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Michele
2011-Jan-14 Fri, 08:37
Thoughts? I have several. I agree that the universe cannot be holographic. But, I think that if the universe vibrates then there must be a frequency pattern somewhere. Refer to the article regarding quantum geometry. Perhaps this is where the frequency is like the cymbatics. If you don't understand the reference to cymbatics, I can give you a link.

On March 27 I interviewed Dr. Stuart Hameroff of the Center for
Consciousness Studies of the University of Arizona. Here is an edited
transcript of that interview.
DEEPAK: It's my pleasure today to interview Dr. Stuart Hameroff who is a
Professor Emeritus at the Department of Anesthesiology and Psychology and
the Director of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of
Arizona. Dr. Hameroff is best known for his research on quantum
consciousness, an alternative to the accepted view that consciousness
emerges from complex computation. Dr. Hameroff in conjunction with noted
Oxford physicist Sir Roger Penrose, who was Stephen Hawking's thesis
advisor, has proposed that consciousness arises at the quantum level with
infrastructures inside neurons known as microtubules. It is a great pleasure
to interview you, Dr. Hameroff.
STUART: Thank you Deepak for this interview. It's a pleasure to be here. I
must say I have admired your work for many years also. So this is great that
I have a chance to talk with you.
DEEPAK: You're an anesthesiologist as well as an expert in consciousness.
Here's my question: Our brain inside our skull has no experience of the
external world. The brain only responds to internal states like, pH,
electrolytes, hormones, ionic exchanges across cell membranes and electrical
impulses. So, how does the brain see an external world?
STUART: Well that question goes back at least thousands of years, and the
Greeks said that the world outside is nothing but a representation in our
head. Then of course Descartes recognized the same thing. That the only
thing of which he could be sure was that he is, that he is conscious. I
think therefore I am. So, we're not really sure the outside world is as we
perceive it. Some people would say it's a construction, an illusion, some
people would say it's an accurate representation. It's kind of a mix of
views. And then when you add quantum properties to it, it's really uncertain
if the world we perceive is the actual world out there.
DEEPAK: So, Dr. Hameroff lets just take an example. I'm looking at a rose,
my retinal cells are not actually looking at the rose they're responding to
photons aren't they?

