Anecdote 1: Football Teams
The lessons that can be learned from the Somerville High School football team that had an abysmal 0 – 10 season, not once, but during two consecutive seasons are both tangible, and almost cliché, as well as abstract and nothing short of astonishing. While some of the players moved on from high school and other players were new to the Varsity team, there remained an entanglement of spirit that is profoundly illustrated in the fellowship off the field and a level of play on the field together. This experience was rooted in a single state of mind of this amazing team at that unique period of time. The outcome was a combined regular season record of 19 – 1 in the subsequent two years and an improbable New Jersey state division championship victory! The tangible lessons learned by the players, their families and the fans are that hard work pays off, that team sports teach athletes to work together, that mistakes are a powerful learning tool, and that the pain of having made those mistakes builds resilience that is part of the process of self-improvement. This carries over to connectedness, networking and solidarity that bridges success in life and immensely enhances the enjoyment of the ride. This is because the vitalizing nature of goal-oriented behavior in sync with others and with one’s own core values of free will and will power, attains those goals. The abstract lessons learned from this story further underscore mind-body phenomena of extraordinarily stable synchronized states of behavior. Each individual team player, and the composite formed by each player becoming an element of the greater system whole, represent single systems as superposition states, which are coupled in a phase-coherent manner forming a strongly entangled collective state.
The language used above is borrowed from quantum mechanics as often these amazing examples of human achievement border on unexplainable by mechanistic rules in the sense of classical Newtonian mechanics, which is defined by non-linear and sometimes non-local relationships. The single system states are linear in the sense that there are no interactions and hence no potential conflicts, or trajectory change, between the goal state and its attainment. The goal is superposed and focused among the component players of the team like a laser beam, the accomplishment predictable in the sense that it is entangled with the state of free will or goal state even before the goal itself is realized. What provides a powerful elucidation of this effect is the theory of Special Relativity, which holds that time as an absolute quantity does not exist, and accordingly the past, present and future occur simultaneously in a four-dimensional space time continuum. This is the temporal component of entanglement, which is a property of the singularity among the team players and which enables their composite ambition to reach its collective fulfillment.
A more general idea is that of reminiscence, referring for example to music we had heard or events in the past, could be a quantum phenomenon in the sense of time invariance. This means that the forward and backward propagation through time is occurring simultaneously in our minds forming a quantum superposition of states. Perhaps this is also an effect taking place in the minds of performing artists and athletes who, when in the so-called “zone”, create a coherent superposition of states in their minds that are composed of both past events and current situations to reinforce the desired effect in the (near) future. These champion athletes literally visualize their future success in their mind and they seem to force the desired outcome of the infinite range of possible scenarios for events. An appropriate analogy would be a coherent in-phase superposition of electromagnetic states in a laser, which leads to a powerful monochromatic beam as opposed to a random superposition of out-of-phase frequencies from a visible spectrum of electromagnetic radiation forming white light. White light can illuminate an object but does not have nearly the powerful energetic effect as laser light. White light is composed of all the possible colors in the spectrum while laser light selects only one color, just like a champion athlete is able to “snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat”, to invoke a well known quote attributed to the US Representative James Seddon.
Linearity as a characteristic of the quantum state, assures that there are no thought processes that stray from a single uniform and correlated perspective and the outcome is proportional to the effort put into it. A frequently employed strategy in football prior to a game-changing field goal is for the opposing team to call a timeout. This gives the kicker time to “think about it.” In quantum physics, this ‘thought’ event can be equated to an observation being made, also called measurement, that collapses the quantum state on a classical result. This measurement event is caused by the energy involved in the observation or thought process. On a macroscopic scale, the superposition of cognitions represents a single state of the mind-body system. The collapse of this superposition state results in the loss of coherence and a state of moving towards randomness and disorganization. This is manifested as conflicting states, many different and interfering perspectives resulting from the decoherence of a single state of the mind-body system, or collective mind-body (in the case of a sports team) state of spatio-
temporal entanglement. The outcome is often a disconnection of the goal state from its realization. Thus, the outcome becomes unpredictable as the goal state and attainable state are no longer in sync, or in unity with each other. Here, uncontrolled and negative emotions dysregulate cognition rather than develop cognition in top-down fashion regulating and controlling positive emotion. The latter is the case in a superposition-synchronized state of mind-body and behavior.
