Quantum Mechanics And The Collective Unconscious

Chapter Six: Species Revisited

Entangled Species

Chapter Five contained an account of the evolution and functioning of cells, in an attempt to isolate and describe those aspects of the operation of cells that are dependent on quantum phenomena. Its conclusions are that quantum mechanical phenomena play a major role in the internal workings of biological cells, and in the processes leading up to replication; quantum mechanical phenomena are essential to the functioning of modern-day cells, and were equally essential to the evolution of those cells.

It is a startling but undisputed fact that when a cell divides, it gives off a photon, and that the two resulting cells are quantum entangled. The consequence, subject to time-dependent loss of coherence, would seem to be that all cells and therefore all assemblies of cells (we may call them animals, or brains, for instance) have been or are wholly or partially quantum entangled, and always were, because it seems unlikely that quantum mechanics or quantum entanglement somehow came into existence after life had already become established on earth.

An alternative would be that quantum entanglement was an evolutionary development at an early stage of the growth of life; but quantum theory, quantum mechanics and entanglement are not limited to living things, so that this hypothesis seems untenable.

Therefore the very first organic molecule that divided in a repeatable fashion must have given off a photon and have given rise to two entangled molecules. How could it be otherwise?

While the entanglement of individual particles and cells is known as coherent, it is supposed that larger organic objects are entangled as well, but that increasing temperature, increasing size, and incidents such as collisions cause the entanglement to become incoherent. It is not very easy to demonstrate quantum entanglement and non-location for larger assemblies of cells, but it has been done multiple times, for instance for organic molecules with as many as 100 atoms (Arndt), and for a collection of up to 14 ions (Monz).

Krauter et al (2011) demonstrated a method of maintaining entanglement between two assemblies of 1012 atoms separated by 0.5m by forcibly replacing dissipating (and thus de-cohering) atoms. Without the replacement mechanism, de-coherence would be expected to result in c. 40 milliseconds at room temperature; in the experiment, coherence was maintained for up to one hour.

Such experiments, and others mentioned in Chapter One, help to disprove early assumptions made about the difficulty of maintaining coherence in warm, wet environments such as early cell assemblies (proto animals) or, particularly, brains. It's not clear whether those assumptions resulted from unwillingness on the part of classical physicists and biologists to entertain the upsetting of their existing world-view, or whether they truly were abiding by relevant scientific imperatives. It is a fact that early experimental research into coherence and entanglement often had to employ very low temperatures in order to realize and study those phenomena, lending an air of unreality to speculations about the role of quantum mechanics in the real world.

Moving on, the question that arises in the context of evolution is whether and to what extent quantum mechanisms may have impacted the behaviour of early multi-cellular organisms, given that such organisms are taken to have been formed in warm, wet conditions. If there was indeed a 'quantum' environment for early life, then William James's famous description of the state of a brain as 'one great, blooming, buzzing confusion' (describing the mental perceptions of a new-born child) can very well be applied to the state of an early form of life as a result of multiple, criss-cross quantum entanglements. This would have been prior of course to the emergence of purpose-built communication techniques such as nerves. What evolutionary use would or could an early multi-cellular but relatively undifferentiated organism make of entanglement? Without knowing anything about how entanglement works in practice, it is imaginable for instance that it could make the response of an organism to an existential threat more coherent by harmonizing the direction of propulsion by flagellae more quickly than could be achieved by chemical messages, or that it could enhance the speed and effectiveness of a food-enveloping mechanism.

Johann Summhammer, mentioned above in the context of quantum cooperation between insects, points out that quantum mechanisms can offer evolutionary advantages to animals:

'One can easily think of a wide range of biological processes, where entanglement would lead to a Darwinian advantage: Entanglement could coordinate biochemical reactions in different parts of a cell, or in different parts of an organ. It could allow correlated firings of distant neurons. . . . It is also conceivable that entanglement correlates processes between members of different species, and even between living systems and the inanimate world. Specifically, the evolutionary advantage of entanglement could consist in the following: since entanglement involves no transfer of information between the entangled parts, but produces effects over arbitrary distances as if information had been transferred, it can eliminate the need to develop further means of communication.'

It seems that there is a whole panoply of ways in which cells, single or multiple, are able to influence or 'communicate' with each other: bioluminescence, electromagnetic radiation (if that's different), tunnelling. All of these use quantum effects either in generation of the radiation or through actual entanglement. There is of course an energetic requirement for one cell to communicate with others, or for quantum effects to take place within a cell, and this implies purpose. Evolution is that efficient.

There doesn't seem any reason to suppose, or even any possibility, that this situation arose other than at the very earliest stages of evolution. It seems to follow that there is some fundamental degree of 'connectedness', not just using that word in a quantum sense, between any and every assemblage of cells.

