Your Own Universe

 

Now and then, I have a bit of problem falling asleep. My mind just keeps racing around, creating fantastic scenarios which usually involve dragons, The Edmonton Oilers, clones, clones of the Edmonton Oilers, the musical theme to Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension, or Salma Hayek and Zoe Saldana fighting over who gets to scale Mt. Watson and find the golden orgasm hidden at the summit as Katee Sackhoff watches, repeatedly blowing her whistle and yelling “WRONG!  Run it again!  We’re going to stay here all night until we get it right!  Again.  AGAIN!”

 

I have some issues, obviously.

But often my imagination drifts off into deep thought-land. And sometimes, every now and then, something really profound strikes me, and I gotta let it out.  This is one of those such occasions. Thanks for indulging me.

Deep breath.  Here we go.

The universe behaves in strange ways. When we observe behavior, we alter the universe. Photons and atoms collapse into the state we perceive out of multiple possibilities, and it happens every second of every day. Everything you observe with your senses…everything you see, hear, smell, taste, or touch…has collapsed into that state of being simply by your noticing it. It’s a rule of science that has become easier and easier to accept, even if it remains a hard concept to wrap our minds around.

And yet, this is also a kitty corpse.

And yet, this is also a kitty corpse.

Now consider this: your observations are your own. They are unique. No one experiences the world and the greater universe the way you do. No one else has your history, the sum of your experiences, your nervous system, your sensory organs or the brain that interprets them. Which means that the universe you experience is unique. Ergo, each person experiences his or her own personal universe.

 

And some of us believe we ARE the whole universe.

Some of us believe we ARE the whole universe.

There’s overlap, of course. Think of it like taking a video of your friend while your friend takes a video of you taking a video. You’re shooting each other. And a bird flies right between you as you’re recording. You both exclaim and shriek, “Did you just see that?! That was crazy!” And you watch the video, each of you holding your phones up side-by-side to review your respective videos simultaneously. You and your companion see the same bird, from different angles. But what’s more, you each notice little things. The bird starts a fraction of a second sooner on your friend’s video, because maybe she was recording sooner. The bird looks more orange on your phone, while your friend’s video is more reddish. The sounds from each phone’s speaker are different. You’ve both captured (and observed) the same event. But the physical variances of your recording equipment, along with things like the respective angle of the sun (in your face, at your friend’s back) wind direction, and a million other tiny little differences mean that the videos look very different. And yet they depict the same event.

"Mr. President, do you think we should bring some official news cameras?" "Ha! If anything happens, I'm sure a shaky hand-cam will be all anyone will ever need. Drive on!"

“Mr. President, do you think we should bring some official news cameras?”
“Ha! If anything happens, I’m sure a shaky hand-cam will be all anyone will ever need. Drive on!”

The point is that our bodies are much like those cameras. They observe the universe with sometimes minor and oftentimes major differences. You hear treble sounds better than I do, I see the color blue more vividly than your rods and cones allow. But that’s all just gathering and interpreting data. The fact remains that when I observe something, the way those quantum particles and events collapse into the state that I sense is unique to me. Because you may not have observed them at all, meaning they exist in an unresolved state. Or you observed something that I didn’t.

And some people aren't exactly sure WHAT they've seen.

And some people aren’t exactly sure WHAT they’ve seen.

Add to all this the notion of freewill and decision making. You and I could both read through the same old “Choose Your Own Adventure” book and come out with vastly different endings. All the possible outcomes are all contained within the book…but by choosing one page or the other, we alter the finished experience. It’s the same book…but we will always have very different memories and perspectives on it.

Unless it's this one, which has nothing but TOTALLY KICK-ASS endings.

Unless it’s this one, which has nothing but TOTALLY KICK-ASS endings.

That’s the multiverse, kids. That’s the world we share. Completely unique to each of us. Enough shared experience to make it “real” for everyone. And yet, a million different variations every day. Mind-bogglingly awesome. (And yet…also non-awesome, prior to observation. How ’bout that?)

Q & A, Part One

Oh, this year has been awesome so far, hasn’t it?  Man…things are happening, wheels are in motion, and ol’ Uncle Turner needs a break already.  (It sucks being old, kids.)

