QR6.3.16 Where is the Observer?

The question where does observation occur? seems simple but it isn’t. Dualism locates it outside physical reality but can’t explain how that is possible. Dual aspect monism locates a pain at the point where it occurs (Velmans, 2021) but phantom limb pains have no such point. Physical realism locates it in the brain but can’t say what nerves observe, because if physical events are an unbroken causal chain, making any event an observation breaks the chain. Nerves busy with physical acts can’t also observe them, so physical events can’t observe other physical events. That a physical thing can’t observe as we do is even a mathematical theorem (Reason, 2018), so:

“The materialistic theory is a logical blunder, because it is based on a confusion between the object and subject. It asserts that matter is objective, but at the same time tries to show that it is also the cause of the subject, which it can never be. ‘A’ can never become ‘non-A’.” (Abhedananda, 1905) p22

Those who can’t explain observation assume an object can be a subject, but if it is a server-client effect, a server can’t exist on its client network lest an event there gives an infinite loop. If a server entity is observing client events, it must occur outside client space, which is our space. By the nature of observation, observer and observed are A and non-A, so we observe from outside space entirely!

The observed event is local but it is seen like a snow scene in a glass globe, from the outside. One can tap a point to see a scene but can no more enter the globe than we can enter a screen. The observed location isn’t where the observer is, just as players view a dungeon while sitting in a chair. We see a world of physical events following each other in a lawful way, never doubting that we exist in it, but the logic of quantum realism is that it couldn’t possibly be so.

We create virtual worlds for existing observers but our universe evolved both observer and observed from the quantum scale. The game Civilization lets a village grow to rule the world but the player leaves as still a citizen. In contrast, our universe increased both observer and observed by evolution. It manufactured not only a manifest world, but also the beings that observe it.

Virtual games exist for their players not themselves so the benefit of Civilization isn’t to rule a virtual earth nor is that of Warcraft to conquer orcs. The benefit is the player experience not the game result, so we don’t care if a virtual plane crashes in a simulator as long as the pilot learns. A virtual universe that exists for itself alone is pointless unless it benefits its observers. Our universe as a virtual reality does that by increasing the ability to observe, which is consciousness.

If our universe exists to benefit beings not things, we are at best an experiment of consciousness and at worst, too smart for our own good, and about to become extinct. It only took six million years for a chimp-like creature to become human so if we fail, something else will come along in what, for the universe, isn’t even a heartbeat. Long before the first human, cells were evolving, and long before the first cell, matter was evolving, so we probably aren’t the only experiment in progress.

    The next chapter considers whether some among us long ago realized by intuition what is here deduced by science – that physical reality isn’t what it seems, that it depends on something outside itself, and that what is manifest exists for the benefit what is not.


QR6.3.15 What observes?

Observation occurs when a quantum wave collapses in a physical event that restarts it again, so the first physical event was the first observation, probably by light on an infinitesimal scale. This occurred before matter or information existed, so they didn’t cause it.

A photon of light also chooses where it hits a screen from its options. Physics calls it random, as if it had no value, but this choice gives our attention so it is worth having. Why call a photon’s choice random but not ours? Simpler to say that photons choose on a quantum scale, so choice existed from the beginning. Quantum theory requires observation and choice in physical events, so the first observer of our universe was its first creation – light.

Light is a stream of photon units, or quanta, but what makes that unity? Physical waves that spread and dissolve back into the sea have no unity, but quantum waves that spread and restart do. A photon’s existence wave can spread over a galaxy then restart again at a point, so it is an entity.

What then is the photon? It isn’t quantum waves, as they disappear in the collapse before the restart, so something else must choose its restart point. If an entity’s being is what it really is, we can say that a photon’s being chooses where it restarts. If photon are beings that choose and observe, then being is what observes and chooses, a definition that applies to us also.

A photon is immortal because, like the phoenix, it is reborn from the ashes of its collapse, but if our observing-self ends when the brain dies, we aren’t. Yet if the photon is an infinitesimal being, all later beings could derive from this primal ground by entanglement.

In quantum realism, our universe began when a quantum entity passed its activity to others, creating one photon in one unit of space. The “big bang” that followed was a blast of light creation that continued until expanding space stopped it. The result was what computing calls a server-client relation, which is one source activating another. For example, when a laptop prints a document, it is a server activating a client printer to produce pages. The laptop is a server that uses a printer or screen client to manifest a file that we interact with. If a photon is a server entity manifesting waves on a client network, the wave can be restarted, just as a laptop reboot can restart a screen if it hangs. This division into server and client separated quantum reality into:

1. Server entities, that generate quantum waves and observe their interactions, and a

2. Client network, that manifests quantum waves lawfully interacting in physical events.

This isn’t dualism, that two realities exist, but that one reality divided into server and client, to become observer and observed. We can call it being and manifestation, where being is what you are and manifestation is what you observe. Instead of dividing physical reality into mind and matter, quantum reality divides into manifestation and being, so even a photon is a being. This division operates as follows:

1. Server entities generate quantum waves that spread on the client network.

2. These waves interact to overload a client node in an observed physical event.

3. The physical event restarts the quantum entities involved at a network point.

4. Restarting at the same point entangles them into a larger quantum entity that can observe more – if it survives.

5. The observed reality only exists as observation events, so it is virtual.

  For example, when electrons interact in a physical event, their quantum waves overlap in an overload that restarts and entangles them into an entity that spreads waves again. That they are the same entity lets them observe each other at that moment, giving observation a quantum origin. Each observation is just a one-cycle snapshot, as countless quantum cycles lead up to it. If it was a camera, a physical event would be like taking a photo of reality every million years or so.

