In Honor Of The Mars rover Curiosity Life Just What Is It?
By Melvin J. Howard
I have just finished the book by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow (author of The Drunkard's walk) also a good read called The Grand Design. I am a big fan of science and scientist some of whom might not be household names yet like Mr. Hawking. But are no less important to answering life’s most perplexing questions. In their book, Messrs. Hawking and Mlodinow take you on a tour of fundamental physics and cosmology, laying the foundation that our universe is only a tiny part of a much larger picture, the multiverse or the M Theory. The universe we see is big, with over a hundred billion galaxies, but it's still finite. The multiverse idea suggests that there are other regions, equally impressive in size, where conditions might be quite different, right down to different physical laws or different numbers of dimensions of space. To think not to long ago for scientist just to even ask the big questions like what if the earth is not the center of the universe they put their life in jeopardy. Some even waited until they were on their deathbeds to publish their work out of fear they would be persecuted and prosecuted. Sounds far fetch in this day and age of revolutionary technology but the dogma was the law of the land. I for one have many questions and curious about the world in which we all share.
For instance I know the binary code for Melvin J. Howard is 01001101 01100101 01101100 01110110 01101001 01101110 00100000 01001010 00101110 00100000 01001000 01101111 01110111 01100001 01110010 01100100 but what is my code for life? Who am I, how did we get here, what are we doing here, what is real, is space and time an illusion, what happens when you die? What is the difference between black, white, brown and yellow people or is there any difference at all? Why do people fall in and out of love? Why do some people commit horrific crimes is it chemical or biological? What happened before the universe began? Why can some people smoke until they are 90 and some get cancer not ever picking up a cigarette? Why do I feel the sense of a loved one even though they are miles apart? Are thoughts just chemical reactions? Are there other worlds? Scientist, doctors, biologist and physicists have answered some of these questions but there plenty more work to be done. So scientists are hard at work trying to find the answers. Some like Messrs. Hawking and Mlodinow trace the logic of quantum mechanics, general relativity and superstring theory, showing how a variety of existing universes isn't merely possible but arguably natural. In string theory, space inevitably has extra curled-up dimensions that we can't see. But there are many ways for dimensions to curl up, and each of them leads to different "laws of physics." Then there's inflation, not the kind that the chairman of the Fed is trying fight off the (Monetary Kind). But in this kind that predicts that an extremely tiny region of space can blow up into a universe-sized domain. Modern cosmologists believe that inflation, once it starts, can keep going forever, continually creating new "pocket universes" with different conditions in each one. Without research none of these discoveries would have never been made. Medical or scientific research is crucial in understanding where we come from and where we are going. What makes our body and the universe tick what’s in our genes?
DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, has an elegantly geometric structure that allows it to play its crucial role as the chemical carrier of an organism's genes. Each DNA molecule is made up of two very long polymers connected by the bonding of hydrogen atoms and coiled in the shape of a double helix. Each of the two polymers contains many structures called nucleotides, which, in turn, may be further broken down into three parts: deoxyribose (a five carbon sugar), a phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base. There are four different nitrogenous bases that might be present: thymine, cytosine, adenine, and guanine. These four bases are the foundation of the genetic code. Sometimes represented as T, C, A, and G, these chemicals act as the cell's memory, instructing it on how to synthesize enzymes and other proteins. These four nucleotides encode everything an organism needs to live and protects this information with incredible accuracy. In a human being, each cell holds 46 separate DNA molecules, each containing, on the average, about 160 million nucleotide pairs, yet this massive amount of information is stored and replicated almost flawlessly.
Proteins not only make up the structural bulk of the Homo sapiens body but also include the enzymes that carry out the biochemical reactions of life. They are composed of units called amino acids linked together in a long string; each string folds in a way that determines the function of a protein. The order of the amino acids is set by the DNA base sequence of the gene that encodes a given protein, through intermediaries called RNA; genes that actively make RNA are said to be “expressed.”
