Saturday, August 20, 2016

BLACK HOLE

A black hole is a region of space in which gravity exerts such an enormous pull that nothing—not even light—can escape. That’s the simple definition of a black hole. But if you talk to a physicist, they’ll also describe a black hole as a region of very severely curved space-time—so sharply curved, in fact, that it’s “pinched off,” so to speak, from the rest of the universe.

This idea of curved space-time goes back to the work of Einstein. It was Einstein who put forward his theory of gravity, known as the general theory of relativity. According to the theory, matter curves, or distorts, the very fabric of space. A small object like Earth causes only a small amount of distortion; a star like our Sun causes more warping. And what about a very heavy, dense object? According to Einstein’s theory, if you squeeze enough mass into a small enough space, it will undergo a collapse, forming a black hole; the amount of warping will become infinite.

The boundary of the black hole is known as the “event horizon”—the point of no return. Matter that crosses the event horizon can never return to the outside. In this sense, the inside of a black hole is not even a part of our universe: Whatever might be happening there, we can never know about, since no signal from the inside can ever reach the outside. According to general relativity, the center of a black hole will contain a “singularity”—a point of infinite density and of infinitely curved space-time.

But what is "infinite density" and "infinite curved space time?" 

A personal theory is that it death.

The human body is made up of twisted molecules that produce cells that harness and retain energy. In one respect, each of us is their own universe. It is a self-contained complex system of checks, balances, functions and movements. Science thinks it knows how the human body works - - - but cannot produce it artificially by combining chemicals and energy in a test tube.

The spark of life is unique. So should be the amber of death.

In major religions, when a person dies they are "reborn" in the afterlife, whether it be heaven with the spirits of one's ancestors and loved ones, to be reincarnated as another life form on Earth. In some ways, this is a comfort to the living that death itself has a purpose. A continuation of life is a noble goal.

But if at the end, all energy in a person's body combines and pools itself in one last gasp to breathe life in the organic host, with such density as to leave the body - - -  one could say that a person's soul has left on another journey. If the soul is an encoded energy source, it could carry a person's thoughts, memories, stories, loves, hates, emotions, and dreams to the vastness of eternity. It could replay those life stories forever, or combine them with new souls to create new memories.

The latter seems to fall into the pattern of the final season of LOST, with the souls in the sideways world recombining to make new memories.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

WE ARE ALONE, FOR NOW

The Washington Post recently had a story about a question that humans have pondered forever: where are the other intelligent beings in the universe?

Italian physicist Enrico Fermi once famously exclaimed "Where is everybody!" “Scientists have been trying to answer his question with this logic: we exist, so aliens should exist too.

According to one new solution, we have not seen or heard from any galactic neighbors because we are still waiting for them to be born. And it will, according to the calculations, be a long time before we can throw other solar systems a baby shower. If you grade earthlings on a cosmic curve, as recently hashed out by Harvard and Oxford University astrophysicists, we’re at the head of the class.

And this done make some common sense. In school, we learned the basics about our universe. And we were told about the Big Bang Theory, that the center of the known universe exploded outward to form all the mineral, chemical and cosmic properties (galaxies, stars, comets, etc.) Earth sits at the outer edge of the center of the universe. When science has been trying to find other life, they direct their telescopes and listening devices towards the center. But should not they be pointing them at the sides of the Earth's outer edge - - - to systems as old as our solar system?

A new study published in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics calculated the probability that life as we know it should exist at any given point in the universe. Based on their assumptions, Earthly life is quite likely premature.

By the standards of the universe, humans are some of the earliest intelligent life around. You may have heard of ancient aliens on basic cable television. But, according to cosmic probability, the ancient aliens are us.
For life as we know it to arise, organisms require three things: carbon-based chemistry, liquid water and an energy source. The most crucial source of all three requirements is a star. Stars  fuse protons and electrons into carbon and other elements; stars heat up water in the so-called habitable zone and stars provide a steady sunny stream of radiation. Scientists scan the solar systems to find the right combination of star, planet distance and likelihood of water to see if it possible for organic life.

