In a recent book, Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe, Robert Lanza, MD, basically argues that the universe external to our mind does not and cannot actually exist unless it is perceived by a conscious being. There is nothing new in this proposition, in fact similar arguments go back as far as Descartes in the 17th Century who was led to question or ‘doubt’ the information being derived from his senses. And then came George Berkeley in the 18th Century who pretty much stated this proposition word for word. Lanza does however seem to advance the argument somewhat in that he asserts that human consciousness is somehow ‘creating’ the world out there. You can see from the title of his book that it is consciousness which leads to a true understanding of the external world.
He advances ten ‘principles of biocentrism’ to further his argument basically along the lines of what quantum physics has been saying about the uncertainty or ‘fuzziness’ of the external physical universe, from which he concludes that human consciousness is the key, and then winds up his thesis with the frank admission that scientists have no clue what consciousness actually is. It seems to me his time would have been better spent actually coming up with a plausible theory how biocentrism is responsible for consciousness. Then all the stuff we already know about the improbability of there being an external universe should fall into place.
In this article I shall advance such a theory, but before doing so I shall briefly take you through some of his ‘principles of biocentrism’ to set the stage as it were. His first principle, “What we perceive as reality is a process that involves our consciousness”, he deduces from the fact that if a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody there with an eardrum to record the little puffy changes in air pressure that is sound, then the tree will come crashing to the ground in complete silence. So the sound of a falling tree is purely generated in the brain of the observer. He puts forward a similar argument in the case of rainbows. For a rainbow to exist in the external world there must be somebody there with color cones in their retinas to be dazzled by the colors, and say “Wow! There’s a rainbow”. I think we can all agree with his first principle without too much trouble.
We will skip to his fourth principle of biocentrism which is: “Without consciousness ‘matter’ dwells in an undetermined state of probability. Any universe that preceded consciousness only existed in a probability state.” He justifies this principle with a fairly standard wrap of quantum mechanics and the pivotal role of the ‘observer’ for it all to make sense. Interestingly though quantum mechanics has only been with us for a little more than 100 years, and even if you want to include subhuman Neanderthals as part of the human race and therefore would qualify as observers, human kind of one sort of another only emerged in the last million years. Dr Lanza doesn’t actually state it but one could get the impression from his fourth principle that before human beings came on the scene there was no universe, there was only probability waves. But that couldn’t make sense either because by their very nature (a mathematical concept) the probability waves didn’t come into existence until they were ‘invented’ by Schrödinger & Co. in the 1920s. I don’t know about you, but I tend to find his fourth principle a tad ambiguous.
His fifth principle of biocentrism is important for our purposes because what he says about consciousness creating the universe, is even more apropos for the DNA. “The universe is fine-tuned for life, which makes perfect sense as life creates the universe, not the other way around”. In justifying this principle he relies on the so-called Anthropic Principle, the strong version of which says that “the universe must have those properties that allow life to develop within it because it was obviously ‘designed’ with the goal of generating and sustaining observers”. There is also a weak version of this which deletes that nasty word ‘designed’ in order to placate the scientific community. Basically the weak version says that the universe has to be the way it is otherwise we couldn’t be here to observe it. A more circular and logically and philosophically meaningless proposition you will never find, but it actually supports our thesis in as much the source of all life is of course the DNA.
His sixth principle of biocentrism is of particular interest because it is about the illusory nature of time. Basically scientists are completely baffled about what time is. They also happen to be completely baffled about what light is and what matter is, but here I am summarizing Dr Lanza’s reasoning. His sixth principle simply states: “Time does not have a real existence outside of animal-sense perception. It is the process by which we perceive changes in the universe”. Essentially he is asserting that the concept we call time exists only in our consciousness. Not even the most zealous physicists will disagree with this I think, even though they quite happily plug this mysterious time into the three dimensional Reimann curvature equations and come up with something called the curvature of 4-demensional space-time, without doubting even for an instant that this space-time may not actually exist out there in the external world. So according to Dr Lanza, consciousness creates space-time, but does that really advance his argument that only through biocentrism will you gain a complete understanding of the true nature of the universe. I think not.
