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The Mystery of the Brain: Findings of Modern Neuroscience

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Who am I? It’s a powerful mantra and the centerpiece of many peoples’ search for meaning. From a scientific perspective we are often pointed to our biology –and specifically to the apparent source of the persistent “voice in the head” –the brain.

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Unfortunately, we have presumptions about ourselves that are only partially true if at all, and the way we frame our self-inquiry is also important. For example, what if instead of calling our brain and spinal cord our “nervous system” we instead referred to them as an “Awareness System?” Might that not deepen the level of our inquiry? Because our brain can also seem to “malfunction,” I’ve tried to read what I can about what neuroscientists believe about our nature, and see how it resonates with my experience. Here are some of my favorite writers on the subject:

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In some ways, as a computer guy, I was looking for the “user manual” for my mind. One of the first books I turned to was Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind by Joe Dispenza, who was featured in the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know!?” Like many neuroscientists, Dispenza shows how much conditioning first affects our beliefs and then our outlook and ultimately our reality –and how so much of what we think of as “us” is habitual.

However, unlike many he seems to believe in the ability or volition of the human being to change bad habits –whether into “other habits” or through what one might call free choice —by reprogramming the mind as one might a computer. Dispenza’s most compelling example to me, involved a depressed patient where he did what George Costanza once did on Seinfeld, he consciously “did the opposite” of what he would ordinarily do in various situations.

Dispenza describes how such reprogramming can occur when the observer “decides” to take chances (as I did when adopting my cat) and how such new experiences reprogram perceptions of the Self. According to Dispenza, in such instances where one leaves a “comfort zone” the brain literally forges new connections via new neural networks, thereby bypassing the “time worn grooves” of habitual automatic responses and creating now potential choices and OUTCOMES.

Perhaps this also resonates with the way Anthony Robbins talks about “taking action” to reprogram one’s habitual negative beliefs, which Robbins also refers to as an inner mental “technology.”

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But this brings us back to “who am I” really?  Who is the “one” that first can notice this conditioning and even make choices to change it?  From somewhere, seemingly “inside the brain” but perhaps from another source, this mysterious energy emerges…

Just as Dispenza discusses “reprogramming” your habitual tendencies, in I Am A Strange Loop, another prominent neuroscientist Douglas Richard Hofstadter follows a mathematical and computer model to dig down into where and what the individual “Self” may be.

In his follow-up to a Pulitzer prize winning best-seller , Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, Hofstadter examines the unique qualities of a mind that expresses itself in language, along with the inevitable gaps and paradoxes that result in believing too much in the logic of our spoken and written descriptions of “what is real.” As a mathematician, neuroscientist and philosopher Hofstadter begins with the primacy of number because whatever symbols you use to represent “number,” has certain truths that persist along with it.

A great linguistic and logical paradox is expressed in:

“The sentence ’This sentence has ten words’ has ten words.” – (I Am A Strange Loop, page 140)

Since the underlying sentence has 10 words it seems to be true but upon “reflection” its “truth” is paradoxical because the “inner sentence” has only four words. So where is truth to be found? Linguistically or in thought? To Hofstadter this paradoxical aspect of language is an obvious manifestation of the inevitable abstraction that results from mind–which only simulates nature on a very powerful level—by analogy it seems to mirror our own inner mental workings—but it cannot “explain” nature.  As Hofstadter suggests a “truer” representation of nature is mathematical – like the Fibonacci sequence or an infinite sequence of numbers or a function like pi.   Language can only explain characteristics. This points to the famous statement by Krishnamurti that once you identify a bird by name you cease seeing it forever.

Language, like our inner “I,” is looped and imperfect—with the inherent limitation of needing to be expressed in words, and consequently reducing the perfection of the absolute it describes (mathematical certainty; number) to what our limited minds can comprehend—fragmented, imperfect analogies to reality. Hofstadter goes through every complex nook and cranny of Gödel’s work to basically argue that the only way to comprehend consciousness is through “story” –or by analogy –and just as the linguistic descriptions of mathematical absolutes fall short, so too does story or analogy never completely “explain” or “describe” the true “nature” of consciousness.

