Dreamer's Refuge

A Student of Life

Category: Consciousness (Page 1 of 2)

Space dust may transport life between worlds

Source: http://www.kurzweilai.net/space-dust-may-transport-life-between-worlds
Paper: https://arxiv.org/abs/1711.01895

A hypervelocity bioparticle from Earth could have reached identified potential habitable planets

Life on our planet might have originated from biological particles brought to Earth in streams of space dust, according to a study published in the journal Astrobiology.

A huge amount of space dust (~10,000 kilograms — about the weight of two elephants) enters our atmosphere every day — possibly delivering organisms from far-off worlds, according to Professor Arjun Berera from the University of Edinburgh School of Physics and Astronomy, who led the study.

The dust streams could also collide with bacteria and other biological particles at 150 km or higher above Earth’s surface with enough energy to knock them into space, carrying Earth-based organisms to other planets and perhaps beyond.

The finding suggests that large asteroid impacts may not be the sole mechanism by which life could transfer between planets, as previously thought.

“The streaming of fast space dust is found throughout planetary systems and could be a common factor in proliferating life,” said Berera. Some bacteria, plants, and even microscopic animals called tardigrades* are known to be able to survive in space, so it is possible that such organisms — if present in Earth’s upper atmosphere — might collide with fast-moving space dust and withstand a journey to another planet.**

The study was partly funded by the U.K. Science and Technology Facilities Council.

* “Some tardigrades can withstand extremely cold temperatures down to 1 K (−458 °F; −272 °C) (close to absolute zero), while others can withstand extremely hot temperatures up to 420 K (300 °F; 150 °C)[12] for several minutes, pressures about six times greater than those found in the deepest ocean trenches, ionizing radiation at doses hundreds of times higher than the lethal dose for a human, and the vacuum of outer space. They can go without food or water for more than 30 years, drying out to the point where they are 3% or less water, only to rehydrate, forage, and reproduce.” — Wikipedia

** “Over the lifespan of the Earth of four billion years, particles emerging from Earth by this manner in principle could have traveled out as far as tens of kiloparsecs [one kiloparsec = 3,260 light years; our galaxy is about 100,000 light-years across]. This material horizon, as could be called the maximum distance on pure kinematic grounds that a material particle from Earth could travel outward based on natural processes, would cover most of our Galactic disk [the "Milky Way"], and interestingly would be far enough out to reach the Earth-like or potentially habitable planets that have been identified.” — Arjun Berera/Astrobiology

This lends more credence to panspermia. Life here, for instance, could have come from (microbial life from) Mars.

All the World’s a stage in Plato’s Cave

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then, the whining school-boy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then, a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then, the justice,
In fair round belly, with a good capon lined,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

— William Shakespeare

The Buddha, in his discourses, wanted to get this across to people, and this topic has come up again and again in different cultures. It is interesting that mindfulness, meditation, and listening to Dhamma, etc, all make this point very clear. Yet most people do not see it. I feel like I was the player, but now, instead being part of the play, I feel like I am in the audience, the observer. Though, from time to time, when mindfulness is lacking, I get caught up in the play. Hopefully as I continue my practice, this will become less and less of an occurrence.

Concept and Reality

This post is in some ways a continuation of Faith, Fiction & Ideas: What explains the rise of humans?

This time, however, it is more framed from the Buddhist perspective.

There is a booklet, titled “Concept and Reality” written by Bhikkhu K. Ñāṇananda.  In it, he speaks in more detail about the Buddhist description of “Not-Self” or “Empty” when talking about reality.

In short, that humans live their everyday lives in abstractions; we call these abstractions ideas, and concepts, and from them we create conceptual networks, and from those more ideas and concepts in a never ending feedback loop.

This keeps us chained to the rounds of Dependent Origination, and binds us to craving, conceit and delusion.

Buddhas remedy to this, is to silence the mind with mindfulness (after it has been developed) and then see the reality of what is via Vipassana.

