Friday, February 24, 2006

Cobwebs of the mind

I just realized I clicked on the Recycle Bin instead of my e-mail and spent the last ten minutes reading stuff I intended to trash. So that's where I'm coming from today.

So I'll just quote Albert Einstein to bask in a bit of reflected brilliance:

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

How do you view the world? Some see the world as a battlefield, where good and evil are pitted against each other and the forces of light battle the forces of darkness. Others see the world as a proving ground or series of tests, a type of moral gauntlet to teach you lessons and make you a better person, eventually admitting you to nirvana. Still others will tell you they see the world as a horrible trap or cage from which the goal is escape to a higher, transcendent state of being. Then there is the machine or scientific view that the world is a collection of inanimate objects that interact in predictable ways based on natural laws that dictate a discontinuity between mind and matter, the subjective and the objective and ultimately between science and religion.

There are many world views, perhaps as many as there are distinct cultures on planet earth. Western Civilization can be divided by world views: First was the Classical Age of Gods and Oracles, then there was the Medieval Age of Faith and Superstition and, finally, we have our Modern Age, the so-called Age of Reason and Science.

World views exist to explain the mysteries of life and how we interact with a seemingly disinterested, unfeeling "Regulator" who governs nature and being. Very recently, the new field of quantum physics has proposed new principles governing life, the universe and everything else.

For example, there is a very smart guy by the name of Seth Lloyd, an MIT professor by trade, quantum mechanic and author of the book, "Programming the Universe." His world view is that of a cosmic computer. "If I have one new message to convey in my book, it is that the universe is a system where the very specific details and structures in it are created when quantum (sub-nano) bits choose one path out of multiple possibilities and that this process is identical to quantum computation." He tells his kids the universe is made of tiny bits, not chunks of stuff, but chunks of information--ones and zeros. When his kids correct him and say, "No Daddy, everything is made of atoms, except for light." he tells them, "Yes, but those atoms are also information. You can think of atoms as carrying bits of information and you can think of bits of information as carrying atoms. You can't separate the two."

Whew! All this makes my brain hurt. But it is all worth pondering. Fascinating, in fact. Want to know more about this quantum stuff? Check out your Cable TV listings for a program called "What the Bleep Do We Know?" It's a fascinating combination of movie and documentary. Entertaining and stimulating. Thought-provoking and disturbing. It will clear out those cobwebs!

The Stickler


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