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Quantum Commentary

Henry Stapp opens his book, Matter, Mind, and Quantum Mechanics with the remark that the world divides into "thoughtlike things and rocklike things". Stapp also notes that William James at the close of the 19th Century pointed to the fact that there was no way in the classical physics of the time to formulate how a thought could influence the brain. This led to Watsonıs classical materialist behaviorism based on Pavlov, to Crickıs Astonishing Hypothesis and to the current mis-conceived classical theories of consciousness of Churchland, Dennett, Calvin, Minsky,Edleman and others too numerous to mention.

The orthodox Copenhagen interpretation of Niels Bohr is totally idealistic asserting that the world at the fundamental level of quantum reality only consists of thoughtlike things which then "collapse" into the rocklike things of classical physics. There are several variations on this idea due to Heisenberg, von Neumann, Wigner, Wheeler and Penrose, but they all involve two qualitatively different kinds of dynamics. One is the "unitary" deterministic time evolution of the thoughtlike quantum wave pattern of an isolated system between measurements by an external system. The second is the "nonunitary" indeterministic "collapse" of the pattern to an actual classical "rocklike" thing.

David Bohm, directly under Einsteinıs influence at Princeton in 1951 or so, had an epiphany after writing his Copenhagen-based book, Quantum Theory, and realized that quantum reality has both thoughtlike and rocklike things. Bohr said it was impossible to visualize the motion of a tiny rocklike particle in quantum reality. Bohm proved Bohr wrong. Bohmıs thoughtlike thing is the quantum "pilot-wave". His rocklike thing is the "hidden variable". That was a poor choice of terminology, and I will use John Bellıs later word "beable" instead of "hidden variable". In Bohmıs version the beable is the actual position of the particle at a moment of time for particle mechanics. The beable is also the entire classical field configuration over all space at a moment in time in quantum field theory. The quantum wave properties of particles are caused by a new kind of nonlocal form-dependent "quantum potential". This is how thought shapes brain matter. The quantum particle properties of classical fields are caused by a similar "super-quantum potential". The photon is an example of the latter.

There is a very important qualitative difference between Henry Stappıs quantum theory of the mind-brain based on an ontological collapse and my post-quantum theory of the mind-brain based upon Bohmıs idea of "active information". So letıs see what Bohm means by "active information". The following quotes are from The Undivided Universe with Basil Hiley.

"The electron actually is a particle with a well-defined position x(t) which varies continuously and is causally determined." p. 29

Note the path x(t) of the rocklike particle is "causally determined" in quantum mechanics. In contrast, with post-quantum back-action (i.e., the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God, to use quaint images) the particle, now attached to its thoughtlike quantum pilot wave, becomes alive and participates in its self-determination even opposing non-self Darwinian natural selection pressures in some "robust" cases.

"This particle is never separate from a new type of quantum field that fundamentally affects it ... it too changes continuously and is causally determined." p. 29

Note use of the word "never". "What never? Well, hardly ever." (Pinafore). If it were really "never", then that settles it. There is no possibility of personal immortality and Christıs message would then be false. However, recent research at IBM on "quantum teleportation" suggests that the thoughtlike quantum pilot-wave pattern of implicate information can be teleported between different rocklike particles. If so, then one brain could experience the actual experience of another brain distant from it in space and time. Note also, as for the particle, the causal determination of the wave transforms to living self-determination when post-quantum back-action takes over from random environmental "decoherence". The rocklike particle and its attached thought like pilot-wave feed error-correcting information back and forth between each other to become a self-determining conscious post-quantum adaptive system. The important point here is to realize that this is not possible in quantum mechanics. Bohm explains why it is not possible right here:

"Finally it should be pointed out that unlike what happens with Maxwellıs equations for example, the Schrodinger equation for the quantum field does not have sources, nor does it have any other way by which the field could be directly affected by the conditions of the particles." p. 30

The above remark is the most important sentence in Bohm's entire book.

This is the seed out of which the post-quantum physics of the 21st Century will blossom. What Bohm is saying here is that quantum mechanics has zero back-action. Back-action means just the opposite. The post-quantum field (or pilot-wave) does have sources and is directly affected by the conditions of the particles. Thus, there is a two-way relationship between the quantum wave and the classical particle or beable in post-quantum physics. In contrast, there is only a one-way force of quantum wave on classical particle in quantum physics.