STUART: Yes. It's also possible that quantum information is transduced in
the retina in the cilia between the inner and outer segments before the
photon even gets to the rhodopsin in the very back of the eye. So it's
possible that there's additional quantum information being extracted from
photons as they enter your eye through the retina. They might somehow more
directly convey the actual essential quality or properties of the rose and
the redness of the rose. And of course this gets right to the hard problem
of conscious experience: that we have an actual quality of redness, pain,
grief, sorrow, joy, happiness--all feelings which are conscious awareness.
And for most people, the conventional understanding would be that the retina
acts like a camera and transmits that image to some other place in the brain
computer. And then you have the problem of who is actually looking at the
picture.
STUART: And I think that's incomplete. In addition to the neural signals, I
think that the essential property of the rose, the redness, the smell, its
other attributes, what philosophers call 'qualia' are actually particular
fluctuations of the very fundamental level of the universe, in spacetime
geometry.
STUART: Since the structure of spacetime geometry - what emptiness is made
of - is kind of holographic, by quantum processes our retina and brain are
able to access and connect to the essential qualities of the rose so that we
have it in our head. By quantum processes we have the experience of redness,
we have the smell, and we have the essential qualities. Because spacetime is
sort of holographic, we're able to access it via quantum processes inside
our brain.
DEEPAK: So we are experiencing these qualia in our consciousness in all
shapes and forms. You mentioned qualities like love, and goodness, and
truth, and beauty in one of your videos that I was watching. Also something
like the taste of red wine, or the color blue, or red, even sounds, these
are qualia that we experience in consciousness. Are we interpreting the
qualia in consciousness as the external world?
STUART: The nature of qualia depends on which approach you take. The
conventional materialistic approach is that the qualia are created in the
brain as an emergent property of computation among neurons. I don't believe
that's true. I think computation among neurons takes care of non-conscious
auto-pilot processing and behavior, but qualia and consciousness are
something else - attached to neuronal computation but not quite the same. I
think the extra feature is a quantum connection to spacetime geometry. Maybe
we should back up a little bit, because this is really Roger Penrose's idea.
Consider what the universe is made of, smaller than atoms, between atoms -
emptiness, nothingness. If you go down in scale, much much smaller than
atoms, below the level of matter, as things get smaller and smaller,
everything would be sort of smooth and featureless, until twenty five orders
of magnitude smaller than atoms you get to the very bottom level called the
Planck scale, where there's some kind of patterns, coarseness, geometry,
information.
STUART: We don't really know what to call it, at this most basic level of
quantum gravity. But somehow, Planck scale geometry gives rise to
irreducible features in physics, like mass, spin and charge. And also
qualia, we think. The precursors of consciousness, or consciousness itself,
may be actually embedded in Planck scale geometry, just like spin, mass, and
charge that give rise to the material world. In other words, the essential
features of consciousness are built into the universe at its most basic
level, and repeat in scale holographically, so qualia become accessible to
quantum biology in the brain.
DEEPAK: As preparation for this conversation today I watched a number of
your videos on YouTube, I read your work, and then while I was doing that
somebody actually sent me an essay that was published in Nature in 2005 by
Richard Conn Henry, Professor of Physics and Astrophysics and Astronomy at
Johns Hopkins. In a quote from that essay he says: "The only reality is mind
and observations. But observations are not of things, to see the universe as
it really is, we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as
things".
DEEPAK: So you know when I'm actually looking at a rose, what is happening
is a spacetime event in consciousness.
STUART: Yes, and it also relates to Alfred North Whitehead, who said that
the universe isn't made of things, it's made of processes, of events.
Everything is events, and some of those events are conscious events. He
called them occasions, occasions of experience. It was the philosopher Abner
Shimony in the early 1990s who said, Whitehead's occasions of experience are
actually very much like quantum state reductions. That made a connection
between Whitehead's philosophy, which also relates to Eastern philosophies
of various sorts, and to modern physics and quantum physics in particular.
DEEPAK: You know there's an ancient text called the Yoga Vasistha and it's
probably the most important text in Vedanta, and the history is that Rama,
who is the incarnation of God, goes to the great seer to get instruction.
And as is the custom in India, Rama touches the rishi Vasistha's feet. And
the seer says, "Hey stop it! You're God why are you doing this?" So Rama
says, " I have forgotten. You have to remind me that I am God." Vasistha
then gives him the first lesson. You're not in the world, the world is in
you. You're not in the body, the body is in you. You're not even in the
mind, the mind is in you. As you curve back within your own consciousness,
you manifest the mind, body, and the world.
I thought that's pretty close to what you're saying.
STUART: Yes, and that's a beautiful, beautiful passage. Or the Beatles'
"your inside is out and your outside is in".
DEEPAK: That's right.
DEEPAK: So I was at this debate with Michael Shermer and Sam Harris at
Caltech and the hall was full of techies unsympathetic to the concept that
consciousness is primary and matter is secondary. Whenever I brought up the
idea that consciousness is fundamental to the universe, they dismissed it
and me, as "woo-woo". It was such a cop-out that anytime I brought quantum
consciousness even into the discussion, it was dismissed as not having
anything to do with the macro-world.
STUART: I was at a conference with Shermer and Harris several years ago in
San Diego called "Beyond Belief" which was basically, almost exclusively
atheists and materialists. And they invited me as kind of a token, opposing
view. And I sat there all day, listening to them bash religion, and the
concept of spirituality. Finally I got up and my point was, I don't
necessarily ascribe to any particular religion, but I think through quantum
physics, three essential components of spirituality can have a plausible
scientific explanation. Namely, these are first, interconnectedness among
living beings via quantum entanglement. Second is guidance by Platonic
wisdom. Penrose also embedded Platonic values in spacetime geometry which
can guide our actions, and be viewed as following the way of the Tao, or
divine guidance, or whatever you want to call it. And finally, even
conceivably the possibility of afterlife or consciousness outside of the
body. Because if consciousness is happening in the spacetime geometry,
normally in the brain, then when the blood, oxygen and metabolic energy stop
driving the classical auto-pilot activity, the quantum information extending
to spacetime isn't destroyed, but can perhaps leak out or dissipate in a
more holographic distribution, but remained entangled. So it's possible that
a soul could exist afterwards in Planck scale geometry. There could be
reincarnation. I don't have any proof, and I'm not saying this necessarily
happens, but if it does, here is a plausible scientific explanation.
DEEPAK: I mentioned Roger Penrose in the debate as having said that the
brain being a physical organ cannot process real creativity as per Gödel's
Theorem, which you have also mentioned in your work. I said the brain cannot
process true creativity or even have free will. They were totally dismissive
that quantum physics had anything to do with consciousness. They kept
bringing up the Copenhagen interpretation as being irrelevant. I don't think
there's any interpretation of quantum physics that can do away with the
non-material, non-local consciousness. Or is there?
STUART: Well, the Copenhagen interpretation which they dismissed is
basically the idea that consciousness causes collapse of the wave function.
It's one of several possible interpretations of what's called the
measurement problem in quantum mechanics. So, let's just talk about this for
a second. The wave function implies a quantum state of something. Which
means that particles can be in superposition, can be in multiple states or
locations at the same time. At some point, the wave function collapses and
each possibility chooses one definite reality.
In the early days of quantum mechanics, Danish physicist Niels Bohr was
experimenting with quantum systems which seemed to remain in superposition
until the moment they were measured or observed, and then collapse to one
possible state or the other. In order to proceed with experiments, Bohr just
said that the conscious observer caused collapse - the 'Copenhagen
interpretation' . Schrodinger doubted this and designed his famous thought
