April 01, 2009

The Circle Of Life And Soul

a highly metabolically active neuronBefore embarking on this arcane topic, let us talk about death first. Clinically, death is said to occur when the heart and the lungs stop working (cardio-respiratory failure). However, with the advent of modern life support systems (such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, artificial ventilation), quite a few such 'dead' persons have been brought back to life. Legally, death is now defined as when the activities in the brain stop: brain death. The EEG signals may cease completely or fall to undetectably low levels. Body organs may be taken from the 'dead' person and transplanted onto a 'living' recipient. Certainly, death does not mean that all the body tissues and organs die at once. However, death is considered an 'all or none' process and is irreversible. That some tissues remain alive in a dead person, it may be assumed that some as yet unexplained binding energy that keeps track of the living system, is amiss.

If you worked with computers, you may have noticed that there's a 'registry' which keeps note of the hardwares, softwares and other machine configurations vital to the computer's health. These informations are kept in the form of a 'tree' and are referred to as 'hive keys' (e.g. HKLM, HKCU etc). Should anything go wrong in the registry, the computer won't work; its dead. The hard disk is OK, the RAM is fine, even the CPU is intact; but the computer is dead. A similar analogy may be drawn with the BIOS (basic input output system) flash memories of the computer.

Do we have anything like this in our bodies that coordinate functions among various tissues (separated at a distance)? Could it be something like covalent or electrostatic interaction or some form of quantum entanglement between the tissues that works in an analogous way the system registry in computers does? Perhaps, interactions like the one observed among microtubular assembly (interactions at 'hydrophobic pockets') might be involved in a broader scale.

Looking from a different perspective, living systems may be thought of as a combination of different compounds and elements. They can be broken down into molecules, which may again be divided into atoms--> the so called 'elementary particles' like electrons, protons and neutrons. These can again be broken down into quarks and gluons and finally into the 'vibrating strings' of string theory.

Thus the whole gamut of living and non-living things may be construed in terms of a vast network of vibrating strings. This reminds of 'cosmic consciousness' of Carl Jung. Living beings may 'tap' onto this 'server' network by some form of electromagnetic resonance or quantum phenomena (disregarding decoherence for the moment). Life stops when we are 'off resonance', as if we get a DNS server error 769 or destination unreachable. May be there is some self sustaining oscillation that runs amok and cause a kind of 'thermal runaway' and entropy rises unmanageably.

Honestly, any endeavor to delve deeper into the topic will be futile at this point. First, we are bound by our senses and interpret things in the light of our past experiences. Second, we are prone to introduce Heisenberg's uncertainty errors, the closer we get to it. The more accurately we determine the location of 'soul' (if there's any) the further off we are to notice its properties. Thirdly, you can't really judge the velocity (not speed!) of a moving bus from inside (and blindfolded). You need to look from the outside.

Persons with 'near death experiences' (out of body experiences) and those who have undergone dissociative anesthesia (using ketamine) have reportedly 'seen' their bodies from a different dimension. Finally, intuition and not intellect, should be invoked to address this delicate issue as the former's approach is holistic, while the latter breaks an event down into its component parts (in the light of present knowledge) and analyzes them (and thus inherently error prone).

May be the souls is indestructible; it just relocates into another 'braneworld' having a few more dimensions and hence hidden from our views. As long as we can not definitively answer what life is, we certainly can not hope to speculate on what 'spirit' or soul is. A few more interesting points to ponder upon: Does a pregnant woman have 2 souls? Do individual cells and molecules have their own soul equivalents?

Disclaimer: While the facts described are true (hyperlinks given), this article is mostly a speculative 'synthesis' of sorts and largely reflects my own view.
Related: Is Science Killing the Soul? by Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker

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Reference: hyper-links, unless specifically mentioned
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