THE VIRTUAL LIFE-AFTER-DEATH FILES HIDING IN YOUR HEAD

Reference & Education

  • Author Kenneth Shotwell
  • Published June 28, 2021
  • Word count 3,202

Converging scientific research suggests that our naturally archived cognizance data may be perpetually accessible.

Imagine that you are the most fantastically talented designer, programmer, and builder in all of history. You have just completed your most ambitious project, let's say, the entire universe(s), and among your myriad accomplishments is your masterpiece, the human brain; the most complex machine in the known universe. In addition, your company policy is the conservation of energy and mass; you prefer to waste nothing. Knowing that the brain would store memories, self-awareness, accomplishments, and hard-won lifetime experiences, would you not want to store that individual-specific information safely and permanently? How would one go about that task?

The most efficient and elegant solution to that task of storing a lifetime of data would be a separate back-up system, so to speak; a safe and reliable data back-up system so precious that it requires storage in a sort of virtual bomb shelter which is impervious to destruction, the passage of time, or clinical death. Information storage in another dimension(s) is an attractive option. Therein lies one of the underlying themes of this discussion, which must unavoidably borrow from the realms of neuroscience, mathematics, physics, philosophy, psychology, cosmology, and common sense.

A natural storage process for a lifetime of data can be broken down into five sequential segments:

  1. EXPERIENCES. We experience something during our life; a thought, a car accident, a wedding, an aroma.

  2. MEMORIES. Our brain turns that occurrence into a memory. More on that later, appropriately referenced.

  3. STORAGE. Our brain then stores that information along with all of our other life experiences. Much more on that later, heavily referenced!

  4. DEATH. Inevitably, both the body and the brain die.

  5. ACCESS. It will be suggested that the data stored in item 3 above can feasibly still exist and be accessed after death. (If you concur with items 2 and 3 above, then the existence of, and access to, such data would appear to be the inherent goal rather than an obstacle to be overcome.) Obviously, some of the above topics are familiar and factual; others require, not so much a leap of faith, but perhaps just a better understanding of how our brain functions.

For those readers who have not quite connected the dots thus far, we are talking about virtual consciousness after death... an afterlife, or more accurately, an after-cognizance, if you prefer... a concept embraced by many religions in some form or other. This writing is not meant to challenge nor encourage any belief; it simply presents a logical and currently substantiable string of natural neuronal processes. Your author has an engineering and fine art background, a talent for visualization in three dimensions, and the unremarkable ability to incorporate other researchers' work into a logically written paper; I am merely a messenger. Let's look more closely at the five topics above, one by one.

  1. EXPERIENCES

If you are reading this, you have had experiences. The important ones seem indelibly etched into our brains; loss of a loved one, your first kiss, learning to drive a car. The less important experiences seem to be filtered out regularly and relegated to the "irrelevant" file in our brain [1]. We know this from experience, since we do not remember what we had for lunch 3 weeks ago, but we do remember our birth date.

  1. MEMORIES

Numerous publications address the dynamics surrounding the neurons' ability to synthesize a memory along with groups or cliques of other neurons. So numerous are the writings in fact, that we would be best served here by noting only some of the most recent [1,2,4,5,6,9]. Suffice to say that nature in general is very good at keeping records. Consider the incredible complexity of DNA and its ability to "remember" traits through generations. In fact, most things in nature leave an apparent and impressively accurate "paper trail" of their history; tree rings, rock layers, planetary/galactic/subatomic orbits and trajectories, radioactive decay, cosmic microwave background [3], to name a few. Why would nature choose not to permanently record the unique experiences of a human life? In fact, nature does not give us a choice about that, at least during our life. Memory formation and storage are overwhelmingly involuntary processes, not unlike the processes of digestion, immune system response, or respiration. In summary, why would the designer of the most complex and successful memory machine in the known universe (the human brain) choose to build it and fill it with a lifetime of information, then utterly destroy that data upon death? Obliterating lifelong memories would include annihilating lessons learned, abstract concepts, discoveries, emotions, relationships, self-awareness, hopes, dreams, contributions, and beliefs, in addition to your recollection of what you had for lunch. Such a waste seems irrational, inefficient, and out of character (for nature), to say the least.

