From Quanta to Qualia: The Mystery of Reality (Part 3)

The universe is evolving – on that almost all physicists agree – but in what direction? As we saw in two earlier posts, the world “out there” is neither static in time nor constant in time. Quantum theory undermined every quality of the physical universe that classical physics studies, replacing them with an ever-shifting reality based on invisible probability waves and quantum fields.
True reality consists of infinite possibilities that are realized only as we observe them. Consciousness allows us to do so. Quantum physics has opened the door to consciousness, now it needs to look beyond its boundaries to integrate the central role of consciousness. In doing so, it will have to go beyond its own boundaries and posit a reality that it itself was hinting at from the very early days of development of quantum mechanics: The participatory nature of reality. To take it further, a hint about the next breakthrough comes in a quote from the British physicist David Bohm: “In some sense man is a microcosm of the universe; therefore what man is, is a clue to the universe.” Humans have always looked to Nature as a mirror of ourselves. If we really are a microcosm, then the macrocosm – the universe at large – must be seen in terms of what makes us most human: consciousness. It is the same consciousness, which quantum mechanics, tells us, operates through the acts of observation in quantum measurements. (more…)

From Quanta to Qualia: The Mystery of Reality (Part 4)

A breakthrough has occurred in explaining our universe that hasn’t yet become mainstream. This is the concept of a living cosmos that did not need to evolve to produce life on Earth. Rather, all the elements characteristic of life were already present. They didn’t become apparent until human beings developed self-aware minds. Humans have assumed that the constituents of life did not exist until some time in the history of our planet, which arbitrarily gave birth to life. (more…)

From Quanta to Qualia: The Mystery of Reality (Part 2)

Most people would not be deeply stirred if they were told that an arcane scientific theory contains flaws. On the other hand, they would certainly sit up if told that their own lives are totally unreal. For at least a century, ever since the quantum revolution, finding out what is real and unreal has been gradually creeping from the physics laboratory into everyone’s living room. Now it has finally arrived. One way to approach reality – scientific measurement of data – has run headlong into another – experiencing the world as a person.

The clash is inescapable, even if it has been slow in coming. In the first post of this series, we pointed out that science has been triumphant in explaining the physical world, the world “out there.” Quantum theory improved the accuracy of measurement by a factor of ten million. Therefore, it was possible to set aside the subjective world, the world “in here,” as somehow irrelevant, even though there was a crashing fact that no one could really get around: Everything we experience happens mentally, including science. As someone wittily put the basic conflict, “What’s the mind? It doesn’t matter. What is matter? Never mind.” (more…)

A Consciousness Based Science

Published by The San Francisco Chronicle on Monday, September 10.

By Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP, Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Chapman University, and Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). (more…)