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 human consciousness as if we remove the bars of our gravitational prison to breathe in cosmic air.  


Much emphasis has been placed on the role of the observer in understanding the mechanisms at play in the quantum universe and on the objective or subjective nature of those observations, whether they are made individually or collectively.  If Consciousness "is fundamentally that which reveals or makes manifest” and if nothing, "appears unless it appears to some consciousness” (Evan Thompson, Waking, Dreaming, Being, p.14), is the emphasis that we place on our role in the way we interact with our surroundings, in the way we experience time itself, and the way that we evaluate every single event even those on the quantum level an anthropocentric view of the Universe or a necessary outcome or consequence of our being? Consciousnes sets out to conquer the adjacent territories of countless possibilities in the imaginary space-time.  One might ask whether the individual consciousness is limited by time and space or whether it draws upon the collective kinetic energy.”  


Consciousness reigns over the realm of infinite possibilities and that of  actual entitiesinfinitely many parallel worlds all encapsulated into a single quantum state of the universe. The realm of “actual entities” is the reality in which we are active players. The possibles are full of shadowy objects that may entail the imprint of a thought.  Suppose we compare with brain activity, the realm of infinite possibilities is 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 past and future events. The past through endless ramifications in spacetime sheds light on what was and ignites what is unset in the future. 

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

The (elusive) theory of everything

Heliophysics is the study of the heliosphere and the objects it interacts with. The Sun offers the unique opportunity to observe the behavior of a star in the universe. 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 witnessed last August the launch of the fastest spacecraft scheduled to arrive at its closest orbit to the Sun in 2024 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 shying away from our reach? 


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


Through the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field we gaze at 10,000 galaxies and an approximate 100 billion stars. Billions and billions of planets are hidden in the landscape. Is the Universe a product of Consciousness, or is Consciousness a fool to think 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 struggle to wrap my head around all the concepts. It is a learning process that nurtures my imagination. Following up on the idea of a free-willed consciousness – a pampsychism as described by David Chalmers and Thomas Nagel, when Kauffman proposed that conscious and free-willed observation is necessary and sufficient for measurement, it reminds me of what Alva Noë wrote that Consciousness derives from interactions with the physical environment. Carlo Rovelli also mentioned that time is the form in which every physical object interacts with the Universe, the source of our identity. Isn't what can be defined as a conscious feeling of time


If time is an illusion, Consciousness is a fool bumping its head. It is an infinitely resourceful kinetic energy, and the Universe is its receptacle. Some 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." But is our own point of view  “central to the universe? We are an episode in a biological process, a by-product in the myriad of universal possibilities, an accidental outcome, just an episode in time.

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

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