Monday, November 12, 2012

Consciousness and the Meaning of Life

Dear All,

I think the most recent discoveries of Science are simply amazing - and they change the way we see reality and ourselves. In fact, it seems that quantum physics can help us recreate ourselves - and live the life we choose to live.

Please watch one or more of the following clips and share your thoughts with the rest of us:


Brian Green: Quantum Mechanics Explained
Brian Greene: The Hidden Reality


Big Thinkers - Michio Kaku:
Michio Kaku:  The Quantum Revolution
Are We Ready for the Coming Age of Abundance? (with Michio Kaku):


Stephen Hawking: The Meaning of Life
Stepehn Hawking: The Power of Ideas
also interesting:
Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, and Arthur C. Clarke (1988): God, the Universe, and Everything Else


Deepak Chopra:
Down the Rabbit Hole - Beyond the Matrix (3 minutes only)
Deepak Chopra: Lecture about Consciousness
Deepak Chopra & Leonard Mlodinow: Science and Spirituality
Leading@Google: Deepak Chopra [about leadership]

Thank you!



  1. I watched the three minute video, “Beyond the Matrix – The Rabbit Hole,” with Deepak Chopra. The video immediately got me hooked. When the video went into depth about how a computer works with ones and zeros, I was initially confused, until it is revealed as a larger metaphor for something much more meaningful and universal. Perception of the world is something I have always been interested in, mainly because one can only see the world from their own perspective. The video summarizes this truth better than I. “There is no real look of the world. There are only different pictures and different points of view.” I love this quote because it is an abstract way of looking at perception, but ultimately cannot be refuted. This concept of point of view is something that has come up in conversations with my friends over the years and it is satisfying to hear it on a more official level. The idea of color is very much connected to this, in the sense that everyone in the world could quite possibly see the world through their own unique color spectrum and no one would ever know any better. As in, I see the grass as green and you see the grass as green. This is because we were raised being told that grass is green. This does not mean green is the same for us both. I cannot see the grass through your eyes, so my green may very well be your purple, but we still agree it is green. There is no way to compare or prove this theory, which is why I love this concept and this video – The world is uniquely are own, so cherish every little bit of it.

    1. I really like the example you used that grass is green, but we see different images of grass even though we agree it is green because we were raised being told that. I have came across the same discussion with my eye doctor when he was telling me about color blind patients. In the same sense, my red may be your yellow, we will never be able to see through the perspectives of others.

  2. I had already seen all the videos under 1) and 3). Physics to me is my life and love. Challenges, theories, hypothesizes, unsolved mysteries and criticism, this is what modern theoretical physics is about. When you read more, you'll know that time is not just a clock ticking time is actually a shape and something that can be bent and modified. Quite fascinating?! Yes! Quantum Theory and String Theory have opened a whole new world of possibilities for physicists to explore. We now understand our universe better. Well, most of the people who people would know that in an atom most of the space is empty and we know that our bodies and everything around us is made of atoms. Now, here is something I would like to leave you with; if most of the space in atoms is empty and we are all made of many of those atoms, then why do 2 things (when brought in contact), just pass each other as if the other was never there?! Well, we see that they don't but we cannot prove it. The theory we know about says that they should pass from each other, the reality does not. This is modern physics and I hope I get answers to such questions someday.

    PS: If anyone wants to sit with me and discuss about such bizarre things, you're most welcome. :)

  3. It's 12:41 am Monday morning,I have a biology class in 7 and half hours, but I can't sleep. My mind refuses to leave this high level of consciousness and allow me to dive into the simple serenity of sleep. So I decided to get online, where most of today's adolescent populous devotes it's consciousness, myself being no exception. This is definitely a unique blog entry because I think this is the first time we've had the option(or at least that I'm aware of) to write about something as related with science as quantum mechanics. I'm personally a huge fan of NOVA. I'm a frequent viewer of their documentaries, as they actually manage to amaze me as much as they manage to confuse me and leave me scratching my head. Physics is something that I find very relevant in my life, not because I just spent the last two months of chemistry learning Quantum Mechanics, but also because the laws of physics apply everywhere and anywhere we turn our eyes. You could say that, that physics dominates my consciousness more than any other academic topic.

