Decision to read this article is not the result of gravity crushing your quantum spirit

(ORDO NEWS) — A few years ago, deep under the Apennine Mountains in Italy, a team of physicists hunted for flashes of light that could indicate that human consciousness is a product of gravitational forces.

The fact that they showed up. empty-handed doesn’t mean we’re all meatless computers with no free will; however, this makes finding a suitable model to explain consciousness much more difficult.

If the thought of not having free will is uncomfortable, you are not alone. In the 1990s, Nobel laureate Roger Penrose and anesthetist Stuart Hameroff argued that the quantum properties of cellular structures called microtubules could give the brain enough wiggle room to break free from the “one entry, one exit” limitations of classical mechanics.

Although their hypothesis called “Orchestrated Objective Reduction” (Orch OR) is at the intersection of physics and biology, it is nonetheless complete enough to provide researchers with predictions that can be scientifically investigated.

“What? What I liked about this theory is that it can in principle be tested, and I decided to look for evidence that could help confirm or disprove it, ”says physicist Catalina Curceano from the Frascati National Laboratory in Italy.

Penrose theory. and Hameroff’s concept can be tested, but it still relies on a mountain of assumptions about how physics and neuroscience function at a fundamental level.

Fundamental to quantum mechanics is the notion that particles generally exist as a range of possibilities, unless they are quantified in some way by measurement.

It is not clear exactly what this means, leading some to interpret the difference as a “collapse” of an undulating haze of “maybe” into a concrete absolute of hard reality.

Equally enticing is the question of why the swarm of possible values ​​should stop at any one dimension at all.

One idea championed by Penrose and his colleague Lajos Diosi in the late 20th century suggested that the curvature of spacetime might favor some possibilities over others.

In other words, the mass and its gravitational attraction can somehow squeeze quantum waves into plane waves.

Applying this assumption to competing quantum states of cellular material, namely tubulin, which moves chemicals around within neurons, Penrose and Hameroff calculated the time required for quantum effects to become mechanisms that affect consciousness. .

While their model stops short of explaining why you made the informed choice to read this article, it does show how neurochemistry can deviate from classical computational operations in favor of something less restrictive.

Penrose and Diosi’s idea of ​​gravitational collapse has not been tested before by anyone other than Diosi himself. Their experiment at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory examined the simplest collapse scenarios but found no indication that the hypothesis was correct.

In light of these findings, the team is now wondering how their previous results might affect those of Penrose and Hameroff. Orch OR hypothesis.

Their critique of the model shows that at least one interpretation of the hypothesis can now be ruled out. Given what we know about quantum physics, the distribution of tubulin in our neurons, and the limitations imposed by Diosi’s previous experiments, it’s highly unlikely that gravity pulls the strings of consciousness.

At least not in this particular way.

“This is the first experimental study of gravity-related column quantum collapse of the Orch OR model of consciousness, which we hope will be followed by many more,” Kurceanu says.

It’s hard to say what that would mean if any investigation found glimmers of evidence for Orch OR. Non-computer descriptions of consciousness are not only difficult to study; they are difficult to define. Even undisputed programs that reflect human thinking challenge our efforts to find examples of reason, self-awareness, and free will.

However, the idea that biological systems are too chaotic to exhibit subtle quantum behavior has been weakened in light of evidence that entanglement plays a role in functions such as navigation in birds.

Perhaps a flash of inspiration is all we need to get on the path to understanding the physics of our very soul.


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