Physics of Consciousness: The Quantum Mind and the Meaning of Lifeby Evan Harris Walker
For decades, neuroscientists, psychologists, and an army of brain researchers have been struggling, in vain, to explain the phenomenon of consciousness. Now there is a clear trail to the answer, and it leads through the dense jungle of quantum physics, Zen, and subjective experience, and arrives at an unexpected destination. In this tour-de-force of scientific… See more details below
For decades, neuroscientists, psychologists, and an army of brain researchers have been struggling, in vain, to explain the phenomenon of consciousness. Now there is a clear trail to the answer, and it leads through the dense jungle of quantum physics, Zen, and subjective experience, and arrives at an unexpected destination. In this tour-de-force of scientific investigation, Evan Harris Walker shows how the operation of bizarre yet actual properties of elementary particles support a new and exciting theory of reality, based on the principles of quantum physicsa theory that answers questions such as "What is the nature of consciousness, of will?" "What is the source of material reality?" and "What is God?"
About the Author:
Evan Harris Walker, founder of the Walker Cancer Institute, has made major scientific contributions in astronomy, astrophysics, physics, neurophysiology, psychology, and medicine. Since he received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Maryland in 1964, he has published more than a hundred papers in scientific journals and holds a dozen patents. He lives in Aberdeen, Maryland.
- Basic Books
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- 6.46(w) x 9.58(h) x 1.26(d)
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: Where Have the Gods All Gone?It is easy to imagine fantasy as physical and myth as real. We do it almost every moment. We do this as we dream, as we think, and as we cope with the world about us. But these worlds of fantasy that we form into the solid things around us are the source of our discontent. They inspire our search to find ourselves. In order to put meaning back into our lives, we should recognize illusions for what they are, and we should reach out and touch the fabric of reality.
Although we know that our common-sense understanding of the world is merely fiction, the illusions stay with us. Science has entirely overturned what we know about the structure of the world. But rather than revising our picture of what reality is, we cling to a collage of incongruent shards. We preserve a false assemblage of images, one pasted upon another, so that we can keep unchanged the mental portrait of ourselves and of the world to which we are accustomed. We go about our business despite the fact that the world on which we base our lives is so much in question, so much a mystery.
Even when we have searched out some knowledge, and when we have penetrated into the jitterbug world of Mr. Zukav's Wu Li Masters or of Carl Sagan's billions and billions of everything, we are left with only so many more unanswered questions about reality. We want to know. We ask. We search for answers, and we are given a box with little pebbles inside. Is that what the world is? Little pebbles, big pebbles, pebbles in a vast box shimmering and shaking about. Have we our answer? Is reality only a box filled with pebbles? Is that it? Is it all just a little box of rocks that holds infinity inside and stretches to the edge forever?
We want to ask, "Is there a God? Does my life have meaning and purpose?" Science, we are told, says that even to ask about God is beyond its scope. But this is not true. Either there is no such thing as God, or science-which embodies our ability to reason-must be able to frame the question and provide us with answers.
We know that science has proved capable of giving us dependable, solid, objective answers. It is the one path that yields answers about the machinery of reality and shows that these answers are valid. When such questions are asked, science must answer.
To many scientists, however, God is only a memory from childhood: a put-off to questions they once asked themselves. "Where do I come from?" was left unanswered with, "From God." Yet perhaps, the great shortcoming of such questions is that the concept of God is so conventional that it too is apt to be as empty as that box scientists give us-that box filled with the universe and yet empty of meaning to what we have asked: "What is reality, really?"
THE OLD GODS
Let us go back to mankind's earliest times. Think of Homo habilis looking out into the cosmos, gazing into the blackness of a fearful night with sparkling wonder spread across the vaulting sky. Think of such a man alone in the night's stillness, looking at the stars. He blinks his eyes and wonders. His mind transcends the immediate hazards of the day, and he sees things in the sky that he cannot reach. He sees for the first time the edge of his own being and looks beyond, perhaps forming the first thoughts of some new understanding, the first thoughts of some new knowledge, and then he falls asleep. Somewhere in that early time, in a pattern of stars seen overhead, in the stirrings of an image in the bush, in a lifeless form that did not move from its forest bier, the first troubled, questioning thoughts came to early man and passed into oblivion.
But I can see another, later time, a time when another early man lay more sheltered in a cave sleeping. As the moon rolled in its changing orbit, its full face appeared in the entrance to the cave, its light filling the doorway and jolting the primitive being into a frightened awakening. Such an experience would deepen the mystery of the sky, perhaps forming a memory that would last until the experience recurred months later...
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