Peace and lessons

I am not my past failures.

But I learned to accept them.

I was nurtured by the lessons born from them, I was stoked by the anger and frustration caused by them.

My past failures made me the man I am now. And for this, I am thankful.

For now, I am at peace.

 

May you walk the same path.

Astral

falling_star-t2

Lumina aurorei din capăt de noapte

Mă poartă în derivă pe ape pustii;

Cu voci întunecate ce susura în șoapte,

Din valuri se iscă înghețate stihii.

 

Un vis mă cheamă spre zile mai calde;

Când briza speranței în pupa sufla,

Pe vasul de foc, catargul iubirii

Naiv flutura steagul fericirii.

 

Atrasă de vis, dincolo de ceață

O cometă strapunge prin cerul de gheață.

 

Oh, albastru pur, corp sideral

Reflecție celestă a unui ideal!

Lumina ta caldă îmi aduce aminte

De soarele verii, de briza placerii!

 

Orbitând însa rece, pe bolta din zori

Tu doar îmi oferi dulci-amari fiori!

100 years bucket list

It is said that life, ultimately, is about meaning. Such meaning can always be found in contributing to things greater that our individual selves. In such spirit, I tried to sum up the objectives that humanity could and should reach in a time-frame of 100 years, many of which i might be able to see with my own eyes or even bring a contribution to them:

1. Human immortality (biological and/or cybernetic)

2. Colonization of another planet

3. Harnessing fusion power at a global scale (Kardashev scale = 1-1,5)

4. Dropping the usage of fossil fuels and stopping/reverting the global warming process/pollution

5. One global, mankind-wide government, direct “online” democracy, backed-up by meritocratic technocracy

6. Interstellar travel

7. Fundamental ontological focus of science. Mainstream science breaking free from fixed paradigms.

 

(to be completed)

Sanctuarul meu interior

Se spune că atunci cand începi să trăiesti mai mult în trecut decât în viitor, incepi să îmbătranesti. Și poate că este adevărat.

În cazul meu, n-aș putea să zic exact unde ma aflu. Din fericire, știu că sunt încă departe de adevarata mea menire și de implinirea mea ca om, iar visurile ce imi ațîța focurile interne sunt vaste, precum un orizont al cărei linie albă incă nu o pot zări clar.

Însă timpul a fost un negustor cinstit cu mine: pentru vraja adolescenței si studenției mi-a dăruit la schimb un sanctuar emoțional de neclintit și amintirea vie a unei bogate palete de emoții. Cred că totul pornește de la relația pe care o avem cu timpul. Corpul nostru organic este perisabil si în eterna schimbare, dar mintea (sau sufletul, daca vrei) transcende total dimensiunea temporală. Lucrurile pe care le-am trăit sunt la fel de reale pentru mine precum cele pe care le trăiesc acum. Trecutul nu se pierde, trecutul nu e doar istorie.

Trecutul meu sunt eu.

Fiecare om este suma experiențelor pe care le-a avut. Suma persoanelor pe care le-a cunoscut. A clipelor care l-au lasat fără răsuflare și a celor în care a inspirat și expirat la unison cu Universul.

Să îți negi trecutul înseamnă sa te negi pe tine. Să îți accepți trecutul înseamnă să faci pace cu tine însuți, pentru a putea construi pe o fundație solida, fără găuri ascunse în podea și fără scheleți in șifonier. Poate doar puțin praf pe o cutie cu amintiri din altă epocă, ascunsă în podul lumii tale interioare, pe care mergi să o consulți când simți nevoia sa te regăsesti.

Acel loc este sanctuarul meu interior, locul unde ma retrag mental atunci când doresc să mă reculeg.

Acolo soarele este mereu la apus, pictând norii în roșu, galben și portocaliu.

Aerul serii e ozonat, după ploaia de vară eternă ce racoreste zilele toride de iubire.

În aer pluteste pace, iubire, caldură. Undeva pe fundal se aude Nightwish sau Enigma în surdină. Vântul îi joaca ușor prin păr și stârneste frunze în gradină.

Măsuța cu două scaune are ambele locuri ocupate. Pe ea se află un ceainic și două cănuțe în care Earl Grey-ul încă nu s-a răcit.