Figure 6.41 A quantum universe observes itself as a virtual reality
Figure 6.41 A quantum universe observes itself as a virtual reality

Figure 6.41 expands Wheeler’s observing-eye universe to include the observer. It divides quantum reality into quantum beings that observe and a client network that is our physical space. Initially, tiny physical events only gave tiny observations but over time the universe (U) found ways to increase observation by finding entanglements that survived. Most entanglements collapse quickly but some survived as electrons, quarks, atoms, molecules, and macro-molecules like RNA. Each step in the evolution of matter increased being and observation.

Biological evolution began as simple cells, that led to complex cells, then plants, animals, and eventually sentient beings like us that can think about what they observe. Sentient beings have nerves that process sensory data and can synchronize their firing to evoke a single observer. To refer to oneself as “I” requires a unitary observer as well as brain functions like language.

    In conclusion, part of a universe of light became matter, some matter became life, and some life became sentient. Most of the universe isn’t sentient but the trend to increase observation is clear. Observation built up step-wise until now, billions of years later, we can observe the scale of what made us (Figure 6.42). We are beings observing other being’s manifestations by means of our own, but where then is the observer that does that?

Figure 6.42 Our View of the Universe, where each dot is a galaxy



If you have translated Chapter 1 or others into your language, let me know at bwhitworth@acm.org.
I can post a copy here so others in your country can read it. All translations are under the
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial–NoDerivatives 4.0 International License copyright used by this site.


   Chapters 1-5 (2019 Version) by Ramón Pérez Montero


      Chapter 1 by Jullyano Lino


QR6.4 Discussion Questions

The following questions are addressed in this chapter. They are better discussed in a group to allow a variety of opinions to emerge. The relevant section link is given after each question:
1. What part of you experiences your life? (6.1.1)
2. What would you say to someone who denies that we consciously observe the physical world? (6.1.2)
3. To which Chalmers consciousness category does quantum realism belong? (6.1.3)
4. Is physical realism a realistic theory of what physical particles actually do? (6.1.4)
5. If quantum reality constantly creates the physical world as a virtual reality, what does the physical world cause? (6.1.5)
6. Why can’t text programs process picture files or vice-versa? (6.1.6)
7. What problem faces theories that say something is caused by the mind? (6.1.7)
8. Why isn’t quantum realism the same as panpsychism, that all matter is conscious? (6.1.8)
9. How does growing an information processor differ from building one? (6.2.1)
10. What does split-brain research suggest about what controls the brain? (6.2.2)
11. What does the spinning ballerina illusion tell us about visual processing? (6.2.3)
12. Did evolution build three brains one after the other, each making the last obsolete? (6.2.4)
13. Why is the evolutionary “old” cerebellum still state-of-the-art? (6.2.5)
14. What are emotions and why were they important in brain evolution? (6.2.6)
15. Why was the intellect the last part of the brain to evolve and is the last to mature? (6.2.7)
16. Why does the brain have three centers of feedback control not just one? (6.2.8)
17. What is the effect of cutting the nerves that connect the hemispheres? (6.2.9)
18. How do photosynthetic bacteria harvest every photon of light they receive? (6.3.1)
19. What causes the molecules in a cell to vibrate in synchrony? (6.3.2)
20. How do nerve dendrites check they are receiving error-free data? (6.3.3)
21. What causes brain waves? (6.3.4)
22. What neurological process is consciousness now believed to derive from? (6.3.5)
23. If consciousness arises in the electromagnetic field, what does that explain about it? (6.3.6)
24. How do entangled entities share information? (6.3.7)
25. Why does consciousness take time to arise? (6.3.8)
26. When different images are presented to each eye, why do we see only one image? (6.3.9)
27. Why is what you see always a choice? (6.3.10)
28. What would happen if silicon chips replaced all the nerves in the brain? (6.3.11)
29. If the brain’s electromagnetic field generates consciousness, where is it located? (6.3.12)
30. If the body has about 30 trillion cells, can we know what they are conscious of? (6.3.13)
31. What is more fundamental, mind or matter? (select mind, matter, both or neither) (6.3.14)
32. Is dividing reality into being and manifestation the same as mind-matter dualism? (6.3.15)
33. Why does quantum realism conclude that the observer is outside physical space? (6.3.16)

QR6.5 References

Abhedananda, S. (1905). Vedanta Philosophy. New York, The Vedanta Society.

Adolphs, R. (2008). Fear, Faces, and the Human Amygdala. Curr Opin Neurobiol., 18(2).

Al-Khalili, J., & Lilliu, S. (2020). Quantum Biology. Scientific Video Protocols. https://doi.org/10.32386/scivpro.000020

Al-Khalili, J., & McFadden, J. (2014). Life on the Edge. Bantam Press.

