The Quantum Chicken or the Egg

Which came first? Mr. Chicken or Ms. Egg? 

Here's an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about consciousness and birds, as described in the book "Life on the Edge" by Johnjoe McFadden & Jim Al-Khalili.
From - "Hmmm. And you are?"

Physics for Bird Brains

Quantum weirdness helps explain how plants make food, animals migrate and humans think.

Photo: © Kim Taylor/Nature Picture Library/Corbis

In their remarkable book, “Life on the Edge,” Johnjoe McFadden, an expert in molecular genetics, and Jim Al-Khalili, a quantum physicist, join forces to explain many everyday aspects of life in terms of what is often referred to as quantum weirdness. After teasing the reader with an introduction presenting the puzzle of how birds can detect the Earth’s magnetic field and use it for navigation, the authors lead us gently by the hand through discussions of the nature of life itself, right down to the molecular level and the mysteries of quantum physics. This is material that has been covered in many books but nowhere more succinctly and clearly than here. The authors have an easily accessible style, free from jargon, that can make complex issues clear even to the non-scientist.

Life on the Edge

By Johnjoe McFadden & Jim Al-Khalili
Crown, 353 pages, $28

Thus prepared, we are ready for an explanation of what they call “the quantum robin”—the workings of the magnetic sense organ in birds and other animals. It turns out that this ability is linked to the phenomenon known as “entanglement”: Entanglement involves two or more quantum entities, such as electrons, being in some sense in tune with each other, so that when one of them is prodded the other one twitches—even when they are separated by great distances. And in certain circumstances, as Messrs. McFadden and Al-Khalili explain, this makes molecules in the animal’s sense organ sensitive to the direction of a magnetic field.

This is a profound realization, because entanglement is such a bizarre concept, that for decades even many physicists doubted that it could be real. Albert Einstein famously referred to it as “spooky action at a distance.” The equations tell us that once two particles have interacted, then forever afterward, no matter how far apart they are, a measurement of one particle will instantaneously affect the properties of the other. As Einstein wrote to his friend Leon Rosenfeld: “Is it not paradoxical? How can the final state of the second particle be influenced by a measurement performed on the first, after all physical connection has ceased between them?” He believed that this paradox highlighted a flaw in quantum theory, and he went to his grave still looking for a better description of the universe. But he was wrong. In the 1980s (and repeatedly since), experiments involving photons, the particles of light, have proved that the spooky action at a distance is real. 

In that case, it should be expected that natural processes make use of it. Why shouldn’t they? Life uses whatever is available, whether that thing is food, energy or quantumly entangled particles.
So it should be no surprise when the authors explain that monarch butterflies and fruit flies are among other species that make use of quantum effects in navigation. Nor are quantum processes confined to the animal world. Photosynthesis is the mechanism in plants that provides the energy used to manufacture plant material, and ultimately the food we eat, out of basic chemicals such as water and carbon dioxide. This, too, depends on quantum processes that “push” the absorbed energy of sunlight in the right direction. 

“Pre-quantum” physics—the laws discovered by Isaac Newton—is often referred to as classical physics. “Most biologists,” the authors point out, “still believe that the classical laws are sufficient” to explain photosynthesis, “with light acting like some kind of golf club able to whack the oxygen golf ball out of the carbon dioxide molecule.” But, like Einstein contemplating spooky action at a distance, they are wrong. The key step in the process involves electrons “hopping” from one molecule to another. Some extraordinary experiments described in this book have revealed that this energy is flowing through the plant by, in effect, following several routes simultaneously, thanks to a phenomenon known as coherence. This is a purely quantum effect.

This discovery is particularly exciting because quantum coherence is a concept that many of the physicists working on the development of “quantum computers” have incorporated into their designs. Not for the first time, nature got there before the scientists and so far does a better job of “computing” the most efficient way to get energy from A to B. Not that the quantum computer scientists were quick to embrace this idea: Messrs. McFadden and Al-Khalili quote one of them describing his colleagues’ immediate reaction when they saw a New York Times article suggesting that plants might operate as quantum computers: “It’s like, ‘Oh my God, that’s the most crackpot thing I’ve heard in my life.’ ” But they have since changed their tune. 

All this is dramatic enough and well worth the price of admission. But the authors have saved the best—if admittedly the most speculative—idea for (nearly) last: that quantum procedures help explain consciousness and the mechanics of thought, as surely as they do photosynthesis. Tracing the process of painting a picture (the authors imagine an artist in Paleolithic times painting a picture of a bison on a cave wall) from the fingertips of the artist back through the muscles and neurons in the arm to the brain, they investigate the chemistry at every step. At one level, this is an entirely causal, mechanistic chain of processes, like that of a machine. But who, or what, is in charge of the machine? Who is pulling the levers? Is there really such thing as a self, or are we merely zombies?