Ultimately he settles on one aspect of language as the pointer to reality and meaning—analogy; so keep in mind our issue with the “metaphor” that is the relationship of hardware to software. Hofstadter’s sense of what is “animate” comes down to the existence of the self-sustaining loops that blow our minds –like the placement of two mirrors facing each other or his example of a video feedback loop of a camera facing a monitor.

He writes:

“…an entity is animate [alive?] to the degree that such a loopy “I” pattern comes into existence, since this pattern’s existence is by no means an all-or-nothing affair. Thus, to the extent that there is an “I” pattern in a given substrate, there is animacy, and where there is no such pattern, the entity is inanimate.” (page 360)

Hofstadter contends that as systems evolve, for example cells organized into organs like the heart and eventually the brain, when feedback loops manifest as “selves”—at this point organic molecules become animate or “alive.” He still assumes, however, that such organization happened by evolution randomly, even if this occurred according to nature’s patterns like the Fibonacci sequence.

fibonacci_phyllotaxis

But let’s look at a specific instance of a loop, “Next i” in computer programming – where the variable “I” (pun intended) takes on additional values as the program executes.

“In a loop structure, the program asks a question, and if the answer requires an action, it is performed and the original question is asked again until the answer is such that the action is no longer required. For example, a program written to compute a company’s weekly payroll for each individual employee will begin by computing the wages of one employee and continue performing that action in a loop until there are no more employee wages to be computed, and only then will the program move on to its next action. Each pass through the loop is called an iteration. [i]  Loops constitute one of the most basic and powerful programming concepts.” (Webopedia)

Both our minds and computers apparently operate in this way to calculate outcomes, among other things. But the ultimate loop is – where did the INTELLIGENCE come from to discover, if not originally write, manifest or “compile” the program itself?  From an inanimate object?  That seems unlikely.

So let’s dig deeper. Pink Floyd said, “there’s someone in my head and it’s not me.” This line is quoted in the beginning of a fascinating book by neuroscientist David Eagleman –Incognito:  The Secret Life of the Brain

Eagleman in many ways echoes the work of Eckhart Tolle when he points to the latest brain research that says that there is not one part of the physical self that contains the “I”; indeed he explains that the brain is such a complex entity that its many networks are like a “democracy of committees” which coordinate behavior by consensus and make choices in ways we don’t fully understand.

Eagleman, can’t locate a single physical area of the brain that is “in charge.” And he compares the various networks of the brain and their “subroutines” (patterns of conditioned behavior) to political parties that ultimately lead to behavior based on conflict and compromise. Eagleman writes:

“But we do not find parts of the brain that is not itself driven by other parts of the network. Instead every part of the brain is densely connected with—and driven by—other brain parts. And that suggests that no part is independent and therefore ‘free.’” (Page 166)

Eagleman uses examples of people with impaired or injured brains and also celebrities like Mel Gibson, who was “not himself” when drunk, and turned into a raging anti-Semite, and was conciliatory when sober. The one area where this has far reaching ramifications is the law, and Eagleman suggests a legal system based not on blame, which he considers an outmoded concept, but rather on the prospects for modifiability—if we know a criminal will not repeat (act of passion) or can be rehabilitated (behavior modified) then one course of action can be taken, otherwise he suggests that the person obviously must be separated from society.

Eagleman compares the achievements in neuroscience to those in astronomy which challenged conventional beliefs about the earth at the center of the universe—in the case of the brain the notion of the single responsible and cohesive Self is exposed as a vast oversimplification. Again he writes,

“In the same way that the cosmos is much larger than we ever imagined, we ourselves are something greater than we had intuited by introspection. We’re now getting the first glimpse of the vastness of inner space. .. What a perplexing masterpiece the brain is, and how lucky we are to be in a generation that has the technology and the will to turn our attention to it. It is the most wondrous thing in the universe, and it is us.”

I find this language both inspiring and a bit daunting—it is always humbling to confront the reality of the vastness of what we don’t know (yet) – and in fact may never know. Eagleman says that in the traditional view of perception, information from the outside world pours into the senses, works its way through the brain, and makes itself consciously seen, heard and felt. But many scientists are coming to think that sensory input may merely revise ongoing internal activity in the brain – that there is a vast inner life going on of which we are unconscious of.

