Prof Bernard Carr – The Many Faceted Enigma of Time and the Nature of Self
This talk will discuss two fundamental and closely related problems: the passage of time and the nature of self. Both problems have been the focus of extensive literature in philosophy, psychology and neuroscience but they have been neglected by physics because they both involve consciousness, which is usually regarded as being beyond its remit. But I will argue that physics must expand to address these issues, so that a radically new paradigm is required. I will first review the mainstream physics view of time, as it arises in Newtonian theory, relativity theory and quantum theory. I will then discuss the various arrows of time, arguing that the psychological arrow (associated with its passage) must go beyond these theories. A new paradigm, probably requiring higher dimensions, is required anyway to amalgamate relativity theory and quantum theory. I will then address the problem of consciousness. It is often argued that the brain is a filter rather than a generator of consciousness, the evidence for this coming from various phenomena which mainstream science is still reluctant to accept. The filter model differentiates between individual consciousness (small c) and the universal Consciousness (big C) that is being filtered. But this raises the question of how Consciousness can fragment and why I am associated with one particular fragment (myself). The resolution of this problem requires the notion of the specious present (the minimum duration of experience) and a more sophisticated view of space and time. This links the questions Why Am I Me? and Why Is It Now? and suggests that the extra dimensions of physics are associated with a hierarchy of consciousness.
BERNARD CARR is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at Queen Mary University of London. For his PhD he studied the first second of the universe with Stephen Hawking at Cambridge University and Caltech. He then held Research Fellowships at Trinity College and the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge before moving to Queen Mary in 1985. He has also held Visiting Professorships at various institutes in America, Canada and Japan. His professional area of research is cosmology and astrophysics and includes such topics as the early universe, black holes, dark matter and the anthropic principle. He is the author of around 300 papers and the books Universe or Multiverse? and Quantum Black Holes. He is very interested in the role of consciousness, regarding this as a fundamental rather than incidental feature of the Universe, and he is developing a new psycho-physical paradigm, which accommodates normal, paranormal and mystical experiences. He also has a long-standing interest in the relationship between science and religion and views psychical research as forming a bridge between them. He is President of the Scientific and Medical Network and a former President of the Society for Psychical Research.
Bernard CarrEmeritus Professor, SMN President
Prof Bernard Carr is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at Queen Mary University of London. For his PhD, he studied the first second of the universe with Stephen Hawking at Cambridge University and Caltech. His professional area of research is cosmology and astrophysics and includes such topics as the early universe, black holes, dark matter, and the anthropic principle. He is a former chairman and current President of the Scientific and Medical Network and a former President of the Society for Psychical Research.