experiment. The fate of a cat depends on a quantum superposition. According
to Copenhagen, the cat is both dead and alive at the same time until
somebody opens the box and has a look. And only then does it become either
dead or alive.
STUART: Bohr adopted the Copenhagen view as a very pragmatic way to get rid
of the measurement problem so he could do his quantum experiments which were
very accurate and very important. But, it put consciousness outside science.
And materialists don't like it because it says consciousness has some kind
of causal effect.
There are other interpretations of the measurement problem - which is really
the question of how large a quantum superposition can persist and become.
The multiple worlds view says if you have a quantum system, a superposition
of two possibilities existing simultaneously, each possibility evolves to
form its own whole new universe. The universe separates at a basic level,
and we have this infinite number of overlapping universes. Then there's
decoherence, the notion that any interaction of a quantum system with a
classical environment destroys the quantum state - that quantum
superpositions must be somehow isolated. And Bohm said quantum pilot waves
guided classical paths.
DEEPAK: Yes
STUART: Now the Penrose idea is sort of the flip side of Copenhagen, with a
dash of multiple worlds. He says that consciousness is collapse, a
particular type of self-collapse. But he started with superposition, "What
does that mean? How can something be in two places or states at the same
time?" If you go back to the multiple worlds idea, it's that the universe
itself, spacetime geometry, separates and evolves off to form two universes.
Penrose also takes superpositions as spacetime separations, and that instead
of branching off and forming new universes, the separations were unstable,
and would reduce, or self-collapse to particular states at a given time due
to an objective threshold - this is called objective reduction, or OR. For
other reasons related to Goedel's theorem Penrose said the choices were
influenced by Platonic values embedded in Planck scale geometry, and that a
moment of consciousness occurred.
DEEPAK: Okay.
STUART: The self-collapse occurs, given by a very simple equation, E=h/t
related to the indeterminacy principle which defines a spectrum of conscious
events. When this event occurs, a quantum moment of consciousness occurs.
DEEPAK: You know, it's very interesting. I recently interviewed Hans Peter
Duerr who was a colleague and student of Werner Heisenberg and actually they
worked together for 20 years. The other day I asked him, "What is matter?"
And he said "It doesn't exist". He said "there are happs", happenings in
consciousness, that are interpreted as matter. So I said, what really
exists? And then he said, that the wrong question, it's like asking
(laughs), what's the color of a circle? And you know, he confused me a lot,
but now with what you're saying--that moments of consciousness are a result
of self-collapse. And these are discontinuities, but they happen so fast
that they give us an experience of continuity.
STUART: Precisely. Actually, roughly forty times a second.
DEEPAK: All right, I see.
STUART: At least in our model they coincide with gamma synchrony EEG which
is the best measure of consciousness. But it doesn't have to be forty, and
in fact the Dalai Lama selected some Tibetan monk meditators and sent them
to Wisconsin, where Davidson's Lab studied them during meditation. They
found that their synchrony wasn't at forty, but it was between 80 and 100
per second. So they were having more conscious moments per time than the
rest of us in their meditative state and actually before they meditated,
implying that chronic meditation actually changed the brain. So, I think
that these "happses" as your colleague said or conscious moments or quanta
of consciousness are pretty much like photons in the electromagnetic
spectrum where you can have high energy, fast, high frequency photons like
ultraviolet' s for example or slower, longer wavelengths like infrared. There
is a spectrum of conscious events.
STUART: I think when we meditate or are in altered states, we shift to a
higher frequency, which is also higher intensity, higher experience. Kind of
like going from red to ultraviolet, something like that. When that happens,
the outside world can slow down in perspective. So people in car accidents
for example, when the car is spinning, report that the world slows down,
because they have gone from say 40 to 80 conscious moments per second. The
perception of the outside world appears slower. Great athletes say that when
they're playing well, the other team is in slow motion. Michael Jordan said
that.
DEEPAK: Michael Jordan. Joe Namath once told me that when he was in a peak
moment during the game, everything seemed to slow down and actually when he
was scoring a touchdown, and there were literally thousands of people
applauding, he saw everything in slow motion and total silence. There was no
sound.
STUART: Fantastic. So, he might have gone from say 40 conscious moments per
second to a 100 in that moment. So the outside slowed down or almost stopped
even.
DEEPAK: And there was silence too. Because this raises the question. You
said information is very fundamental in the universe. But were you implying
that information is transcendent and non-local?
STUART: Entanglement certainly suggests that. But Planck Scale geometry and
the makeup of the universe at that level is really unknown and
controversial. String theory tries to explain it, as does loop quantum
gravity and various forms of quantum geometry. Roger Penrose developed
quantum geometry theories about it and is probably the expert along with Lee
Smolin and others. Spin networks, twistors, the whole field of quantum
gravity or quantum geometry. I think Platonic information embedded in
non-local holographic spacetime geometry may be considered transcendent.
DEEPAK: Is it outside of spacetime or are you saying that it is fundamental
to the spacetime geometry?
STUART: It is spacetime. I don't think you need to get out of, or can get
outside of spacetime. When we get down to this fundamental level, this
information is non-local and holographic. You don't need to get outside. In
fact, I just read a very interesting article about how this Planck scale
information actually repeats holographically at larger and larger scales.
I'll send you the link. They've gotten it up to very close to biological
levels. I think that the biological system is even better tuned than any
device that anybody has built yet. But the cosmic information is non-local,
existing in multiple places, even across the universe. This is basically
quantum entanglement.
DEEPAK: Yes.
STUART: We know that superpositioned particles that separate remain
intimately connected This prediction came out of quantum mechanics. Einstein
didn't like that idea and he called it spooky-action- at-a-distance.
DEEPAK: Yeah. If it is at this level, non-local and it's entangled, then it
cannot be destroyed.
STUART: You can say that, yes.
DEEPAK: When I do my meditation seminars I ask my audience simple questions.
I'll pick on somebody and say, "So what did you have for dinner last night?"
And they'll say "I had pasta and chicken" or something. I'll say, where was
that information before I asked the question? If I went inside your brain
would I find a location for pasta and dinner? Then I'll ask them, "Do you
remember the house you lived in when you were a teenager?" They say, yes.
They can see it in their consciousness, as that qualia or whatever you want
to call it. I'll say "Where was that before I asked you the question?" And
you know, Eastern wisdom and traditions say that memory as information
resides in a non..., well they don't use the word non-local, but it's in
your soul, and that's what recycles. Every time we retrieve a memory, of
course we have brain activity, but to store the memory there is no brain
activity nor is there any energy consumed.
STUART: Well, I think memory is stored in the brain, but there's also
memory, you know, in the universe. Perhaps a different kind, perhaps our
memories are also stored there, but I think that memory can be stored in the
microtubules for example through processes related to the neuronal synapses.
But you're referring to memory that can be stored in the universe at large
and I think that can exist also.
DEEPAK: I see. So, memory is not localized through the brain, it is actually
stored in the brain?
STUART: Well it's stored in a distributed way. It's stored like a hologram
and that's been known for decades.
DEEPAK: See because every time we retrieve a memory, isn't that a kind of a
collapse of a superposition?
STUART: If we have a conscious memory of it, yes. How that happens is that
the memory is stored in the cytoskeleton, in the microtubules for example.
Through the hippocampus and gamma synchrony association you access the
information and that causes it to go into a superposition and become part of
the quantum state which then collapses giving a conscious memory.
DEEPAK: I'm speaking to Dr. Stuart Hameroff. His website is
www.quantumconsciou sness.org. He's also holding a conference titled "Toward
a Science of Consciousness" April 12th through 17th I think he and David
Chalmers are co-hosting this conference, so check it out and we'll be
posting the link also on deepakchopra. com.