Stars play such an important role in our understanding of life that they dominate the researchers’ equation. The scientists’ timeline begins about 30 million years after the Big Bang happened, which as far as we can tell was 13.8 billion years ago. Their timeline ends far in the future due to the long-lasting red dwarf stars, which have lengthy wicks that burn for roughly 10 trillion years. (A yellow dwarf, by comparison, has a only 10 billion years of fuel.

Crucially, what red dwarf stars also have going for them is strength in numbers. The Milky Way is filled with red dwarfs. About three-quarters of all the stars in the galaxy are red dwarfs.

Our sun is not a red dwarf. It is a rarer thing, a yellow dwarf, a star 10 times more massive but one that will flare out much sooner. That we exist around a yellow dwarf, per the scientists’ equation, makes us the true space oddities.

So if Earth humans are the only intelligent life in the universe, why did our ancient ancestors almost universally say that the planet was seeded by alien beings? Why do most religions believe in a creation story of extraworldly gods and angels creating mankind? 

It could be the natural curiosity hard wired into the human brain - - - ancient humans looking up at the stars in the sky may have asked the same question as Fermi. We cannot be alone in the vastness of space.

Human beings also have a sense and need to belong to a bigger group, a family and a community. At a planetary level, that need stills exists. Ancient ancestors were wandering nomads scraping by a subsistence existence. They were one with nature and nature was bigger than them. And when small bands of people found other people in their journeys, it solidified the notion that they were not alone in this world. Communication and trade of ideas and beliefs would reinforce the global notion that there has to be life in the magical stars.

Scientists are still searching for confirmation of that magic in the stars.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

DREAM POSTS

Friday, August 5, 2016

BRAINS IN JARS

The London Daily Mail had a recent article describing what an Australian professor claims that our entire existence could be an elaborate illusion controlled by a genius evil scientist.

The premise is that you are not where you think you are. 

Your brain has been expertly removed from your body and is being kept alive in a vat of nutrients that sits on a laboratory bench.


The nerve endings of your brain are connected to a supercomputer that feeds you all the sensations of everyday life. 


This is why you think you're living a completely normal life.


Do you still exist? Is the world as you know it a figment of your imagination or an illusion constructed by this evil supercomputer network?


Could you prove to someone that you are not actually a brain in a vat?


As the article states, the philosopher Hilary Putnam proposed this famous version of the brain-in-a-vat thought experiment in his 1981 book, Reason, Truth and History, but it is essentially an updated version of the French philosopher René Descartes' notion of the Evil Genius from his 1641 Meditations on First Philosophy.

While such thought experiments might seem glib – and perhaps a little unsettling – they serve a useful purpose. They are used by philosophers to investigate what beliefs we can hold to be true and, as a result, what kind of knowledge we can have about ourselves and the world around us.


Descartes thought the best way to do this was to start by doubting everything, and building our knowledge from there. Using this skeptical approach, he claimed that only a core of absolute certainty will serve as a reliable foundation for knowledge. 


He said: If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.

It is from Descartes that we get classical skeptical queries favored by philosophers such as: how can we be sure that we are awake right now and not asleep, dreaming?


To take this challenge to our assumed knowledge further, Descartes imagines there exists an omnipotent, malicious demon that deceives us, leading us to believe we are living our lives when, in fact, reality could be very different to how it appears to us.


This premise has been discussed as a possible explanation to the LOST mythology. 

For example, who did Patchy of the Others survive being killed by the sonic fence and the island visitors to somehow come back to kill Charlie with an underwater explosive? To have nine lives, a human has to be unrealistically lucky or be reincarnated many times over. Or in this premise, he never really died because he was never really alive. He was a computer simulation, a reusable prop, to infuse the subject jar brains with conflict, reality, drama and emotional responses.

Another explanation of the evil genius controlling everything was inferred from the huge military industrial complex that was the island. Human experiments were part of the mission of the island scientists. It is not a great leap to see how an unseen overlord could have been directing the action, just like the man behind the curtain in the series nod to the Wizard of Oz. 

And this article does touch upon the embedded theme throughout the series: philosophy. Characters like Locke and Hume were named after famous philosophers. The characters had to make philosophic decisions between right and wrong, free will or capture. LOST could be viewed as an interactive thesis of philosophic questions being run through various programs in a supercomputer.