The singular collective state of mind-body of the 2017 Somerville High School football team may be aptly described as tantamount to the superposition state of quantum mechanics, such as a coherent state of a laser or a ferromagnet on a macroscopic scale in a physical system. Also tantamount is the manifestation of a macroscopic biological phenomenon as a temporally organized and spatially-correlated synchronized state of metabolic circadian rhythms translating into healthy physiology and balanced behavior. The nearly miraculous transformation of the perennial loser team into an unbeatable championship team in the 2017 Season is a real-life manifestation of a change from thermally-induced decoherence to a self-generated quantum coherent state in a system of strongly interacting particles (football players). We can only speculate how major a role the coach played in this transformation but in either case, physical analogies can easily be found. After all, laser action requires an energy input and, similarly, every winning team receives such input from coaching staff, fans, family and friends.
Figure 6.1. New York Giants in the 2007 Super Bowl. The most improbable run by a wildcard team had just culminated in winning Super Bowl XLII in what has been widely considered the greatest upset in all of professional sports history. This herculean overachievement exemplifies a mind-body coherence and phase-locking involving the players of a team into a singular whole, capable of outcompeting another group of more talented individuals even at the top of their game. This appears to be a macroscopic manifestation of similar interactions of metabolism at the molecular scale, which is responsible for the ultimate perfection of organism-wide physiology. Author-supplied photo, containing image used with permission from Getty Images/Win McNamee.
Another example of this effect involves a much more well-known football team, namely the New York Giants. The New York Giants were described as the most improbable winners in recent memory against the undefeated New England Patriots in the 2007 Super Bowl match (Figure 6.1). A documentary of the game was recently dedicated to the offensive front line. Each of the five players who protected the quarterback, Eli Manning, and opened holes for the running backs were interviewed throughout the documentary describing their thoughts about key plays in the course of the game. Analogous to the Somerville High School football team as state divisional champions discussed above, the New York Giants exemplify at the professional sports level the power of synchronized performance between the individual units, the players, in a superposition coherent state as a team. This correlated synchronization between players is called phase locking and displays arguably a quantum phenomenon at the macroscopic scale of team sports. The quantum nature of such astonishing displays of athleticism (also exemplified by other areas of human achievement, e.g. music, ballet, theater, etc.) is so extraordinary that it can be equated to the exquisite organizational perfection of living systems themselves.
This book has advocated the usefulness of physics concepts in biology and medicine beyond the traditional applications of mechanics to biomechanics, fluid dynamics to hemodynamics, thermodynamics to bioenergetics or electrical conductivity to neurophysiology. While quantum biology is gaining recognition in the mainstream of science, Einstein’s theory of relativity is very abstract and is commonly thought to be confined within pure physics, especially astrophysics. The application of the Theory of Special Relativity to biology is proposed in this book in the sense of the relative nature of time that carries explanatory power for the pace of aging. This is particularly pertinent in regard to the effect of relativistic time dilation that this book proposed to apply in the context of biology for the first time. Accordingly, optimal health and metabolic efficiency correlate to maximally dilated time. Moreover, the extension of this concept of time dilation to synchronized world-class qualities among players of a team is compelling.
In the documentary mentioned above, three of the linemen similarly recounted the astonishing perception that time slowed down when important events of the game were at a crescendo. The watershed moment in the game came in the fourth quarter with under one minute left in the game when the ball was somewhere close to mid-field. It was a third down and long with the score 14 – 10 in favor of New England. On the play Shaun O’Hara, the team center, said that he looked back and saw Eli “about to be sacked before rising from the ashes, breaking the only tackle he ever broke in his life.” Eli then launched the ball about 30 yards down the middle of the field to David Tyree closely covered by three Patriot defensive backs. Two of the Giants linemen, O’Hara and David Diehl both independently commented that the ball seemed like it was in the air a very long time. That is, from the relative perspective and perception of these players, time slowed down and they felt as if they were watching events in slow motion. These statements are uncannily reminiscent of the time dilation in special theory of relativity. Two plays later, with only 30 seconds to go on the clock, Eli hit Plaxico Burress on a pass to the corner of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown (Figure 6.2). Rich Seibert commented that, “the ball was in the air so long I felt I could have run down and caught it before Plaxico did”. Still, O’Hara commented in personal communication that 30 seconds for 80 yards was far too much time to put the ball back in the hands of Tom Brady who is arguably the best quarterback in professional football history. Fortunately for the New York Giants and their fans, the players finished out the game executing it to perfection and sealed the deal for Super Bowl 42. Both sides of the ball for the Giants had to play a perfect game because given the phenomenal talent assembled on the Patriot team, there was no room for mistakes or dissonance.