So much for why memories are stored. How memories are formed and stored is the subject of massive ongoing research encompassed by entities such as the Blue Brain Project [4] and others [5, 6], to name just a few. Contrary to what one might surmise at this point, we need not be concerned so much here with how memories are formed. That memories are formed is a fact. How memories are stored is of much more importance for our purposes here.

  1. STORAGE

For readers unfamiliar with hyperdimensionality, a crash refresher explanation is offered next, along with some fresh perspectives It should be noted here that recent and ongoing research resulting from the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) space probe study of GW170817 suggests that smaller hyperdimensions remain viable candidates for our purposes here [10].

Dimensions in excess of our known 3 (length, width, and height, including time) are more than useful mathematical visualization models [7]. Mathematics and physics beg for the existence of higher dimensions, i.e., there is no purely geometric boundary to be crossed which would preclude the existence of hyperdimensions, as can be easily demonstrated. For example, a line (1D) swept perpendicularly through space forms a plane (2D), a plane swept perpendicularly through space forms a cube (3D). A cube swept similarly through space forms a hypercube or tesseract (4D). Geometric parameters such as corners, edges, and faces do not even blink when that transition occurs between 1D and 4D (or other higher dimensions), however our conceptualization skills are extremely challenged by that transition, since we have never, and can never, experience 4D+ "in person". The key phrase here being "in person" (see the Conclusion section of this essay). One of the most surprisingly concise and compelling presentations regarding hyperdimensionality in general is a short video/text clip [8] by author Rob Bryonton (Bryonton, 2009, O Is For Omniverse). Only our conceptualization skills stand in the way of pondering hyperdimensions. Mathematical models present no such hurdles.

Dimensions with which we are familiar (1D, 2D, and 3D), share an interesting and faithful trait; higher dimensions inherently incorporate lower dimensions, i.e., a cube incorporates planes and lines (2D and 1D, respectively). It follows then, geometrically, that a 4D hypercube will similarly incorporate 3D, 2D, and 1D cubes, planes, and lines. A reasonable question then is where are the 2D planes in our 3D world? Well, thay are everywhere, since such a plane can be conceived anywhere within 3 dimensional space, and nowhere in particular, since there need be no specific place dedicated to such a plane. A hologram suggests a good visual analogy. The fact is, 2D planes exist in our 3D world, and they are relics from 2D space now incorporated in our 3D space; they have only 2 dimensions, are massless, void of height or thickness, and we call them shadows. Therefore, by definition and by observation, 1D, 2D, and 3D dimensions are intrinsically born of their predecessors. So much for our crash refresher course in hyperdimensionality.

What can be offered as rationalization for hyperdimensions being a mode of brain memory storage are a) visual conceptualizations similar to those presented in the preceding paragraph, b) the References cited for this entire essay, and c) the idea that we probably cannot proceed in any serious discussions of brain memory storage without involving hyperdimensionality. Other imaginable methods of brain memory storage might involve chemical or electrical processes or structures, however they would logically not survive death, which is an inherent criterion of this discussion. A routine Google search of how many papers have been written regarding brain storage of memories in higher dimensions yields over 210,000,000 results (in general, search engine results change daily and cannot be reliably referenced or linked). An appropriate title for such a paper might be “The multi-dimensional universe hiding inside your head” [9].

This writing now enters a gray area. Assuming for a moment that our lifelong memories, and not coincidentally, our very identity and personality, are stored in a hyperdimension or hyperdimension-like file, is that file likely to be safe from death and destruction, reliable over time, and at some point accessible? Deductive reasoning and common sense can serve us here, up to a point, in answering those questions concerning immunity, reliability, and retrievability.

Concerning the immunity from death of hyper-stored life data, we previously observed that different dimensions are interwoven. However we cannot physically take a walk to 2D “Flatland” (from Edwin Abbott's 1884 famed fictional 2D world by the same name) or 4D Hyper-land. As such, death here in 3D land can be surmised to be of little consequence to higher dimensions, but we must conditionally be aware in this discussion that the mechanics of communication/transfer of information between dimensions is simply beyond the scope of this essay.

Concerning the post-death reliability and permanence of such hyper-stored life data, we do know that memory storage can last at least a lifetime in a healthy brain, since we can recall childhood events. Of course that realization gives us no clue as to the reliability of data stored in other dimensions over time. We can state, however, that it is indeed difficult to imagine a more secure data storage facility than a hologram-like hyperdimensional archive. As for corruption of such data due to disease, trauma, or normal lifetime forgetfulness, etc., we must again point out that such topics would involve further conjecture and are simply beyond the scope of this discussion.

