notes: the physics of consciousness
from the physics of consciousness: quantum minds and the meaning of life, by evan harris walker phd, 2000 perseus books, cambridge ma
“we live in a whirlpool of reality dreams, asking all the while, ‘what is reality?’ while all the while it goes unseen before us in the present moment. it is there before you. it is some color you see now, some thought you hold for an instant. reality is some memory, summoned to mind and savored, of being happy for a moment with someone you once loved. it is a wish you dreamed would come, and the coming true of the wish – your daydream, some future you plan now and look on as if here already. but reality is also a piece of steel with a sharp edge that cuts. or reality is loneliness.” p3
“flaws in the materialistic paradigm of science have appeared in recent year. these flaws have grown to a gaping rent, torn across the whole fabric of the materialistic conception of reality. strained by the conflicts between einstein and bohr over the ultimate meaning of quantum mechanics (developing in the einstein-podolsky-rosen paradox), subjected to further stress in bell’s theorem, and finally ripped through in recent tests by aspect in france, the whole cloth of the materialistic picture of reality must now be rejected.” p5
“although we know that our common-sense understanding of the world is merely fiction, the illusions stay with us. science has entirely overturned what we know about the structure of the world. but rather than revising our picture of what reality is, we cling to a collage of incongruent shards. we preserve a false assemblage of images, one pasted upon another, so that we can keep unchanged the mental portrait of ourselves and of the world to which we are accustomed. we go about our business despite the fact that the world on which we base our lives is so much in question, so much a mystery.” p7
“matter is not really both particle and wave, but rather discrete packages of energy that dart from place to plae in a frenzy of quantum jumps, that ebb and flow in waves of chance. it is a world in which nothing stays long where it should be but only stays where it could be. the atoms dand and the electrons hop, zippign about from the wildly random thermal commotiona dn from the blurry speed with which probability waves sp[eckle the tiny electrons around their nuclei, painting fleeting mazes into solid things like you and me – ahe her.
“and yet none of this is what is there. all of this motion is frozen. all this darting and all these quantum jumps exist only as potentialities. the jumps and darts happen when measurements take place, when we observe, and when things interact with other things. we cannot view the probability waves as arising because real discrete particles of matter in precise locations with exact speeds dart about so fast or so discontinuously that we cannot follow their true paths. they have no path. they have no exact place and no exact momentum. they exist as potentialities at all these places at once: a frozen static frenzy, the silent excitement of nature. particles do exist, but their states are represented by waves of probabilities. that is the resolution of the wave-particle duality paradox. that is the solution that cloaks still more mysteries than we ever thought might hide there.” p65
…in addition to these (gravitation, electromagnitism, the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force; quarks (mesons and baryons); leptons (electrons, muons, tau particles) and their nutrinos) – “altogether that makes 61 kinds of particles. that is the ‘standard model.’
“in addition to these, there is one more particle called a higgs bosun, a particule expected to be like the quanta (i.e., the chunks of energy) postulated to give the W+, W-, and Z0 particles their heavy masses. to say the lease, as chris quigg put it in scientific american, ‘by the criterion of simplicity the standard model does not seem to represent progress over the ancient view of matter as made up by earth, air, fire and water, interacting through love and strife.'” p82
“surely these particles have something to do with reality, but the ease with which large numbers of alternative theories can be created detracts from the significance of all these theories. we are left feeling that these theories may have no more to do with the real structure of ultimate reality (whatever that may be) than ptolemy’s epicycles, which, you will recall, did explain the planets’ motions.” p83
“maybe the way out of the bell’s theorem problem and the measurement problem in quantum mechanics is to stop denying the obvious answe4r. quantum mechanics requires that we take into account the fact that conscious observers exist as unique entities, as a part of the total reality of the world….bell’s theorem was an effort to escape this obvious conclusion about quantum mechanics, and that effort failed. it failed because it was an attempt to design a universe that would leave out consciousness. the way out of our difficulty, the path we must take now, is to try to understand what was previously rejected. we must recognize that objective reality is a flawed concept, that state vector collapse does arise from some interaction with the observer, and that indeed consciousness is a negotiable instrument of reality. our entire conception of reality must now be rethought. we stand at the threshold of a revolution in thinking that transcends anything that has happened in a thousand years. now the observer, consciousness, something self-like or mind-like, becomes a provable part of a richer reality than physics or any science has ever dared to envision.” p137
“others, including einstein and bell, tried to show quantum mechanics (or at least the copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics ) to be wrong, and this attempt led to the tests of bell’s theorem. those tests showed instead that any effort to picture the physical world in terms of local and objective reality (independently existing objects ) would yield results that are inconsistent with the know behavior of atomic phenomena.” p138
“consciousness is the feel of things. it is the roughness and the hardness of a brick. it is the strength of a steel rod, the sound of the temple bell. it is space and time – the sentience of being that separates its contents from its own contents while holding them together as one thing. here, put your hand on the wall of your room and feel what you yourself are. see the man across the room. that is what you are, and as he sees you, you are what he is. the lines in his face, the fineness of his hair – thess too are you. that is reality.
“you have never touched a brick, never touched a wall, never held a book, never seen a word on a printed page, never held another, never touched a lover’s lips. those, if they exist at all, lie beyond you, and you can never reach out a hand to touch them. that is reality.
“if to all this sophistry you say, ‘well, of course i know that the objects of the external world are displayed on my mind’s eye – in the brain – and so i have no primary experience of objects,’ then you have failed to understand what is being said here. realize: all those concepts, all those arguments are part of that same experience, that same reality. and there is something more you should realize. we have seen that there is no objective world. the tests of bell’s theorem have undercut that logical avenue. that objective reality is no longer there. now you should realize that it is a whole new reality that must be discovered. you should not think that the brick is an external object with an interal image in your brain. you are the brick. if this comes as a wondrous revelation, changing all your understanding, then you have just touched satori. you have discovered enlightenment, the consciousness of consciousness.” p153
“body is an element of consciousness, and because we have shown that objective reality does not exist, so too the objective body must be more illusion than real. body depends on consciousness, and consciousness therefore does not depend on body. if consciousness is not conditioned on body, then that reason for conceiving of consciousness as experienced must be given up. mind is eternal. heaven, nirvana, eternity: these are space.” p154\5
“now what did i mean when earlier i talked about going beyond buddha? what did i mean when i said that first you must understand the truth of the buddha before you can know that the buddha was wrong? buddhism points us to a particularly intense and clear understanding of what consciousness is. it points to a realization that conscious experience is reality. it is what i am. it is what you are. it points to a realization that this book in your hand is your actual being. this book at this moment as you hold it in your hand is in fact you because that is the content of your consciourness at the moment. not just ‘content’ but, in fact, the full being of your existednce. you are nothing else.
“but this is only a beginning…the buddha’s truth is also wrong. it is wrong because it is incomplete. rather than an end point, a final achievement of enlightenment, it is a stop along the way.” p158/9
“out of the confusion of primitive myths, a few philosophies have garnered several enduring facts. out of these scattered facts, newton built a system pf physical laws. out of these laws and from the deft tools of science, succeeding generations of scientists have built a universe of quarks and quasars, of atoms and galazies, of tissues and planets. we have found a universe not built of the our elements – earth, water, air, and fire – but held together by the four forces – fravitation, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forcees – forces that seem to have boiled out of one original common material in the firt instant of the universe’s birth.
