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Zeno Effect

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The Zeno Effect is a new (to me) quantum physics effect that re-enchants the ancient Zeno Paradox.  Zeno, the greek mathematician, suggested that an arrow in flight could only be seen at a single position at each moment in time.  The lack of observable motion in the instant meant that it was not moving at all.

The fabulously brilliant computer nerd (before electronic computers), Alan Turning, demonstrated that a quantum system could be observed with sufficient frequency to freeze the evolving quantum system into a stationary state (even though it is an evolving system).  The Quantum Zeno Effect has been proposed as the method by which an advance brain can freeze-frame its state for analysis of the present moment.  Here is a section from the Wikipedia article on the Quantum Zeno Effect:

Significance to cognitive science

The quantum Zeno effect (with its own controversies related to measurement) is becoming a central concept in the exploration of controversial and unproven theories of quantum mind consciousness within the discipline of congitive science.  In his book, “Mindful Universe” (2007), Henry Stapp claims that the quantum Zeno effect is the main method by which the mind holds a superposition of the state of the brain in the attention. He advances that this phenomenon is the principal method by which the conscious will effects change, a possible solution to the mind-body dichotomy. Stapp and co-workers do not claim finality of their theory, but only:

The new framework, unlike its classic-physics-based predecessor, is erected directly upon, and is compatible with, the prevailing principles of physics.

Needless to say, such conjectures have their opponents, serving perhaps to create more furor, rather than less, for example, see Bourget. A summary of the situation is provided by Davies:

There have been many claims that quantum mechanics plays a key role in the origin and/or operation of biological organisms, beyond merely providing the basis for the shapes and sizes of biological molecules and their chemical affinities.…The case for quantum biology remains one of “not proven.” There are many suggestive experiments and lines of argument indicating that some biological functions operate close to, or within, the quantum regime, but as yet no clear-cut example has been presented of non-trivial quantum effects at work in a key biological process.

While this last objection may no longer be valid, the significance of the Zeno effect in determining the rate of quantum decoherence in biological systems remains unknown.

Here is the full article:    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeno_effect

Think about it for a moment.

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1 Comment

  1. Huenemann says:

    Here’s a link to a thoughtful critique of Stapp’s theory:

    Quantum leaps in philosophy of mind

    Like

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