However, the likely random nature of quantum effects, in the absence of any controlling influence such as a nerve net, might mean that the confusion engendered would be counter-productive once the organism began to have differentiated cells with disparate functions. From that perspective, the emergence of nervous systems and endocrine functions could be seen as a defence against the 'buzzing confusion'; and the development of species itself a means of taming and controlling the tendency towards over-information that might result from unrestrained entanglement in larger organisms.

Characteristics Of A Non-Local Field

As we have described, there is abundant evidence for the presence of quantum mechanical effects in cells and the organisms they make up. But what is the causative mechanism? As previous chapters have shown, and particularly Chapter Four, a long line of distinguished researchers and thinkers in the biological sciences and physics have postulated a non-local 'field' to account for effects, including quantum or psi effects, that cannot be explained within the structure of classical science. They have used multiple terminologies for this, but the conceptual similarities between their various visions are striking. Other, equally eminent people may and do de-bunk such theories, but they have no substitute theory to offer, often concluding, if they do not resort to God or an equivalent spiritual explanation, that the human mind is not equipped to understand the basis of quantum and other non-local phenomena. Of course there is insufficient evidence on which to take a stand on the 'field' question; but it is legitimate to explore the consequences for phylogeny and evolution on the hypothesis that a non-local field or fields exist. For the remainder of this chapter, therefore, the existence of such an external and all-pervasive field (or fields) will be taken as a premise.

It is useful to begin by describing the phenomenological attributes of the hypothetical field, insofar as we have been able to observe them. First, it is non-local, e.g. it is not limited by classical concepts of distance and speed. Events that take place within the field are instantaneous, regardless of the degree of their physical separation (e.g. changes to the amounts of spin and momentum of entangled particles in a superposition). Second, the field is organized; not all parts of it are in touch with all other parts, 'in touch' meaning 'capable of communicating with'. Thus there might be channels used by members of a species or members of a group or by pairs of individuals (as in the human collective unconscious, sheep rolling over cattle grids, dogs and their mistresses or quantum tunnelling).

Given that early organisms existed in a 'field', with varying degrees and geometries of inter-connectedness, a question to answer is, how and why would a proto-organism make use of a field if such exists?

Very early animals presumably oscillated between being individuals and cell collections. There is no clear, accepted account of when and how single-celled animals became multicellular. It seems to have happened on many different occasions, and sometimes took place in reverse. One straightforward advantage of multicellularity is that of increased size: for a single cell, an increase in size brings with it a decrease in surface-to-volume ratio, causing reduced efficiency of absorption of food. And of course multicellularity permits functional differentiation. It does indeed heighten the need for communication between and among cells, for purposes certainly including identification of food sources, control of multiplication (replication), and avoidance of predators. By all means communication for such purposes can employ chemical means, eventually through endocrine mechanisms, but surely our heavily entangled early-stage multi-cellular organism would find that quantum mechanical signalling offered a more efficient communication method for many purposes.

Emergence Of Collective Mechanisms

It is the thesis of Agent Human that consciousness, using the word in its most general sense, is a necessary accompaniment of sociality, or put more generally, that communication is necessarily involved in cooperative behaviour between organisms. That more general formulation can be applied even to fairly primitive multi-cellular animals. Agent Human began its account of the development of consciousness alongside 'groupishness' with the cnidarians (e.g. jellyfish), and did not allow them onto even the bottom rung of the consciousness ladder, somatic responsiveness (see Appendix Two for a description of the terminology used in Agent Human). In the present context, that is too limited a conclusion. Jellyfish, who emerged c. 700 million years ago, have a nerve-net, a series of interconnected nerve cells but without ganglia (i.e. without a proto-brain); they also have nerve rings and a sensory apparatus which can stimulate the nerve-net and at the other end, so to speak, muscles which can cause locomotion.

The sensory apparatus (depending on the species) can include cells that are sensitive to light, receptors that deal with orientation, receptors that detect certain chemicals, and receptors that are sensitive to touch. Different types of sensory input cause different types of neural activity with different outcomes in terms of behaviour. Behaviours that are moderated by the neural apparatus include moving up and down, swimming (via a series of contractions), maintaining orientation and, evidently, stinging.

Cnidarians form colonies (jellyfish sometimes swim in shoals), and display intra-individual behaviours including aggression, withdrawal and sexual coupling (see e.g. Chadwick). Apparently there has been no research into the possible use of quantum phenomena for communication (or other purposes) within individual cnidarians, or amongst them, but it seems inevitable, given the prominent role that quantum phenomena play in their single-celled precursor organisms, that the same should apply to cnidarians themselves. Each one has a 'field', for want of a better word, or perhaps it is better to say that they each and all of them exist in a field created by/inhabited by their cellular radiations. If we call this telepathy, then it is not, at least in the early stages, to be thought of as a one-to-one method of communication; it is a group-wide sharing of knowledge.