Aspect, A., Grangier, P., & Roger, G. (1982). Experimental Realization of Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen-Bohm Gedankenexperiment: A New Violation of Bell’s Inequalities. Physical Review Letters, 49(2), 91–94.

Baars, B. J. (1988). A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Global_workspace_theory&oldid=971315492

Baars, B. J., & Edelmann, D. B. (2012). Consciousness, biology and quantum hypotheses. Phys. Life Rev., Sep.

Baars, B. J., & Laureys, S. (2004). Brain, conscious experience and the observing self. Trends in Neuroscience, January.

Baggot, J. (2013). Farewell to Reality: How fairytale physics betrays the search for scientific truth. Constable.

Ball, P. (2011). Quantum Biology. Nature, 474(16 June), 272–274.

Benovsky, J. (2016). Dual-Aspect Monism. Philosophical Investigations, 39(4), 335–352.

Blausen.com staff. (2014). Medical gallery of Blausen Medical. WikiJournal of Medicine, 1(2).

Block, N. (1995). On a confusion about a function of consciousness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 18, 227–287.

Block, N., & Stalnaker, R. (1999). Conceptual Analysis, dualism and the explanatory gap. Philosophical Review, 108, 1–46.

Blokland, A. (1998). Reaction Time Responding in Rats. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 22(6).

Bosman et al., C. A. (2012). Attentional stimulus selection through selective synchronization between monkey visual areas. Neuron, September.

Brooks, M. (2020). Is the universe conscious? It seems impossible until you do the maths. New Scientist, May. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24632800-900-is-the-universe-conscious-it-seems-impossible-until-you-do-the-maths/

Cepelwicz, J. (2020). Hidden Computational Power Found in the Arms of Neurons. QuantaMagazine, January 14.

Chalmers, D. J. (1996). The Conscious Mind. Oxford University Press.

Chalmers, D. J. (2003). Consciousness and its Place in Nature. In Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Mind (S. Stich and F. Warfield, eds). Blackwell Publishers.

Chomsky, N. (2006). Language and Mind: Vol. Third. Cambridge University Press.

Churchland, P. S., & Sejnowski, T. (1992). The Computational Brain. MIT Press.

Clayton, N. S., Dally, J. M., & Emery, N. J. (2007). Social cognition by food-caching corvids. The western scrub-jay as a natural psychologist. Philosophical Transactions B, 362, 507–522.

Coleman, S. (2006). Being Realistic: Why Physicalism May Entail Panexperientialism. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 13(10–11), 40–52.

Conway, J., & Koch, S. (2006). The free will theorem. Found. Phys., 36(10), arXiv:quant-ph/0604079v1.

Crick, F. (1995). The Astonishing Hypothesis. Scribner reprint edition.

Crick, F., & Kock, C. (1990). Towards a neurobiological theory of consciousnes. Semin Neurosci, 2, 263–275.

Cruz, L. et al. (2005). A Statistically Based Density Map Method for Identification and Quantification of Regional Differences in Microcolumnarity in the Monkey Brain. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 141(2), 321–332.

Cutting, N., Apperly, I. A., Chappell, J., & Beck, S. R. (2014). The puzzling difficulty of tool innovation: Why can’t children piece their knowledge together? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 125, 110–117.

Daskalakis, Z. J. (2004). Exploring the connectivity between the cerebellum and motor cortex in humans. J Physiol., 557(Pt 2)(June 1), 689–700.

Dehaene, S. (2014). Consciousness and the Brain. Penguin Books.

Dennett, D. C. (1991). Consciousness Explained. Little, Brown & Company.

Dexter et al., J. P. (2019). A Complex Hierarchy of Avoidance Behaviors in a Single-Cell Eukaryote. Current Biology, 29(24), 4323–4329.

Dimond, S. J. (1980). Neuropsychology. Buttersworth.

Edelman, G. M. (1987). Neural Darwinism: The Theory Of Neuronal Group Selection (New Ed edition). Basic Books.

Edelman, G. M. (2003). Naturalizing Consciousness: A theoretical framework. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 100(9), 5520–5524.

Edwards, L. (2010). Lightning really does make mushrooms multiply. Phys.Org, April.

Engel, G. S. et al. (2007). Evidence for wave-like energy transfer through quantum coherence in photosynthetic systems. Nature, 446, 782–786.

Feigley, D. A., & Spear, N. E. (1970). Effect of age and punishment condition on long-term retention by the rat of active- and passive-avoidance learning. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 73(3), 515–526.

Feldman, J. (2013). The neural binding problem(s). Cogn. Neurodyn., 7, 1–11.

Fries, P. (2015). Rhythms for cognition:Communication through coherence. Neuron, 88(1), 220–235.

Frohlich, H. (1970). Long Range Coherence and the Action of Enzymes. Nature, 228(1093).

Gauger, E. M. et al. (2011). Sustained Quantum Coherence and Entanglement in the Avian Compass. Phys. Rev. Lett., 106(040503).

Gazzaniga, M. S. (2002). Michael Gazzaniga, The split brain revisited. 297 (1998), pp. 51–55. 37. Scientific American, 297, 27–31.

