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You want a physicist to speak at your funeral ....

"You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

"And at one point you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell them that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

"And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

"And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy's still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly.


Aaron Freeman

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Yeah I think you're missing the point there, Holland.
I've been saying what this piece says for years, but not at this length, and not as well. Very good piece.
I just want my friends and family to have a few drinks (or better yet, many), laugh a lot, and remember me. That's probably my Irish genes talking.

Then again, many in my family could have written that eulogy.

The rest wouldn't have a clue what it means.
Awesome, and to understand that the the stuff that makes the physical me, which has been around way before the conscious me, makes all of me feel amazed by it all.
John Atti
Using science to push an anti-religious agenda like some of the religious use scripture to push against birth control. Too similar not to be funny.

Could we please use science Sunday to talk about cool science stuff, and not turn it into a podium to comment on religion? That would be nice. Maybe link to some cool science resources online? Start small with periodic table discussion, and explain something neat like how electrons or protons get their characteristics? Maybe bust out the string theory? Talk about CERN?
John Atti
I dunno Trev, I feel like too many people are going to lose focus, especially at this stage when there is still so much left to be discovered, and this can be damaging to the scientific community. I don't like how people are running their mouths against any agnostic or theist beliefs when we're still trying to fully understand the matter around us fully. Posts like these make me cringe a bit - it just doesn't sit right with me. The first part of the quote is so beautiful when it touches on heat, electromagnetism and photons, but then it falls into this prejudiced conclusion that rubs me the wrong way. It's like someone taking smart, detailed, and accurate economic statistics, and then coming to the conclusion that it's a specific ethnicity/religion that is at fault for the bad economy.
If you have that physicist talk, be sure that he talks about how the whole orderly world violates the idea that everything tends toward entropy. That is, it violates it unless something or someone first gave it order.
Scott Bee
I'd rather have Tom Hanks speak. Everybody likes him....
He makes it sound like a room stays lit, even after the light is turned off.
i actually love this qoute and the whole ideal behind it, but the end seemed a bit unneeded. it like a child giving a point then stick out their tongue at who the perceived as a loser though it wasn't event a competion.
"To the question as to why a physicist would want to hand time over to philosophers, the answer would be that physicists for almost a hundred years have been dissuaded from trying to think about fundamental questions. I think most physicists would quite rightly say "I don't have the tools to answer a question like 'what is time?' - I have the tools to solve a differential equation." The asking of fundamental physical questions is just not part of the training of a physicist anymore." --Tim Maudlin,
By the way, about all that energy you radiated as heat? It wasn't yours to begin with. You just chemically changed it from the food you ate, which grew from a bunch plants that chemically changed the energy from the sun. And the sun's energy can be traced all the way back to the Big Bang and beyond.

This physicist's speech just goes to show how shallow our present science is. It doesn't go anywhere near addressing the depths of the human soul.
Andrej R
wit: +1
emotion: -3

No matter how knowledgeable and intelligent I am (or hope I am, you'll probably argue it based on this comment), and though I know my emotions, too, are "merely electrons & neurotransmitters bouncing about in what is my brain" it belittles the beauty of life, the love we feel for family & friends.

Sad, really.
nope. energy gets created by the spirit. it is a very old law in physics that teaches the conservation of energy. as long as everybody agrees to it, it will be so, but if not?
I would want the physicist to drink a shot of whiskey and remind people to celebrate what I had to contribute, and the part of their lives that I shared. The rest isn't going to do much good to alleviate the pain of loss of bonds that have dissolved and slowly begin to fade.
knowing my luck the physicist would get sidetracked and give a three hour long lecture on how the wave/particle "duality" shouldnt be called a duality and instead is more of a limitation of our ability to describe it succinctly
"You would want a physicist to remind the congregation that we all come from a big explosion in the creation of our universe, and that someday we will all die in the same big fiery death that birthed us."