That’s why I decided to turn the tough part of blogging (inspiration!) over to you.  Over at my Facebook page, I asked you to ask me questions.  Nothing was off-limits, and you guys are so creatively insane and brilliantly stupid that I got some really good questions.  Too many to handle all at once, lest this be a 48-page blog entry.  Nobody wants that.  Hell, my radio consultant said the last entry was too long, so…let’s begin.

Ryan asks: Does God have feet?

An excellent question, and quantum physics teaches us that God both does and does not have feet.  Also?  This explains the dual nature of God as both male and female simultaneously.  Hence the old line about us being created “In God’s image.”  Whoa, it got really serious right out of the gate.  Let’s change gears…

"I saw two pairs of footprints, and said HOLY SHIT, GOD!! DON'T STEP ON ME!!"

“I saw two pairs of footprints, and said HOLY SHIT, GOD!! DON’T STEP ON ME!!”

Mike submits: Do you think Hollywood should do a reboot or sequel to Real Genius? And are you available to play Chris Knight, cause Val Kilmer is fat now?

I’ve covered reboots and sequels in previous blogs, and I’d be down for a sequel to this film (one of my all-time faves) if they mixed it up and made Chris the professor or even the project lead at some company.  He’s lost his way a bit, and needs a young, brilliant student to bring him back to the irreverent Chris Knight we all know and love.  Alas, I am also old and fat, so it’ll prolly end up starring Ryan Gosling somehow.

Negative, ghostrider.  The pattern is full...of donuts.

Negative, ghostrider. The pattern is full…of donuts.

From Joe: Colecovision…best gaming console ever?

Son, you know that it’s a war between NES and Sega.  A very tightly-contested war, with no clear victor.  That being said, “Buck Rogers” on the Colecovision was incredible.

My brother and I called this level "Holiday Road" and would sing the Lindsey Buckingham song from "Vacation" as we played.  True story.

My brother and I called this level “Holiday Road” and would sing the Lindsey Buckingham song from “Vacation” as we played. True story.

Brian asks: Rick Flair or Stone Cold Steve Austin ?

No question, it’s always going to be Rick Flair.  Ask me again in twenty years.  It will still be Rick Flair.  WOOOOOOOO!

One of these guys dresses with class.  The other might be Goldberg.  I can never tell.

One of these guys dresses with class. The other might be Goldberg. I can never tell.

The music-minded Tuler submits: What’s your favorite local bands?

Ft. Wayne has a surprisingly deep well of local talent.  And like most Midwestern towns, it seems like there’s a bedrock foundation of cover bands, upon which a layer of metal and blues rock lays.  Then you get all the other genres sprinkled about like feldspar. (Geology, bitches!)  I have talented friends in bands like Beneath it All and Valhalla, standout metal bands.  KTR and Downstait are great, too. I’ve always figured Left Lane Cruiser would be a huge national act by now, and it boggles my mind that they aren’t as popular as, say Cage the Elephant (I know, different styles and such.  LLC isn’t easily quantified and packaged, so there’s that.  Perhaps I should’ve compared them to Leon Redbone instead.)  But my tastes are decidedly more punk-rock in nature, so I’d say that you can’t go wrong with Flamingo Nosebleed.  They’ve had (and totally earned) the opportunity to tour with the likes of The Suicide Machines and other “national” acts.  One could make the argument that they’re more popular outside Ft. Wayne proper, which is a shame.

Okay, running out of space, so let’s have one more, hopefully from someone too drunk to stand…ah!  Perfect.

Jake asks (slurringly): If you were half man, half sausage, which half would beer man.

Every man is half sausage and half beer and beer man, beer, man.  Beer.

Yes, this stock photo exists.

Yes, this stock photo exists.

String Theory, Gun Control, and How it All Really Doesn’t Matter

Well, now that right there is a title.  Ain’t it grand? On Facebook I solicited ideas for blog subjects, and my buddy and occasional teammate and verbal sparring-partner Luke gave me that one.  I thought it pretty much summed everything up, so here we are!

