Blog Archives

‘The Divided Brain’

This video loosely follows on from yesterday’s post on Premembering.

To my mind, the structure and function of the human brain is the last frontier.

Watch it to the end and you will find why Stephen ‘Philosophy is Dead’ Hawking is still wrong, but Albert Einstein is so right and even a bunch of renegade neutrinos on a nanosecond jaunt to Italy won’t change that.

Premembering

pre·mem·bered, pre·mem·ber·ing, pre·mem·bers

verb
1. To call to the mind with effort; think of what has not yet occurred
2. To become aware of suddenly or spontaneously a future event or possibility
3. The cognitive processes whereby future experience is remembered

from premembering.com

This kind of thing could only belong to the realms of the esoteric, the paranormal, unless…

Unless some neutrinos break the speed of light and turn up where they are not meant to be, because they haven’t actually left where they are.

Which means that Einstein and the Arrow of Time, which can only travel in one direction (linking cause to effect and not the other way round), may sometimes be contradicted.

Which means, which means… that the visionaries and philosophers of this world may have as much to contribute to quantum theory as the scientists.

Professor Stephen ‘Philosophy is Dead’ Hawking won’t much like that, but I am sure Einstein does.

Is E=mc2 broken?

Well, we can’t actually say. As it stands, the experts don’t know if their own experiments with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland have violated the laws of physics, or if their methodology is flawed. So, after three years of wayward results (where neutrinos appear to arrive in Italy before they left Switzerland?) they have turned the results over to their peers for verification or otherwise. If they are right, then Einstein is wrong, apparently.

I have read a bit about Einstein and I think a cool guy like him would take all this in his stride – ‘never lose a holy curiosity’ is one of his quotes. Not something you imagine a man who had to be right all the time saying.

The fact is that the nefarious neutrino beam in question has been consistently recorded travelling the 730 km from (a) Switzerland to (b) Italy a whole 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light, thus breaking the laws of universe and violating the Standard Model of Physics.

Professor Brian Cox was on the radio last week explaining it. Well he didn’t really explain it because it is, currently, inexplicable given all that is held to be true about physics, but he said if it is true it could be that the neutrinos are taking a shortcut through an alternative dimension.

If I were a neutrino I probably wouldn’t bother with the alternative dimension shortcut, consequently breaking the universal laws of the universe to just save myself 60 nanoseconds (in case you were wondering 1 nanosecond is one billionth of a second). After all it’s hardly enough time to scribble a postcard from the Fourth Dimension with Wish You Were Here!

The Hadron Collider fires these neutrinos, or collides them, in a beam and whilst everyone of a scientific bent sounds mind-boggled, I have read that this was one of its very functions, by design. Namely, to explore the intersection between general relativity and quantum mechanics (I got that from Wikipedia).

I find quantum mechanics easier to follow than general, or indeed special, relativity, because you don’t need to be Einstein to get it, and because there is a cat in it. And some string.

Superstring and Schrodinger’s cat. Yay.

My own wondering goes like this. The Large Hadron Collider is made by man, but it is not strictly-speaking a naturally occuring phenomenon, so if it has broken the laws of physics which Einstein based on the laws of the natural universe (as he understood them) is that such a surprise? Perhaps *relativity works most of the time, for most things. That shouldn’t preclude a machine that does something different should it? After all Star Trek had a teleporter… On the other hand the CERN scientists nanosecond clock might just be wrong.

Sorry. Here’s some proper scientific shizzle.

The Culprit: The Large Hadron Collider

*this may be a poor comparison, but Newton’s apple would never have fallen on his head if Lincolnshire was on the moon. Which some may say it may as well be…

**Edited to add: I had a bit of a read about the level of energy being created in the LHC and it seems there might be a bit of a clue in there. Apparently, the energy being created to smash the particles about is equivalent to that of high energy cosmic rays that are naturally created and hitting the earth’s atmosphere all the time. But, some of these high energy cosmic rays are so high energy that they also contradict the predictions of special relativity.

