“The consciousness poses the most baffling problems in the science of mind. There is nothing that we know more intimately than conscious experience, but there is noting that is harder to explain.”
Within classical nero physiology scheme we can study neurons and electrical transfer of sensory or motor pulses. But we cannot describe the origin of perception of sensory pulses or the act of decision making that is the origin for motor responses. The higher brain functions cannot be studied at cellular or even molecular level. It seems that conscious awareness is arising not from classical level of brain function but from anther paradigm. That is why classical nero-anatomy and nero-physiology that are dwelling at cellular or molecular levels, cannot offer an acceptable explanation for consciousness realm and they are facing a dead end in this regard.
Many aspects of our conscious awareness is also obscure and remain as mysteries. On the other hand, quantum mechanics is not comprehensible with our classical knowledge and experience either. There have been claims that these two domains have many similarities. Attempts are being directed to explain mind within quantum mechanical context and vice versa. Quantum arena may be very strange and not comprehensible, but we have access to deeper level of our consciousness. We have or should be able to obtain be-er knowledge of this domain75. Only a bat knows what it is like to be a bat. Studying quantum physics within mind framework can be very productive. If we can comprehend quantum mechanics principles using consciousness tenets then we do not need to call quantum domain unknowable.
Underneath I will summarize some of the similarities between quantum domain and mind realm.
Werner Heisenberg showed that one cannot precisely measure both location and momentum of a particle at the sametime.The more we pinpoint the location the more we are uncertain about its momentum. This was the first step of departure from Newtonian and classical physics and entering quantum paradigm. David Bohm suggests a similar kind of uncertainty in thought process. He writes,
If a person tries to observe what he is thinking………….he introduces unpredictable and uncontrollable changes in the way his thoughts proceed thereafter……………………If we compare the instanceous state of a thought with the position of a particle and the general direction of change of that thought with the particles momentum, we have a strong analogy.76
We can use another analogy for uncertainty principle in min domain. If we focus on external events (like watching an attractive show) our train of thought almost stalls while we focus in watching. On the contrary, when we daydream our focus in external observations is minimal while dwelling deep in our thoughts. Therefore there is a complementarity relation between observation and train of thoughts (internal / external focus). Similar complementary relationship exists between focusing on internal sensations and external data sensed by our five senses. Presence of opposite emotions such as love and hate is other example of uncertainty relationship in the consciousness domain. We find many other complementarity relationships with our conscious awareness.
quantum entanglement, spooky action at a distance
Quantum entanglement is one of the main principles of quantum physics. A pair of particles, that are traveling back to back in opposite directions, are entangled even if they are worlds apart. If we reduce the superposition of one of them to one state, the other one that may be miles apart will be reduced in accordance, immediately. So far no physical connection has been found between the two particles. Particle entanglement is instant with no trace.
Similarly, in our consciousness domain we can connect to remote locations instantly. We do not need to travel along any road to reach there. We do not have to follow any trace. There is no time passage either, just sudden envisage of remote places.
We can envision the day before yesterday instantly, as well. We do not have to pass through yesterday to reach it. Likewise, we can predict the events in the day after tomorrow without passing through tomorrow. Entanglement in our conscious domain is instant with no trace as well.
Besides, experiments have shown that there are instant correlations between activities of neurons even if they are located far from each other (Braitenberg 1965; Riccardi 1967) 75
hypnosis is a transpersonal experience, where two people are connected though their psyche. Often it is thought that just the hypnotists influence its subject. experiments are done where feeding sweet to subject increased the salivation of the hypnotist. So the connection is two-way with no apparent physical link. Telepathy is also a common experience. Many distinguished psychologists believe in Transpersonal psychology. It seems entanglement without apparent physical link is a feature of psyche as well.
Hot atoms are very mobile and move apart from each other. As they cool down they move slower and get closer. If we can cool them down close to absolute zero temperature they fall on top of each other and create a macroscopic lump that can even be visible under microscope. This state of atom is called ground state. In ground state atoms loose their identity and the lump exhibits just one coherent quantum state. The lump demonstrates oneness.
Condensed atoms at the bottom of magnetic bowl demonstrate oneness
Oneness sensation beyond one’s ego is a common experience. Many times a group of people who are somehow connected (Family members, Fellow country men, sport team’s fans, religious groups, etc.), in high emotional state experience the oneness as well. When we see or hear people are suffering on the other part of the world we get disturbed and feel their pain. Feeling oneness even extends to non-human living things and nonliving things just the same.
On the other hand, it seems that long term memories condensate and being stored in a sort of ground state as well. Apparently, condensed memories are in a non-localized, correlated and homogenous state before recalling. However, simultaneous memory recall is not possible rather memories come into consciousness one by one. These behaviors are similar to quantum state in Bose-Einstein condensate and support the conviction that similar system has to be in effect at long term memory preservation.
Many characteristics of elements in subatomic scales are in indivisible coherent quantum states (like simultaneous wave-particle nature of matter). Similarly, it is assumed that all elementary particles are made of an entity called thing. Different wave frequency of thing creates different quarks. Electrons can not be distinguished from each other either. So they can not be analyzed as distinct particles. Quantum field theory also advocates a kind of wholeness and indistinguishability of the elements in the fields. So we may conclude that in quantum scale we come close to identity melt down into a whole entity.
