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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Soul Science God Philosophy > Science and Spiritual Quest > Section 2 Machine, Mind and Consciousness > MOLECULAR INTELLIGENCE > 5. Quantum Mechanics Cannot Explain Consciousness

5. Quantum Mechanics Cannot Explain Consciousness


Sir Roger Penrose, in Shadows of the Mind, says that almost all the laws of science are computational in nature—these are expressed as mathematical equations, which take the value of some  physical parameters as inputs, and can be solved for any given initial conditions. Interestingly, as we move into the realm of subatomic particles, these classical laws give way to a theory that  can only predict the probabilities of different experimental outcomes, to an extraordinarily accurate degree. This theory is called Quantum Mechanics. Because of its probabilistic nature, it might  offer some hope of explaining consciousness.A close examination ofquantum mechanics will reveal that even its laws are completely deterministic.In this section, we argue that Quantum  Mechanics cannot explain consciousness. A close examination of quantum mechanics will reveal that even its laws are completely deterministic. The probabilities of different observations arise  only when a measurement attempt is made on a system. Moreover, these probabilities are precisely computable, and have agreed with experiments with extraordinary accuracy. Furthermore,  there is an inherent disconnect in quantum mechanics between the quantum evolution process and the measurement process, leading many scientists, including Einstein and Sir Roger  Penrose, to believe that quantum mechanics is an incomplete theory.


"The more success the quantum mechanics has, the sillier it looks." -Albert Einstein to Heinricn Zangger, May 20, 1912

"/, at any rate, am convinced that He (God) does not throw dice. "—Albert Einstein [7], on Quantum Physics.

"/ definitely believe that Quantum Mechanics is not a final theory, and it is incomplete. I agree with Einstein in that sense." -Sir Roger Penrose to Dr. T. D. Singh [6]

"Very interesting theory - it makes no sense at all."—Groucho Marx


In quantum mechanics, every object has a state, ¥, associated with it. Its value is a complex number. The state can be expressed as a function of the position, momentum, energy, or any other  measurable attribute of the object. This attribute is called the basis. On the other hand, the state is an intrinsic property of the object—its value does not depend upon the choice of a basis. When  scientists want to make predictions about some attribute, like position or momentum of an object, they represent the state in terms of a suitable basis. To draw a crude parallel with geometry, the  state is analogous to the actual position of a point, and the basis is analogous to the coordinate system. The coordinates of any given point on the plane will be different in the Cartesian and polar  systems, for example.Let's take an example to show how the position of a particle can be measured,given that the particle is in a particular state *F(x). The state, in this case is a function of  position, x, given as:


>P(xi) = 0.6

*P(X2) = 0.8

*P(x) = 0, everywhere else.


For a particle in this state, quantum mechanics tells us that the probabilities of finding the particle at positions xi andx2 are |*P(xi)|2=0.36and |*P(x2) |2=0.64. This means that any particular  measurement will give us a definite value of the particle's position, but before making the measurement we cannot predict with certainty what the outcome will be. Further, this uncertainty is  expressed precisely as the above probabilities.Laws of quantum mechanics describe the evolution of the quantum state function, V, with time based on external conditions. These laws are  expressed as the well-known Schrodinger's wave equation [5]:


This wave equation precisely defines the quantum mechanical state of a particle at any given time. You can think of it as the "Newton's Laws of Motion" for quantum mechanics. Much like the  Newton's Laws, the Schrodinger equation is completely deterministic—there are no probabilities or error margins lurking in this equation. Perhaps surprisingly, we have discovered that there is  no indeterminism within laws of quantum mechanics!Then where does the probabilistic component enter quantum mechanics? The problem arises when we try to make real world  measurements of a particle in a given quantum state. We find that different measurements on different particles in the same state yield different values, with the probabilities precisely governed  by the state function, *¥. This problem is called the "Measurement Paradox."Many different interpretations of the measurement problem have been proposed, like the Copenhagen interpretation,  the many-worlds interpretation, the Bohm-de Broglie interpretation, Transactional interpretation, and Quantum logic, to name just a few. Quantum mechanics itself does not provide any  explanation for the indeterminacy in measurements. All it provides us is with a precise way to compute these probabilities, but not any physical explanation of why there is an uncertainty in the  first place. In this sense, quantum mechanics is an incomplete theory of the physical world. This has led scientists like Sir Roger Penrose to believe that a new science is needed to explain  consciousness. we certainly don't believe that consciousness can be understood in terms of present day science. "—Sir Roger Penrose [6]"We can admittedly find nothing in physics or  chemistry that has even a remote bearing on consciousness. Yet all of us know that there is such a thing as consciousness, simply because we have it ourselves. Hence, consciousness must  be part of nature, or more generally, of reality, which means that, quite apartfrom the laws of physics and chemistry, as laid down in quantum theory, we must also consider laws of quite a  different nature. "—Niels Bohr


"Whatever process is going on is definitely outside the present theory. We certainly need a new theory to understand these phenomena."—Sir Roger Penrose [6]"Another  reason for  the   incompleteness  is  because  of the  existence  of consciousness and there is no room for it in the physical theories we now know. Quantum mechanics doesn 't have a place for it. "—Sir Roger  Penrose [6]A scientific theory is based upon observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and searching for an explanation. As long as a proposed theory continues to explain observations, it is  accepted and used to make future predictions. But if later an observation is made that contradicts the theory, then the search starts all over again for a better theory. Thus, scientific theories have  a lifecycle, beginning with an unexplained observation (the falling of an apple), proceeding to the formulation of a proposed explanation (Newton's Laws of Motion), which continue to adequately  explain observations and become a theory (Classical mechanics), until another scientist (Einstein), proposes a better theory (Theory of Relativity) that can better explain observed phenomena. A  similar example is followed by theories for the structure of an atom, from the Bohr's model to Quantum Mechanics.This shows that physical theories are temporary in nature, and newer theories  quickly replace older ones as they become 'invalid.' if we see discrepancy in a paradigm in the search for truth, we should change it to a better paradigm. On the other hand, spiritual paradigm or  timeless truth or Absolute Truth or eternal truth should be unchanging."—T. D. Singh [6]On the other hand, mathematical theorems are non-transient in nature—once a result is proved, it  continues to be true forever! Moreover, mathematics provides the framework for the formalization and understanding of physical theories. In some sense, physical theories seem to emerge out  of mathematical abstractions. The most notable example is Einstein's discovery of the theory of relativity, without performing any experiments, and validating his explanations against any  observations at all. Later his theory was validated to a much greater accuracy— much more than what was possible in his time.


"Mathematics is the language in which the gods speak to people. "-Plato"One cannot understand ... the universality of the laws tf nature, the relationship of things, without an understanding of  mathematic. There is no other way to do it. "—Richard Feynman