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Can Quantum Physics Explain Consciousness

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This Research Could Either Confirm Or Dismiss Penrose And Hameroff’s Controversial Theory

Can Physics Explain Consciousness? | Professor Steven Gimbel discusses quantum consciousness
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One of the most important open questions in science is how our consciousness is established. In the 1990s, long before winning the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for his prediction of black holes, physicist Roger Penrose teamed up with anaesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff to propose an ambitious answer.

They claimed that the brains neuronal system forms an intricate network and that the consciousness this produces should obey the rules of quantum mechanics the theory that determines how tiny particles like electrons move around. This, they argue, could explain the mysterious complexity of human consciousness.

Penrose and Hameroff were met with incredulity. Quantum mechanical laws are usually only found to apply at very low temperatures. Quantum computers, for example, currently operate at around -272°C. At higher temperatures, classical mechanics take over. Since our body works at room temperature, you would expect it to be governed by the classical laws of physics. For this reason, the quantum consciousness theory has been dismissed outright by many scientists though others are persuaded supporters.

Vitiello And Freeman: Quantum Field Theory Of Brain States

In the 1960s, Ricciardi and Umezawa suggested to utilize theformalism of quantum field theory to describe brain states, withparticular emphasis on memory. The basic idea is to conceive of memorystates in terms of states of many-particle systems, as inequivalentrepresentations of vacuum states of quantum fields. This proposal has gone through several refinements . Major recentprogress has been achieved by including effects of dissipation, chaos,fractals and quantum noise . For readable nontechnical accounts of the approach inits present form, embedded in quantum field theory as of today, seeVitiello .

Quantum field theory deals with systems with infinitely many degrees of freedom. For suchsystems, the algebra of observables that results from imposingcanonical commutation relations admits of multiple Hilbert-spacerepresentations that are not unitarily equivalent to each other. Thisdiffers from the case of standard quantum mechanics, which deals withsystems with finitely many degrees of freedom. For such systems, thecorresponding algebra of observables admits of unitarily equivalentHilbert-space representations.

Reviewconsciousness In The Universe: A Review Of The Orch Or Theory

The Orch OR theory proposes quantum computations in brain microtubules account for consciousness.

Microtubule quantum channels in which anesthetics erase consciousness are identified.

Evidence for warm quantum vibrations in brain microtubules is cited.

Interference of microtubule vibrations are beat frequencies seen as EEG.

Orch OR links consciousness to processes in fundamental spacetime geometry.

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How Is Quantum Physics Related To Spirituality

Quantum mysticism is a set of metaphysical beliefs and associated practices that seek to relate consciousness, intelligence, spirituality, or mystical worldviews to the ideas of quantum mechanics and its interpretations.

Furthermore, can quantum physics explain consciousness?

The quantum mind or quantum consciousness is a group of hypotheses which proposes that classical mechanics cannot explain consciousness.

Similarly, what is the quantum theory in simple terms? Quantum theory is the theoretical basis of modern physics that explains the nature and behavior of matter and energy on the atomic and subatomic level. Planck wrote a mathematical equation involving a figure to represent these individual units of energy, which he called quanta.

Also Know, what did Einstein say about quantum physics?

Einstein was the first physicist to say that Planck’s discovery of the quantum would require a rewriting of the laws of physics. To support his point, in 1905 he proposed that light sometimes acts as a particle which he called a light quantum .

What is Quantum Energy?

In chemistry and physics, quantum refers to a single packet of matter or energy. In practical use, it refers to the minimum amount of energy required for a change or the minimum value of any physical property in an interaction. Quantum is the singular form of the word.

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Consciousness And Quantum Physics

Can Quantum Physics Be Used to Explain the Existence of ...

One of the first ways that consciousness and quantum physics come together is through the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics. In this theory, the quantum wave function collapses due to a conscious observer making a measurement of a physical system. This is the interpretation of quantum physics that sparked the Schroedinger’s cat thought experiment, demonstrating some level of the absurdity of this way of thinking, except that it does completely match the evidence of what scientists observe at the quantum level.

