Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe

Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe

by Robert Lanza, Bob Berman


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781935251743
Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.
Publication date: 05/18/2010
Pages: 200
Sales rank: 52,058
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Robert Lanza

“Robert Lanza was taken under the wing of scientific giants such as psychologist B.F. Skinner, immunologist Jonas Salk, and heart transplant pioneer Christiaan Barnard. His mentors described him as a ‘genius,’ a ‘renegade thinker,’ even likening him to Einstein himself.” —US News & World Report cover story

Robert Lanza has been exploring the frontiers of science for more than four decades, and is considered one of the leading scientists in the world. He is currently Chief Scientific Officer at Advanced Cell Technology, and Adjunct Professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He has several hundred publications and inventions, and 20 scientific books, among them, Principles of Tissue Engineering, which is recognized as the definitive reference in the field. Others include One World: The Health & Survival of the Human Species in the 21st Century (with a foreword by President Jimmy Carter), and the Handbook of Stem Cells and Essentials of Stem Cell Biology, which are considered the definitive references in stem cell research.

Dr. Lanza received his B.A. and M.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was both a University Scholar and Benjamin Franklin Scholar. He was also a Fulbright Scholar, and was part of the team that cloned the world’s first human embryo, as well as the first to clone an endangered species, to demonstrate that nuclear transfer could reverse the aging process, and to generate stem cells using a method that does not require the destruction of human embryos. Dr. Lanza was awarded the 2005 Rave Award for Medicine by Wired magazine, and received the 2006 “All Star” Award for Biotechnology by Mass High Tech.

Dr. Lanza and his research have been featured in almost every media outlet in the world, including all the major television networks, CNN, Time, Newsweek, People magazine, as well as the front pages of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today, among others. Lanza has worked with some of the greatest thinkers of our time, including Nobel Laureates Gerald Edelman and Rodney Porter. Lanza worked closely with B.F. Skinner at Harvard University. Lanza and Skinner (the “Father of Modern Behaviorism”) published a number of scientific papers together. He has also worked with Jonas Salk (discoverer of the polio vaccine) and heart transplant pioneer Christiaan Barnard.

Bob Berman

“this is a fascinating guy” —David Letterman

“fasten your seatbelts and hold on tight” —Astronomy magazine

Bob Berman is the most widely read astronomer in the world. Author of more than one thousand published articles, in publications such as Discover and Astronomy magazine, where he is a monthly columnist, he is also astronomy editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the author of four books. He is adjunct professor of astronomy at Marymount College, and writes and produces a weekly show on Northeast Public Radio, aired during NPR’s Weekend Edition.

Read an Excerpt


Our understanding of the universe as a whole has reached a dead end. The “meaning” of quantum physics has been debated since it was first discovered in the 1930s, but we are no closer to understanding it now than we were then. The “theory of everything”
that was promised for decades to be just around the corner has been stuck for decades in the abstract mathematics of string theory,
with its unproven and unprovable assertions.

But it’s worse than that. Until recently, we thought we knew what the universe was made of, but it now turns out that 96 percent of the universe is composed of dark matter and dark energy, and we have virtually no idea what they are. We’ve accepted the Big Bang, despite the increasingly greater need to jury-rig it to fit our observations (as in the 1979 acceptance of a period of exponential growth, known as inflation, for which the physics is basically unknown). It even turns out that the Big Bang has no answer for one of the greatest mysteries in the universe: why is the universe exquisitely fine-tuned to support life?
Our understanding of the fundamentals of the universe is actually retreating before our eyes. The more data we gather, the more we’ve had to juggle our theories or ignore findings that simply make no sense.

This book proposes a new perspective: that our current theories of the physical world don’t work, and can never be made to work,
until they account for life and consciousness. This book proposes that, rather than a belated and minor outcome after billions of years of lifeless physical processes, life and consciousness are absolutely fundamental to our understanding of the universe. We call this new perspective biocentrism.

In this view, life is not an accidental by-product of the laws of physics. Nor is the nature or history of the universe the dreary play of billiard balls that we’ve been taught since grade school.

Through the eyes of a biologist and an astronomer, we will unlock the cages in which Western science has unwittingly managed to confine itself. The twenty-first century is predicted to be the century of biology, a shift from the previous century dominated by physics. It seems fitting, then, to begin the century by turning the universe outside-in and unifying the foundations of science,
not with imaginary strings that occupy equally imaginary unseen dimensions, but with a much simpler idea that is rife with so many shocking new perspectives that we are unlikely ever to see reality the same way again.

