Smell Vibrations...

#1
Great Ted talk by Luca Turin about why he thinks smell is more to do with a molecules vibrations, than a molecules shape...

Also pay attention to the diagram explaining the 'absorber' (odourant), required to get an electron to tunnel across different energy states, which Turin seems to imply may be how we sense molecular vibrations, and thus recognise different smells.
 
#2
Why have I posted this?

Because Luca has just published an interesting paper measuring the electron spin changes in fruit flies, whilst they are under the effect of different types of General Anesthetic's (GA). Here's the paper...

http://m.pnas.org/content/early/2014/08/06/1404387111.full.pdf

Firstly, Luca measured changes in fruit flies electron spin measurements, when they were exposed to General Anesthetics. He then measured the electron spin of mutant-GA-resistant fruit flies, vs, none-GA-resistant fruit flies when they were exposed to General Anesthetics, and found differences between electron spin of both types of fruit fly, which seems pretty interesting to me.

It seems to me that Luca has been influenced by his work on 'smell' (above). If I've understood his paper, I guess he is suggesting that different General Anesthetic compounds may cause us to lose consciousness by acting as an 'absorber', which allows electrons to tunnel out of the hydrophobic pockets within proteins, disrupting consciousness. Obviously this has some similarity with Stuart Hameroff's ideas, and Stuart seems a little too dismissive of this research.

It's highly speculative of course, but the electron spin changes they measured would seem to have some sort of relationship with General Anesthetic's, simply because of the difference measured in the mutant-GA-resistant flies. Really interesting...

BBC Radio 4 had a short interview with Luca last Thursday...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04d4tzp
 
#3
Interesting, a was just thinking the other day that given GA's seeming role in inturupting consciousness that it might be a fertile ground for making headway in discovering a mechanism for it.

Many state here that science isn't making progress in figuring consciousness out but there are a few hypotheses being explored such as hammeroff's microtubules and integrated information theory.

Those plus examples like this suggest that it is still way too early to give up on this endeavour. Just cause a problem is hard, doesn't mean you just give up.
 
#4
I wouldn't think many people are giving up on this problem. But I understand where you're coming from, I think. I, too, have read many stupid articles and memes where the idea that consciousness is some mysterious, untouchable, subject has become quite ingrained in some forum circles - if that's the type of thing you meant. But is that a bad thing? At the least it spurs on thinking about the subject, but I suppose if that thinking is put in to the wrong direction it could be a problem. I wonder if the next greater "thinker" of consciousness will have a small beginning thinking about it as more than it really is.
 
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