Cosmic Quote(s) #31–Thanksgivukkah

“The average Thanksgiving dinner takes 18 hours to prepare and 12 minutes to consume.  The average football halftime is 12 minutes long.  This is not a coincidence.”–Erma Bombeck

“Most Texans think Hanukkah is a duck call.”–Richard Lewis

thanksgivikahIf all this isn’t enough, my wife is actually preparing a rutabaga as part of our dinner. After all the jokes about rutabagas herein, when I actually held one I thought it was a misshapen duck pin bowling ball.   Happy Turkey Day to all.


Time Out: Time Out Time Out Time Out Time Out Time Out Time Out Time Out…..

“Science is more amazing than science fiction.”–Brian Greene

Bubble, Bubble toil and multi-trouble...

Bubble, Bubble toil and multi-trouble…

As much fun as it is to speculate about alternate or parallel universes,  many have said to me,  it is silly to even try if there is no way to prove or disprove their existence.  You might as well speculate on how many angels can pirouette on the head of a pin.  Because there is no empirical means of proof.  Or is there?  In the last couple of weeks I have seen not one, but two suggestions that physical evidence may have indeed been found for the existence of alternate planes of reality.  And they point to two distinctly different types of alternate universes.  The ideas behind them are not new…but growing evidence is beginning to support the possibility–if not the absolute proof–that they are real.   The first is in the microwave background radiation–the infant footprint of the early universe if you will.  Brilliant and controversial physicist Roger Penrose now asserts that circles in the background radiation–anomalies that should not exist by any known cause within our current universe–are proof of a cyclical universe with repeated big bangs. One might call this a serial, rather than parallel, multiverse. It turns out, though, that this also is possible evidence for the “bubble” multiverse theory discussed by Brian Greene in the video linked below.  His most recent book, The Hidden Reality, is a discussion of the current state, in theory and possible practice, of the various multiverse concepts.

A second possible proof,  of a different type of multiverse (and let’s not forget that Max Tegmark defines four different levels of multiverse) has also been in the news again recently.  It suggest an alternate universe described by M-Theory, where another universe may sit in a higher dimensional space infinitesimally close to us, yet unable to interact in any way.  Except one, that is.  Gravity.  And some astrophysicists interpret otherwise unexplained gravitational influences in the cosmos as possible proof of this theory.

Where do I stand on this?  As stated in my post on possibilianism, I prefer possibilities to certainties; it makes existence far more interesting.  But I must admit:  I am secretly wishing to be able to travel to a parallel universe where that library book I forgot to return in 1989 isn’t 24 years overdue.


Conjecture #5–Quantum Solipsism (Part one)

“Cogito Ergo Sum”–René Descartes

“What if god is our dream, and we’re his?”–Christian Bale as Jamie Graham in Empire of the Sun

I conjecture:  In a Many Worlds quantum multiverse, each individual consciousness represents a distinctly different universe.

I'm pretty sure I do exist most of the time--with the possible exception of some Monday mornings.   Exist tee shirts.

I’m pretty sure I do exist most of the time–with the possible exception of some Monday mornings. Exist Tee-shirts.

I once overheard a friend explaining the multitude of religious beliefs to her young daughter in following manner.

She said, “everyone believes something different, and everyone is right!”

Really?  This seems to be the ultimate illogical statement in the illogical realm of religious beliefs.  If everybody believes something different, it seems to me infinitely more likely that everyone is wrong.  I won’t get into the implications for religious beliefs in this conjecture, mainly because I don’t care.  Suffice to say that stretched to an outre extreme,  this conjecture does suggest a manner in which everyone could be right.  It’s always fascinated me how different individuals could be so certain of world views that are so diametrically opposed.  Of course, one can tie that to cultural and cognitive differences resulting in seemingly different worlds.  But then maybe we’re all just be living in our own distinct quantum  universes.

At any rate, if Conjecture #4 was a possible ontological extension of The Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum weirdness,  the current conjecture–#5–clearly emanates from The Many Worlds Theory.

Let’s be clear on one thing.   In my own head, I’m sitting on the fence between Copenhagen and Many Worlds…a kind of quantum superposition, simultaneously believing both.  But let’s get to the heart of the matter before I get too far ahead of myself.