Eberhardıs theorem of quantum physics has a corollary that says that all paranormal phenomena based on clairvoyant telepathic faster-than-light and precognitive backward-in-time communication using nonlocal connectivity is impossible. Eberhardıs theorem does not work in post-quantum physics.

Note that the super-quantum fields of the classical gauge fields are also directly affected by the conditions of the latterıs configurations over all space at a fixed moment of time. This Hamiltonian picture must be extended to the Feynman path Lagrangian picture. Just as special relativity with zero spacetime curvature is extended to general relativity with non-zero spacetime curvature to explain gravitation, so I have, single-handedly in the face of enormous opposition from my peers, extended quantum mechanics to post-quantum mechanics to explain consciousness. I must thank Nick Herbert for pushing me into this strategy with his insistence that I make a new "Sarfatti Mechanics".

Bohm continues:

"This of course constitutes an important difference between quantum fields and other fields that have thus far been used."

Bohm's "important difference" is missed not only by laymen, but also by theoretical physicists who should know better. The difference is that the classical gauge fields, like Maxwellıs electromagnetic field, are local in spacetime. In contrast, the quantum field of n point particles is local in a higher 3n dimensional classical configuration space C3n at each instant of time in the Hamiltonian picture. Therefore, it is objectively nonlocal in the ordinary 3D space of the classical gauge field. Similarly, the super-quantum field of the classical gauge field is local in the infinite-dimensional classical configuration space Cinfinity because the classical gauge field is the limiting case of n coupled particles with n approaching infinity as a discrete cellular space lattice approaches the classical continuum of real numbers. The classical Wheeler superspace for the three-dimensional geometries of the metric gravitational gauge field of general relativity is an example of a Cinfinity classical rocklike configuration space. Note that classical configuration spaces are not the same as the quantum Hilbert spaces of pilot-wave functions. The classical configuration space is the rocklike space in which the beable moves. The quantum Hilbert space is the thoughtlike space in which the pilot-wave moves. The thoughtlike Hilbert space is a fiber space which has the rocklike classical configuration space as its base space.

Thus, the thoughtlike quantum Hilbert space of pilot-waves of "funda-MENTAL" (e.g., the "Chalmerıs field") implicate information and the rocklike classical configuration space of the beable, form the "mind-brain fiber bundle" when the post-quantum back-action is not zero. This is how the post-quantum physics of consciousness connects to the mathematics of Saul Paul Sirag in the latest edition of Jeffrey Mishloveıs The Roots of Consciousness.

Now Bohm shows how quantum mechanics is the approximate limiting case of zero back-action just like the similar case of the flat spacetime of special relativity which has zero gravitational field in it.

"As we shall see, however, the quantum theory can be understood completely in terms of the assumption that the quantum field has no sources or other forms of dependence on the particles. We shall in chapter 14, section 14.6, go into what it would mean to have such a dependence and we shall see that this would imply that the quantum theory is an approximation with a limited domain of validity." p.30

Going to 14.6 p. 346 we find Bohm asserting:

"One way to make the Schrodinger equation dependent on the particle positions (so that there would be a two-way relationship between wave and particle) can be seen by considering equation 14.1 ... From the same arguments as apply to the GRW approach, it would follow that the overall wave function would tend to "collapseı towards the actual particle positions, so that, in a large scale system, the empty wave packets of our interpretation would tend to disappear."

Stapp interprets Bohmıs above words "so that, in a large scale system, the empty wave packets of our interpretation would tend to disappear" to show the equivalence between his ontological post-Heisenberg-James collapse theory of consciousness and my back-action theory. If so, my back-action theory is more detailed and can explain the self-determination of free-will choices in individual events which he explicitly admits he cannot explain. In other words, Stappıs theory can be likened to phenomenological thermodynamics with my theory as its statistical mechanical explanation. While Stappıs theory and my theory probably are equivalent on the level of proton masses, they may differ significantly on the level of electron masses which may account for the persistence of the experience of self-identitity over the human life span of about 100 years. Imagination would then correspond to recombinations with "empty wave packets" that do not objectively collapse. So whether, as Stapp believes, Bohmıs inactive information really plays no role in consciousness is something we need to keep thinking about.

We also now see the connection to the Penrose quantum gravity model on consciousness in his book, Shadows of the Mind, because the GRW model is a special case of the Nanopoulos superstring-quantum gravity model. There are essential differences of detail between Nanopoulos and Penrose that do not concern our more general concerns here. I do note them for the record.

