*Neurons, the Mesoscopic Boundary Between Quantum and Newtonian Physics.*
Back to Existential Reality.
Any credible model of human brain dynamics must address the issues attending intra-species, interspecies and transfinite reciprocal information transfer. The quantum theoretical approach has been very successful in the microphysics and macrophysics levels of organization. But at the human existential, mesoscopic level, inside our 4-dimensional human Minkowsky cage, we have a long way to go for reasons we will briefly analyze below. Can we apply the same analytical and technological know-how approaches to living systems? We can identify neuronal properties that in theory may lend themselves to a quantum scrutiny, e.g., neuron micro-tubular architecture, ion channel structural design and neuronal membrane’s electrical gradients.
Once more we stress the need to approach the conundrum of consciousness and universal reality by underlying the anthropic principle that sustains and gives meaning to any fact or speculation about human existential reality. It is the human brain dynamics that ultimately spell out the conditions sine qua non that are ontologically described or epistemologically explained. We are the observers and narrators of reality, a new Copernican revolution that brings man back to the center of the universe.
We consider the preceding ‘back to basics’ arguments as the underlying substratum on which to elaborate a submodel of consciousness resting on solid and reliable measurements whose probable meanings to living humans existence are the result of rigorously applied metaphysical logic analytical tools as the starting point. We feel that the finite and measurable living mesoscopic domain, the human brain, bridging the two opposite micro/macro transfinity domains, together form a coherent unified whole. Because of the supercomplexity of living systems, specifically of the human brain, very little work has been done on neuronal systems underlying biophysical chemistry. The time is ripe to overhaul, if necessary, those previous conceptualizations that may present a barrier to further understanding of brain dynamics, e.g., the relevance of quantum gravity in classical atomic theory. We take one brief first step by outlining the possible approaches towards that end.
The BPS mesoscopic sub-model of brain dynamics is not necessarily herein endorsing a proposal for a universal quantum theoretical explanation applicable to all levels of organization, from the sub-Planckian micro to the cosmological macro reality, however tempting it becomes to argue that it does. Instead we need first to reconcile the natural laws governing the micro and macro domains in an effort to better understand the brain dynamics of a living brain system at the existential mesoscopic level. We have tentatively suggested elsewhere mechanisms for intraspecies information transfer1 –essentially a modified W. Freeman’s transactional model2- and for interspecies reciprocal communication via mirror neurons3.
Meanwhile we continue to examine the theoretical possibility of a quantum gravity model using a putative Schwarzschild nucleus in biomolecules/atoms that we find necessary to explore for those aspects of the neuronal structural/functional cytophysiology amenable to achieve and sustain a quantum coherent state notwithstanding the immediate environmental conditions contrary to the attainment of such state, such as macromolecular size, ambient temperature and intra/extra cellular background noise among others. These we will briefly examine below in our quantum theoretical scrutiny. We are encouraged by the growing evidence of quantum behavior in biological systems and the successful application of its principles in macro systems like laser and superfluid/superconductance technology and semiconductors.4
We consider the development of computer-assisted technology a welcome explosion of facts and theoretical leads into even more, heretofore unknown, possibilities of penetrating deeper into the invisible treasures nature still holds in secret. Yet we also notice, with some regret, that many able investigators often forget that even their sense-phenomenal perceptual descriptions of objects or events are not absolute invariants, not to mention their conceptual explanations or conjectures about the invisible causal agents making the same sensory detections possible, i.e., reality is a process made possible by our living processing minds in action. This includes both our internal body-proper and external environmental sensory perceptual activity generating descriptions or scales for measurements. The problem gets more serious when conceptualizing by using language tools to explain the invisible forces or energies ostensibly controlling the observable behaviors where both internal and external, perceptual and conceptual elements are inextricably intertwined.