Biocentrism may seem like a radical departure from our current understanding, and it is, but the hints have appeared all around us for decades. Some of the conclusions of biocentrism may resonate with aspects of Eastern religions or certain New Age philosophies.
This is intriguing, but rest assured there is nothing New Age about this book. The conclusions of biocentrism are based on mainstream science, and it is a logical extension of the work of some of our greatest scientific minds.

Biocentrism cements the groundwork for new lines of investigation in physics and cosmology. This book will lay out the principles of biocentrism, all of which are built on established science, and all of which demand a rethinking of our current theories of the physical universe.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Muddy Universe 3

2 In the Beginning There Was ... What? 11

3 The Sound of a Falling Tree 19

4 Lights and Action! 25

5 Where Is the Universe? 33

6 Bubbles in Time 41

7 When Tomorrow Comes Before Yesterday 47

8 The Most Amazing Experiment 61

9 Goldilocks's Universe 83

10 No Time to Lose 95

11 Space Out 111

12 The Man Behind the Curtain 129

13 Windmills of the Mind 135

14 A Fall in Paradise 143

15 Building Blocks of Creation 147

16 What Is This Place? 153

17 Sci-Fi Gets Real 163

18 Mystery of Consciousness 169

19 Death and Eternity 185

20 Where Do We Go from Here? 195

Appendix 1 The Lorentz Transformation 199

Appendix 2 Einstein's Relativity and Biocentrism 201

Index 209

About the Authors 213

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“I found the attack on physics to be pretty compelling ... Lanza's theories [are] certainly worth debate.”
Houston Chronicle's Eric Berger, SciGuy blog

“What makes this book both interesting and worth the effort of reading it; is the unique perspective Lanza brings to the subject matter as a physician. ... From the way [Lanza] chooses to present his arguments, it's clear he has a solid grasp of esoteric disciplines like quantum theory, special relativity and particle physics. And what makes his presentation more compelling than other efforts I've encountered is his ability and willingness to weave personal experience into the thoughts and ideas presented. His style is conversational and warm which tends to pull you along through the exposition gently. And his sense of wonder and befuddlement at shop worn enigmas like the double slit experiment, Bell's theorem, non-locality and Schrödinger's cat is as infectious as it is delightful ... I very much like what Lanza has to say in Biocentrism.”
Midwest Book Review

Endorsements for Robert Lanza’s essay on which Biocentrism is based:
“For several days now I have read and reread your article and thought about it. Like ‘a brief history of time’ it is indeed stimulating and brings biology into the whole. Any short statement does not do justice to such a scholarly work. Almost every society of mankind has explained the mystery of our surroundings and being by invoking a god or group of gods. Scientists work to acquire objective answers from the infinity of space or the inner machinery of the atom. Lanza proposes a biocentrist theory which ascribes the answer to the observer rather than the observed. The work is a scholarly consideration of science and philosophy that brings biology into the central role in unifying the whole. The book will appeal to an audience of many different disciplines because it is a new way of looking at the old problem of our existence. Most importantly, it makes you think.”
E. Donnall Thomas
Thomas was awarded the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington and Director Emeritus of the Clinical Research Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

“It is genuinely an exciting piece of work. I am very familiar with some of the things you say. The idea that consciousness creates reality has quantum support, as you suggest, and also coheres with some of the things biology and neuroscience are telling us about the structures of our being. To put what you are doing in a larger context, it exhibits a dramatic new Copernican reversal. Just as we now know that the sun doesn’t really move but we do (we are the active agents), so you are suggesting that we are the entities that give meaning to the particular configuration of all possible outcomes we call reality. I think this is a great project.”
Ronald Green
Green is the Eunice and Julian Cohen Professor for the Study of Ethics and Human Values, and Director of Dartmouth College’s Ethics Institute. Professor Green is a well-known religious studies scholar and former Chairman of the Department of Religion

“Robert Lanza, a world renowned scientist who has spanned many fields from drug delivery to stem cells to preventing animal extinction, and clearly one of the most brilliant minds of our times, has done it again. ‘A New Theory of the Universe’ takes into account all the knowledge we have gained over the last few centuries, and correlates them to our own beings, placing in perspective our biologic limitations that have impeded our understanding of greater truths surrounding our existence and the universe around us. This new theory is certain to revolutionize our concepts of the laws of nature for centuries to come.”
Anthony Atala
Atala is an internationally recognized scientist, and the W.H. Boyce Professor, Chair, and Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