One extreme version of the Copenhagen interpretation was proposed by John Archibald Wheeler and is called the participatory anthropic principle, which says that the entire universe collapsed into the state we see specifically because there had to be conscious observers present to cause the collapse. Any possible universes that do not contain conscious observers is automatically ruled out.

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Article By Professor Cristiane De Morais Smith On The Conversation Uk

One of the most important open questions in science is how our consciousness is established. In the 1990s, long before winning the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for his prediction of black holes, physicist Roger Penrose teamed up with anaesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff to propose an ambitious answer.

They claimed that the brains neuronal system forms an intricate network and that the consciousness this produces should obey the rules of quantum mechanics the theory that determines how tiny particles like electrons move around. This, they argue, could explain the mysterious complexity of human consciousness.

Penrose and Hameroff were met with incredulity. Quantum mechanical laws are usually only found to apply at very low temperatures.

A Circuits Missing Element

There is also another far more experienced scientist working the same vein of research and seeing dramatic results regarding the microtubule.

Jack Tuszynski, a biophysicist at the University of Alberta, is a longtime Hameroff collaborator who creates cancer drugs. His latest findings suggest microtubules have interesting conductive properties, but indicate they could also be what are called memristors. The memristor is the much sought-after fourth element in an electrical circuit, first theorized by Leon Chua, an electrical engineer at the University of California, Berkeley.

Chua spotted something obvious. The three existing circuit elements resistor, capacitor and inductor depend on relationships between pairs that control how electricity flows, how it gets stored and how it changes as it moves through a circuit:

resistor

capacitor

inductor

Whats the big deal? In transistors, any interruption in the flow of electrons results in data loss. Memristors, however, incorporate both electron flow and ions electrically charged atoms.

Because they remember the charge that previously passed through the material, information could be retained even when turned off. In computers, the innovation means no more rebooting. Computers would turn on like lightbulbs, and hard drives would become a thing of the past.

He thought Hameroff had found the answer in microtubules.

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Can Quantum Theory Explain Consciousness

One of the most important open questions in science is how our consciousness is established. In the 1990s, long before winning the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for his prediction of black holes, physicist Roger Penrose teamed up with anaesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff to propose an ambitious answer.

They claimed that the brains neuronal system forms an intricate network and that the consciousness this produces should obey the rules of quantum mechanics the theory that determines how tiny particles like electrons move around. This, they argue, could explain the mysterious complexity of human consciousness.

Penrose and Hameroff were met with incredulity. Quantum mechanical laws are usually only found to apply at very low temperatures. Quantum computers, for example, currently operate at around -272°C. At higher temperatures, classical mechanics takes over. Since our body works at room temperature, you would expect it to be governed by the classical laws of physics. For this reason, the quantum consciousness theory has been dismissed outright by many scientists though others are persuaded supporters.

Instead of entering into this debate, Cristiane de Morais Smith decided to join forces with his colleagues from China, led by Professor Xian-Min Jin at Shanghai Jiaotong University, to test some of the principles underpinning the quantum theory of consciousness.

Can Physics Explain Consciousness And Does It Create Reality

Can quantum mechanics explain consciousness? Exploring the particle mind

We are finally testing the ideas that quantum collapse in the brain gives rise to consciousness and that consciousness creates the reality we see from the quantum world.

If physical processes in a brain create consciousness, what are they?

Victor de Schwanberg/Science Photo Library

If physics explains all the phenomena in the universe, and if consciousness is part of the universe, then is seems that physics can explain consciousness.

Of course, this assumes that consciousness isnt separate from the material reality that physics explains which runs counter to René Descartess dualist view of mind and matter. Some have no problem with that. They include Daniel Dennett at Tufts University in Massachusetts and Michael Graziano at Princeton University, who argue that our intuitive sense that consciousness needs an explanation that goes beyond objective descriptions of the physical world is misplaced. Consciousness is a mirage produced by sophisticated neural mechanisms in the brain, they contend, so we need no new physics to explain it. Rather, we need a better understanding of how the brain creates models: of the world, of a self in the world and of a self subjectively experiencing the world.