The Human Genome Project was to seek not just to elucidate all the proteins produced within a Homo sapiens (“ Human beings “ ) but also to comprehend how the genes that encode the proteins are expressed, how the DNA sequences of those genes stack up against comparable genes of other species, how genes vary within our species and how DNA sequences translate into observable characteristics. Layers of information built on top of the DNA sequence will reveal the knowledge embedded in the DNA. This data will fuel advances in biology for the next century.
WHEN DO WE KNOW WE EXIST?
Every facet of human existence and survival is held in place by the assumptions we maintain regarding ourselves and the universe around us. Can you imagine the impact on society if suddenly we had to come to terms with the fact that everything we think of as solid and real is actually an illusion? Not here at all, or only here if we agree that it is here. Religion and philosophy have evolved, as consciousness has tried to understand itself and explain its relationship to what it sees as the physical universe in which it seems to operate. Great thinkers and teachers from different religions and philosophies throughout time have described their view of who we are, where we are, and what we are doing here. In the past few years scientists and scholars in a variety of disciplines have been making concerted efforts to answer an ancient question, namely, How exactly do the physical processes in the brain cause consciousness i.e. when do we become aware? Is it when one are all of the following:
hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, smelling, pleasure, pain
· attention, presence, perceptiveness, experience, memory
· intuition, responsiveness, sensing the grain and flow of things
· self/reflexive awareness, self-sense/identity, proprioception/body-sense,
· interest, openness, curiosity, passion, purpose, intention, desire, will,
engagement, courage, commitment
· attitude, bias, perspective, worldview/paradigm, assumption, belief
· feeling, emotion (all emotions), reaction, sentiment, bliss, joy, misery,
suffering, hope, etc.
· care, compassion, empathy, mutuality, resonance, appreciation,
· intelligence, learning, reflection, analysis, synthesis, pattern-seeking, information processing, understanding
· knowledge, information, ideas, understandings, models, designs
· concepts, language, names, articulation, metaphors
· certainty,arrogance, uncertainty, doubt, confusion, humility, agreement,
· ethics, morality, integrity, principles
· choice, values, decision-making, judgment, evaluation
· imagination, aesthetic sensibility, vision, story, ingenuity, inspiration
· wisdom, spirit, enlightenment, transcendence, a sense of the sacred, awe,
· humor, amusement, enjoyment, playfulness
· mystery, ambiguity, nuance, sense of paradox
· forethought, anticipation, worry, plans, strategy, tactics, guidance,
predictions, scenarios (future-sensing)
· management, direction, governance, leadership (bridging between decision, will, and plans with real action in the world, supporting the ability to act).
Can consciousness be explained in terms of brain activity? What makes a mental state be a conscious mental state? The laws generating all chemical, biological, neurological processes are now perfectly known. Never before in history, science has been able to explain the principles, which originates all biological processes until now. This represents a true turn in history. All that physics will discover in the future will have nothing to do with the biological processes in our organism, or any other organism. Even if there are still some things not perfectly known in astrophysics, these astrophysical processes do not affect biological processes, which are due uniquely to the laws of quantum electrodynamics.
IT’S IN THE MATH
The laws of physics consist of a system of mathematical equations. The mathematical structures exclude the possibility that these equations can be modified; in fact, even a slight change in a mathematical equation would generate radical changes in all its solutions. They have already found billions and billions of correct solutions from the laws of physics; if we changed them, we would suddenly cast away all these correct solutions. On the other hand, every day they find a systematic experimental confirmation of the laws of physics on ever-new systems. To hypothesize that the laws of physics are wrong would be equivalent to say that all these billions and billions of systematic and quantitative experimental confirmations are only a lucky coincidence. The laws of quantum electrodynamics, discovered in the beginning of last century, have never been changed. On the basis of the number of experimental tests, scientist can say that quantum electrodynamics is the oldest scientific theory in history. This one is for all the researchers out there job well done. Now more then ever funding is key to advance further studies in all of these fields. Whether this ambitious conception is actually correct remains unclear. The important lesson of "The Grand Design" is not so much the particular theory being advocated but the sense that science may be able to answer the deep "Why?" questions that are part of fundamental human curiosity.