Similarly, if we think about any element in our thoughts deep enough we reach to a point of its indivisibility and indistinguishability with other elements of our awareness. Our awareness at deeper level demonstrate a coherent state as well. We may call this coherent state, self.
The process of sending bits of information about a particle or atom to a spatially remote place via quantum entanglement in order to rebuild the original copy is called Quantum teleportation. Interestingly, the original copy is destroyed during the process.
Similarly, the image of an object in our brain is cut to bits and pieces of information and stored as memory. Upon recall of the object the bits of information is gathered again to recreate the image in our mind. The process of recalling associates the image to present elements so that the original memorized image is changed forever. These two processes are very similar.
When a wave-particle faces a barrier, it disappears and reappears on the other side of the barrier. Quantum tunneling is another examples of similarities between quantum mechanics and consciousness course of action.
If our train of thoughts is interrupted when it faces a barrier such as external stimuli (anything that attracts our attention) at our will,it can reappear and continue after the interruption is ceased.
Brain can work in many paths simultaneously. The amount of information presence and data processing in each instant is simply amazing. Brain has a massive parallel processing ability. Efforts are being made to make new computers that have the same ability. To build such computers the elements are being positioned simultaneously in superposition of many states. It is more logical and economical to assume that brain is using the same mechanism (superposition) rather than attribute the parallel processing to many multi-paths neuronal connections and activities.
Time symmetry, second Feynman’s diagram
In classical limits, time has just one-way trajectory that extends from past to the future. However in quantum level, time is symmetric and traveling from future to past is also a feature. In the second Feynman’s diagram of Compton scattering (photon and electron collision process), the particles scatter from each other even before they collide.
In the Schrodinger’s cat analogy, when we open the box and collapse the superposition (facing a dead or an alive cat), a history is instantly created. This is another example of backward movement in time.
Within our train of thoughts we are not limited to classical one way trajectory of time either. In our imaginations, we can travel to past or future at our will. Time is symmetric within our consciousness.
Wave –particle duality
Objects In quantum mechanics are described to have dual character. They may appear as wave or particle. Within the wave aspect, different values of an object like its position is described with state vector. It simply means that particle is widely spread out and its position can be best described as wave with different amplitudes at different locations in space. This cannot be appreciated within the classical terms where an object logically is positioned in one location. On the other hand, the particle nature of the object is classically comprehensible. In classical mechanics, the object is tangible and sensibly located in a certain point in space.
Likewise, the contents of our conscious awareness is widely spread and to certain degree chaotic. If I talk the whole contents of my mind you will doubt my sanity. When we make a statement about any topic, we logically organize our thoughts and express it in a sensible way. Out of a vast realm of unorganized and chaotic data we extract just the ones that seems logical and express it. This is similar to wave collapse and rising a classical and logical level out of un- deterministic quantum level wave function.
Superposition of states
Contrary to classical level of reality, in the quantum domain particles are not in a definite state. Rather they exist in superposition of every possible state. Just imagine how chaotic world is at the quantum level. The state of sum of all probable states of all particles involved is called coherent state.
As mentioned above , deep in our thought domain we are facing with every possible and imaginable states as well. Nothing is impossible in our dreams. Our awareness also include data from unconscious plus data inherited from our ancestors back to the first protozoa and much more. Our brain processes 400,000,000,000 bits of information every second. We are just aware of about 2000 bits of it. In fact there is a chaos deep in our consciousness as well. There we find the domain of all potentialities and possibilities.
This view of consciousness opens a door to find intelligible interpretations for quantum mechanical paradoxes. Quantum physics is not comprehensible within classical physics principles that we are dealing with in macrocosm; however it is explicable inside our awareness realm. We have first hand and be-er knowledge about this realm. If we pass the logical/classical limits of classical physics and logical thoughts, we enter quantum physics and quantum mind. Then quantum processes is not unknowable anymore.
Above, I have pointed to passage through the gate of logical/classical level. What does it actually mean? Underneath, I am going to elaborate more about the process.
A solid and objective physical reality has been the basis for classical science during centuries. We see the outside world as a solid and dependable entity. The materialistic approach to science has only solidified this kind of beliefs. However, the special relativity asserts that the fundamentals of our objective world which are space, time and matter are not rigid. They are malleable and change according to each person’s frame of reference. Time for somebody who lives around equator passes slower than a person in higher altitudes. Mass of fast passing object grows bigger in comparison to the same object if it stays in our frame of reference.
In conclusion, objective reality is not solid rather it is different for different individuals. Furthermore, quantum mechanics draws a much more bizarre picture of reality. According to quantum physics, the objects actually exist as potentialities and not certain forms. In other words, they are in superposition of different states. They exist in all possible states concurrently. Somehow on the eye of the observer they turn into one solid state. We call this one state objective reality.
