Thursday, January 31, 2008
Dr. [name withheld],
[My daughter] tells me that you are interested in hearing about the subject of my internet debates concerning the timing and source of consciousness. If you want to simply jump into the deep-end of the pool take a look at www.hameroff.com and start reading Dr. Hameroff’s numerous publications. However, if you want a less abrupt introduction, I will attempt to give you the benefit of my general understanding.
Dr. Hameroff is a sixty year old Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona where he is the Director for the Center of Consciousness Studies. Dr. Hameroff indicates he has always been interested in the study of consciousness and that was the main reason he studied Anesthesiology. He figured the best way to understand consciousness was to study the details of what causes unconsciousness. It was this line of investigation that led him to suspect that the microtubules in neurons had a key role in consciousness.
In 1982 Stuart Hameroff, along with R.C. Watt, presented a paper titled Information Processing in Microtubules where they laid out how the tubulin dimers that make up microtubules can act like on/off bits in a computer. This wasn’t exactly a new idea, other people had considered the possibility that a cell’s cytoskeleton (which is made up of microtubules and actin filaments) might act as a kind of nervous system for the cell. However, Hameroff was going beyond that to suggest that not only does anesthesia disrupt the tubulin processing but that the processing is quantum, not classical. Bluntly put, Hameroff is suggesting that each neuron contain multiple quantum computers working in concert to give rise to consciousness.
Hameroff has an anesthesiologist background; Watt came from the department of Electrical Engineering. These are hardly the credentials needed to be taken seriously in the field of Quantum Mechanics. Besides, all they were saying at this point was that the brain has significantly more processing power than generally thought. Instead of a processing bit per neuron, Hameroff was suggesting a processing bit per tubulin.
Enter Sir Roger Penrose.
Roger Penrose worked with Stephen Hawking (the guy in the wheelchair) in mathematically modeling Black Holes. Penrose and Hawking are peers from different schools of thought that trace their roots back to Bohr and Einstein. Penrose and Hawking have jointly written at least one book and held a debate in 1994 which was hyped as the modern equivalent of the old Bohr/Einstein debates. The debate was generally about what are fundamentally real foundations verses what are simply observations yet to be understood.
In Quantum Mechanics several things show a dual nature. For example, light can be thought of as both photons and light waves. There are many more startling examples of this, including a single particle being in two places at one time. There are mathematical models that explain this and modern physicists no longer hesitate of talk about superposition (two or more quantum states existing simultaneously) and Qbits (quantum bits that are both “1” and “0”).
Bohr, Penrose and most adherents to the Copenhagen School generally consider the superposition nature to be fundamentally real. The term “waveform collapse” is used to describe the event of multiple states resulting in a single observed state. The general thought was that the collapse was caused by the observation and that the final state was random (constrained by permissible states). Einstein and Schrödinger were on the opposite side of the debate. It was in this context that Einstein exclaimed “God doesn’t play dice.” Einstein was convinced that, like Newtonian Physics, Quantum Physics had to be deterministic. The general argument was that a more complete quantum theory would be figured out someday and it would provide a logical explanation for the observations. Schrödinger posed a thought experiment for the purpose of challenging the Copenhagen School. If a cat’s life was directly tied to a quantum effect in superposition, would the cat be both alive and dead at the same time? Schrödinger eventually regretted posing this intractable puzzle since it plagued physicists on both sides. Schrödinger’s Cat was very much a relevant topic in the 1994 Penrose/Hawking debate (although Hawking tried to downplay its significance).
Penrose has developed a Copenhagen like hypothesis he calls Objective Reduction. However, rather than multiple waveforms collapsing he suggests that the universe is one large wavefunction in four dimensional space-time and quantum states are exposed parts of this single wavefunction.
By now, you might be asking what all of this has to do with consciousness.
While Penrose worked out quite a bit including gravity and general quantum theory, there was still the “measurement problem” of Quantum Mechanics. This plays into the Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment. Penrose had an answer to why large things don’t appear in superposition (the more the mass, the faster to Objective Reduction (OR) due to gravitational energy), but he didn’t have a ready answer for why observations caused OR. What interconnects observations to Quantum Mechanics? Could it be the consciousness of the observer?
Penrose is very much the mathematician. Not only does he mathematically model Black Holes, he solves extremely difficult math puzzles in his spare time. In the 1960’s it was mathematically proven that you could tile a surface without having the pattern ever repeat. They called it non-periodic tiling and the race was on to figure out who could find the least number of tile shapes that could be used for non-periodic tiling. The number started out with over 20,000 tile shapes which was quickly reduced to 104. In 1974, Penrose had reduced it to six tile shapes. Shortly after that, he identified non-periodic tiling was possible with just two tile shapes.
