Is consciousness real? Could it be just an illusion manufactured in the theatre of our minds? And what use is it – why did it evolve in the first place? Professor Nicholas Humphrey explores the mystery.
Consciousness is at the core of our very existence. An intangible constant that underpins our experience of the world. But for centuries it has been the frustrating source of a seemingly impenetrable explanatory gap – it is largely a scientific mystery.
As we interact with the world, stimuli trigger physical processes in our body. Nerve cells transmit messages around the body and through the brain. But how do these physical interactions give rise to the conscious sensations we experience? Can we get conscious sensation from nerve cells alone?
In this video theoretical psychologist Professor Nicholas Humphrey asks whether consciousness could all be an illusion. Could it be a mirage constructed in the theatre of our minds? Perhaps the questions we should ask are not centred on sensations themselves, but merely on the appearance of those sensations.
And why does consciousness, in any form, exist at all? How did it evolve? The answer might lie in our social interactions. Consciousness elevates our interpretation of the world and the people around us. It alters our psychological profile and breathes joy into our experiences, and makes us value life itself.
Media is a tool that can program and reprogram the human bio-computer. Stories pattern the imagination. Language helps us think about our thinking. Cinema can open up new vistas for our minds.
This video is a new collaboration with my friend, artist and filmmaker Jason Silva, host of National Geographic's BrainGames and creator of Shots of Awe.
Jason sent me an inspiring recording he made in the park with his Iphone discussing how powerful advances in technology can extend our connections to each other making us more compassionate and kind-hearted beings.
He proposes that communication technologies act as "empathy machines", opening up new intersubjective spaces where we can all become one.
These new tools give us new "spaces of possibility" to explore, and this video is a celebration of that new space of imagination, compassion, collaboration and inspiration.
Jason and I have become good friends, kindred spirits, and share a passion for intense inspiration, for using videos to share new vistas, and when he sent me this I was so excited, I started creating visuals right away. Hope you find it inspiring.
We took three days and repurposed footage from Shots of Awe series, it was a spontaneous desire to create a campaign for POSSIBILITY and a call to action to improve the world.
Special thanks to UNEP - United Nations Environment Program for supporting the creation of this video - unep.org
Thanks to Discovery Digital Networks, TestTube, Bokeh, Imaginary Foundation and Shots of Awe team for supporting the images. Especially Tom Lofthouse, Barry Pousman, Jordan Dertinger, Nick Philip, Colin Decker and the rest of the team.
This data visualization of Air Traffic in Europe was created from real flight data. It shows the air traffic which flies on a typical summer day and highlights the intensity of the operation in Europe - an operation which runs 24x7x365.
NATS and the UK are at the heart of the operation. With Heathrow as the busiest international airport in Europe, and Gatwick as the busiest single runway airport in the world, we play a key role in ensuring air traffic under our control in European airspace is as safe and efficient as it can be.