Your Reality Was Designed By Stoners

I was just fascinated watching these guys doing coding during the day and scraping peyote off cactuses at night and going to raves until morning.

I got my second big wave of interest in digital technology when the weirdest and most psychedelic people I knew from Princeton, where I went to college, ended up moving out to California to become part of the digital revolution in the mid to late ‘80’s. 


I was perplexed as to why these kinds of people, the sort of long-haired Grateful Dead, DMT-taking freaks, were going to work for Sun Micro Systems and Northrop Grumman and Intel. 

I was used to the little kind of geeky pocket-protector people going and doing that, not these folks.  So I started taking trips out there to see what they were doing.  And they were working on virtual reality and chip design and interface.  And what I came to realize was that they were building an entirely new reality.  They were building the interface through which we were going to be interacting with the world.  And the reason why these people were being hired to do it was because they were the only people who were comfortable in hallucinatory realities, living in this kind of lucid dream where anything they could imagine would be beheld. 

And so I was just fascinated watching these guys doing coding during the day and scraping peyote off cactuses at night and going to raves until morning.  I was trying to piece together for people what was going to happen to our world based on the people who were designing it for us. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Keep reading Show less
Big Think Edge
  • In some fundamental ways, humans haven't changed all that much since the days when we were sitting around communal fires, telling tales.
  • Although we don't always recognize them as such, stories, symbols, and rituals still have tremendous, primal power to move us and shape our lives.
  • This is no less true in the workplace than it is in our personal lives.

Has a black hole made of sound confirmed Hawking radiation?

One of Stephen Hawking's predictions seems to have been borne out in a man-made "black hole".

Image source: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Surprising Science
  • Stephen Hawking predicted virtual particles splitting in two from the gravitational pull of black holes.
  • Black holes, he also said, would eventually evaporate due to the absorption of negatively charged virtual particles.
  • A scientist has built a black hole analogue based on sound instead of light.
Keep reading Show less
Big Think Edge
  • The word "creative" is sometimes waved around like a badge of honor. We speak of creativity in hushed tones, as the special province of the "talented". In reality, the creative process is messy, open, and vulnerable.
  • For this reason, creativity is often at its best in a group setting like brainstorming. But in order to work, the group creative process needs to be led by someone who understands it.
  • This sense of deep trust—that no idea is too silly, that every creative impulse is worth voicing and considering—is essential to producing great work.