Gidon, A. et. al. (2020). Dendritic action potentials and computation in human layer 2/3 cortical neurons. Science, 367(6473), 83–87.

Goodale, M. A., & Milner, A. D. (2004). Sight unseen: An exploration of conscious and unconscious vision (pp. ix, 135). Oxford University Press.

Gray, C. et. al. (1989). Oscillatory responses in cat visual cortex exhibit inter-columnar synchronization which reflects global stimulus properties. Nature, 338, 334–337.

Grundmann et al., S. (2020). Zeptosecond birth time delay in molecular photoionization. Science  16 Oct 2020: Vol. 370, Issue 6514, Pp. 339-341, 370(6514), 339–341.

Han et al., C. (2016). Memory Updating and Mental Arithmetic. Front. Psychol., 2 February.

Hannula et al., D. (2005). Imaging implicit perception: Promise and pitfalls. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 6, 247–255.

Harris et al., I. M. (2000). Selective right parietal lobe activation during mental rotation: A parametric PET study. Brain, 123(1), 65–73.

Hofstadter, D. R., & Dennett, D. C. (1981). The Mind’s I. Basic Books.

Hooker et al., C. I. (2006). Amygdala Response to Facial Expressions Reflects Emotional Learning. Journal of Neuroscience, 26(35), 8915–8922.

Humphrey, N. (1992). A History of the Mind. London: Chatto & Windus.

Jackson, F. (1982). Epiphenomal Qualia. The Philosophical Quarterly, 32(127), 127–136.

James, W. (1904). Does “Consciousness” Exist? Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientfic Methods, 1(18).

James, W. (2019). The Stream of Consciousness (First Published 1892). In Consciousness and the Universe. Cosmology Science Publishers.

Jarvis, E., & et al. (2005). Avian brains and a new understanding of vertebrate brain evolution. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 6(2), 151–159.

Jedlicka, P. (2017). Revisiting the Quantum Brain Hypothesis: Toward Quantum (Neuro)biology? Front. Mol. Neurosci., Nov 7.

John, E. R. (2005). From sychronous neuronal discharges to subjective awareness. Progress in Brain Research, 150, 143–171.

John et al., E. R. (2001). Invariant reversible QEEG efffects of anesthetics. Consci. Cogn., 10, 165–183.

Joseph, R. (2017a). Origins of thought: Consciousness, language, egocentric speech and the multiplicity of mind. In Consciousness and the Universe, Eds. Penrose, R., Hameroff, S., and Subhash, K. (pp. 429–455). Cosmology Science Publishers.

Joseph, R. (2017b). The neuroanatomy of free will: Loss of will, Against the will, “Alien hand.” In Consciousness and the Universe, Eds. Penrose, R., Hameroff, S., and Subhash, K. (pp. 138–167). Cosmology Science Publishers.

Kaku, M. (2014). The future of mind. Doubleday.

Kant, I. (2002). Critique of Pure Reason. In M. C. Beardsley (Ed.), The European Philosophers from Descartes to Nietsche. The Modern Library.

Kastrup, B. (2019). Analytic Idealism: A consciousness-only ontology. PhilArchive, https://philarchive.org/archive/KASAIA-3.

Kastrup, B. (2020). Materialism will be mocked. IAI News, Issue 8(4th March).

Kelly at al., E. F. (2007). Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century. Rowman & Littlefield.

Kim, J. (1999). How Can My Mind Move My Limbs? Mental Causation from Descartes to Contemporary Physicalism. Philosophic Exchange, 30(1).

Kobayashi et al., Y. (2020). Attosecond XUV probing of vibronic quantum superpositions in Br2+. Physical Review A, 102(5).

Koch, C. (2014). Is Consciousness Universal? Scientific American Mind, 25, 26–29. https://doi.org/10.1038/scientificamericanmind0114-26

Koga et al., T. (2019). Nanosecond pulsed electric fields induce extracellular release of chromosomal DNA and histone citrullination in neutrophil-differentiated HL-60 cells. Scientific Reports, 9(8451).

Kurzweil, R. (1999). The Age of Spiritual Machines. Penguin Books.

Lakatos et al., P. (2013). The spectrotemporal filter mechanism of auditory selective attention. Neuron, 77, 750–761.

Lakatos, P. et. al. (2019). A New Unifying Account of the Roles of Neuronal Entrainment. Current Biology, 29(September 23).

Laurent et al., G. (1996). Temporal Representations of Odors in an Olfactory Network. Journal of Neuroscience, 16(12), 3837–3847.

Lefebvre, L., Reader, S. M., & Sol, D. (2004). Brains, Innovations and Evolution in Birds and Primates. Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 63(4), 233–246. https://doi.org/10.1159/000076784

Levine, J. (1983). Materialism and qualia: The explanatory gap. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 64, 354–361.

Libet, B. (2005). Mind Time: The Temporal Factor in Consciousness. Harvard University Press.

Liu et al., Z. (2016). The simple neuroendocrine-immune regulatory network in oyster Crassostrea gigas mediates complex functions. Nature Scientific Reports, May.