It is an old question, going back to philosophers such as Descartes. How does mind make matter move? The new answer presented here draws from the physics behind those quantum computers. Where an “ordinary” computer can be thought of as operating through a series of switches that can be set to 0 or 1, the power of a quantum computer depends on the ability of quantum entities to be in two states at the same time, known as a superposition. So the switches in a quantum computer are both on and off (set at 0 and set at 1) at the same time. Building on ideas proposed by the Oxford physicist Roger Penrose, Messrs. McFadden and Al-Khalili look at the quantum chemistry that just might be involved in conscious thought. “The scheme,” they say, “is certainly speculative, but it does at least provide a plausible link between the quantum and classical realms in the brain.” After all, if a plant can operate like a quantum computer in carrying out the process of photosynthesis, why couldn’t a human brain act as a quantum computer in carrying out the processes of thought? Given nature’s ability to make use of whatever is available, it would be surprising if it did not. The authors’ Paleolithic artist is “not a zombie,” and neither are you, at least not if their theory is accurate.

After such a daring hypothesis, almost anything would be an anticlimax—even a chapter discussing the puzzle of how life first began. It would seem more natural to have this before the discussion of consciousness, since, after all, life began before it became conscious. Still, this is an important topic that could not be left out of a book such as this. For my (hopefully conscious) mind, though, this is the weakest section of ”Life on the Edge,” the most speculative, and not entirely convincing. There are clearly more questions than answers, but at least this means that there is plenty of work for the next generation of quantum biologists to do. 

It may not be necessary, though, to understand how life began to use an understanding of how life operates today at the quantum level to build completely artificial living organisms from the bottom up. Such a process would require what the authors call “living technology” to manufacture from scratch organisms such as microbes that could produce antibiotics tailored to human requirements. This would be quite different from recent experiments with “artificial” life, which involve tinkering with DNA molecules, introducing them into already living cells and persuading those cells to function in accordance with the instructions coded in the new DNA. This top-down approach is inefficient because even after being “adapted” in this way, such modified cells continue to make lots of stuff that is of no use to us. The bottom-up approach would result in what the authors describe as “a brave new world of quantum synthetic living organisms that could free their natural-born relatives from the drudgery of providing humanity with most of its needs.” A fine sentiment—unless, of course, those synthetic organisms turn out to be conscious.

“Life on the Edge” is a fascinating and thought-provoking book that combines solid science, reasonable extrapolation from the known into the unknown, and plausible speculation to give an accessible overview of a revolutionary transformation in our understanding of the living world. I will certainly look at robins with more respect in future.
"Larry? Are you in there?"
In this review, Mr. Gribbin suggests the authors might have included a chapter on "the beginning of life" -- "It would seem more natural to have this (chapter) before the discussion of consciousness, since, after all, life began before it became conscious."  

Ay, there's the rub.

The statement begs the question - "Or is it possible that consciousness exists (or existed) prior to life?" 

There's no evidence that exists that consciousness came after life.  It's only an assumption.  I mean it makes sense - we're alive, we think, we breath, we die, no more thinking.  Except - there is thinking after we die. Not only is there thinking but there's full consciousness.

And if consciousness can exist outside of life (during near death experiences, the thousands cited in the Aware project by Dr. Sam Parnia, the cites of cases in Mario Beauregard's work and "Brain Wars," Dr. Bruce Greyson's cites of medical cases in his youtube talk "Is Consciousness Produced by the Brain?" and numerous others, including many cited in "Flipside" and "It's a Wonderful Afterlife") then we can begin the discussion that leads to the proposition that perhaps it was consciousness that created life.

(Funny, the authors read a NY Times article suggesting plants might operate as quantum computers and their response was "Oh my God, that the most crackpot thing I've heard in my life." "But they've since changed their tune.") So perhaps they'll say the same thing about the idea of consciousness creating life at some point in the future.

There is an increasing body of research that posits that consciousness may exist apart from the brain, or in relation to this article, apart from the physical body or any matter. It may indeed be argued that consciousness helped move molecules and matter along to create life. And there's the conundrum.
Kids in Huntington Gardens walking through a wormhole.

If consciousness exists outside of life - outside the brain - or prior to life - who's in charge of how that works? (hint: answers can be found in "Its a Wonderful Afterlife."

In the research into the "Flipside" there are numerous accounts (transcripts) of people claiming to answer some of these questions either while under deep hypnosis, or during a near death experience, or even while communicating with someone who appears to no longer be on the planet. And they describe something that's dependent on understanding that the physics of the afterlife - for lack of a better term - or that the actual time and space of the other realms than this one, exist with different rules than we do.  

