A quantum physics analogy

 

In physics, we have the regular physics that applies to our human-scale world, and quantum physics which applies to very small scales. The rules of regular physics makes sense to us intuitively, at least for the most part. It’s a world we are familiar with, and one that our brain is adapted to understand and relate to. In contrast, the rules of the quantum world can seem quite counter-intuitive and outright weird to us.

It’s similar when we explore ourselves. At a normal scale, it’s all relatively familiar. We can find love for ourselves as a whole, or for parts of ourselves and our experience. We can dialogue with these same parts. We can train a more stable attention. We can find in ourselves what we see in others. Some of it may be a bit unfamiliar, but it’s all happening within a quite familiar world.

When we explore our experience in a more finely grained way, and on a “smaller” or more basic scale, it can feel quite unfamiliar at first. It’s similar to quantum physics. Things don’t work quite the way we are used to. Different rules seem to apply.

For instance, we may see that sensations appear “stuck” on images and words, lending them a sense of reality and solidity, and giving them a sense of charge (velcro). We may see how images, words and sensations appears as who we are, or a threat, or a command to do something (due to velcro).

We may see that we cannot find what initially appeared so real and solid, including a body, a particular (deficient or inflated) self, a threat, a command, an object, a person, words, images, sensations, awareness, and anything else we can give a name to.

That’s all quite outside of our normal experience, and yet it’s right there when we slow down and look more closely and systematically. (For example by using the Living Inquiries, as above.)

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Physics and immediate experience: Happening within space, with space within, and as space

 

This is a commonly recognized analogy.

In modern physics, they discovered that what initially appears solid is really mostly space, and looking even more closely, even the “particles” are really energy and also space. It’s all space.

When I look, I find the same in my own experience, as so many have before me, and so many do these days too. My field of experience is mostly space. Images, words, sensations, sounds, taste, smell all happen within space. Space with no findable end.

When I look more closely, even these – the images, words, sensations, sounds etc. – have space within them, and are space. It’s all space.

More accurately, it’s all awareness, and space, and appearances within and as – made up of – awareness and space.

It can be very helpful to notice this. Especially for appearances that at first appear quite solid, such as strong emotions, or physical pain, or contractions, or suffering, or seeking, or neediness, or a sense of me or I. Anything identified with will, at first, tend to appear quite solid. And when I look, I notice the space around it, and the space within it, and even the space (awareness) making it up.

Some people take this analogy quite literally and make it into something solid (!). I find it more helpful to see it as an analogy.

Even this analogy can be noticed as happening within space, with space within, and as space.

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Brain myths

 

I keep coming across brain myths, which is surprising since a simple Google search is enough to dispel them. And yet, it’s perhaps not so surprising.

For instance, “we only use 10% of our brain”(or another small percentage), implying that our brain has capacities we are not using. This is silly even on the surface. Why would evolution produce a brain that has capacities we don’t use? Evolution would only select for capacities we – the majority of us, and most of the time – are using. It’s true that we use our brain very effectively, which means that certain parts only “light up” when they are actually needed and in use. The rest of the time, they rest, which is what makes most sense. So we do use all of our brain, but not at the same time. (If we did, it would be called a seizure…!)

The left/right brain myth is also prevalent, and equally much a myth.

So why are these ideas perpetuated? I suspect because they do work as metaphors. There is a grain of truth in them. A metaphorical truth even if it’s not a literal truth.

We do indeed have capacities that most of us are not making use of. It has nothing to do with not using more of our brain, and everything to do with either (a) not having developed these capacities further, or (b) being distracted or having beliefs so they are not revealed to us. We may not have developed our critical thinking, or music skills, or dance abilities. And our attention may be caught up in beliefs and identifications, so we don’t notice that any sense of being a separate me comes from identification with thought. We don’t notice what we really are, which is what this field of experience – as it is here and now – happens within and as. (AKA awareness, love.)

It’s also obvious that we have a more creative and holistic way of experiencing and relating to the world, and a more linear and analytic one. We wouldn’t get very far if we didn’t have both. It has very little to do with brain hemispheres, but we still have these aspects of how we view and relate to the world. It’s a metaphorical truth, not a literal one.

