Quantum Manifestation?! 🧠
How Quantum Mechanics & Neuroscience work together (15min read)
Hi, all Gwen Here.
Cody asked me to be a guest blogger here for you all in order to explain the quantum aspects of neuroscience, consciousness, and manifestation.
The main things I would love for you to take from this lesson are as follows:
Traditional Physics explanation of a neuron firing & how that emerges into synchronized firings to form brainwaves
Quantum aspects of its firing and how it creates consciousness.
Consciousness is at its most basic description an emergent property of our neurons firing. And at its most advanced description is an unknown phenomenon occurring at the level of the quantum field.
This means what we put out into the quantum field we get back. - laws of manifestation.
So why do brainwaves and the quantum energy of neurons firing matter?
Mostly because they are the basic principles of what scientists use to explain or provide proof of the miracle we call our minds.
Our conscious experience and worldly phenomenons can be measured through probability waves and explained via the laws of Quantum Mechanics.
Before diving into science's best guess of how this phenomenon of “The Mind” is produced, let's define some terms and look at some basic models of understanding our consciousness experience.
Starting with the mind… The scientific definition of the word is:
"Broadly, all intellectual and psychological phenomena of an organism, encompassing motivational, affective, behavioral, perceptual, and cognitive systems; that is, the organized totality of an organism’s mental and psychic processes and the structural and functional cognitive components on which they depend."
Which is a mouth full that basically means anything involving our ability to think and know ourselves, anything past those autonomic processes happening inside of our bodies.
This brings us to qualia. The easiest way to think about qualia is it's the word to describe what it's like to see a color or feel moved by music. It's the integration of all of our senses, thoughts, past experiences, and synapses that in unison create our subjective experience.
Qualia comes from the hard problem of consciousness which is all about solving the phenomenon of our feelings/personal experience as a whole. It works to answer questions like where in the body are “we” and where is our consciousness?
The 3 Selves
The mind can be broken into 3 parts.
If you look at the diagram above you can see that we break the mind into the subconscious, conscious and higher self.
The conscious mind involves all the things that you are currently aware of and thinking about. It can somewhat be equated to short-term memory and is limited in terms of capacity.
Meaning we take in about 2 million bits of information a second but are only aware of 126 bits. Your awareness of yourself and the world around you is your consciousness.
The subconscious exists in the mind but is not immediately available to the consciousness.
However, it still affects thought, feeling, and behavior without entering our awareness. Like rote programming that consistently runs in our heads (Procedural Memory).
If you think of a phone it's like the hardware would be your body, the operating system would be your brain, apps would be your subconscious and the clicks would be your conscious mind, or "You."
Another easy way to think about them would be imagining your conscious mind being your "goal setter", your subconscious mind being the "goal-getter", and the higher self is your life purpose or inner knowing.
The Goal Getter
Something important to understand about the subconscious mind is that 95% of who we are is programmed into it during our childhood.
This is great when it comes to things like learning to walk & speak, but not so great when it comes to limiting beliefs that we may have picked up from our parents or a traumatic event.
Fast forward to the present day and you consciously decide you want to lose weight but you have subconscious programs from childhood experiences that keep you from exercising.
For example, maybe you got made fun of because you couldn't lift as much weight as your friends growing up, and now you believe you'd be made fun of if you go to the gym.
This installs a "stay away from the gym" app into your subconscious mind (goal-getter).
As you head towards this goal, this program is running under the hood, so eventually, you drift away from your goal to lose weight.
So, what do you do? "I'll do it tomorrow." "I'll get to the gym eventually..." or any other excuse you come up with.
If you want to actually achieve this goal, you need to delete this old program/app and install a new one that will allow your subconscious program to support your conscious goal.
Because your subconscious is manifesting your outcomes.
So, how does science explain or think about these different “selves”?
To answer this we need to understand a little bit of basic physics and define some terms. First, Quantum Physics is a type of Physics that works to describe the nature of subatomic particles.
All objects break down into matter which contains atoms, and more recent science shows atoms break down into even smaller particles, or pieces, called quarks which are a type of subatomic particle.
Quarks actually behave differently than their larger counterparts. Meaning they break the rules traditional Newtonian Laws of Physics would predict. The traditional Laws of Physics typically govern larger objects, because these larger objects are affected by gravity. Whereas the smaller a particle or piece of matter gets the less affected it is by gravity.
The laws that govern these smaller subatomic particles are known as the laws of Quantum Mechanics. Which essentially states that particles or energy can be created or destroyed granted that there are sufficient amounts of energy present.
This is very different from traditional Newtonian Physics which states in the Law of Conservation of Energy that energy cannot be created or destroyed.