Rather than quote you his seventh principle concerning ‘space’ I will quote instead what Dr Lanza himself said about it. “Biocentrism, of course, shows that space is a projection from inside our minds, where experience begins. It is a tool of life, the form of outer sense that allows an organism to coordinate sensory information, and to make judgments regarding the quality and intensity of what is being perceived. Space is not a physical phenomenon per se—and should not be studied in the same way as chemicals and moving particles”. This statement is very clear. There is no physical space out there in the external world. What we think is ‘out there’ is actually generated from within our biological body. What is far from clear is how the extended field of space-time is generated from within! In fact Dr Lanza offers no explanation on this point whatsoever.
So that’s pretty much it with his principles and his arguments about how the universe is created by our consciousness. Dr Lanza winds up with a frank admission that he, like everyone else, has no clue what consciousness is. He asks: “How does consciousness ever begin? How could that possibly occur? And is that question any less enigmatic than trying to figure how it might arise at a later date? Is consciousness synonymous with everything? The deep thinkers of the past and present are right: it is the biggest mystery, next to which all else pales”. Ultimately his whole thesis comes down to some homilies from Emerson. “Let man,” declared Emerson, “then learn the revelation of all nature and all thought to his heart; this, namely; that the Highest dwells with him; that the sources of nature are in his own mind.” This is what the Hindus were saying 2500 years ago so you can see that his book does not advance the debate one iota.
All Dr Lanza had to do was actually ask the simple question: What is the source of all biological material, and therefore the ‘epicenter’ of biocentrism? The answer to this is indisputably the DNA. So isn’t it obvious that the source of consciousness must therefore be the DNA? Let us then cast from our minds all the stuff geneticists have been telling us about the chemical properties of DNA, and take a look at it afresh from the point of view of electromagnetism.
The molecular structure of DNA is essentially cylindrical or tunnel shaped with a double helix architecture, which bears some similarities to carbon nanotubes that are used as semiconductors in so much of modern electronics, including transistors, quantum dots and digital and analog integrated circuits. Nucleosomal fiber consists of millions of discreet solenoid coils where the DNA string is tightly looped around a protein (histone) core. The DNA coil is negatively charged on account of the phosphate groups in its backbone. Also DNA has many polar molecules, which are molecules that have charges that are unevenly distributed. The histone core is positively charged. There are therefore myriads of localized potential differences (voltage) in chromatin which will enable currents to flow in very complex ways. DNA is actually used as an electronic circuit in nanoparticles. In fact it is said to be ‘the best known nanowire in existence’. Measurements of DNA viruses has revealed that high currents flow through DNA molecules.
To my mind this network of millions of mini-coils in the nucleosomal fiber would act as an incredibly complex and intricate circuit of inductors (electromagnetic force (emf) generated in coils). In a string of mini-coils like that you are going to get self-inductance and mutual inductance as well as back emf on a scale quite unimaginable. The plethora of localized voltage differences would seem to indicate millions of intertwined RL (Resistor-Inductor) circuits. These mini solenoid coils would all have a precise magnetic moment and their histone core has a relative permeability that enables ‘histone H1 conjugated superparamagnetic nanoparticles’ to be used as magnetic tracers to detect concentrations of DNA. A superparamagnetic core of histones will have the effect of substantially increasing the magnetic field within the solenoid. The electromagnetic properties of chromatin are indisputable. It is likewise indisputable that the chromatin would be a most suitable milieu for memristors to operate to store data.
In a recent study, Electric oscillation and coupling of chromatin regulate chromosome packaging and transcription in eukaryotic cells which appears in Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, are to be found some very curious facts about the electromagnetic properties of DNA. For example, link DNA is said to zig-zag back and forth between ‘stacks’ of these mini-coils as well as the histone cores of the mini-coils linking with each other. There is said to be a ‘permanent dipole moment’ between each mini-coil which is said to generate ‘electric dipolar oscillation’ between them. The capacity for mutual induction of emf in the nucleosomal fiber would be virtually infinite. In addition the current that has been detected in the nucleosomal fiber is ‘oscillating’, that is to say it is an alternating current with frequencies between 2 and 50MHz. The frequencies are said to vary from region to region in the chromatin depending on the ‘DNA-protein complexes in that region’. As this is essentially an alternating current it is suggested that the mere fact of the DNA synthesizing the superparamagnetic histone core, and then coiling itself around the core, and then all these coils ‘clustering’ into ‘stacks’ in the nucleosomal fiber, would be sufficient to generate a self-perpetuating current.