And what appears to be millennia over here, seem much different over there - and that the ability for people over there to manipulate energy over here requires focus and an ability to learn how to transfer energy from one place to the next.  In other words, their intent and focus and direction of energy over here, is responsible for the creation of life on this planet (and according to their transcripts, for life on other planets as well.)  I'm not hypothesizing this to be the case, I'm only reporting that's what these folks have claimed during their near death experience, or between life hypnosis session, or even when asking questions to people no longer on the planet. They claim that we, as conscious energy, along with the guidance of older, wiser souls (for lack of a better term) help guide what life is going to be throughout the universe. Even here.

("Oh My God! That's the most crackpot thing I've ever heard in my life!" On that point, I'd have to agree. But it's not my opinion, I'm just reporting. Don't shoot the messenger.)

So. The answer to the age old question? "What came first, the chicken or the egg" is...

"consciousness came first as it devised (or was responsible for) the process that allowed for the egg to become a chicken." 

My two cents. Cluck. Cluck.


Cecil the Lion and the Flipside

There's a passage in "It's a Wonderful Afterlife" where a spirit guide is being asked a question that one of the people in the book posed as a question.  "What's the meaning of "the shift?"   

She asked the question half in jest, as she didn't believe she would get anywhere in her session, as she didn't believe in an "afterlife" or wherever the hell it was that people were claiming to go to speak to "wiser souls" that seemed to answer the deeper questions we have in life.

And her spirit guide said something to the equivalent of "You humans think that by naming something you'll get a better handle on it.  In terms of the cosmos, the "shift" has very little meaning, but if you want to understand a shift in consciousness, imagine yourself a crab walking on the ocean floor and you open your eyes and realize you're in an ocean."

This little fella is a ghost crab. Hmm. Aptly named?

I'm paraphrasing.  That came from my notes while I was filming the session.  My friend, who has worked on a few film blockbusters in the past, didn't believe a word I'd told her about this research into what people say under deep hypnosis about the afterlife.  She agreed to do a session because she had an upcoming surgery, and had heard that "hypnosis" could be beneficial.  (The surgery went fine, she's okay.)

I drove her out to Scott De Tamble's office in Claremont ("") and Scott took her on a successful journey (I've filmed 25 with him, all successful journeys) where she not only saw a lifetime she had lived previously, naming towns and locations that I was able to find through searches, but she also described in detail this "between lives" realm where she met up with her soul mates, pals and others, including this kind of curmudgeon of a spirit guide, who felt her questions might have been lightweight.  After all, you get to a point where you can ask about anything in the universe, and your question is "what's the meaning of "the shift" in terms of new age concepts?

Amusing that he lumped us into the "you humans" part of the equation, but it brings to mind this tragic killing of the lion known as Cecil.

Of course that's not his name, Cecil is a name given to him by humans to examine him, "as if that would give us a better handle on him."  I too agree with the sentiments of Jimmy Kimmel, who eloquently put this man's journey to Africa in perspective, calling him out for some kind of mental or physical deficiency that made him want to populate his "man cave" with the bodies, skins and heads of animals. (Also agree that everyone should donate something in Cecil's name at

Lest we forget: 100 years ago this dentist fellow would have been given a parade down main street.  Less than 50 years ago, he would have been in the pages of National Geographic, lauded for his "humane" hunting skills.  What a difference a few decades make - and a few pages on social media.

This dude is not a dentist methinks.
  Now we have dear heart Mia Farrow posting the fellow's address. The head of PETA calling for his "hanging" - and numerous others calling for his execution.  Preferably in Place de la Concorde where they used to take bourgeois pigs to administer justice.  And when someone does hunt down this dentist, put his head on a stake, quite a few people would say "well, I thought he should be punished, but maybe not that punished."  It's clearly a "Lord of the Flies" moment, when we use social media to "Kill the pig, drink his blood!"

I'm not mitigating any of this.  I don't believe in hunting animals for sport.  I do my best to feed our kids organic food from farms where I can only believe their inserts that the animal I'm eating was humanely treated. (Again with the humane label.  You think the animals are walking around saying "Well, Joe, at least you're going to be killed humanely.  I'm just going to be hit by a Vespa.")
From the New Yorker

So in the desire to take the bows and arrows out of the hands of those about to hunt this fellow down, and perhaps to disarm some of the bows and arrows of those who feel the need to hunt - it's a simple question; "So why are you on the planet?"