“but strangely, so very strangely, as we have looked deeper in to the nature of this reality, we have found that the reality we observe depends on where we stand to look at it. by moving, as einstein has shown, not only our vantage point changes, but the things we look upon as they move past us change as well. the space and time and matter we see are changed by our own condition of looking at the world. we have found that nature reveals herself in her symmetries that are no more than reflections of the ways that we understand the world. and we have found that our limits to observe the world are nature’s own limits to its very existence. we have found, in relativity and in quantum mechanics, that the very reality of the universe is bound to our own experience of it. and we have watched as tests of bell’s theorem have melted the isolation of objective reality into reflecting pools that mirror the images of those who observe.” p162
“physicists in the copenhagen camp have been too satisfied with their successes in most areas to recognize the incomplete status of the copenhagen interpretation itself. they have not said what this ‘observer’ is. they have not said how such ideas can be made complete and internally self-consistent. they have not been willing to explore the meaning of consciousness, which is the distinctive characteristic of the observer that might help us understand how state vectore collapse is caused by observation.” p163
“the modern view, held by most scientists and philosophers alike, is that the mind has no independent existence. it is the view that only the material world exists. such views of man’s nature have ancient roots. lucretius, founder of the school of atomism, concluded, ‘the nature of the mind must be bodily, since it suffers from bodily weapons and blows.’…
“for thomas hobbes, living at a time when hans schlottheim and hoachim fries were fabricating the earliest mechanical automata of wires and gears, the comparison was even more pointed: ‘for what is the heart, but a spring, and the nerves but so many stirng,’ and concluding with ‘that which is really within us is…only motion.’ the idea of mind entirely disappears in such views.
“benedict spinoza, however, viewed mind and body as one substance: exicting as a part of the universal substance, at once the matter of which the universe is composed and the embodiment of god. but gottfried leibniz viewed mind and body as being comprised of ‘true atoms’ that he called monads – particles each existing as individual beings, combining both material and mental properties, exerting force, endowed with perception and apperception, and moving under the supreme, preordained control of god.” 9163/4
“consciousness is not a ‘doing’; it is a ‘something.’ it is not thinking’ it is the existential being that has thinking as its subject. how could minsky believe that computations in one part of the brain, or a computer, could have sentience – feelings and experience – that happens just because its input data comes from other parts of the brain in spite of the fact that those parts themselves, doing the heaviest load of the data processing, have no conscious experience whatsoever? but we have heard all this before. this functionalism is ryle’s ‘category mistake’ argument. we have already seen that such a concept fails to recognize the existence of something more than behavior. as yourself, ‘waht is it that the functionalist says that is objectively different from what the behaviorist says?’ we have already seen that the reality the zen buddhist finds beyond the void is the stuff of consciousness that still exists when the program is put to rest – that is, when thought is stilled. and most imprtantly, we have already seen that the efforts of physics to describe the world in such purely objective terms fail when put to the test.” p175
“if we look at the domain that the equations of physics represent, we can see atoms, living bodies, stars, and even the universe. we can see the motions of rivers, the movement of horses, and the universe unfolding from some early big bang in the first instant of creation. but if we approach what is in those equations exclusively in terms of those ideas physicists have put there, we will see that there are some things that are missing and that cannot be derived from the things that have gone into those equations. the equations have positions and intervals, quantities and forms, and they describe responses. but feelings are not there, nor is pain, c#, or the colors we see in the budding red rose. ‘motives’ are there, but emotions are not. conscious being is not in these equations. if consciousness is to play its role in physics, it must be included in its own right, on its own terms. quantum mechanics may beg the question of what the observer is, but making length be the conscious experience of length will not change the schrodinger equation or answer our questions about the measurement problem. instead, it will be necessary to introduce something new into physics on its own terms. this is how it has always been in physics when we have wished to understand something totally new.” p176
“in none of these cases are we forced to resort to a conscious observer to find reason enough for the particular innovative principles these questions have relvealed to us about nature. and yet each marks a step in the same direction, a tep toward recognizing that what affects our ability to observe reflects nature’s most basic rules and determines her most basic structure. each is a step toward recognizing that we must accord the conscious observer a place in the total picture in order to ujnderstand how things work.
“all of these discoveries have shown, little by little, that consciousness is a fundamental part of reality. the quantum mechanical description of a world of state vectores with state selection caused by observation moves us still closer to seeing the observer as co-particiaptor – i am tempted to use constantine’s word consubstantia – in all physical phenomena. bell’s theorem has moved us a step closer as we have discovered that nothing ‘out there’ has an entirely independent existence. little surprise, then, that limits in observability should reflect the basic structure of phsycial reality. little surprise, then, that symmetry should be so important in physics, or that the lack of distinguishability of individual atoms should affect the way matter behaves, or that the coordinates of the observer should determine the physical laws of relativity. how basic is this observer to the nature of reality? how much does mind create, or is pursuing this idea even the correct path to follow?” p177/8
“if consciousness is not in the equations to begin with, it cannot be derived from these equations. we can grapple with understanding our zen mind with our analytic brains just so long before the effort to achieve such abstraction overtakes our mental capabilities.” p179
“in its purest realization, physics becomes one equation. that equation is the word that immaculately posits all reality, and that word becomes the perfect monism. but this monism would be meaningless without the parts of the equation whose equivalence form the perfect dualism: balanced, counterpoised, symmetrical. there is no way to describe reality, whatever it is, that does not at once demand and satisfy such a relationship of parts and wholeness. if philosophy could have surrendered mind, physics still could not have structured reality out of matter alone. such a conception is an error of eighteenth-century thinking, a thinking in which the fundamental nature of energy, space, and time had not yet been recognized as constructs, as pieces of reality as basic to what reality is as is matter.” p180
“consciousness is real and nonphysical.” p182
“physical reality is connected to consciousness by means of a single physically fundamental quantity.” p183
“these two postulates – ‘consciousness is real and nonphysical’ and ‘physical reality is connected to consciousness by means of a single physically fundamental quantity’ – organize the problem and point to a methodology. they say what we should and what we should not try to do. they tell us that we should not attempt to explain consciousness as being something else – as being made up of neurological processes, for example – and they say what the first step should be in our effort to solve the mystery of consciousness. find the connection between consciousness and the rest of our body of scientific knowledge. when we have done that, we can begin to probe more deeply into the structure and the nature of the interaction of consciousness with other parts of reality. ultimately, we will find out whether consciousness is a part of the cloth, thread, weave, pattern, dye, color, or form of the fabric of reality. ultimately, we will be able to look past these aspects of reality and see something more: the loom and the weaver.” p183
“to find the quantum mechanical link, we will have to look elsewhere. we will have to look in to the machinery of the key component of the brain computer; we will have to look in to its basic switching element, the synapse. there we will find how quantum mechanical tunneling plays a subtle but essential role in the triggering of these switches. there, in those minute switches, at the minuscule intersynaptic cleft – that is where the quantitative link between mind and brain is to be found. that is where the first test came and where the fit between an incipient idea stirring in my mind first met the physical evidence that, as we will see, makes this concept so immediately apparent. it came so smoothly together that i knew this must be the secret doorway into the mind.
“and what a beautiful answer! there at the synaptic cleft, quantum mechanics brings together the world of physical phenomena and that of the nonphysical mind. we see quantum mechanics as the mechanism of mind; just as in the measurement problem, we found that the consciousness of the observer was the conclusion bell’s theorem forced on physics. we have seen that quantum mechanics and the measurement problem lead us to the observer, to consciousness, and now we see that an independent investigation of consciousness returns us to the quantum world. this is that completeness we talked about earlier. this is the mark that great truths stamp upon the visions of prophets, the sign that discovery is leading us along a path already mapped out for us. and all this brings us back to the question of what the state vector in quantum mechanics is about – to the question of ultimate meanings and realities woven into the equations of physics and into the fabric of our lives. our thoughts are the ticks of the clock that beats the rhythm of time. each flickering spark of life spreads the moments into corridors of space. mind is the forge of creation, and the echoes are the universe.” p194/5
“when it comes to the question of the state of our own consciousness, quantification takes place in a fundamentally different way [than recording atomic decay]. because there is no device to measure consciousness in another individual, what we know about consciousness comes about by associating our own conscious experience with other data that are simultaneously experienced. these other data can either be data about something taking place in the outside world or something else in our mentation. what we do is make a correlation between a physical effect on the brain that produces one conscious experience and a second conscious experience that registers the magnitude and type of the physical action on the brain, or on some other associated condition of the consciousness.
