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Peter Jackson: on 3/25/17 at 13:02pm UTC, wrote Neil, Not quite, from a splitter the orientation is the same but...

Jochen Szangolies: on 3/24/17 at 9:56am UTC, wrote Hi Neil, thanks for a very intriguing essay. Calling on quantum mechanics...

James Hoover: on 3/20/17 at 21:20pm UTC, wrote Neil, Out of the box thinking and open-minded with it is good. I like it...

Gavin Rowland: on 3/18/17 at 6:37am UTC, wrote Cheers Neil

Neil Bates: on 3/17/17 at 12:12pm UTC, wrote Joe, I thank you for your interest. I'll take a look at your essay....

Neil Bates: on 3/17/17 at 12:09pm UTC, wrote First - no editing of our comments at our own essay page, eh? I can do it...

Steve Dufourny: on 3/17/17 at 8:36am UTC, wrote You are welcome. Indeed there are many essays and several very relevant.I...

Neil Bates: on 3/17/17 at 1:11am UTC, wrote Thanks, Peter. You start your essay as a storyteller and interdisciplinary...


Lorraine Ford: "P.S. Ethics is just an exercise in window dressing if reality is such..." in FQXi Essay Contest 2016:...

James Putnam: "Sears and Zemansky 13th ed. Summary of Chapter ! (page 26): "Physical..." in Alternative Models of...

Lorraine Ford: "Eckard, How can we hope for "a reasonable ethics" when scientists,..." in FQXi Essay Contest 2016:...

Joe Fisher: "Isent this email: March 25, 2017 Ref: Simple reality Dear..." in Bohemian Reality:...

Steve Agnew: "These are operational definitions just as S&Z state in the 13th Ed. just..." in Alternative Models of...

jay grey: "Thanks for the link, I believe it will be very useful for personal..." in Santa Barbara Gravity...

Joe Fisher: "Attempting to account for complex finite invisible particles will not help..." in Bohemian Reality:...

jany watson: "At we have a long list of similar" in Koalas, Quantum Mechanics...

click titles to read articles

Bohemian Reality: Searching for a Quantum Connection to Consciousness
Is there are sweet spot where artificial intelligence systems could have the maximum amount of consciousness while retaining powerful quantum properties?

Quantum Replicants: Should future androids dream of quantum sheep?
To build the ultimate artificial mimics of real life systems, we may need to use quantum memory.

Painting a QBist Picture of Reality
A radical interpretation of physics makes quantum theory more personal.

The Spacetime Revolutionary
Carlo Rovelli describes how black holes may transition to "white holes," according to loop quantum gravity, a radical rewrite of fundamental physics.

Riding the Rogue Quantum Waves
Could giant sea swells help explain how the macroscopic world emerges from the quantum microworld? (Image credit: MIT News)

March 29, 2017

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: Is Quantum Magic Behind Life, Mind, and Rational Machinery? by Neil Bates [refresh]
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This essay's rating: Community = 4.6; Public = 5.0

Author Neil Bates wrote on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 16:36 GMT
Essay Abstract

How did our universe develop complexity and intelligent life? Quantum mechanics may hold the key. First, a classical universe could not form complex orderly structures. Second, both the time-asymmetric nature of wave evolution and collapse, along with the correlative power of entanglement, spreads increasing organized possibilities forward in time. We already know that quantum mechanics aids the efficiency of photosynthesis, it may also help drive evolution and the powers of the mind, "free will" in particular.

Author Bio

I am an independent scholar asking challenging questions and trying to figure out what's going on. I have worked in various technical and other fields, being somewhat of a "Renaissance Man."

Download Essay PDF File

Conrad Dale Johnson wrote on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 18:45 GMT
Hi Neil --

Nice essay. I especially like the point you make to begin with, that even though classical physics seems neat and simple, compared with quantum mechanics, it just doesn't work as the basis for any kind of higher-level structure. One theme of my essay is the remarkable functionality of quantum physics, and how many different kinds of complex structure are needed to support the precisely uniform and predictable behavior of atoms and molecules.

Surely you're right that QM is needed as a basis for the evolution of life and humanity. And I think there are at least some important analogies between quantum measurement and the kinds of interaction that evolved human intelligence.

Your point about Bayesian reasoning is also on point. When I was a kid, hardly any scientist would admit to believing in life in outer space; now nearly everyone assumes there must be other forms of life out there. But you can't calculate odds based on a single case, especially one as singular as ours.

Thanks -- Conrad

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Alexey/Lev Burov wrote on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 03:06 GMT
Hi Neil,

It's a pleasure to see you are here. I just started reading your essay, and I am glad you are stressing a very fundamental thing: the proper structure of the physical laws. Your explanation of impossibility of classical world is well articulated for the general public, and that is important. In fact, structural tuning of the laws is more fundamental than fine tuning of their constants, as we also tried to stress two years ago. While I am reading your essay, you may have a look and comment ours. When finished, I will comment more.


