Monthly Archives: February 2013

Soul theory: Oh, they used the Q word | Doubtful News. Kan kvantfysik/kvantteori (the Q word står för Quantum theory) förklara medvetandet och själen? Hameroff & Penrose är inne på att så kan vara fallet.

Soul theory: Oh, they used the Q word | Doubtful News.


Soul theory: Oh, they used the Q word

October 31, 2012


Scientists offer quantum theory of soul’s existence.

American Dr Stuart Hameroff and British physicist Sir Roger Penrose developed a quantum theory of consciousness asserting that our souls are contained inside structures called microtubules which live within our brain cells.

Their idea stems from the notion of the brain as a biological computer, “with 100 billion neurons and their axonal firings and synaptic connections acting as information networks”.

They argue that our experience of consciousness is the result of quantum gravity effects inside these microtubules – a process they call orchestrated objective reduction (Orch-OR).

In a near-death experience the microtubules lose their quantum state but the information within them is not destroyed. Or in layman’s terms, the soul does not die but returns to the universe.

“[…]souls are contained inside structures called microtubules which live within our brain cells.” Is it just me or does that sound similar to how George Lucas tried to explain the Force and midichlorians in The Phantom Menace?

Regardless, it’s speculative at best, and should be given no further weight than that.

Addition: He’s been at this for a while. (Tip: @lippard)

More stories that may be of interest


5 Responses to Soul theory: Oh, they used the Q word

  1. Massachusetts on October 31, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    I’ve seen these guys on that show with Morgan Freeman narrating, I believe: “Through the wormhole.” It does seem rather speculative at best. I wouldn’t be upset exactly if they were proved to be right, but I don’t see any evidence to support their assertions.

  2. Massachusetts on October 31, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    I guess in the popular culture “Quantum” is replacing “Sorcery” and “Magic” as a way of explaining seemingly impossible things, perhaps?

  3. Massachusetts on October 31, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    I understand, regarding Lucas, that he just gave up and passed the baton to someone else to make the next series of Star Wars films. I guess those pesky force critters did the old boy in! :)

  4. Nucular on November 1, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    I know less about Hameroff, but I’ve always enjoyed Penrose’s ideas – and in the past he’s always freely admitted that his ‘quantum microtubules’ idea of consciousness is unevidenced as yet, and relies on other unproven constructs like ‘quantum gravity’. I seem to have stopped concentrating for the last few years, and suddenly it’s all about immortal souls and NDEs? Given Hameroff seems to be the one doing the rounds, I wonder what Penrose thinks about all this ‘we’ business.

  5. Professor Abed Peerally on November 2, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    Not so doubtful after all, but very premature. It is interesting that what is consciousness is starting to get attention from serious sources although very speculative. However i do believe that there is the possibility to arrive at a first tentative serious start on what could constitute consciousness. I have said elsewhere that it is not possible to have a Higgs field and boson permeating the cosmos as this would make the elucidation of the deep realities of the universe impossible to elucidate. Ideas like those of Penrose and Hameroff are a very rudimentary beginning and I could make it a bit more”etoffe” but I will in due course. For one thing it would be very difficult for reconciling consciousness with quantum gravity besides the fact that nobody can say even superficially what is quantum gravity. My paper in SAJS, 104:221-224, 2008, on a universal law of time dilation combining SR and GR of Einstein in a single equation of time dilation, is the kind of start we need to address to reach eventually attempts to elucidate our deep realities. In that paper I showed that both SR and GR are correlated with but not exlained by KE and PE. I think we will get a pretty good idea of our deepest realities within this decade.

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I know what you are thinking, Honey. | Doubtful News. Om påstådd telepatisk kontakt. En bättre förklaring är aaad emotional closeness/emotionell närhet.

I know what you are thinking, Honey. | Doubtful News.

I know what you are thinking, Honey.

February 17, 2013


Parapsychologists assert that psi is “quantum-related” and a “fact” especially between those who are emotionally attached.

Telepathy Between Couples: Is It Real? : Discovery News.

