Our Virtual Universe/ 'Star Wars' & Culture

Hosted byGeorge Knapp

Our Virtual Universe/ 'Star Wars' & Culture

About the show

A remarkable discovery has emerged in astrophysics: key properties of the universe have just the right values to make life possible. Most scientists prefer to explain away this uniqueness, insisting that a number of unseen universes must therefore exist, each randomly different. Astrophysicist Bernard Haisch joined George Knapp in the first half of the show to propose the alternative—that the special properties of our universe reflect an underlying intelligent consciousness.

According to Haisch, consciousness is real, what we call reality is the illusion, and our virtual universe was created by a universal consciousness, or God, in order for it to have physical experiences. "If the great consciousness wanted to set itself up as an infinitely large computer it could possibly then generate a reality, or any reality it wanted to, and then enter into that reality to experience what it's like to be in that reality," he proposed.

Haisch pointed to the behavior of photons as evidence that our universe is running software programs. If you stand in a lighted room at night and look out a window, you'll notice a faint reflection of yourself in the glass, he explained, noting this is occurs because 4 percent of the photons get reflected back while the other 96 percent pass through the window. If not for some software program generated by a universal consciousness, how would these photons know what to do, he questioned. "We might look at reality as kind of a software problem rather than one of physics as we know it," he suggested. A virtual reality driven by computation would also explain why mathematics is so effective at describing the universe, he added.


In the second half of the program, veteran journalist Chris Taylor talked about how the Star Wars franchise has conquered our culture with a sense of lightness and exuberance, while remaining serious enough to influence politics, and spread a spirituality that appeals to religious groups and atheists alike. "It's still an open question whether there really is anyone on the planet who has not been touched in some way by [Star Wars]," he said, noting the time he was on a Navajo reservation and a group from the 501st Legion were welcomed as rock stars.

Taylor credited the creation of the space fantasy genre, to which Star Wars belongs, to author Edgar Rice Burroughs. George Lucas based Star Wars in part on the Flash Gordon serials from the 1930s, a character inspired by Buck Rogers and ultimately influenced by Burroughs' protagonist John Carter, he explained. Taylor spoke about how a car crash set Lucas on a new course to film school where he was part of generation of filmmakers, including Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and John Milius, who introduced him to the work of Akira Kurosawa.

Taylor touched on Lucas' creative process, his determination to perfect his script, and how he sold it to 20th Century Fox by appealing to classic Hollywood movies. He also talked about Lucas the shrewd businessman who negotiated all sequel rights and merchandising for his franchise, which have made an estimated $42 billion to date.


Relevant Books:

Related Articles:

George Knapp shares some online items that have recently caught his attention, including a piece on how current technology can be used to detect alien spaceships traveling at near light speeds, an article on the nature of dark matter, and a paper written by tonight's first half guest, Bernard Haisch, in which he proposes we exist in a virtual universe created by a great consciousness.

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