I just read an article on astrology (Does Astrology Work? I’m Gonna Go With “No.” in Bad Astronomy). I’ve never believed in horoscopes and all the other astrological claptrap. How could the positions of planets possibly influence your personality and behavior?
But hold on here. I pride myself on being open-minded to different ideas and thoughts, even to ones that possibly sound ridiculous. And, hmmm, in the part I have been known to be wrong on certain other matters I then thought to be equally, if not even more ridiculous. So let’s give astrology the benefit of the doubt for the moment and consider what mechanism could possibly exist that would make it a real and, gasp, useful phenomenon.
I’m going to talk gravitational waves for the moment. Bear with me, there’s a reason.
Einstein’s general theory of relativity posits that there must be gravitational waves. Problem is, we’ve never found them although there have been numerous false sightings.
But researchers haven’t given up. There have been several approaches ranging from hanging large weights and looking for tiny displacements to the recent apparently failed experiment to look for the tell-tale ripples that gravitational waves would leave on dark matter. Yep, it’s all beyond me too.
But the general idea is that you have to make a detector that has extraordinary sensitivity which could sense waves that are unfathomably weak. Then you use some of the amazing instruments that are constantly emerging from high tech labs to measure the changes in the detector. Piece of cake right?
Hmmm, now let me see. What do we humans have routinely lying around that is extraordinarily, and exquisitely sensitive whose operations could somehow be harnessed to identifying gravitational waves? Why, could one such be the human brain?
Could it be that the brain is capable of sensing gravitational waves? Could the movements of planets and their juxtapositions be registered in our brain by some hitherto unsuspected mechanism? After all, brains have had several billion nears of evolution to build up the capability. As the summit of the art, has the human brain got the furthest way along to achieving this feat?
But what mechanism could impart the absolutely extraordinary precision entailed in such a feat? Gravitational wave detectors are designed to measure down to the sub-molecular level. How could a human brain possibly achieve that?
We’ve all heard about quantum physics right? The physics of ultra-small particles that is impossible for anyone but geniuses to understand? Well, here’s a turn up for the books. Recent research (over the last few years) has demonstrated that certain biological processes leverage quantum phenomena.
For example it’s looking like human (animal?) vision relies on certain quantum effects in the retina to get the job done. Other similar findings are emerging. It’s being called quantum biology. In other words, it’s starting to appear that biological systems have evolved to leverage quantum mechanisms just as they have evolved to leverage other phenomena such as photosynthesis (which incidentally might also employ quantum effects).
Is it possible that your brain uses quantum effects in its everyday functioning? Of course we know so little about the brain that at this stage anything is possible. So probably not impossible.
And is it possible that the brain uses quantum mechanisms to achieve the sensitivity in detecting gravitational waves needed to sense the positions of the planets (not to mention other celestial bodies)?
Ok so what if this is true? How would the brain being able to achieve all this actually impact our personality and behavior? Even before we are born?
Well the bit about before you were born is pretty easy. We are well aware now that evens while you are in the womb, it can have a powerful impact on a baby through the maternal environment not to mention epigenetic effects.
As to the impact on personality and behavior, we know so little about the brain in this area that any number of mechanisms can be imagined. But there clearly are mechanisms that exist that drive the development of your personality and behavior, even though generally we don’t understand what they are.
But presumably they rely on the unbelievably complex configuration of brain components and their interrelationships. If gravitational waves are being detected by the brain with the help of quantum effects, it’s not too difficult to imagine some sort of mechanism that would involve these personality and behavioral drivers being somehow impacted.
And, in that case, why not particular conjunctions of patterns of gravitational waves being somehow transmitted to the drivers of behavior? Every day we discover incredibly complex patterns involving the human brain that might have bene considered magic only a few short years ago.
So is astrology true? Search me. But I am not prepared to say it isn’t because I can envisage a plausible mechanism that could make it true.
It’s all that open-minded stuff you know. I’m not to blame. The gravitational waves did it to me. Or the quantum effects.