Penrose maintains that his solution to non-periodic tiling could not have been found via an algorithmic process. Ergo, his brain is not an algorithmic computer. He formalized this by claiming strict algorithmic artificial intelligence (Strong AI) was impossible. Penrose wrote several books that revolved around this theme. He also generalized that the quantum wavefunction is not algorithmic. So even if “God doesn’t play dice” quantum effects are not deterministic, in the sense that it isn’t a lack of knowledge that is preventing us from being able to fully characterize them, quantum effects can’t be fully characterized, period.
Since Quantum Mechanics is the only known source of non-algorithmic information, Penrose suggested that consciousness must be directly linked to Quantum Mechanics. Penrose wrote The Emperor’s New Mind and Shadows of the Mind. These books caught the attention of Dr. Hameroff and in 1992, the two of them started collaborating on a model of consciousness based on Orchestrated Objective Reduction.
An interesting piece of evidence Penrose offers is that the timing of OR events is based on the gravitational energy inherent in mass. According to Penrose, it follows the equation of E=h/t where E is the gravitational energy and h is plank’s constant and t is the time of self OR collapse. It turns out that the mass of roughly 1011 tublins would result in OR event taking 25 ms. This would correspond to the gamma brain wave frequency of 40 Hz which Hameroff offers corresponds well with attention and consciousness.
This completed the circle. Conscious observations cause quantum OR because consciousness is directly connected with the orchestrated, interconnected quantum effects that occur in our universe.
Enter Benjamin Libet and his consciousness studies.
You may have heard of Libet since his experimental data has caused quite a bit of a shake up in your field. As far as I know, Libet was never directly involved with either Penrose or Hameroff. However, Hameroff has referenced Libet’s work quite a bit. If I understand correctly, Libet has shown there is up to a half a second of “readiness potential” prior to a conscious recognition of an event. I understand this was very unexpected to Libet and others in the field. The delay is significant enough to make it difficult to explain everyday activities like hitting a fast ball or playing professional tennis.
One explanation is to say that we fool ourselves into thinking we are making conscious decisions in these circumstances. Another is to argue that we can consciously veto automated responses. I won’t dwell on all the alternatives because I am sure you have better access to the appropriate information than I. Hameroff offers that the Orch OR model provides a simple answer. The “readiness potential” of consciousness is direct evidence of quantum processing in action. Orchestrated quantum effects are all in super position sorting out all the possibilities until that system collapses into the final state and a final conscious decision.
I recommend Hameroff’s paper Consciousness, neurobiology and quantum mechanics: The case for a connection. It provides a fairly readable explanation of all of this.
Arguments against Orch OR generally focus on Penrose’s timing calculations and the perceived difficulties of having quantum processing occurring in a warm, wet and noisy environment like a brain. Penrose’s timing explanation makes sense to me and most of the arguments against it are either simple incredulity or suggesting it isn’t universally accepted (which it isn’t). Penrose has indicated that while he may have doubts about microtubules, he is convinced that he is right on the basic physics. I am not in a position to effectively argue that Penrose doesn’t know what he is talking about. Dr. Hameroff provides his rebuttals of the warm, wet brain argument in the above paper and in other papers available on his web site.
As you can imagine, this sounds too close to mysticism for a lot of people. In fact, the route I took to come to understand occured while I was chasing down the details of the religiously motivation Intelligent Design Movement. If you didn’t hear about it, there was a trial in Dover Pennsylvania late in 2005. It centered on the actions of a religiously motivated school board and a book that was clearly about creation science relabeled as “Intelligent Design”. I found the trial interesting and was intrigued by hints of the possibility that a scientific argument could be made in support of Intelligent Design. Since I like a good argument and this had learning potential, I investigated further.
I ended up at a web site called www.TelicThoughts.com. While a lot of the blog’s participants are clearly religiously motivated the blog is above average in tolerating contrary, anti-religious opinions like mine. One of the blog’s moderators steered me to Hameroff’s web site.
If you go to dfcord.blogspot.com you will find this letter (with names removed) posted with links to the various web sites and other details I mentioned.
Feel free to leave anonymous comments or questions there. Alternatively, you can contact me at dfcord (at) hotmail.com.
Thank you for your interest, I hope this has been informative.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
One of the biggest obstacles to accepting ID hypotheses as scientific endeavors is their appeal to magic-like mechanisms. But what if a magic-like aspect in nature has been around so long that we don't see it for the magic it is? I suggest what we think of as randomness is, for all practical purposes, magic.
Let's take a hypothetical coin, we flip it, it comes up heads. We note that.