... yeah, or, I'll just get somebody up there to same something nice about the person, how 'bout that?
Yes, I want a physicist in my funeral... and also, I will want to ask permission to Whomever is in charge in the afterlife to give 2 minutes back in the Physical world to scare the shit out of that mathematical fuck!
I want a Speaker for the Dead at my funeral.
"less orderly" Yeah, that would explain me, for sure! LoL
speaking of the big bang...
i wonder what the gravitational effects are on space time when all the mass in the universe is concentrated in one spot,
and i wonder what the escape velocity was for all the material we see that escaped that gravitational field...
if a single black hole can have an escape velocity above c... it seems to me you'd need some interesting time dilation effects (or something) for anything to escape a black hole with the mass of the entire universe
Luke M.
"And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat" This is also known as entropy and in layman's terms means that while there is a conservation of energy, the first law of thermodynamics, that some of that energy is always changed into the form of heat and is non-recoverable (unavailable for future transfers), 2nd law, aka entropy. This is why perpetual motion machines don't work. People are more than just energy, this whole idea is silly.
The physicist would be looking for a serious ass kicking if he mouthed off like that.
silly maybe but comforting in an odd way. It was posted at my Sister-in-in-laws memorial and brought smiles through the tears
would it comfort the crying and grieving congregation? i doubt it!
Of course, entropy is only inevitable in systems that are not complex enough to generate emergent self-organization. On the other hand, the whole conservation of energy metaphor is very stretched, to the point of being relatively silly. For my funeral I want people to share recollections, and make some good music, and somebody should say the quote from our church: "to live in hearts that love is not to die."
If it was put in that wording it would comfort them.... it would comfort me.
No. But then nothing would. Would be nice though.
The laws of thermodynamics, while cool to think of in these terms, are of little comfort to a grieving family. This speech, while factually accurate, lacks meaning for most people. Nobody better waste time talking about photons at my funeral... especially if they add some flimsy argument against faith, as though it were opposed to the truths of the universe.
+Jim Swindle The Earth isn't a closed system. It would tend towards entropy if not for the 12,211 gigawatt-hours of energy that we receive from the sun every day.
Ah, but where did all this energy come from in the first place? Who was the first mover? Science can't explain something coming from nothing... Personally, I think physicists can be deeply spiritual.
This brought tears to my eyes, it's so beautiful. Thanks for sharing it.
I better go to bed, this conversation and ideology is kinda too interesting i cannot think properly
How would consideriations of entropy be factored in here? Not being cynical -- truly curious what your take is
I don't think the point of the speech is to give an argument against faith, or it would be out of place in the funeral of a religious person. The whole point is just telling people that we are around even after we are dead, the same molecules, every bit of the universe that was a part of us, that ever interacted with us in any small way is still here and not 'gone'. This is the first time I read this, and I thought it was beautiful. And honestly the people who are reading this as a theist vs atheist argument are completely missing the plot.
Well, looking forward to that day when there will be no more death.
Damn them [sic] liberal, intellectual, socialist, physicists - they think their [sic] so smart.
" You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed.." Exactly. And my other would understand it.
OK.... i wont be gone permanitly and i want my family to know but that is to complicated
The knowledge that I will return to the stars from whence I came, gives me great comfort.
+James Barrow does that causality require a flow of time before matter is created?
and does the existing universe prevent more quantum fluctuations from happening and causing more matter to appear?
Time does not flow, sometimes it just stops.
There is a bit of sense in everyones post, and every opinion matters. Surely there must be something out there after we leave this mortal body.
How is it supposed to be comforting knowing a loved one you lost is now in a billion pieces never to come back or be seen again?
I'm with you +John Atti in your sentiment that using science Sunday as a podium to comment on religion is kind of not the point.

But if I wanted to know whether +Trev Warth intended to do that when he posted this or whether Aaron Freeman intended an anti-religious sentiment when he wrote the above piece, I would need to ask Trev and Aaron wouldn't I?

Any interpretation about its religious significance or anti-religious sentiment appears to be within the perception of the reader.

Which part specifically is it that you found to be a "prejudiced conclusion" that obviously rubbed you the wrong way?

I would guess it is the part where it mentions faith, but I think it is a matter of the readers perception and interpretation. One could interpret this as meaning that the author was referring explicity or implicitly to religious faith or you could interpret this as saying that, in regards to these physical and scientific truths that have been described you do not need to have faith (see definition 2 below) in regards to them.

I honestly don't know what the author intended. Maybe there was intent to make some value judgement about religious faith, or maybe the intent was simply to say that when it comes to proving the scientifically verifiable aspects of life and death, faith (of any kind) is not required.

I think one can make the statement "Faith is not required when attempting to validate the scientific validity of a hypothesis" without making a value judgement about religious faith specifically.

Interesting indeed is the 2nd definition for faith found here and the example of the word used in context:

"2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact."

I certainly don't think this piece would stifle discovery or curiosity about science! In fact it could inspire some very interesting classroom discussions regarding how you might measure or quantify the total mass, energy and constitution of your physical body, leaving of course any value judgements about religious faith completely out of the discussion.

Personally I plan to keep this piece handy as inspiration for some scientific discussions with my kids someday. When it comes to the death of a spider, or a rabbit, or the family dog, or a person I could see this serving as inspiration for some thought provoking scientific questions!

That doesn't mean I'm going to break this out when grandma passes on and say "Relax kids, grandma was really just a bunch of atoms and energy".

Whew, now I'm thinking about the enormity of dealing with those moments when they do come (I have three young kids). And you know it makes me really grateful to be participitating in this discussion and to have something so thought provoking (on so many levels) being brought to my attention.

