Have you ever stopped and considered just quite how much of what you value isn’t real? Not in an abstract sense – just the simple sense of non-existence. Have a look at these workers, coming across London Bridge in the morning rush hour ready to start a busy day in London’s financial district. Society tells us these people are doing well for themselves, although their faces keep this a closely guarded secret.
What might their day entail? Well some of these will be traders; a high-powered exciting life style caricatured through the Wolf of Wall Street. Shedding the Hollywood grandeur, they go to an office and exchange things on a stock market. Or to unpick another layer they exchange virtual certificates for companies, debt and commodities, in a virtual arena where certificates are logged against different buyers in exchange for credits made up by humans – a unit designed by us to assign quantitative value to any item we should choose to invent. A cheeseburger is worth a third of a Big Mac and so on. What about the rest of them? Well many will work in jobs to service those doing the trading – jobs that account for the made up money and where it has gone, or to reconcile the made up trades and make sure that there isn’t a virtual certificate somewhere that cannot be matched off against a trade order. Some will even spend their day checking the numbers of the people who are accounting for the made up money for the traders who trade the made up certificates. You really should stop and think about this sometimes it is a wonderfully liberating practice. This is what for many we have come to define as life – something that we spend around 46% of all waking hours doing before we even consider the other preparatory actions involved in delivering the 46%. The fabric of reality seems little more than a mere chimera, man-made to sate our biological predisposition for a pat on the back.
But why should we stop there? If we are going to start we might as well take this thing to bits. You only need to dig a little deeper before you start to realise that so many of the rules you hold so central to your very existence are indeed human constructs; and the experience of them is totally and utterly dependent on being a human. What day is it? There are no days. Moreover there are no weekends, no times measured in hours and certainly no words. Yes some of these things are descriptions of so called natural phenomena, but the method by which they are portrayed is crafted by the homo sapiens. Laws, values, morals and music, films, clothing, religions, festivals, handshakes, fashions and even your name I am afraid to tell you are not real. Now allow me to disclaim myself, I have not totally lost my mind I would encourage you to embrace your humanity – if you haven’t spent the early hours of the morning dancing in a dirty London bar with tequila caressing your consciousness I can assure you the thrill feels most real. Needless to say we must indulge in our human constructs to a degree to keep our minds supple for the insurmountable task of rationalising the universe; but we must never forget what’s real. That’s when you really are in danger of loosing your mind.
This of course links to the favorite topic of perspective which we have touched on before; it is very easy to get a lofty sense of arrogance as you sit, king of the castle, controlling your money, spending your time, flying “large” distances. Maybe you are “successful”; people know you, your parents are proud of your achievements and you start to havethe impression you really get life. You have a long human life ahead of you, or for some behind you, in which you work as hard as you can to be known by the masses as a succesful human. If that describes you, thinking about life a little harder might cause perturbation. Neil Tysson De Grasse once laid out the entire history of the universe on a human Earth-year calendar; which was a remake of the original from the infamous Carl Sagan. Take a look at the results.
11 days to Christmas and nothing but a sponge. In fact, here we sit, the clock has just chimed 12 which makes Jesus Christ under five seconds old. Jesus Christ. Every single piece of human history condensed down into a mere five second flutter. That’s every single thing; every battle, every historical period; in fact it really requires too many zeros to even put you on the calendar. I’m sorry but you are just too fresh to feature; don’t feel like king of the castle anymore. When you look at it like that, how can the human race think they can arrive at the party with such tardiness and expect to dictate the rules. We are nothing but infants doing what we can to glean the rules of an ancient game.
When I think about this I like to play nature knows. Very simple – does nature know, or does nature not know. Gravity – nature knows. Fundamental particles – nature knows. Tuesday – nature does not know. Money – nature does not know. You can go on like this yourself and what you end up with is a list of things that are “real” and a list of things that have been invented to placate the horrors of your Earthly prison tucked away in the corner of a vast cosmos. Not a castle, a prison. Whilst these inventions may indeed be good and keep a level of sanity and order to the world, how much human neuropower has been wasted on the insignificant. On the things nature does not know. I view it like this; we have no divine right to be in the universe, the universe gives and the universe takes governed by it’s own probabilistic laws. We are a life form capable of preserving our future; but that will require all the resource we have to be focused on that goal; no-one is lining up to hand us the answers, to give us the key to avoiding out own sticky demise. It is incumbent upon us not getting distracted by the little things. Otherwise my friends, the chances are slim we will make it to 00:00:05 on the cosmic calendar, which really is quite a shame.
