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discoveries of the twentieth century. While Relativity applies to large-scale structures like stars, planets, galaxies and the like, Quantum Mechanics applies to the realm of atoms and sub-atomic particles and combines three out of four forces of the universe. The two together can explain all events and phenomena except a few, but what they say about the subatomic particles, their interactions, celestial bodies and objective reality are bizarre and counterintuitive to say the least. To make sense of many observations and predictions of the two theories and understand frontiers of knowledge and technology, scientists rely first on mathematics, which is the language of the universe, and then reasoning based on scientific theories and experiments. In fact, understanding of modern scientific discoveries requires scientific bent of mind and more beyond the realm of sensory organs, which give us flawed information and perception. In order to learn recent advances in science and technology, it is necessary to understand how our brain processes reality and tricks us into believing reality based on partial information it can retrieve from the environment and its own assumption, which may be quite different from objective reality. Scientists say our brain deciphers limited information perceived by our five senses, which have limited ability to capture information from our surroundings. None of us perceives the world as it exists fundamentally. We cannot see through our senses either tiny bits of matter or the forces that move them. The visual image is inherently ambiguous; an image on the retina would be of the same size, be it a dwarf from close-up view or a giant from a distance. Although, the world captured by our visual system is ‘a game of two halves’, the brain fuses them together to make a single wide view. Our visual system is not a video camera. Our eye-lenses take still photographs in blocks several at a time of ½ to ¾ seconds duration and only a minimal amount of information is brought into the most densely packed photoreceptor center at the retina creating inverted images where there are 100 million photoreceptors. An additional defect of the human retina is that the ocular globe is at a place which is about 10-13 degrees on the nasal side of the retina, where there can be no photosensitive cells. The resulting "blind spot" is surprisingly large,
subtending a visual angle of about 3-5 degrees, which corresponds to the region obscured by a small orange held at arm's length. The small region known as the fovea is where the most precise light input is received. Other apparent defects of the retina are its severe non-uniformity. Moreover, saccadic eye movements create calamitous smearing and displacement of retinal images. Messages from thousands of photoreceptors are funneled into ganglion cells and then into various parts of the brain for processing. Neither the eyes nor the ears can take in every aspect of an object. The brain therefore fills in the blanks. Actual seeing is done by the brain, which takes incomplete and messy input and turns it into a meaningful and complete picture by supplementing additional information on the surroundings, purported to be drawn from a virtual 3-D image of the world created on a screen in the brain.
There are many other interesting things that the brain manipulates that help us maximize our chances of survival. Let me explain two aspect of our reality, which are related to our survival. One is perception of color and the other is music. The perception of color is clarified first. The key to color perception is the result of interactions of waves of radiation or photons of various wavelengths and orbiting electrons in matters or objects, in which photons alight. The human eye, and other eyes which are capable of perceiving "color", contain two different types of nerve endings, named for their shapes, rods and cones. Color is a construct of the brain; it is our brain's way of interpreting frequency variation, in the same way the pitch is our brain's way of interpreting the frequency variation of physical vibrations in the air interpreted by us as "sound". When red-frequency photons strike red-sensitive cones, our mind creates the color red in the constructed image; and so for green and blue-frequency photons. Thus our brains invent color as a way of interpreting frequency data. At the same time, the data gathered by photons across the entire spectrum striking rods in our eyes is mixed into the image and interpreted as brightness in the image. We use our computers in much the same way in imaging today; CT scans, geographic information, infrared interpretation, planetary scans, weather maps, satellite images etc. In the similar way, the brain interprets various frequencies of air vibration impinging on our ear drums as sound; some are interpreted as music and some noises. The perception of both color and music give us advantage for survival in that they sooth our senses, all nerves and ultimately the brain, which then releases good-feeling hormones like dopamine, serotonin etc. into the blood stream. Animals have different perspective of the reality. As for example, dogs see the surroundings only in black and white colors and vague hues of gray. The inadequacy of their color perception is compensated by their strong sense of odors or smells. Scientists say what we perceive as objective reality is in fact illusion. A new idea that is emerging states that the world we see is in fact a holographic view of the real world. I cite some visual illusions to make this point clear. Consider the optical illusion known as Kenizsa Triangle, in which three Pac-Man shapes sit at what could be the three corners of a triangle, their open mouths pointed inward. Everyone sees three white lines forming the triangle, but there are in fact no lines. A legend was circulated that many people saw ‘Satan’ in dust and smoke emanated from the World Trade Center, which collapsed on 9/11 after kamikaze attack on them. Stories abound that religious Christians on many occasions see Virgin Mary in potato chips and Jesus on an underpass wall. The news of gulping down of milk by Lord Ganesha, which was in circulation
for sometime, appeared real to many Hindu devotees. Similar stories related to other faiths also circulate. This is because the brain uses its cognitive structures to make sense of ambiguous or amorphous stimuli. All these stimuli emanate from a simple fact that most of the people believe there is a mind or soul and as such ghosts and other spirits exist in the physical world. No matter what neuroscientists assert that mind has no existence independent of the brain, we still think of our essence as mental, and of our mind as being independent of body.
The most difficult aspect of our ideas for many people to accept has been the notion that what we are consciously seeing is not what is in direct control of our visually guided actions. The idea seems to fly in the face of common sense. After all, our actions are themselves voluntary, apparently under the direct control of the will; and the will seems intuitively to be governed by what we consciously experience. Neuroscientists say human behaviors are nothing more than a product of biology and environmental stimuli and question our wisdom to believe in free will. I shall not dwell on the issue of free will more intensely, except citing a scientific investigation out of many already done and result published. A team led by John-Dylan Haynes of the Bernstein Center for computational neuroscience, Berlin scanned the brains of volunteers who held a button in each hand and were told to press one of the buttons at their free will whenever they asked to do so. The scientists could tell from the scans which hands participants were going to use as early as 10 seconds before the volunteers were aware that they made up their mind. All these are illustrated to make the point that our senses alone can only give us partial perception of the world around us, not the full account of the reality that exists.
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