In my view one can seperate contemplating the physical and scientific aspects of death from comtemplating the spiritual aspects of it. But it doesn't mean it's going to be easy...
+James Barrow Thanks for the link James. I've bookmarked it and will watch later.
Those billion bits will come back just as before. If we can happen once, we can happen again.
Time is merely an illusion that we made up to keep things from bumping into each other.
Nice sentiment; should have maybe a little less escapism.
church funny i go toooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111111
Why not? The chance of you existing at all is pretty high. The chance of you happening again is the same chance.
personally,, I find these words more elegant & comforting then a bunch of biblical verses. I mean.. what an beautifully precise way of reconciling with death - the language of a physicist.
Indeed, without hope we have nothing.
Couldn't have said it better... This is exactly how I see all life around us; the true miracle that is life and energy is right here before our eyes! Thanks for sharing.
I think he's quite clear. Faith is not required and that scientific fact has been established for the energy and mass recycling that takes place throughout the observable universe, from the subatomic scale to the macroscopic enormity of space-time. Its a philosophic, but essentially scientific point based on the fundamentals of the standard model of physics and summarizes the illogical reasons for faith over evidence. At a personal level, it more clearly defines for me the question of existence and humanities sometimes rather exceptional need to feel life is endless and immortal and unfortunately cling to delusions. And before you rant at my ignorance, quote this is my personal opinion as many theists would say, which I am not.

It is thought provoking in a philosophical manner, however science was based on the principles of philosophy and questioning. Science is simply the mature version, seeking credibility through reason, logic, evidence and observation from the mathematical theorem, to the scientific theory, to the experimental test and to the results supported observed and reasoned conclusion Scientific Fact. Truth is the ultimate answer and consoles as it offers clarity of mind and conscience.
I didn't post it for the religious point +David Beck, you could have taken that out and it would have had the message I wanted. I just thought it was inspiring when I read it.

Loved your response by the way.
The chance of happening again is uhhm i'ld say unexplainable. Could be very low or near zero andnit coukd be very high near certainity.
Wouldn't all that eliminate the need for a funeral though? Not that that's a bad thing, they're expensive as shit and don't make anyone feel any better.
Using that logic +Dustin Jones would you not say that God eliminates the need for a funeral. Even more so in fact.
Very true we all share the SAME energy FACT! But lets keep everything as simple as possible... US Human~Beings are proof that life exists on planets and with the fact of knowing that there are billions of other galaxies out there? How can ANYONE rule out a higher BEING???? The IAM is the truth the way and the light! knowledge and truth are powerful and only truth will set us ALL FREE>>> GODSPEED SON!
Personally, I like this idea better then have a minister speak about your love one for 5 minuets for a few times, and the rest of it speaking about damnation and what's hell like. Not only dose it put up high octane nightmare fuel (if you get the reference), but it seems inapropriate. Really, if your love one died, who's a better speaker in their funeral: a physicist telling you that their being is still in the world as particles of energy in the universe, or a preacher talking about how were they good people in life, then spend an hour or more talking about sinners going to hell and that they're burning in the fires for an eternity?
Thank you, I welcome varied perspectives. This sort of stuff intrigues me and is the reason i took physics. The big questions, the bigger mysteries they reveal.
“After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson
Let's hope no one tells them what entropy is.
Or you can put my remains in a cardboard box and burn it and get on with your lives. Oh, and don't collect the ashes. Odds are they will be what ever was already in the incinerator from before anyway.
Inspiring. If there is a god, then this is God's universe, and knowing it is to know god, or whatever.
Call me old fashioned, but, I like the God-thing better. I believe that as human beings, we can rationalize and analyze a thing until it's most minute detail, and there, past that point is where faith, or something must come into play. That unknown. To me, that's where God is, and for that I believe He is the minute to the magnanimous. My faith in that Higher Power has proven Its existence many times, and that comforts me.
So you'd rather myths then truth? Reality is not what we've been taught and that's the harder truth. We're like the generation who first learned the world was round and not flat. Not too easy a transition even after the church sanctioned it...but I understand.
grabs a notepad to remember to get one of these awesome people
This is one of the most amazing things I've read recently.
Sure is was not a spelling error, and he wanted a psychiatrist.
Edward Woods - you better look again! ;-)

The earth is moving towards more and more disorder. If we use up all of the natural resources to produce energy we are creating disorder. As the sun moves towards the end of its life, it is creating disorder. As far as we can tell from our observations the universe is expanding and everything is being 'stretched" over greater and greater distances, hence more disorder.

The universe can operate with particular laws but it doesn't exclude the process of entropy. What happens in the very long run is really unknown.
Science or Spirituality? It's the same thing for me. Tolerance for other people's views is critical if we are to progress to the next level of existence successfully. If you are seeing only one side then you see only one half of the truth.
Peace & Love.
This seams written rather presumptuously with all the "you will wants", maybe I want a singing man in a zebra costume at my funeral.
The people listening might not be able to grasp that I've become even more random than they already thought I was....
This is very powerful - THANK YOU
Did you know this Tuesday is National Physicist Day? It is !!
Yes, all true. Buddhists are like that, too.
Two different ways to explain the same thing in order for people to get relief and move forward with life. Though I am for camp Physics.
I would hope to get a computer scientist instead, who understands information-theoretic criteria for death, and unblinkingly presents the case for my personality, memories, and everything that actually constitutes "me" in any meaningful way, being irrevocably erased from existence, replaced with useless heat and recyclable cheap molecules. If that makes people sad, well, that's what funerals are for...

