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Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, April 2018

Hey Buddy, Can You Spare a Paradigm or Two?

by: Brent Raynes

The March edition of Discover magazine features a rather thought-provoking article by one of it's contributing editors, Steve Volk, which is entitled, “Down the Quantum Rabbit Hole.” I should confess that articles on quantum physics often throw me into a bit of a tail spin. They're often rather confusing for me, embedded with what I often perceive as abstract sci fi sounding psychobabble that seems quite iffy and “out there,” layered deep down a rabbit hole of excessive speculation; often too much so for my poor 'ol scrambled grey matter to meaningfully acquire a satisfactory scientific toehold – the kind of toehold that one hopes will lead to the long sought after T.O.E. - an acronym for Theory Of Everything.

Quantum physics isn't the only subject I find challenging and struggle to wrap my brain around, though. I really don't want to make it sound like I'm down on quantum physics. I am sure that a good number of folks have little doubt felt as though my slightly over a half century of researching and investigating UFOs and parapsychological phenomena was just as much “out there.” I certainly struggle to wrap my brain around the UFO/paranormal data, which I have often stated I feel is interrelated with each other, including potentially “spooky action at a distance” quantum physics.

Honestly, however, I found this Discover article more meaningful and easier to digest than usual. It seems like it's connecting the dots in ways that I can better follow and understand, and that just may eventually relate to that much sought after TOE (Theory Of Everything).

Back in 1982, Stuart Hameroff, an Arizona anesthesiologist, began to question the mainstream view of neuroscience that perceives conscious thinking as arising from the brain's neurons. Instead Hameroff looked at the 25-nanometer-wide microtubules, which are said to be thousands of times smaller than a red blood cell, as where consciousness actually originated. He came to question and challenge the mainstream view that consciousness originated from the connections between neurons from what he observed as an anesthesiologist. He pointed out how a patient under anesthesia continues to exhibit fairly normal brain functions, except for consciousness itself. Though the patient experiences no pain, the neurons continue to fire as usual and the pain signals traverse their normal channels.

Though many fellow scientists initially regarded his theory as fringe science rather than real science, today more and more scientists are coming onboard and agreeing that Hameroff may be onto something.

For example, Sir Roger Penrose, a highly esteemed figure in mathematical physics, teamed up with Hameroff and together they created the Penrose-Hameroff model of quantum consciousness they called the “orchestrated objective reduction” (abbreviated as Orch-OR) which focuses on the microtubules as playing a most significant and central role in consciousness. In 2010, a Google researcher in visual search technologies, named Hartmut Neven, invited Hameroff to speak at Google's campus in Mountain View, California. The computer industry has become interested in developing computers that are smaller and smarter, and quantum physics may lead the way. Then too some scientists are speculating that the microtubules, tests have indicated, may be “memristors,” a much sought after fourth element in an electrical circuit (the known ones are resistor, capacitor, and inductor) as the memristor might require about one percent of the energy used currently by a standard computer chip. In addition, Volk's article states that while standard computer chips are confined to binary codes of Os and 1s, the memristors would deal in fractional units which has been seen as a key development in creating computers that could behave like a human brain. Plus, it is said, computer rebooting would be immediate, like switching on a lightbulb. Biologists are also looking at quantum physics in connection with photosynthesis and migration that is connected also with the Earth's magnetic field.

Volk points out that while Penrose and Hameroff have, through the years, co-published a number of papers on their controversial theory, Penrose has held back from making the philosophical points and implications that Hameroff has openly speculated upon. “For example, he posited that near-death experiences might reflect something real: a potentially short-lived quantum afterlife,” Volk wrote.

I emailed a friend and a Ph.D researcher (her area is religious studies), who happens to be very involved in NDE studies, about this Discover article about Hameroff, Penrose, the microtubules, etc., and I found that she had already written on this subject herself. I shouldn't be surprised, though. Like myself, and other friends and colleagues of our little inner circle, we see UFO contact experiences, NDEs, and actually the whole spectrum of parapsychological phenomena really, as all potentially interrelated. As Volk wrote in his article: “Hameroff and Penrose were guilty of invoking one mystery to solve another. We don't understand consciousness, and we don't understand quantum physics, so maybe they explain each other?”

Another inner circle friend, Bob Davis, Ph.D., a sensory neuroscientist, also mentioned Hameroff, Penrose, and the microtubules in his book Life After Death: An Analysis of the Evidence (2017), and explored the controversial speculation that consciousnesss may exist separate from the brain and body, and how the near-death experience (NDE) and the out-of-body experience (OBE) might also be explained by this theory.

I know with myself, it is at times awkward relating to many a ufologist as they all too often do not understand why one would want to compound the present mystery (UFOs) by adding on another layer (paranormal), and how about another (cryptozoology), and here I am encouraging the addition of yet another (quantum physics), all of which revolves around consciousness – which arises from microtubules?

Right now our best strategy seems to be to connect the dots and see where we end up. I usually end up back at “I'm not really sure,” but I keep trying anyway.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024