You popular Are the Universe: online Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why It Matters outlet sale

You popular Are the Universe: online Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why It Matters outlet sale

You popular Are the Universe: online Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why It Matters outlet sale

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From the Publisher

Metahuman The Healing Self Super Genes Radical Beauty

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Deepak Chopra joins forces with leading physicist Menas Kafatos to explore some of the most important and baffling questions about our place in the world. 

"A riveting and absolutely fascinating adventure that will blow your mind wide open!" —Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi
 
What happens when modern science reaches a crucial turning point that challenges everything we know about reality? In this brilliant, timely, and practical work, Chopra and Kafatos tell us that we''ve reached just such a point. In the coming era, the universe will be completely redefined as a "human universe" radically unlike the cold, empty void where human life is barely a speck in the cosmos.
 
You Are the Universe literally means what it says--each of us is a co-creator of reality extending to the vastest reaches of time and space. This seemingly impossible proposition follows from the current state of science, where outside the public eye, some key mysteries cannot be solved, even though they are the very issues that define reality itself:
 
• What Came Before the Big Bang?
• Why Does the Universe Fit Together So Perfectly?
• Where Did Time Come From?
• What Is the Universe Made Of?
• Is the Quantum World Linked to Everyday Life?
• Do We Live in a Conscious Universe?
• How Did Life First Begin?
 
“The shift into a new paradigm is happening,” the authors write. “The answers offered in this book are not our invention or eccentric flights of fancy. All of us live in a participatory universe. Once you decide that you want to participate fully with mind, body, and soul, the paradigm shift becomes personal. The reality you inhabit will be yours either to embrace or to change.” What these two great minds offer is a bold, new understanding of who we are and how we can transform the world for the better while reaching our greatest potential.

Review

"Almost 100 years ago the sage Tagore and the scientist Einstein had a brief encounter to discuss the nature of reality. Revisiting their fascinating discourse on how science and spirituality inform each other is long overdue and this new book finally does it! Even if you - like me, prefer Einstein''s world, this book will make you marvel at Tagore''s beautiful human universe as masterfully uncovered by the authors." –Dimitar Sasselov, Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University, author of The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet

"This is not just another popular science book asking who am I? and why am I here?. This important new book addresses today''s most important scientific questions regarding our very existence. In the end, we can''t help but to be convinced that we live in a participatory universe that we define and synthesize according to the nervous system we enjoy as a species. The result is a riveting and absolutely fascinating literary adventure that will blow your mind wide open!" —Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi, Joseph. P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology Harvard Medical School Vice-Chair, Neurology; Director, Genetics and Aging Research Unit Massachusetts General Hospital

"An inspiring and insightful work that points out the sterility and inadequacy of the materialist paradigm that unnecessarily pervades modern science." —Ruth E. Kastner, Ph.D, author of Understanding Our Unseen Reality: Solving Quantum Riddles  
 
"In  You Are The Universe, Deepak Chopra picks up where he left off in  War of the Worldviews, only this time, rather than warring with a scientist (me), he joins forces with one. Teaming up with quantum physics expert Menas Kafatos, Chopra takes us on a tour of the universe and humanity’s place in it, exploring both science and spirituality, and how they may inform each other. Although it''s a worldview I do not subscribe to, it was an enjoyable ride." —Leonard Mlodinow, PhD, author of The Drunkard''s Walk: How Randomness Rules Your Life, and The Grand Design (with Stephen Hawking)
 
"As brain science and Western philosophy remain confounded by consciousness, this book points toward a solution, a deep connection between our minds and the fundamental makeup of the universe" —Stuart Hameroff, MD Director and Co-founder, Center for Consciousness Studies Professor Emeritus, Department of Anesthesiology Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology University of Arizona

“I am often asked if Deepak Chopra really believes the many controversial and provocative ideas he espouses in his many writings. Now that I have gotten to know him I can answer unequivocally in the affirmative, and there is no better encapsulation of his scientific worldview than You Are the Universe, which he co-authored with the highly respected physicist Menas Kafatos, my colleague at Chapman University. If you want to understand the worldview in which human consciousness is primary, and how that perspective can be defended through science, this is the book to read. In my own journey to better understand Deepak and his worldview this book was the most enlightening path I took.” —Michael Shermer, PhD, Publisher Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist Scientific American, Presidential Fellow Chapman University, author of The Moral Arc, The Believing Brain, and Why People Believe Weird Things

"Ready for a broader vision of yourself?  Face it! the paradigm of science is changing from the primacy of matter to the primacy of consciousness, what the authors call the primacy of qualia--felt experience.  Read the book and find out more about the universe and yourself." —Amit Goswami, Ph.D., Theoretical Quantum Physicist, author of The Everything Answer Book and Quantum Economics

"Understanding Cosmos needs innovative perceptions and at times key paradigm moves. Our cosmic perspective changed radically with emergence of Relativity and a Quantum Universe, even as key mysteries remain unsolved in Modern Science. Are we at a critical juncture again towards comprehending the Cosmos? Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos suggest new avenues, in that knowing the Observer resolves the Cosmic Conundrum. The book brings in a fresh breeze of ideas and an enjoyable journey into Self and Universe." —Dr. Pankaj S. Joshi, Senior Professor, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Theoretical Physicist and Cosmologist, Mumbai

"As a teenager, I used to find it rather curious that people regard their thoughts and emotions as integral to whom they are, but their perceptions as something totally beyond themselves. The world we perceive is, after all, part of our mental life just like our thoughts and emotions. In this book, Deepak and Menas take this seemingly innocent idea to cosmic heights, revealing its true force and significance. They do it intelligently, in a scientifically well-informed manner, and with good taste. The result is delightful." —Bernardo Kastrup, Ph.D., author of Why Materialism Is BaloneyBrief Peeks Beyond and More Than Allegory.
 
You are the Universe could have been spelled Youniverse for not only are ‘you’ in the universe ‘you’ are at the start of it all.  Chopra and Kafatos have put together a well-written and, as far as any scientist today knows, a completely accurate exploration of how the mystery of subjective consciousness provides the basis for material reality as it is presently understood. I highly recommend this for those who are curiously alive.” —Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D.  aka Dr. Quantum® Theoretical Physicist, author of The Spiritual Universe, National Book award-winning Taking the Quantum Leap, Time-loops and Space-twists, and many other books.
 
“The latest masterpiece by Deepak is a joint oeuvre with cosmologist Menas Kafatos.  It addresses all the most important questions we can ask of ourselves and of science.  Questions like who we are, and why are we here – with the science to back our answers.  This is the “new paradigm” we have been talking about!” —Ervin Laszlo, author of What is Reality; The New Map of Cosmos and Consciousness
 
“In this interesting book, an astrophysicist is uniquely teaming up with a medical doctor. They present a novel, and I dare to say, revolutionary "paradigm" that has to make us all reconsider our ideas about our place in the Universe. It will shake stagnated waters in the short sighted beliefs of many. It will also make us to think and wonder about our real relationship with the Cosmos” —Kanaris Tsinganos, Director & President of the Governing Board National Observatory of Athens, Professor, Section of Astrophysics, Astronomy & Mechanics Department of Physics, University of Athens (Greece)

“This book discusses an important aspect from neuroscientific point of view i.e mind creates the reality. The authors do not like to distinguish the external reality and internal reality. This is similar to Yigacara Buddhism. However, it raises a very important issue whether any physical theory should include boundary conditions too or boundary conditions are outside the physical theory. This book raises lot of such fascinating issues which may create an environment of new debate.” —Sisir Roy, T.V. Raman Pai Chair, National Institute of Advanced Studies, IISC Campus, Bangalore and (Former) Professor, Physics and Applied Mathematics Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, India.
 
