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Teacher of physics and programmer.
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    Equation shows why there is no soul
    The topic of "life after death" raises disreputable connotations of past-life regression and haunted houses, but there are a large number of people in the world who believe in some form of persistence of the individual soul after life ends. Clearly this is an important question, one of the most important ones we can possibly think of in terms of relevance to human life. If science has something to say about, we should all be interested in hearing.

    Sat, Jun 11, 2011  Permanent link

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    BenRayfield     Sun, Jun 12, 2011  Permanent link
    Claims that some form of consciousness persists after our bodies die and decay into their constituent atoms face one huge, insuperable obstacle: the laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood

    That's a bold statement coming from scientists who, each time they invent a new medicine, don't know if it will kill people or not so they use trial-and-error strategy on animals first. If they know physics so well, they should know what a new medicine would do. And wheres the equations describing why Humans are smarter than Monkeys, based on how the electrons move in their brains?
    gamma     Sun, Jun 12, 2011  Permanent link
    Oh you're cunning!

    Its a good point: here we have the simple ingredients of nature and no one knows all the things that exist in nature!

    The things that exist are connected systems (the limit of communication is the speed of light and the size of elementary quantum of energy). They "function" by doing work. Without doing any work for you, things do not exist. The soul needs to think for two - itself and you to exist for you. It can interact with atoms via:

    1. neutrons - that would make it material
    2. protons - that would make it material
    3. neutrinos - that would make it go through the atoms
    4. electrons - that would make it material, etc.
    5. EM field - at middle frequencies, at reasonable energies.....
    6. via any field - it would interact only with electrons; i.e. all common interactions in nature are only up to electrons!

    Hence, it must do the work for the electrons and draw on the source energy, lose energy, give energy and finally, be detected.
    gamma     Sun, Jun 12, 2011  Permanent link
    For your entertainment.

    Wave function directly measured
    Canadian team achieves quantum feat that makes the intangible a little more tangible 
    {i}Pan~     Sun, Jun 12, 2011  Permanent link
    I've never really liked the word 'soul' so much, as it implies a substance dualism.

    However, many theorists are coming full circle again to panpsychism, which may be even harder for them to accept. It seems the most logical choice though.
    BenRayfield     Sun, Jun 12, 2011  Permanent link  is the theory that if you put a cat and something to kill the cat activated by a random event, both into a strong and completely closed box, then the cat is both alive and dead until the box is opened and observed. Until then, both possibilities are in superposition. This is not true, as we know from how easy it is to affect the double-slit experiment. The cat is observed before the box is opened because the cat's atoms vibrate the atoms of the box which vibrate the atoms outside the box. Its observed before its opened.

    Observing (which happens all the time) branches to 1 possible future, but that model is missing something important: Each possible present is merged from multiple pasts. You can't have more futures than pasts, because of the "law of conservation of probability" and "for every force there is an equal and opposite force".

    "Equation shows why there is no soul"? What they overlooked in the known laws of physics is that the network of possible pasts, possible presents, and possible futures is not an evenly distributed perfectly symmetric shape in this part of the universe. Overall it can be symmetric and balanced, but each piece can be unbalanced. The world we see is not symmetric in all possible ways. The multiverse twists, blurs, sharpens, bends, branches, and merges as the quantum equations describe.

    How does the information get out of your brain and into other structures (some people call it "soul" but its more like a liquid than one thing)? Through the chaos-theory emergent strange-loop interactions between your brain and an infinite number of variations of yourself in almost the same place, time, and state of mind, a continuous path of these branching from your brain to infinite variations of yourself, shaping the multiverse similar to how we choose the future by acting in the present.

    You can choose to react the same way regardless of what you see. That means the possible wavefunctions decreases locally (compared to what normally happens) as time goes forward, and as the Uncertainty Equation says, the number of possible wavefunctions somewhere else must increase proportionally to how much it decreased in the atoms in your brain. Depending on if your thoughts are convergent or divergent, the external world, as required by heisenberg uncertainty, is forced to change an inversely proportional amount.