We flip it again, it comes up heads again, We note the pattern (two heads in a row).
We flip it again, it comes up tails.
The pattern is broken. Why? Is it "magic"?
We don't think of it that way because we are conditioned to expect flipped coins to "randomly" come up heads or tails even when we flip them in the exact same manner. The same would be true if we used a perfectly repeating mechanical device to flip the coin. Assuming the coin was perfectly balanced, the results would not be a pattern. A perfectly repeatable (deterministic) setup is impossible because quantum level effects are non-deterministic.
However, are quantum level effects random?
Before we try to answer that question, let's go back to flipping coins. This time we will flip three special coins. These special coins have an interesting aspect. They appear to respond to what is called. If "heads" is called at least one of the three coins will be heads. If "tails" is called, at least one of the three coins will be tails. After thousands and thousands of tests, the coins have never failed to do this. Further more, when "heads" are called all three coins will be heads one out of four times (not one out of eight). When "tails" are called all three coins will be tails one out of four times. At no time will all three coins be heads when "tails" is called and at no time will all three coins be tails when "heads" is called.
The thousands of consistent and repeatable experiments convinces even the most skeptical of scientist that the special coins are, indeed, special.
More experiments are preformed. It turns out that calling "heads" or "tails" can be delayed until after the coins have landed (as long as no peeking is involved).
Further experiments show that three different people can flip the three coins separately. This exposed an very interesting property of the special coins. If the three people all call the same (either "heads" or "tails") then at least one of them gets what they called and, sometimes, all three of them get what they called as would be expected. However, if they don't call the same, sometimes none of them get what they called (happens one out of four times).
Once all the permutations are cataloged the special nature of the coins become even more apparent. The state of the third coin can be absolutely predicted after the first two coins are called and exposed.
For example, imagine the coins flipped and on the table with each of the three people covering it with their hands. The first person calls "heads", shows his coin, it is tails. The second person calls "heads", shows his coin, it is also tails. The third coin will ALWAYS be heads regardless of what the third person calls.
The experiment is reran, but this time the first two people call "tails" and their coins show tails again. The third coin will ALWAYS be tails regardless of what the third person calls.
Note that the third coin's state depended on what the other two people called NOT whether the coins were heads or tails.
These special coins are special indeed. What natural explanations would explain the coin's behavior? Here are the non-metaphysical possibilities…
1. The third coin "magically" predicted the future.
2. The third coin "magically" changed state at the last moment
3. The coins are "magically" linked to people's consciousness
The magic described here is basically the reality of Greenberger–Horne–Zeilinger (GHZ) quantum states. Instead of calling heads or tails, the observers decide which quantum state (e.g. horizontal polarization) to measure. This magic-like effect has been experimentally tested and verified countless times. Its reality is not in question.
Even though quantum effects are non-deterministic they aren’t random.
You might ask what quantum level effects have to do with Intelligent Design.
First of all, it goes to show that magic-like effects can be scientific. There is also reason to believe quantum effects where instrumental to function in early life on Earth (front loaded?).
Recently, it was discovered that photosynthesis uses quantum mechanics. Photosynthesis is an extremely old biological mechanism.
DNA is being used as building blocks for quantum computers and the DNA structure and “code” is optimal for processing search algorithms. DNA/RNA defines what is or isn’t considered a living organism.
Finally, the Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR model of consciousness hypothesizes that consciousness is an artifact of quantum processing in microtubules. Microtubules are instrumental in living structures and organisms that appear to be aware of their surroundings.
Personally, I have serious criticisms concerning the apparent motives and past actions of the ID Movement, but it would be a mistake to dismiss all challenges to orthodox thinking as simply an appeal to the metaphysical because it may turn out that the magic is real.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
(The Third Choice)
Front Loading is a popular hypothesis among the earnest ID scientists. Whether these scientists refer to it by name or just in general concepts, they are looking for the answer to ID’s “innocuous question” by searching for biological solutions that presume later biological needs. A designer-centric term for this would be “planned”. A mainstream scientific term would be “supernatural”. For the Third Choice model I suggest “retrocausal” (a generalized observation of an action occurring before a cause.) While “retrocausal” normally implies time travel, we need a looser definition due to the lack of appropriate candidates in the English language. For example, a soft retrocasual example would be the action of someone taking an umbrella out of the closet and carrying it before it rains. This is the designer-centric 'planning". A hard retrocausual example would be precognition. This is mainstream’s "supernatural".
Retrocausalty alone isn’t enough to explain design. We also need an organizing process or agency. The designer-centric answer is “the designer did it”. The mainstream answer is “nature selection did it”. The Third Choice involves interconnected quantum effects.
