Thursday, December 18, 2014

Quantum Biology

In the second programme of his two-part series "The Secrets of Quantum Physics" on  BBC 4, Jim Al-Khalili dealt with several interesting examples from biology, showing how modern interpretations have become intrinsically based on principles from quantum mechanics.

For example he explained how the navigation of the robin is seemingly based on the quantum entanglement, or what Einstein famously referred to as "spooky action at a distance". This enables the robin to detect minute changes with respect to the Earth's magnetic field associated with distinctive types of quantum entanglement associated with paired electrons.

He then went on to explain how the modern explanation of smell relates - in a manner akin to sound - to the vibrations of the chemical bonds holding molecules together. The previous explanation based on the structure of component molecules neatly locking into appropriate sense receptor molecules (associated with a characteristic scent) could not explain for example why the smell of marzipan and cyanide is so similar (despite marked variations in their molecular structures). However the vibrations of the molecular bonds in each case show much greater similarity!

He then went on to explain, with respect to the transformation of a tadpole into a frog, how the process of metamorphosis in nature is greatly assisted by the principle of quantum tunneling where enzymes can easily penetrate rigid barriers through assuming "ghostly" wave patterns.

With respect to the all-important principle of photosynthesis through sunlight in nature, he went on to show how the efficient transfer of energy within cells owes much to the "uncertainty principle".

He also speculated on how quantum effects may be directly relevant to the process of evolution, indicating more precisely how mutations with respect to genetic characteristics take place.

In one way none of this should really be so surprising.

If we accept that physical reality at its minute subatomic levels is governed by quantum mechanical interactions, then this should ultimately apply at a deeper level of investigation to all biological processes.

This strongly suggests to me that many of the current accepted explanations represent in the main "half truths" that inevitably will raise fundamental questions at a deeper level of investigation.

Indeed I have long felt this applies to the Darwinian theory of evolution, which always struck me as a somewhat tautological explanation, concealing many difficulties. It only appears convincing within the reduced limits of present scientific interpretation, as this formally excludes the holistic aspect of meaning. However a deeper philosophical understanding of the holistic implications of quantum interactions, which necessarily underlie all evolutionary processes, will I believe ultimately lead to a far more nuanced appreciation.

Looking at these issues in more general terms, what is currently deemed as scientifically acceptable itself reflects but a particular point in time with respect to its on-going evolution.

Before the rise of modern science, quantitative were not properly distinguished from qualitative type considerations (often expressed through mythological religious type beliefs).

One could therefore accept that just as in psychological terms, mature understanding requires overcoming the magical and mythical beliefs associated with infant development, that likewise this is true of science. Therefore the sharp differentiation of rational from spiritual type considerations, which typifies the last 300 year so of science has proved both a welcome and necessary development,

And this has led to unparalleled progress with respect to quantitative type understanding of our universe.

However I would very much see this as representing but a stage of scientific development which in many ways is now coming face to face with its inevitable limitations.

Despite the great success of quantum physics, the deeper philosophical implications of its rationale have not been adequately faced by the scientific community.

In fact I have long been convinced that quantum mechanics now directly requires the re-inclusion of the qualitative holistic aspect (that science has so vigilantly attempted to exclude from the fold).

In the last blog I mentioned for example that quantum entanglement entails the simultaneous interdependent communication of particles that inherently is of a qualitative rather than a quantitative nature.

So now as well as the accepted analytic aspect of science, we need once again to recognise the neglected holistic aspect - not through mythological religious symbols of the past - but rather through an extension of the very meaning of scientific symbols (with twin interacting aspects of interpretation).

Indeed at an even more fundamental level this is likewise through of Mathematics.

In my own investigations of the Riemann Hypothesis, I have come to realise that the number system, which underlines all science, is itself strictly meaningless in the absence of an explicit qualitative dimension.  Indeed at its very core, the number system is of a dynamically interacting synchronistic nature (entailing the bi-directional complementarity of both the primes and natural numbers).

And this same synchronicity which is a central feature of the number system is likewise a central feature of physics and biology and indeed of all evolution.

However we will never be able to properly grasp this key point while remaining rigidly committed to the limited analytic confines of conventional science.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Einstein's Nightmare

I enjoyed watching Professor Jim Al-Khalili's account of the development of quantum physics "The Secrets of Quantum Physics"with the first episode "Einstein's Nightmare" shown last night on BBC 4.

Though I had both read about and listened to the discussion of these ideas many times before, I always welcome a new imaginative way of presentation, which can lead one to seeing the issues involved in a new light.

What was discussed last night culminated with the Einstein-Podolsky Paradox, which though formulated in 1935 could only be satisfactorily tested much later (largely due to the original theoretical contribution of John Bell).

