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Clifford Pickover

a God in any traditional sense.

On the other hand, some scientists feel we exist because of cosmic coincidences, or more accurately, we exist because of seemingly ‘finely tuned’ numerical constants that permit life. Those individuals who believe this anthropic principle suggest these numbers to be near miracles that might suggest an intelligent design to the universe. For example, we owe our very lives to the element carbon, which was first manufactured in stars before the Earth formed. The challenge in creating carbon is getting two helium nuclei in stars to stick together until they are struck by a third. It turns out that this is accomplished only because of internal resonances, or energy levels, of carbon and oxygen nuclei. If the carbon resonance level were only four percent lower, carbon atoms wouldn’t form. Were the oxygen resonance level only half a percent higher, almost all the carbon would disappear as it combined with helium to form oxygen. This means that human existence depends on the fine-tuning of these two nuclear resonances.  

Other amazing parameters abound. If all of the stars in the universe were heavier than three solar masses, they would live for only about 500 million years, and life would not have time to evolve beyond primitive bacteria. Stephen Hawking has estimated that if the rate of the universe’s expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have re-collapsed. The universe must live for billions of years to permit time for intelligent life to evolve. On the other hand, the universe might have expanded so rapidly that protons and electrons never united to make hydrogen atoms. 

All of these cosmic niceties have led the one-time agnostic physicist Paul Davies to write, “Through my scientific work I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact.” Of course, these conclusions are controversial, and an infinite number of random (non-designed) universes could exist, ours being just one that permits carbon-based life. Some researchers have even speculated that child universes are constantly budding off from parent universes and that the child universe inherits a set of physical laws similar to the parent, a process reminiscent of evolution of biological characteristics of life on Earth.

David: In your book The Science of Aliens–which I really enjoyed–you discuss the possibility that the alien abduction phenomena may also be the result of temporal lobe epilepsy, which you mentioned as being a possible explanation for some mystical experiences. What are your thoughts on how this relates to the strange contact experiences that people report with alien intelligences while they’re under the influence of DMT, and do you tend to view these experiences as complex hallucinations or as “a doorway to valid dimensions of reality”?   

Clifford: This question is the key and is something I continually ponder. Refer back to my early discussions of DMT in this interview. As I said, I am very interested to learn why people using DMT often report seeing intricate palaces and temples, golden objects, and strange beings who sometimes seem to be fixing the tapestry of reality. The DMT reality seems to be utterly ‘real’ and I hope we can gain information from this reality that will shed more light as to its validity or usefulness. I don’t know what the DMT world  means, but I consider it worthy of further research. 

The DMT universe can overlap ours in various ways. For example, a DMT psychonaut, with his eyes open, may see a being perched on a tree in our world. This is a level 1 merging of realities, with the tree from our universe and the being from the DMTverse. Or the psychonaut can walk through a forest and around a lake and see a totally unrelated forest and lake in the DMT verse, with no correspondence to the real universe except for the fact that a forest and a lake exist. In this level 2 blending, it’s as if the subconscious brain ‘sees’ our traditional world but creates a DMT metaphor for it.  A lake in one world is a lake in the world beyond. Level 3 blending can be particularly enchanting. The psychonaut may walk through an ordinary auditorium, seeing a completely different universe comprising a vast machine complex or palace of sparkling jewels.  In this level 3 blending, the psychonaut is still able to spatially ‘navigate’ both worlds simultaneously.  

For example, the psychonaut may walk down an aisle, climb stairs, and avoid chairs in our world while traversing the DMT level 3 universe. The psychonaut doesn’t ‘bump’ into things. Researcher Benny Shannon has experimented with Ayahuasca (a DMT-containing plant potion) and confronted various blendings of our universe and the DMTverse, and he himself has seen entire cities of gems and gold. He says, “It was as if a screen had been raised and another world made its appearance to me.” Indeed, some psychonauts after seeing the celestial palaces have claimed these were the most beautiful images they had ever seen in their entire lives. I don’t speculate that L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz, or the producers of the movie version have tried DMT, but the glistening emerald city and munchkins are images right out of a DMTverse.
In short, the molecule DMT can cause a transition from our world to another with no cessation of consciousness or quality of awareness. In this environment, the so-called self-transforming machine elves appear to inhabit this parallel realm. The DMT experience has the feel of reality in terms of detail and potential for exploration. The creatures encountered are often identified as being alienlike or elflike. If we could gain information from these creatures that we could not ordinarily obtain with our normal consciousness, wouldn’t that be something special? Author Terence McKenna has used DMT and felt that, “Right here and now, one quanta away, there is raging a universe of active intelligence that is transhuman, hyperdimensional, and extremely alien… What is driving religious feeling today is a wish for contact with this other universe.” The aliens seen while using DMT present themselves “with information that is not drawn from the personal history of the individual.”

David: While we’re on the subject of alien intelligence, what are your thoughts on the possibilities of extraterrestrial life, and what do you think an intergalactic zoo might look like? 

Clifford: I have no doubt that primitive life is common in the universe. Recent discoveries of life living miles under the Earth in utter darkness, or in ice, or even in boiling water, tell us: whatever is possible in nature tends to become realized.  My personal view is that almost everything happens in our universe that is not forbidden by the laws of physics and chemistry. Life on Earth can thrive in unimaginably harsh conditions, even in acid or within solid rock. On the ocean floor, bacteria thrive in scalding, mineral-laden hot springs. If microbes thrive in such miserable conditions on Earth, where else beyond Earth might similar life forms exist?

The best way we can guess at how alien life might appear is to consider the evolution of animal shapes on Earth. The idea that alien evolution will lead to creatures that look like us is far-fetched–despite the fact that on Star Trek, Mr. Spock looks almost exactly like us even though he was born on planet Vulcan to a Vulcan father. Mr. Spock’s mother was human, yet somehow his father from an entirely different planet was able to fertilize her–something less likely than you or I being able to mate with our close evolutionary cousins such as the octopuses and squids. Similarly, the aliens of Whitley Strieber’s Communion, and also those drawn by people claiming to have been abducted by aliens, have faces vaguely resembling our own.  

These creatures, like the aliens in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, have large, smooth heads and huge black eyes. Again, they are also a little too human looking considering the quite different evolutionary pathways we’d expect on different worlds. Obviously, Hollywood production costs can be kept down if aliens are simply humans wearing sophisticated masks and makeup with dripping goo.  Why is it that so many of the recent Hollywood extraterrestrials tend to be wet– the slimy goo variously suggesting amniotic fluid, mucous, evisceration, and dangerous body fluids?  Perhaps all the alien drool reminds us of rabid animals and therefore is something to be feared. 
In the DMT universe or temproal lobe epilepsy universe, there may be reasons why psychonauts see humanoid forms, but speaking from a purely evolutionary standpoint in our ‘real world’, there are many reasons why human forms are unlikely. For one thing, the diverse rates and directions of evolution on Earth, with many types of creatures becoming extinct, show that there is no goal-directed route from single cells

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