    I have no proof of this, but it does not contradict the known laws of physics, therefore any claims that physics is known enough to disprove life after death, are based on faith instead of science.
    CoCreatr     Mon, Jun 13, 2011  Permanent link
    Interesting observations, and most subjective until we agree on something. Sean M. Carroll writes:

    Believing in life after death, to put it mildly, requires physics beyond the Standard Model. Most importantly, we need some way for that "new physics" to interact with the atoms that we do have.

    I respectfully disagree. Believing in anything requires only imagination and some trust, not physics, not nonstandard models, not metaphysics. Yet, would be great to find out some way how that old soul interacts with the model of atoms we have. Or with the higher order network effects emerging from multitudes of atoms or life forms like cells and organisms ? Then, what could we do with this knowledge?

    What if the soul is not part of the 3D universe? Not matter, not energy, yet it is, has intention and interacts with the material part of the universe. Mind-boggling? Soul-soothing? Your personal choice it is.
    gamma     Mon, Jun 13, 2011  Permanent link
    All he is saying is that the ghost must perform work in you to show up. This requires an input energy as large as the energy required to make your brain perceive, and the interaction with the electrons.
    psillypig     Mon, Jun 13, 2011  Permanent link
    You will forgive me if I state that as a shamanic practitioner, but this argument is uninformed to the level of 2 dimensionality. It comes of the school of "I do not see it because I do not wish to and therefore it is impossible".
    End of story? For some. The remote viewers of the 50's to the 80's for the US government used constant real time feedback for their experiments and had successes aplenty before being shut down after Pat Price was assassinated for revealing to his agency what another agency was up to. Indigenous shaman and indigenous cultures that are still intact take the soul as a given, and travel without the burden of physical body or ego, anywhere they like. And of course, if the millions of shaman burned alive by colonizing corporate religious organizations through the history of humanity does not indicate that there is something very threatening to the surfacial "spirituality" of that ilk, then follow the threads of consistencies between the experiential "out of body" reports coming from psychics, telepaths and contactees. If everyone had a different story then it would all be just schmaltz, but the consistencies are what give it away as a universal observation.
    Our mathematics are primitive, and quantum physics are incomplete as they do not begin to quantify time and space differentials, but some day they will be more evolved and do so and we will comprehend what has always gone on in a scientific manner. Until then, never say never. It's actually not that long.
    gamma     Mon, Jun 13, 2011  Permanent link
    Gee, so great that the group believes in ghosts. Otherwise this would be a shitty place. I know that you haven't seen a ghost, but you must have seen something, since you are inspired and are complaining with a reason.

    Logic can tell you from which door the ghost will come in. It can also come in from the story, or the second order non-linear story, much better than just a story.