DEEPAK:. Stuart Hameroff is also going to be doing a dialogue with Tibetan
Lama ZaChoeje Rinpoche, who is designated as the reincarnate by the Dalai
Lama. He'll be doing the dialogue next week in Tempe, Arizona. Before I get
to your work Dr. Hameroff, I want to mention something. I met a physicist
recently from the University of California in Orange County, one of the
universities there. His name is Jeff Tollaksen, and he's working with
another physicist called Aharonov of the Aharonov-Bohm theory. This month's
Discover magazine has a cover story about both of them and they're
describing something called time symmetric quantum mechanics. What they're
saying is that they do these weak measurements, and I didn't fully
understand the procedure, but what they're saying is that information from
the future can leak into the present and when it does so, in their
experiments, it resolves all the indeterminacies that one finds in all the
paradoxes. Implying that quantum physics is teleological, that there's
something in the future that's built into the laws of physics or mathematics
that determines the present and that time doesn't really have to follow an
arrow, it can go backwards and forwards.
STUART: Yes, that's Jeff Tollaksen. He's been to our conferences and he
works with Yakir Aharonov, of the Aharonov-Bohm effect. The time symmetry is
a very beautiful idea.
DEEPAK: I see.
STUART: As I understand it, every time there is a collapse, and this would
include a Penrose-type collapse, there's information that goes into the
future but also into the past. It's symmetric, so the information goes both
ways. There's pretty good evidence that this happens in the brain. Ben Libet
did studies years ago on neurosurgical patients whose brains were exposed
but were awake. He found evidence that the brain sends conscious information
backwards in time. We may actually rely routinely on information from the
near future. This would explain the experiments by Dick Berman and Dean
Radin over the years on pre-sentiment. They use a simple impedance device on
the finger which measures blood flow changes due to emotional responses.
They had subjects look at a sequence of images on a computer screen that are
coming, not at a regular time, but at different times so they don't know
when. And half of them were highly emotional and half of them were bland.
They found a bigger response with the emotional images, as you might expect.
But in all cases, particularly emotional images, the change in the impedance
happens before the image comes up on the screen by a half second to two
seconds. This could be exactly the type of time symmetry that Tollaksen and
Aharonov are talking about where each collapse, each moment of consciousness
sends information backwards in time. So each conscious moment can receive
information from our brain in the next half a second or so.
DEEPAK: So how does this relate to our identity? Who we are? Are we a
non-local, consciousness, a non-local being that localizes when we
reincarnate? Do you have any theories on this?
STUART: I can't say for sure. I can say that I think that when we are alive
in our bodies, our consciousness is pretty much confined to our brain. We
can have quantum entanglement with other people in the universe, and maybe
exist in some kind of non-local distribution in altered states. Perhaps when
we die the quantum information that is normally in our microtubules inside
the neurons of our brain can kind of exist at large in the universe, but
remain as an entangled entity. In other words, we retain some kind of
self-identity as who we are, a soul.
DEEPAK: Well you know, Eastern spiritual traditions say that when we die we
return to the state of pure potentiality. Which is our pure consciousness.
But, even there we retain memories as superpositions of possibilities. I'm
now translating in modern language. They would say that reincarnation is
actually the localization, once again of those possibility fields. That we
are part of a larger possibility field. Which is called the Akashic field.
It's transcendent, being transcendent its non-local, being non-local it
cannot be destroyed. It's immortal.
STUART: I would agree with that. I think Laszlo has talked about the Akashic
field in quantum field theory.
DEEPAK: Right.
STUART: I think some connection to a kind of cosmic mind in Planck scale
geometry is possible. I tend to focus on the biological end of it, on how
consciousness occurs in the brain. You don't need a scientific explanation
to believe in a cosmic mind, and be part of it. But that's my thing. I like
to investigate science. I do think that our theory for example could explain
consciousness as ripples in this fundamental level of the universe which
could be the Akashic field, Bohm's Implicate Order, Planck scale geometry.
And many descriptions. I think they're pretty much all the same thing.
DEEPAK: I want to really get specifically into your work with microtubules.
What are microtubules?
STUART: Ah, well. Microtubules are part of the cytoskeleton, the bone-like
scaffolding inside the cell. We know about membranes, we know about the
nucleus, DNA, but the rest of the cell, which is most of the cell, is often
thought of as liquid, a minestrone soup of organelles floating around.
Actually, it's a highly structured system that has organized support made up
of protein filaments that are normally thought of as purely girders in a
building. But we think they are also the nervous system inside the cell. And
mechanical transport. They do the job of separating chromosomes in mitosis
when cells divide. They push forward axons, dendrites and synapses in
neuronal development. They regulate synapses and participate in memory. And
when they fall apart, you have Alzheimers.
Microtubules are hollow cylinders made up of single peanut-shaped proteins
called tubulin which self-assemble to form the architecture and geometry of
the cell. Cells that are most asymmetrical, that have long processes like
neurons with dendrites and axons, have the most microtubules. When a neuron
develops, the microtubules self-assemble and grow in a certain direction.
It's kind of like the Indian Rope trick, where the Fakir guy throws a rope
up and then climbs up. That's pretty much what microtubules do to form the
shape of cells, and then ultimately synapses. Once cells are formed,
microtubules seem to process information and organize activities.
I first got interested in microtubules in cell division in the 1970s in
medical school. Only then was it discovered that they were also in neurons.
Because prior to that the fixative agent for electron microscopy had been
dissolving microtubules, if you can believe that. Cell interiors looked like
water. But, then they realized that there's this forest of structures in
there. And at about the same time, x-ray crystallography showed the
structure of microtubules to be cylindrical lattices, almost like crystals.
I was learning about computers at the time and to me, microtubules looked
like a computer switching network where the state of each tubulin subunit
could represent something like a bit, a one or a zero for example. If that
were true, that would mean there was a lot of information processing going
on inside cells. Most people think about the brain as 100 billion neurons,
with each synapse among those neurons switching as a bit in milliseconds.
Each neuron is a switch, a bit a 1 or a 0. But if you looked inside each
neuron you see this faster, denser level of microtubule information
processing.