In Tonomura double-slit experiment, Electrons are sent one by one towards a barrier with two slits, and a interference pattern appears. It suggests that electrons are waves. However if we put a detector next to any of the slits to identify the slit that electron actually passes through, electron acts like a particle and passes only through one slit. As a result we see just two bands indicating that electrons as particles past through two slots and hit the screen in two corresponding bands. The experiment has been performed with bigger object up to sodium atom with the same result. Check Double slit experiment for an animation of the experiment.
Here, we conclude that electrons are in superposition of two states (wave and particle) while traveling along the path between electron source and the screen.
However, the act of detection reduces the double character of the electron to just one observable character (particle). Therefore, we conclude that what we have assumed to be a solid objective reality during centuries is in fact a fuzzy state of different probabilities which superimpose on top of each other. The reality as we see is an artificial singular state chosen from a multiple and coherent states. Somehow just one state of all the possible states is singled out and projected in our consciousness. This is what we call objective reality. As you can see this is a very shaky reality indeed.
One interpretation suggests that we get an appropriate answer based on our question. In double slit experiment, when via our detection we ask which slit the electron as particle went through, we see the answer suitable to our question. The two bands on screen reveal the particle state of electron randomly passing through each slit. The sum of the results of many passages of electron as particle creates the two bands. If we do not ask this question the screen shows the interference pattern.
This interpretation closely simulates the problem solving in consciousness realm. When we attend to a question or problem, appropriate search in mind domain reveals a suitable answer to the question in hand and not any other question. If we look for an answer to another question, the answer to that specific question comes to our attention.
The other interpretation suggests that electron is in both particle and wave states simultaneously. By the act of detection we reduce the simultaneous states to just one state (particle). How are we to interpret this state reduction? How does the double character of electron turn just to one character (particle state) if we look for it? How and where does the so-called state reduction happen? We can categorize the possible answers as follows.
These are the answers that contribute the reduction to elements outside of our consciousness. It refers to state reduction possibilities occurring before the signals are received by us.
a/ First possibility is that the electron is alive and can notice our presence and plays trick on us. As soon as it notices our detector, it reduces itself to just a particle. Then we have to define life and see if an elementary particle can have such a sophisticated mind. Biology dictates that sophisticated mind requires a complex neurological system. Even if we assume an elementary particle has a kind of consciousness, it cannot demonstrate the functionality of a sophisticated mind.
b/ may be the detector itself is affecting the wave-particle duality of the electron and reduces it to just particle. However, this is against Schrodinger’s principle. According to Schrodinger, the detector itself has to be in superposition and has to demonstrate all possible states that it can have. The multiple character of the detector coupled with dual character of electron only adds to confusion. It cannot reduce the electron to one state.
c/ Many believe that encounter with other particles and rays in the vicinity dissolves the superposition of states at quantum level and changes the super-position to only one objective state observed in the macro-world. This is how it is supposed to work. The objects are not isolated systems. They are in an environment and in constant interaction with other particles and photons. For example, cosmic rays can interact with the particles in an object and reduce their states to one of the possible state. According to this school, this is why we do not see an object in a chaotic and superposition condition.
However, again other photons and particles are in superposition state themselves. They cannot bring us out of the chaos.
Alternatively, we may assume that information that is received by the experimenter/observer contains all the probable states (the whole information of the superposition). However, somewhere in our consciousness domain it is altered to just one logical state.
Our sensory organs are in fact lenses and act just like the lens of a camera. We know about the eye lens. It takes the light waves and turns it to a spatial image which is projected into the retina. From there the image is transferred to our brain through nerve impulse (action potential). Our ear is doing the same thing. It turns the sound waves to nerve impulse and sends it to brain where it is interpreted as different sounds. What our skin actually senses is the vibration as well. If we keep a vibrating tuning fork close to our skin, it feels that the fork is in contact with our skin, although in reality there is no actual contact. The other two senses act as lenses as well. Therefore, we may conclude that the outside world is just in spectral form and made of waves. We may further conclude that our brains receive the impulses and interpret them as a solid (massive) outside world.
Here again the incoming waves are supposed to be in superposition and deliver contradicting messages. Thus, collapse of information to one observed state cannot happen at this level. Unless we believe that we are reducing the the outside world’s superposition inside our brain and create an objective world according to our conscious and unconscious will. There are school of thoughts that are advocating the above . The movie Matrix is filmed based on this idea. I will further about this idea in the next chapter “Quantum Brain”
Individuals acquire different perspectives from the same physical reality. The Gestalt picture is a representation of this fact.
Gestalt Picture: Do you see a beautiful girl or an old lady?
Obviously, a portion of state reduction is happening inside the brain of each individual. That is where we obtain our individual perspectives. However, there are many common elements between different individual’s perspectives from the same physical phenomenon. So the main portion of state reduction has to occur outside one’s consciousness.
To find a solution we can look at the act of logical derivation and cognition. Our consciousness is filled with a jungle of data and memories that many times contradict themselves. The data that are embedded in the subconscious and beyond also exacerbate the disorder even further.