Another most curious item that emerges in that study is that when the chromatin is not in M-phase, that is when the chromosomes are not tightly compacted for the purpose of cell division, the chromosomes appear to relax or unwind in the nucleus, and it is during this phase that the non-coding sections of the DNA (the ‘junk DNA’) adopt the quaint custom of ‘chromosome kissing’ where these ‘introns’ on several different chromosomes will be seen to cozy up to each other based on their oscillating natural frequencies. What sort of electrical forces and emf are being generated during these chromosome kissing sessions is anybody’s guess. Given however the electromagnetic complexity of nucleosomal fiber it is my guess that the forces would be mind-blowing. At the very least the mere proximity to each other of several chromosomes with their respective potent ‘junk’ electromagnetic fields would be sufficient to generate a current.
Just because the genome is an exquisitely complex labyrinth of electromagnetic fields, you may say, doesn’t prove that the chromatin is acting as a quantum computer. To which I reply: “Ah, but it does”. The fact is the valence electrons in the DNA as they pass through these magnetic fields will have to ‘decide’ whether to flip their spin, or whether to remain (spin-up) or (spin-down). And there you have the potential both to store as well as to process data. So maybe we should look at the new methods for memory storage being developed in the computer industry for memory storage and processing which they say are actually to be found in biological computers, notably our own brains.
‘Memristors’ are four decades in the making, but it turns out that this fourth kind of circuit element (beyond the inductor, capacitor, and resistor) might have more potential to change computing than even its creators first believed, says Discovery Magazine.
In a study announced in the prestigious science journal, Nature, researchers with Hewlett-Packard reported that they have built a memristor capable of performing Boolean algebra operations. Boolean algebra is the essence of computer processing. The computer will know what to write depending on whether a current is flowing in one circuit AND/OR another. Essentially a memristor is a circuit that can remember the resistance it encountered previously before the current was turned off. The Hewlett-Packard team have built a device that can perform logic operations based on the resistance it encountered previously. The name memristor has been coined from ‘memory’ and ‘resistor.’ In addition the Hewlett-Packard team claim that their device has achieved ‘stateful logic’ which means that the ‘state’ of the memristor acts as both the computer and the memory. This is most significant because it is a radical advance on current computers, which typically load data from memory, perform operations on it, and then send it back. These memristors have the capacity to store and process information in the absence of an electrical current.
The possibility of creating memristors was first put forward by Leon O. Chua back in 1971. Before this announcement by the Hewlett-Packard team, it was thought that they could be just another kind of memory, in other words simply passive storage of data. However it is now evident that memristors have the capacity to perform logic which means that they have the capacity to process information and not simply store it. This opens up the prospect of building chips that can both perform calculations and hold data, in other words a chip that will act as both CPU (Central Processing Unit) and memory storage. For conventional computers, processing and memory storage are separate operations.
The H.P. technology is based on the ability to use an electrical current to move atoms within an ultrathin film of titanium dioxide. After the location of an atom has been shifted, even by as little as a nanometer, the result can be read as a change in the resistance of the material. That change persists even after the current is switched off, making it possible to build an extremely low-power device which is exceptionally fast.
This prospect of a chip that can both perform processing and store data is thought to be what occurs in a biological supercomputer such as the human brain. These are obviously the sort of capacities one would expect to find in a biological supercomputer such as the human brain, and indeed Chua is reported as saying, “Our brains are made of memristors. We have the right stuff now to build real brains.” What he didn’t seem to realize is that potentially the DNA could also be loaded with these memristors which have the capacity both to store and process data. In which case you end up with a complete explanation as to how the DNA could generate our consciousness and thereby create the universe that we ‘think’ we live in. Surely this is something that confirmed biocentrists like Dr Lanza should at least consider.