[LINK] Consciousness, and the real world

Stephen Wilson swilson at lockstep.com.au
Sat Nov 12 17:08:19 AEDT 2011


"The two-dimensional coloured lines on a [subway map] have no 
resemblance to cavernous concrete tunnels, steel rails or metal coaches".

So I guess the numeral "6" bears no resemblence to the number of beers 
in my fridge?
Or the abstraction "6-1" corresponds in no way whatsoever to the 
after-state of me having just drunk one of those beers?

If the author doesn't understand the concept of models, then then all 
meaning in the very sentences they write is lost.  Kinda cool I guess, 
coz then they are free to interpret quantum mechanics in any mystical 
nonsensical way that they like.


"Rigorous", Lockstep.

On 12/11/2011 3:47 PM, stephen at melbpc.org.au wrote:
> The quantum-mind approach, "in looking for consciousness, we might be
> better to work upwards from the real basis of the physical world .."
> http://www.quantum-mind.co.uk/
> A good read: http://www.quantum-mind.co.uk/introduction-1-c32.html
> In trying to discover the physical basis of consciousness, it may first
> be helpful to consider the physical structure of the universe from which
> consciousness somehow arises.
> Everything that we see, or otherwise perceive, is comprised of quanta
> that are best described as energy waves oscillating as excitations or
> disturbances of the quantum vacuum.
> In terms of modern physics nothing else exists, there are no things,
> there is no colour green, although it is not usually put quite as bluntly
> as that, perhaps for fear of frightening the horses.
> In the view of some physicists, it is the vacuum that is fundamental
> rather than the quanta. These waves of energy are seen as excitations of
> the more fundamental vacuum.
> The quantum vacuum is not a void or nothingness, but could better be
> described as a plenum, as being full of virtual particles or photons that
> leap in and out of existence, and whose existence can be made permanent
> by the presence of energy, such as the energy of an extreme gravitational
> field or equivalent acceleration.
> The quantum vacuum permeates the whole universe, and in that respect can
> be identified with the spacetime of special and general relativity.
> The speed of the light quanta or photons is fundamental in special
> relativity, and this relates to the proposition that there is no fixed
> background frame of spatial or temporal reference for the quanta and
> their interactions, but that each point or event has its own frame of
> reference.
> Further, spacetime, or the vacuum, are curved by the presence of massive
> objects, and the energy of their gravitational curvature, if sufficiently
> great, can produce the same hot particles that we see from our
> accelerating spaceship, gravity and acceleration being equivalent in
> relativity.
> This again points to the physical reality of the quantum vacuum.
> Unfortunately the two main theories of modern physics, quantum theory and
> relativity, although individually tested to a very high degree of
> accuracy, are incompatible with one another.
> This reflects the essential conflict between quantum theory, which sees
> energy as discrete units, and the smooth continuous curvature of
> spacetime in general relativity.
> Physicists have tended towards the view that spacetime like energy will
> have to be viewed not as a continuum, but as forming some kind of web or
> network. The significant thing is that once we move away from the concept
> of a continuum towards something more discrete, the possibility that the
> network itself contains pattern or information emerges, and with it the
> possibility that this information could be related to consciousness.
> This all seems very far from the world that we see around us containing
> land, water, buildings, motor cars, people and animals. Strictly
> speaking, these do not exist as brain states. All that physics shows to
> exist are the quanta as disturbances of the vacuum. To take the example
> of vision, photons (light quanta) reach the retina and are converted into
> electrical and chemical signals in the brain. Neuroscience traditionally
> describes this process as a representation of the external world. In fact
> this term rather exaggerates the likeness between brain state and the
> external world, and it might be more helpful to talk about mapping.
> If we think of a very abstract map, such as the map of an urban metro or
> underground railway system, we might get the right analogy. The two-
> dimensional coloured lines on a piece of paper have no resemblance to
> cavernous concrete tunnels, steel rails or metal coaches. However, in
> evolutionary terms, the map is adaptive once we understand the
> correlation between lines on paper and a system that can take us to
> preferred destinations. Likewise, a brain state  based on signals from
> the external world has no resemblance to energy waves oscillating in the
> vacuum, but the correlation between the two may be advantageous to the
> survival of an organism.
> Where is all this leading in terms of consciousness? It is really to
> suggest that approaches that start from the old Newtonian physics
> assumptions of massive objects in the external world bumping into one
> another, or even of neurons as massive objects projecting chemical at one
> another, may mislead. Certainly, theories that have proceeded from this
> basis have failed to produce a satisfying explanatory consensus. This
> lack of success at least suggests that *in looking for consciousness, we
> might be better to work upwards from the real basis of the physical world*
> The site provides summaries and reviews of books, academic papers,
> articles and other material relevant to theories of consciousness related
> to fundamental physics.
> One section deals with evidence related to quantum consciousness ideas.
> An area of recent interest has been a spate of papers relating to quantum
> coherence in photosynthetic proteins (Engel et al, 2007, Lee et al 2007,
> Sarovar et al, 2009, Collini et al, 2009). The most recent and possibly
> the most important paper is Collini et al, 2010, which demonstrates long-
> lived quantum coherence in proteins at room temperature, something which
> had previously been considered impossible. The work of Engels and Collini
> mentioned above tends to bring the significance of proteins centre stage.
> Proteins whether in microtubules or elsewhere in the neuron that emerges
> as a quantum engine even in conventional theory, and is also the most
> likely mechanism for any form of quantum consciousness/computing in the
> brain ...
> More: http://www.quantum-mind.co.uk/introduction-1-c32.html
> Also: www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128285.900-quantum-minds-why-we-
> think-like-quarks.html
> --
> Cheers,
> Stephen
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