Figure 6.2. The Helmet Catch. This stunning catch by David Tyree occurred at a watershed “do or die” moment with 59 seconds remaining in Super Bowl XLII. The NY Giants, considered a hopeless underdog, were down by a score of 14-10 and were on the disappointing precipice of falling short of overcoming almost insuperable odds of defeating the touted single best team in NFL history. A “hail Mary” 13-yard downfield pass by a scrambling Eli Manning on a third and five after breaking perhaps the only tackle of his career was caught at the Patriots 24 yard line, keeping the Giant’s drive alive. Tyree was intensely covered by multiple defenders in the middle of the field, but impossibly managed to maintain control of the ball by trapping it against his helmet while being tackled, virtually defying laws of physics. Used with permission from AP/Gene J. Puskar.
There are many intriguing applications of the notion of Special Relativity to biological systems here. For example, the pace of aging may be dilated/delayed by a phenomenon of quantum metabolism versus constrained/accelerated by redox stress. Also, there are a host of broader examples spotlighted in this Epilogue, that hopefully improves the relatability of this mathematical and abstract concept. This particular example of the Helmet Catch captures the notion of free will, described in various places including section 9.6 below. While only demonstrated mathematically as a physical property, that time as an absolute quantity does not exist, consistent with Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity, it is metaphorically intuitive to extend this concept to the biological domain. Thus, the past, present and future are happening simultaneously across all dimensions of the physical universe. In optimal cases, to some extent they occur in a special quantum entangled sense, the fabric of 4 dimensions of living systems within it. Accordingly, it is plausible that free will has the potential to connect the future to the present and past before it even happens.
It is the quantity of time that harnesses the potential and magic of life, and this 2007 Giants Patriots game epitomized the notion. Time is a defining characteristic of mechanical, electrical or biochemical cycles, which are behind the functional organization of living systems. The unit of time describing the periodicity of a cyclical process represents its most important quantity. When energy of the system over time is not lost, and the periodicity stays the same, time is maximally dilated and hence exists in a quantum sense with theoretically zero entropy production since reversible or reproducible processes generate no entropy within the system and dissipate no heat outside the system.
Moral 1: There is a Clear Connection between Human Physiology and Human Behavior
Anecdote 2: Synchronization in Music
Special Relativity, and especially time dilation, is consistent with the notion that time as an absolute quantity does not exist. This has deep and profound implications for the entanglement of human biology, physiology, and even inter-individual scales of societal interactions. In the chapter on Quantum Biology and Quantum Medicine examples, which include photosynthesis and mitochondrial electron transfer chain tunneling were given of relativistic quantum effects at a molecular biology level. However, many macroscopic physiological effects can be also mentioned in this connection as unexplainable, such as amazing reflex speed of elite athletes’ reactions, for example, baseball catchers, tennis players, and basketball players, all of whom at the peak of their performance defy the empirical laws of physiology in terms of reaction time and spatio-temporal coordination. Many of us have also experienced premonitions or strange feelings of strong conviction that something either very good or very bad was imminent to happen and it later on did happen. These are examples of real-life phenomena that defy the laws of causality and the linearity of time, as if at these moments we had access to future events. This type of perception of major future developments can sometimes be seen at a societal scale with the emergence of fatalistic trends in the fine arts or poetry as was the case in pre-World War II Europe. For example, the decadent trends of nihilism, Dadaism or existentialism occurred as if these artists were sensing impending doom and catastrophe and had sensory access to future events.
On a personal level, as we grow older and gain a longer time perspective the lines between distant past, recent past and present become increasingly blurred and events that took place decades ago seem as fresh as if they happened just yesterday. It seems that we, or at least our minds, reside in a spatio-temporal continuum in which time has lost its linear, sequential character and our mind can travel freely through multidimensional space-time continuum, even being able to have glimpses into the future. This is consistent with the notion that in the quantum world, time disappears and the past, present and future co-exist. For example, this can have a very powerful effect on an individual as exemplified by the experience of music from a distant past that transports us mentally to that period creating a state of hyper-reality by superimposing the emotional state of teenage years with those of late middle age. A similar experience can occur when reconnecting with old friends from 40 years ago after many years of not being in touch with one another. Other examples of time seemingly standing still or being able to access events in the past or in the future are discussed below and each of these examples can be better understood in light of the concepts of quantum phenomena and Special Relativity. In the context of the theme of this book, most relevant are the explosive implications of these seemingly abstract, yet very subjectively relatable concepts to the future of Medicine.
