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Chasing Consciousness

Chasing Consciousness

By Freddy Drabble
The curious person’s guide to all things mind!
Have you ever wondered how it is that your thoughts and feelings relate to the grey matter in your head? How space and time came to be out of nothing? How what life means to us influences our day-to-day struggles with mental health?
In conversation with experts in physics, psychology, neuroscience and philosophy, Chasing Consciousness will take you to the very fringes of reality and share with you the groundbreaking discoveries that are dramatically changing the way we relate to the world, the future, and our own minds.
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Ashleigh Murphy-Beiner - TESTING PSYCHEDELICS FOR DEPRESSION
Can psychedelic therapy help depression? We are now in the middle of the first psychedelic resurgence since the last bout of research in the 60’s and 70’s led by legends of the psychedelic movement like Dr. Stan Grof at Harvard. This resurgence is taking place on two fronts: Firstly, following promising results from Imperial College’s Psidep 1 study into the use of Psilocybin, the active ingredient in Magic Mushrooms, to treat treatment-resistant depression; there has been a host of studies around the world at leading universities like Harvard investigating many other compounds as well as Psilocybin like famous rave drug MDMA and horse tranquilliser Ketamine. This is an odd turn of events for compounds that have been systematically demonised by governments and accused of worsening mental health conditions. Secondly, we are seeing a a massive increase in the participation of Ahyuasca rituals, whose active ingredient is DMT, one of the most hallucinogenic compounds in the world, to the point that it has become a fashion among the funky philosophical Burning Man style community. The world of medicine and personal transformation seem to be converging. But we need a specialist to clarify the details here before we get ahead of ourselves. So who better to help us navigate this new territory than assistant psychologist on Imperial’s most recent psilocybin study, Ashleigh Murphy Beiner. Ashleigh Murphy-Beiner is a Trainee Clinical Psychologist and Mindfulness Practitioner. She is a member of the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London. She is also a scientific researcher and has published research investigating the therapeutic use of ayahuasca. Her research has found changes in mindfulness and cognitive flexibility after ayahuasca use which both play a role in psychological wellbeing. What we discuss: 00:00 Inequality and suffering and how to deal with that experience 05:20 Victor Frankel and thriving from the fundamental quest for human meaning 07:49 Treatment resistant depression, ruminating about the past and social disconnection 14:00 Psychedelics reduce rumination (DMN) and increase plasticity 16:00 Mazatec and North American Indian traditions of healing using hallucinogens 17:30 Plants have their own agency in the indigenous worldview 18:30 Imperial Colleges 2nd Psilocybin Study for depression explained 28:00 The results and how they compared to Psidep1, the first study 31:00 No magic answer to long-term effectiveness challenges against Depression 33:00 ‘Restoring a quality of life’ despite persistent depression symptoms 34:12 Dr. Rosalind Watts’ ACE (Accept, Connect, Embody) Model of treatment and post traumatic growth 36:30 Avoidance to acceptance, and disconnection from others, themselves and the world to connection to those things 39:00 Embody: allowing yourself to feel the pain 43:30 Yohann Hari and the wider systemic issues of inequality leading to depression 45:30 How it feels to publish your first scientific paper 46:00 Ashleigh’s study of Ahyuasca’s effects on cognition 49:00 The commercialisation of Ahyuasca and reciprocity 53:00 Common threads of between Ahyuasca, NDE and psilocybin experiences 56:20 The value of studying altered states of consciousness 1:00:00 Evidence that trauma is stored in the body References: Victor Frankel  Dr. Gabor Mate documentary  Yohann Hari book 'Lost Connections' 
01:02:10
September 15, 2021
Dr. Jonas Kaplan - THE BACKFIRE EFFECT EXPLAINED
In this episode we want to understand how easy it is to change our beliefs when we receive new information, a process that can be really uncomfortable and lead to great resistance in the psyche. The scientific community, whilst educated to update their world view based on new information and theory, are by no means immune to this resistance; today we’ll find out to what extent it is just a human trait we have to accept. Now that the scientific method has become more water-tight from our biases than ever, and data collection is more sophisticated than ever, the difference between hard data and the opinion we draw from that data should also be more clear. However, the introduction of the internet and the separation of the population by social media algorithms into tribal bubbles of like-minded people, has mixed together data and opinion, confusing the scientific community and the lay population alike.  