Are life and consciousness connected to the funda-mental level of reality?
Consciousness defines our existence and reality, but the mechanism by which
the brain generates thoughts and feelings remains unknown.
Most explanations portray the brain as a computer, with nerve cells ("neurons") and their synaptic connections acting as simple switches. However computation alone cannot explain why we have feelings and awareness, an "inner life."
We also don't know if our conscious perceptions accurately portray the external world. At its base, the universe follows the seemingly bizarre and paradoxical laws of quantum mechanics, with particles being in multiple places simultaneously, connected over distance, and with time not existing. But the “classical” world we perceive is definite, with a flow of time. The boundary or edge (quantum state reduction, or ‘collapse of the wave function”) between the quantum and classical worlds somehow involves consciousness.
I spent twenty years studying how computer-like structures called microtubules inside neurons and other cells could process information related to consciousness. But when I read The emperor’s new mind by Sir Roger Penrose in 1991 I realized that consciousness may be a specific process on the edge between the quantum and classical worlds. Roger and I teamed up to develop a theory of consciousness based on quantum computation in microtubules within neurons. Roger’s mechanism for an objective threshold for quantum state reduction connects us to the most basic, “funda-mental” level of the universe at the Planck scale, and is called objective reduction (OR). Our suggestion for biological feedback to microtubule quantum states is orchestration (Orch), hence our model is called orchestrated objective reduction, Orch OR.
In recent years I have considered that such a connection to the basic proto-conscious level of reality where Platonic values are embedded is strikingly similar to Buddhist and other spiritual conceptsconcepts.
This website is intended to convey the ideas and implications behind Orch OR. Click here for a general overview. However for a reader-friendly, entry level approach, try Interviews (or Popular Press under Media).
Stuart Hameroff, M.D.
Department of Anesthesiology
Arizona Health Sciences Center
Tucson, AZ 85724
(520) 626-5596 FAX