    Start rewriting that equation you whiners, today!
    First Dark     Mon, Jun 20, 2011  Permanent link
    Don't worry gamma, I feel your pain. Faith and pseudoscience will always have some retort which may sound legitimate, but will always be inherently weak or utterly devoid of support when one looks at them honestly. I'm not going to spend my time refuting all of the counterarguments presented by the naysayers above; the pseudoscientific claims made are in the realm of the 'science of maybe' (I call it "imagination") where everything falls apart as they ponder the possibilities ("Hmm.. the engineer's plans for this bridge seem sensible.. but let's consider this from a quantum perspective. How can we really say the bridge will stand? What about the unseen / undetectable forces which exist on a quantum level and/or otherwise?", etc. ad nauseum). The irony is that these same people sure love using all of the technologies that work due to the principles of real science (e.g. the Internet), while very few use things like E-meters, Dowsing Rods, and Oviluses, which are legitimate tools based upon their assertions. It's a sad hypocrisy. These debates at heart are simply a matter of possibility (faith + pseudoscience + imagination) vs probability (science + reason). Personally, I find pretending that the former is anything more than that insulting.. but we're in the minority, obviously and unfortunately.
    Cosmic Boltz     Tue, Jun 21, 2011  Permanent link
    Wow, I just read the article and everyone's post, and I am really happy to read all of your thoughts on this topic. This subject matter is important, and it is something most people in my life will NEVER want to talk about. Most of the time we talk about weather, what we'll be drinking for the weekend, or other the same useless chatter we so often deal with on a daily basis, so you all are a part of opening up my mind and helping me expand my understanding, so I thank you all. For me, I agree with you all and also have my own take on it, but I'm not as well versed in the knowledge as you all. But I'll give my thoughts a shout here. I think personally, we are still too young as a species that is self aware to make observations like Sean Carroll has about life after death. The problem is the idea that life is life after death as we know it. The problem actually is what we consider life to be in the first place. For example, Sean Carroll states that we are made of atoms and are bound by the laws of physics, and he's right. But, the deeper question is, why is it that a rock and a brain can weigh the same amount yet a brain can build a ship and a rock is just a stagnant element? Both are made of the same atoms. But, one is considered organic, and the other isn't. So what exactly makes something alive, something an organic element? The problem is, science doesn't know yet. They are assuming clay crystals, from what I've read, but they are still far from understanding how atoms combine to form carbon and other elements to make amino acids and nucleic acids. That leap, from inorganic to organic, is like, how does the saying go, a tornado ripping through a junkyard where parts of a Boeing 747 airplane are randomly scattered about, and the tornado, in its destructive path, whips up the parts and the pieces perfectly fit together to form a complete Boeing 747 plane. The understanding is still so far from understanding that, well, we just don't know yet. I'm sure one day people, scientists, and thinkers will figure out how atoms form to build complex organic systems, but for now, they just don't know, there still is a great gap between the two systems, organic and inorganic. So my point is we still have a very long way to go before we understand how life begin, and what exactly it is, and then there is the complex understanding of how the brain works itself, and deeper still, consciousness and self-awareness. On the idea of what we are, I really like the idea of the Gaia Hypothesis, that all living things are a part of one single self sufficient complex system. But going back to understanding life after death, I think we as a species need to understand life first. But I do believe in some kind of life energy, a life force, and that even a "monocellular ancestor" like Mr. Carroll points out, has it. Isn't all DNA, all living creatures, monocellular included, all from the same gene pool? So if we have a soul, so do they. Weren't we once monocellular ourselves billions of years ago? And even going farther back, didn't we all come from that pure form of energy known as the big bang? But my idea of life after death has more to do with the fact that we do die, and it does end, and there is nothing wrong with that, I wouldn't know it anyways, but with the idea of the conservation of information, we can and will be resurrected in some way shape or form, and that we transcend in this manner, that us, living creatures, are working to keep things in order and grow in our complexity towards the future as the universe's entropy also increases in the future. Life after death is not the transcendence of body, but, of mind, that information that makes us what we are. I wouldn't want an afterlife where my grandmother is old forever, as she has been old to me my whole life. That's a complete universe in which i only live in, but maybe that exists somewhere too. Okay, I''m rambling here, and sorry about that, but I just want to add that, from what I mentioned at the top, that we are still a young and naive, conscious species. We are like a 14 (billion) year old child in the universe, full of energy and feeling immortal, but still clinging to the security of the past. Thank you all again, and please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, I'm here to learn from all of you.

    gamma     Wed, Jun 22, 2011  Permanent link
    Your grandmother is unknown then. You do not know her. I wonder how the social life would be if we all started behaving as if soul was a certainty and relevant from minute to minute, or perhaps relevant every two minutes. I think that Ben's point was that life is a game, a process, which is pretty solid thinking. Physical body is a pattern that is replacing its matter. If an event repeats, its closer to being a soul, I guess.
    gamma     Fri, Jun 24, 2011  Permanent link
    Scientists imagine soul could be made of wrinklons: 
    {i}Pan~     Fri, Jun 24, 2011  Permanent link
    I suspect the 'soul' (gah I hate that word), is the empty set.
    gamma     Mon, Jun 27, 2011  Permanent link