Bizzare Thoughts

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Quantum Immortality!

Quantum Immortality:
Do You Live Forever in a Parallel Universe?

--from a source! Truly bizzare!

Quantum immortality is the name for the speculation that the Everett many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that a conscious being cannot cease to be. The idea is highly controversial.

The idea comes from a variant of the quantum suicide thought experiment. Suppose a physicist standing beside a nuclear bomb detonates it. In almost all parallel universes, the nuclear explosion will vaporize the physicist. However, there is a small set of alternate universes in which the physicist somehow survives. The idea behind quantum immortality is that the physicist is only alive in, and thus able to experience, one of the universes in which a miraculous survival occurs, even though these universes form a small subset of the possible universes. In this way, the physicist would appear, from a personal point of view, to be living forever. There are some parallels in this with the anthropic principle.

Many people regard this idea as nonsense, and argue that this outcome does not fall out naturally from the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. They say that in the vast majority of universes, the physicist would cease to exist and therefore the most likely experience of a physicist standing next to a nuclear explosion would be the experience (or lack of experience) of ceasing to exist. The counterargument to this is that lack of experience is not itself an experience.

The critics argue that the continuity of consciousness, and the possibility of it enduring forever, are actually assumptions in this scenario, and ones with no physical basis. They also claim that the logic of the thought experiment would suggest that a conscious observer can never become unconscious, and therefore can never sleep.

A counterargument to this is that there may indeed be parallel universes in which one never falls asleep; however, the subset of universes in which this happens is vanishingly small compared to the subset of universes in which one falls asleep and later wakes up again. Therefore, given the assumption that consciousness will continue, it is far more likely to continue into the latter set than into the former.

Proponents of the idea point out that while it is highly speculative, there is nothing in the notion of quantum immortality that violates the known laws of physics.

Although quantum immortality is motivated by the quantum suicide experiment, Max Tegmark, one of the inventors of the quantum suicide thought experiment has stated that he does not believe that quantum immortality is a consequence of his work. His argument is that under any sort of normal conditions, before someone completely ceases to exist they undergo a period of non-quantum decline (which can be anywhere from seconds to minutes to years), and hence there is no way of establishing a continuous existence from this world to an alternate one in which the person continues to exist. However, the idea of a "non-quantum decline" has no basis in any known laws of physics.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Virtual Reality

Statutory Warning: This post has elements of philosophy, its strongly recommended that you read it with a cup of coffee in hand!

After having taken a sabbatical from blogging, I am back again! And for those who believe this blog is for Asimov and Clarke fans, nah, I have something else in mind.

After having pondered over the thought process of how life could be previewed from different point of view in my previous two posts, this is one is one life as it ACTUALLY is. The Real life.

I sometimes tend to believe most of us do live pseudo lives. A face which we have to show to the world, which is so much unlike our inner selves. We tend to live virtually outside, without any breaks, day in and day out. In fact, we get so used to our virtual lives, that we tend to forget our real selves.

Duh, big fuss, grunt, yawn… The same Philosophy again…

But I have something different to say. Maybe not so different. I feel as a life goes on, we start to lose our inner self to our virtual self. We become so used to a pseudo life, that we forget what’s real. Ventriquolists (people who can mimic others’ sounds) often say that they forget what their own voice is like. Even actors tend to think that the effect of the character which they portray does rub off unto them. Going back to Good old Shakespeare, who says life’s a stage, and we all portray characters. I believe the situation is not so simple.. we all have our mini-stages inside that one large stage. Life itself is a play, but we are busy with so many of our own ‘acts’ in between, that we tend to forget what the original play was all about.

In fact, most of us do suffer from this identity crisis within our own. We present a part of us to the world, which is really not us. Deep down we know we are just putting a mask, a cover-up, and are playing con-artists all the time. But the question is with whom are we conning? Its ourselves. Down the line, a point comes when we tend to think that we ARE the person we are trying to portray, and accept that as reality, and the original self whom we really are, becomes the con-artist. Roles switch, without any of realizing when and how. We start to doubt our own selves at times, trying to think whom we really are.. are we actually the self we are portraying, or are we the self that we think we actually are.. or neither.

But despite the fact.. we do go on with lives.. confused about ourselves yet commanding others, not sure about our own real selves, but trying to show the others their real self. Maybe there isn’t something called a ‘real’ self….its all virtual.

Thus we actually live in a Virtual Reality. A reflection of our own, and in a zone somewhere between what we actually are and what we’d like to be.. but actually achieving to be neither….

