Welcome to the TANC lab’s first blog entry! We are excited to be starting this blog where we will be reporting on lab news, discussing the latest research, and answering questions. As a non-profit organization our goal is to share our findings and make these complicated topics in physics, neuroscience, and psychology as accessible as possible; it is your questions and comments that allow us to do this. We encourage comments and hope this blog will lead to a productive dialog.
So, as you have probably figured out by now, at TANC, we are interested in learning more about the nature of time. Why this interest in time? Well, there are still many unanswered questions about time; and perhaps, most fascinatingly, what scientists do know about time conflicts with our everyday experience. One of the reasons why Einstein’s work made such an impression in science and popular culture was that his theory of relativity contradicted our basic intuitions about time. Instead of moving at a constant rate, time is in fact relative and without taking into account these strange “time dilation” effects, current GPS technology would not work! Also, when we see, for example, a picture of a cracked egg, next to picture of an intact egg we can confidently assume that the latter happened first. Yet at the most at the most fundamental, particle level, physicists are unable to detect this directional ‘arrow of time’ making it impossible to discriminate past states from future states. One theory we will be investigating is whether time is in fact symmetrical – flowing both forward and backward.
(Checkout ‘Science of Interstellar’ for a great recent reference on these temporal phenomena discussed in context of the recent movie ‘Interstellar’)
Complementing this work in physics is recent experimental work in psychology that suggests intuitive/unconscious knowledge of unpredictable future events can be detected in human physiology. Cornell psychologist Daryl Bem recently published similar “backwards in time” effects, finding, for example, that studying for a test after it occurs, improves one’s test score! While we acknowledge the controversy surrounding this work and appreciate the need for careful scrutiny, it is in a spirit of scientific curiosity that we do not reject this work out of hand. Instead, we propose that more work is needed (see, for example, our recent opinion piece).
Despite the groundbreaking nature of these claims, should they hold true, resources are almost non-existent to carry out the careful work needed to rigorously examine and evaluate these claims. For example, only a few studies have actually measured brain waves (i.e., EEG) to look for signals corresponding to awareness of future information. The TANC lab is the first lab world-wide dedicated to answering these questions. We will be running lab experiments with EEG, incorporating, for the first time, neurofeedback to see if it is possible to train awareness and increase sensitivity to this future information (for more details check out our informational video). We will also be developing a number of behavioral experiments, in the form of games/apps that test for backward in time effects.
For many years our well-trained, and experienced team of scientists have been working on developing protocols to offer the most compelling proof, should precognition be real – that is, the successful prediction of real world events like outcomes of casino games and stock market fluctuations. With promising pilot results in hand, we are eager to continue this investigation full-time with state-of the art equipment. Importantly, we realize that it is this concerted effort over many years in order to that is needed in order to make progress at answering these important questions about time. As a non-profit organization, we rely largely on donations and therefore need your help in order to make the TANC lab a sustainable research program. We ask that those who are curious about these same questions to please consider making a donation to help support our research effort.
Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts where we will introduce our scientific team, provide updates on the status of the lab, and discuss our research in further detail. Please sign up for our email list to stay up to date on lab news and spread the word! And if you haven’t already, check out our website and facebook page for more information and videos describing our research.