Nobody understands what consciousness is or how it works. Nobody understands quantum mechanics either. Could that be more than coincidence?

“It is hard to avoid the implication that consciousness and quantum mechanics are somehow linked”

“I cannot define the real problem, therefore I suspect there’s no real problem, but I’m not sure there’s no real problem.”

The American physicist Richard Feynman said this about the notorious puzzles and paradoxes of quantum mechanics, the theory physicists use to describe the tiniest objects in the Universe. But he might as well have been talking about the equally knotty problem of consciousness.

Some scientists think we already understand what consciousness is, or that it is a mere illusion. But many others feel we have not grasped where consciousness comes from at all.

The perennial puzzle of consciousness has even led some researchers to invoke quantum physics to explain it. That notion has always been met with skepticism, which is not surprising: it does not sound wise to explain one mystery with another. But such ideas are not obviously absurd, and neither are they arbitrary.

For one thing, the mind seemed, to the great discomfort of physicists, to force its way into early quantum theory. What’s more, quantum computers are predicted to be capable of accomplishing things ordinary computers cannot, which reminds us of how our brains can achieve things that are still beyond artificial intelligence. “Quantum consciousness” is widely derided as mystical woo, but it just will not go away.

Image Credit: Victor Habbick Visions/Science Photo Library


News This Week

Could COVID-19 have wiped out the Neandertals?

Everybody loves Neandertals, those big-brained brutes we supposedly outcompeted and ultimately replaced using our sharp tongues and quick, delicate minds. But did we really, though? Is it mathematically possible that we could yet be them, [...]

How COVID-19 Reaches the Brain

Using post-mortem tissue samples, a team of researchers from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin have studied the mechanisms by which the novel coronavirus can reach the brains of patients with COVID-19, and how the immune system [...]