I must admit that one of my guilty pleasures is crazy, outside-the-box, speculative science exploring things that humans are scarcely able to comprehend, nevermind truly understand. I eagerly eat up anything I can find by Dr. Michio Kaku, Sci Fi Science became my favorite TV show the second I watched it. I can never get enough of this stuff.

Anyway, onto the point. For those of you who share this interest with me, there was a fantastic blog post on Huffington Post today by Robert Lanza regarding a new scientific theory called Biocentrism which expands on a not-entirely-new idea of what happens to us when we die. It is simply speculation built upon other speculation but again this stuff facinates me and I know I'm not alone in that so I figured I'd share it with my other science loving friends here on T|A, give a read...

The original article can be found here.


Many of us fear death. We believe in death because we have been told we will die. We associate ourselves with the body, and we know that bodies die. But a new scientific theory suggests that death is not the terminal event we think.

One well-known aspect of quantum physics is that certain observations cannot be predicted absolutely. Instead, there is a range of possible observations each with a different probability. One mainstream explanation, the "many-worlds" interpretation, states that each of these possible observations corresponds to a different universe (the 'multiverse'). A new scientific theory - called biocentrism - refines these ideas. There are an infinite number of universes, and everything that could possibly happen occurs in some universe. Death does not exist in any real sense in these scenarios. All possible universes exist simultaneously, regardless of what happens in any of them. 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. 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. The linkages between these various histories and universes transcend our ordinary classical ideas of space and time. Think of the 20-watts of energy as simply holo-projecting either this or that result onto a screen. Whether you turn the second beam splitter on or off, it's still the same battery or agent responsible for the projection.

According to Biocentrism, space and time are not the hard objects we think. Wave your hand through the air - if you take everything away, what's left? Nothing. The same thing applies for time. You can't see anything through the bone that surrounds your brain. Everything you see and experience right now is a whirl of information occurring in your mind. Space and time are simply the tools for putting everything together.

Death does not exist in a timeless, spaceless world. 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.

This was clear with the death of my sister Christine. After viewing her body at the hospital, I went out to speak with family members. Christine's husband - Ed - started to sob uncontrollably. For a few moments I felt like I was transcending the provincialism of time. I thought about the 20-watts of energy, and about experiments that show a single particle can pass through two holes at the same time. I could not dismiss the conclusion: Christine was both alive and dead, outside of time.

Christine had had a hard life. She had finally found a man that she loved very much. My younger sister couldn't make it to her wedding because she had a card game that had been scheduled for several weeks. My mother also couldn't make the wedding due to an important engagement she had at the Elks Club. The wedding was one of the most important days in Christine's life. Since no one else from our side of the family showed, Christine asked me to walk her down the aisle to give her away.

Soon after the wedding, Christine and Ed were driving to the dream house they had just bought when their car hit a patch of black ice. She was thrown from the car and landed in a banking of snow.

"Ed," she said "I can't feel my leg."

She never knew that her liver had been ripped in half and blood was rushing into her peritoneum.

After the death of his son, Emerson wrote "Our life is not so much threatened as our perception. I grieve that grief can teach me nothing, nor carry me one step into real nature."

Whether it's flipping the switch for the Science experiment, or turning the driving wheel ever so slightly this way or that way on black-ice, it's the 20-watts of energy that will experience the result. In some cases the car will swerve off the road, but in other cases the car will continue on its way to my sister's dream house.

Christine had recently lost 100 pounds, and Ed had bought her a surprise pair of diamond earrings. It's going to be hard to wait, but I know Christine is going to look fabulous in them the next time I see her.

Robert Lanza, MD is considered one of the leading scientists in the world. He is the author of "Biocentrism," a book that lays out his theory of everything.

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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.

Wild speculation indeed!

But, wild speculation can be fun at times because we can let loose and explore ideas that appeal to our wants and desires. This certainly seems to be the case for this author who lost his sister too soon.
I remember this from back in May, when Morgan brought it up.

I still say it sounds very New Age-y. It even uses the current popular science-y method of saying "It's quantum!"
But to narrowly answer the title of the post, I would say that death does not exist. Not for any of the reasons the author posits, though. I see death the same as I understand at cold. It is merely the absence of something rather than something in and of itself.
It looks like PZ Myers has something to say about this article as well.
OK - I go to universe X, you go to universe X+1,...,George W. Bush goes to universe X+10e12.

Now I am all alone, forever without a body to send my mind any messages. This gives the term "permanent vegetative state" a whole new meaning.

Sign me up!!
Hmmm. No Bush, you say?
A response to this was linked to on RichardDawkins.net.
In an "arguement from Science Fiction" Robert Charles Wilson explains how another kind of extended life may be possible in "Spin" and the sequel "Axis". No magic or spiritualism requires only whiz-bang genetics.

Neal Stephenson in "Anathem" has a more direct route to alternative universes AND lots of philosophy of science as well.

Robert Lanza's science fiction has no plot, no characterization and no hot, sexy heroines...
Not to mention a complete lack of Flash Gordon-style spaceships.
Dennet does, as usual, make a neatly succinct point.
Honestly, I don't know how some of these science bloggers like Dr. Novella have enough time in the 24 hour day to do all the stuff they do.

No doubt about that. I have trouble keeping up with just reading Dr. Novella. Neurologica and SBM are two of my favorite blogs. It is great that "lay skeptics" have such a vociferous and educated source to turn to.
I think that Dr Novella has mastered cloning and there are 4 or 5 of him running about.


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