The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"


In the 1990s another interpretation of quantum mechanics has been put forth by the Austrian physicist Anton Zeilinger.

He set out to find a fundamental principle that would explain the three odd features of the quantum world:

   quantization (all fundamental physical quantities come in discrete amounts),

   randomness (we can only know the probability of an event) and

   entanglement (everything is connected, no matter how far objects are).

He proposed a very simple principle: each elementary system, called "qubit" (e.g., the spin of the electron), carries one and only one bit of information; two systems carry two and only two bits of information; and so forth.

After all, our physical description of the world is represented by propositions, and each proposition can be true or false, i.e. each elementary system carries one and only one bit of information.

The consequences of this principle are simple to derive:

   I can't know two things about an electron, but only one thing at a time (uncertainty), everything has to be quantized because the unit of information is the bit (yes/no, or one/zero);

   Two systems carry exactly two bits of information, which means that they are entangled forever (if one changes, the other one has to change too in order to still yield two bits of information).

   Schroedinger's equation can be derived as the description of motion in a three-dimensional information space.

Zeilinger's interpretation, therefore, is that only information truly exists and that quantum mechanics is simply a theory of how information behaves in this world.

The No-Cloning Theorem

Another weird consequence of Quantum Mechanics is that it contradicts Darwinian evolution. Eugene Wigner noticed that the biological phenomenon of self-replication (by which life reproduces itself on this planet) contradicted the principles of quantum mechanics ("The Probability of the Existence of a Self-Reproducing Unit", 1961). Quantum Mechanics prohibits cloning. This fact was proven in more general terms by the Italian physicist GianCarlo Ghirardi ("On Some Recent Suggestions of Superluminal Communication", 1979), a theorem that was later rediscovered by the US physicists Bill Wotters and Wojciech Zurek ("A Single Quantum Cannot be Cloned", 1982). Nick Herbert had proposed a quantum machine capable of making many exact copies of any state of a quantum system. Their "no-cloning theorem" instead shows that this is impossible. The no-cloning theorem has an application in computer science in the form of quantum encryption.

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