We may conclude that during the act of logical thinking our consciousness selects and permits only the suitable data to appear in our awareness. That is how we draw a meaningful conclusion out of a chaotic situation. Our consciousness is responsible in creating an orderly concept or perspective out of countless disarrayed data .
However, our individual perspectives though minutely different from others , basically evolve around a state of reality that is more or less shared by other conscious beings as well. So, there must be a reality out there beyond our consciousness. What created this decent reality. The question is how we arrive from an uncertain and disorder quantum frenzy, in micro-world to a definite and deterministic reality in macro-world. If we are allowed to relate the act of logical thinking mechanism as an analogy for external state reduction as well, then we may envisage answers for the state reduction paradox.
If consciousness is needed to create a logical conclusion out of information frenzy in mind, maybe we need similar mechanism to create a logical world out of the quantum frenzy. This leads us to the assumption that there is an awareness out there which tends to put everything in order in macrocosm. We can call this awareness universal consciousness. This is an alternative answer to de-coherence phenomenon explained above.
The global consciousness project was explained in the consciousness chapter. In this project that have started since 1998, Random number generators (RNG) were used that can randomly generate zero or one. It is shown that individual’s intention can generate more of the desired number and change the randomness of RNG. This is another evidence that conscious intention can influence the physical elements.
In the next stage of the project, random number generators were placed in 65 host sites around the world to study the effect of collective attention of people around the globe in upcoming events. These generators are connected to software that reads the output of random number generators and records a 200-bit trial sum once every second, continuously over months and years. The details of the project can also be reviewed by clicking on the link above. The result clearly shows that collective attention of the people around the world can change the outcome of the random number generators and shift the result to one number. Underneath please review the inclination of the number generators during the recent United States election and Senator Obama’s victory.
The above diagram indicates how the collective attention and focus of people throughout the world inclines the result of the random number generator to one side. The above project not only demonstrates the effect of consciousness in physical events but also points to the presence of a collective consciousness amongst humans.
On the other hand, physical events are happening all over the universe. Universe have been physically active long before human race appear. Then we may assume that there is a universal consciousness which is responsible for state reduction.
If we accept the presence of a universal consciousness out there, Then where is the boundary between individual consciousness and universal consciousness. Does our body skin delineate this boundary? The answer is not easy to reach. Many evidences like double slit experience and hypnotism suggests that our awareness field extends beyond our body limits. On the other hand, phenomena like intuition and telepathy suggests that the universal consciousness field can penetrate our own consciousness. Therefore, we may conclude that there is an overlap between the boundaries of two domains. It seems an undetermined gray area exists between these two fields. We may even go further and assume that our consciousness is a portion of this universal awareness. It seems that mixed state reduction is more logical and agreeable.
If consciousness arises from quantum level, then where do we find quantum point of effect? Keep in mind that any biochemical reaction eventually is rooted in subatomic level where quantum effect is best demonstrated. There are different hypothesis about where awareness is linked to quantum domain. Here I will mention few of the possible sites.
First, let us look at the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system at macroscopic level. A sensory impulse travels along peripheral nerves and reaches the brain. Inside the brain, peripheral nerves attach to many different neurons via its many fingers called dendrite. The contact points are called synapse. There are about 23.5 million synapses in the human brain.
Dendrites of different neurons are not actually attached to each other. In higher magnification, there is a gap between the dendrites of different neurons that is about two hundred angstrom (2*10-8 m) wide. These gaps are called synaptic cleft.
There is a debate about the mechanism that signal passes through synaptic cleft. Many believe that synapses are where all the communications and consciousness mechanisms reside.
Because the body of neuron ends at the synapse, the normal mechanism (sodium pump action) cannot transfer the signal anymore. There is a minute gap between the dendrites. Electron is known to transfer the signal throughout the cleft and to the next neuron. However the released electron does not have enough energy to pass the gap. Its energy is enough for about seven angstroms trip.
Evan Harris Walker 72 an American physicist believes that electron has to perform quantum tunneling to reach the next neuron. Quantum tunneling happens when a particle that does not have enough kinetic energy to pass through a barrier appears to be successful in passing it anyway.
If quantum mechanics comes to the picture in the brain function, then we have to use quantum physical laws to evaluate brain processes. Maybe synapses are where state reduction or as it is called state vector collapse happens.
Evan Walker like many other theorists believes in the presence of a universal consciousness that we all are somehow connected to and interact with it. He believes that consciousness is not tied directly to any of the usual construct of the physical world, like space, time, mass or fundamental forces. However it is tied to informational domain. He suggests that consciousness being considered as some quantum mechanical process going on in the brain. If consciousness is an informational field then synaptic clefts can be one of the locations to look for it.
Pores in neuronal membranes can be another location for quantum mechanical effect. In an in vitro experiment Martin Fleischmann (1980) showed that passage of ions through pores of thin membrane (cell membrane simulation) have to be described within quantum electrodynamics scheme. The pores have to be considered as a single quantum field to allow the passage of ions. A classical description cannot explain the passage of ions through cell membrane .Therefore the cell membrane can be considered another site for quantum effect where quantum mechanics principles can influence the function of consciousness.