Chapter 1 – Quantum Weirdness is real
Quantum mechanics is the foundation of all matter, living or not. It has been understood since the 1930s that quantum mechanics expresses “quantum weirdness” which is more formally known as the Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen (EPR) paradox. In over 70 years and countless experiments science is forced to conclude something fundamental has to give. I feel the Greenberger-Horne-Zeilinger (GHZ) states presents the fundamental issues the clearest.
Imagine we have three observers (Alice, Bob and Cecilia) ready to measure entangled photons that head out in three different directions; One to Alice, another to Bob and a third to Cecilia. Each observer has a choice of which polarized state to measure (linear or circular).
The first bit of weirdness is that if two circular measurements are made, the results will determine the linear polarization of the remaining photon. The two polarizations should be independent of each other but they are not. If Alice measures a clockwise (R) polarization and Bob also measures clockwise (R) polarization then Cecilia will ALWAYS measure a vertical (Y) polarization if she chooses to measure linear polarization. (RRY)
If Alice measures a clockwise (R) polarization and Bob measures a counterclockwise (L) polarization then Cecilia will measure a horizontal (X) polarization if she chooses to measure linear polarization. (RLX).
It doesn't matter which observer is the odd-man-out or in which order the observations are made. All of the mixed observations possibilities are…
RRY YRR RYR
RLX XRL RXL
LLY YLL LYL
LRX XLR LXR
XXL XLX LXX
XYR XRY RXY
YYL YLY LYY
YXR YRX RYX
So far this doesn't exhibit anything like retrocausual or superluminal weirdness. It could be explained classically (algorithmic and static states). But what happens if the first two observer’s measurements are horizontal polarization (X) and the third observer chooses to also measure linear polarization?
Let’s work with what we know. We know if the observer measured circular polarization the answer would be counterclockwise (L as in XXL). With that, we can figure out the circular polarizations of the other two photons (they would be R) because XRL and RXL are the only alternatives that fit.
Therefore, we have an RR? situation. Which forces RRY as the answer. Which means Y would be the expected linear polarization in the case of XX?.
Classically, the answer must be XXY.
Experimentally, the answer is XXX!
Quantum mechanics gives the opposite result of what classical physics would dictate. This is not a logic error. This is not an experimental error. This is a real paradox. There are only a limited number of answers to this paradox..,
1. Ignore it
2. Assume a metaphysical construct (Multi-world interpretation)
3. Assume retrocausality
4. Assume interconnected, non-local quantum effects
5. Assume both retrocausality and interconnected quantum effects
The tendency to reject retrocausality is due to a presumption of a casual paradox. What happens if you kill one of your ancestors? With quantum mechanics, that isn’t a problem. The situation is too tightly controlled. Observation forces the issue. Casual paradoxes can't happen.
The difficulty with interconnected, non-local quantum effects is that is sounds too magical and occurs faster than the speed of light. Superluminality is a problem because it inherently implies retrocausality (see Doctor Who and his IMU Watch)
The Third Choice offers no benefit if it is just another metaphysical argument. Therefore, we will forge ahead and presume the quantum effects are really real.
But what is the reality if a quantum state is never observed? This get’s into the Schrodinger’s cat paradox. If the cat lives or dies based on a quantum state, is the cat both dead and alive (superposition) pending an observation? Penrose has a suggested answer for the paradox.
Chapter 2 – Penrose OR
The Penrose has a model is called OR (objective reduction)…
"Penrose considered superposition as a separation in underlying reality at its most basic level, the Planck scale. Tying quantum superposition to general relativity, he identified superposition as spacetime curvatures in opposite directions, hence a separation in fundamental spacetime geometry. However, according to Penrose, such separations are unstable and will reduce at an objective threshold, hence avoiding multiple universes.
The threshold for Penrose OR is given by the indeterminacy principle E=ħ/t, where E is the gravitational self-energy (i.e. the degree of spacetime separation given by the superpositioned mass), ħ is Planck’s constant over 2π, and t is the time until OR occurs. Thus the larger the superposition, the faster it will undergo OR, and vice versa. Small superpositions, e.g. an electron separated from itself, if isolated from environment would require 10 million years to reach OR threshold. An isolated one kilogram object (e.g. Schrodinger’s cat) would reach OR threshold in only 10-37 seconds. Penrose OR is currently being tested." link
Penrose's suggests that objective reduction does, in fact, create reality (at least as real as "reality" gets). While some physicists do not like this model because of what follows, it is the best game in town. The OR model is quantifiable and can be verified experimentally. So far, no experimental result has managed to falsify it.