“we take on the role of the ‘counter device’ from within our own consciousness. we are forced to make the final ‘measurement’ comparison for ourselves inside our own heads. to obtain a physical measurement, all we have to do is stand at the end of the line. but if we are going to ‘measure’ consciousness, – that is, obtain a number associated with consciousness occurrence – we must get into the act directly. we have to complete a comparison loop, a loop that can include an external sequence of events, or a loop that can take place entirely internally, involving brain processes to complete the loop.” p201
“first and most important is the fact that consciousness is an onset phenomenon. by this i mean that consciousness springs into being where certain conditions of brain functioning are met (such as when we awaken). consciousness does not come into being only when the brain begins to think. even when we are asleep and not dreaming, our brain is usually very active. thoughts – that is to say, thinking and data processing – are present, and yet consciousness is absent or, at most, is maintained at an extremely low level. if awakened from a sound sleep and asked what we were just thinking, we may indeed be able to relate that our brains were active with thought but this data processing was not associated with any conscious aawareness. these thoughts existed merely as ripples of neural activity ready to rush to the surface of sonsciousness from an ever active brain when awakened. consciousness happens when some new process comes into play as our awakening brain becomes somewhat more active.
“from neurological studies, we know that the brain, the seat of consciousness, is not inactive when consciousness is absent, even during deep, nondreaming sleep. in fact, from brain wave data and from direct electrical probes placed in brains, we know that the level of activity of the brain changes only by a factor of about 2 between the awakened state and the sleep state. but something very dramatic happens when we awaken. everything changes. the colors of the sky, the sounds of breezes, the odor of the fresh air of the woods – these did not exist the moment before. consciousness came into being and gave sentience to existence.
“in that moment marking the transition from unconscious existence of the body to conscious existence, as the level of brain activity changed from an idling engine of thought to a vehicle that has lurched into motion, something new has come into being – something that gives rise to this freshly awakened consciousness. whatever it is that has happened in the brain, consciousness has made a discrete change. it has turned on..
“what has happened in the brain is that it has changed in its level of activity. and there must be an associable or correlate number, some quantity that tells us just what level of brain activity had to be reached in order to bring about the onset of consciousness. the consciousness came into being in that moment of increased brain activity. consciousness is an onset phenomenon and, as such, can be associated with numbers characterizing the physical correlates of the occurrence of consciousness. this fact will serve to dramatically narrow our search for the mechanism of consciousness.” p203
“when we speak of consciousness – of its characteristics, of its contents – it seems we are speaking of the brain. this problem mirrors the problem of distinguishing brain functioning from the external world, recognizing that we do not see the external world directly but rather images of the world that are created in the brain. indeed, this is that hard path to enlightment with which we began. we do not see the outside world, but instead we see the ‘inside’ of our brain! and then we realize that we do not see images created by our brain but that we see instead our consciousness. we discover that what we see is ourselves, our own consciousness. the brain is there and the outside world is there, but consciousness, not these other things, is our existence that we know directly. all of these elements fold so perfectly into one another that we almost miss the reality, miss the hierarchy, and miss the finding of enlightment.” p208
“to understand the world, we must understand the quantum picture of that world. to understand quantum mechanics, we must know what consciousness is. we have found that in quantum mechanics, in its formalism and in the experiments of the physicists’ laboratories, consciousness arises as something real in its own right. remarkably, we we turned the problem around, when we probed what consciousness is about, we discovered that its nature must be understood in terms of the nonlocal properties of quantum mechanics playing a role, somehow, in the brain. two mysteries have come together in the greatest puzzle ever to challenge physics – the measurement problem – and in the mystery that has defied the ages – the question of the source of our own consciousness. both of these find their answers in each other. the two are intimately linked. each is the answer that the other asks. ” p216
“what clearly separates quantum processes from classical processes is the way objects move. in our everyday world, an object can go from one location to another only if it moves smoothly step by step, point by point, along a path connecting the two locations. ordinary things move on definite, specific paths. in quantum theory, we discover that objects move according to the ebb and flow of probability waves. it is possible in quantum mechanics for an object to go from point a to point b even though the two points are separated by a barrier that the particle cannot pass through nor even exist within. quantum mechanically, an object can go from the inside of a bottle to the outside without removing the top, or breaking the bottle; without punching a hole in it, or squeezing past the cork. the phenomenon is knows as quantum mechanical tunneling. although it is virtually impossible for this to occur in our every day world, tunneling goes on ‘everyday’ in the atomic world. the radioactive decay of radium and uranium is due to the fact that a part of the nucleus, an alpha particle, can suddenly pop out of the ‘bottle’ formed by the nuclear forces that hold the nucleus together. it pops out even though it does not have the energy to get out! it tunnels out without going through a hole. it is inside one moment and outside the next – without ever going through the barrier, without the barrier ever being removed. it behaves in a nonlocal way.” p217
“now there is only about 31 grams (1.1 ounces) of soluble rna in the average brain. the typical molecular weight for these molecules is some 25,000 daltons. this gives about 7.45×10(20) soluble rna molecules floating about in the brain. the average distance between them will be about 100 angstroms. if we use the same energies and potential barrier numbers as we used earlier (70 millivolts for the energy of an electron and a barrier height of 118 millivolts), we find that each hop of the electron will take 8.4×10(-32) seconds. in calculating this value, we had to consider a lot of factors, such as molecular size and shape and even the random way long-chain molecules coil around. but the results show that an electron could manage to travel as far as 10 centimeters – the distance across the brain – in just 0.084 millisecond. this is just about one-third of the time it takes the average synapse to fire.
“therefore, there is enough time for an electron to travel not only to the nearest neighboring synapse, but even to the remote synapses in the brain. it is possible, therefore, for this quantum mechanical interaction to join events taking place in the brain’s switches into one grand, unified process. this holistic process brings the mysteries of quantum mechanical uncertainty into play in the functioning of the brain. it links ‘thought’ – that little fire of the fleeting, jumping electrons – and the specter of the ‘observer’ of quantum mechanics into one orchestration of mental phenomena. without this connection, the brain might, for all the world, be nothing but a big billiard table of senseless chaos. but this contact between synapses and electrons, reaching across the space of the brain, turns on the light of consciousness.” p231
“consciousness must occur for values above this minimum firing rate, and it must be absent – that is, sleep must set in – when the firing rate falls below this number. this gives two more conditions. again, when the numbers are plugged in, they show that consciousness does occur above this limit and sleep ensues below the limit. the quantum mind is our consciousness.” p233.
“C = in(2)tNf/Mx…if we put their values in, we get for the consciousness data rate (channel capacity) C= 47.5 million bits per second…
“look at all we get. we understand now how the ‘observer’ of quantum mechanics is also really a quantum system himself. we have seen how synapses work in much more detail, why the areas of gray’s dark matter sit poised opposite the vesicle gates, and even how the ephapses (the electrical synapses that are really just like other synapses but have narrow clefts to permit a higher current of tunneling electrons) work. we have found that hopping electrons can connect distant synapses, and we have discovered that a very stringent constraint that HAD to be met in order for this hopping to happen fast enough IS in fact met in the brain. we have also found that the consciousness onset requirement is a characteristic of this theory, perfectly mirroring the fact that both consciousness and sleep characterize our brain’s functioning. we computed the critical level of brain activity required for consciousness to begin, and we found that the result exactly matched experimental data. and now, we have found that the information-handling capacity of the quantum mechanical mechanism in the brain matches almost exactly the estimate we made in the last chapter for the information channel capacity of consciousness.” p234
“our equations tell us there is an interesting complication. once the level of brain activity reaches the condition such that one active synapse can bring about the firing of a distant synapse it would seem that this electron-mediated intersynaptic influence would fill the brain. but we do not get our best fit with the data if we assume that these interactions increase in such an open-ended way. the equations tell us that it is as though there were just one, or just a few, of these electrons that run through the sequence of firing synapses in the brain: a self-sustaining series of long-range intersynaptic influences that threads from synapse to synapse. it is as thought other processes of the brain restrained the spread of consciousness, limiting it to just ‘one thread of thought.’
