The Quantum Uncertainty of Reality
Unscientific Musings on the Unknowable
By Dr. Bradford Stone
Because of the fundamental quantum uncertainties that comprise the very fabric of space time, we should consider that we can never be who we are because the actual moment of being in the present is an infinitely small moment sandwiched between the constantly shifting memories of who we have been and the thoughts and fantasies of who we will be.
From my research, and the work of many others, I know that our consciousness perceives events in the world about one-fifth of a second after they have actually happened. It simply takes time for our senses and nerves to carry impulses to the brain and for the brain to interpret those signals in a way that make sense. But philosophically, the implications of the biophysics means that anytime we think of the present, we are already livinging at the past.
Our anticipation of the future, then is the cable that pulls us along from the past and moves us through the convenient fiction we called the present. We are like the ever-changing river. Who we are is never the same from instant to instant because the present we perceive is continually reshaped by the past. And thus our hopes and dreams for the future propel us through an illusory present to a fourth state of time: our state of being which is simultaneously neither past, nor present, nor future and all of those combined .
Contemplating this makes me wonder about the status of people in persistent vegetative states. And whether they have some internal life playing in their heads beyond our ability to detect it. Even if there is no indication of consciousness or directed neurological activity above the brainstem, is it possible for it to be there but we simply cannot see it because it is beyond our scientific ability to detect?
Could our inability to detect something there put us in the same position as doctors 200 years ago when they had no clue of the brainís electrical signals and thus sought a determination of life and death in the beating of the heart?
It frustrates me that we are such imperfect observers of our own world. Our senses can experience such a limited range of phenomena that delving more deeply into the underpinnings of our world means developing instruments that could translate something beyond our perception into the right sort of energy impulses to activate the nerve sensors to produce sight, hearing, touch.
Increasingly, I have come to doubt the absolute veracity of our instruments, shaped as they are by our own intellectual imperfections and guided by incomplete theories that often shuttered avenues of exploration that run counter to the scientific orthodoxy of the day.
So, when I remember physicians so long ago who had no instruments to detect brain waves, it makes me realize that just because we fail to detect something is not evidence of its absence, but perhaps just a failure to invent the right sort of technology to translate it to our limited biological sensors.