Science and spirituality

 

Science and spirituality. That’s a topic that comes up now and then in popular media.

Unfortunately, the debate or discussion is usually at a quite superficial level.

There are perhaps two main ways of looking at the relationship between science and spirituality.

One is that they are separate. This means that they can either co-exist (religious scientists often take this view), or that they are mutually exclusive (atheists sometimes take this view). This is often the level of the public discourse on this topic.

Another view is that science and spirituality point to and explore the same reality. Reality is seamless and one, and can be explored in a variety of ways, including through different forms of science, and through spirituality. Ken Wilber is perhaps one of the most sophisticated writers on this topic today. (Although I am sure that even his writings will seem hopelessly old fashioned in one or two or three generations.)

Needless to say, the last view resonates the most with me. I am fascinated with science, and have been since childhood. (Especially astronomy, ecology, zoology, biology.) And I am fascinated by spirituality too, or rather the spiritual exploration.

Both describe facets of the same reality, and how it looks when you use “external” or “internal” methods for exploration.

Both use many of the same methods:

Learning from what’s been done before. Maintaining a questioning approach. Testing it out for yourself. Placing direct experience and data over theory. Recognizing that the terrain is not the same as the map. (Or a meal is not the same as the menu.) Being mentored by people who have gone the path before you. And eventually reporting your findings to the benefit of the community, so others can test it out for themselves and perhaps go further. (Yes, I know that this is an idealized view, and that reality is often much more messy, and sometimes less pretty in a superficial sense.)

P.S. I am intentionally ignoring religion here. Spirituality – in the sense I am using it here – can certainly exist within religion. A sincere spiritual exploration of reality can and does happen among some who belong to a certain religion. Religion itself is more of a mix of ritual (which can be very helpful), theology (which can include valuable practical pointers), genuine reports that may either become an official “truth” or more hidden within the tradition, and institutions (necessary to maintain the religion). Although it’s often not said explicitly, the main aim of religion is often – and necessarily – to perpetuate itself.

Skeptics

 

This is again an old topic, but it keeps coming up for me when I read or hear certain folks in the media.

To blindly accept and blindly reject, are both forms of blindness.

If others are similar to me, it’s a way of dealing with fear, of avoiding feeling the fear. It comes from hope, again as a way to avoid feeling fear and discomfort. It comes from identification with a certain identity, which appears solid and real as “me”. It comes from beliefs, from taking certain thoughts as true and reflecting a reality “out there”. It comes from velcro, from sensations attached to words and images, creating an sense of reality, solidity, charge and likes and dislikes. It’s a way of reinforcing belonging to certain groups, for instance hard nosed skeptics, or those who have “seen behind the veil” (new age etc.). Each of these are slightly different ways of pointing to the same.

This came up for me again when I saw that NRK (the Norwegian broadcasting company) has another TV series where the host clearly sets out to dismiss certain things, rather than seriously investigate to find what’s really there. Of course, others do the same only in reverse – accepting certain things without really looking into to to see what’s there. And many do look into it seriously and in a more sober way, to find what’s really there.

One of the topics of the TV series was sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation. It’s an interesting topic because the nocebo effect most likely plays a role for many. And it is true that research into possible mechanisms, and connections between radiation and health, haven’t come up with anything conclusive. Still, that doesn’t mean something more may be going on that it’s worth exploring further.

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Images of God

 

In discussions, some people argue for or against a particular image of God, without acknowledging that it’s one of many possible – and existing – images of God. I especially notice this among some atheists, such as Richard Dawkins. It’s unfortunate since it tends to distract from the intended focus of the discussion, and it can also come across as (a) intellectually dishonest, (b) myopic, (c) valuing shock value over accuracy, and (d) lack of interest in sincerely exploring the topic.

For instance, Richard Dawkins often argue against a Christian image of God, and even one particular image of God found among some Christians. (I am not even sure if they would agree with how he represents their views.) Other Christians have other images, as do other religions and spiritual traditions. And some of these are quite compatible with science.

For instance, Daoism and Buddhism, when approached with curiosity and a scientific approach, are very much compatible with science. And if reality – as it is – is called God, then science is one of the ways we can explore God.