The most common delusional ‘breakthroughs’ in science that we notice is found when language representations, whether symbolic or sentential, are often confused with the actual physical object or event being abstracted into their linguistic equivalent, the proverbial confusing the map with the territory. Space and time scales are often construed to be absolute and independent physical realities instead of what they really are, i.e., convenient mathematics language tools for the consistent abstract representation of actual or inferred material objects or events as they ostensibly change their physical configuration or position, whether visible or not to our senses. To be consistent we register the observed or inferred ‘change’ in terms of an agreed-to abstract scale of time and space. This results in our existential 4-d space-time convenient dimensions. To further accommodate the observed repeating/recursive cycles of change we invent the imaginary or negative time, i.e., Minkowsky-Einstein 4-d space-time dimensions. This frequent confusion is specially so in particle physics as recently demonstrated when trying to identify the Higgs boson ‘forces’ with the powerful hadron collider at CERN. Subatomic particles or galactic black holes both owe their existence to a conscious observer’s mind…and then only as probabilities. All of reality, whether sensory experienced or mentally conceptualized…..or not, exists because a living creature witnessed its presence and his conscious effort ‘created’ it, as it were. Matter, however small its subdivision in microreality or large its aggregation in the macro level, has attributions, e.g., dimensions, configurations, position, shapes, colors, etc. Attributes do not have an independent invariant existence from the material entity it describes. Life seems the common independent denominator that makes reality possible. This is not to say that, for the first human being born, all of sense-phenomenal macro reality came into sudden existence as a function of his evolving state of consciousness, it was already there. All we can do is look into the deeper skies, and assume you are looking into a past that was but survives for our conceptual scrutiny and write erudite poetry about how things probably were as revealed to our limited human observers. Like we said before: “…we are forced to consider not just the fleeting moment we call present, the ‘being’, as it evolves or ‘becomes’ past in transit into a potential future, but also to predict with variable degrees of certainty its evolution into that future, the ‘becoming’ we may control..” Consequently, we had also summarized the uncertainty as: “We can no longer say that the past has been but is no longer, while the future will come to be but is not yet.”
An additional level of complexity springs forth when we realize that the human species survival depends on social conviviality through the aegis of verbal and non-verbal interspecies exchange of survival data as we discussed elsewhere. It may well be that the sense-phenomenal experience of individuals gets merged into a ‘survival social reality” of sorts, a world of cooperating conscious agents trying to fashion a biopsychosocial model of species survival taking into consideration all relevant finite ontological and transfinite epistemological aspects of ‘reality’ as we have suggested before.
Another level of complexity springs forth when we realize that the human species survival depends on social conviviality through the aegis of verbal and non-verbal interspecies exchange of survival data as we discussed elsewhere. It may well be that the sense-phenomenal experience of individuals gets merged into a ‘survival social reality” of sorts, a world of cooperating conscious agents trying to fashion a biopsychosocial model of species survival taking into consideration all relevant finite ontological and transfinite epistemological aspects as we have suggested before.
Another aspect of brain dynamics that seems to elude the current investigators of mind/brain phenomena is the fundamental role theology plays in the real life of human beings as witnessed by history. All humans believe because not all important and relevant aspects of reality are self-evident by sensory detection or immediate logical inference. All humans seem to experience the psychosocial need to explain their origins and destinies. Science and religion are meant to be two different domains of our species mental activity because they serve different purposes in the biopsychosocial economy of the human species yet they interact synergistically to provide the tools to conquer and control the physical environmental habitat on the one hand and the moral and ethical survival tools of psychosocial conviviality in the environmental niche. This has been amply discussed and elaborated on in many previous articles by the undersigned.7
It should seem clear to anyone watchful enough to have ‘experienced’ those relevant invisible forces in nature that significantly affect our existence, that we cannot rely exclusively on our limited perceptual sensory information bank to configure our model of reality. We must also depend on our ability to conceptualize those experienced and vital invisible energies/forces present and harmonize both into an indelible hybrid whole –an epistemontological hybrid- the best we can within the un-aided reaches of our also very limited brain combinatorial resources when compared to computer processing resolution.
When we represent those significant invisible forces or energies influencing our existence by applying the mathematical logic languages available, it often creates the delusion in the observer of mastering the invariant and absolute configuration of the physical essence/matter those descriptive or explanatory attributes belong to. But we should know better. Wisdom is to us more properly the informed mental act of tentatively accepting the Cartesian doubt as a guiding tool for discovery as we journey along the path through existence with a commitment to an open-mindedness able to include -or exclude- whatever constitutive element, -genetic or memetic, perceptually sensed or conceptually inferred, internal body proper or external- that is instrumental in positively influencing our adaptive, quotidian, decision-making process; all within the context of our real-time, ongoing and individualized biopsychosocial reality.
