Mod+ [Resources] Physics & Consciousness



Interesting old paper that preceded the discovery of quantum vibrations in the microtubules:

The Fractal Nature of the Brain: EEG Data Suggests That the Brain Functions as a "Quantum Computer" in 5-8 Dimensions

The brain has been traditionally viewed as a deterministic machine where certain inputs give rise to certain outputs. However, there is a growing body of work that suggests this is not the case. The high importance of initial inputs suggests that the brain may be working in the realms of chaos, with small changes in initial inputs leading to the production of strange attractors. This may also be reflected in the physical structure of the brain which may also be fractal. EEG data is a good place to look for the underlying patterns of chaos in the brain since it samples many millions of neurons simultaneously. Several studies have arrived at a fractal dimension of between 5 and 8 for human EEG data. This suggests that the brain operates in a higher dimension than the 4 of traditional space-time. These extra dimensions suggest that quantum gravity may play a role in generating consciousness.


'...The truth is that numerous founders of quantum physics— Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, Niels Bohr, and Wolfgang Pauli, to name the most obvious— were deeply committed to worldviews that combined mysticism and rationalism. Many of them also saw comparative resonances between the mind-bending implications of quantum physics and different forms of mysticism. And they said as much, very explicitly and very clearly. They went to places like the Brahman, or cosmic unity, and Atman, or Self, of the Hindu Upanishads (Schrödinger), the yin and yang symbolism of Chinese Taoism (Bohr), and the paranormal synchronicities of Jungian psychology (Pauli) to help better understand what they thought quantum physics was mapping formally and mathematically. Generally speaking, they were drawing parallels, compatibilities, and complementarities, not simple equations, between physics and the mystics. Still, some of them were pointing toward a worldview in which the math and the mysticism were two different expressions of the same fundamental reality. In effect, they suggested: “If you want to understand what the implications of quantum physics might ‘look’ like up here, in the world of human experience, go read the unities and paradoxes of the mystics.” They were after a realist mysticism.

And this is before we get to what the historian of science David Kaiser has affectionately called “the hippies who saved physics.” These countercultural physicists became fascinated with the apparent “telepathic” effects that entangled particles exhibit in Bell’s theorem, or what Einstein had famously called “spooky action at a distance.” 84 Such intellectuals kept the notion of entanglement alive for decades while the rest of the physics community was being told to “shut up and calculate,” that is, to quit talking about the philosophical implications of the physics and just do the math. 85 Many of these countercultural physicists were convinced that quantum effects do scale up into human experience, and that these effects can be seen in parapsychological phenomena and mystical experiences of mind. One of them, my friend and colleague Nick Herbert, has written eloquently about these effects under the banners of “elemental mind” and “Quantum Tantra.” The latter is his dream of a scientific-spiritual practice that would lead to an erotic union with the physical universe.

And then, of course, there are the anomalous experiences of the scientists themselves. As a single example, consider Jane English. Jane has a Ph.D. in experimental high energy physics. She is also the illustrator/ photographer of the best-selling English translation of the Tao Te Ching, with Gia-Fu Feng. In short, she is an heir to Niels Bohr, who put the Tao on his coat of arms to capture the two-in-one paradoxes of quantum physics in which light can be measured either as a particle or a wave. The same paradox caught Jane’s attention. For her it functioned as a Zen koan, that is, as a riddle that awakened her into the true nature of reality. She was reading Fritjof Capra’s classic reflection on the same, The Tao of Physics, and in particular a passage about this particle/ wave or yin/ yang paradox. She got to Capra’s discussion about how the “new awareness” of Zen could also be an “awareness of atomic reality.” Then it happened:

"The experience began with a sense of sudden dissolution, especially of visual forms. After a moment, I was aware of patterns of energy, millions of pinpoints of light, and a confused rush of visual sensation. . . . everything was somehow different; there was no in-here/ out-there split in my seeing!. . . . In this state there was no space or sense of separation between objects and my eyes. Thus I felt no need for light to exist to connect objects to eyes. Objects, eyes, and light no longer had the objective existence they had seemed to have just before. . . . I realized that the wave/ particle paradox had been my first koan, and that I had just solved it."

Essentially, Jane English had become light, had become the energy of the world, which is consciousness. The results, of course, were utterly transformative. She was changed. Jane had once “accepted the orthodox physics thinking that says that quantum physics has no meaning for personal reality, that it is just a computational device, and that questions about things you can’t measure are meaningless.” In short, she had bought the line that quantum effects do not scale up to our world. She now knew that none of this is true. She understood that it was perfectly possible to directly experience the world of quantum physics, and that quantum physics does have meaning for us “up here” in the big world, profound and beautiful meaning. She understood that the paradoxes of quantum physics are nothing more than functions of us trying to understand reality with our objectifying senses, instead of directly via consciousness itself. She understood that consciousness could not be reduced to the mechanistic laws of Newtonian physics. She also realized that “many psychic and healing phenomena that appear extraordinary on our usual Newtonian, sensory reality are actually quite ordinary in these other realities.”