DEEPAK: I read that you had said that microtubules performed like 10 to the
power of 27 information processing events every second, is that true?
STUART: In the brain, yes. So, this is where I ran into trouble with the
artificial intelligence people who were trying to build brain equivalence in
computers because they were saying that each neuron, and there's like 100
billion neurons in the brain, switch a thousand times a second, so with so
many synapses gives brain computational equivalence of 10 to the 15th
operations per second. And based on Moore's Law and computers getting faster
and components smaller, they project that in another ten or twenty years,
computers will reach that level of brain equivalence. And of course, Ray
Kurzweil and the Singularity have made a big deal about this. When that
happens, then everything will change culturally.
DEEPAK: Spiritual machines.
STUART: But, that's assuming each neuron is a simple on-off switch, which is
not the case, if you think about a paramecium. You know those single cell
organisms.
DEEPAK: Sure.
STUART: They swim around, they find food, they find mates, they have sex,
they learn, they can escape from capillary tubes faster each time. They
don't have neurons, they don't have synapses, they do it all with their
microtubules. So, if they can do it, then a neuron should be able to use its
microtubules intelligently also. I calculated the amount of information
processing in the microtubules in each neuron was something like 10 to the
15th operations per second. Which meant that what the A.I. people, Kurzweil,
and so forth are saying now is the capacity for the brain is actually only
the capacity of one neuron in the brain at the level of microtubule
information processing. That means that the total capacity would be almost
squared. Something like 10 to the 27th figure that you mentioned. So, I'm
not very popular among A.I. people.
STUART: But more computation isn't the answer either. One day about 20 years
ago an A.I. guy said -'lets say you're right, that all this computation is
happening in microtubules. How does that explain consciousness? ' I had to
admit he was right. Fortunately he suggested I read Roger Penrose's book
'The emperor's new mind', which I did. Roger was proposing this quantum
self-collapse, objective reduction, a process in fundamental spacetime
geometry as a mechanism for consciousness. He needed a quantum computer in
the brain. I thought, microtubules. He agreed. We developed our theory in
which synaptic inputs 'orchestrate' quantum computing in microtubules which
terminates by Penrose OR, hence 'Orch OR'. It's been heavily criticized but
never refuted. A.I. groups fund research aimed to discredit it.
DEEPAK: Could an A.I. machine process ethics, values, morality, free will,
creativity, or have the experience of qualia?
STUART: Well, I don't think so. They might claim they can because they
trivialize those concepts. A.I. is entirely based on the materialist premise
that the brain is a computer, no different from a silicon computer. They
assert consciousness and love and everything that you just mentioned are
emergent properties from complex computation. But there's no real evidence
either way. For me, those things are accessed in the quantum world.
DEEPAK: But, isn't the essential nature of matter, that it's not material?
STUART: That's right. Matter is related to something like curvature in
spacetime geometry. So, to get to the fundamental level we have to go
further down to the origins of matter, which are also the origins of
consciousness.
DEEPAK: You see in Eastern wisdom traditions; consciousness is before the
subject object split. You know. That consciousness is what you call
proto-consciousness . I read your vocabulary. Is what Eastern wisdom
traditions say that there is an underlying ground of being that splits into
both subject and object. That you know reductionist science is based on this
subject object split, which is artificial. After all, nature is one.
STUART: That's right. Some look at matter and mind as separate -dualism,
some as your idealism where mind creates matter, some as materialism where
matter creates mind, and some as panpsychism, where matter and mind are more
or less the same. But I think that probably the most sensible way to
approach mind and matter is more along the lines of what is called in the
West neutral monism. Where you have this underlying something that gives
rise on the one hand to matter and on the other hand to mind. In the Eastern
traditions this is non-dualism.
DEEPAK: Yes.
STUART: If you look at the underlying being as the quantum superposition
state connected to fundamental spacetime geometry, then depending on how the
system collapses, you'll either get strictly matter, or you'll get matter
along with mind - with a moment of consciousness if it happens by Penrose
objective reduction. So, our approach is very consistent with this
underlying ground of being in the context of neutral-monism in the West, or
non-duality in the East.
DEEPAK: You know there was a physicist in the audience at Caltech and he
said "How do you define consciousness? " And I said "It's a quantum
superposition of possibilities" . And they all laughed. And it was like I had
said something once again they call "woo-woo".