“but that is not the whole picture. beginning with the initial synapse, there is not only this one electron that leads to the firing of the distant synapse; rather, there are many electrons from that synapse that spread out to many synapses. this collection of synapses that these electrons reach are also a part of the consciousness, though there is more to the story.” p236
“the one electron that will eventually bring about the firing of the distant synapse cannot be distinguished from any of the other electrons that spread out from the source synapse. this is because of the indistinguishability property of elementary particles that we learned before to be an aspect of quantum mechanics. in a sense, this electron that does the distant firing is, at the same time, all of the other electrons. moreover, it cannot even be fully distinguished from one of the receiving synapses’ own electrons that could have fired the synapse. it is as if it were one and the same electron that goes out from the initial synapse and continues from synapse to synapse. but even as that electron fires the distant synapse that is poised and ready to fire, that synapse itself has sent out its own set of electrons that are searching for their own distant synapse to cause to fire. our electron that brings about the firing of this synapse cannot be entire distinguished from any of those electrons that were sent out by this synapse that just fired.” p236/7
“during the conscious state, we have 23.5 trillion synapses, each of which fires an average of once every 67 secondds, with about 200,000 electrons being released to the rna each time a synapse fires. at this rate, the 745 billion billion soluble rna stepping stones would be occupied – used up – in only 3 hours.
“the presence of the melanin significantly reduces this problem. the fact that we can stay awake 16 to 20 hours without difficulty reflects the fact that the melanin damps out between 80% and 85% of this electron activity. but the remaining 15% to 20% continues to use up the available material necessary to maintain the synaptic intercommunication of quantum mechanical consciousness.” p242
“thus, beginning with the level of available rna at, let us say, 90% of the total, and with a level of brain activity at twice the minimum needed to just maintain consciousness, the supply slowly drops. as we saw in the last chapter, the minimum synaptic firing rate that just maintains consciousness depends on how much rna is available. if we have the total supply available to serve as stepping stones, then we calculate the minimum firing rate to be about 0.015 per second (once every 67 seconds on average). if during our waking hours we maintain a level of activity twice this (0.03 per second, or once every 33 seconds for the synaptic firing rate), then consciousness can be maintained until we have ‘used up’ half of the rna, which will require 16 or so hours. after 16 hours, when the amount of available rna begins to drop below the 50% level, a synaptic activity of 0.03 firing per second will no longer support consciousness. sleep comes, and in order to restore the available rna, the brain drops back to a level of activity of about 0.01 firings per second or about once every 100 seconds for the average synapse. this continues for 6 to 8 hours, after which time most of the supply of rna has become available to support consciousness again. thus the presence of melanin and the natural transitions from the excited to the unexcited state of the rna build up the supply of these molecules over the next 8 hours or so of sleep, restoring the rna supply to its initial level. at this point, the cycle can repeat.
“many people, especially ‘night people,’ run on a different cycle. these people do not start the day at an activity level like the 0.03 firings per second for the average synapse. rather, their morning activity level barely rises above the minimum to achieve consciousness. if that describes you, you will spend most of the day operating on half your cylinders. you will be conscious, of course, but with just a small drop in the level of the available rna, you just might drop back below the level of consciousness – back into sleep. toward the end of the day, however, night people still have a large reserve of conscious activity because of the available rna. if you are one of them, that’s when you enter a period of heightened conscious activity. for a few hours you really feel alive, sharp, and bright. but, of course, all that extra nighttime sharpness rapidly uses up the rest of your reserve. at one or two o’clock, finally, you can fall asleep.” p242/3
“as we sleep, the brain continues to function; synapses continue to fire, but at a reduced level of activity. even in sleep, the brain forms thoughts, and the presence of excited rna molecules continues to affect those thoughts. at times, the thoughts have ramifications that excite portions of the brain to heightened activity. at such times, the level of brain activity may be so great that it exceeds the requirement for the onset of consciousness locally. this is the dream state. dreams are the thoughts we have in sleep that bubble up into periods of consciousness, spanning lesser portions of the brain. these unspent thoughts of the waking mind await the quiet of sleep to act out their suspended visions and yet unspoken words.” p244
“what if these excitations on the soluble rna actually represent some form of encoded information? what if nature has taken advantage of this aspect of the consciousness machinery to design a vast memory resource, a data storage capability far greater than anything the neurons alone could provide? then, during sleep, as the unused information stored on these molecules bleeds away, some of this excess energy could produce mental activity, mental images – dreams about those unused pieces of information from the previous day’s activities left over as uncompleted thoughts.” p245
“how could any information be stored on individual molecules? houw could any such information ever affect the activity of the brain’s neurons?
“but if we entertain the idea for just a moment, we find that we already have a way to encode and read the information stored on these molecules. a sequence of pulses at a synapse, rather than a single impulse as often supposed, may actually be necessary to fire the synapse. after all, with more than 2000 synapses on an average neuron for each of the 10 billion neurons, and an average of only 7 firing each time the neuron fires, we are already talking about several hundred impulses for each one that fires a particular synapse. trains of impulses may in fact be required to cause a synapse to fire. such a train of impulses may be necessary to raise the level of excitation energy in the molecules in the proteolipids at the synapse. such sequences, if properly spaced, could key in to exactly excite a sequence of possible energy levels in the chain of amino acids forming the protein portion of these molecules. similarly, such excitations may wind up stored temporarily on the soluble rna molecules until they can, as we have already said, be de-excited or perhaps play a role in permanently fixing memory traces by modifying the vesicle release mechanism, inserting new proteolipids at the synaptic cleft or through the growth of new neural processes.” p245
“the product of the consciousness data rate, C, and the time interval gives us the value of F. the result is 1.9 million bits in a single consciosness image. that’s our mind’s tv picture! this theoretical value for the consciousness field information capacity is almost the same value as the 2 million bits we obtained in chapter 11 introspectively.
“and this, by the way, is why the tv set is the size it is. the tv set must provide enough picture information at any instant to supply this 2 million bits of information, an it must cycle these pictures 30 times a second to keep pace with the rate at which we consciously experience images.
“there is one more fact that we need to mention, and this has to do with dream consciousness. during sleep, despite the fact that mental activity continues, the brain as a whole does not reach the level of activity needed for full consciousness. however, local regions of the brain that become more active may satisfy the conditions for consciousness onset for brief periods, resulting in a dream state – that is, dream consciousness. the level of consciousness attained, of course, is nearly always much below that experienced during waking consciousness, perhaps with a dream consciousness data rate, C(D) of about 10(5) bits per second. such a low value for C(D) may tell us a lot about where the content of our dreams comes from.” p247
“we proposed a theory – that consciousness is the result of a quantum mechanical process that involves the information-handling functions of the brain – and we tested this theory, first against the neurophysiology, finding that it accounts for the thickness of the synaptic cleft, and then against the morphology of the dark projections of gray, the similarities in morphology between the ephapse and synapse, the gap thickness and electrical properties of the ephapse, and other esoterica that has been published in excruciating detail in the scientific literature.
“then we tested the theory against the new data, the experimental-experiential data of consciousness itself. we found that the theory could be used to derive an accurate value of the synaptic firing rate at the onset of consciousness, the consciousness field capacity, and the characteristic extent of consciousness (as extending throughout the brain); characteristics of sleep, dreaming, and perhaps account for the poetzl phenomenon.” p247/8
“the picture of consciousness as a quantum phenomenon has relevance to another question that has long concerned philosophers. it is the question of who we really are in our own identity. the child is father of the man, but in what is either? what is there that stays the same? in much of religious thought, there is assumed to be a soul that embodies one’s true identity. the body may perish, but the soul endures – a christian theme. hindus and buddhists also believe there is some identity that persists, that carries karma, perpetually, lifetime after lifetime – an identity that lies beyond an association with a specific material body. but there, the personal identity is thought of as an illusion that one must escape to reach a union with the true reality in nirvana or some similar ultimate transcendence of the individual.
“science, having grown out of a rejection of philosophical speculation on the nature of such questions as soul, has generally assumed individual identity to be identical with the body mechanism – or, more specifically, with the brain as a special-purpose machine-stimulus-response converter. gordon pask, a psychologist and philosopher, pointed out a second conception of identity that has become popular since the advent of computers. his is a view that arises out of the functionalism we discussed previously. he sees the brain as a general-purpose programmable machine and thinks of mind and consciousness as the collection of programs that inhabit this computing machine. individual identity, rather than being attached to the brain-machine (the hardware), is thought to be attached to the functioning programs (the software of the machine), regardless of which machine is involved.