Synchronization can be viewed as a hybrid of quantum physics with time dilation allowing an absolute synchronization and coherence and classical physics where frequencies and phases of oscillations are correlated. The latter can be exemplified by music orchestrated by members of a band. The quantum/classical hybrid synchronization is what is proposed in this book for metabolism as both quantum and classical manifestations of energy production. Moreover, extended to the realm of consciousness, synchronization of present sensory experiences with memories of the past generates the feeling of reminiscence. Memories acquired over a lifetime are attached to the associated emotional states, which can be stored in tubulin dimers of microtubules in neurons of the hippocampus as intimated by the Orch OR theory of Hameroff and Penrose (See Figure 6.3 for microtubule structure). New sensory experiences carried in microtubules of the brain’s cortex could synchronize with stored memories and manifest as reminiscence, a quantum biophysical phenomenon of human cognitions, could then emerge as a component of the totality of consciousness (definable as an awareness of being aware).
Within the quantum picture of microtubules, referred to by Hameroff as “the quantum underground” , the past, present and future have blurred boundaries and as long as decoherence and wavefunction collapse do not destroy this superposition state, the human mind may be able to freely transcend the artificial boundaries imposed by the linear concept of time. Perhaps this is what happens when mystical or out-of-body experiences are reported and often summarily dismissed by skeptics. This can also provide an explanatory consequence for pathologies such as Alzheimer’s disease where memory is gradually lost, perhaps as a result of degradation of stored quantum/classical states in neuronal microtubules. Just like the loss of quantum coherence is linked in our metabolism to the increasing energetic inefficiency leading to insulin resistance and then to diabetes and related co-morbidities, an analogous deterioration in cognitive decline may be associated with the quantum decoherence taking place in an aging brain. A gradually increased frequency of “senior moments” and cognitive decline may then lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which robs the person of more than health, the composite record of one’s life, past present and future. It now appears that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a central role in all diseases of aging, both metabolic and neurodegenerative.
Figure 6.3. a) The structure of a tubulin dimer with its dipole moment as shown as a green arrow. b) A hexagonal neighborhood of tubulin dimers in a microtubule lattice. c) The tubulin lattice comprises an entire microtubule. d) An array of microtubules as part of the axon in a neuronal cell.
Like sports in the U.S. and in many countries of the world, music is another pastime endemic in modern societies. Just as enrapturing world-class athletic talent reaches its peak at a young age, typically in the third decade of life, the same can be said of musicians. In fact, music imparts a therapeutic richness on the human body and soul. For example, although it can be argued that classical music or opera may be more sophisticated than the hard rock genre typified by the music of Led Zeppelin, the intoxicating impact of the synchronized performance of rock musicians, rivals that of any genre of music. This British band, with its stardom reaching the zenith in the 1970s, was the incarnate of solidarity between the four band members allowing the product of their music to be greater than the sum of the individual contributions. That is, the band as an ensemble, in its effusively expressive totality, provided a rhapsodic listening experience for many people of that generation who loved their music. Although today, several decades later, time has taken its toll on the looks of these former rock stars, in its hay day Led Zeppelin largely defined, particularly Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, the essence of the youthful concept of “cool” of that era (Figure 6.4).
The orchestra-like performance of these four amazing musicians was so rich and in sync that it had an ethereal and intangible quality that became entangled with the sensory cortex and consciousness of its listeners, me included. This can be said of all great musical bands who are capable of lifting the mood of their listeners and sometimes provide transformative power to the fans’ lives. However, Special Relativity application to the rate of aging is also insightful in this case of aging of the rock stars mentioned above (and many other people, of course), which may be at least partly due to the lifestyle choices made. As elaborated earlier in the book both the metabolic rate and efficiency in the state of optimum health exhibit the maximum level of quantum mode of energy production. Metabolism is a hybrid composed of classical and quantum modes of energy production, but over a lifespan there is progressive loss of the quantum metabolism component and a deterioration in the quality of classical metabolism as mitochondrial dysfunction progresses. Chronically unhealthy psychogenic stressors (both in quantity and quality), circadian behaviors and dietary consumption (quantity and quality) are the major contributors to altering the diversity and compositional pattern of microbiota, amplifying the magnitude and chronicity of the stress response and disturbing circadian synchronized physiology. The inextricable nature of this web of pathogenic parameters fundamentally underpins metabolic disease and the accelerated pace of aging.