    One particular thing that interests me about Quantum Mechanics, is that fact that it states that everything in the universe succumbs to probability in some way shape or form. I like hearing this, because I affiliate a lot of the things in life to results of chance and natural events rather than attributing it to something like karma or a pantheon of gods and goddesses. That being said, their are things that we can control. It's not the weather, and its not death, its the impact and influences that we leave on other during our time on earth.

    I'd like to conclude this blog entry with a video on consciousness that I'd like to share. It is both scientifically informative, and also philosophical and therefor very interesting and thought provoking. Please check it out :)

    What Is Consciousness?-VSauce

    1. More Though Provoking and Interesting Stuff:
      Why Do We Dream-

      What is DeJaVu?-

    2. I've decided to add to my post, because recently I've come up with more to say on this topic. This topic relates with one of my portfolio works which is a textual analysis for a lecture by Stephen Hawking called "Does God Play Dice?". It's essentially a discussion of how the universe works, what is predetermined, what is uncertain, and what are our limitations as deterministic limitations. It seems that more and more that the topic of life is discussed, the more true and accurate the theme of it being a enigmatic concoction of arbitrary decisions and involuntary impositions appears to be.

  4. I consider Carl Sagan and Steven Hawking as two of the most brilliant and astounding physicists of the last century or so. Carl Sagan is widely known for his aptitude for explanation and Steven Hawking for his sheer intelligence. The videos under section 3) were very thought provoking and interesting to watch, especially the hour long interview. However, these videos hardly do any justice for these two heros. I suggest that anyone who finds the work of Sagan and Hawking even slightly intriguing, to read up on more of their work. Carl Sagan's novel, "A Demon Haunted World", is a great example. Whether you'd like to delve into the fascinating depths of astronomy or ponder on many of our societies trends and fallibilities you cant go wrong with Sagan or Hawking.

    One specific video actually comes to mind. To anyone reading this post, please watch this video:

  5. From watching the video “Stephan Hawking’s Grand Design- The Meaning of Life” I believe there are many really special issues presented. Near the start, it is stated how all matter is made of the same things. We are made of the same things as animals, as water, as everything. Humans are not composed of anything special; it is the ratio of these particles that make us what we are. I really enjoyed how the video demonstrated the vastness of the human mind.
    Our minds are an absolutely crazy thing. They are able to go things that we don’t even realize that we are able to do. There are endless possibilities of what we can do with them. So many people don’t realize just how smart they are. Not just smart as in good grades, but there are endless things one can be smart about, and all of them are important to society in there own way. We don’t need everyone in the world to be engineers or doctors or lawyers, we need a variety of everything. People need to realize that science is life and see how interconnected they are. Science is not just equations or formulas or plugging in numbers, it is the study of the universe, which entails every aspect of what is in it also.
    The crazy thing with science is that some of the smallest things that may seem trivial can have a huge effect on the overall. I really enjoyed the point of how smells a trigger memory. I find that often I find that went I smell something familiar, it vividly triggers a memory for me and I find this crazy that just smelling something can remind me of a memory I thought I had forgotten. Perhaps we never forget anything, we just are not able to trigger all of these memories.
    The line that reality is in the eyes of the beholder is a great line. People are only able to know what they have learned. For example if you have never heard a word before or seen it and have no reference to context it is used in then you can know what it means. I believe that there cant be just one meaning to life. The meaning of like is a sum of all that is done throughout it. The idea presented of best-fit models is great. People develop the best ideas to fit the realities we perceive; we cannot determine absolute truth just things that can’t be proven wrong. Things only exist because they are believed to exist. There are infinite possibilities of what we are capable of and we need to realize just how much potential we all have. Nobody sees the world in the same way; therefor the world is different to everyone. Just because we live in the same space, does not mean we see it in a way that is even close to one another. This means that if everyone’s world is different them their meaning of life is also different, and is whatever you want it to be.

