Speculative Thought:  Déjà vu

 

I had a 5 second déjà vu experience on 9/9/2011, my first in several years.  It occurred after I got off a tour bus in Rome and started to cross Cicerone Street to get to the Cicerone Hotel where we were staying that night.  It occurred in the early afternoon after visiting the Vatican and the Coliseum that morning.  This déjà vu was weak and brief but surprising because at age 69 years and 8 months I thought those experiences were all behind me.  In this particular episode, as I stood on the curb waiting to cross the street, the bus on my left, people on my right and cars in front of me on the street, I knew their colors and which way they were going to pass before it actually happened.  Immediately after the experience ended and I had crossed the street, I thought by way of explanation that I had been on many buses in my life and subsequently crossed many streets after embarking, and thus my mind had simply remembered a prior experience even though I had never been in Rome.  Similar past experiences is one of the explanations given for déjà vu; however, I always thought it was a weak explanation of the phenomena because déjà vu is usually experienced by young people and disappears as they age, which is the opposite of what one would expect.  That is, if people in déjà vu are merely remembering something similar that has already happened, then the elderly should have many more déjà vu experiences than the young.

 

A better explanation, it seems to me, is that the recording of light on the retina and the brain’s processing of what has been seen is somehow reversed; and as a consequence, the brain runs slightly ahead of the images so that the person knows in his mind what he is about to see before he actually sees the image.  This would happen far more frequently in the young where the wiring of brain and retina connections may still be tenuous and not fully formed; that is, the image is on the retina and simultaneously in the brain, but the person does not “see” the image because of youthful retina connections, and the déjà vu occurs as the brain processes the “unseen” before it is seen.  To the youthful person with not fully formed and delayed retina connections, the mind knows what is going to happen because the brain already has the information.  This is a biological explanation of the phenomena and therefore can be tested by looking at reality.  In fact, are there immature retina and/or brain connections in some humans, and if so, can they be evaluated or shown to be a cause of déjà vu experiences?  I don’t know the answer to that question; however, new brain connections for someone in their 70th year does not seem likely.

 

 

Speculative Thought: Eternity and a Dream in Rome

I went to Rome, Italy for the first time with my wife and daughter in September 2011 and had a wonderful time.  The city had an impact on me, and I tried writing some poetry, something I had not done in years.  I had my “youthful” déjà vu experience described above, and that night in bed half asleep but aware of moving lights and shadows on the hotel wall, I experienced in my dream like state what I interpreted as the model described here.  The philosopher Boethius (480-524/525) defined eternity as the whole and perfect possession of unlimited life at once.  It is not perpetuity; it is not time stretched infinitely back or forward.  Eternity is outside time, an attribute of God, who perceives all simultaneously.  In physics, we have the big bang theory, the explosion of space-time matter, where time has a past, present, and future.  Is it possible to conceptualize eternity and space-time?  In the diagram I give a highly simplified two-dimensional model of the big bang and eternity.  The model begins with a point, O, the origin, and a coordinate x-y axis around O.  The x-axis represents time and the y-axis three-dimensional space.  Two lines emanate from O to the right forming a 60 degree angle.  We define an equilateral triangle OAB where each side has length “a”.  At x=t, within this triangle we have a straight line that represents all the events that take place in space at time, t.  Now on the other side of the y-axis (the “time” before the big bang), construct a rectangle CDFE such that the area of the rectangle equals the area of the equilateral triangle (that is, area=(sq.rt. of ¾)times(“a” squared).) {see diagram}.  Since the areas are equal, all the points (events) within that rectangle match the events in the equilateral triangle, which are all the events that have occurred in the physical universe since the big bang up to that time.  Finally, as the rectangle shrinks to a line, all events in the physical universe are happening simultaneously at x = negative infinity (i.e., outside time).