“You are the Universe, brings the usual gracious clarity of all of Deepak Chopra''s writings together with the insights of physicist Menas Kafatos to elucidate the most profound and pressing questions at the frontiers of contemporary science.  Weaving Dr. Chopra''s expertise regarding biological systems with Prof. Kafatos'' work in quantum physics, geophysics, and cosmology, they illuminate the realms where all the most successful contemporary sciences come to the edge of what can be explained with the vital lights from their own life times of deep spiritual practice.  The result is no clash of competing perspectives, but a rich, synergistic tapestry of great wisdom, beauty, and comfort for our culture.  As such,  You Are The Universe is their great and generous gift to each of us.” —Neil Theise, MD, Professor of Pathology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

About the Author

Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing and Jiyo, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Clinical Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego, Researcher, Neurology and Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.  The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked Chopra #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as "one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.”

Menas Kafatos is The Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor of Computational Physics at Chapman University, author of more than 320 refereed articles and fifteen books. He received his B.A. in Physics from Cornell University in 1967 and his Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972. He is the Founding Dean of the Schmid College of Science and Technology at Chapman University, serving as dean in 2009-2012. He directs the Center of Excellence in Earth Systems Modeling and Observations.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

chapter 1

What Came Before the Big Bang?

Though time and space had started to curve like a sagging clothesline, there wasn’t wholesale panic in physics, because the chance that the line might snap apart didn’t quite exist yet (black holes, which snap space and time, were brought into the picture later on). Brilliant equations are devised to keep reality intact, so the very fact that the mathematics was so arcane kept some very disturbing ideas away from the general public. But this all changed with the advent of the big bang theory. In one stroke, time snapped in two. There was time as we know it, which arrived on the scene with the big bang, and there was something else—­weird time, pre-­time, no time?—­that existed outside our universe.

Following Einstein’s lead, let’s see if we can visualize reality outside our universe. For the sake of convenience, we’ll put the riddle this way: “What came before the big bang?” There’s no better way to visualize the problem than stepping into an imaginary time machine that’s whisking us back some 13.7 billion years. As we get close to the unimaginable explosion that began this universe’s creation, our time machine is exposed to extreme danger. It took thousands of years for the infant universe, which was superheated, to cool down enough for the first atoms to coalesce. But since our time machine is imaginary to begin with, we can imagine it coasting through superheated space without melting or flying apart into subatomic particles.

Getting within a few seconds of the big bang, we feel we’re nearing the goal. “Seconds” means that time exists, and now the only challenge is to shave seconds down to millionths, billionths, and trillionths of a second. The human brain doesn’t operate at such fine scales, but let’s assume we have an onboard computer that can translate trillionths of a second into human terms. Eventually we arrive at the smallest unit of time (and space) that it is possible to imagine. William Blake’s famous lines of verse, “Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour,” is coming true, although an hour is much, much too long. At this point, when the scale of the cosmos was infinitesimally tiny, our onboard computer goes haywire and unexpectedly, nothing can compute.

Our whole frame of reference has dissolved. There is no matter or energy, just a swirling chaos, and within this chaos there are no rules of the kind we call the laws of nature. Without rules, time itself falls apart. The captain of our time machine turns to the passengers to tell them how bad the situation is, but unfortunately, he can’t, for several reasons. As time collapses, so do concepts like “before” and “after.” To the captain, we no longer left earth at a certain time and arrived later at the big bang. Events are all gummed together in an unimaginable way. The passengers can’t cry, “Let me out of here,” either, because space has also dissolved, rendering “in” and “out” useless concepts.

This breakdown at the very threshold of creation is real, even if our time machine isn’t. No matter how hard you work at it, regardless of how fine the slivers of time you shave, the threshold cannot be crossed—­not by ordinary means, because, you see, the big bang “occurred everywhere,” so it was not somewhere to where we could travel.

We are left with two options. Either “What came before the big bang?” is an impossible question to answer, or else extraordinary means must be discovered that could possibly reveal an answer. One thing is certain, however: the origin of time and space didn’t happen in time and space. It happened somewhere extraordinary, which, luckily for us, means that extraordinary answers aren’t out of place—­they are demanded. With that in mind, let the cosmic riddling begin.

Grasping the mystery

“Before” and “after” are concepts that make sense only within the framework of space-­time. You were born before you could walk; you will reach old age after middle age. The same isn’t true of the birth of the universe. It has been widely theorized that time and space emerged with the big bang. If that’s true—­and it’s only one possibility, not a fixed assumption—­then the real question is “What came before time began?” Is that any better than the first way of putting it?

No. “Before time began” is a self-­contradiction, like saying “when sugar wasn’t sweet.” We are squarely in the realm of impossible questions, but that’s no reason to give up in advance. Quantum physics took to heart a conversation between Alice and the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-­Glass. After Alice announces that she is seven and a half years old, the Queen retorts that she is a hundred and one, five months, and a day.

“I can’t believe that!” said Alice.

“Can’t you?” the Queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Quantum behavior forces us to be even more tolerant of impossible things. There is nothing ordinary about the conditions at the time of the big bang. To grasp them, some cherished beliefs must be challenged and then cast aside. First, one must realize that the big bang wasn’t the beginning of the universe but of the current universe. Ignoring for now whether the current universe was created from another universe, physics can’t actually trace the cosmos back to the absolute beginning. Taking measurements only works when you have something to measure, and in the very beginning there was an infinitesimal sliver of something, without order of any kind: no objects, no space-­time continuum, no laws of nature. In other words, pure chaos. In this unimaginable state, all the matter and energy harnessed in hundreds of billions of galaxies was compressed. Within a fraction of a second, expansion accelerated with inconceivable speed. Inflation lasted between 10-­36 (1/1 followed by 36 zeros) to about 10-­32 seconds. By the time inflation ended, the universe had increased its size by a staggering factor of 1026, while it cooled down by a factor of 100,000 times or so. A commonly accepted (but by no means definitive) scenario maps the birthing process as follows:

•10-­43 seconds—­The big bang.

•10-­36 seconds—­The universe undergoes a rapid expansion (known as cosmic inflation), under superheated conditions, enlarging from the size of an atom to the size of a grapefruit. There are no atoms in existence, however, or any light. In a state of near chaos, the constants and the laws of nature are thought to be in flux.

•10-­32 seconds—­Still unimaginably hot, the universe boils with electrons, quarks, and other particles. The previous rapid inflation decreases, or takes a pause, for reasons not fully understood.

•10-­6 seconds—­Having cooled dramatically, the infant universe now gives rise to protons and neutrons that are formed from groups of quarks.

•3 minutes—­Charged particles exist but no atoms yet, and light cannot escape the dark fog that the universe has become.

