Soul theory: Oh, they used the Q word

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)

  6 comments for “Soul theory: Oh, they used the Q word

  1. Massachusetts
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.

  6. Lukas
    January 17, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    Hameroff is also a believer in Quantum Healing:

    “Stuart Hameroff, June 24 at 9:49 pm

    Hi everyone

    People like Dawkins must be confronted head-on. To defend ‘quantum healing’,
    attack Dawkins’ so-called strength, put him on the defensive. Be as
    biological as
    possible. He really doesn’t know much about it.

    1) Healing is health; health is optimal life. What is life?
    Increasingly, life at its core
    is shown to be a quantum system, non-local and thus susceptible to
    ‘quantum healing’
    (which I would define through nonlocal entanglement)

    2) Dawkins’ ‘God’ is DNA. DNA, like other important biomolecules, is a
    quantum device
    (invite him into an argument about quantum biology)

    3) the Anthropic principle – to explain how the cosmological
    constants, or dimensionless
    numbers which govern the universe happen to be precisely right for
    life and consciousness without
    a guiding hand, Dawkins (whether he realizes it or not) needs to
    invoke multiple worlds/multiverse b.s.
    Make him defend that.

    Stuart Hameroff MD
    Professor, Anesthesiology and Psychology
    Director, Center for Consciousness Studies
    The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona”

    Its from here:

    Hameroff also appeared in What the Bleep we Know along with Dean Radin:

    “Featured individuals[edit]

    The film features several interviewees for the documentary portion, including:
    Amit Goswami is a theoretical nuclear physicist and was a member of the University of Oregon Institute for Theoretical Physics starting in 1968, teaching physics for 32 years. After a period of distress and frustration in his private and professional life starting at the age 38, his research interests shifted to quantum cosmology, quantum measurement theory, and applications of quantum mechanics to the mind-body problem.
    Dean Radin, Senior Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) in Petaluma, California. He holds a PhD in psychology from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and both master’s and bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering.
    John Hagelin, a physicist at Maharishi University of Management, director of MUM’s Institute for Science, Technology, and Public Policy, and three-time presidential candidate of the Transcendental Meditation-linked Natural Law Party.
    Stuart Hameroff, an anesthesiologist, author, and associate director of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona, who worked with Roger Penrose on a speculative quantum theory of consciousness.”

    Its from here:!%3F

    Also Hameroffs “new”paper was posted here:

    Discovery of Quantum Vibrations in ‘Microtubules’ Inside Brain Neurons
    Supports Controversial Theory of Consciousness

    In the paper Hameroff is citing Dem Baryl and Dean Radin:

    D.J. Bem

    Feeling the future: experimental evidence for anomalous retroactive influences on cognition and affect

    J Pers Soc Psychol, 100 (2012), pp. 407–425
    D.J. Bierman, D.I. Radin

    Anomalous anticipatory response on randomized future conditions

    Percept Mot Skills, 84 (1997), pp. 689–690
    View Record in Scopus | Full Text via CrossRef | Cited By in Scopus (47)”

    It can be seen here:

    In the chapter 5.4. Temporal non-locality and free will where they claim that thanks to QM we are able to have even Free Will and they are trying to disprove Benjamin Libets experiment.

    D.J. Bems experiment which they quote was a failure:

    The whole paper of the Orch-OR model can be found here:

    This sums it up that Hameroffs whole stuff should be taken with a lot of skepticism. Also his newest experiments are made by only Anirban Bandyopadhyay who is a part of the Hameroff gang as we can see in the science daily article. They also worked with each other in the past it can be seen here:

    “The mechanism by which TUS can affect mental states is unknown (as is the mechanism by which the brain produces mental states). Tyler proposed TUS acts by vibrational stretching of neuronal membranes and/or extracellular matrix, but two recent papers from the group of Anirban Bandyopadhyay at National Institute of Material Sciences (NIMS) in Tsukuba, Japan (Sahu et al. [2013] Appl. Phys. Letts. 102, 123701; Sahu et al [2013] Biosensors and Bioelectronics 47:141) have suggested another possibility. The NIMS group used nanotechnology to study conductive properties of individual microtubules, protein polymers of tubulin (the brain’s most prevalent protein). Major components of the neuronal cytoskeleton, microtubules grow and extend neurons, form and regulate synapses, are disrupted in Alzheimer’s disease, and theoretically linked to information processing, memory encoding and mental states. Bandyopadhyay’s NIMS group found that microtubules have remarkable electronic conductive properties when excited at certain specific resonant frequencies, e.g. in the low megahertz, precisely the range of TUS.

    Dr. Stuart Hameroff, lead author on the new TUS study, said: “This suggests TUS may stimulate natural megahertz resonances in brain microtubules, enhancing not only mood and conscious mental states, but perhaps also microtubule functions in synaptic plasticity, nerve growth and repair. We plan further studies of TUS on traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease and post-traumatic stress disorders. ‘Tuning the tubules’ may help a variety of mental states and cognitive disorders.”

    Its from here:

    Okay I think this sums it up.

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