“the concept of individual identity emerging from our quantum theory of consciousness differs from either of these two concepts. though the similarities to religious ideas are only slight (at least at this point in our story), what we have in the quantum mechanical picture is closer to a conception of a soul-like consciousness inhabiting and animating the machine. (i didn’t start out with this as a goal; it is just the idea that seems to work best at present.) the classical machine cannot have consciousness, and it cannot have any identity of its own. it is we, of course, who anthropomorphically imbue the collection of mechanical parts with its machine identity. but there is a transformation that takes place with the onset of consciousness. something changes when the brain undergoes the transition to this new mode of functioning that lies outside the capabilities of all present computing machines. when this happens, we acquire our identity – an identity that exists in and as that consciousness state. individual identity resides in the continuity of this quantum mechanical process.
“questions remain, however. sleep interrupts the continuity of this quantum consciousness. but do we ever awaken again as the same conscious identity, or is a new consciousness created? aside from the physical matter of my body (which is continually being replaced anyway) and aside from my memory continuity, is there something of me that remains the same from day to day? or am i today as different from who i was as a conscious entity yesterday as i am different today from another person around me? must we confront each night with the knowledge that ‘this night thy soul shall be required of thee?’ do we assume that we remain the same consciousness from day to day because we retain a particular set of memory traces, or because of some continuity of consciousness maintained despite the interruption of sleep:? and, if the latter, how?
“from what we know at this time, there appear to be only three possibilities. first, it is reasonable to assume that when the brain goes to sleep, a portion of the brain retains a sufficiently higher level of activity where consciousness resides so as to hang on to the same identity. it functions as the rest of the brain sleeps. in such a brain function, we might reasonably asume that none of the usual thought or memory functions from the waking state oare maintained, and we might also assume the consciousness data rate to be significantly depressed, resulting in a consciousness more like that of one of the lower animals. this assumption is not entirely unreasonable, since it is known that during sleep there are parts of the brain that go from a low level of activity to a higher level. this answer would account for consciousness continuity, but it leaves us with even more questions. what, for example, is the purpose of such a soulless personal identity? what does it accomplish for us that is not adequately achieved by the continuity of memory traces? why should such a mechanism of personal identity have been a concern, as it were, of evolution?
“a second possibility is to be found in the heisenberg uncertainty relations. as we saw earlier, because of these relations, the concept of the path of a system ceases to have the kind of meaning it had in classical physics. thus in quantum mechanics, identical particles are said to be indistinguishable. as a consequence of this principle of indistinguishability, an exact replica cannot be distinguished from the original.
“…the atoms’ indistinguishability, therefore, has a real effect. this means our picture of reality is worong. we imagine these two possibilities to exist when in fact they do not. the two are not only indistinguishable; they are, in fact, identically the same thing.
“and this error in our picture of atomic reality may have something to do with the question of our own individual identity. we have seen that our consciousness really boils down to what some electron is doing in our brain, so perhaps the same arrangements of energy states, though separated by the hours of sleep, are really indistinguishable. if the quantum mechanical state of some portion of the brain at the inception of sleep were to be identical to that of a part of the brain at the moment we awaken, then i spite of the temporal displacement, perhaps continuity would still be maintained.” p253/4/5
“consciousness may be associated with all quantum mechanical processes in nature.” p255
“consciousness may also exist somewhere without being a part of either a living body or a data-processing system. indeed, because everything that exists is ultimately the result of one or more quantum mechanical events, the universe is inhabited by an almost unlimited number of rather discrete, conscious, usually nonthinking entities. these conscious entities determine singly the outcome of each quantum mechanical event, whereas the schrodinger equation constrains their freedom of action collectively.” p256
“this third type of information [at work in the brain] describes what we do. it is the information measure applied to state vector collapse, the thing that becomes from out of the realm of what can be. here, as part of the operation of the brain, our consciousness observes the brain in terms of what can happen and then, as observation of the quantum mechanical state brings about state selection, brings into being the one state that actually occurs from the range of the possible. from this description, we can immediately identify what this process is. this is the will of the conscious mind. it is everything ever meant by the concept of will. will is that third form of information creation. it is state vector collapse as one synapse – out of all that could fire as the result of a remote interaction in the other synapses – does fire. thus we see that mind actually has two parts: consciousness and will.
“there are three processes in the mind and in the brain that involve information processing. the first consists of the classical unconscious brain’s computer functions. the second is a quantum mechanical sampling of the first, the collection of potentialities that may follow that gives us our conscious knowing/experiencing of what the brain does. the third is that which goes from what could be to what is.” p258
“what are the characteristics of will?
“there are several. first, the word will refers to a state of mind or a capacity of mind. it is in some way associated with conscious experience. the philosophical concept came into existence because we have a direct sense that ‘free choice’ is a human capacity. second, for will to have any meaning, it must be possible for the mind to affect events – for the mind to control the body. the concept of will is not compatible with the classical conception of physical processes. classical physics would demand that nature grind out blindly and automatically the consequences of any initial action. any mind attached to such an automaton would be only a passive observer. such a mind would not be able to control any aspect of its body’s behavior. it would be a captive bird in the brain cage, and there would be nothing to call ‘will.’ thus the concept of will demands that before the mind comes into play, before the mind acts on matter, the physical laws must allow – must specify – a range of potentialities as to what the body could do, and the process that selects from that range of possibilities which possibility will happen must be clearly outside the prescriptions of the physical laws. that is to say, the physical laws must be underconstrained.
“finally, the concept of will requires that when the mind does interact with the brain, the physical brain and body will then do one of those things that physics permits so that the thing the mind willed becomes the state of the brain and the action of the body.
“like maxwell looking at his new differential equations, we too have seen all this before. we have already seen in quantum mechanics that before a measurement, before observation, the state of the system is described as a collection of possibilities. we have seen that the laws of physics as given by quantum mechanics are underconstrained. but we have also seen that after observation, one state (one of the allowed potentialities) does occur. in the case of the brain, we have described what the quantum mechanical process is and how a range of possibilities arises – namely, in the particular synapses that have the potential to fire. we have shown that consciousness is associated with the process of creating these possibilities and that, therefore, when observation takes place – when one state is selected – that process occurs in association with our consciousness. indeed, just as for consciousness, there will be a data rate, a will channel capacity associated with the process…
“finally, when the ‘observation’ happens – when state vector collapse occurs – one synapse, from all those that could have fired, does fire. and the state selected by this synaptic firing, by this process associated with consciousness, specifies just what the brain, and consequently, what the body, will do next. this observation process brings our brain’s next thought and our body’s next action into being.
“this is a perfect description of will.” p259/60
“one synapse has the ability to cause to fire any one of the many possible synapses associated by means of the quantum mechanical interaction. you will remember that we calculated the value of Q and we found it to be 200,000. now the chance that any one of these synapses will fire is 1/200,000 (that is, I/Q). using this probability of I/Q we can easily calculate just how much information is ‘input’ every time one synapse fires by means of this quantum mechanical interaction. the result is 17.6 bits of information. now this happens at a rate of once every 0.3 milliseconds. therefore, we can get the information rate by dividing by this time. the result is just under 60,000 bits per second. that is the channel capacity of the will. this will is what we really are….we will soon find this will information capacity to be an extremely important quantity, so let us call this number W, just as we have called the consciousness channel capacity C. C is what we experience; W is what we are.” p263
“consciousness stream C 47.5 million bits/second
Will stream W 58.7 thousand bits/second
Consciousness moment F 1.9 million bits
Will moment G 2.35 thousand bits” p264
“this will data rate was not something we had intended to figure out at the beginning of the work. instead, it is something that has been thrust upon us as a result of our efforts to understand consciousness. this means that we have to look at how this aspect of the mind ties in with physical processes in order to understand just what capabilities the will possesses. the will is indeed a part of our mind, but it has other aspects as well. the will is the channel that determines what our next move, choice, and thought will be. it selects the path our mind takes through the images of things the brain scatters before us. the will is our innermost nature, our being that is there even when the things we might see go blank. it may even be there when all else is gone…it is perhaps this aspect of the mind that comes to the fore when one is in deep meditation, a state of consciousness designed to remove thoughts and sensory contact with the world.” p264
“before an event occurs in quantum mechanics, objects have interacted and entered into a set of potentialities: the states of quantum mechanics. after observation, on state vector collapse, everything goes into one state. everything. no matter where the objects are. this is the incredible discovery that the tests of bell’s theorem prove. when a particular synapse, among the 200,000 possible synapses, fires, everything else – everywhere in the whole universe – that might be tied to that choice by the will channel must also go into that same overall quantum mechanical state! unlike the consciousness, our will is not restricted to the tiny space of the brain cavity. everything we touch, see, or experience in any way that becomes caught up in that special aspect of the quantum nature of matter will retain a link back to our mind. and observation of it or our subequent observation of its consequences can impact on the state that it is in. the will channel is a link that transcends space, and because physicists have found that something called lorentz invariance always holds, this will must transcend time as well.