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Fellow Scientists Labeled Him A Crackpot Now Stuart Hameroffs Quantum Consciousness Theories Are Getting Support From Unlikely Places

By Steve VolkMarch 1, 2018 12:00 PM

Anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff believes tiny structures in our cells called microtubules could explain consciousness.

Stuart Hameroff is an impish figure short, round, with gray hair and a broad, gnomic face. His voice is smoke deep and granular, rumbling with the weight of his 70 years. For more than two decades, hes run a scientific conference on consciousness research. He turns up each day in rumpled jeans and short-sleeved shirts. The effect is casual bordering on slovenly. But up close, he is in charge, and to his critics, he comes off as pugnacious.

He may not care so much about how hes dressed. He cares a great deal about how he and his theories are addressed.

Hameroff is best known for serving as a kind of gadfly in the fields of neuroscience and philosophy. He emerged in 1994 from the windowless bowels of the Arizona hospital where he still works as an anesthesiologist to put forward what seemed at the time some of the more outlandish ideas about the human brain.

Most neuroscientists say thoughts are born from brain cells called neurons. Hameroff suggests the most meaningful action happens at the impossibly small quantum level, where subatomic particles like photons and electrons exhibit bizarre behavior. Quantum physics drives consciousness, he believes.

Mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose speaks at the 2017 Science of Consciousness conference.

Altered States Of Consciousness

What better way to study consciousness than by looking at it in altered states specifically the chemicals that achieve this, such as general anaesthetics. The only thing we are sure about consciousness, is that it is soluble in chloroform, said quantum biologist Luca Turin of the Alexander Fleming Biomedical Research Centre in Greece in 2014 . Turin noted that chemicals with anaesthetic capabilities have chemical and structural properties that are very different from each other, leading him to focus on the similar physics that these substances might share. Anaesthetics can bind to various cytoplasmic and membrane proteins. He proposed that anaesthetics facilitate electron currents in these proteins and that this might be demonstrated by looking at changes in quantum spin, where spin describes the magnetic properties of quantum particles such as electrons. What he found was that under the influence of xenon, the simplest of all the anaesthetics, fruit flies showed an increase in electron spin as measured through the use of electron spin resonance .

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The Brain Is A Black Box

As for how the brain sustains our mind and consciousness, we still know precious little, even if advances in imaging techniques in the past two decades or so have revealed, to a certain extent, how clusters of neurons, often in different regions in the brain, ignite under different stimuli like lights on a Christmas tree. In a nutshell, the issue here is that tagging neuronal activity is the easy part of the task. The hard part is understanding how active neurons conspire to create the sense of who we are that is, translating bioelectrical activity and blood flow into self-awareness.

In the 17th century, Descartes proposed to split mind and matter: while matter has spatial extension , mind does not. Mind is not matter but, in ways that stumped even Descartes, can influence matter. How does something that is immaterial influence something that is material? Descartes also postulated that mind precedes matter, the essence of his famous, I think therefore I am. This mind-body dualism caused and causes much confusion, especially for those who use it to defend the existence of some kind of soul or spirit that is independent of matter and that can survive its inexorable decay. How does the I that is you persist without the grounding structures of the material brain?

The Pointless Chiming Of The Clock

Can quantum mechanics explain consciousness?

On any given day, we will make thousands of decisions and perform countless actions. We will move our legs to walk, open our mouths to eat, smile at our friends, kiss our loved ones, and so on. Today, we know enough about neuroscience and physiology to give a complete and full account of how this happens. We can point to the parts of the brain that activate, the route the nerve signals will take up and down the body, the way the muscles will contract, and how the body will react. We can, in short, give a full physical account of everything we do.