STUART: Well, at least you have an explanation. They don't have an
explanation. They would likely say that consciousness emerges from complex
computation. But that's just a hand-waving argument. And you know, they do a
lot of bait and switching. You'll read a paper "Consciousness bla-bla-bla"
and you read the paper and they are talking about attention, about memory,
learning or behavior, but not at all about consciousness. Of course, Dan
Dennett wrote his famous book "Consciousness Explained" which actually
explained away the question. So, they're trivializing and baiting and
switching. Fortunately, we have philosophers like David Chalmers who call
their bluff and talk about the 'hard problem' of qualia and conscious
experience.
DEEPAK: I also read your comments about the property we call "binding" in
the brain. Is that a kind of quantum entanglement?

STUART: Well, I think so since I would say consciousness per se is a quantum
process. Binding is the issue of how we tie together different attributes
into one unified conscious perception. Even within one sensory mode like
vision for example, you have color, motion, shape--all these properties are
bound into a visual object. You see something moving through the sky, its
shape, its color, its motion, and ultimately its meaning. Those different
attributes: are processed in different parts of the brain, at slightly
different times, and somehow are bound together into a conscious perception
of a particular object - a bird, plane, kite or whatever. It is not a bunch
of those features. Its one thing. That's called binding - how these things
are tied together. You also have binding among different sensory modes,
sound, sight touch and others sensory modes into one unitary conscious
experience. How that occurs is the binding problem. Conventional science has
a big problem with it. We know gamma synchrony seems to be involved in
binding, but still doesn't explain it. So, if consciousness is quantum,
those different attributes are bound and entangled in one quantum
superposition which then self-collapses in a conscious moment unifying those
attributes.
DEEPAK: Is anyone looking at non-locality and biological systems? I mean it
seems to me that the process of morphogenesis and differentiation. You know
when a single cell becomes a hundred trillion cells with 50 or so
replications that there is a simultaneity involved. Also, just being alive
there's a simultaneity. How does a human body think thoughts, play piano,
kill germs, and remove toxins, and make a baby all at the same time? It has
to be non-local entanglement.
STUART: It would be hard to do all those things at the same time, but it
would be fun to watch somebody try. I think that life itself is a quantum
coherent process. In fact, the replication and growth of cells is all
accomplished by microtubules which can utilize quantum coherence and
entanglement in mitosis and differentiation. Schrodinger first suggested
life might be intrinsically quantum in nature.
But critics say "Everybody knows the brain is too warm, wet, and noisy for
delicate quantum effects". That's because people trying to build quantum
computers in laboratories have the problem of decoherence. When they have an
ion or atom or photon in a superpositioned state, it's very sensitive to
disturbance by the environment through a process called decoherence. So they
freeze the system to avoid heat vibrations. Heat is the enemy. But in
biology, mechanisms seem to have evolved to avoid decoherence and use heat
to pump quantum coherence, something like a laser.
So, this theoretical argument has gone back and forth, but in the last three
years there has been kind of an onslaught of evidence for quantum coherence
in warm biology, starting in plants. It turns out that photosynthesis, which
plants use to make chemical energy and is the source of all food, that
photosynthesis uses quantum coherence at warm temperatures.
DEEPAK: By quantum coherence, you mean entanglement, non-locality?
STUART: Yes, I believe so, though only in a restricted area in this case.
Photons are collected by chlorophyll and transported by electrons through a
protein scaffolding to a site for conversion to chemical energy. The
electrons occupy all possible pathways - quantum superposition.
DEEPAK: At normal temperatures?
STUART: Exactly. At warm temperatures.
DEEPAK: So then this whole thing about macro and micro is... many times
people will point out that these principles only apply at the micro-quantum
level and not at the macro level?
STUART: Well, we don't really know the boundary. But I would say
consciousness is a process precisely on the edge between the micro-quantum
and the macro-classical worlds.
DEEPAK: Thank you so much for this interview. If the anyone is interested in
this topic, then please check out Dr. Hameroff's website:
www.quantumconsciou sness.org. It's been a great pleasure to do this
interview. Dr. Hameroff has a conference coming up. Could you tell us the
details?
STUART: The conference 'Toward a Science of Consciousness' is coming up
April 12th to 17th in Tucson, Arizona.
<http://newsweek. washingtonpost. com/onfaith/ panelists/ deepak_chopra/ 2010/04/
www.consciousness. arizona.edu> www.consciousness. arizona.edu. It's a
weeklong festival. We have many types of sessions, serious, but all with a
lot of fun. Thank you very much Deepak. It's good to talk to you. Hope to do
it again.
____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
Since the interview, the conversation with Dr. Hameroff has continued
through email. Here is a selection of some of that exchange.
Deepak: Regarding quantum effect in living system: Since light harvesting is
the basis of life and is a result of quantum entanglement, does that imply
that the cosmic mind is an acausal non-local superposition of possibilities?
http://www.nature. com/nature/ journal/v463/ n7281/pdf/ nature08811. pdf

STUART: I would like to think so, but it's actually just a very important
step. The issue in quantum consciousness has been decoherence -the brain,
and biology in general, are considered too warm for quantum effects. These
findings at ambient temperature move in the right direction but the time for
the quantum state in plants is still very short (400 femtoseconds) . But
that's all that is needed in this situation - no evolutionary pressure in
photosynthesis for longer. We would like to see quantum states for 25
milliseconds in microtubules - a long way off. But evidence from Japan is
suggesting long-lived quantum states in microtubules. That work will be
presented at the Tucson conference by Anirban
Bandyophadyay. See my page 'Hot news in quantum biology' where I list
developments in this area. http://www.quantumc onsciousness. org/qbupdate. htm
DEEPAK: I'm sure you've seen this-gravity as quantum information
http://www.technolo gyreview. com/blog/ arxiv/24975/
STUART: I hadn't, thanks. But it's not all that new. This is Roger Penrose
turf, and he and Lee Smolin and others have been saying such stuff for
decades, that information in Planck scale geometry is dynamic and
non-random. I don't understand how they say it derives Newton gravity but
not Einstein's, but then talk about black holes (which come from Einstein's
gravity). Paola Zizzi (she was mentioned in the Enlighten Next article) has
been working on the Bekenstein bound and information at the edge of black
holes. That's where one can answer such questions about information loss,
Hawking radiation and so forth. Roger once wondered whether consciousness
creates information which ultimately gets sucked into black holes.
But the other issue is: - let's say there IS Cosmic Mind information at the
Planck scale. How does it relate to our macroscopic brain? - even via
electrons in microtubules we are still far apart in size scale.
On this page http://www.quantumc onsciousness. org/qbupdate. htm see "Is the
world a hologram?" This says that the Cosmic Mind information at the Planck
scale repeats at larger and larger scales holographically. This is very good
news for our side.