“we will make these rather imaginative notions about will much more concrete presently. it must be kept in mind, however, that this thing we have quantified is caught up as part of our brain’s functioning and is also tied to exactly the central point tested by bell’s theorem. nothing we have done, nothing physics has proved, takes the events of the physical world out of the domain of quantum mechanics and puts them into the realm of that billiard ball physics of the classic or objectivistic conceptions of reality. it is by means of the quantity W that we as observers determine state vector collapse in the things we observe, and conversely, those external events are tied to the states our brain becomes.
“what we are saying is that this will channel causes the events in the brain and those in the external world to go hand in hand with what happens in our consciousness. we are saying that our mind can effect matter – even other brains – and that distant matter and minds can have an effect on us. what we have here, what is forced on us by the formalism of quantum mechanics itself, is something that sounds like telepathy or psychokinesis; it is exactly what einstein feared to be the implications of quantum mechanics. why is it so elusive? why does is seem so strange? because the signal, W, is small compared to the noise of our everyday consciousness given by C. that is, because the signal-to-noise ratio, W/C, is very small.” p265
“what we can point out, however, is that we are not pefect observers. our desires that are a part of our consciousness are not always a part of the will channel that could bring them into being. we do not always have, as the mystics might put it, a perfect purity of mind and heart.
“instead, our ability to distinguish the will channel, from all the thoughts of our consciousness, as a means to affect outside occurrences is nearly nil. this is the discovery locked up in the numbers for W, the will channel, and C, our consciousness channel. both of these channels are a part of the mind. both stem from the same kind of things, quantum mechanical events going on at the synapses. our will images are so dim compared to those of our daily conscious existence that they are almost always lost in the torrent of our consciousness stream. you see, the quantity W measures the channel capacity that can afffect things and events, directly and globally, through space and through time. but the quantity C, our consciousness steream of information about the world here and now, is, as far as such efforts are concerned, just so much noise. we may experience our desire to influence an object or contact the mind of another. it may enter our consciousness C, but it will have no effect there. thus W is the measure of the signal that can do these things; C is the measure of the noise to which we misdirect our efforts; and W/C is the signal-to-noise ratio. its value is small: 0.00124 using the values of W and C we gave earlier. it says that if one tries over and over to determine the flip of a coin ahead of time, one probably will succeed by means of the perfect channel only once in a thousand tries. all else will be the result of chance. but that one try is not a try. the wish is the completed fact. the word is a perfect act.” p266
“what at first sight would seem an easy explanation of spooky things in our world turns out to give us little real expectation. an enormous chasm would have to be bridged in order to usher such things into the everyday macroworld.
“but that is not the end of the story. to understand what actually goes on, we must first understand how this miniscule world of quantum wonder might affect the world we experience. then we must understand how the consciousness and will that we have already shown to have a quantum mechanical nature can affect matter by manipulating the indeterminacy that underlies every physical event.” p268
“isn’t it therefore a reasonable hypothesis to consider that a correlation may exist between the state the observer causes to happen and the state of the observer who selects that state? we already know that quantum mechanical state selection is nonlocal. everything must be part of the state that observation selects. even the states of the brain, responding to what is seen on the table when the dice come to rest, must be a part of each picture drawn on the pages of that book of potentialities.
“this being the case, isn’t it really the hidden variables of our consciousness and of our will that do the state selection – that create the events of the next moment we see?
“we have already seen how quantum mechanics tell us that objective reality actually exists as a collection of potentialities like pages in a book, and we have seen how tests of bell’s theorem show that these states are selected as whole pages nonlocally, irrespective of spatial relationships. we have seen that the principal interpretation of quantum mechanics says that this state selection process (the page pulled from the book) is caused by observation, which ultimately means the consciousness of the observer. and we have seen that the consciousness is a quantum mechanical process that has associated with it a will channel that connects our consciousness experience to those events in the outside world to bring about state vector collapse. the will selects the state of the brain that we consciouslly experience, and the global nature of quantum mechanics of necessity links this brain state to the external event that occurs.
“this ties everything together, and it says just how the mind can affect things in the outside world. we have seen how everything is connected, but how is it that an event that the will wants actually occurs? the answer to this is rather different from what one would expect. the event does not occur because we punch in the result we want like using a tv remote control. instead, what the will selects is that which is, and that which is is that which is the will. these two cause each other reciprocally. in a way, they are really the same thing.
“now this surely sounds like zen talk, but let us examine what it means. it is a lot like what isaac newton said about how forces act and react. newton said that ‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.’ the phenomena that are controlled by one’s will work exactly the same way. the state that occurs is the state that is willed, and the state that is willed is the state that occurs. if the consciousness channel were equal to the will channel, then whatever one wished would also be exactly what happened. every thought would be a perfect act. one could not even conceive of having a wish that would not be fulfilled.” p272
“we cannot always state unequivocally even which observer is the first observer. einstein’s theory of relativity gets in the way. this is because there is no such thing as an absolute frame of reference. there is no single reference point at which the observer is the only one who sees things correctly.” p273
“every observer must be treated as the observer collapsing the state of the system, and every observer must also be constrained to go into the same final state.
“everyone collapses the state vector. the consciousness-linked hidden variables that cause state vector collapse on observation are nonlocal. they exist everywhere and nowhere, and they are independent of the time at which the particular observer looks. irrespective of space and time, an observer causes the system to go into the one observed state from the allowed collection of potential states, and these hidden variables are held in common for all observers. if there are only two possible states, one bit of information in the will channel can cause state selection on observation; and if there are two possible observers, or ten possible observers, there will still exist only one bit of information that causes the state selection. but that one bit will be a part of the mind experience of each of those observers. to the extent that they limit themselves to that particular part of their minds, they will have a common conscious or mind experience. the will channel, consisting of those hidden variables of the mind, links us together as though we were one so that if any one of us touches some physical object, some same system, then to that extent we are the same mind. a piece of my mind writing this now is in your mind now and is identical to some small fragment of your mind as you read this. this is so irrespective of our spatial separation. irrespective of the time on the clock, this must be so. if it were not so, then we would have to violate lorentz invariance (which says, in essence, that all observers are on a different but equally valid footing), or we would have to fall subject to one or another of the problems about wigner’s friends in which we have to assume that one of the individuals is really unconscious.
“the hypothesis we have advanced here, that all observers share a fragment of their mind experience, nonlocally and nontemporally, is forced on us by the physics. the problem of wigner’s friend came up long ago. but this resolution to the wigner’s friend paradox gives us a much better understanding of how state selection works. we see that although it works by means of state vector collapse on observation, the minds are linked by this observation process. whereas our control might have appeared to be a kind of shadow hand in which we control quantum mechanical states directly, here a part of our reality is the fact that about 1/10 of 1% of what we are in our mind’s being is shared; it is identically the same as the mind-being of all others who exist. this is an incredible realization.
“later, we will see how basic this idea is. we will see how this assumption that physics forces on us is justified by the results it leads to. it is a process in which a collection of alternative realities is poised on the brink of coming into being. it is a vision of potentialities cascading from the depths of our own brain’s quantum machinery or spilling from the turbid sea of atomic uncertainties suddenly coming into being through the action of observation, as once individual and universal, unbounded by limits of either space or time.” p274/5
“that principle [lorentz invariance] demands that the time at which state vector collapse happens be independent of observations, just as it is independent of the spatial separation of observers in the epr experiment. the point is that for the measurement loop, there is no such thing as a spatial separation. this is what we learned from the tests of bell’s theorem.
