Quantum Microtubules?

Ruadhan O'Flanagan rof at maths.tcd.ie
Thu Jun 5 14:10:07 EST 1997

Lee Kent Hempfling (lkh at neutronicstechcorp.com) wrote:
>rof at maths.tcd.ie (Ruadhan O'Flanagan) enunciated:

>>There is no field of quantum neuroscience or quantum cognitive science. If
>>you read Penrose's books, you'll get about as much information on this
>>subject as there presently is(afaik - correct me if I'm wrong anybody).

>It would be hard pressed to have such a 'real field' but for a lack of
>a better field, quantum observations are used to denote that
>experimental results are indeed experimental results.  

I agree; that is the one point on which the formalism is very clear. The
question of what happened to the other possible results, however, leads
to the problem of interpretation. 

>The same
>function or process that causes quantum observations (which quantum
>physics refuses to deal with , and well they should)  is the same
>underlying function or process that controls brain activity as well as
>interaction of any other system or subsystem... 

I'm not too sure what you mean here; certainly quantum effects underlie
the phenomena such as electrons jumping orbitals, retinal photoreception
and so on, without which the brain could not function(nor could anything
else). On the other hand, though, one does not require quantum theory to
understand brain function, any more than one needs it to understand how
a wheelbarrow functions, and quantum processes exert little more control
over brain function than over wheelbarrow function.

>i've referred to it as
>A Quantum-Relativity Perspective... which I should have added "in a
>Newtonian Realm"... or some such dribble.....

I'm thoroughly baffled here. Are you referring to the question of
"what it's like to be" something?

>People study the brain by looking at its' outcomes... then examine the
>potentials of how to make something that will result in the same
>outcomes with the same essential input stimuli.....
>the problem with this is simple: the brain 'knows' what is being
>observed is the OPPOSITE of what IT KNOWS is how it works.

>So, to correctly model the brain, look at it from ITS Pperspective.

Actually, at present I'm working on the development of a model of
concept-mechanics; an attempt to understand how psychological elements
will interact within a person's mind to govern their thoughts and feelings.
Although this is still a bit far from looking at neural processes from
the perspective of the subject, it is closer than the traditional approaches
of cognitive science and the modelling of neural networks.

On the subject of perspective, though, it should be noted that the
possessor of a brain, B, cannot have any more information than someone
who knows about every pulse and synapse in the brain, B. One could
say that he knows what it is like to be the brain, but that is not
knowledge; it is simply saying that he actually experiences what the
brain does. If it were real knowledge, that he could remember and talk
about, it would have to be stored in his brain, because the brain
controls what he says.

So I think that we should never learn anything surprising by looking
at the situation from another viewpoint.

>>Physicists are usually jolly good at using
>>mathematics to analyse physical systems. Also, mathematicians and
>>physicists can afford to be arrogant when it comes to matters like
>>quantum theory.

>Only because nothing has come along publicly to shakes it foundations.
>Why do you think Plank stopped working on it... and let others run off
>into interpretation... he KNEW what he found was a result of something
>more fundemental......

Actually, the foundations of quantum mechanics seem to me to be among the
strongest of any physical theory. I've found that, more than anything
else, the search for something more fundamental has lead people to
search for new interpretations. The only part of the theory which seems
to lack sufficient explanation is the "collapse of the wavefunction", and
this is only a feature of some interpretations; not of the mechanics itself.

The idea of collapsing wavefunctions only arises when one refuses to
accept the idea that a brain(or rather, a mind) can exist as a
quantum superposition.

So I'd be inclined to say that what many people have decided is "not
fundamental enough" are the interpretations in which the mind is
elevated to something untouchable by quantum mechanics. Alas this
is just one of many examples of confusion caused by the assumption
that the mind is magical.

>>>Ah yes... Dr. Penrose has reached that stage in his career where he
>>>can come up with ludicrous ideas about things of which he knows little,
>>>and yet impress people.  People who know less than he does, that is.

>The main point of Sir Roger's works is mostly missed. That some other
>form of mathematics is needed to explain SUB quantum events... 

He does recognise that it is mainly what he calls "R"(viz. quantum
collapse) which is in need of further explanation. He rejects the
Everett interpretation for rather puny reasons, citing his own
lack of understanding as the main reason("... I do not see why a
conscious being need be aware of only 'one' of the alternatives in
a linear superposition." - Emperor's New Mind, p.382). The answer
which he claims not to see is that if we have a superposition of
"I see a live cat", and "I see a dead cat", then we have two
different descriptions, neither of which are "I see a blurry image
of a cat which is both alive and dead at the same time".

>>Sir Roger knows quite a lot about quantum theory, although he knows
>>a lot less about brain function. His ideas are rather too far-fetched,
>>contrived, and redundant to be considered anything other than vague

>One has to put oneself in His perspective to see what he was getting
>at, even if he didn't know it himself..... something more fundemental
>is controlling events... quantum ... for lack of a better term....

To be honest, theories of everything aside, quantum events seem
pretty fundamental to me. 

>Enjoyed reading your post.

Yours too; I had a look at the Neutronics site; it looks jolly interesting -
best of luck for the future.

Ruadhan O'Flanagan

rof at maths.tcd.ie

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