Actually no, I'm kidding. What I really want is to be cryopreserved so that future science can bring me back from the life-critical data preserved in my cold "dead" cranium. And if you want to hold a funeral, I'd like it to carry at least a hint of optimism about my eventual chances of having actually survived the process.

Wish me luck -- I'm gonna need it!
At my funeral, I just want to be put on top of the casket with a sign saying: "Still thinking outside the box".
We are all one, individualizing voids the conceptual idea to understand the energy has effectively changed the whole, not the the individual whose perception is no longer being experienced.
Did anyone else read the "Aaron Freeman" part at the end...

And immediately hear all the other text in the voice of Morgan Freeman?
Thank you for sharing this. I heard this on NPR ages ago and couldn't find a transcript of it at the time. Then I forgot who said it but I remembered enough to recognize it as soon as I saw this.
I want the physicist to tell my grieving family about the second law of thermodynamics, that the energy that was once me is now exists in a more un-ordered state...
I like how science begins to understand what religion has said all along, and then scientists take credit for it like they discovered it.
As a Catholic, I can agree with everything said in the OP but note that there many things that were left unsaid.

Of course, if the physicist were one of the many Catholic priests or monk scientists such as the priest/physicist who gave us the Big Bang Theory, then he would be able to give your mother the whole story and not just part of it :)

Because, after all, your mother would still be left wondering: "Where did all this matter come from in the first place?"
We should be able to mute our own posts.
+Tim Peterson No, time and space are the same thing. They were created with the universe... so there is no such thing as 'The time before time'.

New matter is created and destroyed all of the time at the quantum level at a timescale too small to witness. ( These interactions always result in zero net mass being created. It isn't just theory, we've directly measured it happening ( and )

If Lawrence Krauss and company are correct, our Universe follows the exact same rules. Zero net mass will be created because the energy that makes up the mass of the entire universe is balanced by the negative energy of gravity. It follows the same laws as the vacuum energy, just on a larger scale (from our perspective).

Personal Speculation: For all we know universes are created all the time, but from our point of view they only exist for the smallest possible fraction of a second.
thank god for all the great things in the world
Interesting piece there. Very comforting for the loved ones of my lifeless form lying there.
Unfortunately, the most important part of you is gone...your consciousness. There's no "conservation of consciousness" law. Like when a violin breaks, the music is interrupted and destroyed forever. It's just...gone.
Powerful? The utter failure of logic in this piece, received with so much approval, is powerfully distressing.
If you do not believe that energy is created from nothing then you are living a life not worth living. I am not saying you are miserable or so, merely reminding you that you can expand you horizon to great happiness. Mass, energy,etc are continuously being created from nothing.
+Michael Washington False. Conservation of energy was not invented by religion. Neither was entropy. Science definitely deserves credit for their discovery.

All religion has going for it is a set of preposterous claims, which grow more ridiculous the more we know about the universe. Your soul will die when your brain rots: all that will be left is useless heat and cheap molecules. Religion didn't tell you that. Religion taught you to hide your eyes from such unpleasantness.
I don't like doing that +S Jackson. There may be people having an in depth conversation. It's no bother really, it's just my mild OCD doesn't like to leave unread notifications :)
+Luke Parrish if I went my life thinking that chemistry was the only source of knowledge would that make me foolish? Ignoring physics and biology but believing that all of science was encompassed in one scientific discipline would that make sense?
There is more to religion than Catholics and Christians.
Religion says the soul never dies. Science says our energy never dies. Is there much of a difference between your soul and your energy?
At my uncle's viewing, you know, the one that was really at my Baptism. I said that it wasn't him just his dead body. I think maybe that's why I don't hear much from that side. My mother had died 2 yrs previous and I was really sick of the whole scene that's made, but, I still think they didn't quite understand.
Mike T.
People naturally grieve with a deep, personal loss.

Try using this empty, devoid-of-feeling philosophy on a sobbing child whose beloved pet just died.

Even Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus, and all the while knowing he was going to resurrect him soon.

How effective would the physicist have been at Ground Zero on 9/11 and the days that followed, telling families and emergency workers all those murdered people are still here because of a closed system?

Death hurts. Always has.

And life is more than just cellular activity. Our words should reflect that fact.
Yikes, this is a little controversial, I was trackin' with this all the way until the last paragraph.
No Mr. +Adam Maas that is not how the soul is explained. It was not "invented" it's how priests explained the energy that animates us. Ancient priests. Religion did not "invent" the soul, they just simplified the explanation.