So understanding the biology of belief, our discomfort and resistance to new information, and how beliefs play a part in our sense of self can really help us stay open to new data and to update our world view to match it with the necessary flexibility demanded by the sheer speed of change of our current era’s technological revolution; in my opinion this awareness offers essential tools for navigating the next few decades. So who better to help us navigate this mine-field of human behaviour than cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Jonas Kaplan. His research focuses on the neural basis of consciousness, self, empathy, social relationships, action perception and creativity. Using a combination of fMRI neuro-imaging and behavioural studies he aims to examine the neural mechanisms that underlie our experience of resonating with other people and being aware of ourselves. He is the assistant Research Professor of Psychology at University of South California’s ‘Brain and Creativity Institut’e and Co-Director of the Dana and David Dornslife Cognitive Neuroimaging centre. Today’s chat will begin discussing his research with Sarah Gimbel and Sam Harris into a possible Backfire Effect when faced with new data. What we discuss in this episode: 00:00 Split brains and 2 separate consciousness’ in one head 07:10 The Backfire Effect explained 09:00 Why do we find it so difficult to change our minds about things that we care about? 12:40 Less flexibility to changing mind associated with activated Amygdala and Insular cortices 16:00 Avoidance of situations that will challenge us to change our minds 18:15 The evolutionary intertwining between emotion and cognition 23:30 The difference between Cognitive Dissonance and The Backfire effect 25:30 Reason is coloured by underlying motivation 29:00 Sam Harris and the neural basis of belief 31:45 The algorithmic belief bubbles of a post internet world 37:20 The Default Mode Network’s narrative about self, is less active in meditators 40:00 Utilitarian values VS idealogical/sacred values 45:00 The Left Brain interpreter and making up narratives to keep our world view consistent PART 2 58:00 What is self and is it an illusion? 1:01:30 Demasio’s ‘Core’ and ‘Autobiographical’ self 1:04:00 Mental concepts are useful provisional illusions in some sense 1:08:00 The blur between ‘self’ and ‘other’ 1:11:50 Belonging and social group membership and it’s influence on beliefs 1:21:00 Self is a narrative about ourselves 1:22:00 Exceptional experience revealing the illusion of self and the fear of ego death 1:26:45 The biology of belief: the mind body connection References: The left Brain Interpreter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-brain_interpreter Antonio Demasio ‘Descartes Error’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descartes'_Error Jonas' new podcast
01:34:25
August 31, 2021
Summer Break LIVE STREAM catch up with the listeners
Next Episode out 1st September. Time to catch up with the listeners! As Freddy takes a short break for Summer, he's making the most of the break to get in touch with you on the live and chat about how it's all going. Obviously this is just a recording so send all your questions, suggestions and feedback via the website chasingconsciousness.net. Thanks for listening
11:50
August 2, 2021
Dr. Carla Stang - THE HERO'S JOURNEY
How important is story to to human understanding?   Today we take a step away from science per se, to look at the role of story in the formation of our world views, for generations our only method alongside direct experience of understanding the world, as opposed the more modern method of hard data from scientific research that we tend to examine on Chasing Consciousness. So we’re continuing the all important job of our first series: to establish the limits of what science can know. And today we’re going to start understanding how some of the story like information found in the psyche, and perhaps in the way our lives unfold, can give us clues to the nature of human reality and so support our scientific research in psychology.    So who better to help us navigate this troublesome academic area than award winning social anthropologist Dr Carla Stang! Carla earned her Ph.D. in Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.  