Monday, June 14, 2010


This might be a little hard to process on a Monday morning, especially if you haven't had coffee yet.

What happens when we die? Do we rot into the ground, or do we go to heaven (or hell, if we've been bad)? Experiments suggest the answer is simpler than anyone thought. Without the glue of consciousness, time essentially reboots.

Let me try to suss out what the good Dr Lanza is saying: if you saw the movie "Star Trek:Generations", you've been made aware of a plot device called the Nexus, which you reach by slipping through a tear in space-time and where a part of your consciousness remains, even if you manage to escape.

Now, in this Nexus, your consciousness can visit anyplace, at any time. Not in our reality, of course, but in a parallel universe that can be created and destroyed in an instant by your consciousness. Want to be married to that girl you knew in high school? Think it and you get to live it.

So here's the question Lanza is posing and fumblingto answer: at death, what happens to your consciousness?

In life, consciousness seems to be stored in the brain, presumably holographically, since it's not just your memories, but also consists of your dreams, ideas, fantasies, and beliefs.

I'm careful here to divorce the actual way information is stored in our brains and used by our minds with the New Age concept of the holographic universe. There's pretty good evidence for a sub-quantum effect that allows for the immediate transfer of information between widely spaced quantum particles, but there is zero factual evidence for this operating on a human scale, or that human's can consciously alter the universe.

What Lanza proposes is that your consciousness enters or even creates a "blank slate," a brand new universe that allows you to be in control of its initial state and all outcomes, based strictly on your mind. Time goes back to zero, and you get a brand new clock.

It's not impossible. Indeed, chaos theory demands a probability be assigned to it, however low, since by the simple act of imagining it you presume the possibility of its reality. And now we have the paradox: if consciousness cannot create a universe at death, then how can this be a possible outcome, but it must be a possible outcome since our consciousness can create the idea.

Like I said, go have a cup of coffee. Ponder that for a while.

Apparently, you have an eternity.