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Thread: What To Malke Of This

  1. #1
    A Life Aloft is offline fled troglodyte invasion
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    What To Malke Of This

    I watched a show last evening on current research into the brain, consciousness and perhaps the soul. It dealt with the microtubules in the brain and quantum physics and featured the research of Roger Penrose, Stuart Hameroff, and also some other doctors and researchers such as Cardiologists, Anesthesiologists, Physicists, Neurologists and some other scientists. They are proposing that consciousness can and does exist outside of the brain/brain function and is a separate entity.

    LRM, if this won't be an imposition and when you have the time, could you read this three page article from Discover and give me your opinion?

    Soul Search | Mind & Brain | DISCOVER Magazine

    Thanks

    This is the paper that was published by Hameroff and cites Penrose and others but much of it is beyond me. What I can comprehend, I am finding very fascinating:

    http://www.cs.indiana.edu/~sabry/tea...crotubules.pdf
    Last edited by A Life Aloft; 02-06-2011 at 12:57 AM.

  2. #2
    A Life Aloft is offline fled troglodyte invasion
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    Re: What To Malke Of This

    Finding some bits and pieces online.....

    Sir Roger Penrose, a mathematical physicist at Oxford University, believes that if a "theory of everything" is ever developed in physics to explain all the known phenomena in the universe, it should at least partially account for consciousness.

    Penrose also believes that quantum mechanics, the rules governing the physical world at the subatomic level, might play an important role in consciousness.

    It wasn't that long ago that the study of consciousness was considered to be too abstract, too subjective or too difficult to study scientifically. But in recent years, it has emerged as one of the hottest new fields in biology, similar to string theory in physics or the search for extraterrestrial life in astronomy.

    No longer the sole purview of philosophers and mystics, consciousness is now attracting the attention of scientists from across a variety of different fields, each, it seems, with their own theories about what consciousness is and how it arises from the brain.

    “Penrose came up with a specific threshold that is conscious. He made the
    connection between the quantum possibilities in the universe and the quantum
    processes in the brain,” Hameroff says.
    Penrose speculated that there must be structures in the brain that process these
    fragments of quantum consciousness, but he didn’t know what they were.
    Meanwhile, Hameroff had found computer-like components in the brain but
    couldn’t figure out how they worked. “I needed a mechanism, and he needed a
    structure, so we teamed up,” Hameroff says.
    Penrose theorizes that there exists at the Planck scale a realm of Platonic ideals
    that influence the workings of our mind. “It’s the tiniest scale imaginable,”
    Hameroff says. “The universe is, after all, mostly empty space. If you go down in
    scale 25 orders of magnitude below the size of an atom, on the way down it
    would appear smooth and featureless. Then you begin to see structure or
    coarseness or irregularity, which is the Planck scale, the basement level of the
    universe. You get patterns at the Planck scale that are constantly evolving and
    changing. This is where Penrose says the noncomputable influences are
    embedded. Even though they’re very, very tiny, they repeat everywhere.”
    Even if that idea answers where consciousness comes from, it raises the
    question: Where did the Planck-scale processes that cause it come from
    Penrose’s answer: They came from the Big Bang. In this view, consciousness—
    all consciousness—was created at the same moment when the universe was
    created. If the soul exists, it, too, might be anchored to our moment of cosmic
    origin. This is what Italian astrophysicist Paola Zizzi terms the “Big Wow,”
    shorthand for her description of the connection between “the very early quantum
    computing universe and our mind.”

    And this paper is really interesting....I am going to have to re-read it again and again to be able to understand just a part of it, sadly. (sigh)

    http://www.sp.upcomillas.es/sites/co...nscendence.pdf
    Last edited by A Life Aloft; 02-06-2011 at 01:53 AM.

  3. #3
    littleroundman is offline Administrator
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    Re: What To Malke Of This

    I've read the DISCOVER magazine article 4 times now over a few hours.

    Without being familiar with the magazine itself, I would have to question whether the article is designed to be a genuine catalyst for discussion or, is, in fact merely a "fluff piece"
    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

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    littleroundman is offline Administrator
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    Re: What To Malke Of This

    Bummer,

    that's 30 minutes of work which has disappeared into the ether, never to be seen again
    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

  5. #5
    A Life Aloft is offline fled troglodyte invasion
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    Re: What To Malke Of This

    Oh hell, did you lose your post? That has happened to me before. I now copy my posts and pms in case that happens and I need to paste them if they are lost.

    I think the article is a bit of a synopsis of the tv show that I watched, which was on the Discovery Channel. Obviously the tv show was much more detailed and contained more information and interviews etc.