She has held the position of Visiting Scholar at Columbia University and Associate Researcher at the University of Sydney, and was awarded the Frank Bell Memorial Prize for Anthropology from Cambridge. Based on her fieldwork with the Mehinaku, Carla wrote a book called “A Walk to the River in Amazonia” which we’ll be talking about in a bit. She writes for the Dark Mountain collective which advocates ‘uncivilisation’, and has created a mysterious new project ‘Imaginal Futures’. Most recently she co-created the first Masters of Philosophy at Schumacher College, and is currently at work on a new book, an ecological, cross-disciplinary and collaborative project. What we discuss in this episode:  Part 1  00:00 Tarzan of Greystoke 10:00 How much of a problem is our propensity for narrative over fact?  14:00 Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey or Monomyth examined 24:00 Critiquing the destructive power and domination of others presented in the mono myth 40:00 The uninitiated: we’re a society of children 49:00 The Heroine’s Journey, Maureen Murdoch and healing the wounded feminine 55:00 Different types of ‘events of consciousness’ and mythos Part 2  1:05:30 The importance of interdisciplinary research to get big picture understanding 1:17:00 What’s quotidian Amazonian life like; ‘A Walk to the River in Amazonia’ Carla’s 2011 book 1:53:00 Imagining the stories of the future we want, we can form the world References:   Carla Stang ‘A Walk to the River in Amazonia’  Imaginal Futures created by Carla Stang,  Rachel Flemming and Emma George   William James quote, ‘Live life to the fullest’    Ben Okri quote ‘We are story beings’  Eugène (Eugeniusz) Minkowski 'Vers une cosmologie. Fragments philosophiques' Joseph Campbell quote ‘follow your bliss’  Sonu Shamdasani Historian and Redbook publisher 'Lament of the Dead' James Hillman Jung scholar and founder of the field of 'Archetypal Psychology' Freddy’s ‘Rites of Passage’ podcast show   Maureen Murdoch 'The Heroines Journey'  Henri Corbin - 'Mundis Imaginalis'  Sean Kane - a place telling a tale through human beings  
02:04:29
July 14, 2021
Moheb Costandi - NEUROPLASTICITY EXPLAINED
How easy is it to change our Habits? Today we have the important job of working out what neuroplasticity is all about. 50 years ago we thought the adult brain remained the same after reaching maturity. Now since the discovery that in fact our neural networks remain ‘plastic’, which means adaptable, a host of research has opened up fuelled by our desire to thrive and improve rather than just survive. Along with that knowledge, as so often with popular science, has come a host of exaggerations and quick fix claims, that prey on the wishful thinker, and today we’re aiming to sort the facts form the fiction and really understand what can change in our neural networks in adulthood and perhaps even offer some tools to facilitate that. Who better to discuss this with than developmental neurobiologist turned freelance science writer Moheb Costandi. He writes stories and articles for various popular publications like New Scientist and the Guardian, is often cited from his Neurophilosophy blog, and is the author of the books Neuroplasticity and 50 Human Brain Ideas You Really Need to Know. Things we discuss in this episode: 00:00 A good psychology teacher 04:30 The controversial history of neuroplasticity 11:46 Longterm potentiation (LTP) 12:41 Stem Cells and the tipping point for neuroplasticity 14:47 What’s the significance of neuro-genesis? 16:00 What actually happens when neurons adapt? 18:00 Electro-chemical neurocommunication at high speed 22:00 Are there neurons all over the body? 23:30 The gut’s enteric nervous system (ENS) 25:00 Calling out spurious false rumours about neuroplasticity 31:40 ‘Awareness of plasticity doesn’t empower us in any way’ 33:00 The wellness, self help and new age industries have manipulated neuroplasticity to exploit the public 37:05 Can we use plasticity to reprogram negative habits? 40:30 The bidirectional link between brain and behaviour. 44:00 The longer we have a particular behaviour the stronger those pathways become 47:00 Stress hormones stimulate plasticity. Negative emotions encode memories more strongly. 50:00 Microglia: the brain’s immune cells 53:00 Plasticity even in white matter tracts of myelin 55.00 Mitigating age-related cognitive decline using plasticity 01:01:00 Learning a musical instrument or new language can help mitigate dementia 1:05:00 Are there any limits to how plastic the mind can be? 1:12:00 Are brain computer-interfaces going to cause a plasticity adaptation in the brain? 1:16:00 Technology could cause a lowering of brain function rather than a bionic super race References: ‘Neuroplasticity’ by Moheb Costandi  ’Neurophilosophy’ Mo’s blog  Charles Darwin - Dissent of Man  Santiago Ramone Cahall and Camill Gogi - Nobel prize  The Raticularists  Paul Bach-y-Rita  Longterm potentiation LTP  Microglia: the brain’s immune cells 
01:21:18
June 30, 2021
Dr. Monika Wikman - JUNG'S COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS
How much of our consciousness is shared? In this episode we have the fascinating job of trying to get to get to grips with Jung’s concept of the Collective unconscious. I’ve always loved Jung and I think his ideas can offer a brilliant framework in which to maximise our mental health, to use life’s challenges to harvest meaningful lessons, and just to navigate the subjective experience of being alive. But this is a science podcast, so we do want to get clear on what is just a useful idea and what is a scientifically proven reality. Jung was very shy to speak about scientifically unprovable ideas because he was a rigorous academic, but as his career progressed he was encouraged more and more to elaborate on the tools he was using with his patients; and as we’ll discuss today he felt there was a huge value in acknowledging the active role of what lies outside of the sphere of testable knowledge, rather than just dismissing it as non-existent. So I am extremely happy to have Jungian analyst Dr Monika Wikman with us to help locate the threshold between these two very different fields of knowledge and to explain in detail the collective unconscious. Monika is the author of ‘Alchemy and the Rebirth of consciousness’ and received her PHD in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology and then deepened her knowledge of Jungian Analysis at the Jung-Von Franz Center for Depth psychology in Zurich. She is an expert on topics including the anima mundi and environmental issues of our time, archetypal phenomena surrounding death, dreams, active imagination, and alchemy. Her work with the dying culminated in a research project called ‘Dreams of the Dying’ at UC San Diego Medical Center, which is the foundation of her most recent book, Alchemy of Life, Death and the Wedding Veil. What we discuss in this Episode: Part 1 12:20 The humility of the ego to identify suffering that creates an opening for us to grow: Dissent, the renewal of consciousness 14:30 What is the Collective Unconscious? 19:00 How can motif’s from ancient myths appear in the minds of those who’ve never learned about these myths? 20:00 The healing function of connecting with this archetypal strata of consciousness 29:00 The importance of dreams to scientific discovery 40:00 Monika’s ‘2 weeks to live to cancer free overnight’ experience 50:00 Ego consciousness making a bridge to the symbolic field of the collective unconscious Part 2 1:03:00 How do we use knowledge of the collective unconscious in therapy?  1:11:20 Chaos as a catalyst forcibly setting off a chain reaction of transformation 1:15:00 The Implicate and Explicate order, David Bohm and the big question about where does all this information reside 1:27:30 ‘Exploring Holotropic Breathing’  1:35:00 Peak experiences, psychedelics and the dangers of getting hooked on transformation References: ‘Pregnant Darkness; alchemy and the rebirth of consciousness’ Monika Wikman  ‘Exploring Holotropic Breathing’ Monika Wikman Monika’s presentation ‘Refining you inner bullshit detector’  Monikawikman.weebly.com ‘On dream and death’ by Marie- Louise Von Franz  ‘The order disorder paradox’ by Nathan Schwarz Stan Grof’s Holotropic Breathing and Grof Transpersonal Psychology training
01:46:38
June 14, 2021
Dr. Stephen Porges - POLYVAGAL THEORY EXPLAINED
What's the importance of safety to health?  In this episode we’re going to be talking about the neuroscience of safety and how our sense of safety can be hugely important to the way we communicate and learn. Research shows that when we perceive threat, we go into a hyper-vigilant state and certain circuits of the brain shut down to focus on self-protection. If we can become aware of this as it’s happening we can not only use certain tools to mediate it, but we can also help others not end up in that state too. We are extremely lucky today to go straight to the horses mouth so to speak of this research, speaking with the founder of Polyvagal Theory himself, Dr Stephen Porges. Dr. Porges is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium at Indiana University. He is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers across several disciplines including, biomedical engineering, neurology, neuroscience, obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, and substance abuse. In this episode we’ll be unpacking his Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behaviour. The theory is leading to innovative treatments based on insights into the mechanisms operating in several behavioural, psychiatric, and physical disorders. He is the author of several books which we’ll be mentioning in the interview and you can find links to in the show notes. What we discuss in this episode? 06:29 What’s going on inside people’s heads? 