The Nanopoulos model says that superstrings at the quantum gravity energy 10^28 electron volts do trickle down to cause an objective quantum gravity friction at 1 electron volt and less to collapse Bohmıs empty wave packets quite fast for biologically relevant numbers of proton masses. However, this quantum gravity friction is 10^20 times slower for the same number of electron masses, and it is the electron masses that control the conformations of the protein dimers in the microtubules. In any case, it is clear that Stapp is proposing a post-quantum theory of consciousness not a quantum theory as he sometimes seems to suggest.

Now letıs return to the main intent of this article which is Bohmıs notion of "active information" bearing in mind that the key difference right now between Stappıs theory and my theory is whether or not the "inactive information" of the post-quantum mind-brain conscious adaptive system is wiped away moment to moment as our streams of inner felt-consciousness, like "Ol Man River just keeps on flowin along".

The interaction of the classical particle system with its quantum pilot wave field (i.e., "quantum potential" also called "Q") is qualitatively different from the interaction of a classical charge with a classical local electromagnetic field. This is a key point that many paraphysicists completely miss in tying to model the paranormal. Since the CIA and the DOD of the USA have paid good money for such models, what I am saying here is important to the taxpayer.

Bohm writes:

"For the quantum potential has a number of strikingly new features which do not cohere with what is generally accepted as the essential structure of classical physics. .... The first of these new properties can be seen by noting that the quantum potential is not changed when we multiply the field psi by an arbitrary constant. (This is because psi appears both in the numerator and the denominator of Q) This means that the effect of the quantum potential is independent of the strength (i.e. the intensity) of the quantum field but depends only on its form. By contrast, classical waves, which act mechanically (i.e., to transfer energy and momentum, for example, to push a floating object), always produce effects that are more or less proportional to the strength of the wave. For example one may consider a water wave which causes a cork to bob. The further the cork is from the centre of the wave the less it will move. But with the quantum field, it is as if the cork could bob with full strength even far from the source of the wave." p. 31
Bohm then compares this to

"a ship on automatic pilot being guided by radio waves. Here, too, the effect of the radio waves is independent of their intensity and depends only on their form. The essential point is that the ship is moving with its own energy, and that the form of the radio waves is taken up to direct the much greater energy of the ship. We may therefore propose that an electron too moves under its own energy, and that the form of the quantum wave directs the energy of the electron." p. 32
Clearly the "form" dependence of the quantum motion is thoughtlike as when we do something because we intend to do it. Bohm goes on to say that the new form-dependence implies that a particle may not move uniformly in a straight line in the absence of all classical forces. That is Newtonıs laws are modified in quantum reality.

"Moreover, since the effect of the wave does not necessarily fall off with the distance, even remote features of the environment can profoundly affect the movement." p. 32 "Effects of this kind are indeed frequently encountered in ordinary experience whereever we are dealing with information. ... We explain the interference properties by saying that the quantum field contains information, for example about the slits, and that this information is taken up in the movements of the particle..." p. 35

Note Bohmıs use of the words "is taken up in the movement.." This is obviously how thoughts influence brains. I mean it is really obvious. We see how the brain sucks up the messages from the mind.

"We have in this way introduced a concept that is new in the context of physics -- a concept that we shall call "active informationı... The basic idea of active information is that a form having very little energy enters into and directs a much greater energy. The activity of the latter is in this way given a form similar to that of the smaller energy."

Clearly it is to the shame of the Nobel Committee that they did not give The Prize to David Bohm. They should do so posthumously. Bohm was Oppenheimerıs smartest student at Berkeley in the 1930ıs. It shows the limited one-dimensionality that Herbert Marcuse described that Big Science is dominated by mean-spirited men who have a problem with "the vision thing".

"It is important to distinguish our concept of active information from the more technical definition of information commonly adopted in physics in terms of, for example, Shannonıs ideas implying that there is a quantitative measure of information that represents the way in which the state of a system is uncertain to us ... such concepts have been used to calculate the objective properties of systems in thermodynamics and even black holes ... but we wish to propose here a quite different notion of information that is not essentially related to our own knowledge or lack of it. ... it will be information that is relevant to determining the movement of the electron itself." p. 35

Yes, indeed, just like the thoughts in your mind which determine the movements of the muscles in your body.

