The Brain & Music / Sci-Fi & Science

Hosted byGeorge Noory

The Brain & Music / Sci-Fi & Science

About the show

In the first half, brain researcher Neil Slade discussed different aspects about how the mind interacts with music. The fine hairs in the cochlea part of the inner ear sends electrical signals to the brain stem, which travels to the temporal lobe and other structures, where it's recognized as music or sound. The way music is processed in the human brain is very complex, and is even connected to sight, Slade detailed. The Mozart Effect-- the idea that listening to classical music by a pregnant mother will increase the intelligence of her child is somewhat of an urban myth, he reported. Yet, studies have found that 10-year-old children who learned to play a musical instrument such as the violin showed improvements in visual and spacial skills, as well as math, he added.

Slade conducted his own experiment (see related video) with 65 adults listening undisturbed on headphones to a special piece of music he designed. Over a one-month period, 78% of the participants reported high levels of unusual non-sensory and paranormal perception while listening to the music, including communications with deceased relatives, precognition, and heightened emotional states. He also touched on how people like to hear a certain unpredictability in music, and how their brain states can become synchronized with each other when at a musical concert.


In the latter half, Professor of Physics, Charles L. Adler, spoke about his lifelong love of science fiction and fantasy and how it relates to real science. Sometimes authors have been very prescient about the future, other times not so accurate. In "The Mote in God's Eye," a 1974 novel by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven, they wrote about a pocket-sized device in which you could access any information, essentially predicting the modern cell phone, Adler noted. The author, Olaf Stapledon, wrote sci-fi novels in the 1920s and 30s that were amazing in scope, and one of them, Star Maker, was the first to propose what has become known as a Dyson sphere-- a hypothetical megastructure that captures energy from a star, he continued.

Science fiction has delved into time travel, and the Theory of Relativity seems to allow for this as a possibility. Theoretical physicist Kip Thorne has explored the concept of using wormholes for interstellar travel, and in doing so, he realized that traveling faster than the speed of light implies the ability to travel back in time. But Thorne said you'd need some form of "exotic matter" that is like antigravity in order to travel through a wormhole and keep it from collapsing unto itself, Adler recounted. He also commented on such topics as alien visitation, multiverses, and exoplanets.

News segment guests: Jim Berkland, James Sanders

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