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TagMarcelo Gleiser


Theoretical Physicist Admits That Humans Are Unique

In his forthcoming book, Marcelo Gleiser challenges us to acknowledge our responsibility to save the planet

Yesterday, I noted a new book by Durham University philosophy professor Philip Goff, Why? The Purpose of the Universe (Oxford University Press, 2023). Notwithstanding his choice of topic, Goff is a panpsychist, not an intelligent design theorist. He originally tried approaching the massive evidence for the fine-tuning of the universe by supposing that there must be a very large number of flopped universes out there (multiverse theory). But he realized that that assumption is simply pulled out of thin air. We have no evidence for the existence or conditions of any other universe. So he is now working with the assumption that the universe is itself conscious in some sense. Significantly, Goff is given a respectful hearing despite having touched Read More ›

scientist faith in platform
Scientist standing on sunny platform against building

Can Science Escape Faith-Based Beliefs? Maybe It Needs Them!

Marcelo Gleiser insists, for better or worse, science is a faith-based enterprise

Physicist and astronomer Marcelo Gleiser (pictured) offered some thoughts recently on faith and science, noting that the scientific revolution has hardly changed the picture of faith much: “the great scientific advances of the past four centuries have not radically diminished the number of believers” in transcendent realities: If science is to help us, in the words of the late Carl Sagan, by providing a “candle in the dark,” it will have to be seen in a new light. The first step in this direction is to admit that science has fundamental limitations as a way of knowing, and that it is not the only method of approaching the unattainable truth about reality. Science should be seen as the practice of Read More ›

photorealistic smoke sim in a sci-fi/knolling case - AI Generated

A Physicist Rejects the Idea That We Live in a Sim Universe

At IAI News, Marcelo Gleiser worries that the claim that we are simulated beings with no free will reduces our ability to tackle the problems humanity faces

Dartmouth College physicist Marcelo Gleiser insists that the reality in which we live is not a simulation by advanced aliens or other intelligences — and that the fact that it isn’t is important. As the summary of his essay at IAI News explains, The idea that we are living in a simulation has become commonplace. Elon Musk, for example, thinks it is almost certain we are living in a simulation. But the simulation hypothesis comes up against insurmountable problems, and is, in the end, an excuse for us not to sort out our real moral failings… Marcelo Gleiser, “Reality is not a simulation and why it matters” at IAI News (January 4, 2023) The “simulation” idea may sound pretty far-fetched Read More ›

Macro concept of a brain connecting to pure love and intent

Why Many Researchers Now See the Brain as a Quantum System

The hypothesis is that the brain relies on quantum physics, not classical physics, to power thinking processes

Astrophysicist and science writer Elizabeth Fernandez asks us to consider whether quantum processes might help us understand better how the brain works and shed light on consciousness: Some scientists suspect that quantum processes, including entanglement, might help us explain the brain’s enormous power, and its ability to generate consciousness. Recently, scientists at Trinity College Dublin, using a technique to test for quantum gravity, suggested that entanglement may be at work within our brains. If their results are confirmed, they could be a big step toward understanding how our brain, including consciousness, works. Elizabeth Fernandez, “Brain experiment suggests that consciousness relies on quantum entanglement” at Big Think (November 22, 2022) The paper is open access. Her thesis is that the brain Read More ›

The universe within. Silhouette of a man inside the universe, physical and mathematical formulas.. The concept on scientific and philosophical topics.  Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

A Purpose Must Underlie the Universe If Intelligent Beings Exist

Theoretical physicist Marcelo Gleiser argues that intelligent life is extremely rare in the universe

Dartmouth College theoretical physicist Marcelo Gleiser offers to explain why intelligence is rare in the universe: We are the only humans in this universe. And if we consider what we have learned from the history of life on Earth, chances are that intelligent life is extremely rare. While intelligence is clearly an asset in the struggle for survival among species, it is not a purpose of evolution; evolution has no purpose. Until it becomes intelligent, life is happy just replicating. With intelligence, it will be unhappy just replicating. This, in a nutshell, is the essence of the human condition. Putting all this together, we propose that we are indeed chemically connected to the rest of the cosmos, and that we Read More ›

Choosing the High Road or Low Road

Does Science Disprove Free Will? A Physicist Says No

Marcelo Gleiser notes that the mind is not a solar system with strict deterministic laws

One of the most disturbing implications of materialism in modern science is the inference that science disproves the existence of free will. Of course, this is not actually the case, but even the mistaken denial of free will has profound and very disturbing implications for our social structure, our criminal justice system, and our way of government. People who are assumed to lack free will are ultimately little more than cattle to be herded and, as philosopher Hannah Arendt has observed, the denial of free will — and the denial of individual responsibility that follows on it — is a cornerstone of totalitarianism. At Big Think, physicist and philosopher Marcelo Gleiser points to the fallacy that physics and neuroscience disprove Read More ›

The Earth from space. This image elements furnished by NASA.

Astronomer: We Can’t Just Assume Countless Earths Out There

He points out that the Principle of Mediocrity is based on faulty logical reasoning

Dartmouth physicist and astronomer Marcelo Gleiser wrote recently that the Copernican Principle has been misused to imply that Earth is somehow insignificant. That, he says, is a philosophical attitude, unrelated to the science. We don’t know where Earth stands in relation to other planets because we do not yet have telescopes capable of getting much detail about planets outside our solar system. Gleiser, author of The Island of Knowledge (2014), has also tackled the Mediocrity Principle (because Earth is nothing special, there must be countless intelligent civilizations out there). According to Britannica, “Widely believed by astronomers since the work of Nicolaus Copernicus, this principle states that the properties and evolution of the solar system are not unusual in any important Read More ›

collection of alien planets in front of the Milky Way galaxy, nearby exoplanets

Physicist: Copernican Principle Doesn’t Make Earth Insignificant

That, Marcelo Gleiser says, is a philosophical attitude, unrelated to the science

Theoretical physicist Marcelo Gleiser, author of The Island of Knowledge (2014) offers some thoughts on what the Copernican Principle means and doesn’t mean about Earth’s status as a planet — whether Earth is a special place or a pale blue dot. He has no objection to the Copernican Principle (“a cornerstone of astronomy”) as such. The problem, he points out, is what happened next: Copernicus famously proposed that Earth was not the center of the universe; the sun was. The Earth, he suggested, was just another planet orbiting the sun like Mars or Jupiter… The principle, as understood today, is usually stated as, “Earth is an ordinary planet, and we, human observers, are ordinary too.” There is nothing special about Read More ›