In Part 1 of this article we began to examine a new perspective that quantum physics is beginning to reveal about our understanding of what we are as material beings. As Part 1 of this article portrayed, we are quintessentially beings of indescribable dimensions. For example, the mass of each atom and hence the weight of your body, is only 10 percent attributable to the material aspect of the atoms you are made up of (the protons and neutrons that make up a atomic nucleus) and in fact 90 percent of your weight comes from the space between the quarks in a proton where virtual particles are bursting in and out of existence at timescales so small you can’t even witness them.
If you think about that for a second, the only conclusion that we can draw is that we are indeed being ‘beamed up’, as it were, from some unknown subatomic realm a bazillion times a second, in a constant flux of energy. Our perception of ourselves as a material body living in a static world around us quickly erodes when you really hear what current modern day physics is saying. And if you think this is like ‘counting angels of the head of a pin’ or just some fringe theory of make-believe, this is not. It is the impeccable findings of quantum science verifiable with extraordinary experimental accuracy .
But there’s more, a lot more, flipping the traditional understanding of what we really are on its head, the notion that we are material beings of flesh and bone living in a world around us of rock and dirt and plant and animal life. Well we are, but there is a much, much deeper and more profound reality in play.
Many believe, myself included, as this knowledge becomes more widespread in society, we are on the verge of a paradigm shift, of proportions that would make the ‘Flat-Earthers’ shift in world view look like an ant-hill in contrast the mountain we are now scaling.
Few people actually talk about the detail of what all this may mean to our everyday understanding of the world around us, which is why I wrote a book, called Iniquity & The Separation of Being, digging deep into this and the extraordinary world view that quantum physics reveals about our business as usual world. More specifically, it explores what one theory called Orch-OR or Orchestrated Objective Reduction by Sir Roger Penrose may mean to our world view and our understanding of consciousness if a literal interpretation is applied, and coins this effect ‘Material Entanglement’.
It must be said that Roger Penrose is one of the brightest minds in this space. Sir Roger Penrose OM FRS the English mathematical physicist, mathematician and philosopher of science, the Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, who worked with Hawking to nut out our understanding of the Big Bang itself, has proposed along with Stuart Hameroff a theory of consciousness called Orch-OR , or Orchestrated Objective Reduction. I will deal with this mind altering picture of reality in this article, and its implications begin to blur any lines that defined what we were as existential beings.
As we go down the rabbit hole it may even be worth taking your time to digest some of these concepts or review the reference list to more fully appreciate what is being said.
As we’ve seen, the universe in its most fundamental scale, is quite indescribable. The particles that make up matter, the photons that make up light the gluons that govern gravity are indescribable, beyond any rational human comprehension. The most we can say about the material universe around us is that at its most fundamental, it acts as sort of a wave, where particles are smeared across space and are in essence non-local , meaning they do not have a particular location in space. In the natural state (independent of consciousness) the universe exists as a wave as represented in quantum physics by the wave function or the Schrödinger equation which predicts the functioning of this wave-like indescribable reality that is the universe in its natural state .
What we perceive as the world around us is through our consciousness and the biophysical processes that are going on in our brain and bodies. What we perceive as real is not the ultimate reality that exists around us. So our perception is forever tainted by the state of conscious awareness in our waking life. But what then is consciousness?
In accordance with Orch-OR, at the deepest levels of biology there are nanoscale structures called microtubules inside the neurons in the brain. These structures were initially thought of as a kind of neuronal skeleton, but Orch-OR postulates that these could be the bed in which consciousness rests. These structures allow matter under superposition, being in two places at the same time (which is again impossible for us to really comprehend), engaging the wave-function, the probability function of the universe, the indescribable natural wave-like state of the universe if you like, and then spontaneously become one reality - and that is thought to be the moment of consciousness awareness in a ‘collapse of the wave function’—an event in which quantum superpositions terminate by a particular type of state reduction due to an objective threshold in the fine scale structure of the universe (‘objective reduction’, ‘OR’).
Rather than a property of matter, OR views consciousness as a sequence of discrete events, like (conscious) frames in a movie, rearrangements in the fine scale structure of reality.  According to the theory there might be forty or so collapses every second, so forty or fifty conscious moments a second, which over and over again is producing conscious experience. Think of it as a kind of heart beat in the brain, a brain beat if you like, that produces consciousness itself.’
