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12/10/09

Nobody Dies


Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!
W. B. Yeats, "Under Ben Bulben"

The law of conservation of energy states that the total amount of energy in an isolated system remains constant over time. In an isolated system, energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Just what is an isolated system. Is it bigger than a bread box? Robert Lanza, a stem cell researcher, claims that consciousness energy occurs in the universe itself as a closed system. The system is as big as the universe, or rather, the multi-verse. The universe/multiverse, he would say, is in your head. He discusses his views in his book Biocentrism. Here are some of his views.

"Although individual bodies are destined to self-destruct, the alive feeling--the 'Who am I?'--is just a 20-watt fountain of energy operating in the brain. But this energy doesn't go away at death. One of the surest axioms of science is that energy never dies; it can neither be created nor destroyed. But does this energy transcend from one world to the other?"

"Consider an experiment that was recently published in the journal Science showing that scientists could retroactively change something that had happened in the past. [Actually, this is relatively old as a generic experiment and you can read about it in Mind Shadows in John Archibald Wheeler: Time Machines & Delayed Choice.] Particles had to decide how to behave when they hit a beam splitter. Later on, the experimenter could turn a second switch on or off. It turns out that what the observer decided at that point, determined what the particle did in the past. Regardless of the choice you, the observer, make, it is you who will experience the outcomes that will result."

"In the end, even Einstein admitted, 'Now Besso' (an old friend) 'has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us...know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.' Immortality doesn't mean a perpetual existence in time without end, but rather resides outside of time altogether." More

Einstein's statement is reminiscent of a previous Mind Shadows article on Julian Barbour and Time.

A comment on the article says this: "Hindu philosophy posits that the Atman (self) and the Brahman (universe) are actually manifestations of the same thing. We are at once the universe becoming singular, and the self becoming universal."

Long ago William Hazzlitt (called The First Modern) wrote a compelling argument on how to overcome the dread of death. His thoughts can be found in Mind Shadows in On The Fear of Death.

Shakespeare's Hamlet puts the matter succinctly. Death is "the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns."

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