April 3, 2018 C: Conscious Awareness (From simple experience with little memory, to awareness, to long duration self-awareness).
On April 1, we discussed how our published experiment of a two-dimensional, expanding droplet could be looked at like an analog of experiments (in the cosmos) that might be too difficult to perform in laboratories on Earth. The changes that we model in physical behaviors of our universe can be calculated from the historic General Energy Equation (see descriptions in blue for full glossary of these A to Z posts). When we solve the equation, we discover how a relational boundary changes with time. This change in form and function in the universe is called self-ordered criticality.
So how does this Equation, this self-ordered criticality, feed into the stuff of the universe—the boundary of the universe becoming aware of itself, becoming conscious?
As time passes, the perfectly circular stable boundary (doesn’t change in shape or form). In this state, the stable state, no energy can cross the boundary to affect it, so, also, no information can cross it. There is no reason to store energy, because primitive memory relies on some change (and there is no change when a droplet or the universe (just before The Big Bang) changes (either the boundary is too curved and the tension in the boundary (interfacial or gravitational) caused by that curvature is too great).
When the droplet or universe explodes out in The Big Bang, the relational boundary becomes unstable in space and time. Now changes can occur and the boundary is open to tiny random pushes and pulls that exist everywhere (part of the statistical nature of the universe). The relational boundary changes with all the pushes and pulls. With each thing that happens across the relational boundary, memories of the changes are recorded at each point in time, and new changes in boundary shape continue to change the shape of the outward boundary (superimpose themselves on the past shapes/memories) as the boundary continues to record what happens in its now.
But the most important question about how the universe orders itself might be that the relational boundary we’ve been speaking about begins to recognize itself in time. But how can that be? Think of cars streaming down a highway. If we were in a helicopter above, we’d see that some cars are closer together than others. We’d also see that some of these traffic jams last for a while. What we see in our statistical universe is that smaller jams are shorter lived than longer jams, smaller particles from an exploded planet (asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter) are more numerous than larger particles. So the longer a complex structure in the relational boundary holds together, the better chance that structure has in processing about itself in time.
So, awareness, especially self awareness, can only occur in the improbability of longer and longer jams in space-time (just because something is improbable doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist). We need these more complex boundaries in order to bring the whole self-organizing process inward, as we do, the entire universe becomes aware, bit by bit, brain by brain. Notice that the human brain, the relational boundary of the brain is not spherical like the skull, but invaginated upon itself (folded in upon itself, providing a larger and larger boundary for information transfer and memory formation). Of course, as brains endure through forced cellular structure and genetics, while our relational boundary is expanding in time, it contains the entire history of the universe. So the relational boundary orders itself and becomes capable of changing its shape in space and time depending on how the rest of it is changing. When parts of the relational boundary are stable in their functioning for a period of time, then they have the ability to process information within themselves, across their own boundaries.
So now that we have these complex places along the universal boundary that we call human brains, that exhibit self awareness, we wonder if they can occur in other places in the universe besides Earth, and that’s how The Drake Equation (the equation that isn’t really an equation) came about. That’s tomorrow’s word.