•300,000 years—­The cooling process has reached a state where atoms of hydrogen and helium begin to form out of electrons, protons, and neutrons. Light can now escape, and how far it travels will determine from this point onward the outer edge (the event horizon) of the visible universe.

•1 billion years—­Through the attraction of gravity, hydrogen and helium coalesce into clouds that will give rise to stars and galaxies.

This time line follows the momentum produced by the big bang, which was sufficient, even when the universe was the size of a single atom, to produce the billions of galaxies visible today. They continue to be driven apart by the force of the initial unimaginable expansion. Many complex events have occurred since the beginning (whole books are devoted to describing just the first three minutes of creation), but for our purposes, it’s enough to view the rough outline.

Because we can all envision how a stick of dynamite or a volcano explodes, the big bang seems to fit our commonsense view of reality. But our grasp of what happened is fragile. In fact, the first seconds of creation call into question almost everything we perceive about time, space, matter, and energy. The great mystery about the emergence of our universe is how something was created out of nothing, and no one can truly comprehend how this occurred. On the one hand, “the nothing” is unreachable by any form of observation. On the other hand, the initial chaos of the infant universe is a totally alien state, being devoid of atoms, light, and perhaps even the four basic forces of nature.

This whole mystery can’t be avoided, because the same birthing process continues, right this minute and all the time, at the subatomic level. Genesis is now. The subatomic particles that the cosmos is built upon wink in and out of existence continually. Like a cosmic on/off switch, there is a mechanism that turns nothing (the so-­called vacuum state) into a teeming ocean of physical objects. Our commonsense view of reality sees the stars floating in a cold, empty void. In actuality, however, the void is rich with creative possibilities, which we see playing out all around us.

Already the argument feels like it’s getting abstract, ready to float away like a helium balloon. We don’t want that to happen. Every cosmic mystery has a human face. Imagine that you are sitting outside in a lawn chair on a summer day. A warm breeze makes you drowsy, and your mind is filled with half-­seen images and half-­realized thoughts. Suddenly someone asks, “What do you want for dinner?” You open your eyes and answer, ­“Lasagna.” In this little scenario the mystery of the big bang is encapsulated. Your mind is capable of being empty, a blank. Chaotic images and thoughts roam across it. But when you are asked a question and make a reply, this emptiness comes to life. Out of infinite possibilities, you pick a single thought, and it forms in your mind of its own accord.

This last part is crucial. When you say “lasagna”—­or any other word—­you don’t build it up from something smaller. You don’t construct it at all; it just comes to you. For example, words can be broken down into letters, the way matter can be broken down into atoms. But of course, this isn’t a true description of the creative process. All creation brings something out of nothing. It’s humbling to realize that even as we feel comfortable being creators, immersed in infinite words and thoughts, we have no idea where they come from. Do you know your next thought? Even Einstein looked upon his most brilliant thoughts as happy accidents. The point is that creating something out of nothing is a human process, not a faraway cosmic event.

The transition of nothing into something always achieves the same result: a possibility becomes actual. Physics dehumanizes the process and does so with incredible precision. In unimaginably small scales of time, vibrations of quanta come out of emptiness and quickly merge back into emptiness, but this quantum on/off cycle is totally invisible to us. The rules governing physical creation must be deduced. You can’t apply a stethoscope to the outside of the Superdome in order to discover the rules of football, and that’s essentially what cosmology is doing, in attempting to explain the origin of the universe. Logical deduction is a great tool, but this may be a case in which it creates as many problems as it solves.

A baffling beginning

There’s little doubt that the objects in space didn’t exist before the big bang. But did space and time (technically, the space-­time continuum) also emerge with them? The standard reply is yes. If there were once no objects, there was no space or time, either. So what was the pre-­created state like? It didn’t have an inside or outside, which are properties of space. As the infant universe expanded, it wasn’t expanding with anything around it, and now, while billions of galaxies operate in outer space, the universe isn’t like a balloon with a skin. Here again, the concepts of before and after, inside and outside simply don’t apply.

Are we left with anything to hold on to? Barely. “To exist” suggests the possibility that even without time and space, things might happen. Here’s a useful analogy. Imagine that you are sitting in a room where you notice that objects are moving slightly: the milk in your cereal bowl is jiggling, and you can feel a vibration coming up through the floor.

As it happens, you are deaf, so you have no way of knowing if something is pounding on the walls of the room from the outside. (Some people might be sensitive enough to feel a vibration in their bodies—­let’s leave this aside.) But you can measure the waves in your cereal bowl and the vibrations of other objects, including the floor, ceiling, and walls. This is roughly how cosmologists confront the big bang. The universe is full of vibrations and waves emitted billions of years ago. These can be measured and inferences drawn from them. But uneasiness appears if we ask a simple question: Can someone who is deaf from birth actually know what sound is? Though there are measurable vibrations associated with sound, feeling them is not the same experience as hearing a solo violin, the voice of Ella Fitzgerald, or a dynamite explosion.

In the same way, measuring the light from racing galaxies and the background microwave radiation in the current universe (this radiation is a residue of the big bang) doesn’t tell us what the beginning of the universe was like—­we are working from inferences, just like a deaf person observing waves in his cereal bowl, and this limitation could be a fatal flaw in any explanation of where the universe came from.

We can still try, from our standpoint here in our space-­time, to explore laws of nature that operate outside space and time. In particular, physics can resort to the language of mathematics in the hopes that its existence doesn’t depend on which universe you happen to live in. Most of the speculation that follows keeps faith with mathematics as something eternally valid. Even in an alien universe, where time goes backward and people walk on the ceiling, if you add one apple to another apple, the sum is two apples, right?

However, no one has ever proved that this faith is actually valid. The mathematics that’s applicable to black holes, for example, is locked in speculation, because a black hole is totally impenetrable. Mathematics could be the product of the human brain. Take the number zero. It hasn’t always been around. By 1747 BCE, the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians had a written symbol for zero as a concept, but it wasn’t used as a number for calculating purposes until around AD 800, in India, long past the heyday of Greek and Roman culture.

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Top reviews from the United States

Johnny
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not convincing
Reviewed in the United States on August 10, 2019
I found very little evidence in this book that would convince a skeptic that its claims are true. Nothing was said about experimental violations of Bell''s inequality in the 1980s, proving local objectivity does not exist, or the more recent experiments based on the... See more
I found very little evidence in this book that would convince a skeptic that its claims are true. Nothing was said about experimental violations of Bell''s inequality in the 1980s, proving local objectivity does not exist, or the more recent experiments based on the Wigner''s friend paradox, which go even further by proving non-local objectivity doesn''t exist either. Highlighting the consequences those experiments would have provided some very powerful evidence pointing to consciousness-based reality. (Hint: reality is either objective or subjective, so if those experiments proved reality isn''t objective, then it must be subjective.) But Instead of using solid experimental evidence, the authors relied on a lot of hand waving and worn-out anthropic arguments; e.g., the universe seems tailor-made for humans, therefore humans must have tailored it.