Seara se lasă încet, ca o pătură ce se trage peste lume. Se aud greierii. Cu vocea în șoaptă, ca pentru a nu deranja simfonia lor, cutreierăm împreună câmpiile Elizee ale cunoașterii, în cautare de esențe și răspunsuri care să ne îmbogațească.

Dar ce ne îmbogațește cel mai mult, e deja acolo, între noi.

Noaptea, stelele se revarsă pe boltă.

Timpul îngheață.

Knowledge as a goal in itself, physical immortality and entropy

I would like to share my thoughts on and expand a topic which Bernardo Kastrup touched back in “Rationalist Spirituality”.

He postulated and argued that the meaning of existence, as individual splinters from the cosmic consciousness that generates and sustains the Universe (Atman is Brahman, eh?) is to enrich the knowledge of Universe about itself, or, in other words, to gather meaning out of our lives. The compelling case he made seems very natural and common sense to me, so that i won’t even argue on it, rather will use it as a starting point.

But for each individual, this process is very brief, when compared to the universal scale, due to aging and the seemingly inescapable death. But what is death anyway? Death it is just a fuzzily defined state in which our body becomes unable to support the individual “segment” of consciousness that is our mind. The reason for which this happens is (excluding violent/unnatural deaths) entropy.

As a physical phenomenon, entropy is the inescapable universal consequence of the second law of thermodynamics. In layman terms, the entropy (measurement for the increase of disorder) in a system always increases.

Thus, as complex biological systems, organisms, such our own body, are seemingly doomed to gradually lose their complexity after a certain age and lose vital information, which corresponds to the process of aging, that eventually ends up in death.

A short and vivid description of what entropy is, we can find in this excerpt from Through the Wormhole with Michio Kaku:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgppGozbFd4

Nonetheless, a very interesting aspect is that fact that even if, individually, this is the case, at the level of the entire ecosystem, life seems to be an anti-entropic phenomenon. That means that the complexity of life increases. Numbers of individuals grow, number of species grows as well, and, in the case of humans, their complexity as individuals increases as well, over the course of history.

Put in the context of Bernardo’s idea of existence having a meaning in knowledge of itself, life is the vehicle through which the Universe seeks to know itself, otherwise the process being impossible and everything would evolve towards the state of highest entropy with no structures and no informational enrichment whatsoever.

But what would happen if individuals would be able to live and gather information forever?

From the entropic point of view, that is somehow possible. In another video (unfortunately i can’t find it now), Michio Kaku made another visual depiction of what reversing entropy means. In a box of marbles, after they get mixed (entropy increase) he would manually separate them, as they were in the original structure, before the mixing began.

That means any structure that suffered the entropic decay could come back to its original shape, with two things:

  • Knowledge about its original structure
  • Energy to reverse the process

Basically, if we would PERFECTLY knew the biological structure and laws of our bodies, we could use energy in various forms to prevent or repair the decay of the physical body so that it would be able to sustain our consciousness nearly endlessly. I say nearly endlessly, because i am not aware what would the end of the Universe be. In the context of a Big Freeze/Rip, there is not such thing as real immortality in the physical realm, because of two reasons: eventually the Universe will run out of energy AND time and space itself will end. Nonetheless, i tend to believe in a Big Crunch scenario leading to a never ending cycle of creation and destruction, because it sounds more natural to everything we know about the workings of the Universe.

So, coming back at the subject at hand, lets suppose we master biology and medicine and through biologic or cybernetic engineering we become biologically immortal. One question posed is: Is that even “good” for the goal of life and universe itself?

Perhaps one answer is that we would then have the “duty” to continue to gather information and knowledge to near godly states. Sounds fine to me. Knowledge as the purpose in itself of an immortal being would indeed, pose no contradiction to Bernardo’s postulate as raison d’etre.

What are your thoughts upon it?

Dilema cunoasterii

Daca exprimi un adevar fundamental despre natura realitatii in putine cuvinte si folosind metafore pentru simplificare, e considerat ceva ezoteric si nimeni nu ia in serios ce zici.

Daca exprimi un adevar fundamental despre natura realitatii intr-un mod stiintific si argumentat, aproape nimeni nu este capabil sa inteleaga limbajul si logica stiintifica utilizata si nu poate intelege ce doresti sa transmiti.

Concluzia: Nu poti sa inveti pe cineva ceva mult peste nivelul sau. Nu poti sa inveti pe cineva sa faca un tort daca nu stie sa bata oua.

