Previous thoughts on consciousness and time

by Gerald Huth on February 12, 2006


“I believe that it is now possible to turn one’s attention to external reality beyond the eye.. what is actually perceived by the eye….as discussed so eloquently by Land. In the Fourier domain, retinal architecture must somehow correspond to the “diffraction pattern of perceived reality”. I am fascinated by the thought that as antennas are perfectly capable both of absorbing and radiating electromagnetic energy might the eye then not be the “passive optical receiver” that has for so long been assumed? Is it possible that the eye “radiates” some albeit photon level signal into the visible spectrum and that this might bear on what is perceived of external reality? Might such a “two way optical interrogation” of external reality bear on consciousness – at least via the visual pathway?

Although it will not be obvious until one studies the paper, it is uniquely the presence of two sizes of receptors admixed on the retinal surface determining a geometric mid band point that allows the sensation of color to be perceived. VISION IS TRICHROMATIC ONLY BECAUSE THE HUMAN RETINA CONTAINS TWO SIZES OF RECEPTORS! This predicts that any specie with only one size of receptor will have only a very narrow window of vision – and no sensation of color”.



The antenna aspect of retinal receptors that I have proposed would seem logically to lead to the idea that the eye might transmit or radiate signals rather than acting as the passive optical receiver that has been held for so long. Further, I have proposed that such antenna receptors might act as “phase conjugate mirrors” (in fact, the ultimate phase conjugate mirror) redirecting light rays back upon the exact path that they used in entering the eye (ref.1.). Such re-radiation would lie in the the three bands to which (in my proposal) the eye is “tuned”, i.e., wavelengths lying at (and defining) the ends of the visible band and a wavelength corresponding to the exact center of that band.

I have noted the similarity between the nanostructures of the outer segments of the retina of the eye and that of recently discovered visible light interactive “porous silicon”.There is actual evidence for similar re-radiation in solid state porous silicon specifically in experiments ( by investigators at Spire Corporation, I believe) injecting electrons into the PS nanostructure and observing emitted visible radiation – in essence, creating silicon light emitting diodes. Thus the structures behave in classical antenna fashion both absorbing and transmitting visible light.

Now…applying the same idea to looking into someone else’s eyes – the eye and the retina have been described as extensions of the brain – which they surely are – one can conceive an actual physical mechanism for subliminal communication or connection between the brains of such individuals mediated by specific resonant wavelengths of the visible band.. There must be an actual resonance between the two retinas in such a situation.

What would confuse such a scenario? We know that individuals perceive colors (wavelengths) differently. In this model the cause of this would be a slight, genetically mediated, difference in the lateral dimension of the inner segment (or segments) of retinal receptors. Such a difference would alter the visual bandwidth of the individual and, as Land demonstrated, perception of color (any bandwidth difference “off sets” the crucial midpoint of the band and significantly alters perception of color). In such an instance any two retinas might not be “in resonance”… upsetting “conscious communication”. Fun!

ADDED 11/04/03

If the reader will consider the text quoted below regarding the strange characteristics of a phase conjugate mirror I would note that any “re-radiation” from the eye as I propose would not extend over a large solid angle (which would require power) but rather would, as PCM behavior would dictate, only trace backwards the path that it took upon entering the eye. This would require insignificant power. The more one thinks about this the more one envisions a “connection” between the image perceived and the brain of the perceiver!.

(1) For a popularized summary of optical phase conjugation see “Applications of Optical Phase Conjugation – Time Reversed Light”, David M. Pepper, Sci. Am., January 1986

(2) “Optical Phase Conjugation”, Quantum Electronics Series, Robert A. Fisher, Editor, Academic Press, 1983.

A fascinating excerpt from page 3 of the latter reference:

“…..consider what would happen if one were looking into a phase conjugating mirror: an observer would see his or her face in a conventional mirror but not in a phase conjugator. This is because any light emanating from a particular point on the face would be returned by the conjugator to that same point, thereby not entering the viewer’s eye The only light seen by the observer would be that which had struck the conjugator after emanation as a diffuse reflection of room light scattered from the cornea covering the pupil of either eye. If the observer increased the illumination of one eye (perhaps by using a flashlight) the entire conjugator would appear, to that eye only, to become relatively brighter. Obviously, the viewer’s observations would be unaltered if an aberrating medium were placed between the viewer and the conjugator….”


I believe that the basis for again a physics-based mechanism for consciousness might follow from a combination of advanced thoughts. It would have three elements as follows:

a.) The proposal of Julian Barbour (1) that time itself is an illusion – that the universe is composed solely, as Ernst Mach proposed in the last century, of “things” and “configurations”. In this line of thought, as Barbour proposes, we “travel a timeless path between these configurations or states”. Another term for these states might be the timeless “instants” dwelled on by Einstein and even philosophers such as Schopenhauer.. The specific “path” upon which we find ourselves is determined by the operative term of quantum reality, i.e.,- probability, with this path determined by the “history” (another important concept of Barbour’s) inherent within it. Crucial to the concept is the “many worlds” hypothesis of Wheeler/Dewitt that would propose that it is not the most probable state (from quantum theory) that “exists” – but that all states simultaneously exist (a very comforting thought). W/D saw this an alternative but valid interpretation of the mathematics of quantum theory. My apologies to Barbour if I misstate any of the elements of his theory – but it is obviously a very difficult concept!


b.) The definition of “memory” (which could be, for example, either biological or silicon based). We invariably describe and think of this function as the “storage of information”. The word “storage”, however, is a” time-loaded” word implying that information “resides somewhere for a period of time”. I propose that memory might equally be thought of (to satisfy Barbour’s “timelessness”) as a function of “changing configurations”, i.e., a function with the “capability for the rearrangement”….. of neurons in the brain (as usually proposed in memory concepts) or of bits or bytes on a silicon chip.

