Can an object that isn’t experienced by anyone continue to exist? According to professor Robert Lanza, the answer to this question may be the key to understanding life, death, and existence itself. In his new book, the Wake Forest University professor submits that death, space, and even time are mere illusions that obscure the irreducible fact of eternal life.

If such an argument sounds arcane, that’s because it is: much of Lanza’s work takes place in a realm where objects aren’t just small, but where the very acts of measuring and observation begin to unravel. We’re talking, of course, about the quantum realm — the subatomic microworld where everything we think we know about the universe is abruptly turned on its head. Here, particles give the impression of going back in time and reversing activity; being in two places at once; and exhibiting contradictory behavior simultaneously.

Amid this confusion, one fundamental truth has emerged. Physicists are now certain that objects behave differently when they are viewed and experienced. In support, they cite the so-called double-slit experiment, whereby a certain group of particles passing through a barrier will exhibit different properties if they are being watched. When scientists observe them, they behave like separate particles. But when they are not being watched, they unite in a wave.

Based on this observation, Lanza has formulated his own version of biocentrism — the age-old worldview whereby life is the central fact of the universe. Basically, Lanza believes that life creates the universe, and not the other way around. Time, space, matter, and energy behave the way they do because they are observed and experienced by a bunch of living things. From this, it follows that life cannot simply “end.”

“We think life is just the activity of carbon and an admixture of molecules — we live a while and then rot into the ground,” Lanza writes on his website. But without life, there wouldn’t be any ground to rot in.

“Bottom line: What you see could not be present without your consciousness,” he said, speaking to The Daily Mail. “Our consciousness makes sense of the world.” In death, our life simply becomes a “perennial flower that returns to bloom in the multiverse.”

While Lanza’s theory may strike most people as abstract and convoluted, it dovetails with a number of significant research papers published this year. In “Surge of neurophysiological coherence and connectivity in the dying brain,” researchers from the University of Michigan describe a sudden surge in brain activity following clinical death. In another study, scientists at the University of Oxford show that consciousness may be the result of so-called quantum entanglement.