Memory debate – part 2 (as posted on Bernardo Kastrup’s forum)

Dear all,

Before getting into the ham of this topic, i would like to point out this group is one “intellectual lair” i truly admire. Props to Bernardo Kastrup for starting this forum as a ground for free-minded debate on some seriously deep questions. As I also said in one message I’ve sent him, I feel that his work resonates very much with my own reflections on the limitations of present day materialist approach/paradigm in science.

One of the aspects i would particularly point out is the nature of memory. On this topic, i previously wrote an article, but what renewed my interest in this topic is the below article:

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/07/16/decapitated-worms-regrow-heads-keep-old-memories/

Basically, to sum up the article in a nutshell, the idea is that these simple worms regained their previously “stored” memories after regrowing the cut off brain. The striking question which arises will be the motto of this article:

How can a worm remember things after losing its head?

Bluntly put, this is one of the examples in which purely materialist approach fails, as the lead researcher puts it:

“We have no idea,” Levin admitted. “What we do know is that memory can be stored outside the brain—presumably in other body cells—so that [memories] can get imprinted onto the new brain as it regenerates.”

But let’s take a step back and think of the implications of such discovery (to empathize it, i will state it again: Memories are regained after the brain is rebuild):

  1. Either the memories are stored in other places in the body, such us other cells or tissues
  2. Memory is not a physical phenomenon, but rather an aspect of the non-physical consciousness, which should be, for Bernardo’s readers, a well established concept.

Before going further on this argument, i will go back to my older article and come up with some more interesting scientific experiments, in order to have a solid underpinning of my hypothesis.

As a disclaimer, i would like to point out that i am not a neurologist, but in the search for arguments, i used only basic logic and i did a research on the topic as thorough as my time and understanding of biology allowed me. This is why, i can now use some of the references i obtained, in order to construct my hypothesis.

What shocked me for the first reading on the topic, is the fact that even if the biochemistry and neurology advanced enough to be able to explain into details how the accessing, the structuring and the interpretation of memory works, the way memory is “stored” seems to be a grey area, the present day hypothesis failing to fully explain where and how memory is stored, and in the course of this article, i will try to point out some logical loopholes.

For such a puzzling question (“where is the memory stored?”) experiments started in the 1920’s tried to identify an area of the brain responsible for the physical storage of the information, such as a “hard disk” of the mind.

We can say this is the first materialist approach:

Hypothesis 1: Memory is stored in a certain area of the brain

To cut a long story short, in the ’20, Karl Lashley started a series of experiments on mice, in which he tried to determine the area from the brain which was responsible for the storage of the memory, the engram, as he called it. Although he started very optimistic in this scientific endeavor, he failed to find the results which he predicted.

The experiment was devised as such: Lashley put the mice into a labyrinth, forcing them to memorize the way out. After the test subjects memorized that path, he performed incisions, lesions and removals of various areas of the mice brain, trying to figure out in which area the memory was stored. The logic was simple: If the memory is located in a certain lobe or area, by cutting that lobe out, the memory should be lost.

The shocking result was that, regardless of which area of the cortex he used to cut out, the mice were able to remember that path.

Not giving up to the materialist perspective, he and the people following in his footsteps presumed that “His failure to find a single biological locus of memory in the rat’s brain (or “engram“, as he called it) suggested to him that memories were not localized to one part of the brain, but were widely distributed throughout the cerebral cortex.”, as Wikipedia puts it. More about this experiment on this Wikipedia page and on the cited references: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Lashley
Hypothesis 2: Memory is not stored in a certain area of the brain, but is rather physically encrypted as an expression of neuronal interconnection via synaptic network.

This is the most popular hypothesis as of today, that memory is rather an emerging phenomenon of how the brain is “wired”, to put it in layman terms.

But let me challenge this hypothesis with a simple question: If memory is an emerging effect directly depending on the neural interconnection, massively affecting the network should disturb the memory, right? Making a comparison, if the first hypothesis would see memory stored on a certain hard disk in a certain server, this vision sees memory like something stored all over the network, and the configuration of the network determines the correlation which we interpret as memories, right?

Then, what about Hemispherectomies?

