Tag Archives: John Archibald Wheeler

If Science Is a Game, Here’s a Game-Changer

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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

Physics May Stonewall, But Reality Doesn’t

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By Deepak Chopra, MD, Menas Kafatos, PhD, Bernardo Kastrup, PhD

In a recent blog posting, physicist Lawrence Krauss defended the notion that the physical universe is objectively real. To think otherwise, he says, is nonsensical. “Deepak Chopra, for example, keeps implying that quantum mechanics means that objective reality doesn’t exist apart from conscious experience.”

Krauss seems to suggest that the notion of a mental universe is naively entertained only by non-physicists. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Over the past couple of decades, experimental evidence in favor of a mental universe has been mounting, as argued by Prof. Richard Conn Henry in none other than Nature magazine (Vol. 436, 7 July 2005, p. 29), in an essay suitably titled “The Mental Universe.” After a particularly significant experiment published in 2007, Physics World went as far as to say that “quantum physics says goodbye to reality;” that is, to an objective reality outside mind. Krauss, as a physicist, should presumably be aware of these seminal developments in his own field. Yet he curiously chose to use his authority to paint a very different scenario: “The truth … is that consciousness is irrelevant to the act of measurement,” he says confidently.

This is an old story, of trying to stonewall on behalf of a current belief system that allegedly is so obviously true, only an ignoramus or naïve thinker would disagree. The flat Earth was such an idea long ago. Krauss’ version of the flat Earth comes down to solid objects that exist “out there” beyond the tip of our noses. He labels as “nonsensical” the contrary idea, that reality is possibly entirely mental. Continue reading

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