He notes, for example, that sensory input is superfluous for perception: when your eyes are closed during dreaming, you still enjoy a rich and visual experience. The awake state may be essentially the same as the dreaming state, only partially anchored by external stimuli. In this view, your conscious life is an awake dream. And this also means, of course, that your entire notion of the smooth passage of time is merely a construction of the brain.

This resonates with many spiritual traditions and the entire notion of awakening…  Perhaps awakening is a “re-cognition” of the true relationship of one’s tiny “self” to the vast Self of which the brain is tuned into. (You can find out more about Eagleman in his article for Discover: Ten Mysteries of the Brain)

In his book Self Comes to MindAntonio Damasio states that this miraculous harmonious functioning which results in a sense of self emerges for evolutionary reasons—for the same reason that a microbe will gravitate toward nourishment and away from toxins—for “homeostasis” or basically to maintain its being—it is programmed to survive.

On the human level, with the development of advanced brains, this is merely far more complex, but Damasio asserts that the concept of a Self is merely the result of when this newly evolved brain bonded with the organic systems from the previous eons, forming one new complete extremely complex system = the Mind/Body or what we call “human.”

Just as Eagleman talked about the various neural networks as political parties, Damasio sees the “Autobiographical Self” as the conductor of a symphony that does not exist until the orchestra begins to play [harmoniously]. Of course if there is disharmony, then we have a malfunction –or in computer terms –a conflict between programs. And this potential for harmony and “orchestration” of neural systems is the result of the underlying nature of life itself – he says,

“Managing and safekeeping life is the fundamental premise of biological value.” (Self Comes to Mind, page 25)

“Consciousness came into being because of biological value, as contributor to more effective value management. [natural selection] But consciousness did not invent biological value or the process of valuation. Eventually, in human minds, consciousness revealed biological value and allowed the development of new ways and means of managing it.” (Self Comes to Mind, page 28)

In other words, what we deem as our unique intelligence and more significantly who we are is a tiny part of a far higher intelligence (that preceded the development of our own brains) enabling us finally to notice our “selves” and begin to comprehend nature itself, all for our continued survival? But of course, this comprehension is bounded by our sensory capacity and is very limited. One can wonder what sense of self a whale or dolphin may have in a “world” created by sound and ocean, and with a larger brain than our own.

So who are “we” individually? Basically we are a collection of stories that come together out of experiences formed electrically through the firing of neural networks and stored in the soft tissue of the brain’s “hard drives” or what we call memory. According to neuroscientists like Damasio, the Self “emerges” from a level of cognitive complexity that yields consciousness –similar to the critical mass attained in a computer network –such as the Internet. Having now experienced the reality of how inanimate systems (like the Internet) can mimic our own inner mental functioning and even defeat us at Jeopardy, can we now open up to the possibility that our own fascination with our own “uniqueness” as sentient beings is a fantasy?

As Eagleman suggests, just as our egocentric cosmology of the earth being the center of the universe has now given way to the reality that we exist on the periphery of an average galaxy literally in the middle of nowhere, so too maybe we need to come to terms with the fact that what we deem to be us, and what we think is “conscious,” is a mere tip of an enormous iceberg of sensory capacity of which we are just barely aware.

So perhaps the next “Copernican Revolution” is the recognition that our brain is basically a receiver of higher energies, and that the relationship of our mind to a far greater Being/Mind is the necessary next stage of discovery for what we deem to be science.

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Consciousness

Our “Reality” Isn’t “Physical.” It’s “Spiritual, Mental & Immaterial” Says Renowned Physicist

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University Richard Conn Henry published a paper in the journal Nature titled "The Mental Universe" emphasizing how metaphysics plays a central role in understanding the nature of our reality.

  • Reflect On:

    Are we metaphysical beings? What impact does our collective consciousness have on our physical material reality and the overall human experience? Is our consciousness manipulated in any way today?