There are numerous scientific errors scattered throughout the book. One glaring example concerns gravity. The first chapter correctly notes that the key to understanding general relativity is to realize that gravity is not a "force." (Gravity defines geodesic paths through space-time, and the only way a "force" arises from gravity is by preventing an object possessing mass from following a geodesic path defined by gravity.) And yet immediately after the statement that gravity isn''t a force, gravity is described in the same chapter as "one of the four forces of nature" (a common refrain found in the popular-science literary genre). The book goes further down this rabbit hole by lamenting that theoretical physicists have failed thus far to unify gravity with the other three forces. (Hint: if gravity isn''t a force, then how could anyone "unify" it with "other" forces?)

The list of scientific errors and false assumptions goes on and on. Concerning the big bang, the authors assume this was an event of utter chaos and maximum disorder. How do they know this? Where is their evidence? If there truly was a "Big Bang" event, it could not have been like a huge July Fourth fireworks explosion. Logic dictates the initial stages of universal expansion had to be incredibly smooth and orderly, which points to an initial state of zero or near-zero entropy. Because otherwise, how could entropy have continually increased over the past 14 billion years or so from an initial state that was already maximally disorganized and chaotic?

Other common fallacies found in popular-science literature were regurgitated throughout this book. As those fallacies mounted up and the resulting paradoxes became untenable, the authors immediately jumped to the conclusion that since the prevailing physicalist paradigm can''t properly account for reality, then humans must account for it. In other words, if A can''t explain it, then it must be B. The problem with that argument in this case is that A and B aren''t collectively exhaustive, so it''s possible neither of them are true.

Despite the fact that both Idealism and Non-Dualism may be legitimate, this book is not at all convincing, and it needs to go much further in order to prove its case.
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George
5.0 out of 5 stars
Arguing for a "Human Universe"
Reviewed in the United States on February 11, 2017
Here''s a science book that is of urgent interest to non-scientists, because it can change the way we live by helping us change the paradigm with which we see the world. Throughout Deepak Chopra''s career, he has believed that many aspects of everyday life need to be... See more
Here''s a science book that is of urgent interest to non-scientists, because it can change the way we live by helping us change the paradigm with which we see the world. Throughout Deepak Chopra''s career, he has believed that many aspects of everyday life need to be re-examined. He was proved right when he argued for the mind-body connection thirty years ago, at a time when mainstream medicine either rejected or ridiculed the idea that our thoughts influence our bodies.

Mainstream physicists might reject or ridicule the concept that our thoughts influence the cosmos, which is the main theme of this book, but the book was written with physics professor Menas Kafatos, so the science is solid. You Are the Universe means what its title says. The reality we inhabit is shaped by our own experience, and if there is such a thing as another reality apart from our raw experience, we will never know it. And what would it even mean to say reality can be independent of experience? Such a radical thesis puts the physics establishment on notice, using its own methods. The book outlines the key mysteries that physics hasn''t solved, such as what came before the big bang, which is like asking what happened before the beginning of time. Chopra and Kafatos are bold enough to broach forbidden and politically incorrect questions like whether there is design of the universe (while strictly distancing themselves from any religious view, especially Intelligent Design).

What surprised me is how deep the unsolved mysteries go and how credible a human universe actually is. In the tradition of quantum physics, as the authors point out, physical reality was radically revised, and some of the pioneers of quantum physics seriously doubted the things we take for granted about existence--matter, energy, space, and time--are even remotely like what our common-sense ideas of them are. Solid physical objects, for example, turn into clouds of energy at the quantum level before dissolving into probability waves and finally vanishing into the quantum void. The fact that the universe was born out of nothing--the quantum vacuum--opens the way for describing the pre-created state in many ways.

Chopra and Kafatos touch on some of the current theories in physics as well. They point out that modern physics theories provide descriptions that are based on arcane mathematics, such as superstring theory, and which have almost zero empirical evidence to prove the case one way or the other. The same holds true for the fashionable multiverse theory, which theorizes trillions of alternate universes that will never be seen or measured. The authors argue that the pre-created state of existence is consciousness, the source of not only everything physical but everything mental as well. While the idea of a conscious universe may not be new, even among some highly-respected cosmologists, but I don’t believe the case has been made anywhere else so thoroughly and so closely directed at personal transformation.

Despite the presence of Chopra''s name, this isn''t a spiritual book. It is highly readable pop science that exposes the hidden presumptions behind subject-object based knowledge, so that the role and presence of consciousness is recognized for what it is. The authors conclude with a plea for a new paradigm based on this reality that can save the planet and open the door to the next step in human evolution. Higher consciousness won''t become widespread, they say, until we absorb a deep yet simple truth. Everything in creation is an activity in consciousness, and we humans sit at the center of a universe tailored to our awareness. We are thus co-creators of our own reality, at this very moment. It''s an inspiring and an empowering message, that feels more relevant and urgent than ever.
150 people found this helpful
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Cynthia Vero Beach
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Dr. Chopra hit his peak with Quantum Healing and ...
Reviewed in the United States on November 4, 2017
Dr. Chopra hit his peak with Quantum Healing and How to Know God. You Are the Universe goes on and on about scientific nonsense while really saying absolutely nothing. The entire book can be summarized as "You are the universe because you have consciousness."... See more
Dr. Chopra hit his peak with Quantum Healing and How to Know God. You Are the Universe goes on and on about scientific nonsense while really saying absolutely nothing. The entire book can be summarized as "You are the universe because you have consciousness." Disappointing. And yet, I keep reading. I recognize that Chopra is attempting to add new ways of thinking about science and metaphysics; there are sound points to ponder about energy, time, and eternity if you can get past the unnecessary detail.
40 people found this helpful
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Expressed Reviews
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This book is a masterpiece ~ A spiritual and scientific journey into the reality of our own existence
Reviewed in the United States on February 13, 2017
Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos have written a masterpiece in ''You Are the Universe.'' This highly readable and infinitely intriguing book, offers a roadmap to our very existence. It combines spirituality with hard science, and addresses the pertinent questions about our... See more
Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos have written a masterpiece in ''You Are the Universe.'' This highly readable and infinitely intriguing book, offers a roadmap to our very existence. It combines spirituality with hard science, and addresses the pertinent questions about our very reason for being. What is our purpose, why are we here, what role do we play in the cosmos; these are important questions that are thoughtfully explored in this book. The material presented here is perhaps the most important and enlightening that you''ll ever read.
99 people found this helpful
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Aurora Carlson
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Written with love for science, truth and humanity
Reviewed in the United States on May 8, 2017
It is obvious that the book is written out of the authors'' love for both science and truth, but most importantly, for humanity. Maybe that''s what makes the written words so luminous. I found the book very educational, it presents the latest theories about the nature and... See more
It is obvious that the book is written out of the authors'' love for both science and truth, but most importantly, for humanity. Maybe that''s what makes the written words so luminous. I found the book very educational, it presents the latest theories about the nature and origin of the universe in a way that allows even non-scientists to understand. The authors explain the dead ends reached by each theory and gently introduce the possibility of a new perspective, which ties everything together in a much more elegant, intelligent and logical way, solving what seemed to be insurmountable problems. The perspective presented is tremendously inspiring and empowering, and will resonate with anyone who is interested in their own consciousness.

