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Quantum Physics and Ordinary Consciousness

Quantum Physics and Ordinary Consciousness

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Published by John Smith

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Published by: John Smith on Dec 20, 2010
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On QuantumPhysics andOrdinaryConsciousness
by Stephen Jones
On the question of whether physics has anything to say aboutconsciousness.
On Quantum Physics and Ordinary Consciousnesshttp://www.culture.com.au/brain_proj/quantum.htm (1 of 11) [10/2/2000 2:08:42 PM]
I would like to open by referring you to Michael Lockwood's talk. He seemsto be saying that we need a better quantum description of the world becauseat present the physical view has no room in it for such phenomenal mattersas
, i.e. the feels and qualities of the things that we know; and
, the factor which makes the contents of our consciousness thingswe know about; their names, their relations, etc.Michael Lockwood's talk on "The Enigma of Sentience"I think what he is saying is that the stuff we know as the qualities of things,the information that we have about things has actual physical existence,qualia "are the very essence of physical being" [Lockwood] and so whatdoes this say about the state of physics' description of the world.I understand Lockwood to be suggesting that the phenomenal: what weexperience and report about; and the physical: what it is that induces andprocesses the sensations, are two different aspects or
of thesame 'stuff'. It might be suggested that these two aspects of the world (itsphysical emodiment and our experience of it) have a kind of complementaryrelationship, which others (possibly even Bohr) seem to argue is arelationship analogous to wave/particle complementarity.
On Quantum Physics
The tasks of physics in the early years of this century concerned two matters,one was the macro universe which Einstein dealt with in his relativitytheories and the other was the micro universe.Quantum physicsis the theorynow used in scientific discussion of the micro-universe, that is, thesub-atomic world.Before it was developed two problems existed for physicists to explicate.One was the problem of the corpuscular versus the vibrational theory of lightand the other was the problem of atomic spectra and the discrete, quantised,energy values inherent in electrons in their orbits about the atomic nucleus.The problem of light was that youcould do a numberof experiments onlight which showedthat it had awave-like orvibrational nature,and you could do anumber of experiments whichshowed that lighthad a particulatenature.Light'swave-like natureshows up in theinterference of lightwaves passed
On Quantum Physics and Ordinary Consciousnesshttp://www.culture.com.au/brain_proj/quantum.htm (2 of 11) [10/2/2000 2:08:42 PM]
through two narrowslits and thenallowed to projectonto a singlescreen. Theseinterferencepatternsareanalogous to theripples on thesurface of a pondcaused by a pair of stones beingdropped into thepond. When theripples mingle,some of themcancel each otherout and some of them add togetherto make a biggerwave.Light's particle-like nature shows up in atomic spectra and the discrete and consistent patterns of the atomicspectra of different elements.Max Planck had shown that an atom when heated to the point of incandescenceor when in radioactive decay does not release its energy in a continuous stream, but in discrete bundles orparticles such as electrons. It is these particular discrete energy values associated with the release of eachelectron that are what show up as the lines in atomic spectra and are what became known as
of energy.
Visible Light Spectra of sunlight and several elements
Now these were quite different sets of experiments showing up mutually exclusive properties of the samething, namely sub-atomic particles of matter, and of course this created a very difficult problem to beresolved.
On Quantum Physics and Ordinary Consciousnesshttp://www.culture.com.au/brain_proj/quantum.htm (3 of 11) [10/2/2000 2:08:42 PM]

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