Archive for the ‘Cosmic Wonder’ Category

Neuroleadership Summit 2008: Quantum Mechanics Dates Neuroscience!

October 29, 2008

The Platform: NeuroLeadership Summit 2008: Opening Keynote Address

The Twitter: WOW!!!!!!Quantum Mechanics Dates Neuroscience and finds an attractive mate!!!!!!

The Big Idea: Attention Changes the Brain as understood from the standpoint of Quantum Mechanics….

Yawzaa! Talk about brain training for neuro-leaders at the quantum level!!!! The first night of the NeuroLeadership Summit 2008 in New York City has blown everyone’s mind with a turbo charged presentation by Jeffrey Schwartz, M.D., UCLA and his mentor, the visionary Quantum Physicist and Author Henry Stapp. Schwartz, who appears to nearly jump out of his skin with enthusiasm when speaking, uses baseball metaphors for delivering “fast balls” on the question of “attention” in Q.M.   Schwartz’s key point? Bringing neuroscience and Q.M. together in a unified field theory over-rides the inadequacies of Newtonian physics in coming up with plausible mathematical formula and explanation has to how we can observe and understand, with reasonable veracity, the movement of large bodies, like the human body.

The nearly two-hour presentation called for a deep deep think on the part of this observer and begs for a gorgeous visual map to point to the multiple vectors of interrelated ideas. Forgive me then, in this brief period of online time to outline the team’s main points concerning a new way to discuss neuroplasticity to an audience focused on the question of leadership, be it in business, education, government or related areas of human learning and enterprise:

1. The Marriage of Quantum Mechanics with Neuroscience: The marriage challenges the Newtonian model of physics, which leaves out the role of the observing agent, the agent that poses questions about the phenomenal world. In the Newtonian model, there is a purposeful blindness imposed upon the role the observer and his or her tools of observation play in influencing the inquiry and observation… hence, the Newtonian science of refutation and double-blind experiments.

2. The Role of Interactivity between the Observer and the Observed: The Neuro-Q.M. theory takes off the self-imposed empirical blinders and moves the question of information gathering and observation to address the interactive aspect of inquiry and observation.  In this model, interactivity between “the observer and the observed” helps to create the potential answer to the question posed. Sound familiar, somanauts?

3. Invoking Attention Density and the Executive Action Template create the conditions for interactivity of the observer with the observed.

Definitions first:

What is Attention Density? Distinct from “concentration,”  attention density involves repetition of attention, as in learning a new skill, like learning to swim, learning to read,  learning to eat only one piece of chocolate,  or even learning to recover from a stroke!

What is the Executive Action Template: This term refers to the executive functions — analytic difference detecting, syllogistic reasoning and decision making — correlated with activity in the Pre Frontal Cortex of the human brain.

Schwartz and Stapp argue for the role of the “impartial observer” — the observer who uses “attention” — and this is important —  specifically, the repetition of attention plus the engagement of intentional executive action to pose questions in an interactive fashion with the phenomenal world and thus discover/create a possible answer to the questions posed.

In other words, for Schwartz and Stapp claim Attention Density and Executive Action are said to be the two determining factors in creating the conditions for the impartial observer and the conditions for the moment probability collapses into a unit of possibilty or “an answer.” Now there is a complex Q.M. theory of how this actually works and I’ll leave it to you dear readers to start doing your own interactive search to learn about the necessary correlation between “attention density” and the “collapse function” in Q.M.

The implications for Neuro Leaders? Schwartz and Stapp point to a radical and “rational” rethinking of leadership and organizational systems models by suggesting:

1) The lessons of neuroplasticity: One can now acknowledge the fact of neuroplasticity — the brain creates the mind and the mind creates the brain — and how it is generated and conditioned by asking questions, by being curious, by the act of paying repeated attention, by making inquiry, by learning and sharing information;

2) Bottom Up Flow of Information: By recognizing the Neuro-Q.M. theory of probability, one can begin to value bottom up information flow.  Workers are not mindless cogs in a machine but rather brain/mind attentive information “workers.” (To better understand the bottom up theory of info flow, check out Steven Johnson’s EMERGENCE: a great study for neuro leaders who wish to take lessons from developing ant colonies, developing cities, developing brains and open systems software practices!)

3) Neuro leadership is hall-marked by invoking a brain based/quantum understanding of the role of attention, interactivity and decision-making in all aspects of human performance.  The Schwartz/Stapp model encourages us to take seriously the interactive possibilities of the brain in relation to the interactive possibilities posed by the use of our other research tools, be it a gene splicer, a sub-atomic particle accelerator.

There is so much more to say but time is running out. Let it be noted that the ghost of dualism clearly plagued the presentation as did the mechanistic semantics of Newtonian physics, e.g., Stapp referring to humans as machines.

‘Oi Vey.’ I will take that one on in another blog.

More tomorrow. Until then, attentive breath be with you!

Dr. G.