I am impressed by how this book was written in a way that makes the insights accessible to scientists and laymen alike, and which returns science to its true purpose, the evolution and well-being of mankind and all life. I have read many books by Dr. Chopra (alas, none by Dr. Kafatos), but this book has brought me new insights in a new language. It has made it possible to envision a world where science, in its own way, expresses the same wisdom that has been communicated by sages everywhere, laying a new foundation for more life-affirming structures in our societies.
19 people found this helpful
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tim rode
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Stephen Hawkins needs to change his book from "The Theory of Everything" to "You Are Everything!"
Reviewed in the United States on February 24, 2017
Awesome book and despite the subject matter being complex at times, the authors did a great job relating hard to understand scientific concepts with real life analogies. The greatest sages and prophets throughout time have espoused the same things but did not have the... See more
Awesome book and despite the subject matter being complex at times, the authors did a great job relating hard to understand scientific concepts with real life analogies. The greatest sages and prophets throughout time have espoused the same things but did not have the science to go along with their teachings. As stated in the headline, Stephen Hawkins needs to change his book from "The Theory of Everything" to "You Are Everything." If we humans had the capability to see the smallest subatomic particles, when we looked at trees, houses, other humans,...everything would look the same. You wouldn''t see an outline of a human, the inside of the human, or things outside the human. The "inside" of the body would look just like the "outside" of the body. There would not be a location for "me or I." There would be no inside/outside concept. The sun, trees, plants,... are just as important to us as any organs "inside" our bodies.

I read a one star review for this book that related it to the same snake oil Deepak has been preaching for 40 years. My question, how did snake oil work? How does the placebo work? Where is the mathematical equation for the effect of the mind on the cells in the body? And if the mind can effect cells that are inside the body why wouldn''t it have the same effect on things "outside" the body? Thank God (as the expression goes or in this case the Universe) that we do have the observer effect in quantum mechanics. Maybe the greatest breakthrough in science - along with this book!
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Gloria Smith
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Stimulating read
Reviewed in the United States on April 26, 2018
Just loved this book plus when I saw Deepak in person he signed my book. So much information a stimulating thoughtful read. Not just your usual metaphysical book lots of quantum ideas that makes you think outside the box.I didn''t want to put it down but once in a while I... See more
Just loved this book plus when I saw Deepak in person he signed my book. So much information a stimulating thoughtful read. Not just your usual metaphysical book lots of quantum ideas that makes you think outside the box.I didn''t want to put it down but once in a while I needed to think about what I had read to really allow it to sink into my mind.
11 people found this helpful
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Zuff
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
It is so easy to convince yourself that your system of beliefs is true.
Reviewed in the United States on July 17, 2021
I was reading this book and was annoyed. The authors seem to describe a lot of details, but are too easely convincing themselves that their system of beliefs is true. They do a very poor job when it comes to rigoriousness. Too often, they claim as if something is obvious... See more
I was reading this book and was annoyed. The authors seem to describe a lot of details, but are too easely convincing themselves that their system of beliefs is true. They do a very poor job when it comes to rigoriousness. Too often, they claim as if something is obvious when it is not. Too often they claim that they showed evidence, when they showed only a non-trivial speculation. Their descriptions of theories they do not believe in, sound convincing, but this is mainly because they describe those theories in a misleading manner. For example, even though one of the authors is an astrophysicist, they discuss some "evidence" in quantum physics, as if measurement theory has never been existed. Measurement theory is well accepted by now.

They describe Tononi''s model in a rather misleading manner. Tononi''s model does not claim that consciousness can be explained solely by information theory, but rather a model that describes a specific property of consciousness within the regime of information theory.

They also quote famous physicists out of their original context.

Even, though one of them is a physician, some of their comments related to evolution theory show misunderstanding of the essence of this theory. Evolution theory does not claim that something will be developed _only_ if it gives an evolutional advantage, and even had it made such a claimed, the authors probably are unaware that there is an explanation that shows how self awareness, and abstract thinking gave us evolutional advantage. Influenced by eastern philosophy, they build one layer of non-trivial assumptions over another.

Their claim that you cannot know your thought before it occured, is true by definition, but they used it as an evidence supporting a generic claim, that has alerady been shown, at least in some cases, to be false - that consciousness is the source of the thoughts. Yet, it has been experimentally showed, that a scientist can know what is your next thought before you are conscious of it, just by inspecting your brain with fMRI.

Their claim as if it is obvious that computers cannot be creative, has already been shown to be incorrect. It is true that you cannot make music that human being like without first learning the human musical taste, but in solving problems, computers have already showed great deal of creativity during the last few years, due to the development of "deep learning".

I should emphasis though, that my opinions are not necessarilly the opposite from theirs. Yet, even when I agree with some things or conclusions made by them, I still find their discussion leading them to those conclusions, to be very shallow.
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Top reviews from other countries

Mr D S Perkins
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Of Quarks & Qualia
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 13, 2017
A Wonderful Book from Deepak Chopra whose back catalogue I must admit a bias in enjoying. Many of Deepak''s works have gone into variations and versioning of the Idea of Oneness and how modern Science and indeed ancient and mystic or even perceived as La-Di-Da Spirituality...See more
A Wonderful Book from Deepak Chopra whose back catalogue I must admit a bias in enjoying. Many of Deepak''s works have gone into variations and versioning of the Idea of Oneness and how modern Science and indeed ancient and mystic or even perceived as La-Di-Da Spirituality are often bringing peoples to forms of awareness / enlightenment in coming to similar conclusions. In this work a further outlining is laid out for those following in such footsteps of seeking to identify the common ground and threads and indeed disputes between traditional science and alternate disciplines. Most interesting for myself was the area of Consciousness and indeed Qualia laying out firmer foundations of how anyone can learn to make Subjective Reality work for themselves in an age where Science is Now perceived as a Religion in and of itself. I should state that I LOVE OBJECTIVE SCIENCE for all the inanimate gadgets & technologies that have been developed, though as I have grown older I have developed something of an allergy to Objectivity within the realm of Humans, and in this I am seemingly in alignment or agreement with Deepak because he pretty much states conclusions that I myself have come to and in a highly accessible fashion for newcomers and fans alike.
14 people found this helpful
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Neogoonhead
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
And the Materialistic science is shown, limiting, describing, hollow!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 14, 2020
This books achievement is exposing the limiting and narrow scope of science and moreover it''s role in limiting thought and awareness. I read a medical study of transcendental meditation (TM) it proved convincingly that the practise was the most effective solution to...See more
This books achievement is exposing the limiting and narrow scope of science and moreover it''s role in limiting thought and awareness. I read a medical study of transcendental meditation (TM) it proved convincingly that the practise was the most effective solution to hypertension, outperforming chemical based drugs. I asked a clinician why the medical industry wasn''t promoting TM, he replied that "there no revenue stream to free solutions" QED So, we build another particle accelerator and find what? Some more gobbledygook that 0.00000000001% of humanity thinks about it and I suspect pretends to understand. All these atheists looking for the God particle!
2 people found this helpful
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michael powell
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Reads like a physics textbook
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 18, 2018
Really disappointed in this. I quite like Chopra''s work but this read like a text book from my psychics lessons at school. Great if you''re into science but hard going if you''re looking for spiritual inspiration. I''m not sure what to do with this copy. I''ve read 3 chapters...See more
Really disappointed in this. I quite like Chopra''s work but this read like a text book from my psychics lessons at school. Great if you''re into science but hard going if you''re looking for spiritual inspiration. I''m not sure what to do with this copy. I''ve read 3 chapters and can''t stand anymore so will probably donate it to the local library or charity shop....
4 people found this helpful
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Nawid Jamaly
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Life changer!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 4, 2020
This book is a life changer. Simple, comforting and enjoyable to read. I cannot express enough how useful this book is. The teachings of this book are not only amazing but absolutely genius. Get this book, if you want to be happy, this is for you.
3 people found this helpful
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Eva
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Amazing Read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 12, 2017
Amazing book, easy to read, very well written and has a lot of depth to it. Looks at science from different perspectives and makes your brain think further into the field of science and spirituality. Once I started reading this book, I couldn''t put it down. In fact, I would...See more
Amazing book, easy to read, very well written and has a lot of depth to it. Looks at science from different perspectives and makes your brain think further into the field of science and spirituality. Once I started reading this book, I couldn''t put it down. In fact, I would read it again.
6 people found this helpful
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Metahuman The Healing Self Super Genes Radical Beauty

