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The observer in physics.

  1. Nov 15, 2008 #1
    Sorry if this is more of a philosohpical question, but

    With both the strange perplexity and proven aspects of quantum mechanics in mind, do you think we will ultimetly need to devote a science beyond even neurophysiology to understanding what consciousness really is?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 15, 2008 #2
    I don't think so. The way it looks today, is that another persons mind will end up in a density matrix state were it believes A or B with a certain probability, and we'll have the small field of quantum conscience where we see how algorithms or minds or whatever can hold entangled states and superpositions and make use of them. It doesn't look too useful right now, so I don't think there is a need for quantum computation as a discipline outside of computer science. But to paraphrase von Neuman "These predictions always look silly in retrospective."

    The only question that is really crazy is: If you look into your brain, and observe the states, will it look like your brain is the only one that doesn't do superpositions?
  4. Nov 15, 2008 #3
    I don't think it's wise to blend 'digital' states with analogue.
    Your consciousness works with an awful lot of information every 'instant' sorting out what is important for you.
    It does not work at a 'bit state'/'rate'.
    The brain is not 'digital' and it's not 'bit by bit' serial..
    Even when you read about 'quadra core' CPU:s
    It's still serial signal processing inside it and out on the buss(es).

    The brain is more like analogue.
    Containing a high ratio of simultaneous 'noise' aka information.
    And the brain sorts that out.
    At all times, although adapting to your 'needs' like sleeping hunting etc.

    This site gives a good example on it when it tries to guess/translate our eyes visual information to 'Digital'.


    Reading Mister Warren you might find him confusing at times:)
    I did too. So I tried to translate his equations into pixels here.

    1 Petabytes = 1000 terabytes where every terabyte represents 1000 gigabytes
    So 4000 Terabytes times 1000 = 4 000000 gigabytes, where 1 gigabyte is 1024 Megabytes
    So counted that way we have four millions times 1024 = 4096000000 mega bytes

    4096000000 megabytes times 1024 is 4194304000000 kilo bytes
    And (as one Kilobyte = 1024 bytes) then 4194304000000 times 1024 will give us 4294967296000000 bytes

    And it takes approximately 3 bytes to characterize each pixel if I got it right.
    That as every pixel is made up of R,G,and B channels and requires one byte for each channel.

    ("Therefore, one pixel is 3 bytes, 1 megapixel is 3 megabytes etc."

    But that is not really correct as one megabyte is 1024 times 1024 bytes = 1048576 bytes (times eight bits) digitaly.

    And one megapixel is 1000000 pixels so one million pixels should then be three million bytes.
    That translates to 145728 bytes less than three megabytes.
    If one had said megabit instead of megabyte it would be correct though.
    That as one megabit is 1 000 000 bits)

    So when we split 4294967296000000 bytes in three it will give us 1431655 765 333333,3333333333333333 pixels for a two hour movie.
    And that I won't even try to write out in letters.
    If I got it right this time?

    and two hours is 7200 seconds split with 1431655 765 333333,3333333333333333 give 198841078518,51851851851851851852 pixels per second.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2008
  5. Nov 17, 2008 #4
    Yes definitley - consciousness has long been neglected as a 'law of physics' so to speak.
    Too often has it been regarded as a quasi religeous entity rather than phenomenonlogically.

    For example, knowledge arising from consciouness can mathematically model and explain the causal structure of a Quasar that looks like a tiny star, but is in fact a collapsing galaxy over the other side of the Universe.

    Its a simply enormous power - consciousness, the Quasar cannot model us, but we can *contain* the essence of the Quasar here in the solar system.

    I view it as important to start modelling consciousness itself. For example, will computers eventually have the same consciousness power as brains - biological computers?

    I always said against fierce opposition that computers would eventually be better at chess than humans. It came to pass. And I am saying the same with consciousness - computers will eventually out perform us in discovery etc. Sorry if you think we are *special*, its consciousness that is special and is a property of the Universe somehow.

    Wish I knew exactly how.
  6. Nov 17, 2008 #5
    Hmmm interesting thought. My take is that the brain must be doing superpositions to process information but the results are macro, so that those superpositions don't influence the process. For example, thowing a die - quantum processes are there, yes, but its a large scale happening where the superpositions are too small to influence the results.

    Secondly, our brain has a lot to do with information processing - and as far as I know the quantum superposition is not significant. 1s and 0s dont have a quantum aspect because they are made by macro processes where the superpostion does not play a role. For example an abacus is a macro tool. Or what about adding 1s and 0s on paper - again no superposition involved here. I suspect the same is true in the brain - but I am not sure.

    One could argue that space time itself is a delusion, and that information processing is a participant in this delusion in some sense. But that is off the thread topic I think.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2008
  7. Nov 20, 2008 #6
    Panpsychism is becoming more prevalent in the literature. On a very, very primeaval level, isn't it possible that mass itself is conscious? That is, defining life as an ":awareness" (self to otherness, observer to observed, etc.) suggests water has an "awareness" to always boil at 100 degC. Or are humans so arrogant that only they have "feelings"..??
  8. Nov 21, 2008 #7
    I agree - consider crystal growth - a crystal grows only itself (like life) and in solution will bend towards regions of high concentration (of itself). Crystals bending could be considered as primitive intelligence, even though it is only occuring because the chemical is more on one side than the other. A complex structure like the eye is based on one cell that is sensitive to light, then over time it becomes dish shaped - etc etc until an eye is formed by evolution. The brain similarly evolved from stages of complexity - a very complex 'crystal bending' phenomenon - rather than some 'soul' at work.

    The Universe is 'aware' - that's a wonderful idea. There is an old German saying that even objects have a phsyche.

    Newton studied Alchemy in a desperate attempt to find the link between life and inanimate chemicals. After studying metallurgy - crystal growth- he concluded not very much, unfortunately, EXCEPT, that 'the Universe is straining towards intelligence' which for me is the hammer idea.

    Two fundamental factors to create life are forces -that bring like chemicals together and topology - that defines which chemicals link to other chemicals. Almost back to our old friend - symmetry eh?
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