A few years ago some colleagues and I were discussing non-local methods in the search for an extraterrestrial intelligence. The following gives a taste of those discussions.
Concerning quantum entanglement, it is an ascertained reality that when two particles have first interacted together, and then are separated, even at the longest distance: in addition to Dr. Aspect’s experiment in 1982 and previous EPR (Einstein, Podolsky, Rosen) “gedanken” experiment in the fifties, what fully proves the reality of entanglement is experiments on quantum teleportation of simple particles such as photons or electrons.
Up to to this point everyone agrees.
But, several new hypotheses postulate that this mechanism might be active not only in the micro world, but also in the mesoscopic (intermediate scale) and even macroscopic domains.
And not just this.
Some, including Prof. John Wheeler with his hypothesis on so called retrocausation, are convinced that, considering just particles, some hidden link may exist between all particles in the Universe.
Because at the zero time (Big Bang) particles were all connected and strictly interacting.
It is not yet known which particle parameters are affected here, in addition to the spin and polarization, maybe the quark color too. But if this hypothesis is true then, at a certain level, everything should be non-locally linked inside this universe, and possibly also between multiverses and possible other dimensions.
Maybe a sort of “fossil link” might be still present now.
The framework of this idea stands upon the so called “implicate order” elaborated many years ago by quantum physicist David Bohm, who including Nobel prize winner Wolfgang Pauli created the mathematical apparatus that describes what happens in the entanglement process, by expanding the Schrödinger equation (most important equation of quantum mechanics) with an additional parameter called “quantum potential” whose character is non-local (namely instantaneous).
According to Bohm’s physics, reality is constituted of two interconnected domains: a local and a non-local one. The first obeys to Newton/Einstein physics (finite light speed, etc., on which no one argues), the second obeys to another law of which quantum theory is only the tip of an iceberg. Some, mostly philosophers, think that the second realm is just “consciousness” while the first is matter/energy.
In reality, if particles all over the universe maintain some hidden link together, this means that even the cells of our body are affected. In particular: neurons. And now I come to Dr. Thaheld hypothesis on “non-local astrobiology”.
The hypothesis is that neurons (being constituted themselves by particles) are able to receive non-locally some kind of sentient information, which is then explicated to brainwaves (alpha, delta, theta). From this point on all the investigation becomes absolutely conventional, because whatever is the method for sending information, then that information is deposited inside neurons whose electric activity produce brainwaves. So you just have to look into them, first using an EEG apparatus (of very high-resolution kind, in this specific case) and then using a specific algorithm (Fourier, Karhunen-Loewe, multi-scale computational procedures, or even a simple time-series analysis) which is able to extract a signal from the background noise inside brainwaves (in fact what is of interest here is not the way in which brainwave goes but if something is deposited inside). There might be a very structured message that can be decoded by such an algorithm, so that the analysis becomes exactly identical to the one used in standard SETI. The only difference between NLSETI and SETI is that in the first case information is assumed to be received instantaneously through the quantum entanglement mechanism, and in the second case through radio or optical photons whose intensity decreases with the inverse of the square of distance.
Of course many detractors of this hypothesis will say that the entanglement mechanism is not able to transfer information because we acknowledge a quantum entanglement state only when we observe one of the two particles, and at that moment we make the wave function linking them collapse, which is true per se, of course. But they persist not to understand that when a non-local link like quantum entanglement is established that can be used to transfer information from a quantum to a classical state (such as the neurons in the brain) in form of information in the brainwave, which we can measure indeed.
It is obvious that standard SETI is totally limited by the distance factor, while the probability to find an intelligent signal increases just with the source’s distance, but at the same time the signal amplitude diminishes exponentially as well: here is the trap. We have tried to increase radiotelescope aperture or acquisition mode (such as the recent Square Kilometer Array technique, for instance), receiver sensitivity, amplifier power, number of channels that can be detected simultaneously (up to one billion, nowadays) through a multi-channel spectrum analyzer, power of the algorithm of analysis, etc. After 50 years, according to the SETI Institute’s protocol (see Note * at the end about SETI PROTOCOL), the result is just discomforting.
Therefore trying the NLSETI way is not that bad and not even so expensive. Of course it has nothing to do with telepathy, because the quantitative analysis is intended to be done directly doing measures on neurons through brainwave. If something true were found (after checking all possible sources of systematic error or interference) we should have two results: a) the entanglement mechanism is extended everywhere in the universe; b) an informative sentient message could be quantitatively decoded. And, apart from the hypothesis per se, I am interested only in the quantitative/mathematical aspect of the test.
Where does the “message” come from?
We can just hypothesize. Assuming that all the sources of background noise can be eliminated, we have two possibilities: a) someone particularly intelligent has sent the message through non-local means using maybe “quantum repeaters” placed somewhere in the universe (in order to avoid decoherence); b) the test subject himself has been able to connect non-locally to a sort of “server” that is placed not in the cyberspace but rather in the quantum void, where a sort of “big informative library” has been deposited since eons. Maybe everyone everywhere uploads spontaneously this kind of information there all the time without even knowing to do it. If a completely new information is found this means that the test subject has downloaded something from there, and then transferred it to the neural electrical activity which then manifests the info and we reconstruct it technically.