Glenn B. Wheaton
2011-Jan-15 Sat, 02:19
Aloha Michele,

Took some time to wade through but a good article. A few things come to mind along the way and many that we already know and discuss every now and then. First and foremost is the idea of consciousness as part of the fabric of the Universe. I believe consciousness to be a full dimension, and while Stuart and Deepak mention the science of it all remember that the greater community of science would scoff at just about each paragraph. While I would yield the academics of it I am doubtful that either could prove any relationships between consciousness and anything within the world of matter within the science they quote. Don't get me wrong I found it a good interview and agree with the general flow of their logic. Much in the later section of the interview was very interesting but I found a few leaps of logic that do not seem viable. Too many direct references to a specific law of science where there is no real evidence or research to give credibility to its relationship to either the quantum world or consciousness. These things take a great deal of experimental effort and just now everyone is thinking but few are experimenting for empirical data. What is missing from this article is any degree of proof for these concepts we subscribe to.

Glenn

PS. Do read the article in full, it is very good...

Michele
2011-Jan-15 Sat, 09:18
Here are my initial thoughts on this article. But, it is alot of information and I would have to read it several (hundred) times. But, it is one of those articles that kind of sets the pace for future reference.

1. I disagree with the holographic approach, but I don’t dispense with the idea in it’s entirety. I think that if there is such a thing as string theory, then the cymbatic actions in frequencies might be more applicable. Does God’s piano create some kind of frequency? While it is off topic, it is interesting that the first thing that man made was music. If there was an advanced or alien society then perhaps later cultures were trying to recreate the frequencies that a higher society used. For example, Sitchin strongly states that aliens were here and had all kinds of advanced capabilities. But, if this is so, then why did they not create a better working environment to mine the gold in the first place? Doesn’t it seem a little dramatic to create an entire human being? If you have that kind of capability, why not improve the mining conditions? Maybe because they couldn’t. Everyone always uses the ant hill example and it could be that an alien community could not scale down their equipment to mine gold anymore than we could make little teeny tiny weapons to arm ants. But, maybe they used some kind of equipment that worked on frequencies that created some kind of musical tone.

2. The ideal of a Plank scale geometry is fascinating. Perhaps it is how we can negotiate great distances as remote viewers. If the universe exists at a Plank scale and just ‘projects itself in waves getting bigger and bigger’, then the spacetime geometry is accessible to us.

Since it is impossible to reload this doc with just specific highlites, I just underlined specific comments to address. Hope it doesn't break up the continuity too much..The underlined portions that follows are snipped from the original article and the italicized are my comments.

So, we're not really sure the outside world is as we perceive it. Some people would say it's a construction, an illusion, some people would say it's an accurate representation. It's kind of a mix of views. And then when you add quantum properties to it, it's really uncertain if the world we perceive is the actual world out there.

DEEPAK: So, Dr. Hameroff lets just take an example. I'm looking at a rose,
my retinal cells are not actually looking at the rose they're responding to
photons aren't they?

One thing that is stated over and over, “like spooky at a distance” is that Einstein was frustrated that the moon did not exist because a mouse looked at it. And, I think these examples about illusion are in the same categories. I’m not sure that it should be that simple. This mak es me think about the speculation that dark matter exists because another universe is sitting on top of ours creating a force. Think about a lake with the surface of the water representing the other universe and the landmass on bottom being our universe. The water being pushed down into all the gulleys and valleys is like dark matter. And, we know that it is gravity that pulls the water down onto the land mass. The surface appears flat, but the bottom of the lake is not smooth and the depths are not all the same, and yet the surace of the lake still appears to be flat. I think a rose is a rose and would still be a rose whether we looked at it or not. Because all the wavelengths (photons) have been impacted by forces in the universe in such a way that they create a perfect balance. A rose looks like a rose because of that constant exertion of forces on the photons.

STUART: Since the structure of spacetime geometry - what emptiness is made of - is kind of holographic, by quantum processes our retina and brain are able to access and connect to the essential qualities of the rose so that we have it in our head. By quantum processes we have the experience of redness, we have the smell, and we have the essential qualities. Because spacetime is sort of holographic, we're able to access it via quantum processes inside our brain.
I think they drift right off the mark in this paragraph. The idea of spacetime geometry is fascinating and that’s what I mean about the frequency/cymbatics as opposed to holographic ideal. The Plank energy is tiny and vibrating…perhaps forming a basic geometric shape that gets bigger and bigger as it spreads out. I think that space geometry on a Plank scale is probably responsible for as the ‘cause’ of the wave. The rose is existing as a result of many things…but the photons are ‘locked in’ by the wave.

STUART: We don't really know what to call it, at this most basic level of
quantum gravity. But somehow, Planck scale geometry gives rise to
irreducible features in physics, like mass, spin and charge. And also
qualia, we think. The precursors of consciousness, or consciousness itself,
may be actually embedded in Planck scale geometry, just like spin, mass, and
charge that give rise to the material world. In other words, the essential
features of consciousness are built into the universe at its most basic
level, and repeat in scale holographically, so qualia become accessible to
quantum biology in the brain.

So what makes us laugh, love, think? I know that we are supposed to believe it is all just chemical reactions in neural networks, but I have never accepted that. I have never read anything that convinces me that I should accept it.

DEEPAK: As preparation for this conversation today I watched a number of
your videos on YouTube, I read your work, and then while I was doing that
somebody actually sent me an essay that was published in Nature in 2005 by
Richard Conn Henry, Professor of Physics and Astrophysics and Astronomy at
Johns Hopkins. In a quote from that essay he says: "The only reality is mind
and observations. But observations are not of things, to see the universe as
it really is, we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as
things".

DEEPAK: So you know when I'm actually looking at a rose, what is happening
is a spacetime event in consciousness.

Same problem. The moon does not exist because a mouse sees it in his brain (Einstein) This defeats the whole holographic thing anyway. Does the mouse see the same universe as me? The answer is yes. But, it probably does not appear the same in his little mouse world. The rose is a rose and the only difference is that the brain in a mouse will not pick up the same information from the wavelength (photons) as mine.