Because of the various continuity errors and story line red herrings, many LOST fans questioned the truth of the series story lines. There was doubt that the story writers and show runners actually knew what they were doing. Many have been searching for answers to explain or cover-up the show's big flaws. So, in a way, many continue to do a philosophic autopsy on the show to glean new information and explanations to make the show better in their own minds.

The mind is a powerful but not very well understood thing. It is an intangible element incorporated in the tangible brain. Our current science studies state how we "think" the mind works, but no one has shown the ability to download, in real time, the mental images of a human being onto a monitor. It is merely speculation, educated guess, theory. But what if there were a higher being who could actually tap into the conscious and subconscious mind of human beings - - -  for entertainment or research purposes? That would put the human race on par with gold fish in an cosmic aquarium.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

NEW FALSE MEMORIES

In the Boston Globe recently, Linda Rodriguez McRobbie tells the story of a British man named Alpha Kabeja, who came out of a coma with clear recollection of memories of things that had never happened.

Kabeja, McRobbie writes, was biking, when he was hit by a van with enough force to knock his brain out of place inside his skull. When he came out of a medically induced coma three weeks later,
McRobbie writes, "doctors told his family he might not remember anything from before the accident, or remember them or who he was, that he might have amnesia." But Kabeja woke up full of memories.

The only problem: None of those things were true!

In the immediate aftermath of the accident, Kabeja clung to his new memories, and his family and friends played along. But there was no pregnancy. There was no private plane. There was no job interview, which Kabeja realized only after he called MI6 and learned their offices had been closed the day of the accident.

But the "memories" weren't totally fantastical — related things had been happening in Kabeja's life before the accident, leading him to believe that his subconscious had twisted real pieces of information into new forms:

In that sense, McRobbie argues, Kabeja's brain was simply going a step further than ours do, every day, when we recall a piece of the past. No autobiographical memory is a fixed, literal record of what really happened; memories are malleable, morphing each time we call them forth, to accommodate new information stored elsewhere in the brain. Sometimes, this means small tweaks; other times, it means we're left with recollections that others might see as outright fabrications. Even people with extraordinary capacities for recall, research has shown, are prone to inadvertently making things up.

Kabeja's false memories then, may have been an attempt to make sense of the long gap when he was unconscious in the hospital — without any real autobiographical memories of that stretch of time, his brain may have simply pulled other memories from elsewhere to fill in the lost weeks. "When you wake up, your brain is trying to reconnect pieces because your brain is trying to recover that sense of you, that sense of memory, that sense of history," Julia Shaw, a memory researcher at London South Bank University, told the Globe. "And in that process of recovery and essentially healing, you can make connections in ways that are fantastical and impossible" — but not so far removed from memory as we might like to think.

If our brain has its own operating program where it writes, stores and re-writes information like a computer hard drive, then any interruption of this normal brain function could lead to dramatic "new false memories" being created to explain one's current situation.

Memories (or in LOST, at times, the loss of the collective memory of the characters) was an ebb and flow in the story lines. Where the flashbacks and backstories really true? Or were they the reconstruction of different bits of information and fantasy caused by brain injuries to the surviving passengers of the plane crash?

Monday, July 25, 2016

CRITICAL SCIENCE

Some researchers now see popular ideas like string theory and the multiverse as highly suspect. These physicists feel our study of the cosmos has been taken too far from what data can constrain with the extra "hidden" dimensions of string theory and the unobservable other universes of the multiverse. Of course, there are many scientists who continue to see great promise in string theory and the multiverse. But, as researchers wrote in the New York Times last year, it all adds up to muddied waters and something some researchers see as a "crisis in physics."

Some scientists believe this crisis is real — and it's acute. They pull no punches in their sense that the lack of empirical data has led the field astray. As they put it:
"Science is corrupted when it abandons the discipline of empirical validation or dis-confirmation. It is also weakened when it mistakes its assumptions for facts and its ready-made philosophy for the way things are."
Fraud in academics is not new. One of the reasons that spawns concerns is that huge government education grants target specific research which may bias independent research.

For example, global warming studies have sent billions of research dollars into academia. However, critics view scientists creating their own "computer models" to study the Earth's temperature defy one of science's fundamental processes: observation, recordation, interpretation, and thesis. If you start with a pre-determined scientific thesis, you work backwards in order to create a result.

