Life after death

The issue of whether there is life, or consciousness, after death is one of those questions that can only be answered by dying. If there is, you find out. My wife was convinced there is, and she was equally convinced that I, as a scientist, would quietly argue the concept was ridiculous. However, as she was dying of metastatic cancer we had a discussion of this issue, and I believe the following theory gave her considerable comfort. Accordingly, I announced this at her recent funeral, in case it helped anyone else, and I have received a number of requests to post the argument. I am doing two posts: one with the mathematics, and one where I merely assert the argument for those who want a simpler account. The more mathematical post is at (http://my.rsc.org/blogs/84/1561 ).

First, is there any evidence at all? There are numerous accounts of people who nearly die but do not, and they claim to see a tunnel of light, and relations at the other end. There are two possible explanations:
(1) What they see is true,
(2) When the brain shuts down, it produces these illusions.
The problem with (2) is, why does it do it the same way for all? There was also an account recently of someone who died on an operating table, but was resuscitated, and he then gave an account of what the surgeons were doing as viewed from above. The following study may be of interest (http://rt.com/news/195056-life-after-death-study/ ) One can take this however one likes, but it is certainly weird.

What I told Claire arises from my interpretation of quantum mechanics, which is significantly different from most others’. First, some background. (If you have no interest in physics, you can skip this and go to the last three paragraphs.) If you fire particles such as electrons one at a time through a screen with two slits, each electron will give a point reading on a detector screen, but if you do this for long enough, the points give the pattern of wave diffraction. This is known as wave-particle duality, and at the quantum level, an experiment either gives properties of a particle or those consistent with a wave, depending on how you do it. So, how is that explained? Either there is a wave guiding the particles or there is not. Most physicists argue there is not and the electrons just happen to give that distribution. You ask, why? They tend to say, “Shut up and compute!” Einstein did not agree, and said, “God does not play dice.” What we know is that computations based on a wave equation give remarkably good agreement with observation, but nobody can find evidence for the wave. All we detect are the particles, but of course that is what the detectors are set up to detect. It is generally agreed that the formalism that enables calculations is sufficient. For me, that is not sufficient, and I think there must be something causing this behaviour. Suppose you cannot see ducks but you here a lot of quacking, why do you assume the quacks are just the consequence of your listening, and there are no ducks? There is a minority who believe there is a wave, and the pilot wave concept was formed by de Broglie.

Modern physics states the wave function is complex. In general, this is true, but from Euler’s theory of complex numbers, once (or twice) a period (which is defined as the time from one crest, say, to the next) the wave becomes momentarily real. My first premise is
The physics of the system are determined only when the wave becomes real.
From this, the stability of atoms, the Uncertainty Principle and the Exclusion Principle follow. Not that that is of importance here, other than to note that this interpretation does manage to do what standard theory effectively has as premises. My next premise is
The wave causes the wave behaviour.
At first sight, this seems obvious, but recall that modern quantum theory does not assert this. Now, if so, it follows that the wave front must travel at the same velocity as the particle; if it did not, how could it affect the particle? But if it travels at the same velocity, the energy of the system must be twice the kinetic energy of the particle. This simply asserts that the wave transmits energy. Actually, every other wave in physics transmits energy, except for the textbook quantal matter wave, which transmits nothing, it does not exist, but it defines probabilities. (As an aside, since energy is proportional to mass, in general this interpretation does not conflict with standard quantum mechanics.) For this discussion, the most important consequence is that both particle and wave must maintain the same energy. The wave sets the particle energy because the wave is deterministic, which means that once the wave is defined, it is defined for every future with known conditions. The particle, however, suffers random motion and has to be guided by the wave in my theory.