What Happened: In 2005, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University Richard Conn Henry published a paper in the journal Nature titled “The Mental Universe.” In it, he writes the following:

A fundamental conclusion of the new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality. Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a “mental” construction.

Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote: “The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter… The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.

The underlying idea he’s getting across with this statement is that in some way shape or form, consciousness is directly intertwined with what we perceive to be our physical material world, and that the nature of reality is made up of non-physical “stuff.”

He goes on to emphasize how, in the modern day scientific world, “there have been serious attempts to preserve a material world – but they produce no new physics, and serve only to preserve an illusion.” This illusion he refers to again, is the idea that the make up of our reality is strictly and fundamental physical.”

Physicists shy from the truth because the truth is so alien to everyday physics. A common way to evade the mental Universe is to invoke ‘decoherence’ — the notion that ‘the physical environment’ is sufficient to create reality, independent of the human mind.

Nikola Tesla is often attributed with saying, “The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.” Many scientists, I would say the majority of scientists in this field all feel the same way, yet there is still a tremendous lack of attention paid to immaterial science in the mainstream academic world. This is odd given the fact that at the highest levels of government, usually with the Department of Defense, non physical phenomenon like telepathy, clairvoyance, remote viewing, pre-cognition and more are all and have been heavily studied and verified for a very long time. These phenomena are within the realm of parapsychology, which is directly intertwined with quantum physics.

What convinced me was just the evidence, the accumulating evidence as I worked in this field and I got to see more and more of the evidence. I visited the laboratories, even beyond where I was working to see what they were doing and I could see that they had really tight controls…and so I got convinced by the good science that I saw being done. And in fact I will say as a statistician I’ve consulted in a lot of different areas of science; the methodology and the controls on these experiments are tighter than any other area of science where I’ve worked. – Dr. Jessica Utts, the Chair of the Department of Statistics at the University of California, Irvine and a professor there since 2008. (source)

A paper published in Frontier’s of Neuroscience Emphasizes:

Research on parapsychological phenomena (psi) is being carried out in various accredited universities and research centers throughout the world by academics in different disciplines trained in the scientific method (e.g., circa 80 Ph.D.s have been awarded in psi-related topics in the UK in recent years). This research has continued for over a century despite the taboo against investigating the topic, almost complete lack of funding, and professional and personal attacks (Cardeña, ). The Parapsychological Association has been an affiliate of the AAAS since 1969, and more than 20 Nobel prizewinners and many other eminent scientists have supported the study of psi or even conducted research themselves (Cardeña, ).

So why is there such a strong resistance? Could it simply be the implications with regards to the findings within these realms are too great? When physics changes, so do global paradigms and the perceptions people have of our world. Some discoveries literally have the ability shatter the way we perceive our modern day world, and perhaps change the way we live and even have us question the way we live.

Cassandra Vieten, PhD and President/CEO at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, an organization founded by Apollo 14’s Dr. Edgar Mitchell to study consciousness and its relationship with the nature of our reality, offers a thoughtful explanation:

There seems to be a deep concern that the whole field will be tarnished by studying a phenomenon that is tainted by its association with superstition, spiritualism and magic. Protecting against this possibility sometimes seems more important than encouraging scientific exploration or protecting academic freedom. But this may be changing. (source)

Take, for example, prominent physicist Lord Kelvin, who stated in the year 1900 that, “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.” It wasn’t long after this statement when Einstein published his paper on special relativity. Einstein’s theories challenged the accepted framework of knowledge at the time, and forced the scientific community to open up to an alternate view of reality.

It serves as a great example of how concepts that are taken to be absolute truth are susceptible to change.

A few years ago, a group of internationally recognized scientists have come together to stress the importance of what is still commonly overlooked in the mainstream scientific community – the fact that matter (protons, electrons, photons, anything that has a mass) is not the only reality. We wish to understand the nature of our reality, but how can we do so if we are continually examining only physical systems? What about the role of non-physical systems, such as consciousness, or their interaction with physical systems (matter)?