It's not a hard question.  And when people get the opportunity to answer it - either during a near death experience, or perhaps under deep hypnosis, or even via communication with those no longer on the planet - the answers are always interesting.

Everyone, according to these reports, has a reason or multitude of reasons why they chose to be on the planet.  Some to work out issues from previous lifetimes, indeed, and many who agree to come here to help out others during their journey here.  I don't know the reason behind this dentist's journey here - perhaps it was to fix a lot of teeth, and kill a handful of animals - but there's also the possibility that he agreed to come here to raise the consciousness of the planet.

Because you see, his one act of brutality - allowing these hunters to lure the lion out of its sanctuary, shooting him with a bow and arrow, not killing him, then hunting him for 40 hours and "taking" him... that may have been done with the desire to teach the planet a lesson.

Let's start with this.  We don't die.  Cecil is not dead. We will not be dead.  We will go on.

Wait, what?

This is what this research shows.  Thousands of cases, and the 25 I've filmed, as well as examining reports from near death experiences and people speaking to those who are no longer on the planet - well, they all say the same danged thing. 

We don't die.

So if you start there - we don't die. Cecil didn't die.  Cecil (for lack of a better name, and it's not his name, but one given to him by dudes at Oxford - who deserve our help and support - if you can donate to them at in Cecil's name) has gone back "home."  He'll be there with his friends and loved ones, the folks who went before him, and will reconnect to see what his next lifetime is going to be.

Because that's how it works.  It's not my philosophy or belief in how it works - its what people consistently report how it works.  It's what people report the architecture of the afterlife actually is.  That we don't die - our physical bodies do - but our spirits, or souls, or energy pattern - whatever you prefer, does not.  And according to these reports, it melds back with our loved ones and together we work on what our next adventure is going to be.  

Home.  (Home?) "Home."
Somewhere along the line this dentist agreed to help heal people, helping them with cavities and other problems (I read it somewhere that dentists have the highest suicide rates - why is that? I don't know) and also agreed to play this role of hunter.  And on some level knew that his hunting was going to affect a shift in consciousness.

Not everyone is going to stop eating meat.  Not everyone is going to stop hunting. But big game hunters who used to post their pix on Facebook and social media will think twice about doing that - as it certainly can be negative on the pocketbook - and perhaps, just perhaps, a person will think twice about taking up the "sport."  Look, racism was once "par for the course." Sexism was once "part of the deal."  "Wanton mistreatment of animals" is also something the planet has dealt with since man climbed down a tree or walked out of the cave.

There is an ecosystem to be sure.  But have humans screwed it up?  Just ask the fish who live near Fukushima. Ask the rhino that has been decimated for it's packed animal hair that becomes horn.  Dogs for lunch? Just ask the Chinese dogs who are decimated as food scraps.  The list goes on and on.  None of us are immune to what we've done to the planet as a species - but there is always hope, because we are sentient beings.  There is always hope for a shift in consciousness that will alter how we view this blue dot that we currently inhabit.

Embedded image permalink
from Oliver Sach's Twitter - the Pale Blue Dot

The good news is that Cecil has returned "home" - just the way the native Americans spoke of the "Buffalo Realm" where the buffalo would return to the loving realm of the White Buffalo before choosing to come back again. Cecil is okay, Cecil is going to be fine.  This dentist, not so much.  He's got a long way to go before he gets to go back home and reap the scorn or the accolades that await him there. 

That's why this research is so fascinating from the standpoint of perspective.  Did the dentist sign up for a lifetime where he could bring this kind of sport to an end?  If so, then we should applaud him.  But there's no way of knowing that - as much as we might want to judge him, might want to do the same injustice to him that he's done to other animals - we can't because we aren't in his shoes.  We can't because we aren't part of his soul group.  We don't know why he's a jerk.  But we can isolate him, take him out of circulation, and prevent him from doing this kind of harm to the planet again.  And by doing so, we raise our own awareness of the planet.

After all, and I may sound like a broken record, if what these thousands of people are saying about the journey of souls is true, that we choose our lifetimes, that we come back here at the behest of others, usually to help and take care of others, doesn't it make sense to leave behind a place we might want to return to?  A place with fresh water, air and earth so we can enjoy those things like we have in the past? And let's expand that to include "and a healthy, robust animal kingdom that we can all appreciate?

My two cents.

"Flipside" coming to you in Spanish and French

The Flipside of the Flipside is the Flipside.
Hola!  Bonjour!

Happy to announce that "Flipside: A Tourist's Guide on How to Navigate the Afterlife" is being translated into French and Spanish.

Can Minion be far away?

I will post links to these editions when they become available. 

¡Hola! Bonjour !