But, of course, it does matter.  Not going to delve too much into a discussion about the multiverse, but here’s the thing about time/space: it’s constant and already there.  Imagine a map of the United States, and straight railroad line from New Jersey to California.  The railway itself is time, carrying us towards some future destination.  We see the landscape pass by and that how we perceive or measure time.  But here’s the thing:  just because we leave New Jersey behind (and for good reason.  I KEED!) doesn’t mean it ceases to exist.  It’s still right there, but our train is going full steam ahead.  All the States we pass though are like days, weeks, years that we’ve traveled through.  They still exist, right where we left ’em.  The trick is getting the train to stop and backing ‘er up.  Is it possible? I think so.  But in order to do that you must lay down some new tracks and leave the old railway behind.  And when you do that, you’ve just created another new set of possibilities.  This happens anyway, every time you make a choice.  Every time you decide to go back to sleep instead of getting up, order Dr. Pepper instead of Coke, watch the rerun of The Jeffersons instead of going for a walk.  There’s an alternate timeline where you kissed your high school crush at that dance instead of chickening out.  And in that reality, you ended up getting married to your crush and having two kids before seeing your marriage fall apart and within that reality there’s also one where you reconcile and end up being married for 60 years and seeing your grandkids go to college.  And one where you murder your true love.  Damn.  Thanks, Luke…you’ve just brought everyone down.  Asshole.  I love you.  (Even though this section really didn’t deal with string theory or gun control.)

He looks so cute when he's all victorious and stuff.

He looks so cute when he’s all victorious and stuff.

Okay, next we have Joe Schultz (whose own idea to crowd-source his blog was the inspiration for this one.)  He says to write about the band Rush.  Dude…did you even read the last paragraph?  Tell me that wasn’t basically the blog version of “Freewill?”  Or maybe “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” since the ORIGINAL story concept had Snow Dog losing.  Plus, By-Tor shows up  in “Caress of Steel” and kills the Necromancer so that the three travelers can escape, which means he’s the hero of the story. See, who knows if he would’ve made that sort of decision if he hadn’t been literally taught a lesson by the defeat at the hands of Snow Dog?

I swear to God, this is one of the top-8 images for "By-Tor" on Google.

I swear to God, this is one of the top-8 images for “By-Tor” on Google.

Jesus, this thing is turning out to be a lot geekier than I had planned.  Okay, how about we hear from a lady?  Kellie wants my thoughts on crispy bacon v. chewy bacon.  Dude.  I don’t know what chewy bacon is all about because I won’t eat the filthy motherfucker.  That shit better not even make it to my plate less’n you wanna feel my PIMP HAND.  (I am 100% legit, folks.  No brag.  Just fact.)

Who the hell would ever even try to market "chewy bacon?"  Makes no goddam sense.

Who the hell would ever even try to market “chewy bacon?” Makes no goddam sense.

Brandin’s question is whether “liking” your own status is the same as laughing at your own joke.  It is.  It totally is, and Joe Schultz does it ALL. THE. TIME.  Then again, Joe needs me to explain to him when things are funny.  True story.

This is actually Joe's profile picture.

This is actually Joe’s profile picture.

USMC and Royal Marine air-traffic controller and all-around officer and gentleman Rob (true story: he’s so bad-ass that he’s actually commanded Marines for two different COUNTRIES.  You’ll never be that awesome, so don’t even try) wants to ponder “Crazy dreams about having to pee because your body is trying to wake you up to go before you wet the bed.” This would really be a good question for Dream Analyst Lauri Loewenberg.  It’s hard for me to really speak about with any sort of experience, because I usually just pass out and wake up in a pool of my own piss and blood. Often, upon awakening, I discover that I’m clutching what seems to be some sort of scalp or pelt.  Weird.

Uh-oh!  Gotta go potty!

Uh-oh! Gotta go potty!

I also had some more musical suggestions, so I’ll cover them all at once.  Joseph (not Joe Schultz) said to write about how excited I am for the Social Distortion show at Piere’s in Ft. Wayne on June 29th.  Extremely.  I’ve seen them before, but to have a legendary band like that playing in our backyard is so wonderful.  Darryl suggested that I wrote about the differences in various styles of Heavy Metal.  The problem is, I’m really not a big “metal” fan.  I prefer punk.  Or Rush.  Plus, as a guy who’s never really followed the genre, I don’t know whether some things I like actually are considered “metal.”  Five Finger Death Punch certainly seems like metal to me, but is a lot more enjoyable than much of what Drew Cage plays on Bear Metal every Saturday at 10m on 98.9 the Bear and online at 989thebear.com!  Sure, there are several bands I can get behind…old-school stuff like Slayer and cheeseball stuff like Manowar…Atreyu seems pretty rad for a more modern band…but, yeah.  That’s pretty much it.