By doing this, we get away from “re-cognizing” to just “cognizing”.  That is we get away from concepts, and ideas, and slowly we start seeing the world as it is, versus how we are conditioned to perceive it from the learned and carried over habitual tendencies in our society (language and concepts; i.e, Conceptual proliferation) and past kamma.  We cognize the sense-data as sense-data, and do not identify with it:

Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress.

— Ud 1.10: Bahiya Sutta — Bahiya (Listen)

In short, anytime we try to explain something with words, we are dealing with delusion. This is why the Buddha taught that freedom from concepts has to be experienced.  It cannot be explained, because as soon as you try, you bind it to the thing you are trying to free yourself from.

For anyone seriously interested in Buddhism, this is a must read.

 

 

Conformal Cyclic Cosmology and the Fermi Paradox

Source: http://arxiv.org/abs/1512.00554

Abstract:

Within the scheme of conformal cyclic cosmology (CCC), information can be transmitted from aeon to aeon. Accordingly, the “Fermi paradox” and the SETI programme – of communication by remote civilizations – may be examined from a novel perspective: such information could, in principle, be encoded in the cosmic microwave background. The current empirical status of CCC is also discussed.

Introduction

The so-called ”Fermi paradox” refers to a puzzle that arises from an expectation that our own civilization is unlikely to have been the first to have arisen throughout our galactic neighbourhood, and if ours were not the first then, owing to the randomness involved in the timing of factors that lead to its development, the likelihood would have been that our civilization would have been preceded by others having an advantage of thousands of our centuries of technological development.

The expectation, then, would be that such enormously advanced civilizations would have had ample opportunity to have either visited us or, at least, sent decipherable signals to us by now. The SETI programme has, for many years, been set up to detect such signals, but with no success as yet. This seeming puzzle of silence (”Where are they?”) continues to attract attention, and there is a considerable variety of viewpoints and different approaches aimed at resolving this issue , spanning from the argument of the local uniqueness of our civilization up to a number of sophisticated unobservability schemes.

This reflects, on the one hand, the unusual breadth of the topics raised by this seeming paradox and, on the other hand, the essential uncertainties in our knowledge of the many parameters involved.

In this note, we draw attention to a completely different aspect of this problem, which is raised by the scheme of conformal cyclic cosmology (CCC), which provides a new view on the origin and evolution of the Universe. Although CCC was first put forward about a decade ago , it is only comparatively recently that observational evidence has come to light , which appears to support some of the theoretical implications of CCC, and which seems hard to accommodate within the standard ΛCDM inflationary model. According to CCC, what is currently regarded as the entire history of our Universe, from its Big Bang origin to its infinitely exponentially expanding ultimate future is but a single aeon in an unending succession of broadly similar such aeons.

In CCC, the current aeon is very similar to the picture presented by the ΛCDM model, differing from it primarily in that the early inflationary phase of ΛCDM (assumed to have occurred in a period between 10[SUP]−36[/SUP] and 10[SUP]−32[/SUP] seconds following the Big Bang) is taken not to be a feature of our current aeon, but whose effects arose, instead, from the ultimate exponential expansion of the aeon prior to ours.

In CCC, there is no contracting phase, but the transition from the ultimate expansion of one aeon to the big bang of the next is regarded as having occurred via an intermediate phase in which the material contents of the Universe consists solely of what are, in effect, massless particles satisfying a conformally invariant dynamics.

This leads to an absence of an effective scaling (of both temporal or spatial dimensions) in this transitional phase, though the retaining of causal structure (well-defined null cones) allows the indefinitely expanding remote future of the previous aeon to be joined conformally smoothly to the big bang of the succeeding one. Well-defined dynamical equations allow this transition to take place in a deterministic fashion (though there remain some relatively minor unresolved issues in this dynamical evolution.

Where might we see signals from previous-aeon civilizations?

In accordance with this interpretation, we conclude that, according to CCC, there was an extremely large and very distant concentration of sources, shown in red in Figure 2 just below the equatorial excluded region, over on the right.

Also, there was a comparatively close very large concentration of sources rather near the direction of the north galactic pole, just to the right of the picture. If we are to consider signals from previous-aeon beings, then such regions might well be the most promising places to look, as the CCC-interpretation would be that there might well have been vast numbers of very large galaxies in these places, and consequently a large probability of the development and long-term stability of highly evolved technological societies. What kind of signals might we expect that such beings could be sending out?