A hemispherectomy is a very rare surgical procedure where one cerebral hemisphere (half of the brain) is removed or disabled. This procedure is used to treat a variety of seizure disorders where the source of the epilepsy is localized to a broad area of a single hemisphere of the brain, among other disorders. It is solely reserved for extreme cases in which the seizures have not responded to medications or other less invasive surgeries.

Well, as you might expect already, guess what? The memory of the patients undertaking such a procedure was not affected. Perhaps i do not know into details how memory works, but logic tells me this: When you cut off HALF of the neural network, one might expect at least some memory loss, if memory was to be encoded into the neural interconnection.

Hypothesis 3: Memory might be physically encoded at neuron level, in some biochemical mechanisms. Besides the fact evidence for such idea does not exist, logic tells me it should fail the same test in the case of the hemispherectomies.

So let’s sum up:

  1. Memory does not seem to be located in a certain area of the brain
  2. Even if this is the mainstream theory, there are many inconsistencies with memory being an emergent phenomenon based on the neural interconnection.
  3. Even if we suppose memory related areas of the brain are not in the hemispheres, but rather in more basal hippocampus, the worm experiment is slamming on all the above the above materialist hypotheses.

Let’s now switch the view, in light of Bernardo’s “brain as transceiver” model:

If we perceive the brain as a transceiver of consciousness and memory as a structural part of the nonphysical consciousness, it all makes sense.

Some skeptics will say that there are well established links between certain brain areas and memory. But what about seeing those areas critical to memory accessing and interpreting, rather than storage?

“Brain areas such as the hippocampus, the amygdala, the striatum, or the mammillary bodies are thought to be involved in specific types of memory. For example, the hippocampus is believed to be involved in spatial learning and declarative learning, while the amygdala is thought to be involved in emotional memory. Damage to certain areas in patients and animal models and subsequent memory deficits is a primary source of information. However, rather than implicating a specific area, it could be that damage to a pathway traveling through the area is actually responsible for the observed deficit”. If one stores all his possessions in a warehouse connected to his house through a highway, he would not be able to get anything from the warehouse if the highway is broken down. To infer that everything is stored on the highway based on the facts he can not get anything when the highway is interrupted is ridiculous. Even the connection between the brain and memory is well established, it is beyond logic to conclude that memory reside inside the brain.

Another scientist, Wilder Penfield, started from the idea that memory should be somewhere in the brain. He eventually dropped his conviction:

 

At the beginning of his career in brain surgery, Penfield reasoned memory must be stored somewhere in the brain and the stimulus opened the gate of river of memory. His work originated numerous researches to associate memory and emotion to specific area in the brain. Penfield’s continuous research convinced him that memory can not exist in the brain. He and his colleague reported that removing more cortex after injury to the brain raised the Intelligence Quotient. In one case, he was surprised to find out that his patient’s Intelligence Quotient went from 75 to 80 – 95 after he made extensive bilateral removal of the prefrontal lobes. William Cone reported similar result after removing part of his patient’s brain. Penfield’s continued work, especially on hippocampus and cortex, had changed his views on brain, consciousness and memory mechanism. He late suggested that the interpretive cortex of the temporal lobes acts as a bridge, and the hippocampus holds “keys of access” to those past recorded experiences which are located somewhere outside of the brain.

This idea was also supported by Philosopher William James:

Philosopher William James had a technically different but very similar view on consciousness as Penfield. He held that consciousness operates through the brain rather than the brain producing consciousness. The notion that consciousness is separated from the body has a long tradition in the west thinkers. Plato portrayed the earthly body as a limiting factor on conscious experience. Kant insinuated the body as “an imposition to our pure spiritual life”. The idea matured into a proposition called Transmission Hypothesis — brain and body serve not as the originators of consciousness but rather as its trans-receiver.

And how about this? Alzheimer disease does not cause “memory loss”, rather “memory inaccessibility”, as the newest finds confirm:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1550117/Alzheimers-sufferers-can-regain-memories.html

I think it is pretty obvious where i am pointing now, so i will state it:

My hypothesis, based on all the above examples and basic logic, is that the brain and the respective areas from the brain are just a transceiver which is used to access the immaterial memory, which is a part of the nonphysical consciousness.

This being stated, as i know my argumentation can be considered vague or incomplete or even seriously flawed, i open the floor for debate. After all, no hypothesis and theory can be assumed without accepting the criticism.

I really hope this can be a fruitful debate.

Yours truly,

Adrian S.