The question, then, is: what is the point of our consciousness? If we can explain all of our behavior quite happily with physical causes, what is there left for our thoughts to do?

Anthropologist Thomas Huxley argued that our thoughts are a bit like a clocks chime at the hour. It makes a sound, but it makes no difference at all to the time. Likewise, our thoughts and subjective feelings might be very nice and appear very special to us, but they are completely uninvolved.

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Compositional And Decompositional Approaches

Dual-aspect approaches consider mental and material domains of realityas aspects, or manifestations, of one underlying reality in which mindand matter are unseparated. In such a framework, the distinctionbetween mind and matter results from the application of a basic toolfor achieving epistemic access to, i.e., gather knowledge about, boththe separated domains and the underlying reality. Consequently, the status of the underlying, psychophysically neutraldomain is considered as ontic relative to the mind-matterdistinction.

As mentioned inSection 2, dual-aspect approaches have a long history, essentially starting withSpinoza as a most outspoken protagonist. Major directions in the 20thcentury have been described and compared to some detail byAtmanspacher . An important distinction between two basicclasses of dual-aspect thinking is the way in which thepsychophysically neutral domain is related to the mental and thephysical. For Russell and the neo-Russellians thecompositional arrangements of psychophysically neutralelements decide how they differ with respect to mental or physicalproperties. As a consequence, the mental and the physical arereducible to the neutral domain. Chalmers ideason consciousness and information fall into this class.Tononis theoretical framework of integrated informationtheory can be seen as a concrete implementation of a number of features ofChalmers proposal. No quantum structures are involved in thiswork.

A Universe With Its Own Reality

“If there is an isolated pair of particles floating around somewhere in space, they will have some rudimentary form of consciousness if they interact in the correct way,” said Kleiner.

So according to IIT, the universe is indeed full of consciousness. But does it have implications for the physical part of the universe? The math of the theory says it does not. A physical system will operate independently, whether it has a conscious experience or not.

Kleiner gives a computer as an example, saying that IIT’s math shows it may have consciousness but that won’t change the way in which it operates.

“This is at odds with the metaphysical underpinning of the theory which is strongly idealist in nature, Kleiner said. “It puts consciousness first and the physical second. We might see some change in the mathematics at some point to take this underpinning more properly into account.”

This is what his and Tull’s study seeks to resolve. Emergentist theories of consciousness tend to claim physics is all there is.

Related: The problems with modern physics

“They would reject the idea that consciousness is separate from or more primary than the physical and they would say consciousness is nothing but a specific physical phenomenon which emerges from the interaction of the fundamental physical quantities in certain conditions,” said Kleiner.

“There might be moral implications. We tend to treat systems that have conscious experiences different from systems that don’t,” said Kleiner.

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Penrose And Hameroff: Quantum Gravity And Microtubuli

In the scenario developed by Penrose and neurophysiologicallyaugmented by Hameroff, quantum theory is claimed to be effective forconsciousness, but the way this happens is quite sophisticated. It isargued that elementary acts of consciousness are non-algorithmic,i.e., non-computable, and they are neurophysiologically realized asgravitation-induced reductions of coherent superposition states inmicrotubuli.

Unlike the approaches discussed so far, which are essentially based on status quo quantum theory, thephysical part of the scenario, proposed by Penrose, refers to futuredevelopments of quantum theory for a proper understanding of thephysical process underlying quantum state reduction. The granderpicture is that a full-blown theory of quantum gravity is required toultimately understand quantum measurement .

This is a far-reaching assumption. Penroses rationale forinvoking state reduction is not that the corresponding randomnessoffers room for mental causation to become efficacious . His conceptual starting point, at length developedin two books , is that elementary conscious actscannot be described algorithmically, hence cannot be computed. Hisbackground in this respect has a lot to do with the nature ofcreativity, mathematical insight, Gödels incompletenesstheorems, and the idea of a Platonic reality beyond mind andmatter.

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