And lastly,

c.) My proposal that a function of the retina in detecting light is to “abstract timelessness” from externally perceived reality via the character of a Fourier interaction with the retinal plane (which I propose is the Fourier or focal plane of the eye)………. together with………my proposal that the “antenna” nature of retinal receptors might be found to radiate into, and thus “interrogate” (or “couple with”) external reality . If the vision process had evolved to “radiate into” something there is the strong implication that there must be “some function to radiate into” implying some interactive process.

NOW.. the proposal….

….that the physical mechanism underlying consciousness might be “the direct connection between a radiating character of the antennae of the retina and the function of “changing configurations” (as defined above) that we term “memory” in the brain”. I mean by this a “two way” connection that to me connotes “coupling to external reality” or consciousness. Barbour’s timelessness is crucial as we would seem to be proceeding from one “timeless configuration state” to another. This follows from my view of the “time coherent” (or “timeless”?) nature of the Fourier interaction with the retina (perhaps the most fundamental characteristic of the Fourier plane of a converging lens is that all light rays are brought into time coincidence at that plane …and such coincidence might be construed as “zero time” or timelessness)..

The analogy here might be to a “radio transponder” with that piece of technology composed essentially of an antenna coupled to, at least, a logic processing system – but without memory. A better analogy (but one perhaps not yet as well understood by the general public) might be with the now becoming popular “wireless ( or “wi-fi”) computer networking schemes where, again, an antenna is coupled to a receiver but one that now contains the memory function of the computer. Such a “wireless” computer can be seen to be “interrogating external reality” and processing information as a “function of changing configurations” in exactly the mechanism proposed above. Does such a computer possess at least a little of the basic rudiments of consciousness?

I realize that there are seemingly other “inputs to consciousness”. These include the interaction of sound waves with the cochlea of the ear (surprisingly again involving the Fourier transforming process!), the sense of touch (we do radiate thermal wavelengths!) the sense of smell . etc. Perhaps vision is the primary one?

A fundamental question would seem to be what would the eye be” interrogating”? What is the interactive process or processes involved? I propose that one of the more satisfying answers follows again from Barbour’s thinking suggesting that this function somehow “bridges” one instant (or “configuration”) to the next in a timeless universe.

I THINK IMPORTANT – I have proposed under the link “Additional Thoughts….” that a recently discovered phenomenon in laser physics – “time reversal and optical phase conjugation” may be involved in light interaction with the retina. .In this process light waves are precisely redirected back along the exactly same path after being reflected from the phase conjugate “mirror”. The retina as I view it appears to have exactly the properties of a phase conjugate mirror. Any such “redirection” only becomes apparent with the invocation of antenna behavior and the capability for encoding light intensity and phase which is the fundamental premise of this model.

Gerald C. Huth, Ph.D.

Ojai, CA
11/29/02 (Revised 8/12/03)

(1.) Julian Barbour, “The End of Time, The Next Revolution in Physics”, Oxford University Press, 1999


Leave a Comment

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Steven Lehar May 13, 2006 at 3:46 am

Retina as a phase-conjugate transmitter? Interesting! I think you are on to something, but your epistemology is inverted (relative to mine).

Check out my Cartoon Epistemology

When you get to Section III, think of a phase-conjugate transmission in the tissue of the brain, and you will see what *I* am thinking.


ghuth May 13, 2006 at 10:07 am

Gerald Huth comments:

Amazing..someone who knows what a phase conjugate mirror is! I find your work fascinating…and will study. I have a son studying CNS at CalTech and I have tried to put him on the right track..your work!


Gerry Huth

ben Werle December 12, 2006 at 6:19 pm

Greetings Dr Huth…
A while ago you had an article on your site by I think a Harvard faculty/student? about the “red surge”.

Would you eb so kind and send me a cite or someway to retrieve it.

Sincerely, Ben Werle

Laura June 13, 2007 at 9:24 am

I appreciate your work. I have been using scientific explanations of light, time and space to assit as proofs for my contemplation on emptiness. Have you studied Tibetan Buddhism? I think you would find it an interesting view when considering the nature of phenomena and how it is perceived.

tim maloney July 31, 2007 at 11:23 am

Experience teaches that when I experiences the world inside the head and then when I switch to experiencing it outside the head, result in very different experiences of the world. The inner one is small I. the outer one is very large I. Can I hook up to some sort of biofeedback or such, thing, to see different brain wave or other , activity when Iswitch for internal vs external experience?
Thanks for any comment.
Wonderful drawings.

dan winter July 24, 2011 at 3:06 am

measuring phase conjugation as peak perception

examples of bioactive phase conjugate (centripetal) field effects:

discussion of field dynamics- phase conjugate (and reprint from bearden)

Eric B October 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I recently had a complete eye examination performed by an eye doctor you’d find at Walmart and such.

My retinal examination lasted over 15 mins.

My SECOND retinal exam lasted longer than the first.

When I pressed him hard enough about what he saw he said to me, “I have seen over 20000 unique pairs of eyes in my time, and I have never EVER seen retinas that look like yours.”

I see light change before it happens. Shooting stars, for instance. I always know exactly where to look to see them because I see a pre-shock of the shooting star.

I have a lot more to share, and I am getting my medical records from that doctor(who told me it was against the law for me to see my medical records), whether he likes it or not.

Feel free to contact me. I have pretty interesting things to say about the sky over the valley in which I live, too.

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