  6. In high school, I only said the two words “quantum mechanics” to my friends to appear intelligent, but I had no idea what this concept meant. In university, I finally received the opportunity to learn this concept, but it is extremely confusing. When I learned quantum mechanics in chemistry, I thought that its only purpose is to explain how electrons move around atoms and how compounds are formed from atoms. I did not think that this strange concept could be applied in our daily lives. After watching the video “Brian Green: Quantum Mechanics Explained,” I was able to understand this concept more, and I learned its importance in the world. Many of the technologies that we use today, such as computers and lasers are based on this concept. Every particle in this world and the universe is based on this idea. The most interesting part of the video is the introduction to the theory of entanglement between particles, such as electrons, because this theory could one day make teleportation possible. When I was a kid, I have always dreamed to have the ability to teleport to any place that I wanted. As I grew older, I knew that teleportation was impossible and it will never become possible in my life time. However, now, I wish that I could learn more about quantum mechanics, so I could contribute to this project. There are so many benefits, if teleportation is possible. Those long hours of airplane rides would disappear. All of the gas or oil used in airplanes could be conserved. Travelling time would be decreased dramatically. I know that a lot of more research needs to be done, but eventually there are going to be successful results that could lead to a technology that could change our lives.

  7. Watching Deepak Chopra's video entitled Beyond the Matrix had me thinking about thing's that usually just cause my head to hurt. Who are we really? What does this huge world that surrounds us come from? And then there is constant consciousness, even when you're asleep your brain continues to perceive things that it may have seen earlier that day or even many year's ago in something we call dreams, another topic that isn't fully understood.

    When Deepak talked about our perception of the world around us being something that there is no real picture of the world but rather different points of views. It's an interesting thought and truly confuses many, myself included. The one thing that really is hard for me to comprehend is death and what it means. What I've concluded is that once death occurs, your brain, or as Deepak called it your cognitive apparatus shuts off, effectively shutting you off from the rest of the world. You will no longer have the one thing that allowed you to perceive the world, that allowed you to form opinion's, you will no longer be on the map of the universe. It's a scary and abstract thought really, how does one even begin to think about something like that? Trust me I've though a lot about what comes "after" death,and each time it's lead to a headache.

    One last thing I'd like to speak of was the technology that Deepak talked about, that is essentially what allows me to type this very blog at this moment. It's truly astonishing that 0 and 1 could lead to such complex advancements in technology. In today's world a simple phone that fit's in one's pocket has so much technology packed into it and has almost infinite possibility. It makes me proud to be part of the human race, for such a short time being able to create something so amazing. It only excites me for what we can think up of in the upcoming future. Ladies and gentleman the future is exciting yet scary at the same time, buckle your seat belts because mankind is going on a technological ride.

  8. From watching the video "The Meaning of Life" I was astounded at he way Stephen Hawking related biology to physics. I myself have never been a fan of physics and I've always had a tendency to the biological side of things, but in this video Stephen Hawking's relates the function of the brain to physics in a manner that even I find interesting. Thought is just physics.

    Hawking discusses the 'meaning of life' in a more scientific approach that is not taken by many. He starts with the basic building blocks of all life, amino acids. He describes the process as the random formation and collision of these particles, until eventually multicellular life was created. He then delves into the discussion of consciousness because some multicellular life forms possess a brain. The more aware an animal is of their surroundings and the more conscious they are of this, the better they will be able to survive. Humans have taken this consciousness (awareness) to a higher level. We are self aware. Hawking then poses an interesting question: How does a biological structure posses the ability to think, feel and assign meaning to things?

    This question blew my mind. I had never thought of biology in this way before. I had always seen it in a one dimensional manner as just a scientific process. However it is much more than just that. It is the basis of how we think of our conscious thought. There are theories to answer this question, although no definitive answer has been found yet which makes the topic all the more interesting.