Additionally, Quantum Mechanics is governed by Heisenberg's uncertainty principle which states
that you cannot know or measure the exact position or velocity of an object or particle, however, you can predict the probability of finding the particle at any given location using a “wave function.”
A wave function is a fancy way of saying you can use math, specifically statistical probabilities.
The Double Slit Experiment
This brings us to the concept of wave-particle duality, a principle of Quantum Mechanics.
The basic concept centers around the fact that electrons or “particles'' travel in a wave-like formation and can be thought of both as a wave and as a particle.
This is like how water can travel in a droplet and in a ripple. Let's look at the double-slit experiment to explain this.
Scientists set up an electron gun to shoot through two slits onto a back wall. The expected results would have been two lines on the back wall, however, they found patterns of interference.
An interference pattern is the result of two or more waves interfering with one another. These can be sound waves, ripples colliding, lightwaves, etc.
And even if you shoot out the electrons only one at a time you still find this pattern of ripple interference meaning the electron is interfering with itself, because it technically doesn't exist in a single precise location so there is some ambiguity about which slit it passes through.
Imagine this same experiment but with single water droplets. You would guess that if these single droplets have 2 slits to go through, it would go through one or the other.
Now imagine that a ripple of water hits both slits at the same time, the watermarks on the other side of the slits would be all over the place (interference pattern), just like they are in the experiment above.
After this experiment scientists started to hypothesize that these subatomic particles must travel more like ripples or waves, and less like single particles or droplets.
What’s even more bizarre is that when you set up a tool to measure which slit each electron passes through, or a camera to watch which slit the water droplet goes through, the diffraction pattern disappears.
Meaning your observation or measurement collapses the wave function into a point particle.
Thinking back to our water example, this would mean that if you have a camera observing the droplet, it would appear as a droplet, but if you don’t observe it, it would remain a ripple.
This is why wave functions are the probability of where you will find a particle in space & time. In this way, your mind and matter are related and effecting upon one another.
Your mind is the observer!
Next, we need to understand superposition.
This is the ability of a system or particle to be in multiple states at the same time until it is measured or observed, which is when those multiple possibilities collapse into one!
Let’s look at Schrodinger's cat example. This is a thought experiment involving a cat.
It involves placing a cat into a sealed box, with a device that has a 50% chance of killing the cat in the next hour.
At the end of that hour, he asked what was the state of the cat… Alive or dead?
Most people would think it’s one or the other but according to quantum physics, the instant before the box is opened the cat is equal parts alive and dead at the same time.
It is only when the box is opened/observed that we see a single definite state (particle) until then the cat is a blur of probability (wave) meaning it’s half one thing and half the other.
“Manifesting” & Quantum Physics
This also means that a “mind” has to be present to influence the outcome. This suggests that on some level our consciousness is interacting with objects on a quantum level.
Another way to think about it is when making a decision, there are superpositions or wave functions of many different outcomes at the same time and multiple states of cognition and consciousness all at once producing multiple possibilities until the decision is made.
Like, think about the dress that everyone debated whether it was blue and black or white and gold. Similar to the cube above, is it protruding into the screen or out of it? These variations can all be thought of as superpositions or various outcomes waiting to be measured or be interacted with by the observer.
This science supports the thought that you can “manifest the reality you want” because theoretically, it exists in some superposition of your current state.
Think about that…
Levels of Organization & Reductionism
This brings us to the concept of Levels or Organization and Reductionism.
Levels of Organization is more of a bottom-up approach to describing systems.
This means going from subatomic particles, which organize into atoms, which make molecules, which make matter we can see and touch.
Which groups together to make organelles, which make cells, which make organs, which make organ systems, which all makes you!
When using this line of bottom-up reasoning “you” are the emergent property of all these tiny simpler parts working together in a system.
Reductionism is the practice of describing or explaining complex phenomena (systems) by breaking them up into simpler components, which is a more top-down approach.
Both essentially say that a complex system can be explained by the sum of its individual parts.
Take consciousness, for example, a Reductionist would say that it is the sum of all the chemical and electrical interactions in your brain, converging to create your consciousness.
This, however, is where reductionism and traditional science in general hits a wall. If this is an emergent property why can it not be recreated?
Also, this brings up the concept of the emergence of free will and where it comes from.
Free will is what makes our consciousness unique. Just electrical and chemical reactions alone can't explain its emergence.
Thus Enter Quantum Physics.
Science is moving beyond the reductionism viewpoint, and many are turning to Quantum Mechanics to explain the laws that govern our minds.
Quantum Mechanics, like consciousness and free will, is not fully understood either but certain aspects of Quantum Physics have been proven, and have led to tons of innovations like the laser, the transistor, the microchip, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Global Positioning System(GPS), and computers.
The Quantum Physics of Brainwaves
Pulling this all together, the reason we care about wave-particle duality and this sum of parts theory is that it can help explain, or at least help us think about the emergence of brainwaves.