When Julie Beischel met Mark Boccuzzi at a conference and agreed to participate in an experiment on telepathy, she didn’t immediately tell him about the powerful connections she’d felt to him; after all, they were strangers.

The data from the experiment backed up her perception, however, and the couple eventually asked Dean Radin, senior scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) that conducted the summer study program, to marry them.

Now, they are co-writing a book, Psychic Intimacy: A Handbook for Couples, that will highlight practical applications of telepathy for couples.

In British expert Rupert Sheldrake’s studies of telephone telepathy, emotional closeness was shown to be a stronger predictor of success than physical closeness.

Meanwhile, with the rise of quantum biology, Radin can start to tug at the beginning of an explanation for the correlation that rises between people who are physically separated. Telepathy, he says, looks something like quantum entanglement: When things are correlated at a distance without energy transferred between the two points.

I’m not convinced Radin understands how quantum mechanics work. (What evidence is there for “quantum biology”?) But I can tell him and this couple a bit about relationships. It’s quite normal that when people share common interests (even each other as an interest), they will tend to see the world through those lenses and focus on similar things around them. Thus, similar thoughts come up at the same time and sometimes we express them at the same time. This is to be EXPECTED.

Psi (various manifestations of extrasensory perception) has been tested on twins and other relatives who share genetic similarities. The evidence for psi is less than overwhelming with other factors coming into play. One BIG problem I have is that proponents of psi make it out to be so impressive. But if it is impressive, why is it so hard to pin down? “Quantum” is a sciencey buzzword and neat idea on which many paranormalists are attempting to capitalize. But it has not been shown to work that way. They need to talk to some physicists instead of making up more of these speculative explanations.

No, they are just going to insist stuff really loudly:

“[Pyschologist Ray] (sic) Hyman and the other skeptics simply lost the Ganzfeld debate,” said Chris Carter, author of Science and Psychic Phenomena: the Fall of the House of Skeptics.  “Telepathy is a fact, regardless of what the deniers will tell you. A central point of my book is that the controversy is not really about evidence.  The ‘skeptics’ simply ignore the evidence; when they can’t ignore it, they deny it, and when they can’t deny it, they try to suppress it.”

Telepathy is a fact. Then it should have been much easier than this to document and explain lo these many years. We are still waiting. Carter has some claims to back up there. Skeptics aren’t asserting that some mystery sense really exists outside of time and space. Parapsychologists are. The burden of proof will be pretty high.

Something to keep in mind when reading pieces like this, you can’t confirm the details of the stories given or how well the experiments were constructed. That holds the key to whether these trumpeted conclusions are valid.

For more on making stuff sound impressively sciencey, see my web column, Sounds Sciencey.

More stories that may be of interest

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In The Beginning… En alternativ skapelseberättelse, där skapandet utförs av Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Feynman m fl kända fysiker/kosmologer.

In The Beginning….

1:1 In the beginning Newton declared space and time. 1:2 And space was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. 1:3 And Newton said, Let there be force: and there was force. 1:4 And Newton saw the force, that it was good: and Newton divided force from straight motion. 1:5 And Newton called force change of momentum, and straight motion he called momentum conservation. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

1:6 And Newton said, Let there be a force in the midst of matter, and let it divide matter from energy. 1:7 And Newton divided matter which were under influence of the force from energy which were above the force: and it was so. 1:8 And Newton called the force Gravity. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

1:9 And Maxwell came and said, Let the matter under influence of gravity be gathered together unto one place, and let the vacuum appear: and it was so. 1:10 And Maxwell called vacuum the field; and the gathering together of matter called he Source: and Maxwell saw that it was good. 1:11 And Maxwell said, Let the field bring forth electricity, magnetism yielding north, and the waves yielding light, whose Source is in itself, upon the field: and it was so. 1:12 And the field brought forth electricity, and magnetism yielding North, and the waves yielding light, whose Source was in itself, and Maxwell saw that it was good. 1:13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

1:14 And Einstein came and said, Let there be movement between the light to divide absolute from relative; and let them define time: seasons, and days, and years. 1:15 And let them render space and time one: and it was so. 1:16 And Einstein created a principle; a single principle to rule the dynamics of matter and also to rule fields. 1:17 And Einstein applied it to the firmament of the heaven to cast light upon the doubters, 1:18 And to divide reality from the darkness of the ether: and Einstein saw that it was good. 1:19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