Once more, concerning retrievability of hyper-stored life data after death, the how of storage gives way to the question of why such data would be stored. The whole intent of data storage is sebsequant retrieval. The usefulness of our stored memories during our lives is apparent. The purpose of data stored for use after death is key. We can extrapolate here and say that if our brain stores such data in a medium which can survive physical death, then the implied intent is access to that data after death. Future access to such life data, by whom or what, is also beyond the scope; it would perhaps depend on who has the “password”.

The timing of such data uploads to an extradimensional storage archive is of interest. Nothing in the cited references here precludes such an upload, either continually during our lifetime, or in its entirety upon death. Our brain continually stores memories. In fact, temporary neuronal infrastructures and processes enabling such storage may actually be quickly dissolved after completion of the task [4], in mammalian brains. This suggests that stored memories and related data could be not only stored, but uploaded continually. Thus, no matter when death occurs, the saved information files would be “up to date”.

Recent and intriguing research regarding quantum entanglement [11] suggests, in layman's terms, that nature communicates even on, and particularly in, a subatomic level, and does so routinely, constantly, and faithfully. Communicates what? Information. Although physicists will certainly qualify the phrase communicate information in the context of entanglement, the phrase serves our figurative intent here regardless. Could it then possibly be that nature keeps spectacularly detailed records of all important data from all possible sources, dimensions, occurrences, etc.? Could it be that nature records everything including when a tree should shed leaves, or whether tadpoles should have webbed feet, or how a planet maintains orbit? To that point, of what use is any information if it is fleeting and/or lost? More to the point, what kind of massive database would that require? Again, we look to hyperdimensionality as a prime candidate.

Consider the magnitude of possibilities in just the transition from 2D to 3D space and time. In a 2D environment, we can go forward, backward, left or right, and we can be in the dark or in the light, but that's all. However as soon as we add height and transition to 3D, we realize mass, energy, life, consciousness, galaxies, war, love, and Starbucks. Then contemplate the possibilities available in just one higher dimension, 4D; imagine Hyper-coffee.Then imagine the data storage capabilities in any number of higher dimensions nD. We, in our daily lives, may not feel the need for more than three dimensions and time. But consider the possibilities of even just one additional dimension and the resulting transition to 4D; elegantly secure massive data storage, quantum thought, access to the interior of things without disturbing their exterior, freedom from the uni-directional and linear constraints of time, and perhaps even virtually sharing the experience of “living” others' lives.

  1. DEATH

Clearly, any electrical or chemical memory processes in the brain cease at or shortly after physical death, hence the very definition of death, along with the termination of respiration and circulation functions. If our life data were to somehow survive death, that durability would likely not be solely a function of 3D dimensional properties; in fact, such perpetual storage capability would necessarily tend to require higher dimensional capabilities, simply by the process of eliminating chemical or electrical media.

  1. ACCESS

The concept of after-death memory access suggests that the entity accessing the data would share the same dimensionality as the data file itself. Further conjecture is moot of course. The more approachable question then becomes: Can and does the brain indeed store cognizance-laden data, along with other relatively mundane life data, in a format immune from death? Recall that nature tends to waste nothing, and that the ultimate intent of a stored file is that it be later accessed.

CONCLUSION________________________________________________________________

This discussion supports some interesting hypotheses. If indeed our brain stores (hyperdimensionally or otherwise) our lifelong experiences, and therefore also our essential personality and consciousness capabilities, then of course that feat alone is tremendous, and, as already discussed, is of apparently great value to nature. That our brain does so naturally, sequentially, involuntarily, and fairly accurately, while concurrently utilizing criteria for filtering of less important memories, is almost unbelievable. Yet, we have just addressed those very real attributes and processes, to the best of this author's capability. Thus:

Informational archives seem to be of great value to nature.

And it follows that:

The whole idea behind information storage is its ultimate retrieval.