Despite the unrivaled empirical success of quantum theory, the very suggestion that it may be literally true as a description of nature is still greeted with cynicism, incomprehension and even anger.” (T. Folger, “Quantum Shmantum”; Discover 22:37-43, 2001)

Just to reiterate, at the turn of the nineteenth century, physicists started to explore the relationship between energy and the structure of matter. In doing so, the belief that a physical, Newtonian material universe that was at the very heart of scientific knowing was dropped, and the realization that matter is nothing but an illusion replaced it. Scientists began to recognize that everything in the Universe is made out of energy. This has been known in the scientific community for more than one hundred years.

I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulating consciousness.  –  Max Planck, theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.

The “quantum double slit” experiment is one that has been used to examine the connection between physical matter and human consciousness. It brings up what’s known as quantum uncertainty  which is defined as the ability, “according to the quantum mechanic laws that govern subatomic affairs, of a particle like an electron to exist in a murky state of possibility — to be anywhere, everywhere or nowhere at all — until clicked into substantiality by a laboratory detector or an eyeball.”

A paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Physics Essays explains how this experiment has been used multiple times to explore the role of consciousness in shaping the nature of physical reality.

It was published by Dr. Dean Radin, who you will see in the lecture below. He’s the chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

He produced incredible results: Human intention, via meditators, was able to actually collapse the quantum wave function. The meditators were the “observer” in this case.

In fact, as Radin points out in his lecture, a “5 sigma” result was able to give CERN the Nobel Prize in 2013 for finding the Higgs particle (which turned out not to be Higgs after all). In this study, they also received a 5 sigma result when testing meditators against non-meditators in collapsing the quantum wave function. This means that mental activity, the human mind,  attention, intention, which are a few labels under the umbrella of consciousness, compelled physical matter to act in a certain way.

“Observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it. . . . We compel [the electron] to assume a definite position. . . . We ourselves produce the results of the measurement.”

So where does physical material matter come from, and why does an invisible force like human consciousness affect it?

All perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or tenuity beyond conception, filling all space, the akasha, or luminiferous ether, which is acted upon by the life-giving Prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never-ending cycles all things and phenomena.” – Nikola Tesla, Man’s Greatest Achievement, 1907

One of many, in fact, who had been contemplating the ether and its relation to what we perceive as physical material matter. In ancient times, Plato referred to the ether. This is from his work Phaedo:

“And upon the Earth are animals and men, some in a middle region, others (elementals) dwelling about the air as we dwell about the sea; others in islands which the air flows round, near the continent; and in a word, the air is used by them as the water and the sea are by us, and the ether is to them what the air is to us.”

And here is another interesting quotation from this ancient text:

And they allowed Apollonius to ask questions; and he asked them of what they thought the cosmos was composed; but they replied; “Of elements.”

“Are there then four?” he asked.

“Not four,” said Larchas,  “but five.” “

And how can there be a fifth,” said Apollonius, “alongside of water and air and earth and fire?”

“There is the ether.”

Even Rene Descartes proposed the theory that “space,” (what we perceive as empty space) is completely filled with matter in various states. There is evidence to suggest he was executed by the Church because his science entered into the realm of metaphysics.

Ether has got to be, once again, established, then there will be the meaningful understanding of physics, meaningful understanding of metaphysics, and meaningful understanding of spiritual processes.” –Parahamsa  Tewari (source)

The Takeaway/Why This Is Important: With so much evidence showing that human consciousness is directly intertwined with our physical material reality, it further suggests that our own feelings, emotions, perceptions, and ‘state of consciousness’ is a a key factor when it comes to creating and shaping our human experience. What state of being are we all operating from on a daily basis, and what impact does this have on our reality, on our human experience? If we want to change the world, how important is it that we create from a place of peace, and love?

What kind of reality are we going to create if our thoughts and perceptions if major global events are not really ours, but given to us from an outside source like mainstream media? How dow we react to events? Are your thoughts and feelings about what happens on planet earth even ours? Is our consciousness manipulated by powerful people? What kind of impact does this have on our state of being? If we want to create a new human experience, we can’t do it from the same level of consciousness that got us here in the first place. Can we ever really identify a “God particle” when it’s most probably that matter is birthed from an immaterial realm?