When you think about that small electromagnetic field that each neuron of our brain generates, imagine aggregating them all together to make a much larger electromagnetic field. This emergent property is measurable and referred to as brainwaves.
Another way to think about brainwaves is the synchronized electromagnetic firing of neural networks within our brain. Meaning each neuron has a wave function and brain waves are each of the tiny wave functions all added into one.
If you look at the brainwave measurements in the diagram below you can see blue marks in the frontal lobe of the brain.
This is indicating an interaction with the energy level of the quantum field, and the brainwaves of that location indicate it is happening just under our conscious awareness.
If you look at the next picture below you can see the mapping of coherence patterns in the brain (which is just a word used to describe quantum superposition and wave interaction behaviors).
Imagine measuring all of the ripples in the ocean at once and how those ripples interact with one another and then finding the patterns within them.
These patterns can even be used to tell us things about people's behaviors. For example, this person is very intuitive or emotionally intelligent.
How are these brain waves interacting with the quantum field?
Currently, it is thought to be in two ways. One of which is the general interaction seen in the brain scans above and another of which is related to our conscious phenomenon.
The Quantum Field
First, it is scientifically accepted that there is a quantum field all around us that represents the variation or probability of subatomic particles in different states or superpositions.
The gif below represents moving particles changing between various superpositions within the quantum field.
Also, as we talked about before, our interaction collapses these probability waves and we are left with a “real” particle or outcome.
If you look at the blue in the brain scan above, they show our mind interacting and collapsing these waves to pull in information into our subconscious awareness.
It is estimated that we are vibrating in and out of the quantum field in this way 7.8 times per second.
Meaning on a subatomic level you are interacting and affecting various probabilities of your life outcomes, both at the subconscious (below awareness) and higher self-level (above awareness).
Using the reductionist method we learned earlier, the quantum field can be explained by reducing it down to the spin of quarks or subatomic particles.
Just like brain waves can be reduced down to the spin of their electrons that create the electromagnetic field.
All these subatomic particles are interacting all the time.
This means you are interacting with the quantum field all of the time. Your thoughts are electrical impulses made up of electrons, so as you think you are putting things out in the field affecting and changing the energy state around you and within your life.
This is possible because “you” are made up of atoms, photons, and electrons, which organize themselves into a community of 70 - 120 trillion cells. Which makes up your brain.
These tiny parts of what makes up “you” is what interact with this field.
Going even tinier, let's get to the most current theory of consciousness involving quantum mechanics.
If you look at the pictures above, there are fine structures in the brain called microtubules.
These are inside neurons and are what axons and dendrites are made of. These little “protein tubes” are how neurotransmitters are delivered across the synapse.
Each of these microtubules is made up of many proteins called tubulin.
These tubulin proteins can switch between 2 states of phosphorylation and can exist in a superposition of those two states meaning each tubulin molecule acts like a qubit.
A qubit is a quantum bit and can be thought of as an amount for information storage. Like data storage on your phone.
Meaning microtubules could be responsible for the memory and storage of information.
And most importantly, some scientists believe that the collapse of these superimposed states in the tubulin is what results in our consciousness.
Remember how neurons communicate by turning the cell body of another neuron On or Off? And how it’s the neurotransmitters building up that signal to the cell body to be On or Off?
Well, what Quantum Physicists & Neuroscientists have found is that when they measure this firing of neurons, it is NOT actually the neurotransmitter buildup that causes the cell to fire as On or Off.
There is an unmeasurable phenomenon that right at the very end of the neurotransmitter build-up turns the cell body the rest of the way On or Off.
So at the point just before firing when scientists expect to see one more neurotransmitter attach, to trigger the firing, it doesn’t!
Instead, the phenomenon of collapsed quantum energy states within the tubulin is what produces the final firing and thus our consciousness.
Imagine flipping a switch to a light, but instead of turning it all the way on, you stop just before the light turns on. Now imagine something other than your finger is flipping the switch the rest of the way.
This “something else” is thought to be a quantum collapse of the superpositions of tubulin proteins. This unpredictable quantum state and collapse is now thought to be at the root of consciousness.
All this to say that the smaller you go into the tiny pieces that make up our life, the easier it is to see that we are all connected.
And not only that but the possibilities are truly endless.
The emergence of quantum mechanics in and of itself shows that at a subatomic level nothing is certain (uncertainty Principle) and that it is all a probability of various outcomes.
We interact with (collapse) and manifest these various outcomes all the time (7.8 times a second) at a conscious and subconscious level.
That’s it for today, I hope you enjoyed today’s lesson, if you did, it was actually from our recently released course, “The Neuroscience of Beliefs”, feel free to check it out here.
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Until next time, live Heroically 🧠