In the previous post I wrote about how Sir Roger Penrose, renowned oxford theoretical physicist, promoted the idea that free will and consciousness have to be rooted in quantum phenomena “somewhere” inside our brain. When Roger Penrose released his book “the emperors new mind” in 1989 he had no idea where his proposed quantum states would be located in the brain. Many prominent scientists attacked Penrose reasoning and it was considered to be on the brink of being esoterical. If he would not have been Roger Penrose, whose standing as a scientist was beyond doubt, his ideas would probably have been ignored.
A science of consciousness, in the view of many of Penrose peers, was a an absurd proposition, but an American anaesthesiologist and neuroscientist named Stuart Hameroff read the book and was inspired by it. Taking away peoples consciousness every day must have put Stuart Hameroff on his journey on figuring out what it was he was actually doing. We know that anaesthetica take away consciousness, but until today we really don't know why. Other than Penrose, Hameroff had an incling where in the brain consciousness might be hidden, but before he read Penroses book he did not know how. He contacted Roger Penrose and they met 1992 and they released the first version of their combined theory in 1994. This theory is called “Orchestrated Objective Reduction” or Orch OR and it might be the most important scientific theory of our time.According to Stuart Hammereoff, inside each of our neurons, a molecular structure called microtubulaes would be a perfect fit for Roger Penroses link between the quantum world and the classical world. These molecules are tubes of hydrocarbon where benzene rings with dislocated electrons make up much of the structure. These structures, Penrose and Hameroff proposed, contain superposed electrons that oscillate in frequencies that can be stimulated in wavelengths that make the transition into the classical world possible. As these superposed quantum states are fully capable of entanglement and resonate within the planck sphere, consciousness is not solely centered in ourselfs. We are in "harmony" with our universe and with each other.
This is a very crude description as the whole subject is really above my head. In spite of many critics that dismissed the theory out of hand, it holds up to experimental falsification for over 20 years now. In 2014, Anirban Bandyopadhyay of the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan, provided the evidence that superposed quantum states can be found inside microtubulaes and their oscillations can be measured and stimulated in an in-vitro experiment.
With his work, Anirban Bandyopadhyay refuted the most important critics of the Orch OR theory who claimed that in the “hot and wet” environment of the brain those states could not exist. Today all of the proposed falsifications that have been tried have been in favor of the Orch OR theory.All this might be hard to swallow for many hardchore wiseguys, but this theory is for real. Many of the founders of quantum mechanics proposed philosophical consequences of QM quite similar to Orch OR like Hans Peter Dürr.
I find it interesting how much scathing criticism the Orch OR theory has provoked. The science of consciousness explores regions and answers questions where religion has had a monopoly for thousands of years. The Orch OR theory also attacks the quasi religious believes in many other fields of science. If the Orch OR theory is accepted, all the work that neuroscientists have done with functional MRI methods would lose its significance and the science of artificial intelligence “singularity” would be proven as nonsense.
The Human Brain Project, that is sponsored by the EU with 8 billion Euros, would become obsolete. Furthermore, as Orch OR formulates that consciousness is somehow related to the planck sphere and a fundamental proto-consciousness that we are all connected to, it breaches into the last domain of religion. The Orch OR theory has the potential to open up an ontology of “life after death” and “the soul”. I want to add here that these musings are not promoted by Penrose or Hammeroff and I also find them of lesser consequence.What the Orch OR theory shows for me, is that there is a fundamental principle in consciousness that connects us with each other and the living universe. Consciousness is not some isolated part that only exists in us. We all tap into a well of consciousness that is fundamental in our universe. If we could accept this idea, that we are indeed fundamentally connected, it would change the way we see the world and our self and each other.
This theory also connects physics to the humanities in a profound way. Social science and anthropology has long stated, that we are the product of the interconnectedness in our society. We are what we are because we are not a singular being but a social animal. Human identity is only ever of consequence in a social context. Our consciousness is something we share with others. As I am part of this interconnectedness something of myself has entered this intersubjective sphere we call society. With the Orch OR theory, physics, pschiatry, psychology, neoroscience and medicine will have to accept this fundamental interconnectedness that is life.
As I see it, the only scientific field left that denies the social interconnected reality of humanity is the one we base our society on, economics.