The Physics of Consciousness
The Physics of Consciousness by Evan Harris Walker, PhD, came out in 2000. Walker shows how the operation of bizarre yet actual properties of elementary particles support a new and exciting theory of reality, based on the principles of quantum physics-a theory that answers questions such as “What is the nature of consciousness, of will?” “What is the source of material reality?” and “What is God?”
Walker begins with Newton’s conception of reality and then explores the ideas behind Quantum Physics. Quanta are chunks of energy and light that often moves in waves. He goes on to discuss Heisenberg. “What Heisenberg discovered was that the limit to our ability to observe the universe determines the boundaries of reality. Physical reality and observability tie together…If you and I cannot observe it, it doesn’t exist. Or is it perhaps if it exists, it is because you and I observe it?”
Niles Bohr said that merely by watching things we change them. Walker goes onto say, “Matter is not really both particle and wave, but rather discrete packages of energy that dart from place to place in a frenzy of quantum jumps—that ebb and flow in waves of chance. It is a world in which nothing stays long where it should be, but only stays where it could be. And yet none of this is what is there. All of this motion is frozen. All this darting and quantum jumps exist only as potentialities…”
The mechanics of quantum physics works in a strange way. They way it should work is not the way it does work. It is not set up to describe how things actually are, but in terms of the way we think about these things. Looking deeper into the structure of matter, physicists have found a new set of particles that like to cluster into groups of twos and threes. These particles are called quarks—so named for a word James Joyce invented. There are Quanta, Leptons, Mesons and Baryons. Quarks are named Up, Down, Strange, Charm, Bottom and Top.
Hugh Everett III proposed in his Doctoral Thesis that instead of things going from potentialities to actual events, every one of the possible states actually occurs. He suggested that every time two objects interact that all the possible states take place. This means that every time two electrons, for example, collide somewhere in the universe that the total universe splits into two, three or an infinite number of copies so that there will be at least one universe with each possible outcome.
Walker says that our quest for the fabric of reality has brought us from religion to science. When asked to show us reality, science has caused us to look into a mirror and see what we are. It is the last place that science would have chosen to search, yet now we must look into that image that we see within ourselves. Now we must find out what the observer is and find out what threads consciousness weave in creating the quantum mind.
Consciousness is not thinking. Consciousness, Walker states, is not thinking about one’s own consciousness either. It is not self-reflections. Consciousness needs no words and no things to exist. Consciousness is not perception or attention. Consciousness is the experience of ideas, words and thoughts that play on the mind as we read a novel, as we remember the past, or as you now read these words. But consciousness is not thinking. Consciousness is merely the carrier of thought. Consciousness cannot really be defined. It is all things in totality. It is reality. It is the “feel” of things. If you have discovered enlightenment then that is the consciousness of consciousness.
Physicists have one thing in common with psychologists; they have always considered Consciousness outside their domain. The physicist is prone to seeing himself as the high priest of science, but that means dealing with the brain and thoughts—not spirituality. But The Tao of Physics combines both spirituality and science. The central aim of Eastern Mysticism, says The Tao of Physics, is to experience all the phenomenon in the world as manifestations of the same ultimate reality. This reality is seen as the essence of the universe underlying and unifying the multitude of things and events that we observe. The Hindus calls it Brahman, the Buddhists call it Dharmakya or Tathata and the Taoists call it Tao.
How much you write in a diary, it turns out, year later, will only hint at the life that time has rinsed into a sea of forgotten moments. To understand the world, Walker says, we must understand the quantum picture of that world. To understand quantum mechanics, we must know what consciousness is. Thus quantum tunneling must lie at the center of these data switches in the brain. This must be where the spark of life begins to filter into a flame of consciousness. The quantum mind IS our consciousness.
Time does not flow as a stream, but passes by in chunks. The pieces of time that we consciously experience are ordinary, brief—a few hundredths of a second long—single moments in time. It is not everything that happens during this loop that has this spread out time. It is only the piece of information that causes that selection of memory in that moment. Quantum minds measure time in loops. And maybe there in that moment, that loop, you can see something of the fabric of time and reality. At least perhaps you can see the cords, fibers and threads. Perhaps you can see the many colors that dance across the tapestry of reality.
In the end we find that reality is the observer observing. We find that the dancer and the dance are one. The two parts come together as one through consciousness. There is no space between them. There is no matter to die. Our observations created matter. Observation itself is that stuff of space that reaches out past the vast clusters of galaxies. Reality is the fruit of love’s embrace Walker concludes.