Of course the explanation has been perverted and distorted, but the energy that animates us has many different names.
M Smith
I feel for you +Trev Warth , talk about pedanticals! Can you imagine taking some of these to "an auction, listening to them spew all they knew about ancient Chinese kitty liters" ? Talk about missing the "sifting out the gnat but gulping down the Camel" to borrow a religious quote.... I'm come from a very religious family, but I my father also taught physics applied to electronics & aerodynamics at Pratt & Whitney..the two are not exclusively opposed to each other as some of these pedantics imply.
Yes! I would rather that than have some hypocritical ASS tell everyone that I am in heaven. Where I will never be due to dogma and the fact that there is no such place. Any thing that is defined by faith is a myth.
This is a quote, +M Smith, not one of mine. Why 'feel for me'? Appreciated as it is.
Not only do I find this not comforting at all, it also doesn't make a lot of sense.

When a person dies, of course we know that the matter and energy that comprises him continue to exist. That's not what death is.

It's not that in death "you're just less orderly", as the post puts it. It's the fact that your consciousness and personality and your memories--in short, everything that makes you "you"--are apparently forever gone, never to be interacted with again by other sentient beings, that hurts for the bereaved.

And if you're a sentient being, it ought to hurt. What sentient being, endowed with the ability to contemplate the mysteries of the cosmos, and enjoy their myriad beauties, would be content with trading in his sentience with a so-called existence as trillions of molecules and atoms scattered across the galaxy?

There's only one answer to that, and no pablum about photons and particles can change it.

+David Beck , thanks for the great reply. I hope my response makes sense! No pressure, right?

Perhaps my interpretation of the quote is incorrect, but I'm confident enough to stand by it after further read-throughs. Specifically, I believed the statement that we should not have faith was a statement that we should not have religious faith, which I believed to be prejudice and off the topic of science. I believe that this is what the author is referring to because the conversation takes place on a pulpit, and the physicist was taking the place of where a religious representative would historically be.

You are right: I do not know what +Trev Warth intended to convey when posting the quote, or what Mr. Freeman meant, but I feel like it is important to speak out against perceived prejudices whenever possible, to start a dialogue and help everyone understand a problem that humanity has been facing for some time. Trev, no disrespect is intended towards you.

The original quote would have fulfilled its scientific purpose without the discussion of religious faith, IMHO.

However, I believe that the quote's conclusion would be just as troubling if it spoke against faith according to the definition you pointed out, David (although it would not be anti-religious, in this context). I do not want to focus on semantics too much, but faith can be a motivator used to chase after my curiosities. Getting rid of faith is not wise, because it is important to question our faith, whether it is religious or not, all of the time. Perhaps we may find concrete answers to our questions, or perhaps we will have to stay content with a "leap of faith" until our measuring/scientific tools have evolved further. The topics that Mr. Freeman mentioned can be researched further, and our current beliefs in them may be challenged by the results. On those grounds, I disagree that faith is not required when attempting to validate the scientific validity of a hypothesis.

But I cannot say that I'm right beyond a shadow of a doubt, or that my philosophy applies to everyone, so at this point...I guess that means we're at a standstill, unless you'd like me to clarify my stance on something, or if we can get the original man behind the quote to clarify what he meant. It would really be a trip if Aaron Freeman found and responded to this comment chain - I bet he could shed a lot of light on the subject.
And you won't want an engineer there to explain how entropy is the measure of randomness in the universe and that entropy is ever increasing. You won't want the engineer to explain that it is impossible to overcome that randomness to recreate the orderly beauty that was held together by your energy that the physicist assures you is bouncing off of the insides of your coffin. guys crack me up!
Jim, what the post is trying to say is that no matter if the person has passed away, their energy and memory will always be with you. It's a bit like the saying that when someone passes away, they will always be there to look over you. It generally sent the same message, just in a more scientific form.
To have existed ever is to have existed always, in the future, in the past, and/or in the now.
I should have known better than to open this string.
To have existed ever is to have existed always, in the future, in the past, and/or in the now.
M Smith
+Trev Warth I know it is a quote, I read this before; that why I "feel for you" ,your aghast-amazement that so many missed the point and zero'd so narrowly in on the 'details' , and the "mute our own post" line was actually funny in a hinting-pleading sort of way, tht some of them (pedantics) still don't get...anyway, thanks & goodnight..I just added you to my geeksquad circle, BTW
Nice premise. But the order that has disappeared with the death of a person, something that the science doesn't yet have a solid grip on, might quite possibly constitute the very essence of what we refer to as a human soul.
lol ok +M Smith, perfect. I wasn't sure which way to take it.
" According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly." Keen insight yet a person is not his parts, but rather the holistic sum.
The only problem with the scientific explanation is that it is void of consciousness and awareness of existence. I would rather have an eternal presence than be an eternal "pong" game.
+Michael Washington The trouble is that religion is not a scientific discipline. By contrast, something utterly mundane like looking both ways before crossing the street is. Science is about making testable predictions (e.g. "there is no car coming") and testing them with an empirical test (for example the result "there appears to be a car approaching" provides strong evidence to falsify the above hypothesis).