Hypothetically then, is our brain automatically preparing for a virtual after-death cognizant/sentient-level experience? Or is nature simply storing such information as part of a supposed “record of everything”? Or are those voluminous stored files never intended for after-death access at all, but simply created to enable or enhance our chronology, survival lessons, socialization, personality, developed skills, etc., and only up to the point of death and no further? We don't know. However we can say that if our brain does store our precious lifelong consciousness-rich information in a virtually accessible extra-dimensional (or other equally capable) format which is immune from clinical death, then by the process of elimination:

Nature could not have chosen a more suitable and elegant medium for storing lifelong data than another dimension(s).

Imagine that after death, stored life files are accessed and a virtual awareness is realized. Recall also that shadowland or Flatland, the next dimension lower than our own, contains projected shadows. These shadows are apparently dictated entirely by what happens here in our 3D environment, and apparently not vice versa. In other words, shadows don't observably dictate our lives; the hierarchy commands seem to travel down the chain to the lower dimensions, not up. Extrapolating now, has our life already been lived, or is it being simultaneously lived; is our existence simply a shadow of another dimensional existence? This is not a newly proposed theory, however it is usually applied to mere geometric shapes as a visualization technique. Perhaps such a hyper-existence/identity is the original event and what we are experiencing here now in 3D space and time is the copy, or playback, or projection of that original life event(s). Again, we don't know, because literal travel between dimensions is, by definition, not possible, unless:

A hyperdimensional experience is perhaps accessible exclusively via death.

Finally, we can reinforce the concept that:

Nature conserves not only energy and mass, but also information

since information itself is inextricably and intimately woven within matter, somewhat analogous to sugar dissolved, in solution, in a cup of coffee [12]. That is, information itself likely cannot be destroyed, any more than matter can be destroyed. The transfer of mass, light, time and/or energy between dimensions is the topic of quite another research paper. However already cited quantum entanglement and other arguments already made in this essay suggest that information can indeed cross boundaries between dimensions.

In the Introduction of this paper, the word separate was used to describe a hyperdimensional data archive. It is more clear now why that word was chosen. Words such as independent or isolated or external simply do not describe the criteria. Such a data archive should be separate from our 3D dimension so as to provide safety from death or destruction, but not so separate that it hinders transfer of information between dimensions, and not so separate that it hinders eventual data access. Death may hold a “password” and that can be an assuring thought.

References

[1] Chawla, D.S. (2018). "To Remember, the Brain Must Actively Forget." Quantamagazine, July. https://www.quantamagazine.org/to-remember-the-brain-must-actively-forget-20180724/

[2] Josselyn, S.A., Tonegawa, S. (2020). "Memory Engrams: Recalling the Past and Imagining the Future." Science 367. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/367/6473/eaaw4325.full

[3] Wollack, E.J. (2017). "Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe." NASA. https://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/

[4] Markram, H. (2021). "Blue Brain Project." EPFL. https://www.epfl.ch/research/domains/bluebrain/

[5] Gava, G.P., McHugh, S.B., Lefèvre, L. et al. (2021). "Integrating new memories into the hippocampal network activity space." Nat Neurosci https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-021-00804-w#data-availability

[6] Trafton, A. (2021). "Neuroscientists identify brain circuit that encodes timing of events." MIT News. https://news.mit.edu/2021/brain-circuit-timing-cells-0111

[7] Schirber, M. (2005). "Why Only Three Dimensions?" Science. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2005/10/why-only-three-dimensions

[8] Bryonton, R. (2008). "Why Do We Need More Than 3 Dimensions?" imaginingthetenthdimension. https://imaginingthetenthdimension.blogspot.com/2008/09/why-do-we-need-more-than-3-dimensions.html

[9] Beall, A. (2017). "The multi-dimensional universe hiding inside your head." Wired. https://www.wired.co.uk/article/neurons-multi-dimensional-network-brains

[10] Pardo, K, Fishbach, M., Holz, D.E., Spergel, D.N. (2018). “Limits on the number of spacetime dimensions from GW170817.” Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics Vol.2018. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1475-7516/2018/07/048/pdf

[11] Moreau, P., et al. (2019). “Imaging Bell-type nonlocal behavior”. Science Advances Vol.5, no.7, eaaw2563. https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/7/eaaw2563

[12] Ananthaswamy, A. (2017). “Inside knowledge: Is information the only thing that exists?” New Scientist, Space. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23431191-500-inside-knowledge-is-information-the-only-thing-that-exists/

An internationally known artist, Ken Shotwell is a freelance writer with an engineering background, and is a physics enthusiast. Email: kenshotwell6@gmail.com

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