Now, what is consciousness? Strictly speaking, we do not know exactly, but examination of brains that are conscious appear to show considerable ordered electrical activity. But if electrical activity is occurring, that is the expenditure of energy. (The brain uses a remarkably high fraction of the body’s energy.) But since the movement of electrons is quantum controlled, then the corresponding energy must be found in an associated set of waves. Moreover, it is the associated wave that is causal, and it alone can overcome the randomness that may arise through the uncertainty of position of any particle. The wave guides the particle! Another important feature of these Guidance Waves is they are linear, which means they are completely separable. This is a general property of waves, and is not an ad hoc addition. It therefore follows that when we are conscious and living “here”, there is a matrix of waves with corresponding energy “there”.

Accordingly, if this Guidance Wave interpretation of quantum mechanics is correct, then the condition for life after death is very simple: death occurs because the body cannot supply the energy required to match the Guidance Waves that are organizing consciousness, and the random motion of particles in the brain, due to heat, overpower the order that bodily consciousness requires. The body now is no longer conscious, and hence is dead, and useful brain activity ceases. But if at the point where the brain can no longer provide its energy contribution for consciousness, the energy within the Guidance Wave can dissociate itself from the body and maintain itself “there”, and recall that the principle of linearity is that other waves do not affect it, then that wave package can continue, and since it represents the consciousness of a person, that consciousness continues. What happens next depends on the conditions applicable “there”, and for that we have no observations.

Is the Guidance Wave interpretation correct? As far as I am aware, there is no observation that would falsify my alternative interpretation of quantum mechanics, while my Guidance Wave theory does make two experimental predictions that contradict standard quantum mechanics. It also greatly simplifies the calculation of some chemical bond properties. However, even if it is correct, that does not mean there is life after death, but at least in my interpretation of quantum mechanics it is permitted. That thought comforted Claire in her last days, and if it comforts anyone else, this post is worth it.

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3 thoughts on “Life after death

  1. Nice. So much in our study of the “universe” is affected by our presuppositions, presuppositions we use when we have to supply values for, as yet, unknowns needed in the solution “equations” required to make them produce “reasonable” results.
    Bohr couldn’t conform his experimental data with Einstein’s theories so tried something else. His adding estimations of his unknowns allowed his solutions to “match” his experimental data. But, as you say, the data he acquired was by a setup looking for that data. Are all our experiments so flawed? You can’t know unless you knew the answer ahead of time? Predictions seem only as valuable to judging results, and so the “equation,” of the process as the definativeness of the observations. More presuppositions are needed in that process as well, I’m afraid.
    Back to “How do we know what we know” 🙂
    All this with the caveat that airplanes have been made to fly above the ground, most of the time.

    PS: I’m a geologist by vocation, anthropologist by training and an environmental “engineer” by occasional necessity. All these are activities that flourish under the flag of imagination and questioning anyone over 30.

    • Oh, yes, life after death. 🙂 I have personally known a cardiac physician that has had many instances of attending, causing?, revival to people whose vital signs have been less than life-like. These resuscitators have been attended to by the normal assortment of medical staff in the room at the times. His, and their, reports correspond, as one would expect. They all say that either a person comes back from a “death” experience with one of two reports. The one is that they saw “the light” so to speak, and were not too traumatized, as is the commonest story one hears. The other is that upon revival the doctor, or the nearest person to the person coming to, is grasped by the wildly upset person recounting undecipherable (for the most part) horrors screaming to be “saved” from whatever they have just encountered. Those memories almost always are gone within ten minutes and are not recalled by the patient after that. The doctor said that if it were not for the others in the room and the numerous times this has happened he would have not believed his experiences at first. Now they are common.
      An interesting questionnaire he gave to his staff indicated that the more education the staff member had the less that person believed there was something to the two stories…learned and taught presuppositions again?

    • I think all experiments are looking for a certain type of answer, otherwise you would not necessarily have the right equipment. I do not consider that a flaw. For example, a scientific proposition is of the form, “If I do X, then I shall see Y”. Either you see Y or you do not. If you do not, the proposition is wrong; if you do, the proposition is still in play, but it is not proven. Even a theory that is wrong, such as Bohr’s quantum theory, is still of value because it leads to further work that takes us places where we had not thought of going.

      Hmmm. I am also well over 30. But questioning what I say is fine. If I end up wrong, I shall learn something.

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