Why neuroscientist David Eagleman thinks we live in the past

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/06/why-neuroscientist-david-eagle.html


That would explain why external stimuli sometimes work their way into my dreams in a way that appears to be prefigured: e.g., my alarm going off right at the point where my dream’s narrative would naturally demand such a noise.


Surely you could have a computer generate a transcript?

I’ve been living in the past since '67, man.


I’m constantly living 20 minutes in the past.

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This guy, always livin’ in the past. Come up to speed David, fer christ sakes!

It’s not just “scary” situations, but maybe stressful ones. I used to play a lot of medium-high level softball, and I can remember specific situations where the ball was hit to me in a clutch situation, and what actually took one second, seemed to take much longer, as my brain considered several possibilities, reminded me to do the proper thing, look to see if the secondbaseman was covering the bag, etc.

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I think I read a New Yorker article on his stories of those moments when time seems to slow down,
one guy who knocked over some ancient priceless vase in a museum noted it took “fucking forever to hit the ground” or another motorcyclist who had an unscheduled dismount on the road and thought about the rhythmic bounce pattern his helmet made while he slid on the road and almost composed a little tune to it at the time.

Eagleman’s Sums is a fun read of stories after death… Sums 40 stories of the afterlife

one of the stories you live your afterlife in order of the things you did such as sleeping for thirty years,
or showering for a whole year, or six months of opening a fridge and looking inside…

I recall reading (in nothing that resembled a scientific venue) how a researcher had his subjects write down their dreams over a period of years. There seemed to be a lot of precognition in the dreams, where events in the dreams played out later in waking life. The researcher theorized that when we sleep, the part of our brain that perceives time relaxes, and our entire life is laid out at once.

The other day I was wondering if, time and space being curved and all, if it would be possible to look through a telescope (or whatever) and see our own solar system as it existed millions or billions of years ago, from the other side of space-time? (Presumably someone else has already thought of that, and it doesn’t work that way.)

Call it ‘The Tull Effect’.



His conclusion: time doesn’t actually slow; it just seems to…

Does he moonlight as Captain Obvious? Dude, this is the kind of thing Republicans point to when they want to slash funding for the sciences! Couldn’t you at least work in some pointless anecdotes about soldiers in war, and test pilots going out of control? They eat that shit up!

@hecep: Those Jethro Tull songs don’t actually take forever, it just seems that way.


As far as we know, either spacetime doesn’t have the right boundary conditions for that, or is too big relative to the age of the universe for such light to reach us, or is expanding too fast for it to happen. There are probably other possibilities I’m missing too.

I read somewhere (in some neurosciency article) that the ‘story’ of a dream is made up in the split second of waking up. Before that it’s just an incoherent mess of memory fragments. The theory was that our (waking) brain is very good at creating consistent stories from a jumbled mess of incomplete input from our senses, and a memory is nothing else than a (made up by our brain) story to logically connect memories from the (near) past to the present situation. Because different stimuli arrive in the brain at different times (i.e. the visual cortex is much slower than the auditive or the sens of smell) the brain doesn’t really mind somewhat re-ordering events either.

As soon as you wake up, your brain creates a ‘logical’ story to connect the memory fragments from your dream. This would also explain why you only remember a dream when waking up in the middle of it, or just after. I seems that while sleeping our short-time memory is used to re-order the brain.


That’s what I thought, unless the curve would be like that of a hairpin.

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