“likewise, we must think of all the observations at the various parts of the loop for that particular piece of the event that has to do with this measurement as existing at the same moment. the loop happens as one event, and associated with that loop there is a single ‘piece’ of consciousness-will experience that all the different observers at various points in the loop share. it is this nonlocal, time-independent characteristic of state vector collapse that makes will-channel effects possible as a result of the observation of events having macroscopic quantum mechanically disperse potentialities.
“time does not flow as a stream but passes by as chunks. the pieces of time that we consciously experience are ordinarily brief, a few hundredths of a second long. perhaps in the nuclei of atoms, there are things that happen that also involve such loop interactions that are consciously experienced in pieces of time that are only 10(-23) second long. i do not know. but at the other extreme, in phenomena in which one mind transfers information atemporally and nonlocally, there are events, consciousness-will events, that exist as single moments of time. these are pieces of time – involving perhaps only one or two bits of information submerged in the whole background of ongoing conscious events – that span hours, days, even years as measured by other events going on as a part of these loops. although we ordinarily do not notice their presence, these grand moments of time for loop interactions overlap the billions of loops that occur in our brains as we observe, and they are also a part of our brain’s functions (as data input) and a part of our stream of consciousness. it is not everything that happens during the loop that has this spread-out time, only the piece of information that causes the state selection determining the result of the comparison at the end of the loop.
“maybe here you can see something of the fabric of time and of reality. at least perhaps you can see some of the cords, fibers, and threads. perhaps you can see many of the colors that dance across reality. perhaps you can see patterns, lines, surfaces – the space and sweep, the depth and motions. perhaps you can see certain of the forms, forms that have life. perhaps you can see, among them, those forms that look back to cast a glance your way from the fabric of reality and the quantum mind.
“maybe now you can see something of what time is about as well. the idea that time is but an infinitesimal moment that only separates future and past will not work. you already know that this cannot be all there is to time. there must be more. there must be something that drives that boundary away from the past and into the future. there must be some structure, some granularity, that would keep the present from vanishing into an infinitesimal moment, just as any searched for infinitesimal point on a rule vanishes between its atoms. there must be some complexity to time’s make-up that makes it sweep out now away from the past and into the future.” p292/3
“the greeks saw time as a man who, riding backward on a horse, could see his past but not his future. classical physics gave that rider the means to see, like janus, in both directions. the equations of newton’s mechanics, perfectly symmetrical in time, represented time in a new way, as part of an idealized gridwork of directions in space and in time. with einstein and minkowsky, these have turned out to look exactly the same – time being space, space being time – but with that one change we mentioned before: only for t=0, only for the present, are there any real distances. there, in that picture of nature, the infinitesimal now has no reason to go backward or forward. it does not look like our time. it does not look like the time in which we live. we know intuitively that there is more to time than physics has pictured for us. time has structure. it does not flow as an infinitely divisible smooth stream. it has grains made of loops of interactions – each one that is finished jumps reality forward for everything touched by that loop. and these loops interlace with others by the billions each second, tying things together in the brain’s interaction with itself and with the world outside so as to form patterns of colors created by the conscious loop events scattered throughout its intricate moss of neurons lacing over the cortex. each loop of interactions, small and quick or large and lasting even through the ages, has consciousness and will. it is this weaving pattern of loops that marks the jumps of time – the individual pieces and bits of time.” p293
“we mean so many different things by the word time: physical time, biological time, psychological time. these are all common uses of the word, and each has its place. both biological and psychological time reflect ways in which the brain or the body measures physical time in order to keep the organism – our bodies – in step with the world around us. we can tell these apart by the kinds of things that cause them to run faster or slower than accurate physical clocks. things that physically alter or modify the bodily functions in a way that affects our ability to keep track of time are things related to biological time. drugs and physical injury are obvious disturbances that impair our biological clocks. but physical time marches on, unchanged by what happens to the body, and actually marking off the rates at which the chemical and physical processes of the body proceed.
“but the brain can also be affected by the information that feeds into its vast network of neural circuits. and in many cases, that information can alter the way the brain keeps track of time; thus pleasant activities often pass quickly, which boring tasks seem to never end. but the biological processes of the brain are only modestly affected by these things, while the chemical and physical processes proceed according to the laws of physics, quite irrespective of what the brain may think.
“in addition to physical, biological, and psychological time, there is also consciousness time, the time we experience. this time is of course tied to the biological time and the psychological time, but as we saw in earlier chapters, it has its own role to play in reality and is as much related to basic physical processes as, say, the rates of chemical reactions are. it is a kind of time that goes beyond these other kinds. it is the kind of time we used when we calculated the expressions for C and W.” p294
“thermodynamics always controls the way things work. entropy always increases overall. time always goes along with that increase in disorder in the world. the proof lies in the fact that if we reversed everything perfectly, the way it was reversed in the film, then all the action would run backward. but we can’t reverse the real world, so its time always goes in the direction of time’s arrow.
“but it isn’t so! morris’s idea about how time’s arrow works is not so. entropy is not time’s arrow. yes, thermodynamics does govern everything. yes, entropy and disorder do always go in one direction – for the overall system. but we don’t live in a classical world. not at the atomic level. not at the macroscopic level.” p300
“theremodynamics sets the pattern, but it is quantum mechanics that actually points the way. quantum mchanics points the way, but what that way is, that is another piece of the puzzle of the nature of reality.
“the real arrow of time is our old friend state vector collapse. that is the thing that truly works only one way. interactions prepare states, and observation causes state vector collapse, and that cannot go backward. state vector collapse is the real engine that drives time the way it goes, and, as we will see in a moment, it is that state vector collapse and those measurement loops we spoke of before that give time structure, texture, granularity, and ‘thickness’.
“the physical interactions in nature are all reversible by themselves. even the schrodinger equation works this way, even though it continually develops more and more potential states. but the observation causes state vector collapse, and this process goes only one way. there is no way to ‘back up’ the observation. observation and state vector collapse drive the clock forward and point the way. entropy and disorder are only a part of the necessary pattern. because of quantum mechanics and state vector collapse, that pattern of increasing entropy we see as time ticks by, would have been the same regardless of time’s direction. entropy (disorder) gives us macroscopic signposts that tell us things are different as we use up our energy supply, but it does not give the push or point the way. strangely, we do that ourselves.” p 301
“our consciousness experiences the springing into being of possibilities like a myriad bubbles shining across a pond’s surface. then the will selects and the bubbles burst, driven by their own bursting – and the past is gone. we, the conscious entities, are like time’s zippers: our minds pulling together the future’s infinite possibilities into yesterday’s secured past.” p302
“(g(uv)) = (1 0 0 0)
(0 1 0 0 )
((0 0 1 0)
(0 0 0 -1)” p306
“now, it can be shows that this form for the matrix cannot be created out of two separate matrices unless we have, as a mimimum, exactly the form we have for the (g(uv)) matrix. the minimum matrix for observer state selection is the same as the signature matrix for the four-dimensional space-time matrix. of course, there can always be more complexity to the state described by quantum mechanics (there almost always is), but the process of observation and state vector collapse alone is sufficient to limit the lowest level of our universe structure to a space-time structure that has the three extensions of width, length, and height – the three dimensions of space – and one of time.
“but you may have noticed that the order is imposed by placing the event that occurred at the end of the list. that is to say, we chose to write the -1 in the lower right corner and reaarrange terms accordingly. what this means is that the way we interpret the world is such that we have imposed this space-time order on it. the reality is simply that events occur, and in the lowest level of their occurrence, there are four coordinates that exist and that arise out of the underlying time-like substrate. but whichever time direction occurs, we see this as being the one time coordinate, and the others, where the even did not occur, are seen as space. conceptually, the idea is perhaps beyond visualization. we see things in space that change in time. but the reality is much simpler than that space-time concept itseelf. there is no space. there are only observational events. events can occur or not occur. for events to merely satisfy that condition and satisfy the dual-space requirement that must be met if observation is to exist requires a four-dimensional matrix, space-time, with one time coordinate for the events that occur. thus space is merely the ordering of those things that could have happened but did not happen.