Alexey Burov

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Author Neil Bates wrote on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 14:39 GMT
Conrad, Alexey and Lev:

Thanks for the supportive comments. I'll look at your essays soon. Sigh. I just got 1-bombed (known by the averaging math) by some anonymous coward who gave no reason for the worst possible rating. If you don't like an essay, you can even stay anonymous but at least give a reason why you think a paper deserves a low rating. I say this on behalf of all of us. I am blaming those who abuse their vote here, not FQXi.

Alexey/Lev Burov replied on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 23:46 GMT

I like your essay and give you a high rate. I already mentioned that we fully share your attention to the structure of the physical laws, not only to their constants. I also agree with you that rare interventions of the free will into any probabilistic events would not be distinguishable from a rare fluctuation. One more important point I see in your essay is that for infinite or big enough multiverse/universe low probability of appearance of life is not actually prohibitive as a pure accident. What convinces me in the upper Mind is not that low probability, but very special features of the physical laws, which we describe by the word discoverability, see our text for more details.

Good luck!


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Gavin William Rowland wrote on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 05:32 GMT
Hi Neil

I enjoyed reading your essay and think your reasoning is solid. Lots of ideas you have packed in concisely and coherently.

I agree with your point about free will & determinism vs QM. James Robert Arnold's essay explores this as well you may like to read it.

I will read your essay Alexey and Lev it is on my list

My essay will be of interest to you i think Neil. It explores the biofriendliness of the laws and constants and within the same theme the constructiveness of human reasoning. (Please help me recover as I was bombed three times!)



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Author Neil Bates replied on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 00:52 GMT
Thank you, Gavin. I'll look at James' and your essays. The question of causality and what is "necessary" versus from chance or even "free" has never really been truly understood, much less answered.

Gavin William Rowland replied on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 06:37 GMT
Cheers Neil

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 12:37 GMT
Hello Mr Bates,

Congratulations for this papper.

Good luck in this contest.

Regards from Belgium

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Author Neil Bates replied on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 00:54 GMT
Thanks, Steve. There are many essays this time, and quite a mix of focal points and perspectives.

Steve Dufourny replied on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 08:36 GMT
You are welcome.

Indeed there are many essays and several very relevant.I enjoyed and liked a lot this contest.We learn in the same time and we share ideas.FQXi makes a wonderfull work.It is so innovant, transparent,global and revolutionary for the global sciences community.We can make incredible revolutions on this Platform.

All the best from Belgium

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Anonymous wrote on Mar. 10, 2017 @ 12:05 GMT

Nice essay, well written and argued and representing a sound overview of much of QM and it's implications. But I can maybe see why it was 'bombed', which might be the same reason mine was; tackling QM at all!

I agree with most of your analysis, but It seems you didn't read my logical unravelling of Bertelmann's socks of last year ; Red & Green Socks, which survived multiple bomb attacks! You won't then have seen the (relatively!) simple classical analogue, which I expand this year to a full classical derivation underpinning almost all you write!! So your; "roughing out the "principle of the thing" in broadest terms" looks right, but due to new physics not 'magic'!

In brief. Consider a pair of socks with different colour linings, or a spinning sphere where we find one pole spins clockwise and one anti-clockwise. You may just find all do!! Now with anti parallel propagation, similar reversible 'sock' detectors giving outputs of either 'SAME' (RR,GG) or 'DIFFERENT' (RG,GR), the weirdness evaporates. Anyway I hope you read this years and see if you can rationalise it. Too few even bother.

Lastly you asked; "So what is "randomness" anyway?" may I offer the observation that from a splitter the North and South pole distribution each way is random and 50:50 (changing non-linearly at the detector electron by Cos latitude and tending to undecidability at the equator). That '50:50' is all that 'randomness' needs, and I also identify TWO ORTHOGONAL 'uncertainties'. Can you suggest any case where that 50:50 case seems inadequate?

But enough of mine! Very well done for yours. It sits right up there on my scoring mod sheet.

Very Best wishes for the recovery of your score.


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Peter Jackson replied on Mar. 10, 2017 @ 16:04 GMT

That was I. Timed out while writing it!


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Author Neil Bates replied on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 01:11 GMT
Thanks, Peter. You start your essay as a storyteller and interdisciplinary generalist, setting the table about the questions instead of juseht diving in with an axe to grind. I like that. I am not yet sure just how the segue into angular momentum carries on to the end point, and per relevance to genetic change etc. Maybe looking at comments from others will help me understand your strategy here - and I need to brush up on "spin networks," spintronics and the like. The latter surely has relevance to neurology at the fine level such as in microtubules.

