Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

A way cool web site

If you happen to like science, and you want a feed of the latest exciting stuff that's going down, Physorg.com shoots it at you through a firehose. It's kind of advertising heavy, so just avert your eyes.

I like this story -- these researchers think high CO2 levels in the blood may be behind so-called "near death" experiences. I'd say we have a long way to go before that's confirmed, but it does remind us that our conscious experience is a manifestation of the physical substrate of the brain. To my mind, there are two great mysteries that science has yet to get close to, which people have such need to understand that they are principal drivers of religious belief. (Fear of death and the inability to accept mortality is another, but death of course is no mystery to science, just an inconvenient truth.)

These are the nature of consciousness; and the origin of our universe. We can describe both of them to some extent, but we cannot explain either one of them. Why is there something rather than nothing? That's the most basic question there is but it is imponderable. Given that there is something, why this, why what actually is? What caused it to come into being?

As for consciousness, it is absolutely compelling to everyone, at least everyone I have ever spoken with, that it somehow transcends physical reality, that it is more than the sum of our neural firings. But what? Why? Is it connected to some deeper truth to which we do not have access?

So far at least, the methods of science bite on granite when it comes to these questions. Just so you know I fully concede that.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is a great website. The CO2 overload-Near Death Experience theory is interesting...although I came across an even more compelling theory behind NDE's and experiences which share common themes across many people, like "alien abductions".
Dr. Rick Strassman and others espouse over-secretion of endogenous DiMethylTryptamine (DMT) from the pineal gland as the driver behind these experiences. DMT is a powerfully potent entheogen similar in structure to LSD. DMT is widespread throughout many organisms in nature as well.

Regardless...the human brain and the experiences it can manifest are profoundly fascinating...and we have but a tiny clue into its workings.

DE

Cervantes said...

Morning glory seeds. A favorite of the Aztecs, BTW.

C. Corax said...

Morning glory seeds? C., you know waaay too much!

I have to slink around in the dark beyond the edge of the science community's campfire because I tend to think of humans as animals. As in: Animals have consciousness, and as long as we set ourselves apart from other conscious beings, we're going to remain a bunch of ignorant dumbf***s.

As for the origin of the universe, I'm not sure why we "need" to understand, but then, I'm not religious. It's fun to think about during one's idle time; better if you get humongous grants to search the stars--but not in anyway necessary to live out our lives and die our deaths.

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