This is, grossly speaking, the assumption of NLSETI. As you see it is of double importance: for fundamental physics and for SETI.
An attempt does not hurt.
Some other considerations:
1. It is potentially possible to send an answer in quasi-real time by irradiating neural cells using a nanopulsed (with a modulated structure) Laser and/or a magnetic field. Some experiments have been already done in medical labs concerning the entanglement between two test tubes containing neural cells that have been linked previously together through a chemical substance such as an anesthetic.
2. Independently from all of this a quantum theory of the brain already exists due to mathematical physicist Roger Penrose and to neurophysiologist Stuart Hameroff. In brief this theory says that microtubules inside each neuron work in a so called “orchestrated entanglement”. They are all together (the entire ensemble of them) described by a wave function (typical equation of quantum mechanics). Normally this wave function collapses when a quantum system is observed, before which all possibilities coexist being overlapped all together. Differently from normal quantum systems, in the brain the wave function collapses spontaneously more or less every 1/40 sec: this collapse is a physical (geometrodynamic in terms of spacetime) collapse at the Planck scale level (quantum void: 10^-33 cm) where both relativity and quantum theory (due to the micro-scale involved here) are required. What then in simple terms the wave function collapse consist of? It is a “consciousness moment”. We experience it normally one million of times or so every day. Therefore the so called “consciousness” in order to manifest itself needs a neural correlate: the brain. Otherwise the wave function remains suspended and it doesn’t collapse. This means in few words that consciousness and physical matter cannot exist the one without the other (thus contradicting almost everything of religions of any kind). Prof. Hameroff found that just microtubules are the ideal physical vectors to permit entanglement inside the brain, because they are well insulated by any kind of interaction that might destroy quantum information. The quantity of consciousness depends on how much energy is inside the brain, namely how much mass of active elements (microtubules) are present able to trigger full consciousness, whose “power” is inversely proportional to the velocity of the process in terms of time taken to make so that the wave function (uniting all microtubules in the brain in a quantum coherent domain) collapses. So: according to this hypothesis, if it will be demonstrated to be true, the brain is a purely quantum system. From this (even if Penrose & Hameroff are maybe unaware of Dr. Thaheld hypothesis on NLSETI) it is not difficult to deduce that: a) if all brains are quantum systems based on the entanglement mechanism within its components they are ideal communication centers; b) whatever comes from outside affects also consciousness. But we can measure only neurons and not what a person “feels”. This doesn’t exclude that at a consciousness (and not neural) level a person can potentially acquire suddenly ideas: namely, able to connect to a universal “server” or to receive “non-local emails” directly from someone (by the way: what is exactly a genius? And how exactly one becomes a genius?). It is exactly the same mechanism of Internet: the only difference is that the mechanism here is non-local. Therefore NLSETI, being experimental and not speculative, can permit to quantitatively prove or disprove the hypothesis of connection between intelligent beings in the universe through quantum entanglement.
Concerning the “quantum mind” theory by Penrose & Hameroff, in spite of Max Tegmark’s rebuttal (and other’s) it is based on the fact that microtubules (inside neurons) are highly isolated by a specific gel, therefore there is sufficient time to transfer information before the overall wave function collapses due to thermal effects.
I am sure that those who are largely more advanced than us did two things: a) used and manipulated the quantum vacuum (playing with virtual particles using them as the elements of a quantum computer) in the same way in which we do with a silicon chip in order to order a library of universal information of every kind; b) send deliberately information everywhere hoping that someone catch it. Of course some persons catch the message unconsciously but not scientifically: “they” know it and so they decided to leave a track in the brainwave too in order to permit us to demonstrate the mechanism scientifically. Our duty is to verify scientifically this and, if present, to decode the information. Doing many trials and using many test subjects.
Fortunately this is not science fiction. Simply I think it is time to turn the page, if we really want to attempt a real communication with alien intelligence. I have the impression that if we really want to know more on true alien intelligence we have to understand more what exactly “reality” is.
* SETI PROTOCOL – They say that a SETI signal is considered as such only if it is persistent in time, namely that it comes always from the same alpha-delta coordinates (which of course must be detected by many observers everywhere in the world). Correct, of course. But at the same time highly limited. In this truly bureaucratic way of the above said protocol, everything else is excluded, not only internal/external noise or interference (as it often happens), but also possible high-proper motion sources, namely: possible sources transiting inside the solar system (in substance they want to throw away dirty water together with the baby inside). Of course it is not so difficult to span the antenna inside an error circle that is slightly bigger and bigger until we find again the same signal at a slightly different coordinate position so that we can reconstruct the orbit and track it like a comet (with full happiness of Dr. Freeman Dyson). But this is not done. Why? Because the SETV branch of SETI is not politically correct. But this is not a scientific aptitude, this is religion, or even politics. Of course I still support (but not do it any more) standard SETI: sooner or later we’ll find something. But that something will be the result of a pure selection effect: just like to find some kind of aliens of the monkey type using black glasses or a smoked filter. There is more out there, methinks.