Jane English had been shown the super natural world.'

Strieber, Whitley; Kripal, Jeffrey J. (2016-02-02). The Super Natural: A New Vision of the Unexplained (pp. 266-268). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.


"I go into the Upanishads to ask questions" - Niels Bohr.

"Quantum theory will not look ridiculous to people who have read Vedanta" - Heisenberg

"Most of my ideas & theories are heavily influenced by Vedanta" - Schrödinger

"Access to the Vedas is the greatest privilege this century may claim over all previous centuries" - Oppenheimer.



Entanglement or non-separability is the core idea of quantum theory. It is a simple idea: the universe is not a bunch of independent parts, but is rather one entity that evolves through time as one entity. That's it. The problem is that this means there's no such thing as causation. This is very hard to wrap your head around. Quantum theory is extraordinarily accurate, and our knowing quantum theory is why we have things like cell phones and computers. But what is quantum theory, really? Why is entanglement its primary prediction? This talk will explain what quantum theory is. I will show that quantum theory has nothing to do with tiny particles, wave-function collapse, or Schroedinger's cat. Quantum theory is about how observers obtain information about the world. It is, in particular, about how observers who have memories and use language obtain information about the world. It is, in other words, about how you and I interact with perfectly ordinary things like tables and chairs and each other. You will leave this talk with a new understanding of quantum theory, and a new appreciation for entanglement.

Chris Fields is an interdisciplinary information scientist interested in both the physics and the cognitive neuroscience underlying the human perception of objects as spatially and temporally bounded entities. His current research focuses on deriving quantum theory from classical information theory; he also works on cell-cell communication and cellular information processing, the role of the “unconscious mind” in creative problem solving, and early childhood development, particularly the etiology of autism-spectrum conditions. He and his wife, author and yoga teacher Alison Tinsley, recently published Meditation: If You’re Doing It, You’re Doing It Right, in which they explore the experience of meditation with meditators from many walks of life.

Dr. Fields has also been a volunteer firefighter, a visual artist, and a travel writer. He currently divides his time between Sonoma, CA and Caunes Minervois, a village in southwestern France.


Can Quantum Physics Explain Consciousness?

"A new approach to a once-farfetched theory is making it plausible that the brain functions like a quantum computer."

The mere mention of “quantum consciousness” makes most physicists cringe, as the phrase seems to evoke the vague, insipid musings of a New Age guru. But if a new hypothesis proves to be correct, quantum effects might indeed play some role in human cognition. Matthew Fisher, a physicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, raised eyebrows late last year when he published a paper in Annals of Physics proposing that the nuclear spins of phosphorus atoms could serve as rudimentary “qubits” in the brain—which would essentially enable the brain to function like a quantum computer.
I feel like this qubit idea has been proposed before? Anyone recall the was about something called "Knight's Freedom" IIRC?

Few researchers believe such a hypothesis plausible. Patricia Churchland, a neurophilosopher at the University of California, San Diego, memorably opined that one might as well invoke “pixie dust in the synapses” to explain human cognition.

Well Hammeroff did have a reply to this.

There's some intro stuff about quantum biology after that. Then this:

Senthil Todadri, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Fisher’s longtime friend and colleague, is skeptical, but he thinks that Fisher has rephrased the central question—is quantum processing happening in the brain?—in such a way that it lays out a road map to test the hypothesis rigorously. “The general assumption has been that of course there is no quantum information processing that’s possible in the brain,” Todadri said. “He makes the case that there’s precisely one loophole. So the next step is to see if that loophole can be closed.” Indeed, Fisher has begun to bring together a team to do laboratory tests to answer this question once and for all.

So what drove him to move away from mainstream physics and toward the controversial and notoriously messy interface of biology, chemistry, neuroscience and quantum physics? His own struggles with clinical depression.

Fisher vividly remembers that February 1986 day when he woke up feeling numb and jet-lagged, as if he hadn’t slept in a week. “I felt like I had been drugged,” he said. Extra sleep didn’t help. Adjusting his diet and exercise regime proved futile, and blood tests showed nothing amiss. But his condition persisted for two full years. “It felt like a migraine headache over my entire body every waking minute,” he said. It got so bad he contemplated suicide, although the birth of his first daughter gave him a reason to keep fighting through the fog of depression.