It also seems clear, as human recorded history shows, that perceptual and conceptual reality evolve in cycles of recursive spiral gyrations where ‘the more things change, the more they remain the same’ within our species life span as registered for the macro systems interactivity. Yet invisible and significant micro system changes loom unregistered as yet, waiting to be discovered and identified.
Then we are ready to marry the Newtonian macro reality with the quantum micro reality into a unified hybrid whole. Otherwise the perceptual information on macro systems commits many gifted individuals to a blind faith in evolution by natural selection, -the clever, credible Darwinian type- as the exclusive mechanism underlying change. Yet, these very same Darwinian religionists, although also committed to a scientific methodology approach in their conclusions seem to ignore that natural laws predict that systems would inexorably evolve towards their lowest free energy state, by definition, the lowest possible level of organization. This would be, ab initio, logically inconsistent with the obvious spontaneous organization of the ordered natural systems we daily observe or otherwise infer as we witness them at practically all levels of micro/macro reality.
This makes Watson’s ‘Enformed Theory’ claim for a pre-existing fundamental negentropic drive for systems to spontaneously self-organize in nature as being inconsistent with natural laws as we currently understand and interpret them. Life and consciousness are not, by applying the rules of scientific methodology, the spontaneous consequence of the activity of a pre-existing, uncaused ‘enformed’ system. We rather suspect instead it is the result of the conceptual elaboration of a living self-conscious human being and thereby awaiting evaluation as to its predictive value to real-time humans in their 4-d space-time habitat. Matter has characteristic attributions that define its degree of structural and functional complexity and the eventual attainment of such cannot be logically attributed to a non-material causal agent unless enformism joins the credo of the theological club of believers. Life and self-consciousness, as we know them, are far from being adequately described or explained by enformism’s brilliant fictional poetry. Robotic awareness of environmental variables, sophisticated and complex as a human being can program them to be, is a far cry from self-consciousness ability to distinguished self from others as we have explained elsewhere so many times. A sophisticated thermostat can respond to (become aware of) a critical temperature level by executing the most complex adjustments imaginable except being self conscious of its own participation.
The mesoscopic level is defined, for the purpose of this brief discussion, as: a sub-discipline of condensed matter physics dealing with materials the size of a molecule measuring in the range of micrometers (range of bacteria or viruses). This level of organization may represent the boundary between the newtonian macroscopic and the quantum microscopic domains that need to be reconciled. It would seem like e.g., an aggregation of microscopic quantum sub atomic particles until it attains the mesoscopic level of sugar, phosphates or nucleic acids leading to macroscopic DNA polymers in a brain structure should not have a fragmented theoretical structure/function explanation.
A familiar example is illustrated when, e.g., current travels continuously along a wire as its diameter increases according to classical physics but in discrete steps (quantized) along increasing mesoscopic diameters, as observed in conductance through nano-scale devices where surface accumulation of atoms/electrons is greater. These differences are due to quantum confinement (circular quantum dots) and shows up when the diameter of the particle approximates the magnitude of the wavelength of the electron’s wave function. Impurities along a mesoscopic conducting surface may also bring about ‘random’ oscillations in the form of disturbing experimental fluctuations during measurements of brain electrical activity. This is due to intra/inter neuronal oscillatory activity. These may be caused by microscopic neuronal sub-threshold variations in membrane potential, mesoscopic local field variations in wave amplitude due to constructive/destructive wave interference seen in EEG or MEG or macroscopic interacting, feedback action potentials in neuronal ensembles, (e.g., field potentials in delta or theta activity) respectively, all of which can be recorded in EEG or MEG. Neural oscillations are still far from being understood but brain imaging techniques are making it easier to analyze.
