One of the most important open questions in science is how our consciousness is constructed. In the 1990s, long before he won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for his prediction about black holes, physicist Roger Penrose met with anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff to propose an ambitious answer. They argued that the neuron system of the brain forms a complex network and that the consciousness it produces must obey the rules of quantum mechanics. They argue that this could explain the mysterious complexity of human consciousness. So we physicists and everyone seems to be very interested in entering the philosophical dimension of quantum mechanics. However, based on the fact that this research was carried out by serious scientists, we decided to compile the article for you.

The scientists Penrose and Hameroff mentioned in the first paragraph were met with skepticism. The laws of quantum mechanics often appear to be valid only at very low temperatures. For example, quantum computers currently operate at around -272°C. At higher temperatures, classical mechanics comes into play. Since our bodies operate at room temperature, you would expect it to be subject to the laws of classical physics. For this reason, the theory of quantum consciousness has been completely rejected by many scientists.

In this article, the results of investigating how quantum particles can move in a complex structure such as the brain, but in a laboratory environment, are given.

## Brain and Fractal Structures

Our brain is made up of cells called neurons, and their combined activities are believed to create consciousness.

Each neuron contains microtubules that transport substances to different parts of the cell. The Penrose-Hameroff theory of quantum consciousness argues that microtubules are structured in a fractal model that will enable quantum processes to occur.

Fractals are structures that are neither two-dimensional nor three-dimensional, but instead have an occasional fractional value. In mathematics, fractals reveal themselves as beautiful patterns that repeat endlessly, producing the seemingly impossible.

A structure with a finite area but an infinite perimeter.

It's easy to see why fractals are used to explain the complexity of human consciousness. Because they are infinitely complex and allow complexity to emerge from simple repetitive patterns, they can be structures that support the mysterious depths of our minds.

But if that's the case, it can only happen at the quantum level, with tiny particles moving in fractal patterns within the brain's neurons. This is why Penrose and Hameroff's proposal is called the "quantum consciousness" theory.

This may seem impossible to visualize, but fractals are actually found frequently in nature. If you look closely at the florets of a cauliflower or the twigs of a fern, you'll see that they both form from the same basic shape over and over, but on ever-decreasing scales. This is a fundamental property of fractals.

The same thing happens if you look inside your own body. For example, the structure of your lungs is fractal, as are the blood vessels in your circulatory system. Fractals also feature in fascinating repetitive artworks by MC Escher and Jackson Pollock and have been used for decades in technology such as antenna design. These are all examples of classical fractals.

It's easy to see why fractals are used to explain the complexity of human consciousness. Because they are infinitely complex and allow complexity to emerge from simple repetitive patterns, they can be structures that support the mysterious depths of our minds.

But if that's the case, it can only happen at the quantum level, with tiny particles moving in fractal patterns within the brain's neurons. This is why Penrose and Hameroff's proposal is called the "quantum consciousness" theory.

## What is Quantum Consciousness?

We cannot yet measure the behavior of quantum fractals in the brain, if they exist. But advanced technology means we can now measure quantum fractals in the lab. In recent research involving a scanning tunneling microscope (STM), my colleagues in Utrecht and our author have created a quantum fractal by carefully arranging electrons in a fractal pattern.

Later, when they measured the wave function that describes the quantum states of electrons, they found that they also lived in the fractal dimension dictated by our physical model. In this case, the model we used at the quantum scale was the Sierpiński triangle, a shape that is somewhere between one-dimensional and two-dimensional.

This was an exciting finding, but STM techniques cannot investigate how quantum particles move.

This can tell us more about how quantum processes can occur in the brain. In our latest research, Shanghai Jiaotong University have gone a step further, using state-of-the-art photonics experiments to reveal in unprecedented detail the quantum motion contained within fractals.

They achieved this by injecting photons (particles of light) into a carefully designed artificial chip in a small Sierpiński triangle, injecting photons into the tip of the triangle, and watching how the photons propagate throughout the fractal structure in the process.

They then repeat this experiment on two different fractal structures, both of which are square rather than triangular, and they have done hundreds of experiments.

Our observations from these experiments reveal that quantum fractals actually behave differently from classical ones. Specifically, we found that the propagation of light along a fractal is governed by different laws in the quantum state compared to the classical state.

This new knowledge of quantum fractals could provide the basis for scientists to experimentally test the theory of quantum consciousness. If one day quantum measurements are taken from the human brain, they can be compared with our results to definitively decide whether consciousness is a classical or quantum phenomenon.

Our work may also have profound implications in scientific fields. By investigating quantum transport in our artificially designed fractal structures, we may have taken the first small steps towards unifying physics, mathematics and biology; this can greatly enrich our understanding of the world around us and the world that exists in our heads.

Source: bigthink.com/hard-science/quantum-consciousness/

Günceleme: 18/09/2021 09:43

## Be the first to comment