by Gerald Huth on January 22, 2011

I have used the following figure to summarize the sequence of events involved in the light energy absorption process at each nano-antenna site formed  by receptor appositions at the plane of their outer segments. This translation from light wave to electron particle occurs in the near field of the light wave (i.e., at spatial dimensions of less than  a micron) and in the femtosecond time domain:

The axial  length of receptor outer segments approximates 50 microns.  Assuming an index reduced speed of light the “light interaction time” with each segment  will be of the order of a few picoseconds (10-12 seconds).

Consider that this interaction as being subdivided into the tens of millions of individual nano-antenna sites on the retina. Thus millions of simultaneous singular interactions are occurring at this retinal plane.

Remember that radially extending from the fovea to approximately 20 degrees the image is synthesized from only three discrete nano-antenna responses that  correspond to the ends and the geometrically-determined precise middle of the visual band.

It seems not often to have been realized but a Poisson calculation that takes into account this density of sites illuminated with a normal light fluence (or density of, as defined in this work,  ”quantized interactions”) shows that the probability of  simultaneous light interactions on an individual site is vanishingly small.

I have proposed that this calculation forms the basis for an explanation of the well known ability of the eye to detect single quantized interactions (photons) at low light levels (i.e., in darkness).  Each light detection site  on the retina interacts with only a single quantized interaction at time!

The millions of retinal sites are simultaneously illuminated with single light interactions.  One gets the first indication here of “coherence” or the formation of an image.

It seems logical at this point that some form of memory function might exist to “hold this coherent visual scene for subsequent processing” or, perhaps in other terms to “simultaneously thermalize” this plane of events so that they can subsequently be used in all of the biological aspects of the vision process”. In moving picture parlance this would be called “frame grabbing”.

I have proposed that this is the function of the slower phononic transfer of the light energy absorbed at each site and transported along the length of lipid molecules forming the membrane of the thylakoid disks within receptors. (I believe that this transport is actually solitonic by virtue of the cholesterol molecules that are intercalated into the lipid membrane)

This “coherent time lag” or short  term memory would seem to be the analogue of the “Memristor” effect that is being studied in the solid state – although in a different time domain. (I have discussed this development in a previous comment).

With the energy of the millions of single quantized events on the retinal surface coherently thermalized, the final step in the image formation process is the formation of a quantized electron particle at each site. This event is effected by the isomerization of the retinal molecule structurally contained within each “rhodopsin cage” complex. It is the electron particle that initiates subsequent biochemical processes in the biological system.

(Consistent with this explanation of events: a.), it has been experimentally shown that the retinal molecule is dicroically oriented to accept energy orthogonally to the direction of incident light, and b.) isomerization of the retinal molecule has long been known to occur in femtosecond (10-15 second) time.)

One then envisions a “coherent array of electronic signals existing with a time resolution of femtoseconds”.

Again, I would remind that this entire sequence of events is occurring at the plane of retinal receptor outer segments. The initial formation of the visual image occurs in very fast (femtosecond or less) time (and, in spaces that are within the near field of the light wave).   It is the phononic “Memristor” function is what “translates the scene into the slow time domain of the human nervous system.

Speculation – might it be that the (slow) chemical processes used to explain the brain as an assemblage of neuronal connections be acting in a similar manner, i.e., “slowing down” some other, as yet unrecognized, high speed  (quantum) process interacting with the brain?





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