Lo Franco, R., & Compagno, G. (2016). Quantum entanglement of identical particles by standard information-theoretic notions. Nature Scientific Reports, 6(20603).

MacLean, P. D. (1990). The Triune Brain in Evolution. New York: Plenum Press. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Triune_brain&oldid=981118559

Magdaong et al., N. M. (2014). High Efficiency Light Harvesting by Carotenoids in the LH2 Complex from Photosynthetic Bacteria: Unique Adaptation to Growth under Low-Light Conditions. J. Phys. Chem. B, 118.

Maiuri, M. et al. (2018). Coherent wavepackets in the Fenna–Matthews–Olson complex are robust to excitonic-structure perturbations caused by mutagenesis. Nature Chemistry, 10, 177–183.

Mandik, P. (2004). Silicon chip replacement thought experiment. Dictionary of Philosophy of Mind, May. https://sites.google.com/site/minddict/silicon-chip-replacement-thought-experiment

McCulloch, W. S., & Pitts, W. (1943). A logical calculus of the ideas immanent in nervous activity. Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics, 5, 115–133.

McFadden, J. (2020). Integrating information in the brain’s EM field: The CEMI field theory of consciousness. Neuroscience of Consciousness, 6(1), 1–13.

McFadden, J., & Al-Khalili, J. (2018). The origins of quantum biology. Proc.R.Soc.A, 474.

McQueen, K. J. (2017). Is QBism the Future of Quantum Physics? ArXiv:1707.02030.

Melloni et al. (2007). Synchronization of Neural Activity across Cortical Areas Correlates with Conscious Perception. The Journal of Neuroscience, 27(11), 2858–2865.

Merker, B. (2007). Consciousness without a cerebral cortex: A challenge for neuroscience and medicine. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30, 63–134.

Minor, D. L. (2010). An Overview of Ion Channel Structure, in Handbook of Cell Signaling (Second Edition). Academic Press.

Minsky, M. L. (1986). The Society of Mind. Simon and Schuster.

Montgomery, J. C., Bodznick, D., & Yopak, K. E. (2012). The Cerebellum and Cerebellum-Like Structures of Cartilaginous Fishes. Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 80, 152–165.

Morsella, E. (2005). The Function of Phenomenal States: Supramodular Interaction Theory. Psychological Review, 112(4), 1000–1021.

Morsella, E., Godwin, C. A., Jantz, T., Krieger, S. C., & Gazzaley, A. (2016). Passive frame theory: A new synthesis. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 39(January), 1–17.

Nachev, P., Kennard, C., & Husain, M. (2008). Functional role of the supplementary and pre-supplementary motor areas. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9, 856–869.

Nagel, T. (1974). What is it like to be a bat? Philosophical Review, 83, 435–450.

Nunez, P. L. (2016). The New Science of Consciousness. Prometheus Books.

O’Callaghan, J. (2018). “Schrödinger’s Bacterium” Could Be a Quantum Biology Milestone. Scientific American, October 29.

O’Keefe, J., & Nadel, L. J. (1978). The Hippocampus as a Cognitive Map. Oxford University Press.

Patton, P. (2008). One World, Many Minds: Intelligence in the Animal Kingdom. Scientific American Mind, December.

Penrose, R. (1994). Shadows of the Mind. Oxford University Press.

Penrose, R., & Hameroff, S. (2017). Consciousness in the Universe: Neuroscience, Quantum Space-time Geometry and Orch OR Theory. In Consciousness and the Universe, Eds. Penrose, R., Hameroff, S., and Subhash, K. (pp. 8–47). Cosmology Science Publishers.

Pockett, S. (2014). Problems with theories that equate consciousness with information or information processing. Front. Syst. Neurosci., 2014(November).

Pockett, S. (2017). Consciousness Is a Thing, Not a Process. Applied Sciences, 7(12).

Quiroga et al., R. Q. (2005). Invariant visual representation by single neurons in the human brain. Nature, 435, 1102–1107.

Rathbone et al., H. W. (2018). Coherent phenomena in photosynthetic light harvesting: Part one -theory and spectroscopy. Biophysical Reviews, 10, 1427–1441.

Reason, C. (2018). A Theoretical Limit to Physicalism: A Non-Technical Explanation of the Gemini Theorem. ArXiv:1804.08713.

Ressler, K. J. (2010). Amygdala Activity, Fear, and Anxiety: Modulation by Stress. Biological Psychiatry, 67(12), 1117–1119.

Rodriguez et al., E. (1999). Perception’s shadow: Long-distance synchronization of human brain activity. Nature, 397, 430–433.

Russell, B. (1927). An Outline of Philosophy. London: George Allen & Unwin.

Russell, B. (2005). The Analysis of Mind (1921). Dover Publications.

Ryle, G. (1949). Descartes’ Myth, in The Concept of Mind. London: Hutchinson.

Samsonovich, A., Scott, A., & Hameroff, S. (1992). Acousto-conformational transitions in cytoskeletal microtubules: Implications for intracellular information processing. Nanobiology, 1, 457–468.

Schacter, D. L. (1989). On the relation between memory and consciousness. In In: Varieties of memory and consciousness. Ed H. Roediger & F. Craik. Erlbaum.

