Cosmic Quote #98: R.I.P. Stephen Hawking

“Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.”–Stephen Hawking

Hawking–his sense of humor was his secret to survival

Boy, can I ever relate to that philosophy.  It’s what underlies this blog.  It’s what keeps me going.  It  has kept my marriage alive for 40 years–so far.   Forget all his cosmic stuff–that quote is the best part of his legacy.


Cosmic Quote #96

“One human data is worth a billion mice.”–Bioviva CEO, Elizabeth Parrish**

So what about goldfish data?  And don’t even ask about the mice’s point of view on human data.  All they care about is the cheese.

**Don’t look for this quote anywhere else on the internet–yet.  It comes directly from my interview with Parrish that will air on the next Seeking Delphi™ podcast, and appear in the March issue of Age of Robots.


Cosmic Quote #93

“We view ourselves as separate from the cosmos, and separate from each other. The truth is, we are a continuum.  One line of code in an enormously  complex computational system.”–Gray Scott


Let’s just hope that code isn’t corrupt.  I have my doubts.


Seeking Delphi: The Abolition of Aging, Part 1

Note: In a shameless act of self promotion, I will occasionally share posts from my futurist blog/podcast Seeking Delphi on this site.  Today’s post is a reblog of the first podcast episode, originally aired in last January, on one of the most controversial topics facing futurists–and humanity–today.

“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don’t want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment.”–Woody Allen

In episode one of Seeking Delphi, the podcast, I talk with David Wood, chair of  London Futurists, about his book The Abolition of Aging. Relevant links to this weeks’ show below the audio track.  This is part 1 of a two part program.  This week: can we do it?  Next week: Should we do it, and if we do it, what are the implications?  These podcasts are now available for subscription on YouTube and  iTunes.

David Wood

Episode #1: The Abolition of Aging, Part 1;  running time 26:9

David Wood bio

The Abolition of Aging by David Wood

Immortality by Dr. Ben Bova

Chinese exoscale computer

5G 2035 Economic Forecast

Airbus Flying Cars

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Connect with me on LinkedIn Mark Sackler


Cosmic Quote #64

“Everyone should have their mind blown at least once a day.”–Neil deGrasse Tyson



I have to say this.  Neil deGrasse Tyson is my hero. He is voice of reason in a world of un-reason–full of people whose minds should not be blown. They should be blown up. Oh, did i say:  NDT is my hero?


Cosmic Quote #58

“Physics is not religion. If it were, we’d have a much easier time raising money.”–Leon Lederman

Non Sequitur by Miley Used by permission

Non Sequitur by Miley
Used by permission

I’d bet that if physicists could raise money the way televangelists do, they wouldn’t use it to build themselves mansions and buy themselves private jets.  Well, OK, maybe if the mansion was on Mars and the private jet could fly them there with a lab full of experiments.   Moral:  be careful what you believe in, you might have to pay for it.


Quantum Weirdness 108: Many Interacting Worlds

“Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.”–Walt Whitman

“I believe we exist in a multiverse of universes.”–Michio Kaku

Note: at this point I am assuming anyone reading this has some handle on what Quantum Weirdness is, as well as the Copenhagen and Many Worlds interpretations thereof.  If you do not, go back and read the previous installments in this thread.

Much of this  Quantum Weirdness Primer thread , and it’s bigger sibling The Millennium Conjectures, has dealt with the two most popular interpretations of so-called quantum weirdness:  The Copenhagen interpretation and The Many Worlds interpretation.**   It should be noted that there are several other interpretations, but these two have garnered probably the most support among theoretical physicists.   I have joked that I personally am in an appropriate super-position on this question, simultaneously believing in both.  But like the wave function of a sub-atomic particle, my uncertainty has now collapsed into favoring a single interpretation that is not exactly either one.

This interpretation is called Many Interacting Worlds.   It professes a multiverse of interacting universes–which differs from the Everett’s Many Worlds interpretation in a very vital way.    Everett postulated that at each quantum “dice roll” the universe would split into alternate universes for each outcome.  These universes are forever separated and cannot communicate with or influence each other. Many Interacting Worlds states that there are a multitude of pre-existing nearby universes that interfere with each other on the quantum level, giving rise to the apparent weirdness.

From the standpoint of Schroedinger’s cat, we can look at it this way.   The Copenhagen Interpretation, views the cat as in a superposition of states, simultaneously alive and dead until an intelligent observer looks in the box.  The Many Worlds interpretation views the universe as splitting into two otherwise equal copies, one in which the cat is dead and one in which the cat is alive.  Each observer finds out which one he is in when he looks in the box.  The Many Interacting Worlds  interpretation effectively says that there are a multitude of nearly-identical universes that interfere with each other creating the quantum weirdness effects, ultimately determining whether the cat is alive or dead from your observation point.  Identical observers in parallel universes may see a different outcome.   The key difference is that the parallel universe in Many Interacting Worlds are not created at each quantum junction point–they already exist and interfere with each other giving rise to the phenomena of quantum weirdness.