This seems very obvious, which is why I usually don’t write about these topics, but I thought I would mention it this time.

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Phage Therapy

 

I usually don’t write about science here, mainly because many others do it, and since I want to keep this blog limited in terms of topics.

And yet, sometimes mainstream science and media overlook a topic that seems crucial. In this case, I keep reading about the increasing problem of multi-resistant bacteria, harmful and potentially deadly bacteria resistant to a wide range of antibiotics. What these articles, as well as western science and medicine, seem to largely ignore, is a completely different approach that’s easier, cheaper, and as or more effective. And that’s phage therapy.

It’s been succesfully used in eastern Europe for decades, there is a great deal of research on it, and its less expensive than antibiotics, so why not use it in the west as well? If they don’t trust the research, why not put resources into your own research? If you encounter multi-resistant bacteria, why not apply an approach you know works well? Why not even use it in combination with antibiotics? After all, peoples lives are at stake.

It seems that the old political divide between eastern and western Europe is still at play here, two decades after the political divide largely ended.

If anything, this is yet another example of how science and medicine is influenced – and keeps itself limited – by old habits and financial interests. If researchers and pharmaceutical corporations had people’s best interest at heart (a shocking idea), they would invest a great deal of time and resource in phage research. And yet, inertia and lack of financial incentives makes this a slower process, at least so far.

P.S. Science Friday is an exception to the rule, as they frequently do stories on phage therapy.

God and science

 

Since childhood I have thought that the discussion about God and science has been a bit silly.

Initially, it was because I identified myself as an atheist and saw the idea of God as irrelevant. I saw it as something people used for comfort.

In mid- to late-teens, I still recognized the idea of God as an idea, and could see that if God=reality, then there is no conflict between spirituality and science. They are both approaches to explore reality, and we can use scientific principles in both areas.

It’s interesting how it hasn’t changed that much for me. I see God as an idea. I see God as equal to reality, and as something to explore through science and spirituality. And I also see how people – including myself – sometimes use the image or idea of God as a comfort, as a crutch until it’s not needed anymore.

How can we explore God using scientific principles? There are many answers to this. One is to explore it mapping out the descriptions of reality found in the different spiritual traditions, as Ken Wilber and some others do. Another is to follow the guidelines for explorations found in one or more traditions – whether it’s meditation, prayer, inquiry, ethics or something else – and see what happens. Each of these is an experiment. What happens if I do this particular meditation over time? What happens if I engage in the heart prayer over time? What do I find if I engage in a particular form of inquiry? Does it match what others report? How is it different?

Research: Modern Parenting May Hinder Brain Development

 

Studies show that responding to a baby’s needs (not letting a baby “cry it out”) has been shown to influence the development of conscience; positive touch affects stress reactivity, impulse control and empathy; free play in nature influences social capacities and aggression; and a set of supportive caregivers (beyond the mother alone) predicts IQ and ego resilience as well as empathy. […]

“The right brain, which governs much of our self-regulation, creativity and empathy, can grow throughout life. The right brain grows though full-body experience like rough-and-tumble play, dancing or freelance artistic creation. So at any point, a parent can take up a creative activity with a child and they can grow together.”

– Science Daily, Modern Parenting May Hinder Brain Development.

All of this seems like common sense, and yet I know it’s not in our society – yet.

If we want to see how we evolved to be raised, we don’t need to look further than looking at primates and – to some extent – current hunter-gatherer societies. It’s our natural way to raise children be raised: Plenty of body contact. Responsiveness from the adults. Freedom to explore and learn from own mistakes.

Glitch in the brain

 

One part of our brains – the limbic system – generates a challenging emotion for us to feel. Another part of our brain – called either primitive or reptilian – considers that emotion as life-threatening and blocks it at all cost. This battle between the two parts of our brain leaves us cross-wired and stuck.

Raphael Cushnir sometimes talks about a glitch in the brain, and that is of course a valid and helpful perspective. It’s how it looks from the perspective of biology and evolution, and it helps us see it’s not personal.

Another perspective, which I tend to gravitate towards, is seeing this in terms of beliefs.