Scholes Group. (2018). Coherent Coupling: A Photosynthesis Mystery Solved. Princeton Univerity News, Jan 16th. https://chemistry.princeton.edu/news/coherent-coupling-photosynthesis-mystery-solved

Sehatpour et al., P. (2008). A human intracranial study of long-range oscillatory coherence across a frontal–occipital–hippocampal brain network during visual object processing. PNAS, 105(11).

Shepard, S., & Metzler, D. (1988). Mental  Rotation: Effects  of Dimensionality  of Objectsand  Type of Task. Journal  of Experimental  Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 14(1).

Singer et al., W. (1997). Neuronal assemblies: Necessity, signature and detectability. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 1, 252–261.

Singer, W. (1999). Neural synchrony: A versatile code for the definition of relations. Neuron, 24(September), 49–65.

Singer, W. (2007). Understanding the brain. EMBO Reports, 8(Suppl. 1).

Smith et al., C., L,. (2019). Coherent directed movement toward food modeled in Trichoplax, a ciliated animal lacking a nervous system. PNAS, 116(18), 8901–8908.

Sourakov, A. (2011). Faster than a Flash: The Fastest Visual Startle Reflex Response is Found in a Long-Legged Fly, Condylostylus sp. (Dolichopodidae). Florida Entomologist, 94(2), 367–369.

Sperry, R. W. (1966). Brain bisection and the neurology of consciousness. In F.O. Schmitt and F. G. Worden (Eds) The Neurosciences. MIT Press.

Stapp, H. (1993). Mind, Matter, and Quantum mechanics. Springer-Verlag.

Strawson, G. (2008). Realistic Monism: Why Physicalism Entails Panpsychism. Oxford Scholarship Online.

Sullivan, J. W. N. (1931). Interviews With Great Scientists. VI. – Max Planck. The Observer, 25 January, 17.

Taylor, S. (2019). How a Flawed Experiment “Proved” That Free Will Doesn’t Exist. It did no such thing—But the result has become conventional wisdom nevertheless. Scientific American, December 6. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/how-a-flawed-experiment-proved-that-free-will-doesnt-exist/

Tegmark, M. (2000). The importance of quantum decoherence in brain processes. Phys. Rev., E61, 4194–4206.

Tønnessen et al., E. (2013). Reaction time aspects of elite sprinters in athletic world championships. J Strength Cond Res  ., 27(4).

Tononi, G. et. al. (1998). Investigating neural correlates of conscious perception by frequency-tagged neuromagnetic responses. PNAS, 95(6), 3198–3203.

Tononi, G. (2008). Consciousness as Integrated Information: A Provisional Manifesto. The Biological Bulletin, 215(3), 216–242. https://doi.org/10.2307/25470707

Triblehorn, J. D., & Yager, D. D. (2005). Timing of praying mantis evasive responses during simulated bat attacksequences. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 208, 1867–1876.

Truscott, F. W., & Emory, F. L. (1951). A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities (Translated from the 1814 original). Dover Publications (New York).

Uhlhaas, P. J. et. al. (2009). Neural synchrony in cortical networks: History, concept and current status. Front. Integr. Neurosci., 3(17).

Vedral, V. (2015). Living in a Quantum World. Scientific American, December.

Velmans, M. (2021). Is the universe conscious? Reflexive monism and the ground of being. In In E. Kelly & P. Marshall (Eds) 2021m p175-228. Lanham Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.

Vimal, R. L. P. (2018). The extended dual-aspect monism framework: An attempt to solve the hard problem. Trans/Form/Ação, 41(S1), 153–182.

Vlasov, V., & Bifone, A. (2017). Hub-driven remote synchronization in brain networks. Scientific Reports, 7(10403).

Ward, L. M. (2007). Neural synchrony in stochastic resonance, attention, and consciousness. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, January.

Weir, A. A. S., Chappell, J., & Kacelnik, A. (2002). Shaping of Hooks in New Caledonian Crows. Science, 297(5583).

Whitworth, B. (2008). Some implications of Comparing Human and Computer Processing.

Wolman, D. (2012). The split brain: A tale of two halves. Nature News, March 14. https://www.nature.com/news/the-split-brain-a-tale-of-two-halves-1.10213

Yamashita et al., M. (2000). Startle Response and Turning Bias in Microhyla Tadpoles. Zoological Science, 17, 185–189.

Yang, Z., & Zhang, X. (2020). Entanglement-based quantum deep learning. New J. Phys, 22(03304).

Zizzi, P. (2003). Emergent Consciousness; From the Early Universe to Our Mind, arXiv: Gr-qc/0007006. NeuroQuantology, 3, 295–311.


QR6.3.14 What Exists?

Theories about what exists out there can be derived from three simple questions:

1. Does anything exist out there? 

Yes. Realism: There is something that exists out there, apart from our observation of it, so we see a common reality because there is one.

No. Solipsism: The world out there is created entirely by our mind, so each person constructs their own version of it, just as in a dream.

2. Does matter exist by itself alone?

Yes. Physicalism: Matter is an objective substance that exists whether we observe it or not.