And finally, even conceivably the possibility of afterlife or consciousness outside of the body. So it's possible that a soul could exist afterwards in Planck scale geometry. There could be reincarnation. I don't have any proof, and I'm not saying this necessarily happens, but if it does, here is a plausible scientific explanation.

If consciousness can exist outside the body after death, then most likely it exists outside the body as we live. This is I think the pivotal comment that has to separate mechanical function of the brain and eyes and perceiving photons and on and on and the idea of love and ethics and laughing and the scale of emotion the depth of intelligence, expericene itself. I think these things comprise consciousness more so than chemical reactions in a neural network. Is it possible that consciousness while we live exists outside the body. Regarding reincarnation, it’s more likely that the information just continues to exists until it collides with something else that it becomes entangled with. So, you might be remembering ‘events’ but that doesn’t mean that you lived before. You are just accessing someone else’s life.

I said the brain cannot process true creativity or even have free will. They were totally dismissive that quantum physics had anything to do with consciousness. They keptbringing up the Copenhagen interpretation as being irrelevant. I don't thinkthere's any interpretation of quantum physics that can do away with thenon-material, non-local consciousness. Or is there?

In the early days of quantum mechanics, Danish physicist Niels Bohr was
experimenting with quantum systems which seemed to remain in superposition
until the moment they were measured or observed, and then collapse to one
possible state or the other. In order to proceed with experiments, Bohr just
said that the conscious observer caused collapse - the 'Copenhagen
interpretation' . Schrodinger doubted this and designed his famous thought
experiment. The fate of a cat depends on a quantum superposition. According
to Copenhagen, the cat is both dead and alive at the same time until
somebody opens the box and has a look. And only then does it become either
dead or alive.

Wait! Doesn’t the cat inside the box have vision as well? How is the cat’s vision effecting the wave?

The universe separates at a basic level, and we have this infinite number of overlapping universes. Then there's decoherence, the notion that any interaction of a quantum system with a classical environment destroys the quantum state - that quantum superpositions must be somehow isolated. And Bohm said quantum pilot waves guided classical paths.

Is this just another way of saying that energy follows the path of least resistance? And, some waves would just naturally cancel out other waves, just like we see in water.

But the cosmic information is non-local,existing in multiple places, even across the universe. This is basically quantum entanglement.

Hmmm.

Yeah. If it is at this level, non-local and it's entangled, then it
cannot be destroyed.
STUART: You can say that, yes.

Does this state that we could time travel back to the past, but as long as the past is quantum entangled (or anchored) somewhere else in the universe, then we cannot change it…just create another alternate reality. And, as I type this Glenn’s experiment comes to mind. Perhaps he did not change the past. Maybe he only changed the past that we perceive. Perhaps the original picture remains unchanged, but the original picture now exists in an alternate universe.


DEEPAK: I see. So, memory is not localized through the brain, it is actually
stored in the brain?
STUART: Well it's stored in a distributed way. It's stored like a hologram
and that's been known for decades.

Ahhh…and there we have it. The brain is holographic…not the universe.

STUART: I can't say for sure. I can say that I think that when we are alive
in our bodies, our consciousness is pretty much confined to our brain.

Can you be a little bit pregnant? Either consciousness resides in the brain or it doesn’t. I don’t think it can be ‘pretty much’ in one place or the other.

They would say that reincarnation is actually the localization, once again of those possibility fields. It's immortal.

Hmm…the fields, the wave, the information, consciousness, energy is immortal. Nothing there suggests that an ‘entity’ will reincarnate after death. Just means we can access the information of people who were once alive.


DEEPAK: Could an A.I. machine process ethics, values, morality, free will,
creativity, or have the experience of qualia?

STUART: Well, I don't think so. They might claim they can because they
trivialize those concepts. A.I. is entirely based on the materialist premise
that the brain is a computer, no different from a silicon computer. They
assert consciousness and love and everything that you just mentioned are
emergent properties from complex computation. But there's no real evidence
either way. For me, those things are accessed in the quantum world.

So, what you’re saying is that consciousness exists outside of the brain?

STUART: Well, at least you have an explanation. They don't have an
explanation. They would likely say that consciousness emerges from complex
computation. But that's just a hand-waving argument. And you know, they do a lot of bait and switching. You'll read a paper "Consciousness bla-bla-bla"
and you read the paper and they are talking about attention, about memory,
learning or behavior, but not at all about consciousness. Of course, Dan
Dennett wrote his famous book "Consciousness Explained" which actually
explained away the question. So, they're trivializing and baiting and
switching. Fortunately, we have philosophers like David Chalmers who call
their bluff and talk about the 'hard problem' of qualia and conscious
experience.

Exactly. I’ve never read anything that convinced me that consciousness was the result of chemical reactions.

But critics say "Everybody knows the brain is too warm, wet, and noisy for
delicate quantum effects". That's because people trying to build quantum
computers in laboratories have the problem of decoherence. When they have an ion or atom or photon in a superpositioned state, it's very sensitive to
disturbance by the environment through a process called decoherence. So they freeze the system to avoid heat vibrations. Heat is the enemy. But in
biology, mechanisms seem to have evolved to avoid decoherence and use heat to pump quantum coherence, something like a laser.

Well..this is a spanner in the works. I'm not sure how this impacts the entire previous discussion. But, it does prove I read the whole article!:D

Glenn B. Wheaton
2011-Jan-16 Sun, 02:39
Re-crunching a lot of this interview and digging through my physics lectures. I will have more to say when I am a bit smarter lol.

Perhaps the most significant issue for us all is the question I asked the academics on the panel at IRVA 2 years ago.

Do thoughts have mass? They each answered "No". I think within a short period of time they will be proved wrong. That will then open up a brand new kettle of fish they cannot deal with or stop. Individuals today wrestle with the competence of their conscious intellect. At some point we must all face that what we think really does matter, and how we think matters more than you would think. :)

Glenn