Towards the scientific basis of telepathy

Most of the Nobel Prizes awarded in scientific disciplines can be broadly classified into three categories. These may be for developing some new product or a device or identifying a better and more convenient method for the synthesis of a useful chemical.

Most of the Nobel Prizes awarded in scientific disciplines can be broadly classified into three categories. These may be for developing some new product or a device or identifying a better and more convenient method for the synthesis of a useful chemical.

These have also been awarded for work on life processes, identifying the nature of a disease and finding its cure. Yet another category consists of awards for postulating a new theory to clarify certain natural and well-known phenomena being observed may be for centuries. It was in the 17th century that Galileo, the Italian scientist, conducted an experiment from the leaning tower of Pisa to prove that the speed of fall of an object from a height was unrelated to its weight. It was however left to Newton, who almost 150 years later, inspired by the fall of an apple, studied the phenomenon in detail, to give this force the name of Gravity.

But even he could not explain the origin of this force. Finally, it was much later and only in the twentieth century that the genius of Einstein was able to show to the world, the how and why of gravitation. Just imagine the time it took to explain one of the most common phenomena existing since the origin of the universe. Similarly, we have a number of physically observed experiences which as of now do not fit into the frame of the existing knowledge of science.

These have been broadly termed the metaphysical phenomenon. It was John Locke who, some three centuries ago, had enunciated various stages of knowledge, from a sensory experience to reasoning to doubting and finally believing. Today contemporary scientific developments and thought are vastly different but the fundamentals of the theory of knowledge still remain relevant. It is in this light that we have to see whether the awarded discoveries can form the basis of scientific explanation of some established metaphysical phenomenon.

This year’s Physics Nobel shared by Zeilinger, Clauser and Alain Aspect for their work on entangled photons has opened several new avenues for communications and cryptography. A photon is an electromagnetic particle without a mass or a charge which moves at the speed of light. These photons can get entangled with each other in their fundamental states, which in other words means that what happens to one also happens to the other immediately, irrespective of the distance.

In order to achieve entanglement, usually a simple crystal is exposed to a laser for generating photons. One of the photons is then converted into two, but each one has only half the frequency. When the phases and spatial modes of these photons overlap, they are known to have become entangled. It is this characteristic of entangled photons being made effective even from a distance which can possibly lead to the interpretation of certain metaphysical and psychic phenomena like Telepathy and ESP.

The phenomenon of subatomic particles communicating with each other had been studied for quite some time, but no confirmation was available. It was Alain Aspect, who in the 1980s, was able to scientifically show that two distinct photons under certain conditions could behave as if they were one single entity. Experiments to confirm these startling results have continued since then which now stand scientifically proven. Separately, as reported in Physical Reviews, an experiment was conducted by the Austrian physicist, Zellinger in 2015.

For this, he chose the second basement of the Imperial Castle of Vienna to ensure stability and the absence of any extraneous vibrations. The distance between the two sites of photon generation was initially 60 m; in a parallel experiment, observations were taken from a distance of 185 m and found to be substantiating the theory of entanglement and simultaneous transfer of information. While there is no teleportation but the exchange of information was much in evidence. At one time this had also been visualized by Einstein, who had named it as the “spooky action at a distance”.

In this context, Sumeet Khatri of Baton Rouge University along with others has successfully tested communications amongst entangled photons via the medium of a satellite. The Chinese too have successfully conducted tests with microsatellites where the distance between the entangled photons was over 1000 Kms. Application of these successful experiments when fully harnessed through a net of satellites can be visualized to be the precursors of a world wide web of Quantum Internet.

While these technological applications will be developed in due course, it would be equally important to interpret the theory of entangled photons in respect of Biophotons or neurons. The electrical activity in the human brain was first observed about a hundred years ago by a German psychiatrist, Hans Berger.

Much progress has since been made in this direction and today we are conclusively trying to analyse the processes in our brain which generate thoughts. It is a complex process originating through nerve cells also known as neurons, of which there are a few trillion in the human brain. They connect with each other through neurotransmitters and chemical exchanges which become the source of electrical activity.

Since every external stimulus to our brain can ultimately be reduced to an interaction of photons with biophotons, it would be a pathbreaking step to study the entanglement of photons in the biochemical space of the human brain. In the absence of any scientific evidence, telepathy so far has been considered to be in the realm of the parapsychic phenomenon, often being relegated and clubbed with plain imagination or the result of a confirmation bias or even the occult.

But not any longer. With the scientific evidence now available to prove photonic entanglement as an existing reality, even at very large distances, it may be possible to extend the theory of entangled photons to biophotons which would ultimately unveil the scientific basis of telepathy.

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