1:20 And Einstein said, Let matter and field bend space and time, and Let all movements maximize duration. 1:21 And the shape of space and time created gravity, and gravity moved the planets and bended light: and Einstein saw that it was good. 1:22 And Einstein blessed the unity of space and time. 1:23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

1:24 And Bohr and Heisenberg came, and they said, Let energy bring forth quanta: and it was so. 1:25 And Heisenberg and Bohr said, let there be quanta for the harmonic oscillator, and quanta for the hydrogen atom, and quanta for everything that creepeth upon the earth: and they saw that it was good.

1:26 And Feynman and others came, and they said, let us make quantum fields: and let them have dominion over over every creeping particle that creepeth upon the earth. 1:27 So Feynman and others created quantum fields, bosonic and fermionic they created them. 1:28 And All blessed the quantum fields, and said unto these, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the vacuum, and subdue it: and have dominion over reality.

1:29 And All said, Behold, we rule the quantum field, which is upon the face of all the universe, and every piece of space and time, yet we fail to understand how the quantum bends space and time. 1:30 And it was so. 1:31 And All saw every quantum gravity theory that was made, and it was not good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. 2:1 Thus space and time refused to yield to the quantum. 2:2 And despite all their work they made; nobody found rest on the seventh day.

Centuries of fundamental physics condensed in a single Euler diagram. The various theories are grouped according to which aspects of reality are ignored. Red oval (1/c = 0, vanishing slowness of light): theories ignoring relativistic effects, blue circle (h = 0, vanishing quanta): theories ignoring quantum effects, green circle (G = 0, vanishing gravity): theories ignoring spacetime curvature.

Specific theories are labelled as follows:

NM: Newtonian mechanics (Isaac Newton, 1687)
NG: Newtonian gravity (Isaac Newton, 1687)
EM: Electro-magnetics (James Maxwell, 1862)
SR: special relativity (Albert Einstein, 1905)
GR: general relativity (Albert Einstein, 1916)
QM: quantum mechanics (Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, 1925)
QFT: quantum field theory (Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, Julian Schwinger, Richard Feynman, and Freeman Dyson, 1948)

Quantum gravity, the elusive theory of everything, is represented by the area external to the two circles.


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Brain Vs. Brawn In Carpenter Ants: A Chromatin Epigenetic Tale. Bra artikel om vad epigenetik/epigenetics är och hur det fungerar.

Brain Vs. Brawn In Carpenter Ants: A Chromatin Epigenetic Tale.

Brain Vs. Brawn In Carpenter Ants: A Chromatin Epigenetic Tale
By News Staff | February 13th 2013 01:48 PM | 3 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

Genome sequences of seven well-studied ant species give researchers a detailed look at molecular mechanisms – including what may be a basis for complex behavioral differences in two worker castes in the Florida carpenter ant,Camponotus floridanus – basically, epigenetics.

Epigenetics is the study of how the expression or suppression of particular genes by chemical modifications affects an organism’s physical characteristics, development, and behavior; if that sounds vague or perhaps even Lamarckian, your confusion is understandable.  It is believed that epigenetic processes play a significant role in many diseases and are also involved in longevity and aging. Extrapolating epigenetics, some even go so far as to blame a student’s college academic performance on diet – the father’s, before conception. You really can blame everything on your parents.

But in simpler creatures with complex-seeming caste systems, epigenetics is more rigorous.  A group found that epigenetic regulation is key to distinguishing one caste, the “majors”, as brawny Amazons of the carpenter ant colony, compared to the “minors”, their smaller, brainier sisters. These two castes have the same genes, but strikingly distinct behaviors and shape.

Ants, as well as termites and some bees and wasps, are eusocial species that organize themselves into rigid caste-based societies, or colonies, in which only one queen and a small contingent of male ants are usually fertile and reproduce. The rest of a colony is composed of functionally sterile females that are divided into worker castes that perform specialized roles such as foragers, soldiers, and caretakers. In Camponotus floridanus, there are two worker castes that are physically and behaviorally different, yet genetically very similar.