    Hawking then describes the function and meaning of our world as a complex process with simple rules and describes the body and mind as different entities. Hawking asks the hard questions, questions that have yet to be understood or answered by todays scientists. This is one of the most interesting videos I have watched in awhile and has made me question things I never have even considered before!

    What's even more amazing is that even with ALS, Hawking's has still managed to contribute to the world of science and ask questions that will continue to develop the reality and consciousness of todays world.

  9. After also watching Stephen Hawkins film about "the meaning of life", I feel very motivated as a human being to give my life a meaning. I feel entitled to have a sense of purpose in this world. I noticed that average people nowadays do not have time to appreciate the science explaining how we are. Stephen proclaimed physics as being the science behind all the factors affecting our lives, and it's quite amazing how he established the connection between physics and biology. He explains how networks of brain cells still involve physics and how we can affect other things around us. It's quite fascinating to see the law of nature not only acting upon other particles of life but also affecting us, human beings.  
          Stephen is a perfect example of how human yearns for knowledge even with a disconnected body from mind. According to one of his biography, Stephen was diagnosed with ALS, a type of motor neurone disease, at the age of 21. I think that part of the reason and the driving force behind his purpose is the state he is in. Even if he needs his wheelchair to move and his computerized voice system to communicate, his disease doesn't stop him from spending quality time with his family, continuing his research and travelling to give lectures. Because of this, I realized what it means to be more human and to perceive everyday life with a different view. 
        One of the many things that struck me in the film was Renee Descartes's study of the body and mind. He questions whether the body and mind are two different components that comprise human beings. He then imagined himself without a body and was able to do so. But as soon as he tried imagining himself without a mind, he was not able to do so, because to imagine himself with no mind includes the work of his mind. He then concludes his study with a phrase "I think, therefore I am." I think this quote speaks to more than scientific minds. It conveys a deeper meaning of becoming what you think and affecting your reality with the works of your mind. 

  10. First off, I viewed the video on Deepak Chopra's "Beyond the Matrix", because Chopra is a world renowned physician and neurological thinker, not because the video was 3 minutes long. In reading the abstract to the video, I was very intrigued to what he had to say about the idea of perceptual reality, and how it has changed as our world has evolved.
    As our world has become more technologically advanced, it has pulled society away from our true reality, and allowed ourselves to become absorbed in something completely new. Chopra uses the idea's of computers, laptops and handheld devices, and how these items allow a fresh perceptual reality to emerge. People do not worry about how these items create the world and the feelings that they evoke, but that these interfaces allow us to evoke perceptual worlds, a state of being that morphs our conscious matrix: where all of our realities exist in non-local potentiality.
    This topic really provokes me to think deeply on a personal level, as I strongly believe that our world has become far, far too absorbed in our technological devices. We are very rarely exposing ourselves to the true aspects of life, and these are often times the areas that matter the most. Devices and applications that allow us to perceive our world through a preferential viewpoint, though this is often a man-made viewpoint, have allowed society to find pleasure in their current situation, despite the affects of the real world that go on around them. People have let themselves become absorbed in their own reality, a supernatural state of mind that pulls them further and further away from society.
    As the theme of this course has been "Taking Responsibility" with special concern to various global challenges that we face, I believe that this increased indulgence in our perceptual reality has the potential to become a huge issue in society. People have shut themselves off from the real world and the issues that plague their own communities/cities/nations, and allowed themselves to be satisfied through the means of a technological mind. Technology has brought us many great things, and allowed society to progress in so many respects, but it has also brought us challenges like this, something that people need to reflect upon, and evaluate how it has affected themselves.

  11. I decided to spend my time and watch Stephen Hawking's 'The Meaning to Life'. I found the entire video engaging and mind blowing, except for the transitions of Stephen Hawking's computer voice to the narrator of the show, which was kind of cheesy.

