"Life, consciousness and nature of the universe," Bob Berman


Author of Biocentrism and noted astronomer Bob Berman is now on stage at the Kentucky Center, Louisville.

"Did life create universe rather than the other way around?" That's the premise of the book Biocentrism.

Science for many centuries has been trying to develop unifying theories of nature without much success - he singles out String theory in physics for some scorn.

Science has shown that 13.7 billion years ago, universe sprang into being. Galaxy clusters are demonstrably racing away from us. "So lets say there was a Big Bang," and then we get "this," a picture of his grandmother. But if life is mysterious, consciousness even more so. Science doesn't quite know what to do with it - the greatest unsolved mystery in science is the conscious experience. How did random bits of matter "ever develop a taste for hot dogs?" We perceive the world through our consciousness, so if everything is filtered what do we make of the external world?

The easy part of consciousness is to explain the corresponding functions of the brain. The hard part is explaining the first person or subjective experience.

Einstein eventually settled into a "local realism," but wondered earlier if the Moon was there without anyone looking at it. The eyes do not see a perfect reflection of the world, but interpret it. The eyes, in fact, have no receptors for the color yellow, but rather, red and green, a point he makes with a couple of flashlights with red and green filters and a picture of the sulfurous surface of Jupiter's moon, Io. Similarly, the eyes are insensitive to violet. There a lot of color illusions. Color and light are photons that stimulate the eye, which messages the brain, which produces the experience of color. By itself, light has no visual properties.

The first person experience is, however, not understood. And we as observers are inextricably woven into that subjective experience.

The great physicist John Wheeler said that nothing is real until it is observed. Berman adds that "we feel forces, not solids."

Consciousness and the universe are correlative, they exist together and cannot exist alone. Giving one example, he says that center of every rainbow is the shadow of your head, not the shadow of someone else's head.

If any unified theory of the universe will not be complete until the conscious experience is incorporated.

Time and space are tools of animal perception and have no external reality. It's an ordering process, rather, of electrical input.

Likewise space: "How is it unreal? Let us count the ways."

  • define objects according objects according to language, culture and utility.
  • empty space is not empty. We know that space is covered by a 2 degree, roughly, cosmic microwave background. There is also a vacuum energy present. We don't experience it because it's everywhere, equally. It seethes with particles popping in and out of existence.
  • Space is relative, changing in relation to the speed of light.
  • Entangled particles, born together, are always remain in communication. That rate of communication is much, much faster than the speed of light, which has been empirically verified.

If all this is true, how can space and time be the starting points for a unified physical theory of the universe? Perhaps, he adds, we carry time and space like a turtle carries around its shell.

Having made the suggestion, he goes through an explanation of the double slit experiment to show that not all strange or unexplained phenomenon is a just so account of the world. However - and the transition here is a bit rocky - biocentrism and quantum theory are aligned in that they insist that our participation is central. Until that point, only probabilities exist.

Unless, he concludes, our "science begins to incorporate us as observers," no theory will be complete. A synthesis of biology and physics must occur.

Image: Geoff Oliver Bugbee