Figure 6.4. Led Zeppelin. The androgynous youthfulness coupled with astonishing synchronization of a band’s musical talent may be an example of the same laws that underpin the beautiful organizational perfection of human physiology in the state of optimum health.
The fundamental principle that I believe defines the impact of the listener’s sensory experience of a performing musician is the notion of quantum entanglement. Entanglement in this sense has an uplifting and hence therapeutic effect by amplifying an aspect of the person’s core belief or emotions. Whether this is only a metaphor of the quantum entanglement effect or a real macroscopic manifestation of the weirdness of quantum mechanics, only time will tell. In my personal opinion, the therapeutic nature of “musical entanglement” is rooted in the potential to synchronize emotion, which I propose to be a quantum effect that reaches deep down into the brain’s structure and, usually in a very positive way, affects its function.
Within the only molecular-level theory of consciousness thus far, the direction of polarity of dipole moments of tubulin dimers comprising neuronal microtubules of the brain is at the basis of the mechanism that mediates the human sensory experience. Can this be directly connected to quantum entanglements between one person’s brain and that of a perfectly synchronized player on a winning team? If so, perhaps the exalting experience of listening to mood-changing music that transports us in our mind to years past, or accidentally reconnecting with a friend from a by-gone era accidentally may generate a quantum superposition state in our mind, which feels perfectly real with the past and present co-existing if only for a split second. At the next hierarchical level, we could contemplate creating such a quantum superposition state in the collective “mind” of a society where remains of the past Zeitgeist co-exist with the present collective unconscious. For example, the British may still feel the past glory of the British Empire as a real persistent trait of their society while simultaneously experiencing themselves as a modern member of the European family of nations. This is not just a bit of nostalgia but a quantum superposition of two different collective states of social “state of mind”. Technical details behind this theory of consciousness can be found in the chapter on Quantum Biology and in the references provided therein.
Suffice it to say here that a dipole moment is the product of the magnitude of charge and the distance between a positive and negative charge forming it (Figure 6.5). The biophysical phenomenon of consciousness can be viewed as analogous to a macroscopic scale of quantum events that occur in physical systems such as the laser pointer (see Section 4.6 “Can Objections to Quantum Biology Be Overcome?”) or a magnet (see Section 4.15 “Biological Motors”). The magneton is the basic building block of the larger magnet and the analogue to the electric dipole (Figure 6.6). The electric dipole, also represented in quantum mechanics, has been invoked in some theories of consciousness as the basic unit that is involved in a conscious thought or perception, a cognition. The Bohr magneton, on the other hand, is the basic unit of the overall magnetization responsible for the magnetic force and it consists of a single spin 1/2 produced by an unpaired electron in the outermost shell of an atom or a free electron. Protons and neutrons also have a spin 1/2 unit.
Figure 6.5. A dipole moment is the product of the magnitude of electric charge and the distance between a positive and negative charge forming it.
Figure 6.6. Electric and magnetic dipoles. An electric dipole occurs when a positive and a negative electric charge are separated by a distance in space. A magnetic dipole requires movement of electric charges around an axis in space.
Magnetism is an example of a macroscopic quantum phenomenon. The force produced by the magneton’s magnetic moment is analogous to a dipole moment of a pair of opposite electric charges (Figure 6.7). The magneton moment refers to the force created by the direction of spin of the electron whereas the dipole moment refers to the force generated by the location of the electron itself within the shell rotating around the central nucleus of an atom and is calculated with respect to the positive charge of the nucleus. Consider the direction of electron spin of all the tiny magnetons of a magnet in a paramagnetic state. They are randomly oriented in many directions and, as a result, there is no net influence on surrounding magnetic fields or electric currents. In a ferromagnetic state, all (or a large number) the magnetons are aligned along the same direction creating a macroscopically observable magnetic state, which is sometimes referred to as a broken-symmetry state.