Feliz de anunciar que " Flipside : Guía de un turística sobre cómo navegar por las voces de los muertos " se está traduciendo al francés y al español .

¿Puede Minion estar muy lejos ?

La otra cara de la Flipside es la Flipside

Voy a publicar enlaces a estas ediciones cuando estén disponibles .

Le revers de la Flipside est le Flipside

Hola ! Bonjour !

Heureux de vous annoncer que " Flipside : Guide du Tourisme sur la façon de naviguer dans le Afterlife " est en cours de traduction en français et en espagnol .

Minion peut être loin ?


Je vais poster des liens vers ces éditions quand ils deviennent disponibles 


Happy Mirth Day!

What? never heard of a Mirth day?

Why not?

I'm nominating July 21st, Robin Williams' birthday as Mirth Day.

Photo courtesy of Rita Wilson's Webpage: The Hanks and Robin having some mirth.

It's a day where you try to make people laugh, and you get credit for doing so.

I don't have a candy company, or a card company, it just popped into my head on his birthday.


You don't have to make merry, make out, but you do have to make mirth.

Folks watching "Flipside" in Iowa at a private screening. Cool!

What has this got to do with "The Flipside?" you ask?

I know, you didn't ask, I'm asking. It's a rhetorical thing.

Well, as it turns out every thought, action, word or deed contains energy.  How do I know this?  Well, I think I've heard Wayne Dyer say it.  But I aslo heard it during one of my many between life hypnotherapy sessions.

Mind you, I was convinced when I did my first between life hypnotherapy session that I wouldn't get anywhere.  I was going to continue to say "I don't say anything" to avoid being part of some group that is imagining things that aren't real because they're desperate to help the hypnotherapist get somewhere.

She's behind a sounds stage in Bollywood.  Bad actors don't get far.

I mean, I imagine that happens.

But it didn't happen in my case.  In fact I got "somewhere." And I went around checking out different things while I was there - I went to at least two classrooms, I found my pal Luana in one of them, and she looked at me as if to say "What the hell are you doing here?"

We should change that.  "What the heaven are you doing here?"

Makes more sense doesn't it?

At an online site near you in audible, DVD, paperback, kindle (see links to the right)

So while I was in this state of hypnosis - where you are NOT unconscious, you're fully conscious, you're just letting someone else drive the car.  And the therapist said "where do you want to go?" and I said "I'm on my way to visit my council" as if to say "If you don't hurry up, you'll miss it."

And the therapist took out the list of question I had made up the night before - fully not believing I was going to get anywhere, so I jotted down "ten things I'd ask God" if I could - but I didn't think I would get anywhere.

But I was there.

"If you want to understand a shift in consciousness imagine yourself a crab on the ocean floor and you open your eyes and realize you're in an ocean."  Wise words said during an LBL where a person asked their guide "What's a shift in consciousness mean?"  

And the therapist said "Do you want me to go over these questions?"  I said "Sure, but I'm already asking them."

As if I had memorized them.

I had not. I had jotted them down willy nilly about 2 am the night before.  "Oh yeah, I'm supposed to have questions, what if I do get somewhere?  Okay, I'll just ask these."

But now I was asking them as if I'd memorized them - we went over each one.  And I wouldn't have had them in my memory, except the therapist then went over them with me.  So when he asked "Why did you choose this lifetime? This lifetime as Rich Martini?" I had already heard the answer.

Which I said (roughly)

"Every thought, action, word or deed contains energy. When you write a book, sing a song, create anything with your heart it contains the energy of who you are.  And that can be a healing energy.  I chose to be a filmmaker because I wanted to see if I could use that healing energy to change people's lives, because comedy can change a disposition instantly.  Tears can have the same effect, but require catharis."  

I can guarantee I'd never used catharis in a sentence before.  But I understood it.  Meaning tears have the same effect, you just have to go through the arc of them to get to the same destination that laughter allows.

And then I said "I just wish I'd chosen someone more successful at it."  

Happy Mirth Day. :Can you hear me now?

To which the therapist laughed, and so did the council of 8 people that I was addressing.  So I got laughs simultaneously on two planes - something I'd never done before.  "Laughs in heaven and on earth."  Who knew?

Anyways, so when I suggest an annual Mirth Day - it's for healing purposes.  One guffaw can do more to change a person's health than a bunch of drugs.  One huge bought of unrelenting laughter can do more to change a person's disposition, then happy pills.  So in honor of Mirth Day, and in honor of Robin Williams (besides, who else made us laugh so consistently?)

Mariel Hemingway, Robert Towne on the set of Personal Best.  so much for fog machines.

I nominate Robin's birthday.

July 21st. 

Mirth Day.

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