in the E.R. Short version.. Flight for life. Unprecedented surgery. Dead for 40 minutes. Doctors and nurses all shocked to see me live. I spent three weeks in the hospital. My kidneys failed. I had two mini strokes which caused my partial blindness and some weakness on my left side.
With all that going on, PTSD was inevitable. But of course I have an HMO so it went untreated. I cried myself to sleep every single night for at least six months. I cried every time I took a shower. Any time I was alone in a quiet place where I could hear my own thoughts I would end up crying. It was torture. Slowly I began to force myself to focus on things that made me happy like my husband. And asked myself questions like “How did we manage to find each other?”. Then I would trace all the decisions I made in my life (good and bad) that led me to him. Then I traced all the decisions he made. I kept doing this. Night after night, with my parents, with his parents, it just kept branching. Soon I could sleep at night without crying. I could get through most showers without crying or an angry rant. It wasn’t too long after that while riding home from Costco, BAM everything changed.
Now I would like to know WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? Yes I know the Buddhists call it sudden enlightenment. I have seen the Science Daily post about Neural evidence for sudden insight but that is for a single task or behavior, not what happened to me. Not even close. I searched the internet for information on about consciousness. I was very quickly disappointed by the lack of scientific research. That prompted me to post this blog “Human Consciousness Taboo?”. I am so glad I did. One wonderful person posted a comment. Please read their comment and visit their blog when you get a chance. They led me to Dr. Susan Blackmore. I have spent the three days researching everything I can about her work I have much more to go. So far, I Think she is my new hero. I looks like she might be my best chance at finding out what happened to my brain.
I will be sharing many posts as I learn more, however this video on “The Grand Illusion of Consciousness” is wonderful.
July 4, 2010 § 4 Comments
What is going on out there in the scientific community? I tried several searches to find information on human consciousness. Most of what I found were religious nuts and spiritualists talking about ascension. I thought that was something they only did on Stargate Atlantis. Don’t get me wrong. I loved that show. But, I was looking for less fictional information. I did find some studies done back in the ’70s and the ’90s. Finally I found an interview with Anil Seth, the co-director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, in The Guardian. Anil Seth: identifying the root of consciousness At least it is a place for me to start. I am truly shocked at how little study is being done in this field. If the studies are being done why can’t I find them?
It seems even the Sackler Center is scoffed at until people find out what they are really doing. The flights of fancy that may unlock the secrets of
our brains in the TimesOnline. Last link on this post I promise … One Minute with Seth from New Science (download PDF)