Time to Get Real – The Riddle of Perception

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, Murali Doraiswamy, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina and Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH); Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Chapman University

When you give a red rose to your beloved on Valentine’s Day, you have every right to say, “I made this for you.” All the qualities that a rose possesses – its velvety texture, lush red color, even its thorns – are real to us because our perception makes them real. Photons of light have no color, only frequencies and wavelengths. The point of a thorn has no sharpness. The scent of a rose isn’t sweet when seen merely as airborne molecules. The reality of these specific qualities is tied to us. The brain processes electrochemical signals sent from photoreceptors in the eye to “create” the color red. Skin encapsulated mechanosensory receptors send electrochemical signals that reassure us of a solid “material” world, but the prick of a thorn is created by our brain. Indeed we now know that the brain takes into account a number of factors to choose how much pain to create; varying any one of these factors can affect how prickly the same thorn is. (more…)

Feel Like a Butterfly, See Like a Bee? – The Mystery of Perception

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, Murali Doraiswamy, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina and Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH); Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Chapman University

In any collection of quotes by Albert Einstein, one of the most intriguing is this: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Anyone who is interested in going beyond the illusion to find a more satisfying reality would pay attention, but in actuality we all have made ourselves comfortable with the illusion that convinces us. Even physicists, who know with certainty that seemingly solid objects are actually constructed of invisible energy clouds, treat tables, chairs, and cars stalled in traffic like solid, tangible things. Quantum mechanics has shown for more than 80 years now that the perceived reality of hard objects that senses give us is an illusion. (more…)

Feel Like a Butterfly, See Like a Bee? – The Mystery of Perception

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, Murali Doraiswamy, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina and Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH); Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Chapman University. (more…)

Can Reality Set Us Free? The Puzzle of Complementarity (Part 2)

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, FRCP, Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Neil Theise, MD, Professor, Pathology and Medicine, (Division of Digestive Diseases) Beth Israel Medical Center — Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Chapman University

Reality has gone into a strange, dark place – quite literally. Historically, quantum physics and the theory of relativity are responsible for demolishing the familiar world presented to us by the five senses.  It first dismantled things we take for granted, such as solid objects, fixed linear time, and straightforward cause and effect. Now in its second century, the quantum model in particular has become even more unsettling. The universe, allegedly, is 96% dark matter and energy, which reduces the visible world to a thin mist dispersed unevenly through the unknown, unseen “real” reality. (more…)

Can Reality Set Us Free? The Puzzle of Complementarity

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, FRCP, Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Neil Theise, MD, Professor, Pathology and Medicine, (Division of Digestive Diseases) Beth Israel Medical Center — Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Chapman University (more…)