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Worlds within a World!

What does the world mean to us? Well, some people might argue that Mr. A or Ms B might mean the world to them, but on the serious front, the word 'World' is a very loose term, which encompasses all that exists around us! The world can be best defined as a realm or domain which we restrict ourselves to. But is does our definition of 'World' include possibly everything that every existed?

Well, coming back to the fact of the matter, its safe to assume the definition of our world to be limited to what we see around us, the earth, the sky, and the stars. But if we come to think of it from a deeper perspective, we realize that there are a lot of different small worlds that make up our world. Right from our own world, to the Marine world, to the world of cells, the subcelluar level, and finally atoms, electrons, quarks.. All these worlds r intermingled, and based upon one other, for the other world to function properly.

To make things clearer, lets go down to the example of the Cell. We can assume the Cellular world to be a realm in itself, in which various sorts of events are going on, as they go on in our realm. The Mitochondria symbolizes our Production Industries, the Nucleus is the Manufacturing Centre, the Endoplasmic Reticulum is the defence system, the macrophages are our nuke missiles, the Killer Cells and Interferons being target missiles, and all the chemicals happily go around from one cell to another as we hop around cities to countries.... not all chemicals can enter all cells (selective permeability)..Which could symbolize the citizenship we have of different countries, but under certain special conditions (Visas?!) some chemicals can enter the cells which they don’t usually enter. The glucose and proteins can be the petroleum and agriculture resources and some Antigens (read Terrorists) create havoc in a specific group of cells, and the immune system tries to take care of them, but there is always the occasional infection (read bomb blasts!) which keep on disturbing the peace of the cellular system throughout life... but the body lives on (as the world moves on!), till eventually one day the cell has to die, and it is replaced by another cell..

Now having made a truly bizarre comparison, lets go down to the subcellular level... don’t the electrons going around the nucleus bear an uncanny similarity to our solar-system! It was proved that these electrons do not follow strict orbits, and neither do our planets. They revolve around the nucleus as our planets revolve around the sun, and there is a great deal going on INSIDE these electrons, which even the most powerful electron microscopes cannot decipher. Electrons, protons and neutrons are supposed to me made up of quarks, which we can assume as countries on planets... and well, the electrons even spin around their axis like our earth does!

Going up higher up in the hierarchy, lets go to the solar system... it could be that our solar system resembles on atom, and the various galaxies are similar to the various molecules that exist, and their mixing up causes different kinds of reactions...depending on the catalyst! At times there can even be explosions.. like when Raw sodium reacts with water (which we term as Supernovas!) and those quesars cud well be the quarks we term!

What I mean to say is that, each world depends on a smaller world, which cud be much more closer to own world than we realize. The smaller components probably don’t realize what they mean to the larger components, as probably we don’t realize what WE cud actually mean to the larger system. The cells quietly go about doing their work which we awake n sleep... it cud be we are doing our OWN work for something MUCH larger and beyond our comprehension without ever knowing it! We fight off things that endanger us, just as antibodies fight antigens...but in the process we might be protecting something big, like the antibodies protect us. We christen the bigger powers as the power of Gods, and we might be what the other smaller organisms call God! There could exist an infinite number of worlds that exist both below and above our hierarchy, upon which the existence of our own world depends. We just play our part and though we might be inquisitive, we cannot comprehend things beyond a point, and we cannot betray the way we are meant to stay to much extent. Of course we do evolve, as do the cells, as does our universe... after all a little change is necessary... me might shift to the moon someday... and might grow more intelligent.. just like we could probably have new organ in our body, say in a million years!

For all we know, the thing which we consider to be our Universe, could just be an atom of some other world, and the thing which we consider to be an atom, could be the universe of another world....

No wonder they say.. the ways of the world are really strange!! :)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Zero and Infinity!

Well, probably the two most interesting numbers in mathematics are zero and infinity. Though it is usually stated that while zero is defined, infinity is not. It is just an assumed number, beyond which we cannot count. In the true sense, infinity can never exist, because there can be a ceaseless counting which could go on. But how long could we go on counting? The answer would be.. upto infinity! So as we see, we are in a big loop here.. it is something which doesn't exist, but to prove its non-existence itself requires its existence!!