09:00 If your body is in a state of threat you can’t access certain areas of your brain 12:49 What does the Vagal nerve do? 17:00 Facial expression and tone of voice broadcast our physiological state via the Vagal nerve 22:30 Co-regulation between parent and child 24:00 Polyvagal Theory explained by its founder 28:00 Bidirectionality: feedback between physiological state and mental state 32:00 Trauma, making ourselves numb, disassociation and turning off your body 35:00 Co-regulation VS co-exacerbation between individual and collective systems 40:30 Dan Siegal’s ‘window of tolerance’ 43:00 Error in thinking about trauma, of focusing on event and not on bodily reaction and feelings 45:30 Stephen’s new book ‘Polyvagal safety: attachment, communication, self-regulation’ 48:00 Physical and mental illness are the same, but medical professionals aren’t taught this 51:45 Vagal metrics to help explain ‘medically unexplained symptoms’ 57:00 Moving beyond Paul McLean’s outdated concepts of the Triune brain and the Limbic system 54:00 ‘Neural exercise’ (play and social interaction) should be a fundamental part of a healthy education 1:04:34 Being listened to is crucial to feeling safe 1:07:30 Voice cues for safety have been critical to man’s survival 1:07:40 The ‘Safe and Sound’ protocol for inducing clam and safety 1:12:00 Tools from Polyvagal theory for bypassing trauma triggers 1:13:45 Listen to your body don’t hack it. References and books mentioned:  Dr. Stephen Porges ‘The pocket guide to Polyvagal Theory: the transformative power of feeling safe?’ https://www.stephenporges.com/books Dr. Stephen Porges ‘Polyvagal safety: attachment, communication, self-regulation’ https://wwnorton.com/books/9781324016274 Dan Siegal’s ‘window of tolerance’ concept https://www.stmichaelshospital.com/pdf/programs/mast/mast-session1.pdf Stephenporges.com Polyvagalinstitute.org Safe and Sound protocol™ https://integratedlistening.com/porges/
01:19:34
May 31, 2021
Dr. Chris Fields - QUANTUM ENTANGLEMENT
What does entanglement actually mean? So in this episode we’re going to be trying to get our heads around one of the most extraordinary phenomena ever recorded in subatomic physics: Quantum Entanglement. Famously dismissed by Einstein as ‘Spooky action at a distance’, it has been proved to exist in the lab over and over again since then. This non-local phenomenon is when sub-atomic particles remain connected so that the physical properties of one will affect the other, no matter what the distance is between them. It’s been in the news a lot recently not only because it has been photographed by a team at the University of Glasgow, but also because of a host of successful so called ‘Teleportation’ experiments, in which entanglement has been used to send information instantaneously between two computer chips that have no causal connection between them whatsoever. I believe the implications of this non-local phenomenon are among the most important scientific discoveries of our time, most importantly to update our purely classical ‘cause-and-effect’ understanding of the world. But it also begs the question, through what medium is that information passing between those two entangled particles, if not through Space and over time? To help us get our heads around this mind-bending reality is theoretical Physicist Dr Chris Fields, an independent scientist interested in both the physics and the cognitive neuroscience underlying that human perception of matter in space and time. Chris began his career as an experimental physicist, obtained his Ph.D. in Philosophy of Science at the University of Colorado and was an early developer of automated DNA sequence analysis tools at the Human Genome Project. He has published over 130 peer reviewed papers in nuclear physics, artificial intelligence, molecular biology and cognitive psychology. What we discuss in this episode: 00:00 The Human Genome Project 07:00 What is Entanglement? 15:30 “Spooky action at a distance” 16:24 Einstein’s mission to remove non-locality from physics 20:00 Quantum theory challenges all classical intuitions 22:30 Re-think what we mean by locality 22:42 Is the intuition of separability false? 26:24 What Is spin? 29:12 The difficulty of using classical analogies for quantum concepts 31:06 The difference between quantities and qualities of information 35:00 John Wheeler and the way you ask questions changing the answers you get. 37:00 The interaction of information exchanging systems as a model for panpsychism 41:00 Hiding the distinction between Semantics and Syntax in information theory 43:36 Predictability VS Meaning 44:30 Observation is interaction 47:50 Is objectivity achievable? Intersubjective agreement. 50:00 The disaster of ‘Shut up and calculate’ 52:00 John Wheeler’s ‘Participatory Universe’ bridging the gap 53:00 Physical systems are question askers and answer receivers 54:00 Was Wheeler a panpsychist? Part 2: 58:00 The implications of Entanglement 1:02:00 What does it mean to give and receive information to and from the world? 1:10:00 Are the observer and the system they are interacting with not in fact one and the same thing? 1:17:00 La Place: Non-local forces like gravity imply that all the information about the system must be uniformly available to the whole system. 1:23:00 What effect will quantum understanding have on the general world view of society in the future? 1:28  Does Meditation lead to a non-separate world view? 1:34 Moving attention and interest away from the self References:  ‘Meditation if you’re doing it you’re doing it right’ Alison Tinsley and Chris Fields 
01:48:02
May 14, 2021
Dr. Mike Gazzaniga - THE LEFT BRAIN INTERPRETER