With religion, often people are able to rationalize that their religious text really just meant "energy" instead of personality and consciousness... Well, why didn't it say energy then? Why didn't it include relevant equations? Why didn't it discuss conservation laws and heat engine designs? Why is the speed of light something we had to do an actual test to find out? Where does religion describe Maxwell's Equations? And how did so many people get the impression that their consciousness (not just mindless energy) would live on after death?

Well the answer is, basically, that religion isn't a test, not even an informal one like the kind you run before crossing the street. It's more of an instinct... We are evolved for pattern matching, and we have a tendency to be impressed by certain kinds of story. The actual truth or usefulness of the information isn't as important for the purpose of impressing other humans as the sound of containing important truth. It's a kind of way of signaling, like the caterpillar that has coloring similar to a poisonous one, because it makes them look poisonous to birds without their body having to deliver the goods and manufacture a poison it is immune to. Similarly religion sounds like wisdom but doesn't actually contain the goods that make wisdom worth having.

To be sure, humans have been competing to say empirically tested wise things as well as fake wise things to each other for millions of years. Science is only newly formal, it isn't new. So yes there are things we rediscover or simply formalize existing wisdom. But generally, true/useful wisdom is based on empirical observation at some point, and underwent some kind of testing, even if it was informal and not consciously directed by humans (for example: when families that engage in behavior X tend to survive and reproduce more successfully than families that don't, such families end up becoming the main population).

I'm not saying all arts and non-practical things are to be shunned... We enjoy their beauty and often they serve a hidden purpose which we discover later. But religion seems to be more than just art, it is a method of controlling people and getting them to make and defend ridiculous claims. It deserves tolerance at best. Trying to give it credit for the accomplishments of science is really sketchy.
Hmmmm...if the physicist is female, hot, brunette, and big bussomed...she can say whatever she wants.
What are you, kidding me??
I absolutely want Dr. Neal DeGrasse Tyson to speak at my funeral.
Excellent Piece. Reminds me of ' The Tao of Physics' by Fritjof Capra.My all-time favorite and I recommend it to everyone.
Funerals are for the living, not the dead.
+Trev Warth good post man keep them comin, i love to read good stuff my new friend.
When someone speaks at my funeral, I just want them to say. "Oh my god, she's alive!"
I need to write that into my will.
I want a mime at my funeral. He would stand up in front of the few attendees and shrug.
I didn't think about this in terms of religion at all, just as affirmation for the family left behind, uplifting, really (as well as being factual). I was surprised to look back here and find all the arguing.
Yea this was pretty good LOL I dont see what the argument is... we should let some physicist go crazy with it and start churches hahaha
I'm destined to die a heat death.
this is an awesome eulogy!
Nice!! It's a bit like Godel, and a bit like Lisi's Simple Theory of Everything and a bit like how you feel after smoking too much pot in the sun :)
"Who was the first mover?"

Not only is that a terribly leading question, it also needs to take ad ifinitum and special pleading into account.
Very nice, except the bit about telling grieving people they shouldn't have faith. Faith and science don't need to exclude each other.
I want Steven Hawkins to speak at my funeral. I want him to say I was once a yellow star orbiting around the edge of the Milky Way galaxy and I went supernova and create this big ass blackhole that will eventually consume the entire universe
I love the way the religious crazies get worked up.
Really like this. Really. Interesting to me that pagan god's would immortalize humans as constellations. True or not, who'd a thought? =>
That is the most beautiful thing Ive ever heard. YES! I want exactly this said at my funeral!! Leave the god shit to the religious nutters..
B-E-A-Utiful. Touched my heart!
Oh, you think spirituality and science are complementary? Tell me about how to stay in a middle-way, comfort zone in which you use internet technology, medicines, vaccines you but at the same time like to think we are the center of the universe and part of the master plan of a bearded entity.
J Tang
If only every member of a country is as educated as a physicist....
Not very comforting isn't it? :)
"According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly."

This is not the "you" a mother would miss. Every truth a physicist could offer a mother about her child's death this physicist could also offer her in comforting her about the loss of her favorite toaster that finally failed beyond repair.

No physicist on earth has yet to be able to adequately explain that human spark that makes you different than a bag of meat.

This objective truth that you seek without faith does not exist; rather, it is the same failed rhetoric disguised as enlightenment that every generation thinks it has found anew.
In addition, I want a chemist to back him up!
@Aron Freeman Well if the above comments are meant to be rhetorical, i guess you have done a pretty good job. The goal of science is to explain the universe as it is. It isn't concerned with providing emotional comfort to the grieving; that's an emotional issue not a factual one.