"What is crucial here is that we are calling attention to the literal meaning of the word, i.e., to in-form, which is actively to put form into something or imbue something with form." p. 35

This is how the quantum mind which is a pilot wave imbues the classical brain to which it is attached with coordinated behavior. The basic postulate here is that quantum waves are fundamentally thoughtlike. The universe naturally divides into thought and matter. Bohm never quite escapes Bohrıs idealism that thought is more fundamental than matter. After all Bohm did write the best book on Bohrıs version of quantum physics before Einstein turned him. Thus, Bohm till his dying day suspected that the thoughtlike Hilbert space of quantum waves generated material rocklike things. This would take us back to Stappıs theory but with more details. If Bohr is fundamentally right, then we would have beings like Q in Star Trek TNG materializing objects out of thin air rather than simply moving them psychokinetically at a distance because the pilot wave spreads out much further than the parts of its localized beables in the case of particles. We will have to wait and see. Meantime let us continue. Getting back to the idea that active information does not use its own generally tiny energy, but uses the larger classical energy of its attached beable. Bohm writes:

"The sound energy we hear in the radio does not come directly from the radio wave itself which is to weak to be detected by our senses. It comes from the power plug or batteries which provide an essentially unformed energy that can be given form (i.e., in-formed) by the pattern carried by the radio wave. This process is evidently entirely objective and has nothing to do with our knowing the details of how this happens." p. 36

Here Bohm is attacking Bohrıs and Heisenbergıs idea that quantum waves are only epistemological waves of knowledge in some mystical sense.

"The information in the radio wave is potentially active everywhere, but it is actually active, only where and when it can give form to the electrical energy, which, in this case is in the radio."
Bohm explains the computer this way as well.

"The information content in a silicon chip can determine a whole range of potential activities which may be actualized by giving form to the electrical energy coming from a power source. Which of these potentialities will be actualized in a given case depends on a wider context and the responses of a computer operator." p. 36

So far Bohm is discussing only classical information machines where both the informer and the informee are classical devices. The difference in the mind-brain system is that the mind is a quantum device and the brain is a classical device. So rather than a classical-classical information machine we now have a quantum-classical information machine. Furthermore, the two-way relation between the thoughtlike quantum wave and the rocklike classical brain beable means that each of them are simultaneously working as infomer and informee. This sets up a self-referential Godel loop which Douglas Hofstadter calls a "strange loop" and Eric Harth calls a "creative loop". Consciousness requires such a post-quantum self-determining adaptive loop on the edge between classical determinism and quantum indeterminism. The capacity of Godel loops to jump out of their own systems into strange territory where non have gone before is the nonalgorithmic character of human understanding that Roger Penrose describes in his book, Shadows of the Mind. What we have here is the solution changing its own generating equation in a globally self-consistent loop connecting all that was, all that is, and all that is to come.

Bohm discusses our own DNA genetic code where we get closer to the quantum-classical information machine, i.e.

"the function of the DNA molecule. The DNA is said to constitute a code, that is to say, a language. The form of the DNA molecule is considered as information content for this code, while the "meaningı is expressed in terms of various processes; e.g. those involving RNA molecules, which "readı the DNA code, and carry out the protein-making activities that are implied by particular sections of the DNA molecule. ... in the process of cell growth it is only the form of the DNA molecule that counts, while the energy is supplied by the rest of the cell (and indeed ultimately by the environment as a whole). Moreover, at any moment, only a part of the DNA molecule is being "readı and giving rise to activity."

This should put to rest the common confused New Age cliche that all energy is conscious. Most energy is unformed classical localized energy. Only a small fraction of the energy in the universe is in-formed making it thoughtlike because of its nonlocal quantum character. But even this thoughtlike energy is not yet conscious because of the one-way relation where it acts on its beable, but is not acted back upon by its beable. Without this active two-way feedback there can not be any coherent changes in the in-formed energy. It is these coherent changes which are our inner felt-experiences of "qualia" that the psychologists of consciousness like to bandy about. Without this post-quantum two-way relation of back-action, so that the beable becomes a source of information for its attached pilot-wave, there is only the uncontrollable noise of quantum randomness. So, God not play dice with the classical universe. God does play fair dice with the quantum universe, but God loads the dice with consciousness in the post-quantum universe. This is like three Chinese nested boxes with the classical universe inside the quantum universe, and the quantum universe inside the post-quantum universe where it then halts!
But consciousness is subjective and Bohm appears to be intent upon objectivity. However, he writes:

"While we are bringing out above the objective aspects of information, we do not intend to deny its importance in subjective human experience. ... even in this domain, the notion of active information still applies. A simple example is to be found in reading a map ... we apprehend the information content of this map through owr own mental energy. And by a whole set of virtual or potential activities in the imagination, we can see the possible significance of this map. Thus the information is immediately active in arousing the imagination, but this activity is still evidently inward within the brain and nervous system. .. If we are actually travelling ... then, at any moment, some particular aspect may be further actualied ... even the information held by human beings is, in general active rther than passive, not merely reflecting something outside itself but actually lll capable of participating in the thing to which it refers."

Again the idea of a loop appears. But now Bohm says something interesting. He says that Shannonıs notion of information is "passive".

"Passive information may in fact be regarded as a limiting case in which we abstract from the activity of information. This is essentially the kind of information that is currently used in information theory, e.g. as used by Shannon. The puzzle in this approach is that of how information that is merely passive within us is able to determine actual objective processes outside of us. We suggest that passive information is rather like a map reflecting something of these processes which can guide us to organize them conveniently for our use, e.g. by means of algorithms that eneable us to calculate entropy ..." p. 37
So the algorithmic nature of information, which Gell-Mann in his Quark and The Jaguar never escapes, thus making his Santa Fe Institute a modern day Laputan Academy (Gulliverıs Travels), is the fragmentary result of artificially abstracting or squeezing out all of the active nonalgorithmic understanding that Penrose has emphasized incurring the Wrath of the Laputans.

"If the notion of active information applies both objectively and subjectively, it may well be that all information is t least potentially active and that complete passivity is never more than an abstraction valid in certain limited circumstances." p 37
So far these remarks of Bohm are metaphoric setting the stage. He then goes to Feynmanıs "central mystery of quantum mechanics" the deceptively simple, yet paradoxical, double slit interference experiment in the low intensity limit so only one particle moves through the system at any one moment.

"We could say that this particle has the ability to do work. This ability is released by the active information in the quantum field, which is measured by the quantum potential. As the particle reaches certain points in front of the slits, it is "in-formedıto accelerate or decelerate accordingly, sometimes quite violently." p. 37

Newtonıs second law of motion for the beable that force equals mass times acceleration is modifed in Bohmıs theory to include the new nonlocal form-dependent quantum force in addition to the local intensity-dependent classical force. While the classical force pushes and pulls the way you learned physics in high school or college, the quantum force is qualitatively different. Remember, none of this can even be conceived of in Bohrıs Copenhagen interpretation or Stappıs post-Heisenberg-James interpretation. This is a unique new physics only found in Bohmıs interpretation. Bohm writes:

"Although [the modified Newtonian second law] may look like a classical law implying a pushing or a pulling by the quantum potential, this would not be understandable because a very weak field can produce the full effect which depends only on the form of the [quantum] wave. We therefore emphasize that the quantum field is not pusing or pulling the particle [classically] mechanically, any more than the radio wave is pushing or pulling the ship that it guides. So the ability to do work does not originate in the quantum field, but must have some other origin ... The fact that the particle is moving under its own energy, but being guided by the information in the quantum field, suggests that the electron or any other elementary particle has a complex and subtle inner structure (e.g. perhaps even comparable to that of a radio). This notion goes against the whole trdition of modern physics which assumes that as we analyse matter into smaller and smaller parts its behavior always grows more and more elementary." p. 37

Bohm then compares his conjectured "inner complexity" of the individual electron to that of people. He notes that complex people obey simple statistical laws in crowds (i.e. ensembles) that are reproducible enough for insurance companies and advertising agencies to make lots of money. Getting back to the idea that "the particle is moving under its own energy", Bohm adds that:

"the vacuum is ... full with an immense energy of fluctuation, revealed for example in the Casimir effect, it may be further suggested that ultimately the energy of this particle comes from source. (Some of it may also come from the rest energy of the particle)." p. 38

In other words the quantum potential may be able to cohere the random vacuum fluctuations.

"... the quantum information field may also have some energy. However, ... this must be negligible in comparison to the energy of the particle which it guides ... A very important further implication of the notion of active information is that in a certain sense an entire experiment has to be regarded as a single undivided whole."


Steam Escaping!
The Son of the last of a long line of thinkers.

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