Do we realise we invent explanations?  In this episode we look at the extraordinary phenomena of the Left Brain Interpreter, in which a part of the left hemisphere tends to literally invent an explanation for something we’ve perceived or done based on past experience, sometimes in a completely mistaken way. This is a very important phenomena to our first series as we introduce the cognitive limits of our brains, as it shows just how tricky our so called rational mind can be, and begs questions about the authority and validity of our conscious faculties and how much is the result of previous bias. The most interesting part about this is that the subject has no idea cognitively that this is an invention and thinks that this is true information and not a deduction. But before we jump to any conclusions, in order to understand this properly we need to speak to a legend in the relatively young field of neuroscience, the person who actually discovered this phenomena in the first place, Dr Mike Gazzaniga.    He is the founder of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at both the University of California and Dartmouth College. He is also a proficient author of books for both the general public and the more specialised field. Some of his titles include: ‘The Ethical Brain’, ‘Who’s in Charge? Free will and the science of the brain’, and most recently, which we’ll be discussing today, ‘The Consciousness instinct: unravelling the the mystery of how the brain makes mind’.  He made is name in the field as one of the pioneers in split-brain research, which led to the bulk of his early work on what the functions of each hemisphere of the brain are, and and how the left and right hemispheres communicate with each other. So who better to answer our questions and doubts about this tricky area. He’s also, unlike many scientists who prefer to stick to hard observable evidence, not afraid to write about the ethics and philosophy of these discoveries.   What we discuss in this episode: 04:40 The ‘What the hell is going on?’ question. 09:23 The early split brain discoveries 15:44 The differences between the two hemispheres. 19:45 Mythbusting the Left and right brain. 22:54 The Left Brain Interpreter explained by its discoverer. 31:30 The connection between the interpreter and confirmation bias 34:00 Solutions through awareness of the interpreter, the difficulty of changing opinion 36:00 Facing the resistance of dogma in science 37:00 ‘How do we go from matter to mattering?’ 38:00 ‘The Consciousness instinct' 43:00 Complimentarity, the wave particle duality, Howard H Pattee and his paper ‘how does a molecule become a message?’ 48:00 Mike’s ‘babbling brook’ analogy for consciousness. 53:00 My theory of your consciousness is better than my theory of my own consciousness. 54:00 Free Will and personal responsibility Referenced in this episode: John Doyle at Caltech, Bioengineer, https://www.bbe.caltech.edu/people/john-c-doyle Howard H Pattee, Biologist and philosopher - How does a molecule become a message? https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279377526_How_Does_a_Molecule_Become_a_Message Nils Bohr - Complimentarity - complimentary features which can’t all be measured simultaneously https://www.britannica.com/science/complementarity-principle William James - The Conscious Whole Sebastian Seung - the Connectome https://www.ted.com/talks/sebastian_seung_i_am_my_connectome?language=en
01:02:30
April 30, 2021
Dr. Jon Butterworth - THE WAVE PARTICLE DUALITY
Wave or Particle?  So in this episode we have the interesting job of trying to get to the bottom of the famous mystery of the Wave Particle duality, and seeing if along the way we can’t bust a few myths about it. We’re also aiming to better understand whether Quantum mechanics can or can’t help us get closer to a complete theory of reality or not, and hopefully find out of it can give us some clues about how matter and consciousness are related. We’re also going to trace the developments and discoveries in Quantum Theory throughout its relatively young 100 or so year history. So who better to speak to about all this than physicist Dr Jon Butterworth one of Britain’s most experienced sub-atomic particle physicists and a professor who’s much loved for his gift of making physics accessible. Jon was born in Manchester but is currently a Professor of Physics at UCL in London and he’s worked for years a the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. He tells the story their long search for the Higgs Boson particle at CERN In his book ‘Smashing Physics’ if you’re interested. He often speaks publicly about particle physics, with some brilliant talks that you can find on Your Tube at the Royal Institution, and he also appears regularly on TV including the BBC’s Newsnight, Channel 4 and Al Jazeera. His new book ‘Atomland’, which we’ll be talking about came out in 2018. In this episode we discuss: 03:40 Jon’s book Atomland and the history of quantum mechanical discoveries throughout the 20th Century 05:00 High Frequency and high energy corresponds to higher