It is interesting however that there is rudimentary usage of hormonal and endocrinal mechanisms in cnidarians, existing alongside or possibly in replacement of 'field' communication. It could be argued that 'field' communication is too unspecific to be useful when individual organisms start to communicate with each other on a one-to-one basis, just as internal 'field' effects become inefficient when one part of an organism needs to communicate with another part, leading to the development of nerves.

It's a possibility therefore that the need to create a separate and unshared connected community would act towards the creation of separate species.

There are other reasons for species to become distinct, but the need to circle the wagons might be a more powerful driver of species individuality than any other, and separating 'connectedness' would intensify that.

A New Law Of Species

This leads to a prediction, which is that a species, however widely dispersed, will retain its essential characteristics longer than environmental pressures would lead you to suppose.

If species are in reality a defence against change and biological confusion, it's even important that they should not change. Of itself, that idea is not to do with quantum mechanisms; but the possibly dangerous existence of quantum mechanisms would intensify the need for stability within a species; the moment you start to change, the more vulnerable you become to random and possibly risky influences. Thus there would be a force towards stability in a species, and there is a certain amount of scientific evidence for such a theory, although of course none of the authors listed below mentions it.

Lande et al (2003) note that among a tropical butterfly population, ecologically equivalent species co-exist more extensively than might be expected, and develop mathematical models for species longevity.

Steven M Stanley (born 1941), American palaeontologist and evolutionary biologist, has established indeed that there is very little evolutionary change within a species if external conditions remain static; saltation (evolution in bursts) and the emergence of new species is a result of the (normally geographic) isolation or separation of a part of a species population under new conditions which leads to rapid emergence of new species.

Eldredge et al (2005), stating that 'patterns of stasis in the fossil record constitute a genuine problem for evolutionary theory', put forward possible explanations, including particularly the complex geographical structure of species, concluding that:

"neither lack of genetic variation nor genetic and developmental constraint is probably sufficient in and of itself to account for species-wide stasis."

They outline programs of further research needed to resolve outstanding difficulties.

Webster et al (2004) describe the association of rapid genetic evolution with bouts of speciation, which they attribute to a punctuated molecular clock,

"although to what degree bouts of rapid genetic evolution could arise from extreme genetic drift during bottlenecks or from adaptive pressures on invasive species remains contentious."

To attribute the alternation of periods of evolutionary stasis with moments of accelerated speciation to 'punctuated equilibria' may describe the process, but it doesn't explain it. As the authors say, we have to look to external factors for an explanation. Or possibly to what we might call 'hidden variables' in the evolutionary process, being, as proposed above, some type of intra-species communication that tends to maintain stability in a species, but then, when external factors force change, make sure that it is rapid: to have a sub-species exist alongside an existing one for any length of time runs the risk of confusion. The new species needs to differentiate itself and separate itself from the previous species as rapidly as possible, both physically and in terms of intra-species communication.

If it's true that species differentiation was more of a defensive technique than an aggressive variation for survival advantage, then the same applies to the development of specific communication mechanisms such as nerves, notochords, ganglions and so forth. On this construction, they were not by any means on an evolutionary path towards neural sophistication in the sense of improving the connectedness of an organism (what is the classical view); in the light of the general connectedness of protoplasmic matter via quantum mechanisms, it was rather an attempt by evolution to control the buzzing confusion of disorganized communication by limiting and organizing it.

Anyway, communication between group (species) members, if that means shared knowledge about physiological and possibly sensory states, seems highly likely to be an inevitable concomitant of the collective 'field', as we have chosen to call it.

From the beginning, therefore, the brain and its antecedents can be seen as denying connectedness, and attempting to create a controlled environment in which certain limited types of neural behaviour could proceed on their uninterfered-with way. So the modern mammalian brain can be seen as making use of connectedness to a limited degree, but denying it in most respects.

Eventually, that is why consciousness, which is the most contrived aspect of the mammalian brain, leads us into failing to recognize or to be able to communicate with our unconscious. The advent of language exacerbated this process: once the social goals of human groups could be achieved through symbolic communication, there was no longer any need for the subtler forms of non-linguistic communication between humans, and they duly atrophied. For anyone who believes in the existence of telepathy, this is a particularly cogent argument. If humans once could use it, there was no longer any need for it once words could be used. Its last stand might have been for remote communication, and the telephone put paid to that!

At some level, however, unknown to the conscious and probably even to much of cortical cognition, the unconscious has a modus vivendi with the buzzing confusion, and that is where the collective unconscious resides. One day perhaps we will find it!


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