Customer Reviews

4
4.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
0
4 star
4
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
The Physics of Consciousness: The Quantum Mind and the Meaning of Life
Format: PaperbackChange
Price:£11.99+Free shipping with Amazon Prime

Your rating(Clear)Rate this item
Share your thoughts with other customers

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2009
This book is a part autobiographical and parts an enquiry into the physical basis of consciousness. The author was influenced by his high school sweetheart who died at the age of 16 due to leukemia. This had profound effect on his scientific and spiritual life which made him to participate in this odyssey of seeking the truth. Sometimes it makes an interesting reading when he reminisces about his high school days in the middle of a discussion of quantum physical phenomenon. The book is somewhat technical and requires undergraduate level physics for a clear understanding. Some chapters use significant amount of physics and in some parts fair amount of neurobiology is also required. Sometimes it is difficult to read because these two diverse subjectsare widely used in discussions. The take-home message of this book is summarized below:

The author broadly describes consciousness as all things in totality (associated with everything in the universe) and it is also reality, but does not define specifically because the definitions and delineations require objective demonstrations. Consciousness is affected by matter or by events in the physical world; therefore consciousness originates from non-physical contact with physical reality that could be described by all fundamental things that makeup physical world. This may be understood with the Schrödinger equation and Einstein's relativity; if consciousness is tied all at once to all physical reality that the Schrödinger equation suggests or tied to space, time, mass (energy), or one of the four forces. The author discusses the importance of each concept and concludes that consciousness could not be tied directly to any of these constructs of the physical world, but it could be linked by quantum physical process at the synaptic junctions of nervous systems. Two parts of the nervous system are considered; the nerves and the synapse, it is at the synapse where an estimated 23.5 trillion neural connections exists and where the information from nerve to nerve passes or fails to pass. Here is where the mind-brain contact exists; here is where data of our senses are processed and refined in the brain. Synapses interact through quantum tunneling mechanism, the author concludes. As the electron and synapse interact to produce quantum potentialities, the state vectors; the consciousness emerges through this, and it is these branching and interlaced collections of quantum potentialities weaving together possibilities that we experience as consciousness. By selecting which synapse will fire, consciousness turns this into an individual will (when an observation takes place, one synapse collapses to one state in association with consciousness thus leading to will). Subsequently mind brings into reality each moment of thoughts, experience and actions. It is suggested that there is no space, time or matter (energy): The conscious observer creates the spacetime and matter from his conscious mind, the quantum mind is the first cause, time-independent and non-local. The concept of individual identity emerges naturally through quantum consciousness when brain-mind functions transition to consciousness and thus a new identity is acquired. The author uses both Vedanta (Hindu philosophy) and Buddhist philosophies considerably in his discussions.

In the final analysis, the author concludes that life, thought, and consciousness are three separate things. An organism does not have to have consciousness to be capable of thought, because a computer (data processing and computing) is capable of thought. Consciousness may exist somewhere without being a part of either a part of living body or data processing system, because they are consequence of one or more quantum mechanical events. These events are mediated by infinite number of discrete, conscious, and non-thinking entities: These conscious entities determine each quantum mechanical events.

The idea that consciousness need not be a part of living entity is controversial. Secondly the author fails to consider the fact that computers and software run machines are programmed by human beings, at least in the early stages of development. Many unicellular and multicellular organisms (and plants and trees) do not have central nervous systems or brains but they independently run their own lives. The body functions according to laws of nature, but body/mind direct motions, foresee alternative effects that may be fateful for its existence, and face the consequences. The conclusion that "I" be it an animal or a plant is used in the widest meaning of the word, which means to state that, I who control the motion of the molecules according to the laws of nature. I reproduce or give birth or create another living being like myself. I can be consequential to the fate of another living species, hence I am special, the personal self equal the all-comprehending- eternal-self. The Upanishads states that Atman is equal to Brahman, and consciousness is never experienced in plural but only in the singular. If consciousness of different people are different, then each individual has a separate soul (plurality of souls), but plurality is merely a series of different aspect of one soul and one conscious, produced by the deception of Maya. This is same as illusion produced in a gallery of mirrors.