“As an astrophysicist, I focus my attention on objects that are very large and very far away, ignoring the whole issue of consciousness as a critical part of the Universe. Reading Robert Lanza’s work is a wake-up call to all of us that even on the grandest scale we still depend on our minds to experience reality. Issues of “quantum weirdness” do have a place in the macroscopic world. Time and space do depend on perception. We can go about our daily lives and continue to study the physical Universe as if it exists as an objective reality (because the probabilities allow that degree of confidence), but we do so with a better awareness of an underlying biological component, thanks to Dr. Lanza. I cannot speak for NASA or other NASA scientists, but personally I look forward to hearing a more detailed explanation of this biocentric view of the Universe from Dr. Lanza.”
David Thompson
Thompson is an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. His contributions include the building and flying of prototypes of EGRET, which was launched by the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1991. He is currently with the Astroparticle Physics Laboratory, and has received both the Goddard Space Flight Center & NASA Group Exceptional Achievement Awards.

“Yes, it is appropriate to ask whether our perception of space and time is a consequence of our particular neurophysiology. Yes, it is appropriate to ask how it happened that the conditions worked out to be just right for life to appear somehow on earth and then to evolve from the archaea through the eukaryotes to us. ... I’ll bet the book gets a good audience. And I like to see books published that challenge my own ideas and thoughts in ways that make me think, but not ones that simply throw dogma at me. The essay is definitely of the former kind.”
R. Stephen Berry
Berry is James Franck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Department of Chemistry, University of Chicago. Professor Berry is a member (and recent Home Secretary) of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. He was also former Vice President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and MacArthur Prize “Genius” Fellow.

“Science has a token of freedom that motivates scientists to study all logical possibilities that may explain the world. Robert Lanza has come up with an innovative approach to investigate reality from the viewpoint of biology. His article demands an answer to the question of whether scientists have exhausted all possible tools for studying nature. Can science bring biology into grand unified theory? A solution is suggested that involves a new concept, biocentrism. Lanza goes beyond the individual human attribute calling for interconnectedness among all living creatures forming the fundamental basis for understanding reality. A book that expands upon this unique approach is warranted, not only to alert society, but to call on it to test this novel new hypothesis.”
Gunther Kletetschka
Kletetschka is a geophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He is also a Research Professor of Physics at Catholic University of America and leading scientist working on the James Web Space Telescope.

“It’s a masterpiece—truly a magnificent essay. Bob Lanza is to be congratulated for a fresh and highly erudite look at the question of how perception and consciousness shape reality and common experience. His monograph combines a deep understanding and broad insight into 20th century physics and modern biological science; in so doing, he forces a reappraisal of this hoary epistemological dilemma. Not all will agree with the proposition he advances, but most will find his writing eminently readable and his arguments both convincing and challenging. Bravo.”
Michael Lysaght
Lysaght is Professor of Medical Science and Engineering at Brown University and Director of Brown’s Center for Biomedical Engineering.