resolution and allows you to see smaller things 07:40 Particles which, until now cannot be broken down into any smaller components, they’re provisionally fundamental 09:10 Gravity, space and time have still not been incorporated into the standard model of Quantum Mechanics 11:15 The Uncertainty Principle 17:40 The Wave Particle Duality Explained 22:30 Quantum Electro Dynamics, the Copenhagen interpretation and the inherent randomness in nature 28:20 James Clarke-Maxwell, Faraday, humility in the face of the unknown and different ideas of ‘clean’ maths and explanations changing over time 31:00 The Many Worlds Interpretation 33:15 the division between observer and observed and wave function ‘collapse’ 33:50 Schroedinger's Cat and the observer interfering in a system 41:00 The mathematical explanation of Quantum Field Theory; unpacking what we mean by waves and particles 42:20 Matter is energy 46:30 Working quantum level up rather than quantising down form the classical world 52:45 Jon’s opinion on the implications of the Wave Particle Duality 54:30 Jon’s response to famous quotes on consciousness by physicists 57:52 Wheeler’s ‘participatory universe’ and the things that are real are only definable relative to other things 59:30 Einstein’s ‘Wave function of the universe’ solution to the observer/observed paradox 1:02:30 Implications of Entanglement (See Episode #4 for the full episode on Entanglement and non-locality) References: Jon’s book Atomland https://lifeandphysics.com/a-map-of-the-invisible/ Jon’s Website www.lifeandphysics.com  Jon’s science blog on Cosmic Shambles https://cosmicshambles.com/words/blogs/jonbutterworth Jon’s Book Smashing physics https://lifeandphysics.com/smashing-physics/ Jon’s Youtube channel with all the Royal Institution talks and others: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcKio4sab2JCETsSAhy0Q6Q Richard Feynman’s book QED https://www.amazon.co.uk/QED-Strange-Theory-Penguin-Science/dp/0140125051
01:13:21
April 14, 2021
Dr. Susan Blackmore - THE HARD PROBLEM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Subjective or Objective?  In this Episode we’re going to be introducing one of the oldest and most talked about problems in philosophy, the problem of consciousness. Just how does our subjective experience as humans relate to our existence as human bodies with brains? For most of the 20th century you couldn’t really talk about this as a serious scientist without being laughed at and told to study something useful. But since the 90’s, with the advancement of MRI brain imaging in neuroscience, and the coining the term The ‘Hard Problem’ by funky philosopher David Chalmers, Consciousness studies have blossomed back into mainstream science.   To kick off the podcast with a bang, and explain the mystery that perhaps underlies all mysteries is psychologist and author and visiting Professor at Plymouth University, Dr Susan Blackmore. Best known for her books The Meme Machine, Zen and the Art of Consciousness, Consciousness: An Introduction, and Seeing Myself, Sue’s work spans across hundreds of publications in over 20 different languages, making huge contributions in the fields of psychology, memetics, religion, philosophy of mind, supernatural experience, and many other areas. It is no surprise to find her ranked amongst 2013’s 30 Most Influential Psychologists Working Today and 2015’s Top 100 Global Minds.   In this episode we discuss:  09:12 How do we define consciousness?   15:00 Is dualism an unrealistic position?   18:00 The Hard Problem explained   23:00 Sue’s Out of Body and ‘oneness with the universe’ experience   36:00 Explaining OBE’s biochemically   45:00 the importance of Body Schema   50:00 introducing the various theories of consciousness from materialism to idealism  51:00 Dan Dennet on consciousness  56:00 Illusionism: the belief that consciousness is an illusion   57:00 Galen Strawson and the attraction of panpsychism   58:00 the importance of the 'don’t know' mind for studying consciousness   1:05:00 Zen, the self and non-duality   1:14:00 What would a post-self society look like?   Books and References: Sue Blackmore - Consciousness - A very short introduction https://www.susanblackmore.uk/seeing-myself-2/ Sue Blackmore - Conversations on Consciousness https://www.susanblackmore.uk/conversations-on-consciousness/ Dan Dennett - Consciousness Explained https://www.amazon.it/Consciousness-Explained-Daniel-C-Dennett/dp/0316180661 Sue Blackmore - Zen and the Art of Consciousness https://www.susanblackmore.uk/ten-zen-questions-zen-art-of-consciousness/ Sue’s Son, illustrator for many of her books, Jolyon Troscianko http://www.jolyon.co.uk/
01:20:47
March 31, 2021
TRAILER - What's the Chasing Consciousness podcast all about?
See www.chasingconsciousness.net/episodes for the full program. Here host Freddy Drabble introduces what he'll be covering with his guests in the first 15 part series. Please subscribe and leave a rating and review if you like what you hear.
03:57
March 15, 2021