So what forces quantum states to be what they objectively reduce to? One experimentally observable answer is consistency with multiple observers. Which quickly leads to the concept of universal consistency of all objective reductions. In other words, Orchestrated Objective Reduction or “Orch OR” for short.
Kurt Gödel's incompleteness theorems supports the possibility of non-algorithmic things existing in nature. IOW, there can be explanations that can't be explained. Penrose points to aperiodic tiling for his non-algorithmic explanation. Mathematically, it was shown that it is possible to completely cover a two dimensional plane with a distinct set of shapes ("tiles") and not end up with a repeating pattern (“aperiodic”). Penrose figured out two shapes that solved this puzzle. A solution that Penrose claims couldn't have been accomplished without the aid of a non-algorithmic process (pseudorandomness isn't sufficient).
It might be tempting to dismiss this as just a mathematical exercise and, therefore, not "reality". However, a decade after Penrose demonstrated his Penrose Tilings mineralogists discovered quasicrystals. Naturally occurring aperiodic crystals that matched Penrose Tilings.
Penrose claims that his ability, as a mathematician, to conceptualize non-algorithmic things is inconsistent with a computer only capable of algorithmic processing. Are Penrose's instincts correct that he solved the aperiodic tiling problem instinctually instead of algorithmically
Chapter 3 - Penrose/Hameroff (Orch OR)
For the OR model, Penrose is pretty much in his element. If anyone could translate quantum weirdness into reality, it would be a man who models Black Holes for a living (along with Hawking). And his Penrose Tilings was just something he did as a hobby.
This chapter deals with subjects that Penrose admits could be totally wrong but, in his opinion, are more likely correct than not. However, the ideas are experimentally verifiable. And there have been experiments that have produced some intriguing results.
While he has made some mistakes, they were minor and the Penrose OR model is going strong, IMO. However, Penrose’s ideas about consciousness are meeting fierce resistance. I find it ironic that people rationalize that Penrose’s ideas about consciousness are totally disconnected from his brilliant work as a physicist. I just don’t see a logical discontinuity here.
However, biology isn't Penrose's strong suit, so he teamed up with Dr. Hameroff to produce the Penrose/Hameroff model of consciousness (Orch OR). The first part on the Penrose/Hameroff model depends on Penrose's theories concerning objective reduction. The timing for objective reduction, T = ĥ/E, is something that can be tested and, undoubtedly, will be tested. Penrose has proposed an experiment FELIX in an attempt to test this hypothesis.
Even if Penrose is wrong about the details there is a threshold where quantum effects appear to give way to Newtonian physics. We don't see the same quantum weirdness with throwing baseballs around as we do with throwing electrons around.
While this simplifies the situation for Schrödinger's cat it has the potential of complicating things for smaller objects like Tubular Dimers. I found this 1999 presentation where Penrose explains his chain of logic from basic physics to microtubules. However, this presentation is old and Hameroff has mostly taken over explaining the biological explanation. www.hameroff.com is a good source for material on the Penrose/Hameroff model.
Here is a link to an experiment trying to verify Penrose/Hameroff
"In recent times the interest for quantum models of brain activity has rapidly grown. The Penrose-Hameroff model assumes that microtubules inside neurons are responsible for quantum computation inside brain. Several experiments seem to indicate that EPR-like correlations are possible at the biological level. In the past year , a very intensive experimental work about this subject has been done at DiBit Labs in Milan, Italy by our research group. Our experimental set-up is made by two separated and completely shielded basins where two parts of a common human DNA neuronal culture are monitored by EEG. Our main experimental result is that, under stimulation of one culture by means of a 630 nm laser beam at 300 ms, the cross-correlation between the two cultures grows up at maximum levels. Despite at this level of understanding it is impossible to tell if the origin of this non-locality is a genuine quantum effect, our experimental data seem to strongly suggest that biological systems present non-local properties not explainable by classical models."
Chapter 4 - The Third Choice
Einstien once remarked "God doesn't play dice." TT's Joy has expanded that to "God does not play dice. God plays a particularly mean game of billiards."
God doesn't play dice because there are no dice.
Imaging playing a dice game on an algorithmic computer that uses a pseudorandom number generator to decide which numbers come up. Even though this game could still be enjoyed by humans incapable of calculating the next number, it is not really random. Pseudorandomness could be used to simulate anything from a dice game to an evolutionary process occurring over billions of years. It wouldn't be actually random, just a simulation of randomness.
Is there such a thing as "natural" randomness?
Leaving living things out of the picture for the moment, any inorganic randomness can be traced to quantum mechanics and quantum mechanics isn't random. It is just non-deterministic.
