Tuesday 12 December 2017
1.00 – 2.30 pm
Phone interview with Prof. Dato Mazlan Othman.
The following is a transcript of my phone interview with Dato Mazlan Othman, an astrophysicist who is currently the Director of Akademi Sains Malaysia. I have known her since late 1990s when I was roped into her 'Alami: Science-inspired Art' series. It was a unique platform where scientists and artists worked together in sharing their reflections and expressions on a common theme. We managed to actualize 3 series. It was one of the most memorable experiences for me. In fact it partly re-affirmed my interest in converging the arts and sciences, left and right brain, knowledge of the mind and of the heart in a symbiotic relation.
I asked her to casually share her experiences and knowledge on several quantum phenomena and interpretations.
Here are her casual spoken replies:
1. Observer-centred reality
“Ok, this refers to the idea that we create our own reality at any one point of time. It is a part of the Uncertainty Principle. What this means is that if you measure one element, for example the position of an electron, it is difficult to estimate its velocity. Measuring one element upsets the other element. Electron can be anywhere, and you can’t exactly point where it is. Physicists are very aware of this. The implication is that our measurement cannot be absolute because one measurement can upset the other. In other words, the observer influences the result of observation. It leads to the idea of an observer-centred reality.”
2. Multi-level, multi-dimensional universe and extra dimensions
“We can refer to the theory of multiverse. This is not a philosophical theory. To understand where this theory came from, we have to go back to the creation of our Universe itself. Out of a sea of quantum foam or fluctuation, where there could be infinite numbers of events that could happen, appeared one Universe which is ours. So, there is no reason to deny that there are other universes being created all the time, beyond our ability to observe them. Our Universe is also referred to by physicists as a Designer’s Universe to explain the precise, carefully-designed cosmic events and well-defined parameters needed to form a life supporting planet like ours. If there was even a tiny change in the parameters, life as we know, would not exist. All these cosmic events cannot happen randomly. They imply the existence of a Designer. A Designer’s Universe means that our Universe was specially-designed so that it will support life like ours. Now, if the physical parameters in the Universe were just a little bit different, we cannot exist. And that different could be so small that it is almost unthinkable that this would have happened just randomly. If you put together all the very precise and well-defined parameters that have come together, it’s unlikely that they would just happen randomly. This is the philosophy of a lot of people, and therefore ……that our Universe was carefully designed by a Creator right from the beginning of the Big Bang so that it will lead to our creation and support human existence."
"But, the physicists of different views say that because the Universe began with a quantum fluctuation, then that means any numbers of Universes can be initiated at any one time. There could be infinite numbers of Universes that have been created in 13.4 billion years ago. So the argument is like this. If we can have, say….five hundred million or one thousand million or a billion million Universes in existence right now, then the chances are very high that one of those Universes would have all the parameters that are needed to support life. It doesn’t have to be designed by a Creator. It arises out of quantum fluctuation which can happen at any number of times. And there would have been in 13.4 billion years ago, one Universe, which happened to have all the parameters that eventually led to human existence. And because of this, they say that, ummm, in order to explain why the Universe was so carefully-designed or have these parameters is because one of those huge numbers of Universes existed. This is to overcome the argument that God created Universe lah, our Universe. They said, no-no, not God, not one Creator created us, He created many Universes, and one of those Universes happened to be 100% perfect for us. This means that there must be another Universe in this multiverse that is perfect for another kind of life, which we don’t know about. Ok, so this is to talk about multiverse. So in actual fact, it has a scientific rationale why people talk about multiverse."
"Now, how do you explain multi-dimension when we are living in a four dimensional world? So we find it inconceivable. But just imagine this yaa, if you think why is it that we cannot see everything? There could be more dimensions. But we are not aware of them. So it’s about our consciousness. Our own everyday experience we cannot see these dimensions. Ummm.. The theory is that these dimensions are folded in, into themselves, and you cannot experience them unless you are in this quantum field. Any elementary particle can see these other dimensions, which we cannot."
3. Inter-connectivity, Universal Quantum Connection and Single Unified Field of Intelligence.
"Ok, I’m not going to talk about this ‘single unified field of intelligence’ because I know nothing about it. But it is ok. You can relate to what I’m going to say to you to that. It’s just I don’t know enough about it. But let me tell you about this interconnectivity. Now, physicists have found that particles seem to be conscious of each other. This is what we call quantum entanglement. So if you are going to look for words in physics to understand better, you look up quantum entanglement. So you know what this means is that it seems that electrons or protons are conscious of each other. The communication between them exceeds the speed of light. So what is the communication, we don’t know. We call it quantum entanglement because things are happening at the quantum level. Of course some people call this consciousness."
"The opposite of inter-connectivity is separateness. Separateness has to do with the weakness of our mind. It is much easier to look at one thing and focus on it, rather than seeing the inter-connectivity. It has to do with the philosophy of learning. We have been brought up in a very rigid educational system. We need to encourage integration by design, not by accident. What I mean by design is that we need to sit down to see how the sciences can work with the arts. This has to be done on policy-making level, and it can’t be one-sided. I can see pockets of efforts where philosophy and science can meet."
4. Quantum brain
" "We are not just our body, or biology. We have consciousness. I am always interested in brain studies, to know more about what happens in our brain. It is interesting to ask what happens to our consciousness when we die. We do not yet understand everything about the brain. For example, what does it mean when we say natural intelligence? Now we have quantum computing. When you talk about Artificial Intelligence or A.I, you need to touch on consciousness and quantum computing. Can A.I have emotion? To say that A.I cannot have emotion is pre-emptive to the possibilities of A.I."
5. Complimentary forces. Polarity and spiralling vortex
"They relate to physicists’ understanding of the forces in our physical world. The combination of the wind, gravity and temperature gives us vortex. Now with digital technology, these forces can be visualized, thus providing us with visual description to compliment equations."
6. Microcosm and macrocosm
"We can look at climate change as an example. We are a part of the macrocosm of the planet. What we do will affect the planet’s temperature, the sea level, the climate. Even the CERN is going deep into the notion of consciousness to help us understand the world better."
7. Higher Consciousness
"I think this is more to do with our heart, our soul in searching to answer higher or deeper questions about who we are. Knowledge alone cannot give the answer. The truth can only be found in our hearts, our souls."
8. Geometry and the language of harmony
"Geometry is a mathematical expression and description of the physical space. One way to describe space is through geometry. It’s a mathematical tool."
Thank you so much Dato.