    Being a realist, and supporter of fact and of sciences and not religious at all, I still find this very interesting. Penrose himself is an atheist. Hameroff as of late as gone more towards metaphysical aspects, which I am not as interested in, but he is still a scientist. But another physician who has been studying NDE (near death experienecs) for many decades and another doctor who is actually doing current tests and research into NDEs also support the theory that consciousness can live outside of the brain and the body and they seem to support the role of quantum physcis in all of this. I have a very good understanding of ordinary physics, but quantum physics? Not so much. Even though I have struggled over the years to read Hawking and Penrose as of late, so much of it is just beyond me. I barely understand the String Therory and only because a friend who works at JPL in deep space propulsion systems was very patient to help explain it to me.

    The idea that consciousness persists after the body fails is something very interesting, indeed. This is going to sound maybe bizzarre, but even though I am not at all religious and don't believe in heaven or hell or any man made religion or the Bible, or even some big diety out there etc., (I believe in evolution and the big bang theory) I have always believed that all living entities possess a soul. But now it appears, that perhaps the "soul" is the consciouness of that creature and perhaps that consciousness lives on and is on a quantum level part of the universe.

    I am probably going to get Penrose's last two books and try to muddle my way through them. One of them deals with his theories and research into artificial intelligence as that was the research he was working on of late along with some other professors in England at Cambridge and another University. They did a lot of computer modeling and programing and research and testing and are saying that even the most advanced computer intelligence wil be limited and cannot produce what transpires in the human brain and the consciousness and the true stream of consciousness. They were able to teach the computer sight, sound, recognition and memory but there were always "missing" things that the computer could not come up/perform in a true "thinking" sort of way.

    Since I saw the show I am still researching on the net about the damn microtubules in brain function and trying to understand them! lol It's very complicated and I have been reading some papers published by Neurologists and other researchers. They have been conjectured to play as a substrate for information processing and signaling mechanisms in the brain at a sub-cellular level. And their structure, known biophysical functions and theoretical predictions related to signaling, conduction and transport, all of which may contribute to pre-conscious processing at a molecular level. The theory of microtubule information processing based concepts of cognitive brain function are currently being examined, and the progress in work addressing these issues is also being researched.

    There is now a science apparently called NeuroQuantology. Gad! And it is related to this quantum physics deal and the brain.
    Last edited by A Life Aloft; 02-06-2011 at 12:46 PM.

  6. #6
    A Life Aloft is offline fled troglodyte invasion
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    Re: What To Malke Of This

    More on Penrose:

    Penrose argued that the theorem showed that the brain had the ability to go beyond what could be achieved by axioms or formal systems. He argued that this meant that the brain had some additional function that was not based on algorithms (a system of calculations), whereas a computer is driven solely by algorithms. Penrose asserted that the brain could perform functions that no computer could perform. He called this type of processing non-computable.

    Penrose went on to consider what it was in the human brain that was not driven by algorithms. Given the algorithm-based nature of most of physics, he decided that the random choice of position etc. that occurs when a quantum wave collapses into a particle was the only possibility for a non-computable process. However, Penrose admitted that the randomness of the wave function collapse, although free from algorithms, is not a basis for any useful form of human understanding.

    Penrose now proposed a second form of wave function collapse that could apply where quanta did not interact with the environment, but might collapse on their own accord. He suggests that each quantum superposition has its own piece of spacetime curvature, and when these become separated by more than the Planck length of 10−35 metres, they become unstable and collapse. Penrose called this form of collapse objective reduction.

    Penrose suggested that objective reduction represented neither randomness nor the algorithm based processing of most physics, but instead a non-computable influence embedded in the fundamental level of spacetime geometry from which mathematical understanding and, by later extension of the theory, consciousness derived.

    When he wrote his first book on consciousness, The Emperor's New Mind in 1989, Penrose lacked a detailed proposal for how quantum processing could be implemented in the brain. Subsequently, Hameroff read Penrose's book, and suggested that microtubules could be suitable candidates for quantum processing. The Orch-OR theory arose from the collaboration of Penrose and Hameroff in the early 1990s.

    Microtubules are the main component of a supportive structure within neurons known as the cytoskeleton. In addition to providing a supportive structure, the known functions of microtubules include transport of molecules including neurotransmitters bound for synapses and control of the development of the cell.

    Microtubules are composed of tubulin protein dimer subunits. The tubulin dimers each have hydrophobic pockets that are 8 nm apart, and which may contain delocalised pi electrons. Tubulins have other smaller non-polar regions that contain pi electron-rich indole rings separated by only about 2 nm, and Hameroff claims that these electrons are close enough to become quantum entangled.

    Hameroff further proposed that these electrons could become locked in phase, forming a state known as a Bose-Einstein condensate. Furthermore, he thought that condensates in one neuron could extend to many others via gap junctions between neurons, thus forming a macroscopic quantum feature across an extended area of the brain. When the wave function of this extended condensate collapsed, it was suggested that this could give access to non-computational influences related to mathematical understanding and ultimately conscious experience that are embedded in the geometry of spacetime.

    Hameroff further postulated that the activity of these condensates is the source of gamma wave synchronisation in the brain. This synchronisation has also been viewed as a likely correlate of consciousness in conventional neuroscience, and it has been shown to be linked to the functioning of gap junctions.

