Reality check.

October 29th, 2010

Quantum physics, Timothy Leary, the movie “The Matrix” and alternate realities all presented together in one short article had me, too, pondering: How real is our reality?

The latest ideas percolating around that question come from British physics genius Stephen Hawking and Caltech theoretical physicist Leonard Mlodinow. In their controversial new book, The Grand Design, they suggest there may be no single theory that unifies all of physics. They sum up their thoughts in an essay co-authored for this month’s Scientific American magazine, titled The (Elusive) Theory of Everything.

Hawking and Mlodinow conclude there is no theory-independent concept of reality. They have adopted instead a view they call model-dependent realism: the idea that a physical theory is a model (generally of a mathematical nature) with a set of rules that connect the elements of the model to observations.

The scientists illustrate this idea with goldfish swimming in a curved fishbowl: “Their view is not the same as ours from outside their curved bowl, but they could still formulate scientific laws governing the motion of objects they observe on the outside. For instance, a freely moving object that we would observe to move in a straight line would be observed by the goldfish to move along a curved path. The goldfish could formulate scientific laws from their distorted frame of reference that would always hold true and that would enable them to make predictions about the future motion of objects outside the bowl. If the goldfish formulated such a theory, we would have to admit the goldfish’s view as a valid picture of reality.”

According to Hawking and Mlodinow, it might be that to describe the universe we have to employ different theories in different situations. Each theory, they write, may have its own version of reality, but, according to model-dependent realism, that diversity is acceptable, and none of the versions can be said to be more real than any other.

I think it’s exciting that ideas about physical reality are being reconsidered. These two renowned physicists asked “How do we know that the reality we perceive is true?” Now I wonder… is it so unreal to imagine that they or any other scientist may someday be asking if we create the reality we perceive?

Forces of nature.

October 26th, 2010

If the subject is about energy, physics or the laws of nature, I’m interested. And that holds true for even the lighter side of such weighty topics. So I got a kick out of artist Christoph Niemann’s take on what he calls the “Unpopular Science” in yesterday’s New York Times. I think you’ll enjoy it, too.

The why.

October 15th, 2010

Two phone calls on the same day this week from two of my most respected friends and colleagues about the same subject led to some lively discussion and inspired, personal thought. The subject: Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, probably the most important business book ever written. (See Brain Food posting dated July 30, 2010.)

The question that excites us so much is not how the people described in Hill’s book became famously successful leaders, but why they succeeded. Why them and not others in their field with, perhaps, more education and more resources?

Hill would say it was the “secret” he learned at a young age from Andrew Carnegie. The secret he mentions in every chapter of “Think and Grow Rich,” but doesn’t directly name. It’s the “magic formula” to which Carnegie attributed his tremendous wealth; the one he believed should be taught in all public schools and universities.

The hundreds of successful people Hill interviewed all had a desire to succeed. They had a definite purpose and practical plans to achieve their vision. But what else?

One of the aforementioned conversations this week resulted in an exchange of another TEDTalk video titled How Great Leaders Inspire Action. This one’s by Simon Sinek, author of last year’s Start with Why. After watching this presentation, I think you’ll agree it was worth your time.

And then, when you’re ready, I’d be interested to hear about the why that’s propelling your success. Why not, Wright? I mean, right?

Hero Talk.

October 8th, 2010

Thin is in, according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences who this week awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics to a pair of Russian-born scientists for their investigative work on a revolutionary ultra-thin, super-strong material called graphene. While I’m impressed with what these two physicists achieved at the University of Manchester in England, the comment I enjoyed most in The New York Times coverage of the win was that their creation “originated in what Dr. Geim and Dr. Novoselov call ‘Friday evening’ experiments, crazy things that might or might not work out.”

Now these two have ideas! And I imagine their approach to accomplishment is the same as anyone’s who is successful. They study, they plan, they experiment, and they create. And it begins with something in their minds. In other words, they thought of a possibility, they knew what they wanted to accomplish, and they focused their energy on creating it.

The day before the Nobel Prize in Physics announcement, the astute people at Napoleon Hill Foundation reminded me how well the field of science illustrates the principles of success. Their example: Thomas A. Edison, who is said to have failed 10,000 times before developing the first commercially practical light bulb. According to Edison, he had first found only 10,000 ways it wouldn’t work. He believed every wrong attempt discarded was another step forward. To Edison, real labor was thinking, and he refused to quit until he succeeded.

Breakthroughs – scientific or otherwise – occur everyday because a determined person is focused powerfully on a purpose, and works consistently and persistently to achieve it.

“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”   —Thomas Edison

Studying the brain from the inside out.

October 1st, 2010

The human brain is perhaps the most complex structure we know. And while the idea that we use only 10 percent of our brains is nothing more than a myth, there is truth to us understanding only about 10 percent of how the brain functions.

“Evidence would show over a day you use 100 percent of the brain,” says John Henley, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. So how do we make the most of our brains’ energy? How do we tap into and harness the energies of our own consciousness to create more expansive, highly satisfying and successful experiences?

After my post last week on studies of brain activity in effective leaders and the qualities associated with leadership success, I pulled up a relevant TED Talks video. It’s neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor’s presentation of what she experienced and learned when a blood clot interrupted the functioning of her brain’s left hemisphere. She calls it a “stroke of insight.”

When she realizes what’s happening, she admits thinking how “cool” it was. Because, as she puts it, “How many brain scientists get the opportunity to study the brain from the inside out?”

Information comes to us in the form of energy streams through all of our sensory systems. And how provocative that the internal world of our brain’s right hemisphere focuses on the spaciousness and power of the present moment. Now those simple ideas are not only worth spreading, they’re ideas each of us can use right now to create more satisfying, fulfilling and successful lives. Thanks, TED.