The broken symmetry here refers to a preferred direction of magnetization, which is present in a ferromagnetic state and absent in a paramagnetic state. Individual players on a winning team, due to their perfect synchronization generate a powerful force much like laser light or a magnetization state, which is much more powerful than white light or a paramagnetic state, respectively. Within each player there must also be perfect synchronization as much as synchronization between the players of the team, so there are two levels of organization in place to reach a championship state of mind within the team. This is similar to cells being organized into a tissue or an organ and tissues and organs forming a healthy and strong organism. The unity of purpose and organizational synchrony represents a quantum phenomenon of superposition, all contributing components of a larger system occupying the same quantum state at the same time. This is exactly what occurs with the electromagnetic waves generated in a laser pointer, namely a macroscopic coherent quantum state emerges (see Volume 1 Section 4.4 “Decoherence”).
Figure 6.7. Illustration of the concept of a magnetic moment (spin) and its alignment with applied magnetic fields. In the panels below this is extended to ensembles of spins, which can be oriented randomly (left) or aligned with a field (right). In the latter case, this gives rise to net magnetization of the substance.
Can the conscious state of the human mind be analogous to the coherent state of a magnet or a laser? The human race has existed on this planet for a mere 100 or perhaps 200 thousand years and through its inventiveness produced a new state of matter, namely coherent light of the laser. Why wouldn’t Mother Nature, with its 4.5 billion years of experimentation on planet Earth with countless life forms and their replicas subjected to evolutionary pressures, arrive at an even more impressive solution, namely the quantum mind? The composite of all the correlated dipole moments of a microtubule in neurons in the brain could be that coherent quantum state that can generate cognitions, or consciousness, responsible for behavior on the scale of a human mind (and body to which the mind is entangled). Whether this hypothesis is correct or not, time will only tell. However, in the opinion of this author, it is not unreasonable to consider it. Better yet, experimental methods should be researched and tests carried out on the
underlying assumptions of this theory, namely the presence of quantum states in biological systems such as neurons.
Every year on Memorial Day weekend an I95 radio station takes votes from its listeners to rate the top 500 rock songs of all time. The 100 top songs are the best of the best and include songs composed and performed by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, Motown, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird, the Doors, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and so on. Virtually every single year almost without exception for almost 50 years since its release in 1971, Stairway to Heaven was voted number one. It was serendipitous or perhaps intentional that Jimmy Page said the song Stairway to Heaven “crystallized” the essence of Led Zeppelin. A crystal lattice itself displays the mysterious behavior of a quantum system that is in a superposition state in both space and time. Accordingly, the atomic elements of a crystal lattice repeat themselves not only with perfect spatial symmetry, but time symmetry as well. That is, the arrangement of atoms in a crystal may change over time, but they do so with a temporal periodicity such that they return to their starting positions with clock-work precision due to the vibrational waves known as phonons that propagate through the crystal. Therefore, in essence these atoms do not change over the course of time. This is referred to as time invariance. A system with spatial and temporal symmetry looks the same independent of the observer’s orientation of perspective in time or space. The entanglement of the musical product in the collective consciousness of its listeners underscores the quantum nature of its effect that does not change with time.
Time invariance of certain core values in human society may also exemplify a quantum entanglement of consciousness. If a living system were to display such fidelity with respect to quantum behavior, it would be tantamount to a mechanically frictionless perpetual motion machine whereby energy would not escape the system as unusable heat. Instead, it could then be utilized to do the work of maintaining the far from equilibrium state of biological homeostasis at a cell level and hence physiological homeostasis of the organism. The song “Stairway to Heaven” can thus be seen as a symbolic stairway to a state of permanence, to perfection and to a singular state, the quantum state of coherence. This also manifests synchronization and an entangled superposition state, which was metaphorically described in the case of top athleticism and musical mastery. In such cases there are no conflicting perspectives, “when all is one and one is all …”. Robert Plant stated in the course of an interview he gave that “It feels like time gallops! Once upon a time we made Led Zeppelin 1 (the first Led Zeppelin album) in 36 hours. Now time just gallops, moves at the blink of an eye”. The relatively small amount of energy that was once required to do the work of a given project now requires a much greater energetic input (and therefore effort) because such a large percentage of the energy is lost to heat that is unavailable to do work. The perception of time was so much slower back in the day because in the quantum sense, energetic input was correlated and thus effort was not required to overcome the metaphorical friction at a bio-molecular level and hence there was little or no heat loss and entropy production. Entropy production rate defines the rate of energy lost from the system, which is unusable to do work, and is consistent with the Theory of Special Relativity. We proposed in this book that entropy production rate parallels the acceleration of time, the pace of aging, and the perception of the loss of time in conscious human beings. In the younger quantum state the entropy production rate is only minimal and therefore the passage of time that accompanies the production of work appears to be shorter. It is not surprising therefore that the 1970s was literally yesterday in the minds of people who grew up in that era.