What, exactly, is solipsism?  The brief dictionary description is simple enough: it’s the notion that only the self exists, or can be proven to exist.  Taken to the limit, it can result in a second definition: extreme self-absorption and egoism.

I don’t buy this and am not suggesting it.  While I’m not 100% certain of anything, external or internal, I still believe that you exist and our interactions do influence each other.   We may be in separate parallel universes, but these planes of existence overlap, in much the same way that these universes interfere with each each other on the quantum level.  (It’s worth noting that the conjecture wording says “distinct different” universe and not “distinctly separate.”)  But the fact remains: if The Many Worlds theory holds true the notion of quantum solipsism in some form must be taken seriously.  It’s as if our observations roll the quantum dice and influence which course through the multiverse each individual consciousness takes.  This notion will be the subject of conjecture #6, though at the rate I am going, this may take place a long, long time from now in a galaxy far, far away.  For more on solipsism including more detailed and nuanced description of it, and its various sub-categories, go here.

In the second part of this conjecture, I’ll deal with two very disturbing and controversial extensions of a “strong” quantum solipsism world view.   Quantum suicide and quantum immortality.  You’ll need to hold on to your metaphysical hats for this one.

And if you don’t get any of this, don’t worry.  I’m just impressed that I used “ontological” in a sentence.




Tales of a Veterinary Spouse #7: Stories from Vet School (first installment)

“I wanted to be a veterinarian until I saw a video of a vet performing surgery on a dog.  Then I wanted to be a pianist.”–Amy Lee

dvmWhen Cheryl went to veterinary school back in the late 1970’s, it was three times harder to get into veterinary school than it was to get into Medical school.  She often jokingly referred to Yale Medical School as her second choice if she did not get into Vet School.  She thought that getting accepted into veterinary school was just about the hardest thing she ever did in her life.

Then she had to get through it.  It turns out that was far tougher on her, at least emotionally, then getting in ever was.  But have no fear, it certainly had its light moments–some of which we laughed at then, others which we can laugh at now.  In the latter category was something they told her in the very first week of school.

“DVM stands for Doctor Vithout Money.”  She was told.

Now I know what you are thinking.  Wow, you couldn’t tell that from my vet bills.  But do the math.  Starting vet salaries in the early 80’s were only about $18-22K.  Today, they run around $60K, but young vets come out with school loan debt load comparable to mortgage payments.  I guess we can laugh about it now, younger vets though, not so much.

Here’s one that was hysterically funny then…maybe even more so than now.  But it’s a story that almost never grows old.  It is a supposedly true tale that was told by a guest lecturer during Cheryl’s first semester at Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine in the fall of 1977.

It was late 1960’s and the large ungulate population at the Bronx Zoo was becoming highly inbred;  some new blood was needed.  The only really good source available was the native habitat in Africa.  Now, these are really large animals.  Bringing Mohammad to the mountain was just not possible so the reverse approach was necessary.  One of the zoo veterinarians would have to go to Kenya to collect some semen for use in artificial insemination.   This was really nothing new, however; it was nothing that had not been done before.  One of the vets who had made this trip on many occasions was assigned the task.  He dutifully packed his bags and headed to New York’s JFK International airport for the trans-Atlantic flight. 

Yes,   it had all been done before–there was only one tiny little new glitch.   Airport security.  You see, unlike the dog story in Tales of a Veterinary Spouse #6, this was not going to be a hand job.  A special piece of expensive equipment was needed to complete this job, and that piece of equipment was carried on by our unsuspecting hero in a very heavy, thick steel case.   Confronted with the airport security scanner for carry on luggage for the first time, he thought nothing of it, and put the case on the conveyer belt to go through.  BIG MISTAKE.  The steel case proved impenetrable to the X-rays.  And he was asked to open the case, which he obediently did, revealing something that looked like this:

Something out of Spy vs. Spy?

Something out of Spy vs. Spy?

“Sir, what exactly is that?” Inquired the pre-TSA security agent.

“Why, it’s an electroejaculator for a rhinoceros, of course!”

Momentary silence.


The poor guy was pushed spread eagle against the wall,  frisked and detained until somebody from the Bronx Zoo could be contacted to verify his identity and mission.  Obviously, he missed his plane and some lucky rhino in Kenya got a one day reprieve.

The moral of this story?   Be sure to pack your electroejaculator in checked luggage.   Unless, of course, your rhino opts for a hand job.

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