It isn’t hard to find wild theories about the nature of the cosmos and human consciousness. In modern times; ideas that were once only science fiction, are coming to be accepted by esoteric academic journals; then finding them in mainstream discourse. A strong example of this is the Simulation Argument; with Elon Musk of Tesla championing this, and there’s also another about ‘time crystals’ a radical non-linear phase of matter. The newest addition to these being broadcast into the internet are new ideas about the argued theory of “panpsychism” which is the belief that mind is a fundamental property of the physical universe; and that is is imbued into matter of all states.
Physicist Gregory Matloff recently published a new paper; that has brought the idea back into discussions of science. It promises that experimental tests could be done in order to “validate or falsify” this concept of a ubiquitous “proto-consiousness field.” In Matloff’s controversial concept is the idea of volitional stars; which suggests that there is evidence stars control their own galactic movements or paths.
This theory may sound absurd; but it contains several prominent adherents, which includes British theoretical physicist Sir Roger Penrose. He had introduced panpsychism three decades ago. Penrose’s belief consists of consciousness that arises from quantum entanglement peoperties. Him; along with anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, are the authors of the Orchestrated Objective Reduction, or (Orch-OR) hypothesis, which assets, including other things, that consciousness results because of quantum vibrations inside microtubules.
Bernard Haisch; a German physicist, took the idea further in 2006. He proposed that consciousness arises within a “quantum vacuum” at any point there is a significantly advanced system through where energy flows.
Christof Koch; a Neuroscientist, who is another proponent of panpsychism, took an approach from a different angle, and used the integrated information theory to argue that consciousness isn’t unique to only biological organisms.
Koch argues that, “The only dominant theory we have of consciousness says that it is associated with complexity — with a system’s ability to act upon its own state and determine its own fate. Theory states that it could go down to very simple systems. In principle, some purely physical systems that are not biological or organic may also be conscious.”
Other scientists; along with Matloff, are moving the argument into a new phase by performing experimentation. It is Marloff’s intentions to study the behavior of stars; and to specifically analyze anomalies in stellar motion, called Paranego’s Discontinuity. Matloff seeks to discover why certain cooler stars appear to be emitting jets of energy that point in one direction, a characteristic that is seemingly odd and inexplicably ubiquitous in the galaxy. There are plans for 2018 to use results from the Gaia star-mapping outer space telescope in order to show that prove that the anomaly may be a willing stellar action.
Matloff meanwhile; studies cosmic activity on the grandest of scales, while Koch approaches the experimenting phase of this theory by using brain-impaired patients. He seeks to find out if their data responses match underlying neurochemical foundations of consciousness. There are plans in the works to test this by wiring the brains of mice together and find out if their minds merge into a larger information system.
There are certainly critics to Panpshychism though. One such example is an article for The Atlantic entitled “Why Panpsychism is Probably Wrong” Author Keith Frankish wrote:
“Panpsychism gives consciousness a curious status. It places it at the very heart of every physical entity yet threatens to render it explanatorily idle. For the behavior of subatomic particles and the systems they constitute promises to be fully explained by physics and the other physical sciences. Panpsychism offers no distinctive predictions or explanations. It finds a place for consciousness in the physical world, but that place is a sort of limbo.”
There is a general sense that panpsychism oversimplifies the tough issue of consciousness in the universe by the quote; and many scientists share this opinion. Although; Penrose, Matloff, and other proponents continue to undertake the venturing job of going outside the margins of accepted science and to try and reconcile intractable contradictions and anomalies brought to light by quantum theory.