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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2011 > Oct > Oct 2

Re: D'oh! Light Speed Threshold Broken?

From: Gerald O'Connell <goc.nul>
Date: Sun, 2 Oct 2011 02:19:17 +0100
Archived: Sun, 02 Oct 2011 09:42:32 -0400
Subject: Re: D'oh! Light Speed Threshold Broken?

>From: Michael Tarbell <mtarbell.nul>
>To: post.nul
>Date: Thu, 29 Sep 2011 14:22:44 -0600
>Subject: Re: D'oh! Light Speed Threshold Broken?

>>From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
>>To: <post.nul>
>>Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2011 20:13:55 +0100
>>Subject: Re: D'oh! Light Speed Threshold Broken?

>>>From: Gerald O'Connell <goc.nul>
>>>To: post.nul
>>>Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2011 18:53:58 +0100
>>>Subject: Re: D'oh! Light Speed Threshold Broken?

>>>>From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
>>>>To: <post.nul>
>>>>Date: Mon, 26 Sep 2011 13:00:51 +0100
>>>>Subject: Re: D'oh! Light Speed Threshold Broken?

>Hi Martin, Gerald,

>I really should know better than to step into this.

There are much worse threads on the list to step into!

>>>...suppose that the edifice
>>>has to be rebuilt with the abandonment of one key assumption,
>>>and suppose that assumption were to be the (very) deeply
>>>embedded one that the mass/energy equivalence exhausts all
>>>existential categories? In other words, neutrinos can exceed the
>>>speed of light in a vacuum because they are neither mass nor
>>>energy, but a third type of thing. The fact that they appear to
>>>have a tiny mass may turn out to be a by-product of some over-
>>>arching truth about the nature of things that we just aren't
>>>onto yet.

>Of course, we already know of at least one 'third thing', namely
>consciousness itself, about which the current body of physics is
>utterly silent. As far as is apparent now, neither requires the
>other. So, there are certainly 'third things' out there, and no
>reason in principle not to incorporate them into a hypothesis.

Sorry Michael, but I'm unable to let this one fly by without
stating a personal view. First off I'm not sure that it's right
to say that physics is silent on the issue of consciousness.
There's plenty of academic work going on around the issue of
quantum effects in brain functioning. Eminent
physicist/mathematician Roger Penrose has written at length on
the question of consciousness:

The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Minds and the Laws of
Physics, Oxford University Press, 1989.

Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of
Consciousness Roger Penrose, Oxford University Press, 1994.

My own take on this issue is a little different. I don't accept
that consciousness is in any way a 'third thing', or, indeed,
anything in any way outside the categories of matter and energy.
I think the key concept here is that of complexity. It is well
established now, both empirically and theoretically, that we
inhabit a universe where infinite complexity can arise naturally
from  extremely simple starting conditions. This seems to apply
from the microscopic to the macroscopic and to depend upon
physical interactions that often can be expressed in very simple
mathematical terms, even though their outcomes defy
computational description. In this sense, these simple
mathematical relationships act as a kind of 'motor' for the
shape of existence itself as they generate the complexity that
constitutes our perceived empirical reality.

In such a universe it is possible to envisage a spectrum along
which complex molecules, life-forms, sentience, intelligence and
consciousness can all be placed in a progressive hierarchy of
increasingly complex self-organisation. Moreover, the dividing
lines between the points along that spectrum as I have
identified them are extremely blurred, enabling smooth
transitions as complexity increases.

The corollary to this is that there is nothing really 'special'
or 'different' to consciousness as we experience it. It just
feels that way to us because we are locked into it existentially
and cannot function or exist outside it. According a special
status to consciousness is really nothing more than the ultimate
anthropocentric conceit. If 'minds' still seem somehow
mysterious to us, that says more about our understanding of
complexity at our end of its spectrum than it does about the
actual apparatus that we must inevitably use to grasp that
complexity in all its ramifications.

My excuse for this deviation from the more usual quotidian
subject matter of the list? If I'm right, then we shouldn't be
at all surprised to find that there are many other
consciousnesses (and types of consciousness) in our universe
apart from our own, nor should we be surprised if there are
categories of complexity along the spectrum that
far outstrip our own.


Gerald O'Connell

Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast



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