Immortality Nows And Laters Essay

We’ve been taught we’re just a collection of cells, and that we die when our bodies wear out. End of story. I’ve written textbooks showing how cells can be engineered into virtually all the tissues and organs of the human body. But a long list of scientific experiments suggests our belief in death is based on a false premise, that the world exists independent of us – the great observer.

A long list of scientific experiments suggests our belief in death is based on a false premise. This article provides five compelling reasons why you won’t die.

Here are five reasons you won’t die.

Reason One. You’re not an object, you’re a special being. According to biocentrism, nothing could exist without consciousness. Remember you can’t see through the bone surrounding your brain. Space and time aren’t objects, but rather the tools our mind uses to weave everything together.

“It will remain remarkable,” said Eugene Wigner, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963 “in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the conclusion that the content of the consciousness is an ultimate reality.”

Consider the uncertainty principle, one of the most famous and important aspects of quantum mechanics. Experiments confirm it’s built into the fabric of reality, but it only makes sense from a biocentric perspective. If there’s really a world out there with particles just bouncing around, then we should be able to measure all their properties. But we can’t. Why should it matter to a particle what you decide to measure? Consider the double-slit experiment: if one “watches” a subatomic particle or a bit of light pass through slits on a barrier, it behaves like a particle and creates solid-looking hits behind the individual slits on the final barrier that measures the impacts. Like a tiny bullet, it logically passes through one or the other hole. But if the scientists do not observe the trajectory of the particle, then it exhibits the behavior of waves that allow it pass through both holes at the same time. Why does our observation change what happens? Answer: Because reality is a process that requires our consciousness.

The two-slit experiment is an example of quantum effects, but experiments involving Buckyballs and KHCO3 crystals show that observer-dependent behavior extends into the world of ordinary human-scale objects. In fact, researchers recently showed (Nature 2009) that pairs of ions could be coaxed to entangle so their physical properties remained bound together even when separated by large distances, as if there was no space or time between them. Why? Because space and time aren’t hard, cold objects. They’re merely tools of our understanding.

Death doesn’t exist in a timeless, spaceless world. After the death of his old friend, Albert Einstein said “Now Besso 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.” In truth, your mind transcends space and time.

Reason Two. Conservation of energy is a fundamental axiom of science. The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can’t be created or destroyed. It can only change forms. Although bodies self-destruct, the “me” feeling is just a 20-watt cloud of energy in your head. But this energy doesn’t go away at death. A few years ago scientists showed they could retroactively change something that happened in the past. Particles had to “decide” how to behave when they passed a fork in an apparatus. Later on, the experimenter could flip a switch. The results showed that what the observer decided at that point determined how the particle behaved at the fork in the past.

Think of the 20-watts of energy as simply powering a projector. Whether you flip a switch in an experiment on or off, it’s still the same battery responsible for the projection. Like in the two-slit experiment, you collapse physical reality. At death, this energy doesn’t just dissipate into the environment as the old mechanical worldview suggests. It has no reality independent of you. As Einstein’s esteemed colleague John Wheeler stated “No phenomenon is a real phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon.” Each person creates their own sphere of reality – we carry space and time around with us like turtles with shells. Thus, there is no absolute self-existing matrix in which energy just dissipates.

Reason Three. Although we generally reject parallel universes as fiction, there’s more than a morsel of scientific truth to this genre. A well–known aspect of quantum physics is that observations can’t be predicted absolutely. Instead, there’s a range of possible observations each with a different probability. One mainstream explanation is the ‘many–worlds’ interpretation, which states that each of these possible observations corresponds to a different universe (the ‘multiverse’). There are an infinite number of universes (including our universe), which together comprise all of physical reality. Everything that can possibly happen occurs in some universe. Death doesn’t exist in any real sense in these scenarios. All possible universes exist simultaneously, regardless of what happens in any of them. Like flipping the switch in the experiment above, you’re the agent who experiences them.

Reason Four. You will live on through your children, friends, and all who you touch during your life, not only as part of them, but through the histories you collapse with every action you take. “According to quantum physics,” said theoretical physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, “the past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.” There’s more uncertainty in bio-physical systems than anyone ever imagined. Reality isn’t fully determined until we actually investigate (like in the Schrödinger’s cat experiment). There are whole areas of history you determine during your life. When you interact with someone, you collapse more and more reality (that is, the spatio-temporal events that define your consciousness). When you’re gone, your presence will continue like a ghost puppeteer in the universes of those you know.

Reason Five. It’s not an accident that you happen to have the fortune of being alive now on the top of all infinity. Although it could be a one–in–a–jillion chance, perhaps it’s not just dumb luck, but rather must be that way. While you’ll eventually exit this reality, you, the observer, will forever continue to collapse more and more ‘nows.’ Your consciousness will always be in the present — balanced between the infinite past and the indefinite future — moving intermittently between realities along the edge of time, having new adventures and meeting new (and rejoining old) friends.

Robert Lanza has published extensively in leading scientific journals. His books “Biocentrism” and “Beyond Biocentrism” lay out the scientific argument for his theory of everything.

Follow @robertlanza

 

“Suppose that people live forever.

Strangely, the population of each city splits in two: the Laters and the Nows.