On the other hand, in bigger magnification we can see that the living matter is made of huge and dense network of protein filaments surrounded by water molecules. Mari Jibu and Kunio Yasue from Okayama Institute of quantum physics, call the protein filament water combination the fundamental structure of living matter.
In 1979 Davydov found a solitary wave propagation along the chain of protein filaments. The wave is called Davydov soliton and its energy is kept free from thermalization. Jibu & Yasue call protein filament waves the first degree of freedom of the fundamental system of living matter 75. My conviction about such a non-vanishing wave is outlined in wave-particle chapter. To me a non-vanishing wave travels to a non-local realm during each oscillation where it refurbishes its energy. This non-local information-rich realm provides the quantum freedom.
Mari Jibu and Kunio Yasue also believe the spatial geometric configuration of water molecules provide the second quantum mechanical degree of freedom of living matters. Water is made of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms. As such a water molecule manifests a non-vanishing electric dipole moment. Water is abundant in the body. So it can deliver quantum effect all over the body of living things.
If at deeper level the anatomy of nervous system is linked to quantum fields then the product of it (the consciousness) has to be studied within the quantum field theory contest. Consciousness cannot be studies at cellular or molecular level, we simply do not reach to any convincing result at these levels.
Many authors believe in the presence of a universal consciousness where information exists in a coherent state. If our brain is connected to such an informational field then many transpersonal experiences such as hypnosis or telepathy can find logical explanations. Previously, I have assumed the proposed singularity as being the ultimate source of information. On the other hand, Louis de Broglie proposed that all matter exhibit both wave like and particle like properties. Furthermore, in previous chapters I have speculated that during wave motion or quantum tunneling particles join the proposed singularity while being absent from space-time. Therefore we can assume that us also being wave are in constant periodical contact with this ultimate source of information. This is one assumed way where our consciousness connects to a universal informational field.
Spirituality is an internal realization. We connect to it within our consciousness realm. My personal conviction is that the universal consciousness is fundamentally different from the god that is advocated by traditional religions. The god of main religions is human-like. He is a separate entity and lives somewhere in a space-time setting (heavens).The universal consciousness on the other hand, is where everything connects and cohere. It encompasses everything and in a sense it is everything. Spirituality then may mean sensing this universal consciousness and feeling the quittance with it. It may mean the easing sensation of oneness with the universe. The ultimate joy is the realization and connection with this realm. This is what meditation provides. Obviously, this universal awareness is completely different from conventional religions’ creator. It doesn’t need our worship, neither has it appoint representatives. It certainly doesn’t need our donations neither will it order us to kill each other.
We need a new explanation for spirituality within a scientific framework. While all of us feel an internal acquaintance with spirituality, what traditional faiths advocate doesn’t seem to be very convincing. It seems that Religions have hi- jacked the spirituality and derailed it.
Unfortunately science left spirituality as an orphan. This is because classical science could hardly pass the objective realm. In the absence of a scientific explanation people are clinging to old definitions and beliefs. These outdated beliefs are constantly creating disasters at family, regional, and global levels. The scientists’ hesitation to touch the subject only leaves the ambitious public to succumb to the ignorance promoted by old fashioned establishments. This means even more chaos and disasters for human race in coming years. Quantum mechanics and quantum field theory seems to be the right vehicle for exploring consciousness and spirituality. It seems that new insight and theories based on modern science is urgently needed to bring the human race out of the current chaos.
David Chalmers calls for introduction of a fundamental theory of consciousness. It seems that this theory can originate from the fundamentals of quantum mechanics. Many similarities between quantum mechanics and conscious awareness call for studying consciousness at quantum level. Likewise these resemblances suggest that quantum mechanical paradoxes can find solutions within a consciousness like domain. Classical way of thinking and solutions by introducing extra dimensions or multi-universes could not offer a satisfactory solution.
To me, they are the product of reductionist physicists who are trying to explain everything using mostly classical physics concepts. Mind you that Physical reality is sensed by the consciousness. Our conscious awareness is our tool to explore physical world. We need to check our tool and obtain deep understanding about this device.
In the coming chapter “Quantum Brain” I will explore the nature of consciousness even further.
I am delving into the universal consciousness in the contest of singularity/space-time dual nature hypothesis. All along I have been trying to show that the encounter with singularity did not finish at the time of Big Bang. I have been claiming that singularity is an informational domain and ever present as a fundamental element of the world and us. More and more paradoxes arise that cannot be explained in the contest of objective reality alone. A universal informational domain can provide decent solutions for the paradoxes.
On the other hand, twenty first century calls for new insights and beliefs based on today’s knowledge. Carrying over faiths and perceptions of our ancestors with their limited knowledge can only create catastrophe at personal, family, regional and global levels. New understanding and theories of spirituality is very needed to substitute the outdated and destructive faiths of the past.
