The Man in the Quantum Gearbox

This essay is cross posted from The Vision Project, where it has been posted for a year.

The Man in the Quantum Gearbox by Leane Roffey Line, PhD, c. 2007

It has been a fascinating journey through the last forty years, searching for an answer to one central question: “Does the mind have a place in physics?” Can living systems be reduced to their essence in terms of electrons, photons, and phonons, in a mobilizing mass of organic semiconductors? My journey has taken me down many rabbit holes, trying to descend to the “lowest level” of life’s manifestations, to find the man in the quantum gearbox.

I’d like to believe that our bodies and our minds are intertwined with a universe that obeys mathematical laws, in particular that our bodies are subject to analysis and investigation which leads me, in turn, to greater understanding of the mechanisms driving both normalcy and illness. Our minds, in fact, may be entangled, a prediction of quantum theory that Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” Entanglements refer to persistent connections between particles that are separated, no matter how far apart the particles are removed from one another. Entanglement, as an experimental phenomenon, has been around in laboratories since 1972. In a sense, I might say I’ve grown up with the concept and maybe have become “entangled” myself.

It is my considered opinion, therefore, that life should be analyzed with an eye toward investigating what is responsible for entanglement, perhaps at the level of electronic processes with some sort of quantum radiation effects. From a humanistic viewpoint, we might then begin to comprehend humanity in its deepest sense: what consciousness is, what life is. I believe the moment light appeared as photon quanta, energizing a biological mass of preprotoplasmic structures, evolution began.

I ask these questions: On the quantum level, do life and consciousness have the same electromagnetic nature? Or will these terms continue to elude traditional scientific definition? Are we any closer, using the science we have assembled, to understanding ourselves and our position in the universe? To some, these questions have no meaning. They are irrelevant to the process of daily life. Our advancements in the last few centuries have been remarkable in terms of how we defined our sciences. Biology has been brought into step with electronics, mechanical engineering, and quantum physics. Chemistry has been transformed into quantum chemistry. Newtonian mechanics has been modernized into quantum and wave mechanics, to the point where defining a new connection, a bioelectronic connection, between chemical and electrical processes in biology seems to be the order of the day.

With an eye toward the future, when the concept of entanglement is better understood, I wonder when someone will arrive at the inescapable conclusion that two human beings can become entangled. Would they show correlated behavior? What about many human beings? Would there be correlated behavior at a distance? If all energy and all matter emerged out of a single Big Bang already entangled, we might be living in a very deeply interconnected version of reality, despite appearances. Would our politics be changed? Would we realize that we are responsible for what our planet has become? Would we realize the possibility that our planet has an emergent noosphere and perhaps is not pleased with what we have done with its resources?

It has been heartening, in the last several years, to observe the work being done in the IEEE groups on Biomedical Engineering, Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, Medical Imaging, Neural Networks, and Pattern Analysis/Machine Intelligence. These groups of eminent scientists and researchers, and their students, have provided a basis for viewing the body as a bioelectronic being, without necessarily having to address mysteries in quantum theory. That falls, instead, to people like Dean Radin, Ph.D., author of Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality (Paraview Pocket Books, c. 2006). Dean’s book was an intellectual tour de force for me, in that it struck down once and for all the idea of the isolated individual, and replaced it instead with an image of a mental unity, global in concept by definition. Bottom line: physical reality is just beginning to be understood, and our roles as interconnected beings, with our planet and with each other, need to be examined.

So what have I found, in my examination? It seems, for several decades, we’ve been assembling known anomalous biological facts into certain groupings. For example, people have looked at the semiconductive nature of living proteins, nucleic acids, porphyrins, etc. They have analyzed such things as the piezoelectric properties of organic compounds, properties that cause materials to become electrically polarized when subjected to compression, torsion, or stretching. If a piezoelectric body is placed in a variable electric field it begins to pulsate mechanically. If it is a rapidly alternating field, it begins to vibrate and emit a quantum acoustic wave. Proteins, nucleic acids and saccharides have piezoelectric properties. Some have also looked at pyroelectric properties of biological materials, such as the change of polarization caused by pressure of the hydrostatic type (like barometric pressure). These changes are slow to induce in tissue, but can have profound effects. There is change, too, in conductivity with change in temperature. Collagens, muscle tissue, nerves, bones and other bodily compounds emit pyroelectric properties.