    Another neuroscientist, Danko Georgiev, has provided a foot note to the Orch-OR theory. He accepts much of Penrose's ideas.

    It all gets much more complicated and I have no idea how poor little laymen like myself are supposed to try and understand/comprehend this stuff, but I am going to make a feeble attempt over the next several months (or longer- much likely longer).

  7. #7
    A Life Aloft is offline fled troglodyte invasion
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    Re: What To Malke Of This

    Now I find there is a academic journal called the Journal of Consciousness Studies where the likes of Penrose, Francis Crick, David Chalmers, Daniel Dennett and dozens of other very notable scientists and researchers have contributed on this very subject for several years. Sheesh. The things I do not know.

    The amazing studies, research and discoveries that go on world wide that the general public knows nothing or little about is astounding. It's also sad. I think about the greatest most brilliant and "out there" minds in society internationally just toiling away in the field, in hospitals, in labs at Universities and other places, working, creating and researching into a mryiad of subjects and the general public has no real sense of this at all. All the fascinating inquiries and research being done into thousands of mysteries. Sigh. Meanwhile, people want to watch the Bachelor on tv.

    I had read Crick's book The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul, when it came out and found it very interesting. (I may need to re-read it now that my interest in this subject has peaked again) What he maintained, is that scientific study of the brain during this century has brought us to the point that scientists can now accept consciousness, free will, and the human soul as subjects for legitimate scientific investigation. He believed very strongly that this is where the most important research yet to be done, lies.

    It was interesting that this book upset so many who are of a religious bent, because Crick used the word "soul" and yet clearly explained the workings (known at that time) of how the brain functions and he challenged religious believers with the idea that there is a very scientific view of the soul as being just one more manifestation of brain physiology. That is what I also have tended to believe, but I always thought there was something also missing in this conclusion. Now, with the entire idea of consciousness on the quantum level and that consciousness being a separate entity and being to exists outside of the brain and the physical body is even more astounding and THAT may be my missing piece that I have for so long wondered about. This is really why I am so interested in this subject and excited about it.

    Any thoughts, LRM?
    Last edited by A Life Aloft; 02-06-2011 at 02:04 PM.

  8. #8
    littleroundman is offline Administrator
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    Re: What To Malke Of This

    I must admit that, without seeing the program itself, the magazine article leaves me confused.

    * The author seems to include "consciousness," the "soul," "Near Death Experiences" and "previous lives" as all being, if not the same, at least similar to each other or part of the same mechanism.

    I would argue to the contrary on both counts.

    * It appears, at least to me, that many/most of those quoted in the story are at pains to point out they have no 1) definitive answers to any of the questions posed 2) what could be normally considered "proof" 3) anything, other than theory on which to base their theories. 4) peer review of their work/s

    * I would question the objectivity of both the Universidad Pontificia Comillas, which describes itself as being " a church university which has been directed for more than a century by the Compańia de Jesús [Society of Jesus"]
    or the Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS) at the University of Virginia whose own WebPage describes its' primary function as being to "investigate apparent paranormal phenomena"

    *
    The Penrose/Hameroff theory, if it is as presented, appears to rely on:

    1) Treating Penroses' reported statement "there exists at the Planck scale a realm of Platonic ideals that influence the workings of our mind" as fact, when the author clearly predicates the statement with "theorizes"

    2) acceptance the universe began with the "big bang" i.e. the big bang THEORY is factual.

    3) acceptance that "consciousness—all consciousness — was created at the same moment when the universe was created"

    Here's a few "facts" I'm sure the Discovery Channel and/or Discover magazine has reported at one time or another:

    * The oldest undisputed evidence of life on the planet, SO FAR FOUND, interpreted as fossilized bacteria, dates to 3 BILLION (3000 million) years ago.
    What are the odds of just finding fossilized bacteria in your own back yard, much less with the whole planet to look at, would you think ??? Then imagine the improbability of said bacteria eventually turning out to be the oldest evidence of life EVER found.

    * scientists report that portions of bedrock in Northern Quebec are 4.28 BILLION (4280 million) years old, formed when the earth was less than 300 million years old.

    Jesus is reported to have lived how long ago ????

    I don't know about anyone else, but I could not count to a lousy ONE million in my lifetime, much less have any concept of what 3 BILLION represents.

    As for what could take place within 4.28 BILLION years, fawgedabowdit.

    How much evolution ???

    How many lifespans ???

    The likelihood of finding recognizable artifacts of events which may or may not have happened 3 BILLION years ago ???

    How likely is it that whatever happened is even within the realms of our imagination ???

    Why would whatever happened conform to our current reality ???

    What makes humankind so arrogant as to even consider that it could possibly even imagine what transpired in the time it knows about, much less theorize about what could have happened before the bedrock formed ???

    There's things we know,

    there's things we don't know,

    there's even things we don't even know we don't know.
    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

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