This.  This I know.

This. This I know.

Honorable mentions:  2-ply v. 3-ply toilet paper (see also:  crispy bacon v. chewy bacon), my friends Nick and Shannon getting married, how much fun I had at the last FWDG bout, how I resist the societal pressure to “grow up” and act like a 42-year-old, and the Boston bombings.  Some of these things make me happy, others make me sad, and (other than the toilet paper thing) all deserve more time/space/respect than I can afford at this point.  So, go enjoy the weather and we’ll catch up later, mmmkay?  Thanks!

Living in the FUTURE!!

I love old-timey stuff.  Jesus, sometimes it seems like that’s all I friggin WRITE ABOUT. But I’m also a dreamer and sci-fi addict, so my eyes are always on the horizon.  I love it here.  And by “here” I mean, of course, the future. I like the fact that I have access to all the old-timey stuff (I made chainmail once.  True story.  I also own an M-1 Garand which was manufactured in the spring of 1943.  I looked it up) and still get to play Skate 3 with my kids on the ol’ Xbox 360.  It really is the best of both worlds.  Yessir, no doubt about it: this is the best time that’s ever been.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is the future.

Because perfectly sane men spend months twisting and cutting metal links for a costume they’ll wear once.

“BULLSHIT!” you scream at the cold, unfeeling monitor.  “AIN’T NO FLYING CARS!!”  An excellent point, and the one that everyone uses when they wish to express displeasure at the quality of life in these modern times.  And my counter-argument is that there will never be cities full of flying cars.  Never.  Films like “Metropolis” and “Fifth Element” aren’t going to happen.  They aren’t.  Why?  Because technology is going to make flying cars obsolete.  Remember when Doc Brown tells Marty that where they’re going they “don’t need roads?”  In the coming century (yes, it will happen within a hundred years) you won’t even need cars.  Instantaneous transportation is going to change everything. How do I know?

It’s already been done.  (Kind of.)

This article from Scientific American is already four years old, and a decent Google search will bring up more recent experiments, surely.  But the gist is this: scientists were trying to see if entangled particles could communicate faster-than-light.  Under our current physics model, this is impossible.  However, when they created two entangled photons and separated them by about eleven miles, they proved (again) that entanglement is fucking spooky.  When they’d tweak one particle, the other responded instantaneously. With our primitive measuring capabilities, they weren’t able to prove that this sort of communication is infinitely fast.  They were able to measure that at the very least, data transfer was happening at 10,000 times the speed of light.

Let me say that shit again: TEN THOUSAND TIMES THE SPEED OF FUCKING LIGHT!!

The applications right now are obviously limited.  But it’s safe to assume that someone will one day soon build a pair of transmitters that include entangled particles.  When one is switched on and off in a pattern like, say, Morse code or Binary, the other gets it immediately.  No lag.  No waves traveling through the air, no bouncing off satellites.  A guy in China knows what’s happening in Nevada at the exact second it happens.  And like our own communication systems that have gone from telegraphs to telephones to radios to Skype and Wi-Fi, you can imagine that this is just the beginning.  And even better; entanglement theory is part of the grander, broader world of quantum mechanics.  Mark my words: we’re on the verge of figuring out how to actually either fold time-space what we’d call “Warp Drive” style propulsion (which is kind of a misnomer, since you’re not actually propelling anything…you’re moving space-time, not the object itself) or a “transporter” of sorts.  Build a bubble of entanglement or probability (or whatever spooky shit they call it) here and another one somewhere very far away.  You step into one, you come out in the other.  Seriously.  This is going to happen.  And most of the world has no idea how close we actually are.  It’s moving beyond theory now, into actual applied science.  This proximity to amazing breakthroughs literally give me goosebumps.  We live in the future, but our grandkids are going to live in the FUTURE!!!

I’d like to say that I photoshopped this. I’d like to, but I can’t. Because this shit is real.