Quantum weirdness defies algorithmic explanation. Quantum effects are clearly interconnected in space-time to all other quantum effects. The universe is totally interconnected at the quantum level.
It is impossible for one observer to see Schrödinger's cat dead while another one sees it alive so the paradox is prevented from happening in the first place. How? Through non-deterministic NON-RANDOM quantum weirdness.
Don't living things act randomly?
That pool shooting hustler pulled a fast one there. When life needed a randomizer, where do you think she got one? Via quantum mechanics of course. Quantum mechanics has been sewn into the very fabric of what make living things appear to be acting randomly.
Observation doesn't cause "random" objective reduction. It is just quantum weirdness being consistent with itself. The observer isn't acting random.
God plays a particularly mean game of billiards. She uses an invisible cue stick inscribed with the words "quantum weirdness". Not only can't we verify the existence of either her or her cue stick, we aren't even allowed to see the balls until they "poof" into existence right before our eyes via objective reduction.
Dr. Dembski can talk about Universal Probability Bounds all he wants, but unless it is absolutely impossible, God can not only make the shot, she can do it in such a way you won't be able to tell she did it much less how.
And, oh yeah. time is just another dimension of space-time. Quantum consistency includes the past being consistent with the future. Past, present and future are all interconnected. If God needs to, she can reverse cause and effect, retrocausality.
Chapter 5 - DNA, RNA and Microtubules
Here is a Hameroff discussion titled Quantum Computing in DNA
"Hypothesis: DNA utilizes quantum information and quantum computation for various functions. Superpositions of dipole states of base pairs consisting of purine (A,G) and pyrimidine (C,T) ring structures play the role of qubits, and quantum communication (coherence, entanglement, non-locality) occur in the “pi stack” region of the DNA molecule."
Whether we are talking about a theist's pool shooting God or an atheist's universe just forcing consistency. Penrose's Orch OR model is practically running DNA processing according to Hameroff.
Another point that transcends metaphysical interpretation. Life is a natural outcome of enabling quantum mechanics. Living things can satisfy the needs of quantum consistency in ways non-living things can't. OOL becomes easy to explain. The game is rigged. If it can be done, God or a mindless universe has all the tools it needs with quantum mechanics. There is no such thing as randomness just forced consistency.
Rocks aren't very efficient at doing whatever the universe need done. However, living organisms contain microtubules that are very active with quantum effects.
Here is a film clip that is a compelling argument all by itself.
Here is a link to a film clip of microtubules in a neuron.
Chapter 6 - NOMA or OMA?
Gould's Non-overlapping Magisteria will always be a source of conflict. Can we separate the metaphysical from science? If we don't that we have to decide which version of the OMA Truth (capital "T") is reality. Personally, I think the Truth will be forever unknown and unknowable. Therefore, we are forced to live with multiple Truths, but not everyone accepts that.
Sobottka made a good stab at presenting a verifiable, single OMA truth based on this model. It bothered me when I first read it. However, during the second read-through I figured out where he crossed the NOMA line. I'm not saying Sobottka did anything unethical or even that he is wrong, just that my "faith" in NOMA continues because there are still unknown and unknowable Truths.
If quantum mechanics is truly the embodiment of consciousness then EAM is the Truth by definition. Quantum mechanics is part of all matter that make up the universe. Personally, I am taking the more modest approach of assuming consciousness is just an artifact of quantum mechanics. I think of quantum mechanics as a non-deterministic, non-algorithmic, non-local
process. A rock has little use for such a thing. It provides some value to quasicrystals. To wiggly, squiggly organic things it gives them an edge in the evolutionary process. To inorganic AI machines, it could cause a paradigm shift and probably will.
I am still holding on to my multiple NOMA Truths that include a purposeless predetermined Universe and an Ultimate Engineer (or Science Fair project). I will explain both of these in the light of the new Third Choice.
A predetermined Universe would be like a cosmic Mandelbrot Set. A Mandelbrot Set appears to be chaotic and "random" yet exposes patterns and design. If you picture the universe from outside space-time you would see time as just another dimension, therefore the universe is unchanging. Past, present, future is all fixed and consistent with itself. There are no discontinuities because the non-algebraic "equations" don't provide for it. The past is
interwoven with the future. Time travel/retrocausality can and does happen but it doesn't cause a conflict because the whole Mandelbrot picture is unchanging. The universe just
God is an equally valid as a metaphysical model, IMO…
I can easily hold the notion that the universe is the Ultimate Invention of the Ultimate Engineers. For non-engineers, I sometimes refer to it as a Supernatural Science Fair Project. The more I understand the more I am impressed. Surely a creation like this is worth a blue ribbon. But I can't know since I have nothing to compare it to even if I did, I wouldn't be able to fully appreciate either.
