By Deepak Chopra, MD and Jennifer Nielsen, PhD Candidate
Whenever there’s a new breakthrough in science, a closer step is taken to seeing reality as a whole. Essentially science works on the jigsaw-puzzle principle: Having taken apart a picture of the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon, reassembling the pieces gives you the whole picture again. Applied to science, cancer research pursues a hundred clues in the hope of discovering what makes a cell suddenly turn cancerous. The whole picture (a tumor) is being broken down in the hope that a view can be gained of cancer itself. In physics, most people have heard of the Theory of Everything (TOE), which would combine the four fundamental forces in nature into a single picture of the universe.
But after almost a century of investigation, it is dawning on some prominent physicists, such as Stephen Hawking, that a TOE may be impossible. Instead of reassembling the whole universe out of its basic parts, something isn’t working, and that something goes right to the heart of what the quantum revolution did to science over a century ago. The common-sense world we live in, a world of solid objects that stay in place and only move if a force, or cause, makes them move, no longer suffices. Quantum objects, such as subatomic particles, aren’t solid. They don’t stay in one place, and their activity doesn’t obey simple cause-and-effect. In essence, pieces of the puzzle that refuse to fit together are why Hawking and others believe that perhaps physics will wind up like a country with dozens of regional rulers and no king to unite them. Instead of a TOE, the best we may do is a patchwork of specialized theories such as general relativity and quantum electrodynamics that explain parts of reality but never the whole. Continue reading
By Dr, James B. Maas and Haley A. Davis
Whether you’re a pro-athlete or haven’t run, or hit or touched a ball since your high school days, you have no idea how your abilities can dramatically improve overnight. And the best part is – it’ll be the easiest and most enjoyable change to your workout routine. All you need to do is get more sleep!
Most people don’t realize how significant a role sleep plays in daytime performance. Research regarding sleep and athletics is gaining more attention than ever and many new findings are coming to light. Here are seven ways to get the right quality and quantity of sleep to maintain your competitive advantage. Continue reading
By Deepak Chopra, MD, Menas C. Kafatos, PhD
The quantum pioneer Erwin Schrödinger was one of the best thinkers about philosophy in a generation of physicists, around a century ago, that was rich in philosophers (a rare breed today). One of Schrödinger’s most intriguing statements has explosive implications for the future of science: “Science is a game—but a game with reality, a game with sharpened knives.” It’s not immediately clear what he means, but the knives being referred to sit at the center of the scientific method, which Schrödinger compares to cutting a picture apart into a thousand pieces and then reassembling it again.
No one could argue that this is true. Big problems in science are solved by reducing them to smaller components that are more manageable, easier to quantify, and more available for experimentation. But why does Schrödinger call science a game? Being a mystic or an idealist (pick the term you prefer), he saw God as the player on the opposite side of the table, and he felt this was a necessary component because unlike a picture ready for cutting up into pieces, reality cannot be seen in advance as a whole. There is no look or shape to reality, no defined borders, no unnecessary elements that can be conveniently set aside or ignored.
What is God’s role in the game? “He has not only set the problem but also has devised the rules of the game. But they are not completely known; half of them are left for you to discover or to deduce.” Rationalists would balk at using God here, but if you substitute “nature” or “reality” instead, the game of science becomes clear. It’s a game of deduction and inference where the so-called laws of nature and the latest theories generally work well but still we have no closure on a unified whole. In some sense, the ground rules are only half known, at best. Recent developments in physics have uncovered dark matter and energy that make the game even harder, since these obscure entities barely interact, if at all, with ordinary matter in the visible universe and yet account for the vast majority of created matter and energy. Continue reading
By Deepak Chopra, MD, Menas C. Kafatos, PhD, Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D.