The limbic system here becomes a metaphor for or a pointer to beliefs creating reactive emotions – sadness, anger, grief etc. And the reptilian part of the brain becomes a metaphor for or pointer to beliefs about these emotions and what they mean.

For instance, I believe that he is disrespectful towards me and this trigger anger. Using Cushnir’s metaphor, this is the limbic system in action.

I have another set of beliefs about anger – anger is bad, anger means something terrible has happened, anger means I will go out of control, anger means people won’t like me – so I push aside this anger, I stuff it, I tighten muscles and breathe more shallowly, I try to not feel it.  In Cushnir’s metaphor, this is the primitve or reptilian brain. (Although some of these beliefs, some of the beliefs that causes me to stuff the anger, are certainly not reptilian. They are more mammalian and social.)

The benefit of looking at it through the lens of beliefs is that it gives me something to explore, both in terms of what triggers reactive emotions and how I relate to them. I can inquire into my beliefs, and find what’s more true for me.

And these two perspectives can easily co-exist and mutually enhance and support each other. One shows me it’s not personal, and makes it feel more scientific. The other helps me identify and inquire into my beliefs relating to emotions.

Evolution of the spirit

 

The idea of an evolution of the Spirit is of course just that, an idea.

The image of Spiritual evolution, stages, phases, changing characteristics, data, people supporting and talking about it, are all images happening within and as the mental field. Any sense it’s real and true happens because the thought that’s it’s true is taken as true. Any idea of it being inherent in reality is just that, an idea and an image. If I take the thought of spiritual evolution as true, I’ll perceive, feel and live as if it’s true.

When this idea is examined more closely, it’s freed from being taken as true, and can still be quite helpful in some situations. It can be inspiring and interesting for some, it may serve as a hook or a first step into own exploration, it may offer a temporary sense of knowing or safety – along with some stress (!).

Spirit (reality, God, Big Mind) can be talked about has having several facets. One is capacity for awareness and it’s contents (aka Godhead). Another is as awareness and any experience happening within and as awareness. And yet another is the world of experiences and form. Even within the context of those distinctions, they are the same. (It’s the play of Spirit as capacity, as a seamless whole of awareness and it’s contents, appearing to itself in these three ways when filtered through an image of these three ways.) And I can only find those distinctions within my images, within my mental field overlay.

Evolves and doesn’t

As capacity and awareness, it’s easy to assume it stays the same. As form, it – according to the story of the universe from current western science – it evolves over time, from energy to simple hydrogen atoms to heavier elements to the earth coming into life to ecosystems, species, humans, culture, technology, science and everything happening within and through us humans. So in that sense, Spirit evolves. It evolves as form. It doesn’t evolve and it does, and that’s happening as images within the mental field.

Types of evolution

What are some of the types and mechanisms of this evolution? It’s a while since I explored this, so will just mention it briefly here.

As mentioned above, the universe seems to evolve over time from simplicity to complexity, from energy to matter to life. This form of evolution may be best explained through systems theories.

It may also happen through the mechanisms of biological/Darwinian evolution: variation, selection, reproduction etc. This has brought us humans to where we are today, with out biological possibilities and limitations. One interesting question here is the relationship between clarity on thoughts and evolution. Is there a biological tendency in us to take thoughts as true, or is it just learned and from culture? If there is this biological tendency, how did it come about? Has it been selected because it aids survival? To me, it seems that being more clear on thoughts aids healthy functioning and survival. It may be more likely that (a) too few people found this clarity to have an impact, (b) the selection pressure hasn’t been strong enough to select it out on a larger scale, and/or (c) although clarity on thoughts aids an healthy functioning, this may not translate into more children. Still, it’s possible that our biological evolution moves us in this direction, from a tendency to taking thoughts as true to a tendency to be more clear on thoughts. Or not.

It may happen through evolution of culture. Looking at the changes in human culture over time, from neolithic to today, we see different phases and stages. This can be seen as a meme evolution, driven by material, cultural and psychological factors.

Each of these maps of different types of evolution are from current western science. These maps and the data supporting them are images within my world of images. Recognizing that, through inquiry, they can be very helpful practical guidelines in some situations. Taking them as true, they become – among other things – a burden for me, a source of stress.

