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 Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>