Thus, aging per se erodes this potential biologically, both from the perspective of human health and disease, as well as performance in sports and arts. The notion of free will, an intangible force connecting the present with the past and the future, whereby the future can become the present and the past before it actually happens (by the notion of free will). Again, here is another application of Special Relativity from an intuitive sense. Thus, it often has the capacity to affect outcome, that defines accomplishment reductionism is an established scientific methodology that analyzes a physical problem by breaking it up into constituent parts and investigating the smaller pieces independently thereby simplifying the problem. In the physical sciences reductionism is the paragon methodology that can be traced all the way back to Sir Isaac Newton in the 1600s who single-handedly developed the principles of mechanics (as well as other fields of science). He postulated his laws of motion, the second of which states that force equals mass times acceleration (F = ma), whereby if two of these three parameters are known, the third can be predicted. Thus, reductionism may be ideally applied to linear systems by using equations like this to predict the evolution of the system or to extrapolate the system to a larger scale to make appropriate estimates by simple rescaling. Reductionism was the crown jewel of 20th Century science that has proved to be foundational for analytical deductive reasoning and methodology in studying physical, chemical and then biological systems with applications to medicine. However, living systems are composed of component parts across many hierarchical scales, vastly separated by orders of magnitude on both the time and length scales, each with their own laws or rules of interaction. Hence, the trajectory of behavior across these disciplinary plane’s changes.
The scales range from the atomic level (or even smaller) in physics to molecular level in chemistry, macromolecular in biochemistry, molecular aggregate in molecular biology and cell biology and ultimately macroscopic in physiology and behavioral sciences. Accordingly, the assimilation of these various scales of scientific inquiry in a living system is unpredictable because it involves many processes under the general banner of “symmetry breaking” that represent the formation of new symmetries and elimination of old ones. Crossing these boundaries via symmetry breaking phenomena is a non-linear phenomenon par excellence and hence it poses major challenges to our time-tested methodologies. Fundamentally, this underscores the limitations of modern-day scientific methodology and it has major consequences for not only medical research but also for clinical medicine. In the latter case, we do not even have our own laws, only empirical observations and inductive reasoning at our disposal. Therefore, effectual and safe clinical patient care must be precision-based, applicable to an individual’s parameters rather than broadly applied to populations based on statistical averages as we currently do. The hallmark of a living system such as a human being is complexity of interactions and inherent unpredictability over time.
Returning to metaphorical examples from everyday life, the astounding and engaging display of talented and synchronized entertainment by athletes, team sports, soloist musicians and musical bands that approximate perfection may serve to exemplify the concept of singularity. This appears to occur within individuals and also between them at macroscopic scales of human behavior and may even highlight the quantum phenomena of superposition of states including “phase locking” connecting individuals of the collective whole of a musical band or a competitive sports team as discussed earlier. Full development of the human brain takes at least two decades to occur. Between peak development and the onset of senescence, which typically begins to occur about the age of 30, there exists astonishing and exquisite organizational perfection in maximum dilation of time that accompanies the greatest potential for its translation into the gob-smacking entertainment served in the examples of Led Zeppelin and the New York Giants described above. Additionally, it can be posited that these can be seen as extensions of the temporally-organized and spatially-correlated synchronized states of metabolic circadian rhythms, which translate into physiology and behavior. However, physiology alone, without recourse to psychology and the power of the human mind is insufficient to explain some anomalous examples and experiences as will become evident in the next anecdote.
Moral 2: Synchrony, Entanglement and Special Relativity Can be Found in Unexpected Places
Anecdote 3: The Power of Placebo
A clinical study in Europe reported the outcome of a treatment given to cancer patients who were told that they would likely experience alopecia due to the effects of the drug. However, the study was designed in such a way that only half of the enrolled patients received the drug while the other half of the patients were given placebo. It turned out that approximately a third of the placebo-given patients developed alopecia, which of course is astonishing because they were not exposed to the drug, which causes alopecia.