No. Idealism: Matter derives from a non-physical mind, like a thought or a shadow of reality.

3. Does the observer exist apart from matter?

Yes. Dualism: A non-physical mind substance that exists in a mental realm observes matter that exists in the physical realm.

No. Physical realism: All reality is just matter interacting with matter, so the observer must be either a physical result, a physical combination, a physical property, or just an illusion.

Each theory struggles with different facts. Solipsism struggles to explain why we all dream the same lawful reality, so most of us accept the realism that there is a common reality out there. Physicalism has a vanishing matter problem, as when examined closely, matter becomes virtual particles or quantum waves that aren’t physical at all. An embarrassing fact of physics is that 96% of the universe is dark matter and energy, with no known matter cause. Idealism has a manifestation problem, as what does a non-physical mind do that matter doesn’t do already? Dualism has the problem that different realms of existence have no basis upon which to interact.

Current science embraces physical realism, that only matter exists, but it were so, detecting an object without physical interaction would be impossible, yet it happens (3.8.4). Nor can this theory explain observation, as no physical mechanism exists that lets dead matter observe:

It is well recognized in the West that physicalism … has no adequate account (and many would say no account at all) of how consciousness could arise from the activities of non-conscious physical matter.” (Velmans, 2021) p25

As Russell concluded after many years:

“… we cannot say that ‘matter is the cause of our sensations’ (Russell, 1927) p290.

He therefore suggested neutral monism, that matter and mind arise from something that is neither, but neither he nor James (James, 1904) could specify what it was. Figure 6.40 shows the main reality theories at the beginning of last century. What exists (solid lines) was thought to be a substance that was either matter, or mind, or both, or neither.

Figure 6.40 Theories of Reality

A century later, theories are more complex but not a lot has changed. Physical realism now uses panpsychism, that matter observes, to make consciousness fully physical (Strawson, 2008). Dualism has become property dualism, that some matter can be conscious (Chalmers, 1996) p165. Idealism now includes cosmopsychism, that a great mind dissociated into us dreaming a common reality (Kastrup, 2019). Dual-aspect monism merges idealism and physicalism by making mental and physical inseparable aspects of an unknowable primal reality (Vimal, 2018). Mind and matter are then complementary just as electricity and magnetism are in physics (Velmans, 2021) p192, but aspects whose union is impossible can’t be complementary. Arguing that because an electron can be a wave and a particle, we can be a mind and a brain, is using one miracle to justify another.

   Dual substances, dual properties and dual aspects explain how atoms can be conscious but not how we are. Mass and charge add when matter aggregates but if consciousness did that, the moon would be more conscious than us. Dual-aspect monism concludes that “’I’ and ‘Self” and ‘me’ are all plural terms (like the crew of the USS Enterprise.(Benovsky, 2016) p348, but this contradicts the first fact, that at each moment we experience one observer not many.

Increasing complexity didn’t solve the core problems, that dual reality realms can’t co-exist, that dead matter can’t observe and that atomic consciousness can’t combine. What then really exists? The dualism that observer and observed are substances that both exist is patently false. The naïve belief that only the observed exists, is also false by the previous chapters. And no-one believes in solipsism, that only the observer exists, either. This leaves neutral monism, that some other reality causes both observer and observed, neither of which exist by themselves.

Quantum realism is the theory that quantum reality exists, as described by quantum theory. Hence, it really exists around us but physical events just represent it, so realism is true. Hence, quantum laws apply everywhere to create universal physical laws, so lawfulness is true. Hence, there are no particles, only quantum waves that are particle-like when observed, so matter’s substance vanishes when examined. And if quantum reality causes all physical events, it made the galaxies and so doesn’t have a manifestation problem.

Future generations may mock physical realism as a naïve belief in magical causes, just as we now mock fairies (Kastrup, 2020), because that a matter universe made itself from nothing is magical thinking. That quantum reality causes mind and matter isn’t dualism because there is only one source. That atoms are conscious doesn’t explain how we are but if they entangle to increase the observer, our consciousness can evolve from what came before.

Some say that what can’t be seen can’t exist but that isn’t true, as unseen programs create the images that gamers see. If a gamer in a dungeon clicks on a door to reveal a monster image, was the monster lurking there beforehand? Obviously not, as that a dungeon of monsters exists in our laptop when we aren’t using it is absurd. A generated experience isn’t a permanent thing, so only what creates the monster image needs to constantly exist on the laptop.

If the physical world is a virtual reality, the same logic applies. We see tables and chairs not the quantum waves that generate them, but thinking they always exist is like thinking your laptop contains a dungeon of monsters. We see events not things, but if matter isn’t a thing, what exactly is observing it?


QR6.3.13 The Evolution of Consciousness

  The three great mysteries of science are how the universe, life and consciousness began. If a quantum event began the universe, a quantum effect began cells, and the ability to observe is a quantum property, then quantum reality could explain all three as follows:

1. The universe began when quantum reality split into server and client (2.4.2).

2. Life began when tubulins entangled cell molecules to allow unified choices (6.3.7).

3. Consciousness always existed, so the first event was observed on a quantum scale (6.1.8).

If the first light became matter, matter became life, and life became us, evolution links our bodies to the first event billions of years ago. No plan was needed if what is possible eventually happens, by the quantum law of all action (3.6.3). Matter became bodies because it is possible, and the universe seems finely tuned to life (4.8.2) because evolution took so long to find what survives. It is now proposed that evolution increased observation because it favors survival.