And by the way, what good is your faith if the very god that she worships has taken you away from your mother.Should she worship your murderer? Howz that for a rhetoric !
+Shankar Sengupta That doesn't mean you can't use it as an emotional tool though - science can actually be downright handy that way sometimes, even if such uses aren't usually the primary goal.
I wouldn't want it because, my family is religious. Although I'm not,i wouldn't want the physicist to disprove my families faith in GOD. But science, still can't explain if there is really a such thing as a soul, so it's safe to say that scientist and physicist don't have all the answers concerning where we go when we die.
I've arranged for a humanist/celebrant to speak at mine. All the compassion, caring and nice words, but without any of the religious bullshit.
I love it. This, and Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" and "Satisfied Mind"... (Well, Jeff's voice, he didn't write either)... Sorted.
Beautiful. Science finds ways to connect us all doesn't it? :)
I'd get a physicist to do all this, but I think my loved ones are smart enough to already know this. They will just celebrate my life.
Very nice but ultimately trying to replace religious superstition - in reality you die, you're gone, that's it, nada, finito, nothing.
Accept that and make more of life.
Asking the congregation to have faith in the scientists measurements... interesting twist on religion and prophets there...

Of course they could make the measurements themselves if they wanted (with a margin of error and after lots of training).

They could also pray to God themselves (and perhaps most of them do, perhaps that's why they believe what they do).
Ok, now the church is only good for those sad moments. Good. Once upon a time it was everywhere.
Beautiful, ... fictional physicist Dick Solomon gave a similar speach on 'The Third Rock from the Sun' many years ago lot shorter and 'Einsteinian' but marvelous as well... I'll translate this to spanish to share!
Its all in your mind.Even death is just in your mind.
+Rakib Ahmed these are not my words, it is a quote from Aaron Freeman. If I'd have left out the faith part I would have misquoted.
Hi +Trev Warth, i have an atheist circle and would like to add you there too if you don't mind.

Anyone else wants to, pls let me know.
Awesome... those are the things i think about when i think about mortality too.
I love the fact that our energy was right there at the point of the big bang... most of our being was integral in stars at one point... our matter was there when those stars died and exploded and provided heavier matter like carbon and iron with which to make not only us as we are now but also the trees and the flowers... now as we walk, star dust among star dust we are as much part of this universe now as we were then and as we will be in a billion years.... only now we have the blessing of the gift of reflection where we can pause and see how amazing and miraculous it all is.
So then, how does the Physicist explain who pulls the superstrings? ;-p 
Nice for a post. But too scientific and technical for comfort.

Ministers have a short and more sentimental way of saying all that: "now they live in our hearts..."
This makes no logical sense. You are NOT energy you generate energy and you use energy.
You don't generate energy, you convert it into different forms.
God is irrelevant to the above, that does not mean he is completely irrelevant. If you believe in god then he is relevant to you.
+Robert Lee Bennight Just because the physicist in the example doesn't seem to grasp the concept of information-theoretic death doesn't mean no physicist on the face of the earth does. But yes it's more or less true that the child that dies is like a really complicated and important toaster, and there's no factory that can make you a new one.

Your best hope to eventually get your child back, given the constraints of current technology, is to pump them full of antifreeze (you don't want them frozen, interestingly enough -- ice crystals are much more damaging than antifreeze) and reduce temperature to -135C or lower. Liquid nitrogen will do nicely to keep it cold because it boils at precisely -196C and thereby keeps a uniform temperature over time, which reduces strain on the vitrified brain tissue. (It's also about 5x cheaper than electricity for cooling, which is important because we don't want to take too much resources from other worthy causes to fund your child's shot at immortality.)

Failing to accomplish that, one potentially comforting fact is that humans are substantially similar. If your child dies, there are so many humans in existence that chances are high another with similar personality, preferences, and physical appearance exist. Chances are no individual will match them entirely, but if you aggregate a group containing hundreds of them it's a good bet that the child is mostly represented as a scattered series of fragments.

So in theory all you have to do to continue having a productive relationship with your child is become involved with a large number of other children, e.g. through mentoring or teaching. If you could filter through the candidates sufficiently well to ensure a high degree of similarity, you might be able to meet and interact with / help your entire kid. (Is there an app for that?)
+Edward Woods the difference in this example and the example of a flat Earth is that the conservation of energy is a demonstrable theory, whereas the flat Earth one was simply a guess. However saying that, there will no doubt be things that are purely theoretical now that are proven wrong in the future, and some that are proven right.

What we can say though is that once something is proven wrong then it will very likely remain so. For example most of religious text's explanations of the physical world. When a theist makes the same point you're making to attack science they usually don't want to accept the fact that most of their scripture-fueled understanding of the world has already been disproved.
This is great! I love to see so much conversation start from one persons comment. This shows there are people out there more complicated than the atheist, that just says no it's not real. Or the religions that say, science is wrong, so no. For the people that think their church is against science, you should realize how much research is done by christians. Science is not there to disprove God, it is only to understand what everything is. One day science may disprove everything about god, or it could prove that god is what started everything. As any good scientist would do, keep an open mind, and search for the truth. (even if you don't like the truth you find)

Great job everyone!

believe what you like, if it helps you become a better person. But if you think someone else is wrong, talk about it, don't just say they are going to hell. After all, talking can lead to learning, and that is the greatest thing we can do with our lives.
Well the universe waste nothing.The thing is that we want and love not the particles but that arrangement that briefly was the person. To be sincere a think that nothing but time can really feel that void that a love one leaves when his body transform into other arrangement, nevertheless his conscience will be in our memory even if we never truly and completely knew the person.