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Consciousness

The Study of Fundamental Consciousness Entering the Mainstream

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Consciousness is appearing to be a fundamental property, just like liquids, solids and gas, consciousness and its connection to the physical material world is now gaining big time credibility.

  • Reflect On:

    How much do we have yet to discover? Are we ready to abandon what we thought we knew in light of new discoveries and evidence?

The world-renowned neuroscientist Christof Koch, spent nearly two decades working alongside the co-discoverer of the DNA molecule, Francis Crick. Their mission was to find the neurobiological basis of consciousness. They discovered many insights into cognition and the functioning of perception, yet the central enigma, the nature of consciousness itself, remained mysteriously elusive.

In 2009, Koch shocked the scientific community by publishing his conviction that consciousness probably isn’t just in brains, but is a fundamental feature of reality. This is a view known to philosophers as ‘panpsychism.’ The theory Koch is now dedicating his research to is called ‘Integrated Information Theory’ or ‘IIT.’ It is the brainchild of neuroscientist Giulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In explaining his theory, Tononi asks us to consider a simple light sensitive photo diode like those found in a digital camera. A simple diode might respond to just two states: light or dark. We could present our diode with any number of images, yet regardless of the picture, the diode conforms to one of only two possible states. Is it light, or is it dark?

Now consider yourself looking at the same picture, lets say, of the Eiffel Tower on a beautiful spring day in Paris. For us, looking at this image results in a reduction from a near infinity of possible states. Not an image of the Andromeda galaxy, not a childhood picture of your mother, not cells dividing in a Petri dish and so on.  Because of the vast number of images we are capable of recognizing, each one is highly informative. For Tononi, the vast amount of information capable of being integrated in the brain means that we have a comparatively huge capacity for consciousness.

Tononi’s theory, that consciousness is born out of networks with high integrated information, has novel ways of being tested in the laboratory.

In studies with sleeping participants, Tononi and his colleagues used transcranial magnetic stimulation to send a ripple of activity through the cortex of sleeping participants. The researchers found that when dreaming, this ripple reverberated through the cortex longer than when participants were in stages of dreamless sleep. This demonstrated that during dreaming, when the brain is conscious, the cortex has a higher degree of integration.

In another experiment, the researchers built tiny robots known as ‘animats’ that were placed into mazes. The animats used simple integrated networks capable of evolving over sequential generations. To their surprise, the greater the degree of integration that the animats evolved, the quicker they were able to escape the mazes. For Tononi this finding suggested that consciousness may play a more central role in evolution than had previously been thought.

The mathematical value of integrated information in a network is known as phi. But Tononi’s theory, now the topic of serious mainstream discussion, has an extraordinary implication. Phi didn’t just occur in brains, -it is a property of any network with a total informational content greater than its individual parts. Every living cell, every electronic circuit, even a proton consisting of just three elementary particles have a value of phi greater than zero. According to Integrated Information Theory, all of these things possess something, albeit but a glimmer of ‘what it is like’ to be them. Tononi states:

“Consciousness is a fundamental property, like mass or charge. Wherever there is an entity with multiple states, there is some consciousness. You need a special structure to get a lot of it but consciousness is everywhere, it is a fundamental property.”

Integrated information theory is in its infancy and there are still many questions it must face. Did the information of brains operate at the level of the neuron, or the protein, or something deeper still? The electromagnetic field of the brain, as observed by psi researcher Dean Radin, is always re-establishing its quantum connection to the entire universe. Could a much richer informational interaction exist than has yet been imagined?

Physicists such as John Wheeler have laid the groundwork for a radical new understanding of reality, in which matter, the laws and constants of nature, and indeed the entire universe is best described, not in terms of physical objects, but through the play and display of a fundamental dynamic information.

Quantum mechanics suggests that at the deepest level of nature, the entire physical universe is interconnected. Might the total information of the universe be integrated in some deep sense? Is it in a mysterious way conscious of itself?

As spiritual traditions throughout the ages have long asserted, instead of isolated and separate experiencing beings, we may experience on behalf of the greater evolving system in which we find ourselves.