Confused?  Well, as Feynman said, “nobody understands quantum mechanics.”   But here is an article describing the Many Interacting Worlds interpretation and its proponents claim that it may be testable.


**In his recent book, Our Mathematical Universe, Max Tegmark says “parallel universes are not a theory, but a prediction of certain theories.”  Specifically, there are two:  Eternal Inflation, which suggests what Tegmark defines as Level 1 and Level 2 multiverses,  and Quantum Mechanics, which gives rise to his Level 3 and Level 4 multiverses.  A detailed description of these multiverses is available on Tegmark’s web site.


Cosmic Quote #57

Who do you look up to?

My list of most admired individuals is made up mostly of scientists.  OK, Groucho and Gandhi are on that list,  but so are Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michio Kaku, Max Tegmark, David  Deutsch, Albert Einstein, etc., etc., etc.   Which scientists do you most admire?


Cosmic Quote #53

“I believe we exist in a multiverse of universes.”–Michio Kaku

“I’m astounded by people who want to ‘know’ the universe when it’s hard enough to find your way around Chinatown.”–Woody Allen

That's where they go!

That’s where they go!

Per my usual modus operandi, I revere both those that try to understand the universe, and those that poke fun at them.   JBS Haldane famously said that the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it’s stranger than we can imagine.  I’ll try to make some more sense of the whole “multiverse” idea in Millennium Conjecture #6,  though I can’t say how soon that will appear in this particular universe.  I’m still trying to find my way out of Chinatown.


Conjecture #5: Quantum Solipsism (Part two)

“I’m not afraid of death.  I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”–Woody Allen

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

Part Two:  Quantum suicide and quantum immortality

Warning:  Professional stunt blogger.  Closed course.  Do not attempt at home.

To recap where we left off in our last episode,  the first part of Conjecture #5 suggested that, in a universe where the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics holds sway, each conscious entity represents its own distinct universe.   I called this Quantum Solipsism.  This differs somewhat from Conjecture #4, which suggested that in a universe governed, at least philosophically, by the Copenhagen interpretation,  our consciousness represents a composite of all the potential, but not real, universes.   This brings us to part two of Conjecture #5.

Quantum Immortality

Bold notions can sometimes breed extreme potential consequences.   When Hugh Everett posited the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum weirdness in 1954,  he didn’t just espouse it, he lived it.  He believed that in a world where every sub-atomic event splits off into a real alternate universe for every possible quantum outcome, that one’s own consciousness would always survive in some of them.  Quantum Immortality.  So he ate, drank and smoked himself to an early death–at least in the universe of everyone reading this post–by the age of 51.  His son expressed anger over his father’s failure to take care of himself.  His wife initially did not comply with his wishes to have his ashes disposed of in the trash, though eventually she did.   You think his views are extreme?  Or did he live on forever in a never ending series of alternate universes?  Consider this:  the quantum view of the second law of thermodynamics is purely a statistical one.  The reason all the air molecules in a room never seem to migrate to one corner is purely a matter of probability.  There are  staggering orders of magnitude more ways for them to be relatively evenly distributed.  But if every possible combination of such molecules actually exists as a real entity,  then somewhere  there is a universe where you suffocated last night because the air molecules in your bedroom did exactly that while you slept.   And somewhere, there is a universe where Hugh Everett’s ashes reassembled themselves and he woke up in a dumpster.

Quantum Suicide

This brings us to the ultimate in extreme ideas.  Quantum Suicide.  Originally conceived by Hans Morovec  in 1987 and further developed by Max Tegmark, it is a thought experiment designed to prove once and for all if the Many Worlds interpretation of Quantum Mechanics is correct.    If you recall from my Quantum Weirdness 101-107 series,  the Copenhagen interpretation sees the cat as neither dead, nor alive, until an intelligent observer intervenes.  The Many Worlds interpretation, sees the the creation of two separate universes, one each for a dead cat and a live cat, and the observer only finds out which one he is in when he looks in the box.   The quantum suicide gun re-creates the Schrodinger’s Cat experiment from the point of view of the cat.  Theoretically, it could prove the many world’s interpretation, though there are a couple of hitches.  If Many Worlds holds true,  the subject would be the only one it would be proved to;  if it does not hold true, the subject would be dead, period.  See the video below for a complete explanation, and as stated in the warning above, do not attempt this at home.  I sure won’t.  On the other hand, I can think of a few people I wish would try it…

(Video Credit: AliceandBobTV)

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