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Mars

 

There are two Mars related stories in the news these days: The quite exciting landing of Curiosity on Mars a few days ago, and Elon Musk’s plan to bring people to Mars within 10-15 years.

I have been interested in astronomy and space exploration since I was a little boy, and this interest was fueled even more when I saw Cosmos by Carl Sagan at age ten or eleven. It brought me directly into a profound sense of awe of the universe and life itself, of us all – quite literally – made of star dust, the product of 13.4 billions years of evolution, and that these eyes, these ears, these thoughts, these feelings are the eyes, ears, thoughts and feelings of the universe. In the words of Carl Sagan:

And we, we who embody the local eyes and ears and thoughts and feelings of the cosmos, we have begun at least to wonder about our origins — star stuff contemplating the stars, organized collections of ten billion billion billion atoms, contemplating the evolution of nature, tracing that long path by which it arrived at consciousness here on the planet earth, and perhaps throughout the cosmos.

In my teens, I became interested in systems views and the Gaia theory, and it was quite clear that the Earth as a whole can be seen as a seamless living organism, where we as humans have specific roles and functions, as any other species and ecosystem does. What is our role? We are, clearly, an awareness organ for the Earth and the universe. We are a way for the Earth and the universe to bring itself into awareness. We are a way for the Earth and the universe to experience itself. Through us, the Earth and the universe develops technologies which allows for it to explore itself even further, in even smaller details (microscopes), even further out in space (telescopes, space travel). Through us, Earth is able to see itself from the outside, as one seamless whole, and that feeds back into and even transforms our human society and culture.

Perhaps most importantly in the long run – we may be a way for the Earth to reproduce. The Earth has already taken the first steps in this direction, through our space travel and ideas of Mars colonization and terraforming. It’s an universal impulse for life to wish to (a) survive and (b) reproduce, so why wouldn’t this also be the case for Earth as a whole? There are several mechanisms which may make this happen. It’s a natural consequence of our combination of (a) curiosity and passion for exploration, and (b) our current and future levels of technology. It makes sense. Having two – or more – planets with human colonies and Earth life (plants, animals, ecosystems) makes humanity and Earth life far more resilient. A large space object may crash into the Earth, wiping out civilization and large portions of life, or we may do it ourselves. So if we have a “backup” civilization and Earth life somewhere else, life can continue there and perhaps even support or re-seed life on Earth. In a longer perspective, we know that the sun will eventually engulf the Earth.

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Quantum physics and inquiry

 

In my teens and early twenties, I was quite interested in quantum physics and especially it’s connection with spirituality. I read just about any book published on it at the time – by Fritjof Capra and others. Most writers seem to present the connection between quantum physics and spirituality (typically Taoism and Buddhism) in a more theoretical way. And it can also be presented in the context of inquiry.

For instance, in some quantum physics experiments, time and space doesn’t seem to function the way we are used to in conventional experience. This suggests that time and space may not “really” be as we typically perceive it. It’s perhaps not inherent in the world as we perceive it. I can find the same by exploring the sense fields, and notice how time and space only appears due to my overlay of images of time and space on my sense fields. There is no time or space found outside of these images. There is no evidence for time or space existing “out there” or being inherent in the world or reality.

The same is the case with causality. Some quantum physics experiments throws our conventional ideas of causality into question. The way we typically experience causality may not be inherent in the world “all the way down and all the way up”. Exploring my everyday experience of causality through the sense fields, I find the same.

So referring to quantum physics in this context may invite or inspire to own investigation, and this may be very helpful. It may inspire more scientifically minded folks to investigate their own immediate experience of reality.

The potential drawback is that it makes it all sound more abstract and foreign that it needs to be. And it’s also likely that our current understanding of quantum physics and it’s experiments will change over time, and we don’t know how, so it may be a bit unfortunate to create too strong of a mental connection between quantum physics and spirituality (as Ken Wilber has pointed out).