If the Earth is warming, the vast majority of funded scientists claim it is man made pollution or CO2 emissions (which have to contained, regulated and taxed by the same governments funding the studies). But these studies fail the third grade smell test. Who did not learn in elementary school that the climate of our planet is determine by the solar radiation of the sun, the orbit of the Earth and tilt of its axis? None of those factors are tested in current climate studies.

And the studies send alarm bells to the general public who are not told that the Earth has had cycles of warm periods and cold periods (including ice ages). The dinosaurs that lived in tropical climates that people visit at museums were dug up in currently chilly Montana.

Another example is the daily headline that some study has found something GOOD for your health or something is BAD for your health. You have to look to the fine print to find out who funded the study. If a manufacturing or product lobbying group funded the research with a "pro" conclusion, there may be serious bias built in the result. Or if a study claims "meat" is toxic death but it was funded by a vegan environmental group, you have to take the results with a grain of salt.

Science needs critical thinking in order to make real breakthroughs.

If big pharma companies continue to poor millions in R&D to help symptoms of disease (with numerous side effects), they are not looking for a cure for the underlying disease. There are still only a handful of actual vaccines for known diseases. It is odd that with the advancement in medical technology that more cures have not been found.

Some believe that genetic and DNA manipulation are the keys to finding breakthrough medical treatments. But none of the basic childhood vaccines needed genetic testing in order to be found and manufactured for the masses.

Many of the cures were found by scientists and physicians who were looking for a solution to solve a real life problem in their practices. They were not out to make money but to make a contribution to public health. It may be a sentimental folly to ask that today's researchers shed their green colored visors to look for the greater good when there is so much money to be made in modern medicine.

Friday, July 22, 2016

ZOMBIE TRAIN WRECK

Another functioning LOST fan site had its review of Wrecked, the TBS parody of LOST. It concluded that the show was awful.

Some commentators remarked that the Wrecked show's monsters were going to be jungle zombies.

Another commentator replied:

I wonder whether the makers of this show are either insiders or figured out "Lost" themselves.
The makers of "Lost" kidded about a season 7 of zombies, and that was actually a funny clue to the plot of "Lost", because it recalls the way zombies are said to be produced: You induce brain damage in someone, then convince hir that s/he's a certain identified person risen from the dead. That's close to what some of the principal characters on "Lost" had undergone. They were knocked out, convinced they'd been in an airline wreck that in reality killed everybody aboard, and made to believe they were particular individuals known to have been on the flight. It helped that they'd been selected for their resemblance to those persons, and in some cases given plastic surgery to improve the resemblance. They were threatened with disillusionment when they found out flight 815 was found on the bottom of the ocean, but the cover story was that that had been a fake wreck populated with dug-up dead bodies. However, planted among these characters were those who knew all along what was going on, or discovered it at some point.

 I had not heard about the potential LOST tangent theory of the characters actually being zombies. But it does contain many of the plot elements of LOST.

LOST was filled with medical experiments and military-industrial complex stations. To hijack a plane or create a plane crash to re-program other individuals into believing that they are someone else falls within the Big Con aspect of the series tangents. There was really never a reason for the castaways to be told that the Flight 815 wreckage that was found was a "fake." (In previous posts on the subject, I found it an unrealistic and unbelievable plot point - - - if wreckage was found, investigators would have retrieved the black boxes and bodies for positive ID. But when the alleged black box showed up on Widmore's freighter, all sense of truth was lost in that story plot.)

Room 23 was used for mental conditioning experiments; brain washing. The Hydra island was used to implant control technology into sharks. There was a scientific foundation to explain was what really happening on the island.

Can you take a bunch of "lost" people from around the world - - - loners, unhappy folks, fugitives and the depressed - - - and crash their lives to the point where they are living the life of another person? Jack was not Jack but someone playing Jack.

Why would this be important? If a person or government could perfect this personality implant in a stranger, that stranger can be weaponized to take the place of generals, presidents or powerful people in the real world. Dopplegangers could be controlled by an elite group, such as Dharma or Widmore or the U.S. military.

The Zombie Theory to LOST seems as plausible as any other fan theory.