Louis C.K. points out that right now, at this time in Human History, everything is awesome.  And it is.  He also points out that nobody is happy.  His assertion is that we take so much for granted.  We don’t appreciate things like the miracle of flight.  he has some valid points.  But if you think you’re spoiled now, just wait until you can have a real-time holographic conversation with your pal who’s going to school at the Martian Colony…or step into a terminal in New York and step out in Berlin in less than a microsecond.  It’s sort of staggering, but it’s coming.

And I can’t wait.

A Conversation With Ed

I was cleaning the remains of Easter Porn from the melted sole of my Chuck Taylor the other day.  Easter Porn was the name of the stick-horse belonging to my boy Joe Schultz.  Was.  See, my friends and I had decided upon first meeting EP that he had to die.  Damned horse didn’t go easily, though.  Numerous attempts on his life left him battered, scorched, and scarred…but it wasn’t until someone got the idea to douse Porny the Pony with gasoline and ignite him that he finally met his fate.  (OR DID HE?!?)  Anyway, whilst putting the flaming artificial horse carcass out with my foot, it decided that a good final act of vengeance would be to fuse itself to the sole of my shoe.  Well played, stick horse!

Anyway, as I was doing this, my friend Ed showed up, Alpine menthol cigarette between his lips, and sat down cross-legged in my driveway.  Ed was wearing his usual black long-sleeved sweatshirt, some jeans, and a pair of white athletic shoes, just as he had back in our college days.

“Problem?” he asked, smirkingly.  I explained the whole horse situation, and he chuckled.

“I love seeing you dig holes, Watson, ’cause it’s so much fun to see you dig out again.”

I would normally be annoyed, but it’s hard to stay mad at a ghost for long.  See, Ed lost his battle with MS back in 2005, but sometimes he comes by to chat, often when I need someone else to talk to or when I need a dose of reality.  That last observation is interesting, because, you know…he ain’t really there.

I changed the subject.

“So, what’s the truth about life on the other side?  How much of what we learned in church is bullshit?”

Ed took a drag of his smoke.  He always smokes menthols because he knows I won’t bum one from him.  Tricky cat, that one.  He flicked the ash off with his index finger and paused.

“It’s all bullshit.  And it’s all true.”

“Explain yourself, you spectral Jew.”

“Well, one thing I have learned is that you really can’t grasp it from your perspective.  And by that I mean that since you are trapped in that skull of yours, you can’t really appreciate what it’s like to be free.  It’s like trying to explain the concept of  algebra to a cat.  The cat knows you love it and feed it, scoop its litter box and so on, but at the end of the day, it just wants to lay down next to you and get hair all over everything.  It gives a shit about sine, cosine, tangent…just doesn’t care and doesn’t understand. Won’t understand, even if it wanted to know. Which it doesn’t.”

I scraped a little more dead horse stuffing from my shoe.

“Okay, well give me the basics.  I think I can grasp some of it, even if I don’t, you know…’get’ it.”

“Okay, the reason Western religions have been so successful is that they put God into bite-sized, human-relatable nuggets.  Stories, events, moral parables, etc.  We, or rather you, can handle that.  Doesn’t matter if it’s one God or many, like the ancient Romans or Norse.  You can identify with these supreme beings, because at the end of the day they look like you, talk like you, use language you can understand.  Even if sometimes they talk down to you, like parents to their children.”

Ed paused for another drag.  As he exhaled, he continued.

“These things’ll kill you, you know.  Anyway.  I’m not saying the idea of a consciousness or a supreme architect of the universe or whatever is totally wrong.  I’m just saying that a lot of the smaller details are complete bullshit.  There’s no ‘one’ way into heaven, and heaven ain’t like they describe it anyway.”

Now I was listening. Ed adjusted his sitting stance and went on.

“Now, the Eastern Religions have a better grasp of things.  I think those little fuckers know their place in the universe a little better.  Buddhism especially.  See, it’s all connected.  Everything.  It’s like the goddam Force.  Every single atom in the universe came from the same place, and it’s all still IN the same place.  You perceive this great gulf of space and time, but that’s not it at all.  You, me, the rice farmer in Laos?  We’re all right here in the same place.  Even better? So is your dead grandmother and Abraham Lincoln and Hitler.  Time and space are the same thing, but we’re on this log, right?  Floating along this river current.  We pass a tree on the riverbank and it passes back behind us, passes away in an actual physical sense, until we can’t see it anymore.  But it’s still there.  That tree didn’t go anywhere.”

