[Haskell-cafe] Re: Quanta. Was: Wikipedia on first-class object

ChrisK haskell at list.mightyreason.com
Sun Jan 6 16:34:11 EST 2008

Brandon S. Allbery KF8NH wrote:
> On Jan 6, 2008, at 15:02 , Ketil Malde wrote:
>> More seriously, perhaps "quantum" enters into the equation in how the
>> brain works, perhaps it is even necessary for "thought".  However, I
>> get worried it's just another mystical mantra, a gratuitous factor
>> that, lacking any theory about how and what it does, adds nothing to
>> help understanding the issue.

The brain, being real, is best modeled by a final theory that physicists have 
not yet (noticed) written down.

"how the brain works" appears to be though electro- and bio- chemistry, which 
are best modeled/described right now by quantum mechanics.

There are observable quantum correlations that cannot be described by a 
"classical" theory.

So long as the processes you care about (e.g. whatever the hell consciousness 
is) do not use these non-classical correlations then you can create a simplified 
model that avoids the complexity of quantum theory.

> I should not get into these off-topic things... but the viewpoint that 
> worries you is only espoused by people looking for excuses to apply 
> their favorite mystical mantra.  Quantum effects are well defined, but 
> nonintuitive (for example, particles "tunneling through" a barrier).

Right.  Even if there are some quantum correlations that are used in the brain, 
then you just use a more complicated mathematical model.  Nothing 
mystical/spooky/special about it.

Final note:  Quantum tunneling is only surprising if you insist on thinking 
about particles or photons meeting some kind of impenetrable wall (made of 
what?).  All real barriers are made of forces exerted by other particles.  So 
the whole idea of a "barrier" is flawed in this regime.


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