Although physics claims to be close to a “Theory of Everything”, there are two features of the Universe that are far from understood: time and consciousness. The problem with time is that its role is very different in relativity theory and quantum theory, so its status in any final theory is unclear. The problem with consciousness is that most physicists neglect it altogether, even though there are several indications from physics itself that consciousness is a fundamental rather than incidental feature of the Universe. Since a key feature of consciousness is the flow of time, these two problems are clearly connected. However, the relationship between physical time and psychological time is still not understood and poses a profound mystery. The resolution of this mystery may require a new psychophysical paradigm, in which consciousness interacts with the Universe on a hierarchy of levels, each associated with a different specious present. The implications of this picture for normal, paranormal and mystical states of consciousness will be discussed.
Prof Bernard Carr is Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at Queen Mary, University of London. He read mathematics as an undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge, and studied for his doctorate under Stephen Hawking at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge and the California Institute of Technology. He was elected to a Fellowship at Trinity in 1976, took up a Senior Research Fellowship at the Institute of Astronomy in 1980, and moved to Queen Mary in 1985. He has also held visiting professorships at Kyoto University and Tokyo University and is a frequent visitor to institutes in America and Canada. His professional area of research is cosmology and relativistic astrophysics and includes such topics as the early universe, black holes, dark matter and the anthropic principle. His recent books are “Universe or Multiverse?” and “Quantum Black Holes”. He has a long-standing interest in the relationship between science and spirituality and also in psychical research, which he sees as forming a bridge between them. He is Chairman of the Scientific and Medical Network and a former President of the Society for Psychical Research.