Monthly Archives: August 2008

Quantum Entanglement

Quantum_Entanglement

 

The image above documents my contribution to the New Arts Program’s Invitational Salon Exhibition of Small Works for 2008 (on display from late spring through mid-summer).

“Quantum Entanglement,” the title of the piece, refers to one of the most strange and perplexing properties of the universe. It is both mathematically and experimentally verifiable on the subatomic scale that a pair of particles, such as two electrons, can share a relationship described as “entanglement.” In such a situation, the two particles can share information and respond to state changes between themselves at astronomical distances far faster than the speed of light – or potentially even, instantaneously.

Such a radical attribute of the known universe shakes even Einsteinian Physics to its foundations. And if the subatomic world is suffused by entangled particles and energies, then the entire universe shares in this quality. Entanglement denies the deepest comprehensible notions of both space and time – collapsing them into a kind of singularity. It is as if the Big Bang was not an instant of the remote past – more likely, it is a quality of the present moment.

And after all, why should it not be this way? To think the present moment is something other than the very crown of creation is to place that supreme achievement of the universe’s “coming into being” elsewhere. And where exactly could that be? The past? Where is the past? The future? As you know, the future never arrives. We always inhabit the present moment, do we not?

Take a look around you. This is what the Big Bang looks like. The universe is beginning now. And it is all connected – everything and everywhere – all at once. It is composed of all and everything, all potential, all probabilities and all possibilities, past and future resonating – spiraling infinitely both inward upon itself and outward into the great void, instantaneous and eternal…all happening right here and right now.

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As you know, my interest in science is aesthetic and philosophical. And in the several decades I have been writing about the new physics, more and more scientists have arrived at similar appreciations and understandings of their disciplines. Consciousness, for example, once ruled out as unknowble and unmeasurable and nothing more than the electro-chemical end-process of the brain, is now often seen as central and crucial to the very existence of the quantum universe and the universe at large.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing more on the new physics and the quantum universe. My entries will be filled with experimentally verifiable facts and also current scientific and philosophical speculation about those facts. There will be much to call “strange” about all of this new science. After all, it was Albert Einstein himself, who called this entire new universe of scientific discourse, “spooky.”

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To find out more about quantum entanglement, follow these links:

http://www.biophysica.com/quantum.htm

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6558

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-entangle/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5poD3nXdJ8&feature=related

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Image: “Quantum Entanglement,” Tullio Francesco DeSantis, concept piece, 2008.

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The Free Will Illusion – Take Two

In July of last year, I published an entry detailing some of the most recent brain research having to do with philosophical questions relating to the relationship between our conscious awareness and our unconscious processes. I am not an ethicist. Nor am I especially interested in legal or moral definitions of what constitutes free-will and human responsibility.

As a student of the mind, however, I am fascinated by the fact that we seem to have a great need to believe we somehow consciously control our decision-making, our behavior, and our lives in general. And it is in this area where we encounter some of the more contradictory evidence science can offer regarding just why we behave as we do.

As a background to the current discussion, May I direct you here:

The Free Will Illusion

 

wegner_paradigm

In the ARTology entry linked above, I present evidence for the notion that our actual physical behavior can be demonstrated to be initiated unconsciously and that our conscious mind follows as a sort of explainer of our behavior – primarily to ourselves and then later to the social contexts within which we operate.

It is obvious why we would feel a great need to explain our actions to others. Why we are so obsessed with explaining ourselves to ourselves is another question. No matter how we try to understand this fact of human psychology, we don’t evidence much ability to simply accept ourselves as we are – nor do we seem very secure in our behavior without having to create elaborate explanations and justifications for why we do what we do.

Currently, the evidence for unconscious decision-making has reached another milestone. I’ll quote in full a brief report appearing in the current issue of Scientific American Mind:
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What are you going to do after you read this story? You may not know that yet, but your brain probably does. A new study shows that patterns of brain activity can reveal which choice a person is going to make long before he or she is aware of it. A team led by John-Dylan Haynes of the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Berlin scanned the brains of volunteers who held a button in each hand and were told to push one of the buttons whenever they wanted to. The scientists could tell from the scans which hand participants were going to use as early as 10 seconds before the volunteers were aware that they made up their mind.
Previous research has shown motor-related brain activity preceding conscious intent by a fraction of a second, but this study is the first to show unconscious predictive activity in a region associated with decision making—the prefrontal cortex—according to Haynes. The results support the notion that unconscious brain activity comes first and conscious experience follows as a result, says Patrick Haggard of University College London, who was not involved with the study. “We all think that we have a conscious free will,” he says. “However, this study shows that actions come from preconscious brain activity patterns and not from the person consciously thinking about what they are going to do.”
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“Unconscious Decisions,” by Nicole Branan, from Scientific American Mind , July, 2008.

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=unconscious-decisions

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How comfortable are we with the implications raised by these findings? While we’re mulling over the salient points here, allow me to move us toward a direction I find particularly fruitful for consideration.
If it is in fact the case that we are mostly living through the results of unconscious decision-making processes within ourselves and others, wouldn’t you agree that it is ever more important for us to be very clear about what goes on within the deeper reaches of our minds? And if this is indeed the case, then the preceding months of ARTology entries dealing with ways we can attend to effecting positive mental change can be key to improving the various situations we find ourselves in – no matter when, where, or how they arise.
Don’t you agree?

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image: http://www.jrosen.org/

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multiple me

One of the things we are fairly solid about is our identity. On the one hand, we accept as axiomatic that we have a “true self.” Paying attention to the many and varied ways we present ourselves to the world yields at least several instances in which our internal and external senses of identity perform and appear as if they were closed systems of consciousness of their own..In some ways it is more sensible to think of ourselves as gestalts of various and separate functional personas that cover particular fields of action and introspection.

I’m in the midst of a miracle – a mysterious epiphany. This year things appear to be coming full-circle. Aspects of my life that I’ve compartmentalized as separate aesthetic entities are conflating into a more thoroughly evolved field. My current view is integrative, unified.

Sometimes it is better to simply point to something than to explain it. So allow me to take this moment to share it with you in the following manner. It’s all here. It changes every day. And you are a part of it. Thanks for that.

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