Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Consciousness - the hardest problem in science

06.09.2002


A Surrey scientist claims to have an answer to what is often considered to be the hardest problem in science (sometimes just known as the “Hard Problem”): why we are aware.



Johnjoe McFadden, Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Surrey, has previously proposed that consciousness is generated by the brain’s electromagnetic field, the cemi field. The cemi field theory – that our thoughts are electric fields in the brain – has generated a lot of interest both in the UK and across the world. In McFadden’s theory nerve signals – the wires of the brain – are responsible for driving our unconscious actions (like walking or driving to work every day, when our conscious mind seems to be elsewhere) but our conscious thoughts are the electric fields that ebb and flow through the brain. Nerves and wires can only encode (know) ones and zeros but fields can encode the complexity of our thoughts.

Now, in a paper published in the latest issue of Journal of Consciousness Studies (Johnjoe McFadden, 2002 “The Conscious Electromagnetic Information (Cemi) Field Theory: The Hard Problem Made Easy?”) McFadden proposes an answer to the hard problem, claiming that awareness is electromagnetic field information, viewed from the inside.


Many apparently very different phenomena in physics are really the same thing, viewed from different frames of reference. For instance an electromagnetic field may be experienced as an electric field from one frame of reference (stationary) but a magnetic field from another frame of reference (moving). Similarly, in relativity theory, space and time are the same phenomenon – spacetime – viewed from different perspectives.

From the outside, information in the brain may be seen as patterns of neural firing or electrical field strengths. But from the perspective of those photons that comprise the brain’s electromagnetic field (our conscious mind), information is experienced as awareness.

In this view, awareness is a fundamental property of information. But only the information in the electromagnetic field of complex brains is capable of communicating (and has anything interesting to say). Consciousness is awareness that can talk.

The theory has huge implications for our understanding of mind and the design of artificial intelligence. McFadden claims that conventional computers, no matter how fast or complex, will never have conscious thoughts. They (like the neurons in our brain) think through wires rather than fields. They can only know (be aware of) ones and zeros. But it may soon be possible to build a revolutionary new kind of computer, one that uses electric fields to compute. An artificial conscious mind may not be so far away.

Liezel Tipper | alfa

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>