Description

Product Description

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Deepak Chopra joins forces with leading physicist Menas Kafatos to explore some of the most important and baffling questions about our place in the world. 

"A riveting and absolutely fascinating adventure that will blow your mind wide open!" —Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi
 
What happens when modern science reaches a crucial turning point that challenges everything we know about reality? In this brilliant, timely, and practical work, Chopra and Kafatos tell us that we''ve reached just such a point. In the coming era, the universe will be completely redefined as a "human universe" radically unlike the cold, empty void where human life is barely a speck in the cosmos.
 
You Are the Universe literally means what it says--each of us is a co-creator of reality extending to the vastest reaches of time and space. This seemingly impossible proposition follows from the current state of science, where outside the public eye, some key mysteries cannot be solved, even though they are the very issues that define reality itself:
 
• What Came Before the Big Bang?
• Why Does the Universe Fit Together So Perfectly?
• Where Did Time Come From?
• What Is the Universe Made Of?
• Is the Quantum World Linked to Everyday Life?
• Do We Live in a Conscious Universe?
• How Did Life First Begin?
 
“The shift into a new paradigm is happening,” the authors write. “The answers offered in this book are not our invention or eccentric flights of fancy. All of us live in a participatory universe. Once you decide that you want to participate fully with mind, body, and soul, the paradigm shift becomes personal. The reality you inhabit will be yours either to embrace or to change.” What these two great minds offer is a bold, new understanding of who we are and how we can transform the world for the better while reaching our greatest potential.

Review

"Almost 100 years ago the sage Tagore and the scientist Einstein had a brief encounter to discuss the nature of reality. Revisiting their fascinating discourse on how science and spirituality inform each other is long overdue and this new book finally does it! Even if you - like me, prefer Einstein''s world, this book will make you marvel at Tagore''s beautiful human universe as masterfully uncovered by the authors." –Dimitar Sasselov, Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University, author of The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet

"This is not just another popular science book asking who am I? and why am I here?. This important new book addresses today''s most important scientific questions regarding our very existence. In the end, we can''t help but to be convinced that we live in a participatory universe that we define and synthesize according to the nervous system we enjoy as a species. The result is a riveting and absolutely fascinating literary adventure that will blow your mind wide open!" —Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi, Joseph. P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology Harvard Medical School Vice-Chair, Neurology; Director, Genetics and Aging Research Unit Massachusetts General Hospital

"An inspiring and insightful work that points out the sterility and inadequacy of the materialist paradigm that unnecessarily pervades modern science." —Ruth E. Kastner, Ph.D, author of Understanding Our Unseen Reality: Solving Quantum Riddles  
 
"In  You Are The Universe, Deepak Chopra picks up where he left off in  War of the Worldviews, only this time, rather than warring with a scientist (me), he joins forces with one. Teaming up with quantum physics expert Menas Kafatos, Chopra takes us on a tour of the universe and humanity’s place in it, exploring both science and spirituality, and how they may inform each other. Although it''s a worldview I do not subscribe to, it was an enjoyable ride." —Leonard Mlodinow, PhD, author of The Drunkard''s Walk: How Randomness Rules Your Life, and The Grand Design (with Stephen Hawking)
 
"As brain science and Western philosophy remain confounded by consciousness, this book points toward a solution, a deep connection between our minds and the fundamental makeup of the universe" —Stuart Hameroff, MD Director and Co-founder, Center for Consciousness Studies Professor Emeritus, Department of Anesthesiology Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology University of Arizona

“I am often asked if Deepak Chopra really believes the many controversial and provocative ideas he espouses in his many writings. Now that I have gotten to know him I can answer unequivocally in the affirmative, and there is no better encapsulation of his scientific worldview than You Are the Universe, which he co-authored with the highly respected physicist Menas Kafatos, my colleague at Chapman University. If you want to understand the worldview in which human consciousness is primary, and how that perspective can be defended through science, this is the book to read. In my own journey to better understand Deepak and his worldview this book was the most enlightening path I took.” —Michael Shermer, PhD, Publisher Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist Scientific American, Presidential Fellow Chapman University, author of The Moral Arc, The Believing Brain, and Why People Believe Weird Things

"Ready for a broader vision of yourself?  Face it! the paradigm of science is changing from the primacy of matter to the primacy of consciousness, what the authors call the primacy of qualia--felt experience.  Read the book and find out more about the universe and yourself." —Amit Goswami, Ph.D., Theoretical Quantum Physicist, author of The Everything Answer Book and Quantum Economics

"Understanding Cosmos needs innovative perceptions and at times key paradigm moves. Our cosmic perspective changed radically with emergence of Relativity and a Quantum Universe, even as key mysteries remain unsolved in Modern Science. Are we at a critical juncture again towards comprehending the Cosmos? Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos suggest new avenues, in that knowing the Observer resolves the Cosmic Conundrum. The book brings in a fresh breeze of ideas and an enjoyable journey into Self and Universe." —Dr. Pankaj S. Joshi, Senior Professor, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Theoretical Physicist and Cosmologist, Mumbai

"As a teenager, I used to find it rather curious that people regard their thoughts and emotions as integral to whom they are, but their perceptions as something totally beyond themselves. The world we perceive is, after all, part of our mental life just like our thoughts and emotions. In this book, Deepak and Menas take this seemingly innocent idea to cosmic heights, revealing its true force and significance. They do it intelligently, in a scientifically well-informed manner, and with good taste. The result is delightful." —Bernardo Kastrup, Ph.D., author of Why Materialism Is BaloneyBrief Peeks Beyond and More Than Allegory.
 
You are the Universe could have been spelled Youniverse for not only are ‘you’ in the universe ‘you’ are at the start of it all.  Chopra and Kafatos have put together a well-written and, as far as any scientist today knows, a completely accurate exploration of how the mystery of subjective consciousness provides the basis for material reality as it is presently understood. I highly recommend this for those who are curiously alive.” —Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D.  aka Dr. Quantum® Theoretical Physicist, author of The Spiritual Universe, National Book award-winning Taking the Quantum Leap, Time-loops and Space-twists, and many other books.
 
