Some remarks on the experimental realization of a mind machine

Some remarks on the experimental realization of a mind machine

BioSystems 42 (1997) 207-208 Some remarks on the experimental realization of a mind machine Jiirgen Parisi a,*, Otto E. Riissler b aPhysical Institu...

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BioSystems

42 (1997) 207-208

Some remarks on the experimental realization of a mind machine Jiirgen Parisi a,*, Otto E. Riissler b aPhysical Institute, University of Bayreuth, D-95440 Bayreuth, Germany b Institute for Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, University of Tiibingen, D-72076 Tiibingen, Germany

Abstract The brain not only makes use of measuring apparatuses, but perhaps has the potential to serve as one itself. Since Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen correlations must be absent between observer and object in order for a quantum state to become reducible, it is tempting to perturb measurements by changing the quantum state of the brain. The latter would then be part of the measurement. What kind of effects would one expect? It appears that a new psychophysical problem has been opened up, since any observable consequences would be confined to the subjectivity of the observer. 0 1997 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. Ke_vwords:

Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen

correlations;

Human brain; Quantum

1. Introduction Think

of

an

observer

whose

quantum

spin

states are correlated with those of a decaying calcium atom in a Bell-type experiment. For the sake of concreteness, one might envisage applying a strong magnetic field both to the observer who, for simplicity, is assumed to function at a very low temperature, and also to the object to be observed. The observer might be unable to discover such a correlation, even though it would be accessible to a secondary observer (i.e., one who observes both). The measurements performed by

* Corresponding 0303-2647/97/$17.00

author. 0 1997 Elsevier

PIISO303-2647(97)01707-3

Science

Ireland

Ltd. All rights

measurement

these two observers would, therefore, be different. The difference could solely be detected by interrogation of the first observer. In this way, Primas’s claim that a quantum measurement can only be completed into a communicable eigenstate, if there are no Einsteinleft between correlations Podolsky-Rosen observer and object, can be operationalized so that it becomes testable, in principle (Primas, 1981). At present, some presumably unsurmountable difficulties need to be acknowledged. The human brain does not operate at low temperatures. It is, therefore, unlikely that an experimenter will repeat the Aspect experiment (Aspect and Grangier, 1985) under the condition of a reserved.

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J. Parisi, O.E. Riissler / BioSystems 42 (1997) 207-208

strong magnetic field applied both to the experimenter and the probe.

2. Discussion This type of measurement situation, on the other hand, has a new ‘ring’ to it which is completely unfamiliar in modern physics. It causes one to make an, at first sight, irresponsible leap of mind. If any measurement of the kind above could conceivably give a positive result, it appears straightforward to explore this class of measurements in its own right. That is to say, it would be possible to apply a strong magnetic field to a human observer and simply ask him or her questions as he or she performs physical experiments. The simplest ones, of course, would use the ‘builtin’ measuring equipment of the subject, namely, the sensory observational capabilities that are already there. Unexpectedly, the proposed new type of experimental situation has already been realized involuntarily many times-when human beings are subjected to nuclear-magnetic-resonance (NMR) or electron-spin-resonance (ESR) imaging techniques for diagnostic medical purposes. What the above irresponsible proposal suggests is that one should give the subjects control over the dials of the machine. They could then spontaneously report their ‘sensations’ as they are tuning through the parameters. The experiment is so easy to carry out in a physical laboratory that one feels almost reluctant to suggest it. Or, to put it differently, if any tangible effects were to be expected, they would

most certainly have already been discovered accidentally by now. One could use this argument to suggest the inclusion of further parameters, apart from the magnetic field-like microwave electromagnetic and even electric fields. Obviously, the connection to the ‘mind machine’ movement becomes dangerously close at this point.

3. Conclusion To conclude, a proposal has been made to explore a type of experimental situation which is completely novel from a theoretical point of view, but at the same time almost boringly familiar from the point of view of everyday experience among certain groups of medical and physical experimenters. Admittedly, the chances are not very great that, without more specific theoretical guidance, any remarkable findings will materialize soon. Therefore, the present proposal serves not so much the goal to seriously entice experimenters into pursuing this avenue, directly, as to stimulate interest in finding good reasons why it might be respectable to start building up an experiment of this type.

References Aspect, A. and Grangier, P., 1985, Tests of Bell’s inequality with pairs of low-energy correlated photons: An experimental realization of Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen-type correlations, in: P. Lahti and P. Mittelstaedt (eds.), Symposium on the Foundations of Modem Physics. (World Scientific, Singapore) p. 5 1. Primas, H., 1981, Chemistry, Quantum Mechanics, and Reductionism (Springer, Berlin).