As for the red/green socks issue, I am thinking - perhaps you mean, that the superposition of right and left spin (that gives rise to a linear polarized state) can be objectified to an opposite? (Such as 0.8 RH and 0.6 LH at some phase angle, corresponds to the other photon being 0.8 LH and 0.8 RH at the same phase angle?)

Author Neil Bates replied on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 12:09 GMT
First - no editing of our comments at our own essay page, eh? I can do it at the blogs though. (And my spellcheck still flags "blogs" and damn, "spellcheck" for that matter?!) Sigh - hence "juseht" is there to stay I suppose. In any case: I forgot to take into account, that altho the angular momentum vectors from a binary emission would be opposite in actuality, they actually show the same spin relative to the observer. Hence I should write (and would fix if I could!) the above as:

(Such as 0.8 RH and 0.6 LH at some phase angle, corresponds to the other photon arriving with the same constitution relative to the observer?)

Ulla Marianne Mattfolk wrote on Mar. 10, 2017 @ 13:04 GMT
Nice to see you here Neil.

Your essay tangle mine a bit. The collapse is maybe 'partial'? Also the asymmetry is very important and the critic of Schrödinger time evolution in closed situations are a proper one. Quantum situations cannot generally be seen as closed.

You have proper claims with no reference a bit too often to feel good for me, otherwise quite ok. A bit 'wordy' too :)

Nice. I will give my vote for you later.


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Author Neil Bates wrote on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 23:39 GMT
Too much a headache to say much tonight, folks. I'll try to reciprocate with some comments at other essays (and have already voted on a few.)

Joe Fisher replied on Mar. 14, 2017 @ 16:27 GMT
Dear Neil Bates,

Please excuse me for I have no intention of disparaging in any way any part of your essay.

I merely wish to point out that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) Physicist & Nobel Laureate.

Only nature could produce a reality so simple, a single cell amoeba could deal with it.

The real Universe must consist only of one unified visible infinite physical surface occurring in one infinite dimension, that am always illuminated by infinite non-surface light.

A more detailed explanation of natural reality can be found in my essay, SCORE ONE FOR SIMPLICITY. I do hope that you will read my essay and perhaps comment on its merit.

Joe Fisher, Realist

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Author Neil Bates replied on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 12:12 GMT

I thank you for your interest. I'll take a look at your essay. General note: I don't comment a whole lot for some reason, that's just my style.

Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Mar. 16, 2017 @ 10:08 GMT
Nice essay Neil Bates,

Your ideas and thinking are excellent for eg…

Let's first ask: could a classical universe turn out like ours did? You might be tempted to start by saying: maybe, just look at the Solar System and other gravitationally-bound complexes. But no. Yes, solar systems are impressive, but are fragile to outside interaction.

Here I describe a classical...

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Philip Gibbs wrote on Mar. 16, 2017 @ 19:31 GMT
Neil, it is good to see you made it in for this one. I agree that QM is essential for the universe to work the way it does and you explain that very well.

You ask how rare we are. I think we are rarer in the cosmos than many people currently imagine. The continual news of exoplanets naturally leads to optimism, but Fermi's paradox does not go away and it may have required many chance events and circumstances to bring us to our current level.

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Author Neil Bates replied on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 00:49 GMT

Thanks for your affirmation. I'll take a look at your essay here, I like attempts to deal with consciousness. We are perceivers of this world, that conditions our attempts to understand it, and "mind" cannot be canceled out of that journey.

James Lee Hoover wrote on Mar. 20, 2017 @ 21:20 GMT

Out of the box thinking and open-minded with it is good. I like it that you pose possibilities of QM keys to intelligent life. It is true that a little understood "quantum coherence" aids the efficiency of photosynthesis where chlorophyll molecules were operating a novel search strategy known as a "quantum walk" over a classical random walk, something scientists did not expect. Little understood QM should certainly not be left out of the discussion. One of the earliest books on quantum biology intrigued me, Life on the Edge, by Jim Al-khalili. He spoke of consciousness as a quantum mechanical phenomenon. There are QM relationships in the migrations of birds and butterflies. I'll have to reread it, looking at your slant.

Hope you get a chance to check out mine.


Jim Hoover

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Jochen Szangolies wrote on Mar. 24, 2017 @ 09:56 GMT
Hi Neil,

thanks for a very intriguing essay. Calling on quantum mechanics will, I suppose, invite the usual criticism about how quantum mechanics is typically thought to play no role at the scales where we expect to find an explanation for goal-oriented behaviour. I think your take correctly deflects this criticism: while we may not find relevant quantum effects persisting at this level,...

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