The Physics of Consciousness: The Quantum Mind and the Meaning of Life

Evan Harris Walker, Author
Evan Harris Walker, Author Perseus Books Group $27.5 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7382-0234-1
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-7382-0436-9
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Walker's ambitious, unorthodox treatise attempts to outline the basis for a new physics, one that recognizes consciousness as a fundamental part of reality. A widely published physicist, mostly in scientific journals, he reports having had a Zen enlightenment experience in 1966 while walking in an open field at the University of Maryland. This propelled him on a quest to rethink quantum mechanics, which he, like Einstein, found incomplete in its picture of an indeterminate cosmos. Electrons tunneling across the human brain's 23.5 trillion synapses create a vast network of potential interactions according to quantum mechanics, so neural impulses are generating our thoughts, emotions and perceptions, according to Walker's theory. Here, he sets forth what he claims is the cornerstone for a science of mind, complete with equations about the brain's workings. The most accessible, core part of the book is its juicy, vigorous account of the revolution in physics engendered by quantum theory and its replacement of the classical Newtonian worldview. Obsessed with mortality and whether the soul survives death (he believes ""something of us must survive""), Walker lightens the load with personal interludes in which he reminisces about his high school girlfriend, who died of leukemia very young. Though deeply felt, these at times maudlin recollections feel out of place and detract from his presentation. This digressive, maverick tome, which opens the door to paranormal phenomena and God as ""Quantum Mind,"" will appeal more to serious investigators and philosophical types than to general readers seeking the purported spiritual implications of the new physics. (Feb.)
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