The paradox of having macromolecules whose structural and functional attributes while controlled by their constituent micro particles, yet require different analytical /mathematical models for the macro (classical physics) and micro (quantum physics) components is mind-boggling. One suspects that some of the bosonic particle dimensions are below the Schwartzchild radius introducing dark matter (micro black holes) issues not taken into consideration by current atomic theory. Unfortunately we are not able yet to justify the existence of weakly interacting bosons giving rise to equivalent BEC condensates at human body temperatures and thereby demonstrate how their quantum effects can be measured/observed on a macroscopic scale. The problem of preventing the decoherent molecular collapse under the noisy thermal background remains unsolved. Once this stabilization problem is resolved experimentally we can successfully apply the Schrodinger analytical equations at any level of particle organization. How will anyone apply quantum statistics at the mesoscopic scale is anybody’s guess. Fortunately there are well studied systems, e.g., electron transfer particle (ETP) in photosynthesis or ion transfer through protein channels in membranes, that can be used to test these ideas. Maybe all that is required is a transient state of quantum coherence to overcome the disrupting effects of thermal noise. This transient state may result from the sudden acceleration of ions across membrane channels generating a positive vortex of magnetic flow and the corresponding negative vortex of electric flow. At this point it may be worthwhile to recall from the exposition above that we are talking about particle flows, whatever their dimensions; charge or magnetism or whatever other relevant attributes do not have an independent existence.
Summary and Conclusions.
The completion of the mesoscopic domain characterization depends on a previous successful reconciliation of the models for quantum microscopic and classic macroscopic physical laws. By intuition we feel that the problems surrounding the apparent difficulties in reconciling classical physics (general relativity) and quantum physics is centered around the issue of quantum gravity and gravitons because of either conceptual mis-apprehensions and/or experimental failures of the super hadron colliders to detect gravitons or Higgs bosons. Both gravitons’ existence remains a mystery. Conceptually it makes no sense in considering gravitons as “massless particles” which sounds like “mass-less mass” just because it’s ‘mass’ is beyond measurable detection and, more important, because it may exist at dimensions below the critical Schwarzschild radius where the gravitational effects of condensed matter micro black holes cannot be ignored and may forever change the organization of the classical periodic table to accommodate heretofore unknown particle association by non-classical chemical bonding. It may well be that we can no longer ignore that important fourth fundamental interaction of quantum gravity in the formation of molecular chemical bonds. Reconciling quantum theory with general relativity will bring all known fundamental interactions under same umbrella model encompassing micro, meso and macro scales, a truly Theory of Everything. The problem of reconciling the convenient coordinate systems we humans have invented when describing dimensional differences in space (frame of reference.) is a task for pure mathematicians to solve in the search for that lofty goal of diffeomorphism, i.e., invariance in the formulation of the appropriate physical laws valid for small or large distance scales, at all Euclidian and non-Euclidian dimensional mindscape levels. This means, among other things, a reduction of all that multi-dimensional array of significant variables inside our 4-d Minkowsky cage to manageable symbolic representations, more likely as a second rank tensor at high energies where gravitational forces remain thus far nonrenormalizable. If successful, like we did when tackling the complexity of the infinite integrals of perturbation theory in quantum electrodynamics. Are we then ready for a new atomic theory of matter?
At that time, as quoted elsewhere, “From the many sense-phenomenal objects and/or events in our immediate environment (including memories) only a limited number of steady states of discrete, individualized neuronal patterns (attractor basins) are set-up to respond exclusively to particular stimuli in the future.
These would activate a particular set of bulbar neurons acting as a relay switch to a
corresponding attractor basin uniquely coupled to different memory, emotional and
physiological pattern of responses (mental state). When these signals were analyzed on the oscilloscope screen they were found to resemble chaotic systems with ‘attractor basins’. Once it was experimentally documented that there is probabilistic nature to brain dynamics,” And we add, all consistent with a new variety of ‘free will by consent’. This way, at the mesoscopic level of existential reality “….we are forced to consider not just the fleeting moment we call present, the ‘being’, as it evolves or ‘becomes’ past in transit into a potential future, but also to predict with variable degrees of certainty its evolution into that future, the ‘becoming’ we may control: and free will to choose from available ‘futures scenarios’. In so doing we acknowledge an involuntary shift away from the reductionist physical approach into the metaphysical ‘emergence’ realm of ‘process’ philosophy….in explaining day to day to day changes, including cerebral plasticity, an emergent phenomenon they call the attractor hypothesis” To make things more manageable our BPS model has tried to concentrate on brain sinks at pre-motor brain cortex that are in constant renewal (dynamic plasticity) and concentrating related information ready to be freely chosen by consent after taking into consideration the ongoing emotional state of the actor.
Dr. Angell O. de la Sierra In Deltona, Florida Spring 2011