It’s my understanding that although these cosmic rays were discovered in 1912 by someone in a hot air balloon called Victor Hess, the really high energy ones have only been observed since the 1960s, after Einstein’s death. I might be wrong; I may be a bit lost now too. Nevertheless, these high energy cosmic rays are also subject to the same questioning as the research at CERN: are the measurements wrong? Another theory is that they originate from another galaxy. I like that one; if they did we might have to come up with some new laws called the inter-galactic laws of physics.

I’ll get on to that in the morning. Beam me up Scottie.

A questioning nature

Albert Einstein said:The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

The reason I mention this is because I am practically afflicted with a questioning nature, and in our urge for duality in life, where there are questions we then want a matching answer. But that’s the thing; questions more often than not lead onto more questions and not answers.

So this week I have (in my own way) questioned Freud’s theory of the id, ego and superego and I have revisited, with questions, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. And I have come up with doubts, agreements, and ultimately more questions. Certainly if I were to hold a dinner party for dead people next week I’d have that triumvirate seated down one of the long sides of the dinner table.

Freud seems to me to have done a creditable job of identifying certain human behaviour and feelings which can now be linked to distinct parts of the human brain. Neuroscientists might agree today that the function of the limbic system (the oldest part of the brain, wired for survival and getting its impulses met) sounds like Freud’s id. And they might allow that the pre-frontal cortex, the part to do with ‘higher’ functions such as reason and logic and planning, sounds rather like Freud’s ego. So through his observations, it can be argued that Freud was also in step with future science fact, and I suspect that because the theories resonated they gained purchase in the popular psyche, even today. My superego is still thinking about contemplating its own existence however…

Maslow’s hierarchy again resonates because it makes sense: if a person is being attacked with a knife their limbic system will be busy dealing with that, and they are hardly going to be thinking about some other higher purpose. One of my questions about the hierarchy model is about the people studied to gain the data: the top 1% of US college students. Maslow stated that “the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy.” That’s a shame – if he had studied Indian sadhus he might have ended up with a circular model instead. I also believe we live, and think, in an interconnected way, and not just in stages. I frequently come into contact with people who would say their basic needs are not entirely met, yet are able to think and act in ways that suggest they are not trapped in the bottom couple of layers of Maslow’s triangle. I guess those people just don’t fit into the top 1% – but hey that’s 99% of us isn’t it?

More interesting, and less obvious, was Maslow’s study of people he considered to be self-actualizers (but that’s another blog post).

And that’s about it for now; no answers, only questions. Although I did experience one answer to a question yesterday evening when I collected the kids from a school disco. When I arrived, the hall was thick with heat, the kids by now standing around. Well that’s their energy, I thought, just hanging around in that heat in the hall. But where has it come from? Because as we know (because the blog likes to revisit it often) a universal law of energy is that it cannot be destroyed. So I stood in the thick fug of dissipating heat and looked for my children and thought to myself, this energy has come from the food they have eaten – that’s obvious. But then came the next question: where will this energy go?

And I don’t know the answer to that question; if I did I would tell you… But I do know that you could probably run the Blackpool Illuminations for a week if you could capture the energy generated by a few school discos and kids drinking quantities of sugary drinks.

A non-hierarchical Big Wheel

A holding page

Ive got a couple of theories circling the blog and when I have got some time later I will give them permission to land.

They arent mine by the way; they are theories that are based on limited scientific evidence, have few variables and yet have taken hold of the popular consciousness without so much as a by-your-leave.

The theorists are Freud and Maslow and for now I will only say this: Freud developed his ideas by mainly studying upper class Austrian ladies in the early 1900s; Maslow studied the top 1% of American college students 60 years ago – yet both theories have been enthusiastically extrapolated out to throw a blanket over us all.

I am no psychologist, but I cant help wondering what the superego would look like out of the drawing room and on the racecourse.