“so you see, there really is no such thing as space. time exists, but space is just the ordering of events that had probabilities – potentialities – but that did not become events. the structure of space actually is a product of hilbert space, that space that describes probabilities in physics. this is why the hilbert space of probabilities and our everyday real space look alike. they have the same beginnings. and this is the basis on which quantum mechanics and general relativitiy can be unified.” p307
“earlier in this chapter we talked about the fact that the information term, p log p, could not be used in the schrodinger equation. i said then that what we need is an expression that has imaginary terms so that ordinarily state vector collapse could not occur. state vector collapse would occur only when measurement loops occurred – when things that had interacted with each other in the past came back together to interact again and produce the real quantities w*w. this gives us quantities that do not have imaginary numbers in them. as you will remember, that is why we used the form W log W for the new term in the schrodinger equation. but it turns out that adding this term can introduce some real quantities as well. they turn out to be just sort of add-on quantities that ordinarily do not interfere with the rest of the mathematics, a kind of grit that is left behind. when i first found that these real quantities could appear, i was bothered. then i realized what they were. although they are a bit of a nuisance in the ordinary nonrelativistic schrodinger equation, that equation is not the most fundamental equation…
“What i realized was that we could introduce this information term into the dirac equation. we could do it by letting it replace the mass term – that is, the term for the electron or the positron in dirac’s equation. doing this achieves something quite remarkable. this information term now becomes the source of the masses of particles in physics. by writing an equation with only two terms – the space-time term, which we have seen is tied to the dual space of probabilities involved in observation, and an information term tied to the process of consciousness that causes state vector collapse – we get the dirac equation back. if we assume only that conscious observation exists, that alone is enough to let us understand where space-time and matter come from. there is no space as such, no matter as such. there exists only the observer, consciously experiencing his or her complement. and in doing so, the observer weaves the illusion of space-time, and matter falls like snow from the conscious loops of the mind.” p308
“i think the direct path to an undersnding of all the forces of nature, all the particles and interactions, is to be discovered by undersnding what observation and consciousness are all about and understanding the measurement problem in quantum mechanics. in particular, i think the answer arises out of a very elementary equation that has two terms: a space-time operator and an information term operating on the state vector. this is the form we get if we merely say that ‘we observe events’, or, even more simply, ‘conscious observation exists.’ this requires that something be observed that we can most simply and symmetrically assume to be of the same form as the observer. there is an observer-observed duality that is also exactly the same thing if viewed from the other side, the observed side. then the original observer becomes the observed, and the observed the observer. the information input selects the states, which gives us the change in the states. and that process is the origin of space-time. that space-time has an indefinite number of pieces of what has already been seen, particles, pieces of information – the pieces of matter that are you and me. this dualistic idealism lies at the very core of existence. it is the loom that weaves the fabric of reality. and behind the loom, the quantum mind.
“so we at last find that reality is the observer observing. it is the two parts of our great separation coming together. there is a separation. there is a dreadful and vast separation. but there is no space and really no matter to die but that our own minds did not first come together to create it. our observation – our coming together – created matter. observation itself is the stuff of the space that reaches out past the vast clusters of galaxies. reality is the fruit of love’s embrace.” p309
“from the tiniest pieces of matter that we have studied, we have seen, at each level, the coming together of clusters that form the next larger objects – quarks forming nucleons, nucleons and electrons forming atoms, atoms forming molecules that cluster into all the forms of life and minerals on earth. the planets clustering into orbits around the sun, the sun among stars in an outer area of our milky way galaxy, the galaxies clustering into groups, and these into clusters of galaxies, and then these into superclusters of millions of galaxies. just when we might think that this must go on forever in both larger and larger clusterings and into smaller and smaller constituents, we discover that all this ends. and just as it ends, we find suddenly a rather different shape; we discover the largest structures in the universe. we discover that the galaxies have formed into membrane-like structures enclosing enormous voids, as if the galaxies were the molecules in the foam on some giant mug of bear.” p312/3
“einstein recognized that the matter in the stars throughout space might also cause a distortion of the entire space of the universe. the equations of general relativity that he derived in order to generalize special relativity so that it would work even in accelerated frames of reference, and in order to explain gravitation, now permitted him to study the cosmology of the whole universe. he could find out from astronomers how densely stars are distributed in space and use this information to determine the shape of the entire universe. but when he made the calculations, he discovered something that he personally found entirely unacceptable. he found that his equation said that the universe is not some stable eternal configuration but, rather, that it must have had a beginning. it must have been created some 10 or 15 billion years ago and is now rapidly expanding outward as though there had been some long-ago explosive creation event.” p217/8
“another problem with the big bang theory is something called the horizon problem. regardless of what kind of starting point one chooses for the initial universe, no matter how small, the explosion behaves as thought the various parts of the universe all decided to explode at the same time.” p323
“moreover, there is a peculiar twist to this story. the conservations laws of matter require that something called the continuity equation holds true everywhere. this law tells us that any of the matter content in a region of space cannot change without matter flowing into or out of that region of space – very reasonable. but during the inflationary era, the amount of space changed. the amount of space in the universe itself rapidly expanded. einstein’s equations require that during this expansion, the continuity equation still had to hold everywhere. that is to say, the density of matter everywhere in space had to stay the same, while the total amount of space itself increased explosively. this is what created the matter in the universe, all the matter, all except for a tiny seed that was in the beginning.” p324
“but there have been some more recent problems with the big bang theory and with the inflation scenario. the difficulties involve the fact that inflation requires a very specific density of matter to be present in the universe today. observation, however, shows that there is not that much matter in the universe. the result has been that theoreticians, in trying to solve this problem, have been making too many trips to the ‘tooth fairy.’ they have been proposing that there exist in the universe fantastic new kinds of unseeable matter called ‘nonbaryonic matter.’ but even with these assumptions, things still do not quite work out. the predicted structure of things in the universe does not correspond to observations. at the largest scale, the universe contains immense structures – great cavities and walls of galaxies – and galaxies that came into being when the universe was far too young. further, and perhaps worst of all, it has been found that there are stars that are older than the universe itself is supposed to be, according to the big bang theory. to fix things up, astrophysicists have thrown the cosmological constant, ‘einstein’s worst mistake,’ back into the mix – with speed and alacrity – to make things fit the latest facts.” p325
“the inflationary theory, together with the big bang theory, lets us trace everything back to the very beginning. that beginning is called the planck era. and what do we find there? we find that the universe began as a primitive, pure, intense – a very intense – quantum state that existed in an infinitesimal point of space and time – a moment when all matter potentiality, all space, and all time existed as one thing, one quantum state. but what is it that we have learned that such quantum states in fact are? what have we found, as we have searched point by point to understand the nature of reality? we have found, above all else, that quantum states and mind are one in the same thing. we have found that in their essential nature, quantum fluctuations are the stuff of consciousness and will. and now, here, we find that this mind stuff was the beginning point of the universe – the stuff that out of a formless void created everything that was created. we find that in the beginning, there was this quantum potentiality. we discover that in the beginning, there was the quantum mind, a first cause, itself time-independent and nonlocal, that created space-time and matter/energy.” p326
“we have seen how consciousness is something involving the creation of potentialities as described by quntum theory. we have seen how will is a part of the conscious mind that selectes what will happen to those possibilitiles. we have seen how all of ous – our minds – are connnected. we have seen how this collective consciousness is the source of psychic knowledge, is the power that creates miracles, and is infinite in its span of space and time. we have seen that our universe came into being in the first moment of time – in an explosive expansion of potential states described by that same quantum theory. in an instant, the mind of the cosmos created our universe in a thought, in a conscious act of will.
“we have searched back to the beginning of time and to the origin of the universe to find the first thought, the first word of god springing into existence as consciousness and physical matter. consciousness, will, mind – these were the first moment, the potentialities that continue to this day. our consciousness, our mind, and the will of god are the same mind.” p329