But what about fine tuning arguments? Do you still think chance has anything to do with this? There are no dice. At least none we can see. This universe may be the only Mandelbrot Set that works. It is also possible that a designer got to choose. Either way, we will never know.
I am content with understanding, and being impressed by, the invention. If there is an inventor/designer/God, I think it is a reasonable assumption that this is the best way to show our appreciation of his/her work.
IMU stands for Inertial Measurement Unit. It tracks movement relative the frame of reference where all mass is at rest.
Doctor Who is a Time Lord.
While Doctor Who may be fictional, IMUs are not. Ideally, an IMU ignores relativity. Even when an IMU "feels" like it is at rest because it is inside a smooth traveling train, the IMU knows it is moving relative to the inertial frame of reference.
Now any competent Time Lord is going to be carrying around a functional IMU. I imagine the Doctor's would look like an old fashion pocket watch. Now the Doctor's IMU isn't like the inaccurate and incomplete versions we have. Our IMU's are inaccurate because they are improperly calibrated and drift and they are incomplete because they are missing the fourth dimension, time. Imagine a real-life IMU that only works in two dimensions. It would still marginally function, but the results would be deceptive. The Doctor's IMU has none of these failings. The Doctor's IMU Watch will accurately tell us the distance we travel in four-dimensional space-time. More specifically, it will tell us the SQUARE of the distance traveled. The reason for this will become apparent shortly.
The Doctor's IMU Watch is an interesting little gadget. It has four hands that show roughly seconds, minutes, hours and years. If you looked at in time mode it acts like a normal watch except for the squared part. To get it into distance mode you flip it over and the hands now show distances of light-seconds, light-minutes, light-hours and light-years.
Inside the TARDIS the Doctor can go anywhere instantly. His IMU Watch faithfully shows 4 Light Years Squared (16) when he goes 4 Light Years. In time mode, whether he goes forward or backwards in time the IMU Watch shows a positive value for time squared. The fact that it is positive in both directions of time shouldn't be any more surprising than showing a positive value for going forward or backward in distance. We are measuring the length traveled in the inertial space-time frame of reference. Taking the square of time causes the same effect as taking the squares of distances.
For amusement the Doctor shows up on Earth and let's us take a look at his IMU Watch. As a watch it doesn't look that interesting. Curious to see what our real movement is while "standing still" on earth we turn the watch IMU over. It is running backwards! In fact the movement duplicates the movement of the watch side only going counter clockwise. The Doctor then opens up both sides of the pocket watch to show there is only one set of hands. The difference between time mode and distance mode is from which side the hands are viewed.
The Doctor smiles and motions us inside the TARDIS and puts it into hover mode. The IMU Watch hands stop. Curious, we ask if the TARDIS is still on Earth. "Yes, but is also in other places too" is the answer. "What other places?" we ask. "All other places" he answers broadening his smile. The TARDIS hover mode is what could be thought of as vibrating around the speed of light. In this situation time and distance shrink to nil and thus the vibrating TARDIS travels to the ends of the universe using only infinitesimal movements.
The completeness of the IMU Watch exposes the deception caused by our incomplete version of an IMU (ours is missing the time dimension). The shortest distance between two points is NOT a straight line, at least not in inertial space-time. The Twins Paradox isn't paradoxical when you understand this. It is a simple geometry problem (simple for a Time Lord). The traveling twin took the shorter route to get to the same place in space-time as his/her sibling.
The reason why the IMU Watch runs backwards even though the measurements are squared is due to the fact that the four dimensional values are complex numbers. Time and distance are orthogonal to each other. Either time or distance include the square-root of negative one depending on which side of the Doctor's gadget you are viewing. Squaring everything turns the complex values into real numbers (albeit negative).
Let's take one more trip in the TARDIS. This time the TARDIS is used to observe a quantum experiment. One photon split by a half silvered mirror with each half sent to two different mirrors 1 light year distant and back again. With fine adjustments the Doctor gets the TARDIS into hover mode to observe that the single photon is just a standing wave going in two directions and back allowing the two half waves to combine into a predictable interference pattern. But what about showing the particle half of the wave/particle experiment? No problem, The Doctor travels ahead two years where the scientists are waiting for the two halves to combine but arrives a little bit early. "Which side do you want stopped?" the Doctor asks. The scientists tell him. He waits until the last second of the two year wait and does a non-local jump to the mirror. His IMU Watch dutifully records the 1 light-year inertial distance and the corresponding negative 1 year time. The Doctor kicks the mirror away and puts a detector in its place and goes into hover mode. The waveform is now a standing wave between the newly placed detector and the scientists trying to measure an interference pattern. The scientists don't see the interference because the waveform simply collapses into one of the detectors. Which detector is chosen appears random, but when we asked the Time Lord, he just smiled knowingly and left.