Eventually he found a psychiatrist who prescribed a tricyclic antidepressant, and within three weeks his mental state started to lift. “The metaphorical fog that had so enshrouded me that I couldn’t even see the sun—that cloud was a little less dense, and I saw there was a light behind it,” Fisher said. Within nine months he felt reborn, despite some significant side effects from the medication, including soaring blood pressure. He later switched to Prozac and has continuously monitored and tweaked his specific drug regimen ever since.

His experience convinced him that the drugs worked. But Fisher was surprised to discover that neuroscientists understand little about the precise mechanisms behind how they work. That aroused his curiosity, and given his expertise in quantum mechanics, he found himself pondering the possibility of quantum processing in the brain. Five years ago he threw himself into learning more about the subject, drawing on his own experience with antidepressants as a starting point.

Since nearly all psychiatric medications are complicated molecules, he focused on one of the most simple, lithium, which is just one atom—a spherical cow, so to speak, that would be an easier model to study than Prozac, for instance. The analogy is particularly appropriate because a lithium atom is a sphere of electrons surrounding the nucleus, Fisher said. He zeroed in on the fact that the lithium available by prescription from your local pharmacy is mostly a common isotope called lithium-7. Would a different isotope, like the much more rare lithium-6, produce the same results? In theory it should, since the two isotopes are chemically identical. They differ only in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.

When Fisher searched the literature, he found that an experiment comparing the effects of lithium-6 and lithium-7 had been done. In 1986, scientists at Cornell University examined the effects of the two isotopes on the behavior of rats. Pregnant rats were separated into three groups: One group was given lithium-7, one group was given the isotope lithium-6, and the third served as the control group. Once the pups were born, the mother rats that received lithium-6 showed much stronger maternal behaviors, such as grooming, nursing and nest-building, than the rats in either the lithium-7 or control groups.

This floored Fisher. Not only should the chemistry of the two isotopes be the same, the slight difference in atomic mass largely washes out in the watery environment of the body. So what could account for the differences in behavior those researchers observed?

Fisher believes the secret might lie in the nuclear spin, which is a quantum property that affects how long each atom can remain coherent—that is, isolated from its environment. The lower the spin, the less the nucleus interacts with electric and magnetic fields, and the less quickly it decoheres.

Because lithium-7 and lithium-6 have different numbers of neutrons, they also have different spins. As a result, lithium-7 decoheres too quickly for the purposes of quantum cognition, while lithium-6 can remain entangled longer.
Further details in the rest of the article, but for sake of brevity & copyright I'll just post the image:



This is an interesting discussion, but I feel like I'm lacking a lot of knowledge. Any beginner book recommendations or youtube channels/websites?
Well this is a Resource thread so it's largely a series of links with some commentary thrown in here & there.

I'd recommend looking at some basic stuff about Quantum Mechanics and some basic stuff about Philosophy of Mind - will see if I can find something appropriate & get back to you.


Ah apologies Baccarat, work hit me and I forgot to dig around for those physics resources - will try to get them to you soon.


Ruth Kastner, PhD, is a philosopher exploring the foundations of physics. She is on the faculty of the physics department at the State University of New York at Albany. She is also a research associate at the University of Maryland. She is author of The Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics: The Reality of Possibility and also Understanding Our Unseen World: Solving Quantum Riddles.

Here she points out that there are several interpretations of quantum mechanics that are very different from each other. She notes that there are many disagreements about the interpretation of the interpretations. She reviews the perspectives of great physicists such as Neils Bohr, Max Born, Ludwig Boltzmann, and David Bohm. She briefly describes the lesser known “transactional interpretation”. Then she focuses on the philosophical status of the crucial distinction between empirical and sub-empirical reality.

Ruth Kastner, PhD, is a philosopher exploring the foundations of physics. She is on the faculty of the physics department at the State University of New York at Albany. She is also a research associate at the University of Maryland. She is author of The Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics: The Reality of Possibility and also Understanding Our Unseen World: Solving Quantum Riddles.

Here she describes Plato’s famous cave allegory, and suggests that it is relevant to our understanding of quantum mechanics. Specifically, she suggests that the higher dimensional mathematical formalisms, although not empirically observable, point toward very real levels of existence. To buttress her argument, she also describes the nineteenth century parable of Flatland. In quantum theory, there are the probability clouds described by the Shrödinger psi equation. At another, more subtle, but still ontologically real level, are virtual particles.
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HOW IS EMERGENCE POSSIBLE? The impact of quantum physics on a philosophical concept

Abstract :

At the beginning of the twentieth century,“emergence” appeared as a philosophical conceptaimed at taking a middle way between reductionism and vitalism. But since the “basis” of any emergent process is supposed to be physical, the evolution of physics proves highly relevant to our conception ofwhat emergence consists of. In this paper, I firstreview some recent attempts at rescuing the idea of emergence by relying on quantum mechanics. I thenshow that a proper reading of quantum mechanics forces us to change deeply our view of what emergence is, in order to allow it at all.


