Abstract of talk given at Euro-PA
conference, November 2003
IS THERE SPACE FOR PSI IN MODERN PHYSICS?
School of Mathematical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London
Although parapsychology has already acquired a degree
of respectability among psychologists, it is still not taken seriously by
most physicists and I believe the subject will not gain general acceptance
so long as this situation prevails. Therefore a crucial issue is whether
physics, in either its present or some future form, will ever be able to
accommodate psychic phenomena. My claim is that it will but that this will
require more than merely tinkering with the current paradigm of physics (i.e.
more than just invoking electromagnetic waves, tachyons, wormholes, standard
quantum theory etc.) Although some phenomena currently labelled "paranormal"
may turn out to be explicable within the current paradigm, I believe most
will not be.
Invoking a new paradigm is not too radical since since the prevailing model
of physical reality has regularly undergone paradigm shifts and this has
always involved moving ever further from our common-sense notion of reality.
The standard dichotomy between matter and mind arose at a time when one could
adopt the simplistic view that the arena of reality is 3-dimensional space.
However, since then the physicist's world-view has changed profoundly and
it is clear that our physical sensory systems reveal only a very limited
aspect of reality. In particular, General Relativity explains gravity by
proposing that the world is 4-dimensional and Kaluza-Klein theory explains
electromagnetism by adding a fifth dimension; this is wrapped up so small
that it cannot be observed directly but its existence neatly explains Maxwell's
Modern extensions of this idea propose that the other physical interactions
can be accounted for by invoking further wrapped-up dimensions. In "M-theory",
for example, the total number of dimension is 11, while in the "superstring"
theory it is 10. One thus has an 4-dimensional "external" space and a 6 or
7-dimensional "internal" space. In the most recent variant of this idea,
proposed by Randall and Sundrum, the extra dimensions may not even be compactified
and the physical Universe is regarded as 4-dimensional "brane" in a higher
dimensional "bulk". This is very far removed from the naive view of reality
adopted by the sort of reductionist materialists who reject psychic phenomena
out of hand.
What sort of paradigm would be required to accommmodate psi? An essential
feature is that it must involve consciousness, since this underlies all psychic
experiences. This already places it at loggerheads with those physicists
(the majority) who claim that we are close to a "Theory Of Everything", since
such theories make no reference to consciousness. Another feature of the
new paradigm is that it must involve some kind of higher dimensional reality
structure. This is because many psychic phenomena (eg. OBEs, NDEs, apparitions)
seem to involve some form of communal space, which is not the same as physical
space but subtly interacts with it. The existence of telepathy also suggests
that our minds are part of a communal space rather than being wholly private.
This "Universal Structure", as I term it, can be regarded as a higher dimensional
information space which reconciles all our different experiences of the world.
It necessarily incorporates physical space but it also includes non-physical
realms which can only be accessed by mind.
I propose that the higher dimensional reality structure required to accommodate
psychic experiences is intimately connected with the higher dimensional space
invoked by modern physics. For if our physical sensors only provide us with
a 3-dimensional aspect of a Universe which in reality has many more dimensions,
and if physical objects occupy only a limited part of that higher dimensional
space, what else can exist in this space? Since the only non-physical entities
in the Universe of which we have any experience are mental ones, and since
the existence of paranormal phenomena suggests that mental entities have
to exist in some sort of space, it seems natural to relate this to Kaluza-Klein
space. More precisely, I identify the Universal Structure with the higher
dimensional "bulk" of Randall-Sundrum theory. This has profound consequences
for physics, psychology, parapsychology and philosophy.