In Koch’s highly anticipated 2012 book, ‘Consciousness – Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist’, he states:

“I do believe that the laws of physics overwhelmingly favored the emergence of consciousness. The universe is a work in progress. Such a belief evokes jeremiads from many biologists and philosophers but the evidence from cosmology, biology and history is compelling.”

Regardless of the validity of Tononi’s theory, today increasing numbers of scientists and academics are convinced that the existence of consciousness simply cannot be sensibly denied. The study of fundamental consciousness is now entering the mainstream. This movement consists of thinkers in and outside of the mind sciences. Yet despite their different academic backgrounds, they are united by two common convictions: that consciousness is an intrinsic rather than incidental emergence in the universe, and that any complete account of reality must include an explanation of it.

 Sources:

 Koch, C. (2009, August 18). A complex theory of consciousness: Is complexity the secret to sentience, to a panpsychic view of consciousness? Scientific American.

 Tononi, G. (2008). Consciousness as integrated information: A provisional manifesto. Biological Bulletin, 215(3), 216-242.

 Edlund, J. A., Chaumont, N., Hintze, A., Koch C., Tononi G., & Adami, C. (2011). Integrated information increases with fitness in the evolution of animats. PLoS Computational Biology, 7(10).

 Radin, D. I. (2006). Entangled Minds: Extrasensory experiences in quantum reality. New York: Simon & Schuster.

 Koch, C. (2012). Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist. MIT Press Books.

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Alternative News

If You Could Power Your Entire Home With 60 Minutes Of Cycling, Would You Do It?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Mechanical energy, converted into kinetic energy can provide the energy that we use on a regular basis to power our homes and electronic devices.

  • Reflect On:

    Rather than focusing on the current problems in our world it is great to change gears and have a look at all of the solutions that are popping up all over the world.

Imagine if your morning workout could power your home for the entire day, all the way until your next morning workout. Well, you may not have to imagine, as this technology exists now. Manoj Bhargava has invented a new exercise bike that can power some homes for 24 hours after use for only sixty minutes per day.

This invention was a part of a new initiative to bring electricity to places that undergo frequent power outages or may only have access to power for a few hours during the day. In our modern age, going without electricity can really separate a person from the rest of the world. Bhargava’s mission is to bridge the gap for those who suffer from poverty and make it easier for them to access the same information as the rest of the world, potentially giving them more opportunities in life.

The Free Electric

The above heading is also the name of this awesome and innovative bike serving as a solution to a pretty significant issue in the underdeveloped nations of the world.

According to Bhargava, the Free Electric is meant to lead to “better health, more leisure time, better access to education and opportunities for entrepreneurship.” He also feels that it could, “literally change the world.”

Power to change the world? Bold statement, but if this is able to be implemented worldwide, I would absolutely have to agree with him. This technology not only has the capacity to assist those in poverty, but can also be used by the rest of the world as well as more and more people around the world who are aiming to reduce their usee of fossil fuels. I have a feeling that Millennials (such as myself) and younger generations would be all over this if its made available! Not only is it a great way to get your cardio in, but it provides FREE electricity that produces no other pollution.

As mentioned in the video, it is also a great solution in the face of natural, or even man made disasters because this type of electricity would not rely on that generated and sold by power companies. Perhaps even one day a way to stock up and store this energy will be possible — then, the opportunities here will be much more plentiful and could be a huge factor in reducing the amount of pollution our current methods of energy production are creating.

The Future Is Friendly

As much as there is sometimes destruction all around us, there is also innovation and ingenuity. Human beings have tremendous potential. Even though there are many problems that we as a society are facing, solutions are popping up and fast, and in most cases they already exist. Finding solutions doesn’t seem to be the problem, so ask yourself, what is?  It’s so great to see ideas such as these being conceptualized and then created and put into use so efficiently, it shows how our species is capable of stopping and potentially reversing some of the destruction that we have caused over the years.

This is absolutely a double win! We are constantly bombarded with news stories and articles that are telling us to be more active, stop sitting so much, and now with the Free Electric, we will have to be active before we can relax and enjoy the use of our precious technology.

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