Could Stars Be Conscious?
Panpsychism is the theory that there is a pervasive consciousness throughout the universe down to molecular and subatomic levels.
If you told a Zen Buddhist or Hindu devotee that you’ve discovered evidence of the possibility that the universe is conscious, they might thank you for pointing out the obvious. But for scientists, whose intractable studies are grounded in materialism and who often refuse to entertain the ethereal or intangible, finding potential evidence of such a concept would be groundbreaking.
There are, however, a handful of physicists who have developed theories positing that there is an all-pervasive field of consciousness throughout the universe. Our level of consciousness is obviously different from that of a dog or other animal, but could all matter be conscious? Could plants and trees be conscious? What about stars? Panpsychism may be the answer to those questions.
The Hard Problem of Consciousness
Panpsychism is the idea that everything that is material has a certain level of consciousness. Everything down to subatomic particles has a relative level that is different from the consciousness that we experience, but nonetheless consciousness.
Traditional science might find an idea like this to be implausible, but philosophical proponents like David Chalmers, point out that typically science will tell you how something acts, not how something is. The intrinsic nature or characteristics of matter are not of concern if they can describe their behavior.
And it is from this existential curiosity that Chalmers has formulated his view. He sees consciousness existing at two levels of experience, macro, and micro. We only have macro experience but the micro level is a building block for our macro experience.
This led Chalmers to formulate his theory of the hard problem of consciousness which is proof negating materialism. He sees the qualia or subjective nature of experience as conflicting with the materialist view. Essentially, he says that if there is a microphysical world devoid of consciousness, then the world involving consciousness would demand a separate set of properties, different than the laws of physics.
Why do stars on the outskirts of the Milky Way sometimes move faster than those closer to the center? Because they’re consciously doing so, says Gregory Matloff, a former NASA rocket propulsion scientist. For some reason, there are multiple instances of stars moving faster than they should and defying the predictions of physics like Kepler’s orbit.
Much like the idea that a field of pervasive energy exists in the quantum vacuum, there could be an infinite, pervasive field of consciousness. That energy from the quantum vacuum, or zero-point energy, could be hypothetically accessed with a machine that utilizes the Casimir effect, which relies on vacuum fluctuations to transfer energy.
Much like the quantum vacuum, Matloff says that there could be a universal field that transfers consciousness to matter through the Casimir effect’s vacuum fluctuations.
He refers to this field of consciousness as proto-consciousness. Our level of consciousness comes from factors of proto-consciousness, which is much like the micro experience being the building blocks to macro experience. Inanimate objects and organisms that we don’t consider to be conscious, could have these lower level, proto-conscious building blocks from the molecules and particles that they are made of. These elements are basic systems compared to us. In humans’ complex systems, our level of consciousness can be considered a standard feature.
So, stars are extracting sentience through some sort of osmotic process with a quantum field of consciousness? As abstract as it might sound, there is evidence that potentially hints at just that.
Matloff uncovered research from a Russian scientist named Pavel Paranego, who discovered that cooler, less massive stars circled the galaxy faster than their larger counterparts. Oddly, those stars on the outer rim of the galaxy that move faster than they should, are smaller stars with less energy.
One theory of stellar consciousness states that consciousness would likely be found in the upper layers of a star. It is in the upper sheath, or photosphere, of smaller, cooler stars where molecules can be found. Scientists call this a molecular stellar signature or molecular spectra. Larger stars are too hot to have molecules in their outer layers.
Does this mean the cool stars have a molecular layer of consciousness giving them stellar volition? Matloff says he believes so. And didn’t Carl Sagan say something about us being made of star-stuff?
A more sci-fi explanation that Matloff entertains is that these stars could be moving faster due to an advanced civilization controlling it. On the Kardashev scale, a type II, stellar civilization or higher would inevitably build a Dyson sphere around a star to harness its energy. At this point that civilization would be able to move the star or influence its movement. Matloff thinks this is unlikely, though.
It’s hard to say whether a universal consciousness exists, or whether we’ll ever be able to tell, but those who have conceived of it provide compelling theoretical and philosophical evidence. Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, had the realization that we live in a “universe of consciousness.”
And other astronauts, upon returning from space, have experienced similar epiphanies of a feeling of ubiquitous connectivity due to consciousness. Certainly, the subjective nature of our perception and awareness is distinct and something to be explored. If there is such a field, how might we tap into it and could it be used to achieve higher levels of consciousness?
Tiny Crystals In Our Brain Could Unlock Psychic Powers
Magnetite is one of the most magnetic substances on Earth. As you can probably guess, it has a diverse range of uses; from fridge magnets to generating electricity in power plants. But what you probably wouldn’t guess is that your brain actually synthesizes these crystals, and you have hundreds of millions of them inside your head. Much smaller ones of course.
