Humans can build machines to re-create conditions seconds after the Big Bang and send a probe to the surface of a one of Saturn's moons. But no one can explain how experience happens — how we smell garlic, for example, or see colors.

Those small things and every other sensory event that we toss under the heading of "consciousness" mark the edge of a scientific frontier that four professors in Southern California plan to chart, using the latest techniques from mathematics and quantum theory.

They begin their expedition with an elemental question: What is real?

The minds behind Conscious Realism

Click photos for extended interviews:

  Don Hoffman
Professor of Cognitive Science, UC Irvine

  Chetan Prakash
Professor of Mathematics, Cal State San Bernardino

Jon Merzel
Professor of Mathematics, Soka University

Phat Vu
Professor of Physics, Soka University

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