Lead author Daniel F. Simola, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at Penn, explains that “the major is also called a soldier, and it has a much larger head, so the force of its mandibles can break larger prey. It does more nest and colony defense.”

The minor caste, on the other hand, is smaller and more numerous. “They do most of the nursing within a colony, take care of the young, and they will also go out and collect most of the food,” says Simola. “On average, 75 to 80 percent of the foraging activity is done by the minors.” The minor also has a considerably shorter lifespan than the major caste, making the ant castes a good model for longevity studies as well as behavioral studies.

But how do such marked differences arise when both the major and the minor castes share the same genome? “For all intents and purposes, those two castes are identical when it comes to their gene sequences,” notes senior author Shelley Berger, PhD, professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at Penn. “The two castes are a perfect situation to understand how epigenetics, how regulation ‘above’ genes, plays a role in establishing these dramatic differences in a whole organism.”

Florida carpenter ants – minor (left) and major (right). Credit: Brittany Enzmann, Arizona State University

To understand how caste differences arise, the team examined the role of modifications of histones (protein complexes around which DNA strands are wrapped in a cell’s nucleus) throughout the Camponotus floridanus genome, producing the first genome-wide epigenetic maps of genome structure in a social insect. Histones can be altered by the addition of small chemical groups, which affect the expression of genes. Therefore, specific histone modifications can create dramatic differences between genetically similar individuals, such as the physical and behavioral differences between ant castes.

“These chemical modifications of histones alter how compact the genome is in a certain region,” Simola explains. “Certain modifications allow DNA to open up more, and some of them to close DNA more. This, in turn, affects how genes get expressed, or turned on, to make proteins. These modifications establish specific features of different tissues within an individual, so we asked whether there are also overall differences in histone modifications between the brawny majors and the brainy minors that might alter specific features of the whole organism, such as behavior.”

In examining several different histone modifications, the team found a number of distinct differences between the major and minor castes. Simola states that the most notable modification, “both discriminates the two castes from each other and correlates well with the expression levels of different genes between the castes. And if you look at which genes are being expressed between these two castes, these genes correspond very nicely to the brainy versus brawny idea. In the majors we find that genes that are involved in muscle development are expressed at a higher level, whereas in the minors, many genes involved in brain development and neurotransmission are expressed at a higher level.”

These changes in histone modifications between ant castes are likely caused by a regulator gene, called CBP, that has “already been implicated in aspects of learning and behavior by genetic studies in mice and in certain human diseases,” Berger says. “The idea is that the same CBP regulator and histone modification are involved in a learned behavior in ants – foraging – mainly in the brainy minor caste, to establish a pattern of gene regulation that leads to neuronal patterning for figuring out where food is and being able to bring the food back to the nest.”

Simola notes that “we know from mouse studies that if you inactivate or delete the CBP regulator, it actually leads to significant learning deficits in addition to craniofacial muscular malformations. So from mammalian studies, it’s clear this is an important protein involved in learning and memory.”

These findings have established the crucial role of genome structure in general, and histone modifications in particular, in determining the acquisition of organism-level characteristics in ant castes. The research team is looking ahead to expand the work by manipulating the expression of the CBP regulator in ants to observe effects on caste development and behavior. They also hope to refine the technique of mapping histone modifications so that specific tissues, such as a brain from a single ant, can be analyzed, rather than using pooled samples, as in the current study.

Berger observes that all of the genes known to be major epigenetic regulators in mammals are conserved in ants, which makes them “a fantastic model for studying behavior and longevity. Ants provide an extraordinary opportunity to explore and understand the epigenetic processes that underlie many human diseases and the aging process.”

Citation: Daniel F. Simola, Chaoyang Ye, Navdeep S. Mutti, Kelly Dolezal, Roberto Bonasio, Jürgen Liebig, Danny Reinberg, and Shelley L. Berger , ‘A chromatin link to caste identity in the carpenter ant Camponotus floridanus’, Genome Research doi:10.1101/gr.148361.112

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