brian greene joe rogan

The Mysteries of the Universe – Brian Greene on The Joe Rogan Experience #1428

Key Takeaways

  • “You, I, and everybody else—we’re just bags of particles that are governed by physical law”Brian Greene
  • “The vital distinguishing feature of our species: we can reflect on the past, we can think about the future, and we can recognize that we’re not going to be here in the future” Brian Greene
  • “We’ve been programmed by evolution not to understand the true nature of the world; we’ve been programmed by evolution to survive, and those are two radically different propositions” Brian Greene
  • Meaning and purpose come from people, not a higher being
    • “You, I, and everybody else—we manufacture our own meaning; we manufacture our purpose. And how much better is it that we come up with our meaning, compared to having it bestowed or forced upon us by some external entity?” – Brian Greene
  • A near-infinite number of quantum events had to take place for you and this moment to exist; celebrate this fact

Intro

  • Brian Greene (@bgreene) is a theoretical physicist, mathematician, and string theorist
    • He’s been a professor at Columbia University since 1996 and chairman of the World Science Festival since co-founding it in 2008
  • Host: Joe Rogan (@joerogan

Books Mentioned

Pondering the Universe (And Stars)

  • Joe is currently reading Brain’s new book, Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe
    • The book talks about the universe’s beginnings, the origins of consciousness, free will, and the fate of the universe looking forward
  • Entropy (a measurement of dis-order) will continue to rise, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have pockets of order
    • For instance: “Stars are pockets of order that naturally form, but as they form, they increase the entropy of their surroundings” – Brian Greene
  • Earth’s star (the sun) is around one million times larger than Earth
  • “You, I, and everybody else—we’re just bags of particles that are governed by physical law”Brian Greene
    • It’s spectacular when one thinks about it: the collection of particles that can make a water bottle can also make a human being
      • “Particles can do miraculous things” – Brian Greene

Humans: The Only Species Aware of The Future

  • “The vital distinguishing feature of our species: we can reflect on the past, we can think about the future, and we can recognize that we’re not going to be here in the future” Brian Greene
  • An awareness of our mortality is one of the driving factors behind many things humans do; The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker covers this topic in detail
    • One insight from the book: People attempt to deal with death by creating something that lives longer than themselves 
  • It’s not just humans that are going to die; it’s every structure in the universe!
    • In the far future (10^38 years), eventually, every proton will disintegrate, causing all complex structures to far apart
  • “We’ve been programmed by evolution not to understand the true nature of the world; we’ve been programmed by evolution to survive, and those are two radically different propositions” Brian Greene
    • Further: “You don’t need to know the true nature of reality to survive”

What Happened Before the Big Bang?

  • There are two possible answers:
    • 1) It’s possible that other areas of space had already existed—the Big Bang created only our small section of the universe 
      • “What happened before the Big Bang was a lot of other big bangs, or a lot of other quantum events that were taking place in a larger landscape of reality” – Brian Greene
    • 2) It’s possible that nothing existed before the Big Bang; the occurrence was the start of everything we know today
      • “It could be that the Big Bang was the place where time itself started” – Brian Greene
  • What caused the Big Bang? – Repulsive gravity
    • “The bang of the Big Bang may have been a spark of repulsive gravity operating within a tiny region of space that pushed everything apart” – Brian Greene

Two Thoughts to Ponder

  • The universe is expanding faster over time, not slower
  • It’s possible that there are other realms that duplicate ours/are slightly different
    • This isn’t science fiction; mathematics shows it’s at least possible duplicate realms exist 

People Love Heroes

  • People are fascinated with heroes because they rise above mere mortals to accomplish great feats; Joseph Campbell explores this idea further in his books, The Power of Myth and The Hero with a Thousand Faces
  • The same hero archetypes and journey storylines tend to exist in all cultures:
    • The hero firsts resist the call to greatness
    • Then, they enter into the extraordinary world, overcome a variety of challenges, and earn a treasure or discover a piece of wisdom
    • Finally, they return home to share their reward 

Consciousness & Meaning

  • What is consciousness?
    • “Consciousness is nothing more than the choreographed motion of particles inside the various quantum states—inside a gloppy gray structure that sits inside this thing that we call a head” Brian Greene
      • Many well-respected scientists believe that protons, electrons, and quarks are conscious particles, and that, by coming together, they create consciousness (although Brain doesn’t agree with this hypothesis)
  • Meaning and purpose come from people, not a higher being
    • “You, I, and everybody else—we manufacture our own meaning; we manufacture our purpose. And how much better is it that we come up with our meaning, compared to having it bestowed or forced upon us by some external entity?” – Brian Greene

Science & Religion

  • Science is much more of a collective effort than an individualistic one (very few individual scientists discover world-changing breakthroughs)
  • “Quantum mechanics is responsible for something like 35% of the gross national product, roughly speaking”Brian Greene
  • Why hasn’t Earth been visited by other beings?
    • Perhaps it’s because humans are so young and underdeveloped that alien lifeforms don’t find Earth interesting
  • A near-infinite number of quantum events had to take place for you and this moment to exist; celebrate this fact
  • Not every top scientist is an atheist; many are religious
    • Brian calls The Varieties Of Religious Experience: A Study In Human Nature by William James one of the most rational books about religion; he thoroughly enjoyed it
    • Even atheist scientists, such as Brian Greene and Richard Dawkins, sometimes behave religiously:
      • One time, Richard refused to sleep in a house that was haunted
      • Brian will frequently pray in times of crisis
  • “Having a conversation with somebody who has a religious perspective is deeply interesting” – Brian Greene
    • Although Brian’s an atheist, he’s attended several religious events in the past and finds them quite fascinating
  • It’s possible that religion was invented as an evolutionary advantage—religion bonds strangers together and encourages cooperation among large groups of people

Additional Notes

  • The educational system only teaches kids how to take exams—it flattens their curiosity
    • Students only care about knowing enough to get good grades; they often forget what they’ve learned after the test is over
  • Brian’s interest in mathematics was spawned at just 5-years old
    • Eventually, Brian went on to study physics at Harvard University and receive a Ph.D. from Oxford
  • “The moment to moment of anything you do is a grind” Brian Greene
  • Visualization is undoubtedly an important ingredient for success, but definitely not the main one; don’t believe in movies like The Secret
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Notes By Alex Wiec

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