TED Day 2: How to Create and Destroy Planet Earth in One Easy Lesson

February 29, 2008

Garrett Lisi, Physicist TED2008 Day 2: Is Beauty TruthIt’s been a long, challenging day at TED — one that followed from the euphoria of the greatly anticipated opening. By challenge I mean that by posing the Big Questions concerning life on Planet Earth (and beyond), TEDsters in Monterey and Aspen were asked to consider the full, complex span of biotech probabilities that point to some of greatest achievements acribed to the human race: Craig Venter’s newest venture in synthetic probability, Cal Tech’s Paul Rothemund’s study of self-assembly approaches to molecular computation and Garrett Lisi’s aesthetic “theory of everything” that may open the doors to seeing more fundamental particles of life. Surely the stunning insights allowed by computation in all three ventures are matched in turn by dark, hellish views of biotech abuse. The afternoon focused on that abuse, drawing speakers into a response to the question “Will Evil Prevail?” (see TED conference list of talks).Philip Zimbardo, Social Psychologist, TED 2008, Day 2: Will Evil Prevail?

There was a self styled pragmatism that over-ruled conceptual analysis in these talks, leading speakers like Irwin Redlener to offer brief historical overviews and a recipe for surviving nuclear attacks. Phil Zimbardo’s analysis of “evil” or what he calls “the Lucifer effect” however managed to penetrate the social theories of evil, demonstating with photos from Abu Ghraib, the line “normal” people cross to commit crimes of power and sadism when pushed into high stress states.

Somewhere between complex systems analysis of synethic life and stats on nuclear war heads, we entertained the “innate” power and truth of “beauty.” For those of us engaged in the professional practice of art and art criticism, the discussions were philosphically thin (not an unfair comment given the session was reaching back into Platonic questions). They were also diasppointing, especially Thomas Kren’s patriarchal parade of artistic genius (with one mention only of a female, Vanessa Beecroft) and his survey of Guggenheim spawns. Where Krens argued the Guggenheim sought to demonstrate a new paradigm of a museum, it seems his global outreach to Singapore, Taichung, and Abu Dhabi looked more like a 21st century viral expression of an old model of public exhibition space: the Kunsthalle.

More tomorrow on the prize winners and Day 3

Greetings from TED Aspen 2008

February 28, 2008

M. A. from L. A. blogging from TEDAspen 2008As promised, I’m writing from TED Aspen after a roaring first day! You can read more about the first day line up on the TED website/blog section (, but here are my comments for the day:

You can imagine how pleased I am to be amongst a group of keen pattern recognizers and visionary conceptualizers (corporate “belief monks” opines one TEDster) for 4 days!!! And you might guess how lucky I felt to witness Day I presentations by the likes of palentoanthropologist Louise Leakey (of the esteemed Leakey family!), neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor (former stroke victim) spiritual teacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, expert (comedian) John Hodgman, particle physicist Patricia Burchat and palentologist Peter Ward show how the micro is connected to the macro, the brain to the mind, the breath to non-violence, the indeterminate universe to Sheherazad like story telling (with tongue firmly planted in cheek)… and the human to other uprights standing great apes! A brilliant orchestration of ideas, shared by a brilliant roster of people sharing their research and gifts.2297169223_5669507e8a.jpgJill Bolton Taylor, neuroanatomist, TED 2008, Day 1: Who Are WeSri Sri Ravi Shankar, spiritual teacher, The Art of Living, TED 2008, Day 1: What is our place in the universe?

John Hodgman, Expert (geek celebrity), TED 2008 Day 1: What is our place in the universe?

Patricia Burchat, Particle physicist, TED 2008 Day 1: What is our place in the universe?

Peter Ward, Paleontologist, TED 2008, Day 1: What is our place in the universe?

I saw a pattern in the talks: drawing on ancient technologies and survival skills to survive our present, whether it’s knowing the size of the skull of our African homonid forbearers or learning to exploit our “reptitilian potential” to produce H2S to survive possible great cosmic catastrophes! And of course, the ancient practice of developing elegant neuroplasticity and restoration of the body/mind by means of breathing practice and ritual. Talks by Anthropologist Wade Davis, Jill Bolton Taylor and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar gave heartfelt, intelligent presentations on how we can balance our understanding of our minds, ourselves and the complex world in which we live by engaging awareness of breath, ritual and the right hemisphere of our brains!2297169283_d0811cb35a.jpg

Smart Education? Comedic interludes (John Hodgman) and mind-blowing, poly rhythmic riffs and slides by Guitarist Kaki King. Kaki King, Guitarist, TED 2008 Day 1: What is our place in the universe?This is definitely education for the future!

Tomorrow I will offer to teach cellular respiration (one of the many restorative practices basic SpaceSuit Yoga) to the TEDsters during our breaks. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will be offering meditation sessions at TED in Montery.

Stay tuned!

Zoom zoom,

DR. G.
Wednesday 11:07 p.m, Aspen Colorado