“The latest masterpiece by Deepak is a joint oeuvre with cosmologist Menas Kafatos.  It addresses all the most important questions we can ask of ourselves and of science.  Questions like who we are, and why are we here – with the science to back our answers.  This is the “new paradigm” we have been talking about!” —Ervin Laszlo, author of What is Reality; The New Map of Cosmos and Consciousness
 
“In this interesting book, an astrophysicist is uniquely teaming up with a medical doctor. They present a novel, and I dare to say, revolutionary "paradigm" that has to make us all reconsider our ideas about our place in the Universe. It will shake stagnated waters in the short sighted beliefs of many. It will also make us to think and wonder about our real relationship with the Cosmos” —Kanaris Tsinganos, Director & President of the Governing Board National Observatory of Athens, Professor, Section of Astrophysics, Astronomy & Mechanics Department of Physics, University of Athens (Greece)

“This book discusses an important aspect from neuroscientific point of view i.e mind creates the reality. The authors do not like to distinguish the external reality and internal reality. This is similar to Yigacara Buddhism. However, it raises a very important issue whether any physical theory should include boundary conditions too or boundary conditions are outside the physical theory. This book raises lot of such fascinating issues which may create an environment of new debate.” —Sisir Roy, T.V. Raman Pai Chair, National Institute of Advanced Studies, IISC Campus, Bangalore and (Former) Professor, Physics and Applied Mathematics Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, India.
 
“You are the Universe, brings the usual gracious clarity of all of Deepak Chopra''s writings together with the insights of physicist Menas Kafatos to elucidate the most profound and pressing questions at the frontiers of contemporary science.  Weaving Dr. Chopra''s expertise regarding biological systems with Prof. Kafatos'' work in quantum physics, geophysics, and cosmology, they illuminate the realms where all the most successful contemporary sciences come to the edge of what can be explained with the vital lights from their own life times of deep spiritual practice.  The result is no clash of competing perspectives, but a rich, synergistic tapestry of great wisdom, beauty, and comfort for our culture.  As such,  You Are The Universe is their great and generous gift to each of us.” —Neil Theise, MD, Professor of Pathology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

About the Author

Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing and Jiyo, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Clinical Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego, Researcher, Neurology and Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.  The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked Chopra #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as "one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.”

Menas Kafatos is The Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor of Computational Physics at Chapman University, author of more than 320 refereed articles and fifteen books. He received his B.A. in Physics from Cornell University in 1967 and his Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972. He is the Founding Dean of the Schmid College of Science and Technology at Chapman University, serving as dean in 2009-2012. He directs the Center of Excellence in Earth Systems Modeling and Observations.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

chapter 1

What Came Before the Big Bang?

Though time and space had started to curve like a sagging clothesline, there wasn’t wholesale panic in physics, because the chance that the line might snap apart didn’t quite exist yet (black holes, which snap space and time, were brought into the picture later on). Brilliant equations are devised to keep reality intact, so the very fact that the mathematics was so arcane kept some very disturbing ideas away from the general public. But this all changed with the advent of the big bang theory. In one stroke, time snapped in two. There was time as we know it, which arrived on the scene with the big bang, and there was something else—­weird time, pre-­time, no time?—­that existed outside our universe.

Following Einstein’s lead, let’s see if we can visualize reality outside our universe. For the sake of convenience, we’ll put the riddle this way: “What came before the big bang?” There’s no better way to visualize the problem than stepping into an imaginary time machine that’s whisking us back some 13.7 billion years. As we get close to the unimaginable explosion that began this universe’s creation, our time machine is exposed to extreme danger. It took thousands of years for the infant universe, which was superheated, to cool down enough for the first atoms to coalesce. But since our time machine is imaginary to begin with, we can imagine it coasting through superheated space without melting or flying apart into subatomic particles.

Getting within a few seconds of the big bang, we feel we’re nearing the goal. “Seconds” means that time exists, and now the only challenge is to shave seconds down to millionths, billionths, and trillionths of a second. The human brain doesn’t operate at such fine scales, but let’s assume we have an onboard computer that can translate trillionths of a second into human terms. Eventually we arrive at the smallest unit of time (and space) that it is possible to imagine. William Blake’s famous lines of verse, “Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour,” is coming true, although an hour is much, much too long. At this point, when the scale of the cosmos was infinitesimally tiny, our onboard computer goes haywire and unexpectedly, nothing can compute.

Our whole frame of reference has dissolved. There is no matter or energy, just a swirling chaos, and within this chaos there are no rules of the kind we call the laws of nature. Without rules, time itself falls apart. The captain of our time machine turns to the passengers to tell them how bad the situation is, but unfortunately, he can’t, for several reasons. As time collapses, so do concepts like “before” and “after.” To the captain, we no longer left earth at a certain time and arrived later at the big bang. Events are all gummed together in an unimaginable way. The passengers can’t cry, “Let me out of here,” either, because space has also dissolved, rendering “in” and “out” useless concepts.

This breakdown at the very threshold of creation is real, even if our time machine isn’t. No matter how hard you work at it, regardless of how fine the slivers of time you shave, the threshold cannot be crossed—­not by ordinary means, because, you see, the big bang “occurred everywhere,” so it was not somewhere to where we could travel.

We are left with two options. Either “What came before the big bang?” is an impossible question to answer, or else extraordinary means must be discovered that could possibly reveal an answer. One thing is certain, however: the origin of time and space didn’t happen in time and space. It happened somewhere extraordinary, which, luckily for us, means that extraordinary answers aren’t out of place—­they are demanded. With that in mind, let the cosmic riddling begin.

Grasping the mystery

“Before” and “after” are concepts that make sense only within the framework of space-­time. You were born before you could walk; you will reach old age after middle age. The same isn’t true of the birth of the universe. It has been widely theorized that time and space emerged with the big bang. If that’s true—­and it’s only one possibility, not a fixed assumption—­then the real question is “What came before time began?” Is that any better than the first way of putting it?

No. “Before time began” is a self-­contradiction, like saying “when sugar wasn’t sweet.” We are squarely in the realm of impossible questions, but that’s no reason to give up in advance. Quantum physics took to heart a conversation between Alice and the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-­Glass. After Alice announces that she is seven and a half years old, the Queen retorts that she is a hundred and one, five months, and a day.

“I can’t believe that!” said Alice.

“Can’t you?” the Queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Quantum behavior forces us to be even more tolerant of impossible things. There is nothing ordinary about the conditions at the time of the big bang. To grasp them, some cherished beliefs must be challenged and then cast aside. First, one must realize that the big bang wasn’t the beginning of the universe but of the current universe. Ignoring for now whether the current universe was created from another universe, physics can’t actually trace the cosmos back to the absolute beginning. Taking measurements only works when you have something to measure, and in the very beginning there was an infinitesimal sliver of something, without order of any kind: no objects, no space-­time continuum, no laws of nature. In other words, pure chaos. In this unimaginable state, all the matter and energy harnessed in hundreds of billions of galaxies was compressed. Within a fraction of a second, expansion accelerated with inconceivable speed. Inflation lasted between 10-­36 (1/1 followed by 36 zeros) to about 10-­32 seconds. By the time inflation ended, the universe had increased its size by a staggering factor of 1026, while it cooled down by a factor of 100,000 times or so. A commonly accepted (but by no means definitive) scenario maps the birthing process as follows:

•10-­43 seconds—­The big bang.