It seems highly unlikely that the manipulation of supermassive black holes would be an efficient way of sending signals, say to beyond their own aeon even with the enormously advanced technology that might be possible for them to achieve, well before the inhospitable empty frigidity that would be the terminal situation of their aeon.

From our own limited and relatively extremely primitive perspective, much more promising would undoubtedly be electromagnetic signals (although neutrinos just conceivably present us with another possibility). The conformal invariance of Maxwell’s equations allow us the possibility of such signals surviving the crossover from one aeon to the next-provided that the wavelength is long enough to avoid excessive scattering by charged particles in the early stages of the subsequent aeon.

What might be a purpose to the previous-aeon beings of possibly deliberately transmitting such signals to beyond their aeon, where we must bear in mind that 2-way communication with us would be impossible in this way? Perhaps those beings might have wished to save the inhabitants of our subsequent aeon from some unpleasant fate that their greater wisdom could help us avoid. Here the purpose would, for one reason or another, simply be the transmission of information from their aeon to ours. Alternatively, there is the idea of information panspermia, introduced in, and attributed as ”Solution 23 to Fermi paradox” in, i.e. the propagation of the ”life codes” by the use of such signals, like the bit strings of human genome and of other species of terrestrial life.

In the first case, information would be transmitted with the expectation of its future decoding, perhaps for some genuinely altruistic motive. The second case can be viewed as a kind of travel by their civilization, possibly from one aeon to the next, or perhaps within a single aeon.

This would be an example of what has been referred to as information panspermia, being based on the fact that the human genome (and that of other terrestrial species starting from bacteria, having essential common parts in their genomes) possesses low Kolmogorov complexity. (See e.g. , regarding human genome coding.) Kolmogorov complexity is defined as the minimal length of a binary coded program(in bits) required to describe the system x, i.e. which will enable the complete recovery of the initial system:

K(φ(p), x) = minp:φ=xl(p)

where φ(p, x) is a (recursive) function, calculable algorithmically by a Turing machine, and l(p) is the length of the program p.

The corresponding bit strings might be imagined as having been transmitted, perhaps just within a single aeon, by Arecibo-type antenna over Galactic distances.

One may speculate that such transmitted information, if decoded by networks of von Neumann automata or some other means, could even be equivalent to the travel of an entire civilization within an aeon, or possibly even from one CCC aeon to another. Might it be possible to eavesdrop on previous-aeon signals or even, conceivably, to reconstruct an entire previous aeon civilization? Far-fetched as such ideas may well seem, they should not be rejected out of hand, without consideration. No doubt there could well be numerous other possibilities we have not conceived of!

Interestingly, the Information Panspermia is actually pretty interesting when you take this study into account:

Scorn over claim of teleported DNA
https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20927952.900-scorn-over-claim-of-teleported-dna/
The Study: http://montagnier.sismeo-web.fr/IMG/pdf/DNA_waves_and_water.pdf

A Nobel prizewinner is reporting that DNA can be generated from its teleported “quantum imprint”

A STORM of scepticism has greeted experimental results emerging from the lab of a Nobel laureate which, if confirmed, would shake the foundations of several fields of science. “If the results are correct,” says theoretical chemist Jeff Reimers of the University of Sydney, Australia, “these would be the most significant experiments performed in the past 90 years, demanding re-evaluation of the whole conceptual framework of modern chemistry.”

Luc Montagnier, who shared the Nobel prize for medicine in 2008 for his part in establishing that HIV causes AIDS, says he has evidence that DNA can send spooky electromagnetic imprints of itself into distant cells and fluids. If that wasn’t heretical enough, he also suggests that enzymes can mistake the ghostly imprints for real DNA, and faithfully copy them to produce the real thing. In effect this would amount to a kind of quantum teleportation of the DNA.