1. What is Life?: With Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches (Canto)
2. Schrodinger: Life and Thought
3. SCIENCE AND THE HUMAN TEMPERAMENT
4. Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science (Penguin Modern Classics)
5. Uncertainty: Life and Science of Werner Heisenberg
6. Niels Bohr's Times: In Physics, Philosophy and Polity
7. The World as I See it
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
The author uses his own experiences with the depths and details of consciousness, namely the effects at the loss of his wife, to draw out the possible boundaries of human consciousness. He then combines this sensitive and introvert approach with ideas attached to physics, in an attempt to quantify and explore consciousness, all the while maintaining a measured and balanced approach to the topic.
What I particularly like about it is that at no point does the author force any point down your throat. He rather uses the approach 'Well, this is the conclusion we get, if you follow and believe the premises we set.' He approaches emotional topics with due care and sensitivity, but, since discussions on consciousness are difficult to approach scientifically, what one person considers balanced and careful, another may consider blindingly wrong. I personally feel that he maintains a good balance. His discussions on the involvement in physics are measured and scientific (obviously :-)), but perhaps maybe unclear to the layman.
He also uses the book to help show the depth of human character by interspacing throughout small sections dedicated to memories he had with his wife. Some may feel this pointless and only adding unscientific nonsense to what should be a totally scientific problem. I however, feel it adds poinyancy and a deeper understanding to the true meaning of consciousness, and helps show that the author has taken time to understand every aspect and perspective of the problem.
All in all, an engrossing and challenging book. Definitely recommended to any who wish to further their understanding.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
How would you judge an scientist who wrote about bacteria without ever having looked down a microscope? He wants the soon without the soup. Well this is how I felt while reading Physics of Consciousness. Evan Harris Walker writes about consciousness without ever having tried out some consciousness tools himself. Sticking to an academic wrestling match over qualia is merely flogging a dead horse. I mean no disrespect to Evan Harris Walker because the first half of his book is an absolute gem. After the dazzling first half, the quality of Harris Walker's book plumeted like a stone. I am a fan of Zen Buddhism and I appreciate Buddhist ontology; but trying to apply Zen to consciousness studies is analogous to commenting about sex before going through puberty. Thus this book is half brillian, half frustrating. The science part is dazzling, like I said above, but the consciousness part is autistic. It is autistic because it completely ignores the consciousness revolutions that took place in the USA some 60 years ago.

The authors of The Quantum Enigma joked that the students who got high in the 1960's (in the USA, that is), are now running the university departments and this is why consciousness is making a big comback in physics. However, from what I gathered from reading this book, the kids in Australia only ever tried D.T. Suzuli's version of Zen Buddhism. This frustrated me because talking about Zen is like a kid getting excited over a rubber duck, when the kid next door is playing the latest PS3 or Xbox game.

So the first part of this book is the stand out introduction to physics, and by a man who really knows his subject. Evan Harris Walker knows he can write too, and so some of his descriptions of Newton's ideas border on brilliant literature. Its better to read great literature, than it is rummaging through a dry science text, and so this book really is the best introduction to science you can ask for. Harris Walker also explains why scientific materialism is in serious trouble, this is good news.

Now some of the reviewers on Amazon are annoyed by the nostalgia parts about the mans childhood sweethart, but I found them interesting meditations on the fleetings nature of appearences. Well they are interesting if one has studied Buddhist notions of time and fleeting nature of appearences, and all that. However I must admit, even my patience was waining thin by Meryle's flowing hair and red lips!. But hey, you can just skip those parts
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on 31 July 2015
Author very nicely narrates the story of physics and his life.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness
Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness by Bruce Rosenblum (Paperback - 16 Jun. 2008)


 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.