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History And Mystery

Retroactive prayer: a preposterous hypothesis?

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 18 December 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:1465

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Does the mind and thought exist in quanta and be temperature dependent

In concluding in their response to the electronic letters that the
mind is non-local do Brian Olshansky and Larry Dossey (1) mean that
thought travels at the speed of light or faster than the speed of light as
in entanglement or "spooky-action-at-a-distance"? If thought travels at
the speed of light it would reach the antipodes in about 0.05 of a second
and give the appearance of non-locality, a term usually reserved for
entanglement in quantum theory.

If a magnetic field is placed around a conductor a current is created
which produces a voltage the size of which is the product of the current
(i) and the resistence (R) of the conductor. This is known as the classic
Hall effect. In 1985 Klaus von Klitzing was awarded the Nobel prize for
discovering the quantum Hall effect. What he showed was that if a
conductor is cooled to two degrees above absolute zero and a magnetic
field place is then around it and increased in strength smoothly and
progressively the voltage change is generated in discrete steps.

The conductor loses all its resistance at the steps and momentarily
becomes a superconductor, conductance being the reciprocal of resistance.
What is more the rate at which the discrete steps occurrs is proportional
to the Planck constant, and I believe is called the fine structure
constant. Resistance is in effect "quantized". The implication is that the
conductor may change in these circumstances from a fermionic (ordinary
matter) to a bosonic (energy waves) form and back into a fermionic form
as proposed in the Alice hypothesis (2). This is consistent with Lee
Smolin's mathemetical model of quantum loop gravity in which spacetime
is treated as quanta (3).

Transcranial magnetic stimulation was developed at the Univeristy of
Sheffield by Barker (4). It can cause a temporary loss of speech and other
"lesions" by causing a "functional knockout". It may also induce events
such as an orgasm in a woman. It is being tested as an aid in treating
depressions, enhancing cognition, and even fighting fatigue in airline
pilots. The magnetic stimulation has, however, to be delivered in pulses
to be effective. This raises the possibility that it might be inducing
fermionic events within the brain in much the same way that bosonic pulses
are proposed to do in terms of the Alice hypothesis. As electromagnetic
waves travel at the speed of light and not faster than the speed of light
this might imply that the mind is non-local in sense that thought travels
at the speed of light. Having said that transfer holography, an integral
part of holographic theory, requires a reference beam which, as
previously addressed in considering it implications in the Alice
hypothesis, might indeed be non-local as enganglement in quantum theory
and practice.

Whatever its exact nature the mind or rather thought would appear to
exist in quanta and might well be distinct but intimately connected with
quanta exisiting intermittently in successive fermionic expressions of the
body. If so it might exist in quanta appearing at a rate proprtional with
the Planck constant and with the ambient temperature. That the symptoms of
schizophrenia may disappear when a person develops a fever and return when
the fever subsides, as observed in the recent book "The madness of Adam
and Eve", makes the hypothetical effect of temperature on the mind
clinically relevant.

1. Brian Olshansky and Larry Dossey
Retroactive prayer: a preposterous hypothesis?
BMJ, Dec 2003; 327: 1465 - 1468. (Plus electonic discussion)

2. Patrick Bracken and Philip Thomas
Time to move beyond the mind-body split
BMJ, Dec 2002; 325: 1433 - 1434. (Plus electronic discussion).

3. Lee Smolin. Atoms of space and time. Scientific American. January

4. Mark S. GeorgeStimulating the Brain; September 2003

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

26 January 2004
Richard G Fiddian-Green