The point of all of this is to setup an understanding of the nature of the medium in which life evolves, the molecular level. While the existence of Time Lords might be fanciful, quantum effects are not. They are real and validated by experiment after experiment. The null state of our universe is light speed. Quantum effects are, for all practical purposes, retrocasual either directly or as a result of non-local orchestration in space-time geometries.
Here is a link to a Dr. Hameroff paper Quantum Computing in DNA
Here is a link to a joint Hameroff/Penrose paper, Orchestrated Objective Reduction of Quantum Coherence in Brain Microtubules: The "Orch OR" Model for Consciousness
I suggest it is quite possible that quantum effects are steering life at the DNA level and at the microtubule level. Who or what is behind the steering wheel isn't that much of an issue, because if the agent or process controls quantum effects, manipulation across time is a side benefit, whether or not the driver has the capabilities of a Time Lord.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
While I call this an "ID Proposal" it is more like a model or prototype in that I am not offering it as a Truth (capital "T") see OMA/NOMA for details. I offer it as a workable possibility based loosely on ID arguments.
ID proponents generally argue that only intelligence can create intelligence without getting too picky about the meaning of the word “intelligence”. Being an electrical engineer, this is the basis for a feedback loop. How do you create a sine wave output? Use a sine wave input and amplify it. Where do you get the input? From the output. It is called an oscillator circuit. Nothing magical or supernatural about it (except, maybe, the AA battery).
But even an oscillator circuit needs a framework from which to operate. Cosmologists like Steven Hawking make it their calling to model just such a framework. Steven Hawking’s work is freely available via the web and, unlike some other PhD types, he explains both the math and logic in a way that it can be understood and vetted by anyone who wishes to do so. Here is a link where he explains the concept of time as just another dimension like North/South directions on a globe with the South Pole being the beginning of time and the North Pole being the end of time. Questions about events before the beginning of time are like questions about locations South of the South Pole. Both are paradoxical, but neither requires the supernatural.
The Hawking Model includes the multiverse paradigm…“The picture Jim Hartle and I developed, of the spontaneous quantum creation of the universe, would be a bit like the formation of bubbles of steam in boiling water. The idea is that the most probable histories of the universe, would be like the surfaces of the bubbles. Many small bubbles would appear, and then disappear again. These would correspond to mini universes that would expand, but would collapse again while still of microscopic size.… A few of the little bubbles, however, will grow to a certain size at which they are safe from recollapse.” An ID complaint to this is that the multiverse is metaphysical and still doesn’t solve the improbability problem. In other words, why is this universe so lucky? I suggest changing the bubbles analogy to a lightening strike.
The only universe we know of must complete a circuit from the beginning to the end of time or it wouldn't exist. Think of the improbability of a lighting striking hitting a specific, small piece of metal out of acres of other targets. However, when that piece of metal is a lighting rod that completes a circuit, the improbable becomes very probable. “Retrocausality” is a term that came up in TT. Here is the link to the newspaper article that initiated the discussion. A future state (cause) that completes the consistency circuit will influence the historical time-path (effect) much like a lightening strike steers towards a lightening rod. Please note that I am using the term “retrocausality” more loosely than it was in the article. Retrocausality could include a designing process predicting a future need and front-loading the first primitive organisms with an answer to that need.
This proposed model helps explain why this universe appears finely tuned and why historical events appear too fortuitous. With time just being another dimension, like North and South, retrocausality maps out the lightning strike to complete a circuit from the beginning to the end of time. Simply stated... The purpose of this Telic Universe is to exist and be internally consistent. But why is consciousness/intelligence needed for the Telic Universe to complete its circuit?
Some people have postulated that some kind of Ultimate Observer is needed for existence. If there is no observer, there would be nothing to observe. Such an observer wouldn't need any other attribute other the ability to observe. Some would call this attribute consciousness (or intelligence). In order for the universe to exist to the end of time, there must be a consciousness at the end of time. Therefore, the Telic Universe must include the creation of consciousness in its overall purpose.
From here, I was planning on going into the Penrose/Hamerhoff theory of the creation of consciousness. However, that is a topic in of itself. Here is a link to Hamerhoff's explaination.
Meanwhile a blogger named Island offered a link to his site that offered his thoughts on this subject. Here is that link
Please excuse the abrupt end, but I want to concentrate on Penrose/Hamerhoff for now.