    It really makes me think about how the world works and what exactly is free will. The part that intrigued me the most was the idea of how brains are connected to a super computer, and that everything we see, feel, smell, hear and taste are all generated by a computer. We are merely brains with no bodies that are experiencing things through software. This alone brings put an entire philosophy called the "simulator theory". I've thought about this myself even before I watched the video. It seems like the idea would be equivalent to a very polished and refined online video game. In which the details are down to the molecule, and people are controlling and playing each human character for entertainment. When we sleep, the player has simply logged off and we engage in a idle dream mode. Maybe this explains why some people don't sleep very often, whereas some people sleep all day. Furthermore, it is possible when they delete their character, we die, but in a way so that none of the other human characters would find too unexplainable. The last thing said in the video was that conscious and meaning is between our ears. I don't doubt this because the brain is incredibly complex, as seen in some of the other videos posted on the blog. All in all, I feel mind blown after watching the video.
    -Davin Chan

  12. Stephen Hawking's: The Power of Ideas was a very thought provoking video to watch. They chose quite an interesting panel, and it seemed as though they could speak about physics and the brain for hours on end.

    What really got me interested was what the presenter from MIT said about how we are born with a natural instinct to strive for new heights. While other species strive to survive, we are lucky enough to be gifted with this natural ability to push beyond our limits. It is in our programming to have a goal in mind, reach it, and soon thereafter have another one. As an example, we have landed on the moon, but soon after that landing we set another goal even further away. We wish to explore all other planets, galaxies, and moons in the universe.

    As a species, we have always want to answer the question "why". How do we achieve this? We have been granted yet another essential skill: language. It is through communication that we convey our ideas about the future. As was mentioned in the video, it is as though the universe is there waiting for us to uncover it's deepest secrets.

    It amazes me that Steven Hawking addressed his disease not as a handicap, but rather as an opportunity which allowed him to gain more insight into physics. Instead of giving up, he continued on and approached physics from a more conceptual point of view (rather than mathematical). He has earned my respect as a result.

    I completely agree with Steven Hawking's last statement which, to summarize, says that the future of the human race is in space exploration. No one knows how far into the future this goal will become reality, but as long as there are people who are curious, then I am confident that this goal will be achieved.

  13. I watched Deepak Chopra’s “Down the Rabbit Hole-Beyond the Matrix”, and I thought it was interesting how it touched on perspective and point of view, but I thought it could have discussed it a bit more. I think it’s fascinating how people can see the world so differently, but in similar ways. At a molecular level it is astounding how complicated we are and yet, we are able to take in information and understand it, and we can even store memories. I think it’s just amazing that we are capable of so much. Even repeated symbols (like letters) have meaning to us. We learn these letters and words and meanings and they can evoke responses; we can look at these symbols and they can make us cry or laugh. We can apply them, we have imagination create our own worlds, I may be starting to ramble, but we really are amazing creatures.
    The video was too short I think, to really discuss the issues presented, for example, it only mentioned a sequence of zeroes and ones, and it didn’t even explain that that is the binary code. But maybe it was supposed to be short to make people think more about what it didn’t say.
    I also watched Michio Kaku’s “Big Thinkers” and I thought it was intriguing and complicated. I’m glad that he explained string theory a little; it is good to know the basic theory of it after hearing about it for so long. I have heard about it before but I don’t think it was ever really explained to me, I probably thought it would just be too complicated (and it is complicated and confusing). But I think our fears of what we don’t know can be somewhat exaggerated, because it is possible to learn, we just need to learn one step at a time. For example, in first year chemistry, we learned a bit about quantum mechanics, and I don’t think I ever would have expected to learn something that sounds so complicated.
    Another thing I wanted to mention about this video is that he mentioned people coming up with mathematical equations a long time ago, and I just wanted to say it always astounds me when I hear how the ancient Egyptians knew the value of pi and things like that. It’s strange to me how so many mathematical laws were discovered so long ago.