The reason this post is about deprogramming is because we have all been programmed. Not by some large governmental experiment, or by an alien overlord tugging at the puppet strings. Go into rehabilitation clinic and talk to some people within it. You will see people hallucinating, shaking, pining for more of their chosen vice. When you think of it, it is rather strange – taking heroin is about as good for you as ingesting lead; but I am yet to come across a lead addict. Indeed people smoke but they very rarely run around with a crazed desire to inhale exhaust fumes. The reason is simple conditioning and pleasure. If we do something enough that brings us satisfaction, meaning or benefit in the short or long term we can weave it into our reality and become reliant. I have used extreme examples to illustrate my point; but by extension you can apply this to less extreme examples like music or money. We are all programmed to view the world in a certain way, depending on the experiences around us.
Bring me the Physics
You made it this far, so congratulations. Now we get to the place we have always been heading; the Physics. What if the key thing holding us back from uncovering the true laws of nature is that nature does not know many things we do. What if even the most enlightened forward thinking human being was always too human to solve the problem. This is a topic that you will no doubt have heard banded about in reference to string theory. String theory is a beautiful thing; some clever minds sat down and thought what if there is a smallest constituent around 10-33 centimeters long. This isn’t random – it is believed to be the smallest possible length scale (approximately) as developed by Max Planck. It is essentially the separation at which two particles can no longer be identified as distinct. Things start to break. So people took this tiny little scale and imagined a world of strings and out fell the most incredibly beautiful theory that fits all the laws of Physics within it. Of course this is simplified but that really describes the fruits of the matter.
This in theory makes it the Theory of Everything; the elusive theorem that describes the universe; so why not rip up the text books, write one and everyone can graduate life by 15? Well string theory has a sexy side that is too much for us poor humans to handle. When the mathematics was laid down by a host of mathematicians – most notably Edward Witten, but there are many names, it all works providing you are willing to accept more than four dimensions. If you believe bosonic string theory you are going to need about 26 and if you supersede with superstring you still need 10. It is hard enough convincing people that time is a fourth dimension and a property of space; try telling them there are another six dimensions that nobody sees or experiences, we can’t tell you what they are and we certainly cannot give something we cannot experience a label, but trust me they are there – the maths now works, lets have a coffee.
There are two distinct possibilities as to the logic behind these extra dimensions; the first is the basic case that we just don’t understand it well enough. You must remember that mathematics is only in part real. Think of it like a made up language to describe real things. It is totally possible that the mathematics for this idea has not yet been written and so the description we have yielded does not make sense. We might of stumbled upon a physical idea of the future which we talk about with archaic mathematics and in time when the mathematics catches up it will all seem so simple and we can go back into our four dimensional box. We should not ignore this possibility either – we are talking about deprogramming and the very essence of this is keeping our minds open to perceive what is there. It isn’t impossible that there are just the four dimensions. You sense my skepticism however.
There second possibility is the perception of the human race. The idea that the dimensions are hidden from us. Before we go up additional dimensions let’s go down. I ran this post past someone close to me; who made the good point that a human can’t really appreciate the idea of two dimensions. As much as we might try we cannot create a visualization of Flatland that is totally coherent with only two dimensions; and if we can’t visualise a subset of the dimensions we can experience properly, you see the enormity of the task to incorporate dimensions we can’t.
So the hope of many string theorists is that these extra dimensions do exist – they just cannot be seen. There are a whole host of different ways for explaining this phenomena – some people call them folded up, small, hidden – whatever you choose, but the idea is they just are not significant to the perception of a human and so we can have no experience of them. We cannot move in dimension 5 – or rather we cannot knowingly move in dimension 5. I might be tumbling gleefully through extra dimensions much to the delight of eight dimensional observers; fine that example is perhaps a little whimsical but the message is my programming means I don’t know what to expect. The only thing we can do as humans is try to look for these extra dimensions but the proof, at least for now, cannot be direct. We are going to have to violate a known law of the universe, with the only possible explanation that the physical accounting still works if you factor in the extra dimensions. I can’t see the public jumping on the 10D ship if this is to be shown, but it should provide the physicists the proof they need.
With belief, many seemingly impossible things become possible. Perhaps once we can believe with true conviction in the extra dimensions we will be able to complete the insurmountable task of rewiring a four dimensional brain into an organ that can perceive more. If there is indeed a grand designer staring down on us; they certainly did not want us to be part of the action, poked away in our tiny patch of the cosmos rooted to a small rocky body pre-programmed in a four dimensions. Still, i’ve always loved a challenge.