•10-­36 seconds—­The universe undergoes a rapid expansion (known as cosmic inflation), under superheated conditions, enlarging from the size of an atom to the size of a grapefruit. There are no atoms in existence, however, or any light. In a state of near chaos, the constants and the laws of nature are thought to be in flux.

•10-­32 seconds—­Still unimaginably hot, the universe boils with electrons, quarks, and other particles. The previous rapid inflation decreases, or takes a pause, for reasons not fully understood.

•10-­6 seconds—­Having cooled dramatically, the infant universe now gives rise to protons and neutrons that are formed from groups of quarks.

•3 minutes—­Charged particles exist but no atoms yet, and light cannot escape the dark fog that the universe has become.

•300,000 years—­The cooling process has reached a state where atoms of hydrogen and helium begin to form out of electrons, protons, and neutrons. Light can now escape, and how far it travels will determine from this point onward the outer edge (the event horizon) of the visible universe.

•1 billion years—­Through the attraction of gravity, hydrogen and helium coalesce into clouds that will give rise to stars and galaxies.

This time line follows the momentum produced by the big bang, which was sufficient, even when the universe was the size of a single atom, to produce the billions of galaxies visible today. They continue to be driven apart by the force of the initial unimaginable expansion. Many complex events have occurred since the beginning (whole books are devoted to describing just the first three minutes of creation), but for our purposes, it’s enough to view the rough outline.

Because we can all envision how a stick of dynamite or a volcano explodes, the big bang seems to fit our commonsense view of reality. But our grasp of what happened is fragile. In fact, the first seconds of creation call into question almost everything we perceive about time, space, matter, and energy. The great mystery about the emergence of our universe is how something was created out of nothing, and no one can truly comprehend how this occurred. On the one hand, “the nothing” is unreachable by any form of observation. On the other hand, the initial chaos of the infant universe is a totally alien state, being devoid of atoms, light, and perhaps even the four basic forces of nature.

This whole mystery can’t be avoided, because the same birthing process continues, right this minute and all the time, at the subatomic level. Genesis is now. The subatomic particles that the cosmos is built upon wink in and out of existence continually. Like a cosmic on/off switch, there is a mechanism that turns nothing (the so-­called vacuum state) into a teeming ocean of physical objects. Our commonsense view of reality sees the stars floating in a cold, empty void. In actuality, however, the void is rich with creative possibilities, which we see playing out all around us.

Already the argument feels like it’s getting abstract, ready to float away like a helium balloon. We don’t want that to happen. Every cosmic mystery has a human face. Imagine that you are sitting outside in a lawn chair on a summer day. A warm breeze makes you drowsy, and your mind is filled with half-­seen images and half-­realized thoughts. Suddenly someone asks, “What do you want for dinner?” You open your eyes and answer, ­“Lasagna.” In this little scenario the mystery of the big bang is encapsulated. Your mind is capable of being empty, a blank. Chaotic images and thoughts roam across it. But when you are asked a question and make a reply, this emptiness comes to life. Out of infinite possibilities, you pick a single thought, and it forms in your mind of its own accord.

This last part is crucial. When you say “lasagna”—­or any other word—­you don’t build it up from something smaller. You don’t construct it at all; it just comes to you. For example, words can be broken down into letters, the way matter can be broken down into atoms. But of course, this isn’t a true description of the creative process. All creation brings something out of nothing. It’s humbling to realize that even as we feel comfortable being creators, immersed in infinite words and thoughts, we have no idea where they come from. Do you know your next thought? Even Einstein looked upon his most brilliant thoughts as happy accidents. The point is that creating something out of nothing is a human process, not a faraway cosmic event.

The transition of nothing into something always achieves the same result: a possibility becomes actual. Physics dehumanizes the process and does so with incredible precision. In unimaginably small scales of time, vibrations of quanta come out of emptiness and quickly merge back into emptiness, but this quantum on/off cycle is totally invisible to us. The rules governing physical creation must be deduced. You can’t apply a stethoscope to the outside of the Superdome in order to discover the rules of football, and that’s essentially what cosmology is doing, in attempting to explain the origin of the universe. Logical deduction is a great tool, but this may be a case in which it creates as many problems as it solves.

A baffling beginning

There’s little doubt that the objects in space didn’t exist before the big bang. But did space and time (technically, the space-­time continuum) also emerge with them? The standard reply is yes. If there were once no objects, there was no space or time, either. So what was the pre-­created state like? It didn’t have an inside or outside, which are properties of space. As the infant universe expanded, it wasn’t expanding with anything around it, and now, while billions of galaxies operate in outer space, the universe isn’t like a balloon with a skin. Here again, the concepts of before and after, inside and outside simply don’t apply.

Are we left with anything to hold on to? Barely. “To exist” suggests the possibility that even without time and space, things might happen. Here’s a useful analogy. Imagine that you are sitting in a room where you notice that objects are moving slightly: the milk in your cereal bowl is jiggling, and you can feel a vibration coming up through the floor.

As it happens, you are deaf, so you have no way of knowing if something is pounding on the walls of the room from the outside. (Some people might be sensitive enough to feel a vibration in their bodies—­let’s leave this aside.) But you can measure the waves in your cereal bowl and the vibrations of other objects, including the floor, ceiling, and walls. This is roughly how cosmologists confront the big bang. The universe is full of vibrations and waves emitted billions of years ago. These can be measured and inferences drawn from them. But uneasiness appears if we ask a simple question: Can someone who is deaf from birth actually know what sound is? Though there are measurable vibrations associated with sound, feeling them is not the same experience as hearing a solo violin, the voice of Ella Fitzgerald, or a dynamite explosion.

In the same way, measuring the light from racing galaxies and the background microwave radiation in the current universe (this radiation is a residue of the big bang) doesn’t tell us what the beginning of the universe was like—­we are working from inferences, just like a deaf person observing waves in his cereal bowl, and this limitation could be a fatal flaw in any explanation of where the universe came from.

We can still try, from our standpoint here in our space-­time, to explore laws of nature that operate outside space and time. In particular, physics can resort to the language of mathematics in the hopes that its existence doesn’t depend on which universe you happen to live in. Most of the speculation that follows keeps faith with mathematics as something eternally valid. Even in an alien universe, where time goes backward and people walk on the ceiling, if you add one apple to another apple, the sum is two apples, right?

However, no one has ever proved that this faith is actually valid. The mathematics that’s applicable to black holes, for example, is locked in speculation, because a black hole is totally impenetrable. Mathematics could be the product of the human brain. Take the number zero. It hasn’t always been around. By 1747 BCE, the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians had a written symbol for zero as a concept, but it wasn’t used as a number for calculating purposes until around AD 800, in India, long past the heyday of Greek and Roman culture.

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