Globus Gordon G. Brain and Being, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2004
Chalmers David: THE CONSCIOUS MIND (Oxford University Press, 1996)
Culbertson James: THE MINDS OF ROBOTS (University of Illinois Press, 1963)
Culbertson James: SENSATIONS MEMORIES AND THE FLOW OF TIME (Cromwell Press, 1976)
Eccles John: EVOLUTION OF THE BRAIN (Routledge, 1989)
Eccles John: THE SELF AND ITS BRAIN (Springer, 1994)
Globus Gordon: THE POSTMODERN BRAIN (John Benjamins, 1995)
Herbert Nick: ELEMENTAL MIND (Dutton, 1993)
Lockwood Michael: MIND, BRAIN AND THE QUANTUM (Basil Blackwell, 1989)
Marshall I.N., Zohar Danah: QUANTUM SELF : HUMAN NATURE AND CONSCIOUSNESS DEFINED BY THE NEW PHYSICS
Penrose Roger: THE EMPEROR’S NEW MIND (Oxford Univ Press, 1989)
Penrose Roger: SHADOWS OF THE MIND (Oxford University Press, 1994)
Pribram Karl: LANGUAGES OF THE BRAIN (Prentice Hall, 1971)
Pribram Karl: BRAIN AND PERCEPTION (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1990)
Searle John: THE REDISCOVERY OF THE MIND (MIT Press, 1992)
Stapp Henry: MIND, MATTER AND QUANTUM MECHANICS (Springer-Verlag, 1993)
Yasue Kunio & Jibu Mari: QUANTUM BRAIN DYNAMICS AND CONSCIOUSNESS (John Benjamins, 1995)
(1) Underlined words are linked to appropriate sites for further explanation.
The arguments presented are open for debate. The reader is encouraged to email his/her inputs to correct, modify or develop the contents. Please send your emails to; email@example.com
Stop Global Warming
Publicado por emulenews en 26 Enero 2009
El principio de incertidumbre de Heinsenberg afirma que toda medida (observación) cuántica de dos propiedades complementarias (como la posición y el momento o velocidad) está sujeta a un error (incertidumbre) que se reparte entre ambas propiedades. El principio de Heisenberg nos da una cota mínima para el producto de dichas incertidumbres. En la práctica dicho producto es muchísimo mayor, varios órdenes de magnitud mayor. Se puede reducir la incertidumbre de una propiedad utilizando una técnica llamada “squeezing” (”apretujamiento”) cuántico, pero a costa de incrementar la de la complementaria. En enero de este año se publicó una técnica que permite evitar esto último y que permite reducir la incertidumbre de una propiedad sin afectar a la complementaria hasta alcanzar, casi, el límite teórico del principio de Heisenberg. Se basa en manipular el spín de tres fotones en una fibra óptica de tal forma que se produce una partícula compuesta, el “trifotón,” sobre la que se aplica el “squeezing.” Las aplicaciones de esta técnica en medidas de alta precisión, fotolitografía y procesamiento cuántico de la información son increíbles. Nos lo cuenta Geoff J. Pryde, “Quantum physics: Squeeze until it hurts,” Nature News and Views, 457: 35-36, 1 January 2009 , que nos comenta el trabajo de L. K. Shalm, R. B. A. Adamson, A. M. Steinberg, “Squeezing and over-squeezing of triphotons,” Nature 457: 67-70, 1 January 2009 .
La existencia de un límite fundamental en la precisión de cualquier medida es un fenómeno puramente cuántico. Considera un haz de fotones que incide sobre un divisor de haz (beam splitter) que refleja el 50% de la luz que recibe y transmite el otro 50%. En Mecánica Clásica la intensidad de luz transmitida es exactamente la mitad de la incidente, con absoluta precisión. En Mecánica Cuántica la media estadística del número de fotones que atraviesa el divisor de haz cuando incide un haz formado por N fotones es de N/2 pero en un experimento concreto pueden pasar más fotones o menos. Es como tirar N veces una moneda. En media salen N/2 veces caras y otras tantas cruces. En la práctica el número de caras obtenido fluctúa y no es determinista en cada N tiradas que realicemos. Hay una probabilidad no nula de que en N tiradas sólo salgan caras, por ejemplo. Volviendo al fenómeno del “squeezing” cuántico, la figura lo ilustra utilizando la amplitud y la fase de una onda luminosa senoidal. A la izquierda tenemos una onda senoidal con cierta incertidumbre en amplitud que es constante en todo su periodo. Dicha incertidumbre genera una incertidumbre en su fase, en qué punto la onda cruza el eje de abcisas. La luz “apretujada” (squeezed) se presenta en la figura de la derecha. El error en la fase se ha reducido pero a costa de incrementar mucho el error en amplitud. La complementaridad cuántica en acción.
