Monday, June 30, 2008

Listening with your eyes

As you stare at a star, and if that star is still a star, then as long as you stare, you have made a connection as connecting as two tin-cans connected by kite string, yet your mind fills with wonder, with visible and invisible messages from that star, and perhaps, those feeling of awe are not coming from within, but from without, from that other tin can at the other end of that string of light? The whole universe beaming messages of awe to any eye that will listen?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

All in your mind?

In the 1791 biography titled "Life of Johnson" the author James Boswell relates this story of Samuel Johnson's mock against the Irish philosopher George Berkeley's "immaterialism" (anti-materialism) -- subjective idealism. In a thimble this theory is summed up "Esse est percipi" (to be is to be perceived).

"After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, 'I refute it THUS.' "

I do think that Johnson misses the point, the point being that POV (point of view) necessitates identifying both scale and sensors when attempting to create a reality that one's mind can understand.

Let us assume that the universe is a measurable size, independent of the observer. 

Let us assume we need a mind in order to observe and make assumptions about this universe. 

Let us assume we need a mind with sensors (eyes) to observe and gather data of this universe.

Let us assume that this mind can construct sensors (and computers) to extend the range of the human eye and mind. 

Now we have where we are today, humans using sensors and mind to observe and measure (in all forms) the universe. 

Now the kicker, scale. The human is of a particular size in relationship to all in the universe, so that this scale/relationship "creates a reality" that the mind understands as reality. 

Now what would happen if the human (and accompanying sensors and instruments) were shrunk down to the size of say, 50 microns (the height of the human, of course, standing erect). Now what happens when this "nano-human" kicks the stone that Johnson kicked? Well, I would think this nano-human would be hard pressed to see the stone, and more than likely, see a world as amazing as the deep-field views from Hubble, the "so-called" stone would be a maze of forces and molecules. Scale makes all the difference in the world of perception, of perceived reality. 

So now we enlarge the nano-human to the size of Pluto (that former planet, not the dog), and will this "mega-human" be able to see, let alone kick, Johnson's stone? Perhaps mega-human will have a mega-micro-electron microscope that will detect Johnson's stone, and I would think mega-human would then wonder, does this minute "Johnson's stone" really exist? 

Reality equals a mind with a point-of-view, sensors to feed the mind data, and the scale of the mind-observer in relation to the universe. Change any (mind/sensors/scale) and you create a new reality.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The center of the universe

Center, up, down. east, west, south, north, inside, outside, and each mind the point-of-view which becomes the center for our brief eye-blink photon gathering moment, but the center of the universe, that imaginary place in the center where that smaller than pin-point big bang did originate? But how could that be? All that is, originating from that center? If we voyage to that center will we discover the origins? But how could that be? Would the center be a magical place? Or just another place that once was not? So, when the time comes when those future astronomers measure the speed of every star and galaxy speeding away from the imagined center and then replay their calculation in reverse, will we discover the real center? That very place where every star and galaxy returns? And then what happens when the replay reaches zero, will there be but a center? With no more up or down or east or west or south or north? I wonder.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The bugaboo of superstition

If ... if only we could conclude that superstition was that which provokes humans to behave badly, we then would only need to eliminate superstition and goodness would rise to the surface. The other night Celtics Kevin Garnett in a moment of celebration and overflowing emotion, knelt to the Boston Garden parquet floor and kissed the image of an Irish leprechaun -- a bit of superstition that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Instead of writing what my fingers are itching to type, the horrors of the 20th century with enough evil perpetrated by religious and nonreligious alike, I will not repeat what we all already know. But, we are now in the 21st century and evil of the religious and nonreligious, the superstitious and non-superstitious, continues unabated, as Human Rights Watch documents, daily.

And finally, listen to Lisa Simpson (episode: Lisa the Iconoclast) when she concludes that a myth (that she can disprove, but doesn't) may have value:

"The myth of Jebediah has value too. It's brought out the best of everyone in this town. Regardless of who said it, a noble spirit embiggens the smallest man."

Friday, June 13, 2008

Oh yeah?!

We humans seem to have a "tribal reflex" in our genetic makeup, the "we" vs "them," "I" vs "you," even an "I" vs "me." It seems to be just beneath the surface, awaiting the opportunity to verify self by discovering like-self others. Of course "discover" all to often becomes persuade or convince which can become entice or lure or seduce, all in order to gather more like-self others to the tribe. Why? Because like-self are safe, predictable, even trustworthy, all providing the tribe with strength in numbers, and above all, comfort. Not comfort as in sloth, but comfort as in like-minded collaboration -- synergism -- that which glues the tribe/team/group/family together.