The Laters reason that there is no hurry to begin their classes at the university, to learn a second language, to read Voltaire or Newton, to seek promotion in their jobs, to fall in love, to raise a family. In endless time, all things can be accomplished. Thus all things can wait. Indeed, hasty actions breed mistakes. And who can argue with their logic? The Laters can be recognized in any shop or promenade. They walk an easy gait and wear loose-fitting clothes. They take pleasure in reading whatever magazines are open or rearranging furniture in their homes, or slipping into conversation the way a leaf falls from a tree. The Laters sit in cafes sipping coffee and discussing the possibilities of life.

The Nows note that with infinite lives, they can do all they can imagine. They will have an infinite number of careers, they will marry an infinite number of times, they will change their politics infinitely. Each person will be a lawyer, a bricklayer, a writer, an accountant, a painter, a physician, a farmer. The Nows are constantly reading new books, studying new trades, new languages. In order to taste the infinities of life, they begin early and never go slowly. And who can question their logic? The Nows are easily spotted. They are the owners of the cafes, the college professors, the doctors and nurses, the politicians, the people who rock their legs constantly whenever they sit down. They move through a succession of lives, eager to miss nothing. When two Nows chance to meet at the hexagonal pilaster of the Zahringer Fountain, they compare the lives they have mastered, exchange information, and glance at their watches. When two Laters meet at the same location, they ponder the future and follow the parabola of the water with their eyes. The Nows and Laters have one thing in common. With infinite life comes an infinite list of relatives. Grandparents never die, nor do great-grandparents, great-aunts and great-uncles, great-great-aunts, and so on, back through the generations, all alive and offering advice. Sons never escape from the shadows of their father. Nor do daughters of their mothers. No one ever comes into his own.

When a man starts a business, he feels compelled to talk it over with his parents and grandparents and great-grandparents, ad infinitum, to learn from their errors. For no new enterprise is new. All things have been attempted by some antecedent in the family tree. Indeed, all things have been accomplished. But at a price. For in such a world, the multiplication of achievements is partly divided by the diminishment of ambition.

And when a daughter wants guidance from her mother, she cannot get it undiluted. Her mother must ask her mother, who must ask her mother, and so on forever. Just as sons and daughters cannot make decisions themselves, they cannot turn to parents for confident advice. Parents are not the source of certainty. There are one million sources.

Where every action must be verfified one million times, life is tentative. Bridges thrust halfway over rivers and then abruptly stop. Buildings rise nine stories high but have no roofs. The grocer’s stocks of ginger, salt, cod, and beef change with every change of mind, every consultation. Sentences go unfinished. Engagements end just days before weddings. And on the avenues and streets, people turn their heads and peer behind their backs, to see who might be watching.

Such is the cost of immortality. No person is whole. No person is free. Over time, some have determined that the only way to live is to die. In death, a man or a woman is free of the weight of the past. These few souls, with their dear relatives looking on, dive into Lake Constance or hurl themselves from Monte Lema, ending their infinite lives. In this way, the finite has conquered the infinite, millions of autumns have yielded to no autumns, millions of snowfalls have yielded to no snowfalls, millions of admonitions have yielded to none.”

__________

From Alan Lightman’s novel Einstein’s Dreams.

At the moment, I have neither the time nor the energy to write a detailed exploration or explanation of this absolutely stunning piece of writing. But it is just too brilliant to pass up posting immediately. The overarching sentiment, which Lightman expresses with such imaginative clarity, strikes at the heart of what is perhaps humanity’s deepest existential conundrum. Namely, that we lament our mortal nature and desire above all else to live forever; yet immortality, when conceived of in earthly terms, soon becomes a far more horrid hypothetical state of existence. Lightman is not the first to point out this chilling contradiction. I copy here three additional quotes that play upon this same theme. (Bellow’s quote, especially, is one of the most stunning phrases I’ve ever heard — once you understand it, you’ll never forget it.)

Would I be happy if I discovered that I would live forever? And the answer is no. Consider this argument. Think about what is forever. And think about the fact that the human mind, the entire human being, is built to last a certain period of time. Our programmed hormonal systems, the way we learn, the way we settle upon beliefs, and the way we love are all temporary. Because we go through a life’s cycle. Now, if we were to be plucked out at the age of 12 or 56 or whenever, and taken up and told, ‘Now you will continue your existence as you are. We’re not going to blot out your memories. We’re not going to diminish your desires.’ You will exist in a state of bliss – whatever that is – forever. […] Now think, a trillion times a trillion years. Enough time for universes like this one to be born, explode, form countless star systems and planets, then fade away to entropy. You will sit there watching this happen millions and millions of times and that will be just the beginning of the eternity that you’ve been consigned to in this existence.”
Famed biologist E.O.Wilson, when asked if he would like to live forever

“Death is the dark backing a mirror needs before we can see ourselves.”
Saul Bellow

I reason, Earth is short —
And Anguish — absolute —
And many hurt,
But, what of that?

I reason, we could die —
The best Vitality
Cannot excel Decay,
But, what of that?

I reason, that in Heaven —
Somehow, it will be even —
Some new Equation, given —
But, what of that?
Emily Dickinson

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