El trabajo de los físicos canadienses Shalm, Adamson y Steinberg, de la Universidad de Toronto, se basa en medir la polarización de la luz de tres fotones entrelazados en un estado llamado trifotón. La polarización de un haz de luz es un vector de tres componentes que en la representación de Stokes está dada por 3 parámetros S1, S2 y S3, aunque sólo 2 son independientes, situados en una esfera tridimensional S1*S1 + S2*S2 + S3*S3 = S0*S0, donde So es la intensidad del haz. En la versión cuántica estos parámetros se sutituyen por operadores complementarios, que no conmutan entre sí, como la posición y el momento, por lo que no es posible determinar con absoluta precisión estos 3 parámetros simultáneamente, si se reduce la incertidumbre en uno de ellos crecerá en los otros dos. En la figura se representan dos proyecciones de la esfera de Stokes, donde en azul tenemos los valores poco probables, con cuasiprobabilidad de Wigner negativa de -0.2, en rojo los más probables, con cuasiprobabilidad positiva de +0.7, y en blanco los valores con cuasiprobabilidad nula. En los experimentos se han preparado los trifotones con un grado de “squeezing” T variable entre 0 y 1.7, donde los valores mayores de 1 son valores “sobreapretujados” (”over-squeezing”). Para T=0, la incertidumbre en los ejes S1 y S2 es la misma. Conforme T crece, la incertidumbre en el eje S2 se reduce (aparecen 2 regiones azules a izquierda y derecha en la figura). Para estados con T>1, la incertidumbre se “retuerce” en la esfera, de la que no puede salir, formando 3 regiones azules más o menos equiespaciadas en la esfera (para T=1.7 en la figura). Estos estados tan “retorcidos,” llamados “NooN“, son capaces de alcanzar el límite en las desigualdades de Heisenberg. La figura de abajo muestra la incertidumbre en los parámetros S1 (verde) y S2 (rojo) para 11 estados trifotón con T creciente de 0 a 1.7. Conforme T se aproxima al valor 1, la incertidumbre en S2 decrece, pero al alcanzar dicho valor empieza a crecer de nuevo. Las curvas continuas muestran los valores teóricos. Los físicos canadienses sólo han sido capaces de obtener estos estados con una fidelidad del 0.68 del caso ideal. La fidelidad de estos estados se puede mejorar si se repite el proceso de “over-squeezing” para cada uno de los 3 ejes de polarización con lo que han logrado una fidelidad de 0.80 (los puntos “gordos” rojo y verde en la figura de abajo). Los investigadores esperan mejorar esta fidelidad en el futuro.
Publicado por emulenews en 31 Enero 2009
En 2002 se hizo una encuesta entre los lectores de la revista Physics World para votar el experimento más bello de toda la Física (The most beautiful experiment). Ganó la encuesta el experimento de Young de la doble rendija para mostrar la naturaleza dual onda-partícula del electrón (The double-slit experiment). He visto varias realizaciones del experimento pero en mi opinión la que mejor lo ilustra es la realizada por Akira Tonomura y sus colaboradores de Hitachi en 1989. Aquí tenéis el vídeo de youtube.
En una palabra: espectacular.
A. Tonomura, J. Endo, T. Matsuda, T. Kawasaki, H. Ezawa, “Demonstration of single-electron buildup of an interference pattern,” American Journal of Physics 57: 117-120, 1989 [copia gratis en ion.elte.hu].
Publicado por emulenews en 9 Febrero 2009
“Dios no juega a los dados,” Albert Einstein. La frase “God does not play dice,” en realidad, no fue escrita por Einstein nunca. Lo que en realidad escribió en una carta a Max Born en 1926 (traducido al inglés) es lo siguiente (según Ralph Keyes, “The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When,” St. Martin’s Press, 2006 ):
I, at any rate, am convinced that He is not playing at dice.
¿Qué quería decir Einstein? Básicamente que creía que una teoría estadística clásica (teoría de variables ocultas) podría explicar la mecánica cuántica. Las desigualdades de Bell (”Lo decible y lo indecible en mecánica cuántica“) y los teoremas tipo Jauch-Piron (”Hidden Variables Revisited“) nos han convencido a la mayoría de que una teoría de variables ocultas así no existe. “Nunca digas nunca jamás” (Never Say Never Again). Bueno, si existe tal teoría será extremadamente “sutil” (”Subtle is the Lord“).
El Premio Nobel Gerardus ‘t Hooft propuso hace una década una teoría de variables ocultas (precuántica) en la que la mecánica cuántica aparece como un fenómento emergente, no es necesaria postularla desde el principio, como nos lo aclaran en Massimo Blasone, Petr Jizba, Fabio Scardigli, “Can quantum mechanics be an emergent phenomenon?,” ArXiv preprint, 26 Jan 2009 .
La mecánica cuántica y la teoría de la gravedad de Einstein son las dos teorías físicas más precisas que conocemos (verificadas experimentalmente en algunos experimentos con hasta 12 dígitos de precisión). Sin embargo, todo lo que sabemos sobre ellas es a “baja” energía (del orden de 1 TeV). La energía de Planck es millones de millones de millones de veces más grande. Prácticamente una energía sólo imaginable durante la Gran Explosión. La mayoría confía en la Mecánica Cuántica y cree que será aplicable a dichas escalas de energía, abogando por una Gravedad Cuántica (tipo Teoría de Cuerdas o similar) compatible con ella y que a baja energía nos de la Teoría General de la Relatividad. Solamente unos pocos piensan que la Mecánica Cuántica debe ser reemplazada a dichas energías por una Teoría Precuántica, posiblemente clásica, que puede que requiera o no modificar también la gravedad. G. ‘t Hooft, motivado por la termodinámica de los agujeros negros, propuso una teoría de este tipo en la que la gravedad (teoría relavista) no es alterada en “Equivalence relations between deterministic and quantum mechanical systems,” Journal of Statistical Physics 53: 323-344, 1988 , bien resumida en “Determinism beneath Quantum Mechanics,” ArXiv preprint, 16 Dec 2002 .