Some thoughts from our own Ian Thompson:

Quantum mechanics and consciousness - Part 1/6 of thoughts on a causal correspondence theory

Which way does causation proceed? The pattern in the material world seems to be upward: particles to molecules to organisms to brains to mental processes. In contrast, the principles of quantum mechanics allow us to see a pattern of downward causation. These new ideas describe sets of multiple levels in which each level influences the levels below it through generation and selection. Top-down causation makes exciting sense of the world: we can find analogies in psychology, in the formation of our minds, in locating the source of consciousness, and even in the possible logic of belief in God.

Quantum mechanics and consciousness - Part 2/6: Substances and Multiple Levels in Quantum Mechanics

A substance is defined as what exists over the finite duration between measurement events. The problem in quantum mechanics of understanding how substances exist has been long-standing. Some like Everett have suggested it is the wave function which exists continuously, but wave functions are mathematical entities and not physical. Others like Bohr have said that only events are real and hence denied that there anything which could be a continuous substance.

My proposal is use the idea of propensities [5]. These are the underlying dispositions or causes which give rise to events when the conditions are appropriate. The event production may be deterministic or probabilistic. The important feature of propensities is that they are present continuously between events, at least according to the Born Law of quantum mechanics. Propensities, therefore, can be identified as the substance of which quantum particles are made. The wave function is then the form of those substances, in particular their form as spread out in space and time.
Quantum objects are thus substances that manifest themselves in some kind of form. The form of something tells us what its present structure is, and the substance of something tells us how it would behave in all future hypothetical circumstances (even if only by probabilities).

We can develop a theory of multiple levels, each with different kinds of objects and each existing in their own kinds of spaces. We can show how objects interact between levels [6]. We can begin to understand this using the principles of quantum mechanics. Consider, for example, how the Schroedinger equation makes predictions for the wave function, which in turn predicts the probabilities of future events. The Schroedinger equation uses a combination of kinetic energy and potentiality that acts to evolve the wave function through time, based on the initial conditions. The wave function then acts to produce further discrete selection events based on previous selections. In each case, objects of kind of A are producing further objects of kind B(n) based on previous objects B(n-1). The produced B(n) outcomes select what kind of outcomes are next possible. Furthermore, this same pattern is repeated on multiple levels {A ➝ B ➝ C}. Quantum physics has the levels {energy ➝ propensity forms ➝ actual selections}.

Such patterns are familiar, since in classical physics we have a similar structure with the levels {potential energy ➝ forces ➝ acceleration}. The pattern is also familiar to us from psychology in the sequence {desire ➝ thinking ➝ action}, as will be discussed later.
When we start digging into quantum physics, we discover even more levels. The potential energy and kinetic energy that we started with in the Schroedinger equation are not themselves fundamental, but are generated by the virtual processes of quantum field theory. Potential energy is produced by the exchange of gauge bosons: of photons of electromagnetic energy, of gluons for nuclear energy, etc. And kinetic energy comes from mass, which is mostly not ‘bare mass’ but is the collection of the energies of virtual substances in a cloud around a given center. This means that we have an even longer chain of multiple generative levels in quantum physics, something like {variational Lagrangian ➝ virtual fields ➝ virtual events➝ potential and kinetic energies in the Hamiltonian ➝ propensity fields described by wave functions ➝ selection events for actual outcomes}.
These kinds of levels are generally acknowledged to exist within quantum field theory, but with differing opinions about their significance. Many physicists and philosophers of physics want to assert the particular ‘reality’ of one of the levels and say that the prior levels are ‘merely calculational devices’ for the behaviour of their chosen real level. The question of simplicity, to be answered in order to apply Occam’s razor, is whether it is simpler to have multiple kinds of objects existing (even within multiple generative levels) each with simple dispositions, or simpler to have fewer kinds of existing objects, but with more complicated laws governing their operation.

Allowing the multiple generative levels all to exist in ‘their own way’ has fruitful consequences for generalizing quantum physics to include new kinds of causation. Admittedly this is going beyond standard quantum mechanics, but at least this is yielding predictions for possible new science which can be confirmed or falsified as all science should be examined.