When big science gets a major boost, the news goes around the world with an air of celebration. The latest such event was the confirmation of gravitational waves, which were predicted by Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity. As enthusiastically explained by MIT physicist Allan Adams in a recent TED talk , gravitational waves were considered impossible to detect because of their weakness even 25 years ago. But a project named Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) aimed to build a 5 kilometer measuring device calibrated to within 1/1000 of the radius of the nucleus of an atom in order to capture the signals of gravitational waves from cosmic sources using laser technology.
A few days after LIGO went into operation, in September 2015, by amazing luck the gravitational waves given off by the collision of two black holes 1.3 billion years ago passed through the Earth and were picked up. Such an event sends ripples through spacetime itself traveling at the speed of light. The general public received the triumphant news this month and despite the caution exhibited by a small handful of scientists, LIGO marks the beginning of a new way to measure the universe, through gravitational wave astronomy. Gravitational waves can pass through stars, revealing their core, which is hidden from sight. They may lead cosmologists back to an earlier stage of the Big Bang, and do other amazing things.
Big science has every right to boast of its achievements, but in many ways gravitational waves are irrelevant to the larger situation that present science finds itself in. They serve as a distraction from the unsolved mysteries that could actually shift the paradigm regarding how we see reality. Continue reading
It sounds too good to be true, but, when done right, you can use a powerful protein found in milk to burn fat as you sleep. Casein protein powder is known to form structures known as micelles. As milk is processed, micelles are transformed into less complex structures that provide a steady release of amino acids throughout the body. Amino acids are the building block for new, strong muscle tissue, and regular consumption of casein protein powder can ultimately lead to the adaptation of the body to use your body fat as fuel while minimizing the waste of essential amino acids. Continue reading
By Deepak Chopra, MD
Despite attempts to reconcile science with the long history of spirituality, a gulf still exists between them–a totally unnecessary one. There is only one reality, and science differs from spirituality only in its style of describing what is real. If this is true, then it’s not simply an option to merge science with spirituality. They must be compatible. If not, then reality has eluded both camps.
Here is a way to see the two approaches as one, based on a common element, the brain. Whether you are a physicists or a mystic, you experience the universe through your brain. So how does the brain organize experience? That’s easily answered by looking at everyday life. We experience everything from toasters and school buses to clouds and rainbows by attaching a name to them. Names are how we identify anything that has a form. In this way the brain freezes things in place, even if the thing is a fleeting subatomic particle like the Higgs boson or an electron. Continue reading
By Deepak Chopra, MD
The point of being human is to push the envelope of being human. This is worth remembering when times are tough and we lose confidence in ourselves. No other creature on earth has the capacity to redefine itself. We do. How humans gained this ability remains a totally mystery. Looking at physical remains, it’s possible—although controversial—to outline the evolutionary march from ape to hominid, from hominid to Homo, and finally from Homo to our specific species Homo sapiens.
But the physical evidence is blurry at times, and even a simple achievement like the discovery of fire is up in the air; estimates could be off by hundreds of thousands of years. But not a single physical trait explains why we are self-aware. Awareness gave us the ability to push the envelope of being human. Ten thousand years ago the higher brain, the cerebral cortex, was a finished structure, more or less. In other creatures, once their brains are finished, that’s the limit. An elephant’s huge brain allows, we think, for emotional empathy. Elephants grieve over the dead and are emotionally tied to one another.
But an elephant’s brain can’t do math, write poetry, or invent the atom bomb. The human brain is the secret, physically speaking, behind our incredible abilities with language, tool-making, art, and weaponry. But no one knows the secret behind how the mind uses this brain. On the one hand, we remain totally confused about who we really are. We don’t even know if we are basically good or bad. At the moment, opinion has turned us into baddies destroying the environment. But that’s a lopsided view, given the fact that no matter how horrible our behavior, we can look in the mirror and change it.
