Published on by Catherine Toulsaly


December 2018 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Earthrise, a photograph taken by Astronaut Bill Anders aboard Apollo 8. Earthrise symbolizes the dramatic widening of humanity’s consciousness as if it pushes the doors of its gravitational prison to breath in cosmic air.  


Much emphasis has been placed on the role of the observer in the understanding of the mechanisms at play in the quantum universe and on the objective or subjective nature of that observation made individually or collectively.  If “Consciousness is fundamentally that which reveals or makes manifest because it is the crucial precondition for appearance” and that “Nothing, strictly speaking, appears unless it appears to some consciousness” (Evan Thompson, Waking, Dreaming, Being, p.14), the emphasis that we place on our role in the way we interact with our surrounding, experience time itself, evaluate every single event even those on the quantum level as if they mirror our own interaction with the world is that reflective of an anthropocentric view of the universe or a true necessity? In the imaginary space-time, Consciousness is set out to conquer the adjacent territories of countless possibilities.  One might ask whether individual consciousness is limited by time and space or whether it draws upon what I tentatively would call collective kinetic energy 


Consciousness reigns over the realm of infinite possibilities and that of  “actual entities”.  The realm of Possible is those infinitely many parallel worlds all encapsulated into “a single quantum state of the universe”. The realm of “actual entities” is that of the reality in which we are active players. The possible is full of shadowy objects that may catch the individual eye of consciousness and entail the imprint of a thought.  If we were to make the comparison with brain activity, the realm of infinite possibilities would be our boundless imagination, our endless back and forth over what the future holds until we are faced with the actual reality.  


The infinite possibilities bridge over past and future events. The past because of the endless ramifications in time and space moving backward and the dissection of past events, that sheds new light on what was and reveals a new interpretation that ripples over time. The future because of our unbridled imagination at predicting the effects of every move. The reality of the past is multifold while the “virtual” future is not set and truly resembles an abundance of possible worlds. 

according to quantum physics, the past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.

The (elusive) theory of everything

In the science of space is Heliophysics, the study of the heliosphere and the objects it interacts with. The sun offers the unique opportunity to observe the behavior of a star, one of the countless stars in the universe. In regard to Gregory Matloff’s research, one might wonder about the possible clues that the Parker Solar Probe could uncover. 


Sixty years ago, Eugene Parker published a groundbreaking paper on the Dynamics of interplanetary gases and magnetic fields. For the first time, at the age of 93, he has witnessed last August the launch of the fastest spacecraft scheduled to arrive to its closest orbit to the Sun in 2024 in the goal to observe the magnetic fields coming out of the Sun and the gigantic coronal mass ejections. Will it explain why the temperature climbs as you move away from the surface of the Sun as if the solar winds create insurmountable burning walls to shy away from our reach? 


Consciousness like a rumble rolling through the universe possesses free will “because of free will choices from quantum variables upward” (Stuart Kauffman, Humanity in a creative universe,  p.100). And when the Parker Solar Probe will be the closest from the Sun, will we be observing up close what Matloff calls “stellar consciousness”? Is the Sun expressing its “stellar volition” when electromagnetic bursts are unwinding in space, blown away in the solar winds?  


Through the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field we gaze at 10,000 galaxies and an approximate number of 100 billions of stars. Billions and billions of planets are hidden in the landscape. Is the Universe a product of Consciousness or is Consciousness a fool to believe that the Universe is real? One might wonder whether there is a multiverse and if there is, do all the possible universes coexist with all the possible consciousnesses? Does time-space extend through layers and layers of universes or does each universe possess its own sense of time and space?  


“...we can consider the idea that the superpositions of different space-times, one per pathway, are different possible space-times! ...What if time flowing in the Possible is imaginary time?”

Stuart Kauffman, Humanity in a Creative Universe, p.214

Stuart Kauffman talks about the two concepts of res potentia and res extensa.  Werner Heisenberg pointed out that the old concept of (res) potentiaintroduced something standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality”. Res extensa originally would refer to what Descartes called substance corporelle (corporeal substance) which I would understand as the manifestation of the thing itself.  

If possibles are outside of space but inside of time, res potentia can have existed before the Big Bang, opening new ways to think about the origin of the universe

Stuart Kauffman, Humanity in a Creative Universe, p.125

When I read about quantum physics, I usually have a hard time to wrap my head around all the concepts. It is an amazingly interesting learning process that nourishes my own imagination.  Following up to the idea of a free-willed consciousness beyond just humans – a pampsychism described by David Chalmers and Thomas Nagel among others and that Gregory Matloff is investigating when it comes to “stellar volition” - when Kauffman proposed that ‘conscious and free-willed observation by humans and by quantum variables (such as electrons and photons exchanging photons, fermions exchanging bosons and consciously measuring one another) is necessary and sufficient for measurement.” (p.127), it reminds me what Alva Noë wrote in Out of our Heads about Consciousness being derived from our interactions with the physical environment. Carlo Rovelli also mentioned in his book The order of time (p.197-198) that time is the form in which every physical object - we included - interacts with the universe and that is the source of our identity. Isn't it what Consciousness is about? And if time is an illusion - at least on the quantum level, is Consciousness a fool rushing through the Universe and bumping its head onto clouds of dark matter? 


Consciousness is an infinitely resourceful kinetic energy and the Universe is its receptacle. Some are likely to believe that human beings are the raison d'être of the Universe and defend the Anthropic Cosmological Principle along the line of “I think, therefore the universe exists”. 

We're left with no choice but to accept that our presence as an observer, and how we make the observation, physically changes what we're looking at.

Robert Lanza, Beyond Biocentrism, p.52-53

But humans are just an episode in a biological process. They are not an end in itself. We may be a by-product in the myriad of universal possibilities, an accidental outcome but not an endgame, just an episode in time. After all is our own point of view really “central to the universe? 

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