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Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Biocentrism is a very good read. Lanza is able to give clarifying examples that make an unnatural subject understandable. Biocentrism in a nutshell is the idea that everything exists as a result of an observer or consciousness, there is no concrete object until your mind creates it throught the senses. These ideas challenge our understanding of the universe, because if there were no one to perceive the universe it would not exist, at least not in a concrete form. He asserts that the universe would not or has never existed without life, and that the universe is here because of life or because of our conscious mind. The two are eternally intertwined, and one cannot exist without the other. 
DannyBlanco_87 More than 1 year ago
First off, let us consider that Dr. Robert Lanza is one of the most well respected and well known scientists in the world, and yet seems to be able to simplify this elegant theory into something we can all understand.. And even more, something we can not avoid. He offers a perspective very different from what we've all been taught and challenges us to step outside of the box and dismiss conventional wisdom in order to fully comprehend his central thesis.. That life creates the universe, not the other way around. He insists that Physics will keep falling flat on its head when searching for a unifying theory unless they incorporate consciousness into the equation. Sound far fetched?? Not when he brakes down the basics of his theory with a style and flare that I wish my High School science teacher had. He never fails to be informative while entertaining all at once. Sure to be regarded as a classic, and even more impressive that for once we get an honest explaination of the universe and our role in it.. From the mind of a Biologist, not a Physicist!!
M_L_Gooch_SPHR More than 1 year ago
Compelling and Relevant Book, August 9, 2009 This is a brave new book. For me, it exhibits the same courage as the 2006 The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. In the August '09 issue of Discover Magazine, Roger Penrose participated in an interview in which he states that physics has been looking in the wrong corners. He believes some of the newer theories may not be valid and calls for a new way of thinking. That's how I recall the article anyway. The same week I read this magazine, Amazon delivers Biocentrism to my doorstep. While Lanza and Berman may not be kindred spirits with Penrose, they most certainly attend the same family reunion. That is, I believe Biocentrism addresses a large part of the problems espoused by Penrose. This book sets forth a new look at the universe. Lanza and Berman contend that our current theories of the physical world simply don't work. Instead of placing life as an accidental by-product, the authors place life at the apex of universal existence and purpose. It is a very thrilling and disturbing read. And I also could use the adjectives, compelling and relevant as the arena of physics seems to be moving in a direction of silliness (multiverse, string theory, etc.) that can possibly never be proved. While the proposals made in Biocentrism seem radical and counter-intuitive at first, a bit of reflection will soon make the images clearer and place us on the pathway to a better and more commonsensical mindset. You may also enjoy Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality, The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World, The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life?, Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape The Universe and The Conscious Universe: Parts and Wholes in Physical Reality I hope you find this review helpful. Michael L. Gooch
Audrey Sienkiewicz More than 1 year ago
Im 14 and i really enjoyed reading this book i rccomend it to everyone. I had to re read alot of pages in order to comprehend it fully.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: look up... looks: dirty blonde hair that he flips to the left, blue grey eyes, tan skin, muscularish not big but medium built, good speed but better stamina...personality: nice to almost everyone slow to anger, likes trying new things, daredevil...likes:fixing up cars and racing them...if you want more ask CX
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dr. Lanza is a brave pioneer who will rewrite existing views on the very nature of the universe.
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CynthiaSueLarson More than 1 year ago
What if Life Selected this Universe? Robert Lanza's thought-provoking book, BIOCENTRISM, raises the question of how our universe developed in such a way that it is perfect to support life. The odds against such a thing happening purely by chance are astronomically high. The concept of "fine-tuning" has been utilized in the past as an argument in favor of the existence of God, based on the notion that because fundamental physical constants are perfectly positioned to support life, some organizing effect behind the scenes must be going on to have created such a remarkably unlikely situation.  We tend to assume that chaos is the order of the day, as most of us are familiar with in our daily lives. We don't expect our homes and gardens to tidy and organize themselves, but rather we come to learn that order takes effort, whereas chaos naturally unfolds. So taking a long, hard look at just how organized our universe seems to be leads us to wonder how, exactly, we ended up on a planet that happens to be just the right distance from our sun in a universe that naturally tends to be supportive of life.  Lanza asserts, as the subtitle of his book BIOCENTRISM states, that life and consciousness are the keys to understanding the true nature of the universe. Just how this occurs, Lanza says, has much to do with the extraordinary effects consciousness has been proven to have in the quantum realm. Since experiments conducted in quantum physics have determined that human observers influence behavior of quantum particles in such a manner that results can be shown of a decision before it is made, Lanza suggests this indicates that life itself is the deciding factor in the "Goldilock's Universe" we find ourselves living in.  The word "biocentrism" was originally intended to convey a sense of reverence for all life, as opposed to focusing primarily on human life, and Lanza's definition has taken that meaning a bit farther to suggest that biological consciousness is the fundamental consciousness at work in providing us with this particular universe.  While I respect Lanza's premise that there exists sufficient evidence supporting the tremendous connection between microscopic quantum descriptions of reality and macroscopic classical reality, it seems clear to me that consciousness must be more than merely biological or bio-centric. While it's true that we likely do experience the most biologically friendly universes in the multiverse of all possible realities, consciousness itself extends beyond our ability to fully comprehend it, and is worthy of a 'centrism' of its own in terms of being the ultimate creative force in establishing physical reality.  I at times enjoyed and at other times felt annoyed by Lanza's style of writing, which ranges from playful to verging on arrogant. I'd love to feel Lanza was sharing more of his authentic, deeper feelings when describing, for example, what must have been a devastating blow as his sister slipped into a state of losing touch with her sense of reality. On the positive side, Lanza's breezy writing style makes this book about fairly heavy topics easy to read... so this book delving into physics, neuroscience, and the nature of reality is something you can sit down and read in a weekend.  I am enthusiastically supportive of Lanza's premise in BIOCENTRISM that consciousness is at the center of creating the physical world. Highly recommended!
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This nookbook is $6 more than a kindle book...Why?
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