If this is true—and it seems undeniable—then what’s the next stage in pushing the envelope? No one knows, because the whole point of human evolution is that you can’t predict where it’s going. Indeed, none of us knows what our next thought will be. We plunge into the unknown at every second. But in the face of confusion, uncertainty, and low morale, one possibility remains untarnished. We are likely to become even more self-aware. That’s the pattern that has held good for all of recorded history, and despite every catastrophic setback and horrifying turn of events, the march of awareness continues. Continue reading
By Deepak Chopra, MD
One of the easiest bets to win is to offer a million dollars to anyone who can accurately predict their next thought. It would be foolhardy to accept such a bet. As we all experience every day–and yet rarely notice–our thoughts are unpredictable and spontaneous. They come and go at will, and yet strangely enough, we have no model for where a thought comes from.
This lack of understanding has serious medical significance in mental disorders, for example. A common symptom of various psychoses, particularly paranoid schizophrenia, is the belief that an outside force is controlling the patient’s mind, usually through an alien voice heard in the head. Being sane, a normal person has the opposite experience, that his thoughts are his own. But if that was true, we’d call up any thought we wanted to have, the way you can call up a Google search. But this is far from true.
If you are asked to add 2+2, you can call up the necessary mental process, and there are millions of similar tasks, such as knowing your own name, how to do your job, what it takes to drive a car home from work–these give us the illusion that we control our own minds. But someone suffering from anxiety or depression is the victim of uncontrolled mental activity, and even in everyday circumstances we have flashes of emotion that come of their own accord, along with stray thoughts of every kind. Artists speak of inspiration that strikes out of the blue. Love at first sight is a very welcome example of uncontrolled mental activity.
So at the very least, the human mind can’t be explained without understanding the dual control feature that gives us total control over some thoughts and zero control over others. That challenge is hard enough, but several others are just as thorny. If I listen to rap music and love it while you listen to the same music and loathe it, what creates this difference, given the same input? This is a vexing question for any theory that attempts to put the brain in charge of the mind. The brain is supposedly a machine for thinking. But what kind of machine churns out a different response to the same input? It’s like the world’s most dysfunctional candy machine. You put in a nickel, but instead of getting a gum ball every time, the machine spits out a poem or a delusion, a new idea, or a trite cliché, a great insight or a totally wrong conspiracy theory. Continue reading
By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Menas Kafatos, PhD
For some time now most of the universe has gone dark. This startling news was brought to popular attention in a June Op-Ed piece in the New York Times called “A Crisis at the Edge of Physics.” It began, “Do physicists need empirical evidence to confirm their theories?” In other words, once you work out a theoretical explanation for how Nature works, do you need evidence to prove it?
The answer seems like an obvious yes. If someone had a theory that unicorns live at the center of black holes, no one would believe it without evidence. But for a hundred years, ever since the quantum revolution, mathematics has often substituted for empirical data. The quantum world is too far removed from the everyday world for empiricism to guide the way. There have been famous validations of arcane theories, as when astronomers used a total solar eclipse in 1919 to verify Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity that light can been bent into a curve by strong gravitational forces. Continue reading
I was reminded recently that we live in a Catch-22 Universe. What makes it a Catch-22 is that no one is qualified to penetrate the mystery of the cosmos without skill in advanced mathematics, and yet those who have this skill are so tied to numbers that they see reality no other way. Clearly the universe isn’t a set of equations. It’s the all-embracing reality that gave rise to human life. This obvious fact makes many physicists very uncomfortable.
In the last post I challenged Brian Cox, the author of Human Universe—a book, ironically enough, that rejects the concept of a human universe—to confront the current crisis in physics. For many non-scientists, this crisis only came to light thanks to an op-ed last June in the New York Times. But in the profession, especially among physicists who deal in cosmology, the crisis is well known. Cox, a physics professor at the University of Manchester and a popular science presenter on the BBC, didn’t accept my challenge. Yet his book makes no mention of any real sense of crisis. To him, as to all the most orthodox physicists, every answer will be revealed as long as the public continues to trust in the current state of affairs. Continue reading