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Space & Astronomy

Could the universe itself be conscious ?

By T.K. Randall
June 25, 2017 · Comment icon 47 comments

Could the universe be 'alive' ? Image Credit: NASA/ESA/ESO
The idea that the cosmos may be self-aware has intrigued scientists and philosophers for centuries.
Known as 'panpsychism', this compelling concept suggests that the universe is a conscious entity and that stars and other bodies possess the ability to think and control their paths.

It might sound outlandlish, but it does have a growing number of supporters in the scientific community and it is ultimately a very difficult thing to categorically disprove.

Physicist Gregory Matloff from the New York City College of Technology recently published a new paper on the subject. In it, he suggests that a 'proto-consciousness field' could extend across the entire universe and that, like humans, the cosmos itself may be self-aware.

"It's all very speculative, but it's something we can check and either validate or falsify," he said.
Much of today's interest in panpsychism stems from the work of British physicist Sir Roger Penrose who, 30 years ago, put forward the notion that the conscious universe is rooted in the statistical rules of quantum physics in relation to the microscopic spaces between neurons in the brain.

It's an idea echoed by German physicist Bernard Haisch who suggests that the quantum fields which permeate empty space are responsible for transmitting consciousness.

This then manifests, not only in our own brains, but in any sufficiently complex structure.

Whether this is something we will ever be able to truly understand however remains to be seen.

Source: NBC News | Comments (47)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #38 Posted by Astra. 7 years ago
I think we are, as we are all apart of it.
Comment icon #39 Posted by Opus Magnus 7 years ago
Carl Sagan also said he thought there was a separate area of his brain that was a different entity he called The Watcher, that he thought would watch him and think independently of his own thoughts.  Then, I think, he succumbed to his own ideas in his old age about older apes hardening their brains in their older years, and not acknowledging the new ideas brought about by the younger apes learning how to get food. Anyway, when I read that I was interested in the watchers in the Necronomicon, however, I doubt Carl Sagan had read the Necronomicon back then. Anyway, there's a reoccuring myth in ... [More]
Comment icon #40 Posted by taniwha 7 years ago
But why would the universe want to "know" itself for?
Comment icon #41 Posted by trevorhbj 7 years ago
That's a good question. I think life spreads around like a pollen throughout the universe. If its just chemical reactions with water and it goes from there to reach our point in evolution, maybe its just a survival of the fittest. Its just pleasure and pain right off the bat that life wants to experience as little pain as possible and geared towards pleasures the universe offers like a light bulb or a good song or computer software or bug spray for universes jerk bugs..So its a pleasure for the universe to know itself. Also do we really understand the whole nature of everything yet?  
Comment icon #42 Posted by bmk1245 7 years ago
Hmmm.... Which of the planets have orbits like, say, 2p orbital? Or 3d?, Or etc?
Comment icon #43 Posted by Astra. 7 years ago
Well the way I see it, as to what Sagan meant...was that we are the product and living evidence of the Universe. We are the culmination of cause and effect that led to our existence. Therefore we are an aspect of the Universe observing itself, seeing as we are a part of it. Hope that makes sense.  
Comment icon #44 Posted by RoofGardener 7 years ago
Hmm, sounds like a variation on the Gaia Hypothesis ?
Comment icon #45 Posted by Haroldbattschits 7 years ago
God by any other name... I really feel that heaven is hiding in dark energy. What other massive presence would be so powerful as to literally dominate the universe, and yet remain completely out of touch,and invisible? As if by design
Comment icon #46 Posted by Avinash Suresh 6 years ago
I guess you could also include the theory of biocentrism to the list of conscious universe theory. It suggests however, that universe doesn't create life, it is the other way round. According to theory of biocentrism, spacetime is an illusion created by our conscious minds. This theory helps solve the problem of how stuff behaves in the microscopic world. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle also applies to the macroscopic world. If you are interested, you may read Biocentrism by Robert Lanza.
Comment icon #47 Posted by joc 6 years ago
It really is actually.  Imagine if we could stand outside the universe and shrink it to the size of a golf ball.  There might appear some very interesting correlations between the galaxies, super novas, and neuron activity in the brain. I have always been intrigued how the universe seems as infinitely small as it is large.  Probably why I am a big fan of the Mandelbrot Set:  

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