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Can Quantum Physics Explain the Paranormal? December 1st, 2005 Thomas Herold-->by Amit Goswami
There are many anomalous phenomena today which are labeled "paranormal"- beyond normal - because they cannot be fit within the normal boundaries of current scientific paradigmatic approach. Examples are: telepathy, psychokinesis, and channeling.
Two main problems with explaining the paranormal with current science are:
In some paranormal phenomena, telepathy, for example, there is a transfer of information from one person to another at a distance but without any obvious physical means. How does information get from one point of space to another without the exchange of something physical, a signal for example?
In some paranormal phenomena, for example, channeling, some paraphysical existence, a surviving (after death) subtle body beyond the physical, is clearly indicated. But this smacks of dualism and bogs down with the usual objections against a dualist philosophy: how does such a subtle body communicate with the physical? If some other body is mediating this interaction, why dont we find any evidence of this mediation? Any mediation would require exchange of energy. But energy of the physical universe is strictly conserved!
These problems have now been solved within the new paradigm of science within consciousness. One understood, this will go a long way in changing ones world-view.
Take the first problem: how does information travel from one point to another without local signals? Many paranormal researchers still stick to the answer to such a question in terms of a nonlocal force: a "fifth" force beyond the four locally bound known material forces gravity, electromagnetic, weak nuclear, strong nuclear. But there is no evidence for such a force.
Another solution within known physics is to invoke quantum nonlocality. In quantum physics, as Aspects celebrated experiment (Aspect, Dalibard, and Roger, Physical Review Letters, 49, 11804-1807, 1982) amply verifies, two quantum objects, two photons, once correlated, can exert mutually influence even when at a distance, without exchanging signals.
Unfortunately, although this is spooky enough, the strict materialist can derive some consolation from the fact that no information can be transferred via quantum nonlocality. This is called Eberhard theorem because Philippe Eberhard proved this notion formally, but the idea is quite easy to understand.
Why cant information be transferred riding the horse of quantum nonlocality?
Information transfer requires the detection of two consecutive correlated events at the same detector location. In Aspects experiment, what one detector detects is correlated with what the other detector detects at a distance, but there is no correlation between one detection event and the subsequent one at the same locationevents at the same detector location are random.
So quantum nonlocality is not enough. Science Within Consciousness solves the problem by supplementing quantum nonlocality with downward causation by consciousness the idea that consciousness collapses quantum waves of possibility into actual events, and the idea that conscious intention can correlate two quantum objects and keep them correlated through many events.
The recent experiment by theUniversity of Mexico neurophysiologist Jacobo Grinberg-Zylberbaum and his collaborators supports the idea of nonlocal signal-less communication between human brains this experiment is the equivalent for brains of the Aspect experiment for photons.
Two subjects are instructed to meditate together for a period of twenty minutes in order to establish a "direct communication"; then they enter separate Faraday chambers (metallic enclosures that block all electromagnetic signals) while maintaining their direct communication for the duration of the experiment. One of the subjects is now shown a light flash that produces an evoked potential, a unique electrophysiological response of the brain to a sensory stimulus, which is measured by an EEG machine.
The Quantum Nonlocality System
Amazingly, in about one in four cases, the unstimulated brain also shows an electrical activity, a "transferred" potential quite similar in shape and strength to the evoked potential. Control subjects who are not correlated and experimental subjects who, by their own reports, do achieve or maintain direct communication never show any transferred potential. The straightforward explanation is quantum nonlocalitythe two brains act as a nonlocally correlated quantum system. In response to a stimulus to only one of the correlated brains, consciousness collapses similar states in the two brains; hence the similarity of the brain potentials.
The striking similarity between the correlated brains of this experiment and the correlated photons of Aspects should be clear, but there is also a striking difference. The similarity is that in both cases the initial correlation is produced by some "interaction." In the case of the photons, the interaction is purely physical. But in the case of the correlated brains, consciousness is involved. For correlated photons, as soon as the possibility wave of one is collapsed by measurement, the objects become uncorrelated. But in the case of the correlated brains, consciousness not only establishes correlation initially but also maintains the correlation over the duration of the experiment.
To get a clear evoked potential, experimenters typically use an averaging procedure over one-hundred or so light flashes in order to eliminate the "noise." But the brains do not become uncorrelated as soon as one observer sees a light flash. The only conclusion is that consciousness reestablishes the correlation every time it is broken.
This difference between correlated photons (as in Aspects experiment) and correlated brains (as in Grinberg-Zylberbaums experiment) is highly significant. The nonlocality of correlated photons, although striking in terms of demonstrating the radicalness of quantum physics, cannot be used to transfer information, according Eberhards theorem. Each photon that one experimenter sees in a stream of photons is correlated with its partner that is observed by another experimenter.
But there is no correlation between the states of the photons within the stream observed by one experimenter. These states thus are randomly distributed, hence they can carry no message. But in the case of the correlated brains, since consciousness is involved in establishing and maintaining the correlation over the period of the entire experiment, Eberhards theorem does not apply, and message transfer is not forbidden.
One more comment. The conscious intention, the agreement of the two subjects is crucial for the success of any telepathic communication. However, the intention is not an egoic one, simple thinking and willing will not do. Instead, it is a letting go to a state of consciousness beyond ego, where the two are one. Jesus knew about this since he said, "If two of you agree down here on earth concerning anything you ask for, My Father in heaven will do it for you." Significantly, the Greek word for the verb "to agree" is symphonein, which is the etymological root of the word symphony. To agree is to vibrate in phase, quantum correlation. Isnt this what we are seeing in the coherence of the brain wave data in Grinberg-Zylberbaums experiment?
(One aside. Materialist scientists sometimes complain that they more often than not fail to replicate experiments on telepathy, even with well-known psychics. I think they are missing one of the key ingredients in such experiments: conscious intention. Consciousness is one. Perhaps closed-minded skepticism of the experimenter interferes with conscious intention so that consciousness neither correlates the psychics nor collapses (nearly) identical possibilities in their brains in the presence of such hostility.)
Now to the question of dualism in such phenomena as channeling. If consciousness can collapse similar states in two correlated brains of Grinberg-Zylberbaums experiment from the myriad possibilities each brain offers, then consciousness can also collapse, simultaneously and nonlocally, the correlated states of the physical body and a surviving subtle body in such phenomena as channeling. In other words, consciousness is the elusive mediator between mind (or the subtle body) and brain which both exist as quantum possibility within consciousness.
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