Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Quantum biology

Nice article on the Discover website on quantum biology. This article even mentions a possible quantum-consciousness link without smirking.

In Entangled Minds I discussed why I believe the writing is on the wall: The more we look, the more we'll find quantum effects in biology. And not just minor hiccups, but fundamental processes that, without quantum connections, would not exist at all. Some time later we'll find these effects operating in the nervous system, and later in the brain. At that point psi will graduate from the fringe to the mainstream, and then all those strange phenomena studied for over a century, but poorly understood, will be accepted and regarded as being just slightly ahead of their time.

17 comments:

anonymous said...

Dean,

Do you think the evidence for surivial of consciousness after death has implications for models of the brain's role in psi?

For the sake of discussion I'll call that surviving consciousness "spirit", and assume that a living organism is part biological and part spirit.

Presumably the spirit naturally percieves and interacts with it's environment by means of what we call psi.

In light of the evidence for survival of consciousness, it seems quite natural to hypothesize that the spirit does the psi work but also uses some spooky (maybe quantum) means of interacting with the brain.

You seem to prefer a model where the brain is responsible for psi functioning rather than the spirit. Why?

FB said...

"Their study of photosynthesis in green sulfur bacteria, ... these bacteria transmit energy at a staggering efficiency rate of 95 percent or better."

A lot of Masaru Emoto's claims also revolve around interactions between human thoughts and plants, algae, etc.

One nice thing is that experiments on plants are cheaper and easier to organize than experiments on human subjects.

Zetetic_chick said...

One nice thing is that experiments on plants are cheaper and easier to organize than experiments on human subjects

Another nice thing is that the often skeptical objection that "it's only a product of the placebo effect" can't apply in cases of plants.

Dean, how do you handle the often mentioned objection that effects suggested by Emoto's research on water crystals is incompatible with the law of energy conservation? Given that his studies suggest that consciousness is influencing a physical system, the objection seem to be, prima facie, theoretically pertinent.

I think that objection is not sound (because, as far I know, conservation of energy only applies to closed systems; and we don't know if the physical world as presently known is closed or not)

However, I guess you have been confronted with that objection (specially coming from physicists) more than once in your public lectures, talks or privated discussions.

Bharat said...

Stuart Hameroff (mentioned in the article) has a whole page dedicated to quantum biology, with many useful papers:

http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/qbupdate.htm


I'm quite surprised they didn't mention Henry Stapp, I think his theory is delightful and may help explain the findings in psi, and so may Hameroff/Penrose.

Best,
Bharat

Dean Radin said...

anonymous asked: You seem to prefer a model where the brain is responsible for psi functioning rather than the spirit. Why?

I am open to either possibility. The problem is finding a way to cleanly distinguish between what we might call embodied psi vs. disembodied psi. This has been the principal on-going challenge in survival research for over a century. We can test the former in living people, but we (the embodied) don't know yet how to test the latter.

One thing psi does provide is evidence that we are not limited by assumptions about a brain that is constrained by classical physical assumptions. Psi opens the possibility of a non-local mind, which begins to sound like what is usually meant by the word spirit.

skiba said...

I hope you would some day tackle this question too with some experiments. How does the quantum world (or consciousness) affect biological systems? I know biology isn't your area, but I'm certain there are willing people in the field of biology that would collaborate on this kind of project.

I think the theory of evolution is rather out dated in many parts and I'm a firm believer, that quantum physics plays a very big part in it.

Dean Radin said...

An interesting book on the topic of quantum evolution is by Johnjoe McFadden. See his website here: www.surrey.ac.uk/qe/

Atheistic Mystic said...

I started a thread on this article here:

http://www.freeratio.org/showthread.php?t=260265

It's a lively discussion area. If anyone is interested in talking about it that would be great.

anonymous said...

Hi Dean,

I'm not sure how to interpret your statement:

"The problem is finding a way to cleanly distinguish between what we might call embodied psi vs. disembodied psi. This has been the principal on-going challenge in survival research for over a century. We can test the former in living people, but we (the embodied) don't know yet how to test the latter."

How do you define embodied psi and disembodied psi? I would think they refer to psi in living people and psi in spirits of dead people respectively. You say we are embodied which supports that interpretation.