Dark matter might cause fundamental constants to change over time

Dark matter might cause fundamental constants to change over time
Source: http://phys.org/news/2015-11-dark-fundamental-constants.html
Source Study: http://arxiv.org/abs/1503.08540

The fundamental constants of nature—such as the speed of light, Planck’s constant, and Newton’s gravitational constant—are thought to be constant in time, as their name suggests. But scientists have questioned this assumption as far back as 1937, when Paul Dirac hypothesized that Newton’s gravitational constant might decrease over time.

Now in a new paper published in Physical Review Letters, Yevgeny V. Stadnik and Victor V. Flambaum at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, have theoretically shown that dark matter can cause the fundamental constants of nature to slowly evolve as well as oscillate due to oscillations in the dark matter field. This idea requires that the weakly interacting dark matter particles be able to interact a small amount with standard model particles, which the scientists show is possible.

In their paper, the scientists considered a model in which dark matter is made of weakly interacting, low-mass particles. In the early Universe, according to the model, large numbers of such dark matter particles formed an oscillating field. Because these particles interact so weakly with standard model particles, they could have survived for billions of years and still exist today, forming what we know as dark matter.

Although these low-mass dark matter particles are weakly interacting, they are thought to still interact with standard model particles to some extent, but it’s unclear exactly how much. By using data from experiments that have measured the amount of helium produced during big bang nucleosynthesis, as well as measurements of the rare element dysprosium and the cosmic microwave background, Stadnik and Flambaum have derived the most stringent limits to date on how strongly such dark matter particles interact with photons, electrons, and light quarks, improving on existing constraints by up to 15 orders of magnitude.

The new limits on the dark matter interaction strength allow for the possibility that an oscillating, low-mass dark matter field coupled to standard model particles causes variations in the fundamental constants. As the scientists explain, this could have important implications for understanding life’s origins.

“The fundamental constants are ‘fine-tuned’ to be consistent with the existence of life in the Universe,” Stadnik told Phys.org. “If the physical constants were even slightly different, life could not have appeared. The discovery of varying fundamental ‘constants’ may help shed important light on how the physical constants came to have their life-sustaining values today. We simply appeared in an area of the Universe where they are consistent with our existence.”

Pretty interesting. If this is correct the universe “tunes” itself (and life) over “time” and those “settings” might be different in a different part of the universe. So in a sense different parts are evolving to be different from each other, and the “life” that exists there could be very different to the life that exists in this part.

Theory of Everything; Physical, Quantum and Life as the bridge

There is currently a problem in Physics; How to combine Classical Physics with Quantum Physics, into a Grand Unified Theory of Everything.

In my opinion, Hawkings, being the brightest physicist, thinks that there will not be a Theory of Everything.

Stephen Hawking says there’s no theory of everything
https://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2010/09/stephen-hawking-says-theres-no-theory-of-everything.html

How do you square deterministic Classical Physics with the probabilistic Quantum Physics?

I think, the reason physicists cannot find the theory is because they ignore one thing in the universe as part of physics. Life.

This was not always so, Erwin Schrödinger wrote a book “What is Life?” that touched on DNA among other ideas. This became a taboo, but thankfully it is starting to come up again.

For instance:

Quantum biology
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_biology

Quantum Tunnelling to the Origin and Evolution of Life
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768233/

Quantum Criticality at the Origin of Life
http://arxiv.org/abs/1502.06880

Quantum cognition
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_cognition

You’re not irrational, you’re just quantum probabilistic: Researchers explain human decision-making with physics theory
http://phys.org/news/2015-09-youre-irrational-quantum-probabilistic-human.html

It’s life, but not as we know it: Chatty cells found to be using ‘quantum communication’, which could reverse the ageing process
http://www.scmp.com/tech/science-research/article/1878562/its-life-not-we-know-it-chatty-cells-found-be-using-quantum

Transmission of DNA Genetic Information into Water by means of Electromagnetic Fields of Extremely-low Frequencies
http://vixra.org/abs/1202.0073

DNA waves and water
http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1012/1012.5166v1.pdf

Life is the bridge between Classical and Quantum Physics. Will be interesting to see if this conjecture is correct.