Another group of facts concern ferroelectrics. Ferroelectric materials have the ability to become permanently polarized in one direction, e.g. permanent electric poles. DNA and RNA exhibit ferroelectric properties. There is no doubt in my mind that a movement of electrons exists in organic semiconductors. Another characteristic that has been touched on in the literature is quantum emission of photons during a change of electric fields in semiconductors. So, broadly speaking, in the context of molecular biology, organic molecules constitute the biological mass that is subject to chemical and electronic processes within the submolecular milieu. These are interpenetrating phenomena, and to distinguish between them was merely a matter of our own conscious projection. It is simply our way of seeing things that in and of themselves are one, even though we are not yet able to perceive that unity.

As scientists, we take phenomena that are very much coupled with one another, and disassociate them in an attempt to explain what is actually happening. Nature however, started from the other end, having only physics and chemistry at her beck and call. From this binary mixture, life was somehow created. Perhaps the force of lightening did hit that protoplasmic pool and stimulated life. Reductionism is but a corollary of man’s attempts to explain Nature. In this life process, can it be traced back to its quantum foundations? Is there room for work at the quantum point of contact between chemical and electronic processes in a semiconducting protein medium? The concept of a “living semiconductor” powered by its own chemical process and subject to the interaction of chemical and electronic processes in proteinaceous molecular structures is an intriguing one. I like the idea of an electromagnetic integration, one more rapid and efficient than that found in an electrochemical model. For example, ultrasound is often used by rehabilitation specialists as an adjunct therapy for the symptomatic treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Its mechanical energy has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Possibly this has something to do with piezoelectrics. Calculations of the exact mechanisms that make this work are secondary to the occurrence, for most recipients of the treatment.

In biology, unlike the other sciences, there is room sometimes for intuition and induction without specificity of the mechanisms involved. The practice of medicine itself, in a sense, relies as much on intuition backed by years of study as knowledge of the latest in pharmaceuticals. And so the questions remain: Does the mind have a place in physics? Can man look differently than we visualize him anatomically and physiologically? He has a defined structure, organic functions, and traits of character. We need only to consider the quantum foundations governing his molecular structure; only the mass of electrons, protons, and radical ions activated by biological processes come into play. Any quantum-mechanical phenomena are important: intermolecular tunnel passages, and the quantum emission of photons and phonons. All the rest of physiology and anatomy is meaningless in such a context.

The quantum man is identical to the anatomical and physiological one, except that he dwells in the statistical world of the quantum dimension. Metabolically activated electrons have evolved within him. The physician would consider the unimaginable quantum patient as absurd; to the psychologist the quantum content of consciousness would be of no interest. Those disclaimers aside, the function of science is to search for new systems and new conclusions. If an inadmissible leap into the quantum realm offends the average investigator, he need only be reminded that man has been studied many times by methods that deviated from the norm. Ensuing protests generally ended with the humiliation of the opponents rather than the proponents of radical ideas, though it may have been a function of time before these conclusions were accepted. Anatomic dissection of cadavers, Darwin’s evolutionary theory, and the notion of the MRI immediately come to mind as ideas that found their places in reality.

What do we know about man that might lend itself to the notion that he is a quantum being? On the average, man contains some 70 kg of proteinaceous semiconductors with piezoelectric properties. He appears to be a non-homogenous conductor. Electric phenomena occur within these protein structures in a discontinuous fashion, e.g. in the form of charge concentrations. The discontinuity is widespread. The semiconductors of the entire mass of cells of which he is comprised undergo a constant rebuilding process. Electronic processes are cyclical and interact with the chemical energy needed for metabolism. Structural rebuilding and chemical replenishment are continuous phenomena, with an anabolic-catabolic periodic rhythm. The biological semiconductor mass is organized electrically as well as chemically. These processes take place in an environment of piezoelectric semiconductors. Bonding must therefore occur between metabolically activated electron streams and the quantum emission of photons. This photon emission is a result of various electrical phenomena and the quantum acoustic wave generated in the piezoelectric milieu—pseudocrystalline organic materials in the protein matrix. Without belaboring the point, there has been a merger of molecular biology and biochemistry, and it is totally appropriate within this hybrid biology to consider electronic traits of biological mass. Magnetic and photoelectric properties of organic compounds, coupled with notions like the electron-tunneling model of the covalent bond, give rise to ideas of electronic models of biological systems. Where chemical reactions and electronic states exist, the sphere of “quantum-mechanical” couplings, electron-photon-phonon relationships might arise; in fact it is the quantum basis for acoustics. The energy balance of the biosystem, therefore, is connected with the energy of the quantum acoustic wave, as well as the electromagnetic energy of autogenous photons. The whole biotic mass is not just a chemical conversion plant, but also a form of electronic apparatus, which evolution has programmed. The mind of man is a functional switching station, a junction box into which metabolism feeds and is fed by the electronic to chemical interaction he experiences while alive, and is indirectly connected into the energy of the environment.