“Okay,” I responded. “But I know for a fact that I cannot reach out right now and touch Australia.  It’s physically on the other side of the globe, Einstein.”

“So you say.  Ever heard of the double-slit experiment?”

“Yeah.  Copenhagen, right?  They shot photons through these slits and saw how they reacted.  And the scientists discovered that the photons reacted the way they expected when they were being obvserved and went batshit crazy when they weren’t observed.”

“That’s the basics of it, yeah.  Einstein called it ‘spooky behaviour’ because there really isn’t any explanation for it.  There’s no scientific reason for the laws of physics to change simply because the subjects are or are not being observed.  That’s why we need some new laws.  Quantum physics, man.  Humanity is about to uncover some of this shit and it’s going to blow the lid off of the way people see the universe. Forever.  More than understanding gravity or inertia…shit’s going to get real.”

“But how does that explain things like, well, no offense, the afterlife?  If there even is such a thing.”

“Of course there’s an afterlife.  You think this is all in your head, me talking with you?”

“Well, yeah.  I mean, I have a healthy imagination and–”

“Don’t give yourself too much credit, blog-boy.  Thoughts, matter, energy, souls…it’s all exactly the same.  Those photons in that experiment behaved that way because they were expected to.  Expected to by the observing scientists.  In other words, those men and women shaped the outcome of probability by bending it to their will.  The universe did what they told it to.  Because, and here’s the kick in the nuts…they ARE the universe.  Get it?”

“Not remotely.”

By now my brain was hurting and I had ceased cleaning my shoe. Ed explained himself.

“There are another set of experiments where they generate two identical quarks, okay?  And they separate them by some great distance.  Well, when they heat one of them, the other gets hot.  When they move one, the other moves.  They shine light on one, the other is illuminated.  This shit really happened, too.  That’s what I’m saying: those two different particles of matter were created together and are still connected.  They are essentially the same thing, in two different places.  Just. Like. You. And. Me.  That’s what I’m talking about.  Everything shares that connection, but you living types ignore it.  You come up with silly ways to explain it, things like deja vu or coincidence.  Sometimes crackpots go further with remote-viewing theories, ESP, flying saucers and such.  When you guys finally crack the language barrier, the scientific language barrier, you’re gonna see how simple it all is.  You’re living in a million different universes right now, but only perceive one.  And I think that’s what God had in mind with this whole heaven-and-earth analogy.  He wants you to understand your universe so that you can expand your mind in a way that you understand that it’s actually ALL the universes!  Heaven is just another plane of existence, and I guess so is hell: that’s why everyone’s ideas of hell are different.  Because you bring that shit with you.  Matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed.  Just can’t.  So, your mind, your soul, whatever you wanna call it, it just changes states when you ‘die.’  Whatever baggage you bring with you, well…that’s what you sort of become.”

I sat there trying to wrap my mind around all of this, and knowing at the same time that Ed was absolutely right.  But I had one more question.

“So, you mentioned God.  God exists?”

“Of course it does.  God is literally in you.  Haven’t you been paying a god-damned bit of attention to anything I’ve said?  Humanity is God, and so is the Earth and the stars that make up Orion.  And yet it’s so much more.  That’s a whole ‘nother conversation, bub.  But yes, it’s real and yes, like those scientists in Copenhagen, it is aware of you.  Because it’s in you.  Aw, fuck, I ain’t got time to get into that.  You got me freewheeling and off-topic.  Yes.  Yes, there’s a God.  And yes, God is love, jackass.  I gotta go.”

I scraped the last bit of scarred pseudo-horse from my foot.  I looked up, and Ed was gone.  For now, anyway.

Editor’s note:  Edward J. Shovers and myself had a combative relationship during our college years, primarily due to chasing the same women.  But after working with him at a radio station after college, we better understood each other.  The last time I saw Ed, his Multiple Sclerosis had gotten worse, and he was having trouble getting around.  I knew that he wasn’t going to be in this world much longer.  Then, in 2005 I received word that he’d passed away in Indianapolis.  There is now a scholarship in his name for Communications students focusing on Advertising at our alma mater, the University of Southern Indiana.  I hope you liked this, Ed.  You Shakespearean-looking Jew, you!