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Science: Higgs boson find could make light-speed travel possible, scientists say

 

Scientists went into a frenzy following the announcement, speculating that it could one day make light-speed travel possible by “un-massing” objects or allow huge items to be launched into space by “switching off” the Higgs. CERN scientist Albert de Roeck likened it to the discovery of electricity, when he said humanity could never have imagined its future applications.
Higgs boson find could make light-speed travel possible, scientists say

This is of course free speculation at this point, but it is possible that understanding the Higgs field better, and how matter gains mass, may lead to technologies that earlier belonged just to science fiction and not science. As this article suggest, if we can suspend mass it would allow very fast vehicles on earth and in space, and much easier access to space. With mass, getting close to light speed is just about impossible. Without mass, it’s very much possible.

This is another reminder that much of what has happened in history and technology was unimagined and sometimes unimaginable to earlier generations, just as much of what we do imagine never do happen. And when I turn that around to my own life, I see it’s true. Much of what did happened were things I didn’t expect or couldn’t imagine, and much of what I did imagine didn’t happen.

Study: Psychological Trauma & Whiplash

 

According to a new study, PTSD can aggravate the damage from the whiplash and further increase the pain. ”We have found that PTSD leads to an increased bodily awareness and a fear of movement,” says psychologist Tonny Elmose Andersen, of the Department of Psychology at the University of Southern Denmark. “This is why PTSD patients tend to feel stronger pain than they otherwise would.”
Psychological traumas intensify whiplash in Science Nordic.

They listed a few possible connection between psychological trauma and whiplash. Here are a few that comes up for me:

  1. Psychological trauma (triggered beliefs) create muscle tension, which can further injure already injured tissue and also prevent it from healing (reduced blood flow etc.)
  2. Psychological trauma creates a heightened state of alertness and tension which may fuel beliefs about the injury: What it means (I won’t be able to work, I won’t get better, I will stay in pain, I will suffer), how it will unfold in the future, and even what it is (it’s pain, it’s an injury). All of these may intensify the experience of pain, and may not support healing.

I see the researchers made a connection from #2 to immobility, which in turn is less-than-ideal for healing. That’s probably true as well. It may be they included #1 in their original research article (although it was left out in this news reporting).

Seems that a combination of traditional therapy (massage, acupuncture tc.) and TRE (to release tension and trauma) may be helpful here, starting gently and early after injury. As usual with TRE, it’s helpful to be gentle and progress slowly, and, in this case, perhaps focus the tremors to the hip and leg area for a while to keep the neck comfortable.

And if this (massage, TRE, releasing tension, supporting healthy muscles) is done before any injuries, then even better.

UFOs

 

For the record, what Pitts endorses is the “unidentified” aspect of an unidentified flying object. “I have never seen a UFO myself,” he says, “and I am not saying that UFOs are ET spacecraft. I am saying [that] here, there is some mystery, and we should be able to address it scientifically, without all the stigma involved.”
– Astronomer Derrick Pitts quoted in ET, Phone Derrick Pitts

As most boys, I was quite interested in UFOs and was even a member of the UFO organization in Norway. In my teens, the interest shifted into exploring UFOs as projection objects (especially after I found Jung’s book on the topic), and later on, I have occasionally read up on what’s happening in the field.

UFOs are interesting to me for a few different reasons:

Some appear to be natural phenomena not very well understood by science, or entirely unknown to science.  The Hessdalen lights in Norway may be one example.

They are excellent projection objects – unknown, rare, ephemeral, mysterious. They are great for putting our fears and hopes on and create beliefs around. (They will save us, they will eat us, I will dismiss it and don’t take it seriously.) This in itself is a very interesting phenomenon, and well worth exploring.

Some – a few – may be crafts of nonterresital origin. The universe may be populated by many different civilizations, and although the chances of any one actually visiting us may be miniscule considering the huge distances and enormous space, it could happen. After all, our modern scientific exploration of physics is very young, what we don’t know will always be infinitely more than what we do know, and what we have discovered so far, through for instance quantum physics, shows us that reality seems much stranger than what we could have imagined. It’s worth keeping an open mind, take the possibility of visits seriously, and do some serious investigation.

And then there is the military and national security reasons. Independent of origin, some may be crafts. This is one reason most or all governments take UFOs seriously, whether or not they admit to it.