Anyway I´ve always like the idea that ourselves "go back" to be a part of the universe ( even thou in reality we are always part of it)

Nice post...
You're right +Edward Woods there are some that do think that. They're in the small minority though in the science community. There are no absolute facts in science, hence things like gravity being classed as a theory :)
My father was a physicist and a very close physicist friend of mine spoke at his funeral. And many physicist were in attendance... It was good, and I took his ashes away in a brown paper bag, and the ashes fertilised the plants growing on my mother's grave... Cycles.
Whether you contemplate death strictly from a scientific perspective or a non-scientific one, death holds a great deal of mystery.

I view life as a journey of discovery, and it is humbling to think that even if I am fortunate enough to live to a ripe old age and maintain an optimal intellectual ability, that the scientific knowledge I may gain will only be a fraction of "all there is to know".

It is humbling to ponder that the perspective I will gain will only be as a tiny drop in the vast ocean of human experience. The wells of scientific discovery are deep and seemingly limitless, and yet the mysteries that cannot be solved by science seem (from my perspective) to be deeper, if only because they seem to be limited only by my imagination and the combined imagination of every other living being with the capacity to imagine and ask questions like: What might life after death be like? Will I perceive? Will I cease to be? Is this "it"? Or is there "more"?

I am a scientist by trade and I tend to approach life in a very analytical way (though if you ask my wife and others who know me well this doesn't mean that I always act in a rational way).

It does mean that I will always be seeking to know more.

I will have an abundance of questions amongst a scarcity of answers.

It means I will make every effort to use the tools I have to learn more, but will always have nagging questions about whether those tools are leading me in the right direction or leading me down the wrong path.

It means I will be ever skeptical when anyone comes to me and says "Trust me. I have the answer. I can see that you are thirsty for truth and that you have hunger for knowledge. I hold the key to the knowledge that you seek."
It doesn't mean I won't take the time to put my skepticism aside and ponder their perspective and (perhaps rather Borg-like) assimilate it into my own.

Someone may say to me "Here is why this piece of analytical equipment is failing to produce an accurate result." Period. Or so you say. But then I consciously choose to change it to a question and maybe I discover more...or maybe I end up "wasting" a lot of time, only to find that you were right. Or maybe (on a good day) I find the root of the problem and save the day. Or maybe (on a bad day) I think I've found it, and later find I was wrong, and everybody including me is left shaking their heads wondering if I’m just wasting everybody’s time...but even on the bad days it turns out I learned something new, and maybe I wasn't wasting time after all.

Someone may say to me "Here is God." "There is no God." "Here is how you are supposed to live your life." "Here is what will happen after you die." Period. Or so you say. But then I consciously choose to change it to a question and I keep searching...

It means I'll always be seeking, poking, prodding, wondering, analyzing, digging deeper, all while subconsciously holding tightly to my own confirmation biases (while at the same time desperately trying to consciously and forcefully free myself of them).

Here are a few things that are guaranteed as I continue on this journey:

Between now and the end of this physical life that I now know I won't find all the answers.

And I most certainly won't be bored along the way.

One other certainty is that someday I will die - my physical life will cease.

And in that final certainty is contained one of the most potent, positive and mysterious reasons to be excited about living, and to strive to be as engaged as possible with my world and the ones that I am so fortunate to be sharing this journey with.
True, but does energy itself means anything?
True, but does energy itself means anything?
It's funny that the very laws of thermodynamics that you try to use to prove your point specifically disprove it. Energy can be, and is, lost. Time to go back to School..
Count me in & add me to the list!
Ahem.. Pardon me hero Dr. #NeilDeGrasseTyson sir; may I apply your name on my behalf please sire!? ;]]
To Shane DistinctiveFlooring. Well technically energy is neither created or destroyed. it simply changes form, as you so stated and so it is not "lost". Read your books again pal. You need to revisit school, and in the case of electro-thermo Dynamics at the sub-atomic scale with particles they are observed in quite the contrast to the older understanding of the laws. Energy may be lost from a pecific mass as it exerts this energy, exampl person walking has cells that use up carbs as fuel and dispenses this energy in the form of kinetic movement and heat, however it is not univerally lost. It is transformed. You need to check your facts.
Luke M.
I did a experiment that proved the same thing as the Scientists at the Australian National University +Jonathan Harrison, only on a Newtonian scale.
The other day, I spontaneously picked up a bunch of the cloths in my room and washed, folded them and put them away. On a timescale of anything up to two hours, the entropy of the pile of dirty cloths was seen to decrease. Anything longer than a couple of days and they get dirty and scattered around again.  Furthermore the washing decays and fades them... 

The example you allude to, without citing, (the one where they electronically charged a "bead" in water and shook it) was measured for 1/10th of a second, anything longer and the 2nd law, aka Entropy takes effect.  
Can I have my PhD now, please?
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