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Experiment Suggests That Consciousness May Be Rooted in Quantum Physics

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A decades-old and controversial theory suggesting that quantum effects in the brain could explain consciousness may hold more weight than scientists gave it credit for.

The nature of consciousness has long puzzled us. One idea, traditionally seen as far fetched, is that the unusual laws that govern the quantum world could be behind what allows us to experience consciousness, New Scientist reports.

In 1990s, physicist Roger Penrose and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff suggested that tiny microtubules, hollow tubes that form the “skeletons” of plant and animal cells, could allow for a breakdown in the structure of space-time that interrupts quantum superposition, the fundamental principle of quantum mechanics that posits a physical system can exist in two states at the same time.

This breakdown of superpositions then allows consciousness to exist, the theory known as Orchestrated objective reduction (Orch OR) suggests.