To carry this analogy further, he has two main switches, (1) the electronic bypass switch at the interface of molecular biology and biochemistry and (2) the one which connects him to the external environment—his conscious perception. We are a quantum gear-box, where the smallest unit would represent the functional minimality of life, and at the same time, the smallest element of biosystemic reactivity. Consider it a quantum junction where consciousness itself is defined as the organism’s ability to accept changes in the energy parameters in its environment. I ran across this notion researching the work of Prof. W. Sedlak of Poland, who exposited this entire idea in the 1970s. Others, no doubt, have contributed to its development. Many of these ideas have been around for forty years; I’ve watched them grow and decline in the complementary medical view through several presidents and their political administrations in this country. With the advent of the concept of superconductivity in the 1950s, and the possibility of its effect in biological systems, the idea of man as a quantum reality has been shifted to the back rooms of weapons developers and defense contractors. “Maybe it’s easier to have the clinical death of the entire organism, rather than to have a quantum death of its gearbox,” as one scientist said. It is not an easy task to connect current biological thinking with the quantum description of life’s content. Here we are asking the reader to start from the whole, the general, and then from some cross-sections of the whole, defining the surface of what we call life. Only then do you notice constituent quantum dimensions. In semiconducting electronics there are no electronic processes independent of the semiconductor mass, and all occurring phenomena can be separated only statistically. This is an inductive exercise. A quote from www.emergentmind.org on “qualia” puts my question in a different way:

“If our minds can transcend space and time, the memory of the individual and that of the species, if we can reach into the fabric of matter and “blow for luck” over God’s handful of dice—what does it mean, at the end of the day?…the answers are beginning to look less and less like the formalism we’ve seen up to this point: they are increasingly of the nature of “qualia,” or experience—the experience of consciousness within the Hologram.

Is the world infinitely knowable? But there are infinitely many ways to choose a world line within the matrix of this mind-matter continuum… This is, and has always been, the aim of physics: to find that privileged, external point of view from which a global snapshot of Reality could be taken and framed for all posterity. But should this form of “omniscience” represent our ultimate goal? Is that the highest wisdom we are capable of? Perhaps the final question will have to be this, then: is the world truly knowable from the outside – does a global view mean ultimate knowledge?”

Anthropoidal and macroscopic pictures of life, amusing and familiar, serve only as an example of our initiative. Researchers at this point can gather only measurements of the cell’s biopotential, that reveal considerably less than what we know about the construction of a power station. However, within the quantum layers of self, we begin to realize now that the genetic code is not enough, for there must exist an “integrated circuitry” to induce the genetic cascade even within the first impulses of the embryo! Where would this biophenomenon be if not on the quantum level? What does it look like? How does it work? Most serious scientists would like to “lunatic proof” their lives as much as possible, especially since traditional sources of funding do not touch hot potatoes. However, I believe there must be something to the notion that mind has a place in physics, because I see evidence for unexplained phenomena reported by people in all cultures, throughout history, at all ages, and educational levels, which can only be answered by addressing “how?” I am speaking in particular here of “psi experiences”, words for which exists in most languages. Quantum theory is a mathematically precise way to describe the observable world. If man, however, is a quantum reality, the fabric of that reality may allow for statistically relevant examination of otherwise inexplicable phenomena, such as “psi”. Examining the statistics of Gaia’s dreams falls in the province of Dean Radin (mentioned earlier) and the group out at IONS www.noeticsciences.org, but I’ve read enough of their work to convince me that we are not alone, in fact, that we are interconnected in a way most people would not want to accept as fact. In this “new” world, there is no room for the kind of rugged individualism so prized in the days of our forefathers, rather, there is a sense of interconnectedness that permeates anyone who has a mobile phone or watches TV.

As we further integrate ourselves with our electronics, our culture adapts. I see it in speech patterns in younger people, for example, in texting, and in inference, which is more polymorphic than in people of my generation. Simple phrasing carries great meaning, and the need for words is reduced to characters. The phrase “too much information” has a real meaning for me now.

It seems to me we are in the midst of the greatest paradigm shift in human history. In defining the structure of the quantum world (or in the case of dark energy, the not so quantum world), we afford ourselves a look into not just a rabbit hole, but a full warren.

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