But something must be said of the collapse of the wave function and it takes some effort to contemplate what this means to remotely appreciate what Orch-OR is postulating. We can reference the thought experiment called Schrödinger's Cat. Schrödinger's the genius physicist behind the wave function equation used across modern day quantum physics proposed that if a cat was placed in a box with a poison vile that opened killing the cat upon a switch controlled by a particle in superposition, then it would be both dead and alive until we opened the box viewed the cat as dead or alive . Superposition is a real state in nanoscale dimensions, where a particle can in fact exist at two places at the same time, but of course at our scales it is almost impossible.
There are two ways to interpret the thought experiment. The first is that it is our observation (or consciousness) that causes the wave function to collapse into one or other reality. When we open the box, our consciousness spontaneously collapses the supposition and the cat is either dead or alive. The second is that it has nothing to do with our observation (or consciousness) and that in fact both options exist one in our universe where the cat is alive (or dead) and a second universe where the cat is dead (or alive) spawning what is dubbed the multiverse view of reality, where an infinite number of parallel universes exists alongside the one we live in.
According to Orch-OR and the Copenhagen Interpretation, as it is called, it is indeed our observation, or consciousness that causes the wave function to collapse. And to this end, Orch-OR postulates that consciousness occurs in the brain where tiny bits of matter at the nanoscale are held in superposition within structures of the neurons called microtubules, and it is the quantum collapse of the wave function of these bits of matter in superpositions into one distinct reality that is the process of consciousness. Wrap your taste buds around that, as a definition for consciousness, but it is current scientific theory by some of the biggest minds in the business.
So the universe exists as a wave, an indescribable reality, until your brain invokes the physical process that is consciousness to in some way ‘entangle’ with the universe around it. And it is that process of ‘Material Entanglement’ that is the process where all of material reality around you is referenced in one conscious moment following the next such that a stream of consciousness or conscious experience is created. Material Entanglment creates an interdependent reality between the wave, the natural state of the universe, and your conscious being. In fact it is wrong to describe you as a conscious being, implying you are a discreet entity separate from the universe around you (more on this in Part 3 of this article). You are in fact the biophysical process called consciousness. Your cellular body is the same indescribable wave function of the universe, until the biophysical process in your brain creates a conscious moment. Until then you are an unconscious blob of cellular matter that is just as indescribable as the rest of the universe. It is upon every conscious moment, each collapse of the wave-function of the universe that you see yourself and the world around you.
Notice I did not say independent reality, consciousness doesn’t create the universe. That would be solipsistic. The universe is always there but is exists as an indescribable entity, a fundamentally indiscernible wave function as described by quantum physics. It takes consciousness to invoke the material reality of the world we know at a frequency of 40 hertz.
This is the nature of ‘Material Entanglement’, the process whereby our brain collapses the wave function of the universe to produce each conscious moment and hence conscious experience through a stream of conscious moments. Consciousness is a biophysical process in the brain that causes the material reality we know as our experience of the world around us.
Of course all of this is to be described in degrees and not absolutes. Cellular organisms, for example, may be proto-conscious in some way. The theory is young and still being refined. And we are still getting our head around how all this may be applied.
In the Part 3 to this article we examine the most famous experiment in quantum physics, the double slit experiment and attempt to interpret its results using this model of consciousness, Orch-OR and Material Entanglement, as it is only in application that a theory can be truly understood.
1.According to Lawrence Krauss [in his book A Universe from Nothing] "virtual particles that pop in and out of existence in the empty spaces of the protons contribute 90% of the particle's weight/mass." Skip to 20:07 if you're interested, access his lecture at <YouTube> ; "So ninety-nine percent of the mass in every nucleus is the energy pushing the quarks together," extract from article What Are All Those Quarks Doing in Your Body? access at <Gizmodo> ; A good discussion of Virtual Particles in < Scientific American > access
2. Orch-OR review by Hameroff from <Science Direct> access
3. A good discussion of Non-Locality in <Scientific American> access
4. Considering that the universe always was and shall always be, its dynamics and evolution is described as wave function. The wave function of the universe is constructed through the single particle wave functions of its constituent particles. This formalism considers the universe as any other system in quantum mechanics and it reproduces many results including a relation connecting time, temperature and the cosmological constant of the universe. J. B. Hartle and S. W. Hawking have attempted to explain this Wave Function of the Universe. Access at <Journals.aps>
5. Also a good discussion of the background of consciousness science access <Huffington Post>
6. A simple <YouTube> explanation of Schrödinger's Cat