Contrary to common belief, it is not difficult to construct deterministic models where stochastic behavior is correctly described by quantum mechanical amplitudes, in precise accordance with the Copenhagen-Bohr-Bohm doctrine. What is difficult however is to obtain a Hamiltonian that is bounded from below, and whose ground state is a vacuum that exhibits complicated vacuum fluctuations, as in the real world. (…) Theories of this kind may be essential for understanding causality at Planckian distance scales.
La teoría precuántica de ‘t Hooft aproxima el espacio-tiempo por una estructura discreta, similar a una autómata celular, que le permite superar la mayoría de las restricciones de los teoremas que afirman la imposibilidad de una teoría de variables ocultas. Un proceso (disipativo) de pérdida de información hace que múltiples trayectorias clásicas a la escala de Planck sean indistinguibles a baja energía, con lo que la mecánica cuántica sólo nos ofrece resultados observables probabilísticamente cuando se suman múltiples historias independientes. En la terminología de Bell, la teoría de ‘t Hooft es una teoría de “beables” (abreviatura de “may be able” literalmente “tal vez capaz” que es “palabro” difícil de traducir). Esta teoría de “beables” es una teoría no realista aunque local (relativista). La aparente no-localidad de la mecánica cuántica es un fenómeno emergente (dinámico) en la teoría.
En la escala de Planck (EP), la dinámica es puramente determinista, con trayectorias bien definidas (clásicas). Conforme la energía baja (E), un enorme cantidad de información se pierde y aparece una descripción efectiva que tiene dos niveles. A nivel microscópico, corresponde a la ecuación de Schrödinger y a una acción a distancia (no local) que se describen por la mecánica cuántica. A nivel macroscópico, sin embargo, se obtiene una descripción clásica (relativista).
De esta manera, la teoría “mata dos pájaros de un sólo tiro.” Por un lado, resuelve el problema de cómo se realiza el límite clásico de la mecánica cuántica: no es tal, son teorías “independientes”. Por otro lado, resuelve el problema de la no-localidad, las acciones a distancia fantasmales (”spooky action at a distance”) y por qué este fenómeno no se observa a nivel clásico.
Publicado por emulenews en 2 Marzo 2009
Physics es la revista de divulgación de trabajos de investigación excepcionales publicados en revistas de la Sociedad de Física Americana (APS). Luis Miguel Robledo Martín, profesor titular del Departamento de Física Teórica de la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, ha logrado aparecer en dicha revista gracias a que ha sido capaz de determinar el signo correcto de una expresión matemática complicada por una técnica innovadora. Nos lo cuentan John Millener, Ben Gibson, “Finding the missing sign,” Physics, Feb. 2009 , que se hacen eco del artículo técnico de L. M. Robledo, “Sign of the overlap of Hartree-Fock-Bogoliubov wave functions,” Phys. Rev. C 79: Art. No. 021302, Published February 20, 2009 .
La aproximación de Hartree-Fock-Bogoliubov (HFB) se utiliza en física cuántica para aproximar el comportamiento de una partícula sujeta al efecto de muchas otras partículas como si estas generaran un campo promedio efectivo. De esta manera se evita tener que considerarlas de forma individual. La aproximación fue introducida por D.R. Hartree en 1928 y por V.A. Fock en 1930 , aunque se convirtió en una herramienta fundamental tras el trabajo de N.N. Bogoliubov en 1958 . Cuando se requiere un resultado más preciso, hay que aplicar la aproximación hasta segundo orden, lo que requiere combinar y solapar las funciones de onda de la aproximación HFB a primer orden. El signo del solape requiere evaluar una raíz cuadrada. El problema es saber qué signo tiene que ser utilizado para esta raíz cuadrada. En algunos problemas (en los que hay simetrías discretas) el resultado es independiente del signo (no importa el que sea). Pero en otros problemas (en los que estas simetrías están rotas) la aproximación no dice qué signo usar. El signo ha de ser calculado utilizando otra técnica.
Luis Robledo ha utilizado una técnica muy elegante (que se basa en el uso de estados coherentes fermiónicos) con la que logra determinar el signo del término de solape sin ninguna ambigüedad. El signo depende del pfaffiano de una matriz antisimétrica. La nueva técnica es mucho más eficiente y sencilla de aplicar que otras técnicas alternativas, sin necesidad de recurrir al uso de matrices no hermíticas.
El nuevo resultado tiene múltiples aplicaciones, como el uso de la aproximación HFB para el estudio de la dinámica de protones o neutrones en núcleos atómicos con número atómico impar (la suma del número de protones y neutrones). Enhorabuena, Luis.