The rational approach is to take and investigate the more well documented reports seriously.

UFOs clearly exist. People see unidentified flying objects all the time. The question is, what is it in each case? The answers may range from the mundane to little known natural phenomena, and may also include possible ET visits. I don’t think I would be surprised either way. If we are visited, the implications are significant. And if there eventually is contact – in the open and at a large scale – then it’s the beginning of a new phase of human civilization.

Here is a good interview of author Leslie Kean by Michio Kaku.

One of several documentaries, I Know What I Saw:

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First space flight

 

It’s fifty years ago today since Earth saw itself from space – from earth orbit.

It’s only 16 years since Earth found the first planet around another star.

And it may be only a matter of years or decades until this living planet finds another living planet.

Earth came to life, then formed itself into humans and technology, and through humans and technology experience itself from space, find planets around other stars, and may well find another living planet – a sibling in another solar system.

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Journey of Man

 

I gave my parents each a genetics test for their birthdays, which revealed – not surprisingly – that our maternal ancestors on either side came out of Africa, through the Middle-East, and then respectively journeyed through Central Europe and Eastern Europe, and eventually into Scandinavia.

I also recently joined Geni, a social media/family tree site, mostly to help my father with his genealogy research.

In either case, whether it is historical or genetic genealogy, it reveals how hugely interconnected we are as soon as we go back just a few generations. It is our collective history that is revealed. Going back a few hundred thousand, or one or two million of years, it gets even more collective, including other species and eventually all of earth’s life. And going back some billion of years, it includes stars, galaxies, and all of the universe.

It’s funny how something that is traditionally viewed as a personal and family matter – genealogy – turns out to be that which reveals how interconnected we are, and that our history is shared and collective.

My genetic journey

 

I have given my parents a kit each from The Genographic Project so they can map the journey of their ancestors on the female side. It’s fun, and it does give a more immediate sense of connection with our ancestors going back a few tens of thousands of years. And the results become part of a mapping of human migration paths, which makes it more than worthwhile.

At the same time, the maps we will receive is just two strands of thousands and thousands. The full picture of the journeys of of ancestors is far richer and more dense. And beyond the human, there is an even richer picture. We are are closely related. We are all parts of the living evolving Earth.

So it is fun. It becomes part of an important research projects which helps us recognize ourselves as part of an intimate human family. And yet, the results will be a couple of random strands from an infinitely more rich tapestry, and we are all – all Earth life – closely related anyway. This is just another reminder.

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Silliness

 

He suggests that aliens might simply raid Earth for its resources and then move on: “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.”

He concludes that trying to make contact with alien races is “a little too risky”. He said: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

– from Don’t Talk to Aliens Warns Stephen Hawking, The Sunday Times

I assume this is mainly a way to spice up and draw attention to his documentary, Stephen Hawking’s Universe, and as such, it has worked very well.

But in terms of content, it is pure silliness. We don’t need to deliberately try to contact aliens. Any sufficiently advanced civilization in our galaxy will be able to detect that Earth is a living planet, and they will – in time – detect our civilization through changes in the atmosphere, artificial lighting on the night side, and radio and tv signals broadcasted to the galaxy.

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Falsification in inquiry

 

draft…..

The gold standard in science is to falsify theories, to do our best to prove them wrong rather than confirming them.

There are two reasons for this.

First, we are very good at making something appear true to ourselves. If we want to, we can find proof and supporting evidence for just about anything.

More importantly, we can never confirm a theory, only falsify it. No amount of evidence can confirm a theory, because something can always turn up that falsifies it.

This is a good guideline for inquiry and self-inquiry as well.

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Evolution and fit

 

He imagined a world in which organisms battled for supremacy and only the fittest survived.

But new research identifies the availability of “living space”, rather than competition, as being of key importance for evolution.

Findings question the old adage of “nature red in tooth and claw”.

Hm. I am not an expert on evolution, but it seems that BBC was able to fit in three misconceptions in three sentences. (From their article Space is the Final Frontier for Evolution.)

Evolution does have to do with fit – a fit between the organism and the environment. A fit in terms of what is asked for by the environment, what works, and what offers a higher chance for survival and the survival of offspring.

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