Now lets come to 'zero'. Zero is said to be one of the biggest discoveries in Mathematics, and contrary to infinity, it is supposed to be clearly defined. Well, lets try and define zero. In common language, zero could be probably defined as 'nothingness'. The closer we get to zero, the more we get into 'nothingness'. We do assume the number in mathematics, but its not the end of counting, in fact its the perfect mid point, flanked by +infinity on one side and -infinity on the other. Now, the fact of the number is, do the negative numbers exist as far as the real world is concerned? Yes they do! Suppose you owe someone 100 bucks, and u pay him 200 bucks, u end up owing him -100 bucks, so to say! So in a way considering in a way, the negative numbers are just perceptive reflections of the positive numbers, but we still deal with them with in the day to day life.

Having said this, lets come back to zero.... now if we do assume infinity to be the end of counting, zero is the perfect midpoint. Is there something as a perfect zero? Yes, we might see that on our tests occasionally, but in the absolute sense, the concept of zero is as intriguing as infinity. While we try to minimize things, to approach the perfect zero... we go down to atoms, electrons, quarks, superstrings.. etc etc, in our quest to reach that perfect zero, the perfect nothingness from which everything arose! However, for every miniscule particle, there exists another particle which is even smaller than that. So the smallest particle is the smallest only till another smaller particle is discovered.

So, how far can this cycle go? Probably Infinite times. If we keep on doing this till infinity, we might reach the perfect zero. But since we cannot reach infinity, it implies we cannot reach the perfect zero!

What if we came to know that zero and infinity are terms very close to each other. I mean consider the number system, if it ends at infinity, the immediate next number would have to be zero, in order for it to cycle. Since we can never reach infinity, we can never come back to zero. The day we reach infinity, will mean we have probably come back to zero.

Thus conceptually, infinity and zero both are interdependent entities, and the existence of one depends on the other. We assume both exist, but we can never manage prove that! It is between the 'perfect hollowness' and the 'perfect wholesomeness' that this world exists, and wither the 'perfect hollowness' or the 'perfect wholesomeness' themselves do exist, is beyond our comprehension!

The Earthly 'Real'm!

Have you ever wondered what if the world we are staying in, is actually an illusion... a flashy curtain before our eyes to shield us from the ACTUAL reality? Well, I guess most of us have had this thought at one point or the other - and there are dozens of articles on the surreal vs. the real... but then again, what exactly is real?

Well, if we consider this world to be real, it somehow takes the zing out of the subject, since there are so many unexplained things that keep happening here which defy the definition of 'real'... we have the occasional miracle, our bizarre dreams, the reports of sightings of Aliens, the famous 'ghost' stories and of course the mystifying phenomenon of death!

But many of you would argue, that none of these things are explained as yet, and in due course might get defined in the 'real' terms... but no matter how hard we try, there will always be a surreal component which will elude the definition of a completely real world...

Now that we assume that everything in this world cannot be termed as 'real', then where does this surreal component arise from? We all have our stories about Ghosts, Godly Acts, Aliens etc. responsible for a particular phenomenon. But then again, in admitting so, we do agree there does exist another Realm in order to justify that any of the above assumptions is true. In fact, most of us agree that MANY such realms exist ... in terms of many alien colonies, various abodes of Gods, heaven and hell, the realm of the Ghosts... etc

Of all the surreal things mentioned, I guess the most obvious and undeniable thing is Death. It has certainly been one of the most alluring subjects ever since the human race came into being. Almost all the religions and people believe that after death, we DO go to another realm (the common consensus amongst almost all religions being heaven and hell). Some people believe that it is an infinite loop of births and rebirths on Earth that take place, but even they have to admit that in the transit time between the birth an the rebirth, there does exist another realm, no matter what we name it...

So when such a realm does exist.. what if we one day realized that the world we are actually living in, is actually a realm, to supplement the other realms, and these in totality sum up REALITY. What if the life on an earth is just an illusion? What if this realm is just a make-believe system in order to keep the existence of other realms a secret? What if one fine day, after our supposed 'death' we realized that all this was just a 'dream' so to say? I guess the day we do realize that, is the day we are supposed to attain Nirvana. But are we sure the realm in which we attain Nirvana is real, or as surreal as our Earthly realm?

I guess we can ponder over this for ages, and be lost in the reality of realms... which why most of us just settle in for our lives, and be a part of it rather than to implore it. Remember the Matrix... it was once said its better to be a part of Matrix even if u know its an illusion, than to come out to the reality... because at times, illusions are better than realities...

So I guess most of us are happy believing the fact that this Illusion is a Reality, than to suspect the Reality to be an Illusion! Dream On!