As we know, Einstein was deeply unhappy with the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics, where sub-atomic events seemingly were based on chance and probability. He believed that acceptance of non-local causation would imply communication between particles faster than the speed of light, which thereby would violate a key principle of his widely accepted theory of relativity.

However the experiments used to test this paradox according to Al-Khalili (many times since conducted) have convincingly proved that Einstein was wrong!

However as always it is never quite that simple with debate still raging as to to precise significance of the results that have arisen.

The true problem from my perspective is that the very mind-set of contemporary physicists is still based on the common-sense notion of a physical reality "out there" that can be successfully investigated in an objective impersonal manner.

And this is precisely why quantum mechanics seems so paradoxical as it does not conform to the intuitions that fit in with this objective viewpoint.

So the true problem with physics is fundamentally of a deeper level in that the scientific paradigm, which still informs the very way that physicists view reality, is quite inadequate in terms of understanding reality as it truly is!

In other words, only when the scientific perspective we adopt enables us to intuitively resonate with the findings of quantum mechanics (thereby becoming the new accepted common sense), can we then say that we understand such issues in the appropriate manner.

The findings of quantum mechanics lead to the break-down in the very notion of an independent physical reality. Indeed this is equally true with respect to everyday macro reality (though admittedly at this level physical findings approximate well with independent assumptions).

To properly understood reality from the scientific perspective, we need to replace physical with psycho physical reality (where both physical and psychological aspects necessarily interact in dynamic fashion).

At the quantum level, the (psychological) observer is intimately involved with what is (physically) observed so that the physical event resulting has no strict meaning in the absence of this complementary psychological contribution.

However once we accept the necessary two-way interaction as between observer and what is observed, we move outside the realm of mere analytic interpretation.

Such analytic interpretation is always based the independence of polar reference frames (e.g. objective and subjective).

However once we accept a degree of interdependence with respect to both poles, we inevitably move from analytic to holistic type meaning.

So when Einstein protested against faster than light communication, he adopted a strictly analytic perspective (which is especially inadequate at the quantum level).

In fact Einstein himself had already profoundly reflected on this issue in wondering what it would be like to travel on a beam of light! And he acutely realised that time would have no meaning in this context! So within its own frame of reference time does not pass for light.

The notion of the speed of light therefore only has reference with respect to a partial phenomenal reference point (where movement is taken in just one direction).

Therefore for example when we say that it takes about 8 minutes for the light of the sun to reach Earth, we are measuring time from the Sun as origin in relation to a phenomenal object (Earth) with only one direction of movement considered.

However if we now attempt to measure time with respect to the two-way movement of light as between Sun and Earth, it is rendered paradoxical. For what moves forward in time from one vantage point moves - relatively - backward with respect to the other and vice versa.

Thus in terms of two-way simultaneous "movement" time - relatively - has both forward and backward directions (which cancel out).

We could then accurately express this as representing an (absolute) present moment, of which paradoxical notions of time (and indeed space) represent but arbitrary relative expressions.

Therefore strictly speaking, any notion of speed with respect to holistic communication between particles  (i.e. entailing two-way interaction) has no meaning.

So we can maintain - as I ardently believe is indeed the case - that holistic communication takes place with respect to quantum particles (and indeed physical reality at every level).

However this strictly occurs outside space and time in the present moment. Therefore it does not contradict Einsteins's prohibition on nothing travelling faster than light, which only applies with respect to relatively independent frames of reference. However the communication dealt with here. clearly applies to frames that are relatively interdependent with each other (as for example in human exchanges).

Thus the truly real massive problem which remains yet to be addressed by physicists (and indeed science and mathematics generally) is that the prevailing paradigm is built on mere analytic type interpretation (directly accessible to consciousness through linear reason).
This remains even true with respect to quantum physics, where findings create considerable paradox with respect to this approach!

However holistic understanding by its very nature entails an utterly distinctive form of appreciation that is directly based on intuition (entailing the unconscious). Thus genuine communication of a synchronistic nature cannot be meaningfully interpreted in a rational analytic manner. However it can indeed be embraced in a directly intuitive manner (that lends itself indirectly to circular type rational explanations of a paradoxical nature).

So what we are witnessing at present - especially at the quantum level - are the severe limitations of mere analytic type understanding.

However the need for of an equally important holistic aspect (of an utterly distinctive nature) has not yet been recognised by the scientific community. In psychological terms this will require recognition of the potential scientific importance of the unconscious aspect of understanding leading to a direct qualitative - rather than quantitative - type emphasis.

Even more, the ultimate need for a comprehensive paradigm that will properly integrate specialised analytic and holistic type understanding (in both quantitative and qualitative terms) is not yet remotely recognised.