Scientists are still unsure what role, if any, these crystals play in the brain’s function. Studies have inferred that it may play a role in long-term memory. In animals, like honey bees, homing pigeons, and dolphins, magnetite is believed to be associated with the ability to respond to the Earth’s magnetic field.
While similar studies have yet to be performed on humans, we do know that Earth’s magnetic fields effect everything from our mood to our ability to learn. Even stranger, research has begun to provide links between the electromagnetic field of our planet and psychic abilities. Could these crystals act like tiny antennas connecting our brains to each other and to the entire planet? It may sound far-fetched, but surprisingly, the evidence is there.
First, let’s look at what we know about the magnetite in our brains. To be honest, we don’t know much: In 1992, the first evidence of this mineral in the brain was published. It was shocking to uncover that this highly magnetic substance was actually synthesized by our bodies, and while we don’t know exactly what function it plays in brain activity, some interesting theories have emerged. A 2009 hypothesis proposed that magnetite plays a significant role in long-term memory. It suggests that cellular components of the brain communicate with each other through magnetic signals, with the magnetite particles acting as tiny antennas, simultaneously receiving information throughout the different parts of the brain.
Magnetite also acts as an antenna for external electromagnetic fields, including the geomagnetic field of the Earth itself. And this is where things start to get interesting. An enormous body of research is emerging that shows substantive links between magnetic fields and cognitive function.
Back in 1978, research physicist Dr. Robert C Beck published preliminary research on the effects of extremely low frequency magnetic fields on the moods of human subjects. ELF fields of 6.67 Hz, 6.26 Hz and lower tend to produce symptoms of confusion, anxiety, depression, tension, fear, mild nausea and headaches. On the other hand, oscillations of 7.8, 8.0, and 9.0 Hz produce anxiety-relieving and stress-reducing effects that mimic some meditative states.
More recently, magnetic fields have been used in successful clinical practices for eliminating depression and bipolar disorder, with over 1300 medical research papers published to date. The non-invasive treatment, known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, uses a wand-shaped gadget to zap away the effects of depression.
While all of this is interesting, and can pave the way for new therapies and treatments, a group of researchers at Canada’s Laurentian University are exploring the role of electromagnetic forces in more extreme cognitive functions. Dr. Michael Persinger is a neuroscientist who has argued that all phenomena, including consciousness, spiritual experiences, and even “paranormal events,” can be explained by physical mechanisms, and can be verified using the scientific method.
Since 1971, he has been researching electromagnetic field effects upon biological organisms, and some of his recent studies sound straight out of a sci-fi movie: Dr. Persinger has shown in the laboratory that magnetic brain stimulation can create metal states conducive to human telepathy. A recent experiment placed two people at a distance in different rooms, each surrounded by an identical, computer-controlled magnetic field. When a light was flashed in one subject’s eye, the person in the other room showed responses in their brain as if they saw the flash of light.
As Dr. Persinger stated:
“We think that’s tremendous because it may be the first macro demonstration of a quantum connection, or so-called quantum entanglement. If true, then there’s another way of potential communication that may have physical applications, for example, in space travel.”
On a much larger scale, correlation has been shown between the geomagnetic forces of the planet and a variety of effects spanning large populations. A 2003 study found “strong empirical support in favor of a geomagnetic-storm effect in stock returns” and “evidence of substantially higher returns around the world during periods of quiet geomagnetic activity.”
Other research has linked geomagnetic activity to suicide, heart-disease, and even birth rates. A particularly curious global effect is related to a standing electromagnetic wave that exists between the Earth’s surface and the ionosphere. Known as “The Schumann Resonance,” this wave has a frequency of 7.8 Hz, and is frequently referenced in alternative theories of consciousness. Measurements by Dr. Persinger have shown that the fundamental and harmonics of the Schumann Resonance were discernible in normal human brain activity, and in fact they correspond to Dr. Beck’s anxiety-reducing ELF fields.
Stranger still was Persinger’s study of the remote viewer Ingo Swann. “Remote viewing” refers to a technique used by “psychic spies” working for the CIA; they were able to see far off locations as if they were there; and they could even move through time. Ingo Swann was one of the first, and most accurate, viewers in this program. When Dr. Persinger measured his brain’s electromagnetic activity during viewing sessions, he found a spike in activity at 7 Hz which correlated with the most accurate viewings. Is it possible that Swann was able to project his consciousness by tuning into the standing geomagnetic waves of the Earth?
All of this adds up to a fascinating connection between our brains and the shared magnetic field not only of our planet, but potentially of the entire universe. It’s undeniable that the brain responds to magnetic forces on a local and a global scale. While no one has been able to prove the involvement of magnetite, it seems a likely suspect. If we learn to harness the power of these tiny antennas in our brain, who knows what kind of psychic superpowers we might unlock?