     In nature, big things come from small, so our bodies grew from a cell smaller than a full stop and bacteria we can’t see evolved into us. It follows that consciousness grew in the same way. Evolution and growth are step-wise sequences that allow no line between us and them, so humans aren’t a realm apart from animals, and life isn’t a realm apart from matter. By Conway’s Free Will theorem (Conway & Koch, 2006), consciousness is all or none, so it couldn’t both not exist then exist. It didn’t suddenly begin at a past moment, so even trilobites in the primeval seas observed (Figure 6.38). If consciousness is the ability to observe, how observation evolved from photons can reflect its evolution, as follows:

Figure 6.38 Even Trilobites observed

Planck time is the shortest possible time in physics. An observation at this scale would occur more times a second than there have been seconds in the life of the universe. Planck time is taken to represent photon scale observations.

A yoctosecond (ys) is a trillion-trillionth of a second. A top quark’s lifetime is estimated at half a ys, bosons have lifetimes in ys, and quark plasma light pulses are a few ys, so this timescale may represent basic matter observations.

A zeptosecond (zs) is a billion-trillionth of a second and the shortest time measured so far. Physicists estimate a few hundred zs for the two atoms of a hydrogen molecule to photoionize (Grundmann et al., 2020), so this timescale may represent atomic observations.

An attosecond (as) is a million-trillionth of a second. Ultrafast x-ray sources with as time resolution reveal bromine molecule vibronic structures (Kobayashi et al., 2020), so this timescale may represent molecular observations.

A femtosecond (fs) is a thousand-trillionth of a second or 0.000000000000001second. It is to a second as a second is to about 32 million years. High-energy fs scale X-rays that probe complex protein molecules in light harvesting bacteria respond to light in the order of one fs (Rathbone et al., 2018) p1433, so this timescale may represent macromolecule observations.

A picosecond (ps) is a trillionth of a second or a million-millionth of a second. Estimates of coherence times for cells range from 100fs to 1 ps (Rathbone et al., 2018) p1447, so this timescale may represent simple cell observations.

A nanosecond (ns) is a billionth of a second. A billion is a big number as it takes 95 years to count to a billion. Nanosecond pulsed electric fields elicit various responses in human and other cells (Koga et al., 2019), so this timescale may represent complex cell observations.

A microsecond (μs) is a millionth of a second. Bacteria existed three billion years ago but the leap to multi-cell life happened only 800 million years ago, when cells began to move ions across cell walls using ion channels that act in a few microseconds (Minor, 2010) p201, faster than any nerve, to let simple marine animals with no nerves move towards the algae they feed on (Smith et al., 2019). Microsecond pulsed electric fields are used in food production as mushrooms exposed to a ten μs electromagnetic burst can double their growth (Edwards, 2010), so this timescale may represent multicell observations.

A millisecond (ms) is a thousandth of a second. As animals grew larger, electrochemical nerves replaced chemical signals. Jellyfish nerves are all over their body but oysters have a neuroendocrine center (Liu et al., 2016), and the ten-thousand nerves of worms and slugs and the hundred-thousand nerves of crabs and insects form a chord. A honeybee with nearly a million nerves in a mm volume can fly, navigate and communicate where pollen is. These instinctive brains are fast, as an insect startle response can be less than 5ms (Sourakov, 2011) and a praying mantis can sense the vibrations of a bat attack and evade in 8ms (Triblehorn & Yager, 2005), so this timescale may represent instinctive brain observations.

A centisecond (cs) is a hundredth of a second. Frogs and reptiles evolved brains with tens of millions of nerves to process sense data from one nerve to the next. It takes at least a cs for a signal to travel a meter of nerve, so the response time for cerebellum-based one-center brains is in hundredths of a second. Tadpole startle responses occur within 1-2cs (Yamashita et al., 2000) and our blink responses take 3-4 cs, so this timescale may represent one-center brain observations.

A decisecond (ds) is a tenth of a second. Bird and small mammal brains are about ten times larger than same-size frogs or reptiles mainly due to midbrain and neocortex increases. Two-center mammal brains require thalamic coherence that takes two-tenths of a second to occur, so the rat reaction time of about 2-3ds is expected (Blokland, 1998). In 100m races, elite sprinters take 1.2-1.6 tenths of a second to start moving (Tønnessen et al., 2013) and responses under a tenth of a second are a false start, so this timescale may represent two-center brain observations.

The speed of thought seems to be about a second. Lower brain areas respond faster but brain-wide consciousness takes about half-a-second, so human thought will take longer. Our brains blink in hundredths of a second and change highway lanes in tenths of a second, but it takes longer to think. It takes about a second to mentally rotate an 80° shape (Harris et al., 2000) or a 3D shape (Shepard & Metzler, 1988) or do mental arithmetic (Han et al., 2016), so this timescale may represent three-center brain observations.