However, in my question I said, "assume that a living organism is part biological and part spirit"

The point I was trying to make is that a living person may be a composite of spirit and biology. We don't know if psi in living people is due to the biological part or the spirit part of a living person.

Therefore, I don't understand the relevance of your point that we can only test embodied psi in living people. When we measure psi in a living person we are measuring whatever psi there is whether it is from the spirit part or the biological part of that living person.

I'm not sure how disembodied psi is relevant to this discussion unless I am wrong about how you define it. Or are you saying that we don't really know that the spirit part of a living person has psi because we can't measure psi in the spirits of dead people?


Thanks

anonymous said...

Hi Dean,

An addendum to my previous comment...

I wrote: "assume that a living organism is part biological and part spirit"

You wrote: "The problem is finding a way to cleanly distinguish between what we might call embodied psi vs. disembodied psi. This has been the principal on-going challenge in survival research for over a century."

Are you saying my assumption might not be correct because what is considered evidence of surival of consciousness might be due to psi in living people?


Thanks,

Dean Radin said...

> Are you saying my assumption might not be correct because what is considered evidence of surival of consciousness might be due to psi in living people?

Yes. Your assumption may be perfectly right. But as you stated above, the problem is that we don't know yet how to distinguish between psi as effects due to some aspect of living creatures who are part of a holistic fabric of reality vs. psi as a spiritual phenomenon that somehow goes beyond the living.

And perhaps more to your original question, if some combination of these two possibilities is the true state of affairs, then we really don't know how to verify that idea.

Tor said...

I've been following the new findings of quantum biology with great interest the last few years. I'm starting to think about the possibility to do a Phd on the subject since it seems to be a field that people with a physics background can play in. It's an extremely fascinating area that I think has tremendous transformational potential for our world view.

Tor

Sandy said...

“We don't know yet how to distinguish between psi as effects due to some aspect of living creatures who are part of a holistic fabric of reality vs. psi as a spiritual phenomenon that somehow goes beyond the living…

If some combination of these two possibilities is the true state of affairs, then we really don't know how to verify that idea.”

So am I correct in thinking that this really comes down to the relationship between one’s consciousness and one’s physical body?

From my NDE, I would tend to suspect that one’s physical body acts mainly as a filter to one’s consciousness. It seems to edit out so much of the sort of information that, while very interesting and quite beautiful, would make it difficult to adjust to a normal life.

As far as the biology influencing psi, I’ve been keeping notes in regards to my own anomalous experiences for a number of months now and I would have to say there do appear to be connections. Mood, caffeine, hormones, alcohol, exercise, sleep… these all seem to have an effect on my experiences related to psi functioning.

Dean Radin said...

> So am I correct in thinking that this really comes down to the relationship between one’s consciousness and one’s physical body?

Yes. The psychophysical relationship is the essence of what parapsychology is all about. The word parapsychology has become associated with "psychic practitioner," "paranormal researcher," and all sorts of spooky things. Those of us who work in this field are constantly looking for a better term to distinguish between what we do vs. what popular culture thinks we do. Some visitors to my lab go away disappointed because it looks just like "regular" science. There's nothing spooky about it.

sonic said...

Tor- you are right, this can lead to major changes in our thinking--
For example, we have the idea that there is no 'life force'. But how was that determined without discovering quantum physics? (the physics that is not physically causally closed)
It shows that the earlier work may have been in error, no?

Status.Nouveau said...

Hi Dean,

You and I exchanged some emails a few years ago when I was an undergraduate in physics, philosophy and psychology, interested in pursuing graduate studies in parapsych. I have just stumbled upon your blog and as it happens, I'm now doing my PhD in quantum biophysics, focusing on photosynthesis. I entered the field out of a desire to contribute to sustainability through clean energy technologies and I must admit I'd all but forgotten about the significance for psi research. After reading your post, I'm now twice as glad to be working in this field :-)

Status.Nouveau said...

PS: The first major international open-invite conference on quantum effects in biology is to be held in Lisbon this July (I'll be happily attending). One of the amazing things about this field at the moment, which is highly relevant to psi, is that it is attracting contributions from lots of heavy-weight quantum information theorists. Whereas a few years ago it was the province of quantum chemists and general biophysicists who knew some quantum mechanics, the Fleming group's evidence for quantum searches happening in photosystems has thrown open the doors to the quantum information community. It's very exciting times!