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Books on Quantum Consciousness


Quantum consciousness is a truly fascinating subject, but it's also highly speculative. It takes a significant amount of scientific sophistication, including ample background in both quantum physics and biology, to really make sense of the ins and outs of what is being discussed here. There are a lot of people who like to make bold, dramatic declarations about the interaction of quantum physics and consciousness without taking the very real scientific complexities into consideration. This list of books present thoughtful, science-focused discussions of the issues related to quantum consciousness. This is a concept that is still highly speculative, however, and anyone approaching these books should make it clear that there is, to date, no confirmed scientific evidence that suggests consciousness is caused in a unique way by quantum processes, beyond the ones that we know are involved in the interactions of any physical system composed of matter.

1. Quantum Enigma

Oxford University Press
In Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness, the authors focus on the behavior of the observer within quantum mechanics. This is a long-standing issue within quantum physics and one that is often dismissed by physicists, but these authors face it head on and discuss the various complexities related to it. The last few chapters discuss consciousness itself, and bring in both the Penrose-Hameroff approach (see below) and also an alternative theory from Henry Stapp (both controversial). The book does not particularly advocate any particular stance on the issue, but is merely providing the information needed to understand the basic concepts. As such, it's a pretty good entry point for the novice wanting to gain a foundation to understand quantum consciousness.

2. The Emperor's New Mind

Oxford University Press
In one of the foundational texts of the field, this is the book where respected British theoretical physicist Roger Penrose brought the idea of integrating the mystery of consciousness with the mystery of quantum physics. Originally published in 1989, the book's subtitle, Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics, hints at Penrose's goal. He is basically putting forth an argument suggesting that the processes of the brain which lead to consciousness cannot be replicated within a computer system, as a way of arguing against the scientists of the time who believed that you could program a true artificial intelligence that was fully conscious and basically equivalent to a human brain. He believes that quantum processes, specifically related to quantum gravity, are what make the human brain different from merely a classical computing device.
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3. Shadows of the Mind

Oxford University Press
In this 1994 sequel to The Emperor's New Mind, Penrose actually offers a physical mechanism for the quantum aspects of the physical brain that he hinted at in the original book. Through work with anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, Penrose came to the conclusion that a good candidate for the structures that allowed for quantum behavior in the brain were tiny structures called microtubules. This book put the case for this forward to the public, although nearly two decades later scientists have still not found any particular evidence to support this claim over others, though. Some have suggested that Penrose's idea was better as raw speculation, prior to presenting his case for the microtubules. Still, so far as I know, there's no evidence against microtubules taking on this role either, so the hypothesis isn't dead yet.
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4. Physics in Mind

Basic Books
In this 2013 book, physiologist and biophysicist Werner Loewenstein explores the various ways that the realm of quantum physics is involved with the brain, from reception of sensory data to the internal processing of data by the neurons. The depth of discussion in both the biological and physics realms makes this better for the sophisticated science reader who already has a good grasp on the basic scientific concepts at work in both disciplines.
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