  14. I also watched “Down the Rabbit Hole – Beyond the Matrix”. I chose it because I wanted to see how a renowned physician like Chopra could express his theories and ideas on the world in only 3 minutes. I believe he did a good job with it, he used everyday examples such as iPhones and technology and their functions to relate to the general public. From my read on the video, he wanted to express his views on perception, and how that we shape our own world. We see only what we want to see. Our minds are powerful tools and our perceptions on life could be entirely different than what other people see.

    As Phillip posted earlier, this relates a lot to our senses. He used the example of colour, and how our perception of colour can be completely different to someone else. Our green can be someone's blue, and we would never know, as we can never express these ideas and simply, we have been conditioned from birth to know “green” as “green”. We can even take this a step further. How do we know when we taste something, someone else tastes the same thing. Is our sour their sweet, or is their bitter our salty? How do we know people smell the same things as us? How do we know our conception of time is the same as someone else? When they see the world, does it move faster for them or does it move slower based on our conception of time? Even language as a whole can be related to this. The meaning I get from a word can be completely different for me than someone else. My idea, my sensations, my feelings I get when I see and hear the word “sad” can be completely different than the interpretation of someone else. The word “sad” alone has no meaning. It's simply a sound people make, an image of connected lines, that when I see it, I'm conditioned to react and feel a certain way to what I think is “truth”. Which makes me think that no two people can ever think the same. Sure, general ideas can be transferred from person to person, but to the root of it, we never know if we have the same interpretation of it, we never know if we share the same perception. In the end, how do we know what we see is the “truth”? Simply, we don't, and despite how scary or unsettling the thought might be, it's something we just have to deal with.

    To add a quote:
    “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.”
    -William Blake

  15. I decided to watch "The Rabbit Hole" by Deepak Chopra, and all I can say it wow! I felt like I couldn't even blink while watching this video as I really tried to absorb everything that was going on. I had to re-watch a couple times to fully grasp the topic and this was hard for me to do because I am not usually good at visualizing things conceptually. This was a very engaging and interesting video that I did not expect, and found particularly amusing how Chopra talks about what happens when we use the computer, or other electronic devices. It made me sort of take a step back and think of how I feel when I use such devices, and how they work. I realized that I never actually thought about anything like that, and just accepted the fact that this electronic device was either amusing me, or getting work done for me. The way he talks about entering another world is a very intriguing concept that resonated with me after the video.

  16. I watched Deepak Chopra's "The Rabbit Hole". I am very glad I watched this video because it put together pieces of thoughts I've had before. It reminded me of the old question of whether blue is the same colour for all of us, or if we all see if differently, but since we've always been told the sky is blue, thats what we think blue is. I found the comparison of the brain to something like a computer overwhelming in this context. I have always been curious about how computers worked, and this year I got the slightest glimpse in my coding class I took. Despite that very basic knowledge, I still have absolutely no idea how computers actually work, and although I will learn more over the years, it is something I doubt I will ever understand.

    The brain is like that for me, I have a small bit of understanding of the brain. I know what neurones are and I know that you can be right or left brain dominant. However, I don't actually know how the brain works. In fact I wonder if anyone actually fully understands how our brains work. That leads me to wonder if they will ever fully be understood? Will we ever be able to know what is absolute truth of this world, and be able to differentiate it from the perspective our brain gives it? This video led me to wonder if they will ever be able to separate the two

    1. I also wanted to comment on the quote Rahim posted: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.”

      I watched a little bit of the video by Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, and Arthur C. Clarke, "God, the Universe, and Everything Else" and this quote also relates very well to that. In the beginning of the video they talk about how adults "know too much to ask the big questions", and how children are discouraged by adults from asking these questions. It seems that us humans are enforcing our perceptions down on children, which of course is quite natural to do. However, it leads me to wonder to what extent perception could be opened if we encouraged curiosity. Children haven't had enough time to be set in what they believe about the world, so if children were raised differently, perhaps we could gain some much needed fresh perspective about this world.