Putting it all together: Panpsychism and Process Philosophy

Saw an interesting video about Panpsychism:

David brought up an interesting problem… integration of consciousness into a whole.  I have also been a proponent of what is called Process Philosophy (though not by name, I did not know it was an actual philosophy till reading about it and googling it very recently).

In my opinion, I believe that consciousness, like the universe, energy, matter and life are foundational.  They build upon each other in a process.

In other words out of one comes the other. They are not emergent.  In other words it is dependent origination.

You do not have a body, you are your body.  All parts of your body communicate with each other either chemically, or via nerve impulses to create what you perceive as one entity.  The consciousness that is you.  The Brain is the information processing,  memory storage, and probability generator organ.

Some interesting links that are suggestive of that:

Other Research on Consciousness:

Neural cytoskeleton capabilities for learning and memory
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791806/

Consciousness as a State of Matter
http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.1219

The Emergence of Consciousness in the Quantum Universe
http://arxiv.org/abs/1103.1651

Quantum Mechanics Of Consciousness
http://arxiv.org/abs/0907.4971

Quantum Non-Locality and Universe
http://arxiv.org/abs/0907.1414

Emergent Consciousness: From the Early Universe to Our Mind
http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0007006

Quantum Computation in Brain Microtubules? Decoherence and Biological Feasibility
http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0005025

Anesthesia Points to Deeper Level ‘Quantum Channels’ as Origins of Consciousness
http://www.newswise.com/articles/anesthesia-points-to-deeper-level-quantum-channels-as-brain-sites-for-consciousness

Consciousness has less control than believed, according to new theory
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-06-consciousness-believed-theory.html

Biologists discover bacteria communicate like neurons in the brain

This is pretty interesting.

Biologists at UC San Diego have discovered that bacteria—often viewed as lowly, solitary creatures—are actually quite sophisticated in their social interactions and communicate with one another through similar electrical signaling mechanisms as neurons in the human brain.

In a study published in this week’s advance online publication of Nature, the scientists detail the manner by which bacteria living in communities communicate with one another electrically through proteins called “ion channels.”

“Our discovery not only changes the way we think about bacteria, but also how we think about our brain,” said Gürol Süel, an associate professor of molecular biology at UC San Diego who headed the research project. “All of our senses, behavior and intelligence emerge from electrical communications among neurons in the brain mediated by ion channels. Now we find that bacteria use similar ion channels to communicate and resolve metabolic stress. Our discovery suggests that neurological disorders that are triggered by metabolic stress may have ancient bacterial origins, and could thus provide a new perspective on how to treat such conditions.”

I wonder if they can be trained to respond a certain way to stimuli like light or sound, if hooked up to something that can read the electrical signaling.

Alan Watts and Oscillation

Something I heard from Alan Watts:

 

That reminded me of this:

Study shows staring into someone’s eyes for a long time can cause hallucinations

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-08-eyes-hallucinations.html

Alan Watts, Consciousness and Guitars

Having listened to a few Alan Watts lectures, and having past knowledge of Panpsychism, and Buddhism, I had an interesting thought/conjecture about the nature of Consciousness and Death.

I do not know what happens after you die, “I” (an interesting concept) do not remember it… but I like the ideas put forth by Alan Watts, and Buddhism, and have had, what I would describe as a moment of “enlightenment” or Satori. Or what Alan Watts would call “Waking Up”; which for a secular humanist is odd indeed.

A few days after, I had a semi-waking thought (I was in between sleep and being awake);

Expanding on the the Guitar metaphor about the strings being too tight or too lax, and the “middle” tightness being just right:

Your life are the strings, your memories the music.

The Guitar is your consciousness on which life and memories are foundationally built on. The memories and life are your individual music that is rarely unique, but still personalized, and individual to you.

When you die, the strings are cut (think of the Fates from Greek myth cutting the string of life).  The music stops, your ego and “self” dies, but the music you played has intrinsically changed the guitar.

The type of music you play, changes how the wood seasons, a person using the same guitar will know it is their guitar by the sound.  And so like this, the consciousness is shaped, and “changes” with each “rebirth”.

The essence of the life led remains ingrained in consciousness, but the memory, the ego, the self, dies.

No way to test this… but I like the idea none the less.

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