More On the Subject of Consciousness

by Gerald Huth on November 28, 2005

November 28,2006

Following an intense discussion with my son over the weekend on this subject….I had earler proposed (speculatively?) that as, in engineering terms, antennas are capable of transmitting as well as receiving (or detecting) electromagnetic radiation, the retina, and thus the vision process, might in reality be an active one instead of the passive role that has been historically assumed (“the eye as a camera”). Further, I had proposed that the retina as I conceive it acts as (or is “capable of acting as”) a “phase conjugating mirror”, thus re-radiating a received optical signal back along the exact path upon which it entered the eye. This follows directly from identification of the retina as the Fourier plane of the optical system of the eye. The first time that I realized this my thoughts went immediately to the idea of consciousness…identification for the first time of a real physics-based “connectedness” with external reality perceived by the eye, To what purpose? (my son asks) and I cannot provide an answer..but a real connectedness none the less…????

Might such a connectedness be the basis for conscious introspection by the signal-accepting, brain / ”central processor” lying behind the retina?

I see the tree a few feet from my window..or rather, I see the light reflected from the tree. From the perspective of my retina this image is “from the past”…the light reflected to my eye “left the tree” some ten or twenty nanoseconds ago. If my retina re-radiates a signal back (albeit at the photon level) to the tree (along the same path via the phase conjugation process) the time that it arrived at the tree would be “in the future” relative to the image formation process on my retina. One then conceives of a “timeless apex” at the point of my retina balancing past and future. Interesting..in the context of the definition of a Fourier plane and/or the timelessness thoughts of Julian Barbour.

If such a connectedness were true how can we see “back billions of years in time” in looking at the stars in the sky? This has, however, always been a contradiction…”seeing into the past…”. Perhaps these objects arent’t really as far away as they seem…?
How about that!

Might it be (and it seems so) that our consciousness only extends to the point where a light signal can be returned within the biological image processing time of the eye? If this is 1/30 of a second or so that would correspond to a distance of miles…. which is pretty much the limit of our vision (on a clear day)!

One will argue here (as my son did) that these “connectedness” times are much shorter than the “biologically controlled signal processing time” of the eye and these considerations are therefore inconsequential. They are nonetheless real.

More to come…and great non-peer reviewed fun!

GCH

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bob Howard December 1, 2005 at 8:19 am

Hi Gerry,

Enjoyed your articles. It is good to see you are still active. Will be looking forward to other articles.

Best regards,

Bob Howard

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