Perhaps an even more interesting example involves a patient who presented with a type of blood cancer, a form of lymphoma characterized by a ”softball-sized” conglomerative tumor. It was concluded on the diagnosis that the patient had only days left to live. The patient stated that his doctor told him that a certain drug could cure the disease. However, the doctor knew that there was nothing to disclaim and that the drug would be useless in treating this type of cancer. Nonetheless, having great empathy for the patient, his doctor decided to administer him the drug. Amazingly, within a few days the patient experienced miraculous recovery with a rapid shrinking of the tumor. Years later the patient was determined to be completely free of clinical manifestations of cancer. However, he came across a report, which stated this drug was ineffective in treating his type of cancer. The patient then became depressed and dispirited, which led to a recurrence of the clinical cancer state a very short time thereafter and presented again with severe manifestations of the same type of cancer as before.
He then went back to see his doctor. His doctor, having witnessed the powerful impact of the placebo given to the patient, decided to deny this report’s veracity and tell the patient that this report was completely false. Moreover, the doctor insisted that the drug had indeed been demonstrated to be exceptionally efficacious. In addition, the doctor told the patients that he had access to a new and improved formulation of the drug. He then proceeded to give his patient intravenous saline, which was of course a pharmacologically benign placebo. Again, the same scenario ensued and the patient once again experienced another remarkable remission of the cancer state. Years later the patient once more came across and read another article reporting how the drug clearly does not work, which was followed again by a recurrence of his cancer. The disease ultimately did take the patient’s life. This story speaks volumes about the power of placebo and the power of the human mind over the human body.
One important theme here is the robustness of interconnections at all scales of living systems that determine health via the physiological fitness function. This links the intracellular molecular scale to inter-cellular and inter-organ/tissue scales of an individual or an organism, all the way to inter-individual/organismic social scales or to even phenomena of entanglement that span ranges independent of spatial and temporal locality. The notion of superposition that defines unity in a quantum sense must phenomenologically underpin the exquisite organizational perfection of complexity in the infinite wisdom of nature. This book seeks to highlight this from a scientific perspective. However, humans are unique in the sense of their high level of consciousness whereby successful endeavors require connections between individuals quite analogous to what occurs at the intracellular scale. Furthermore, human social behavior involves networking needed to achieve a shared desired outcome.
When activities are properly orchestrated, these social networks resemble a phenomenon occurring in less-evolved species, which exhibit an increased level of collective intelligence as they interact. For example, a colony of ants forming a bridge, a school of fish swimming in unison or a flock of birds flying together as one can achieve much more than the individual animals within the colony when their collective effort is needed for the common goal of survival. This may also be equated to team sports where team members coordinate their behavior both at a conscious and subconscious level. In humans, the element of consciousness is a layer that underscores the idea of uniqueness of individuals. This is a powerful concept connecting human behavior to the definition of a successful life, that is one which fulfills the physiological meaning of purpose.
The notion of purpose is found at the intersection of philosophy and material science. Philosophy addresses the issue of the meaning of life while material science investigates the substrates that provide the physical context for living systems and their processes. In this sense, both emotional and physical health are inextricably linked to the notion of stress. Exposure to bearable stress in any living system builds resilience. The uniqueness of individuals includes the areas where handling challenges has variable degrees of resilience based on experiences and talents or affinities, or lack thereof. There is no greater feeling of empowerment than the capacity to control the outcome of a challenge that benefits oneself or others. The ability to help others elevates oneself at least in proportion to the extent that it helps the other individual(s). This is rooted in the sense of value of being part of a greater whole and serves as a mechanism for building the connectedness of that whole at a conscious level. This in turn provides the expectations for reciprocity of help in the realm of challenges whereby others have greater resilience and capacity for meeting the demands of those challenges than us.
This type of connectedness engages the vitalizing potential of stress whereby the dose and quality of stressors can be dissipated among a network of individuals making it less difficult to bear by each individual. This type of support system is analogous to mechanical supports such as columns and pillars that allow an enormous force of gravity exerted by a massive skyscraper to be subdivided into these support structures preventing the building from collapsing onto itself. In the context of human interactions, this support network acts in reciprocal directions and can empower the individuals and further strengthen the network as a functioning whole. The meaning of conscious purpose can be better understood when one considers the notion of free will and the willpower to strive for those outcomes that are consistent with one’s identity, core values and the inner sense of purpose. This is perhaps a fundamental basis for why we live and is the underpinning factor behind mind-body phenomena, that is, the link between mental and physical health.
Conversely, at all levels of isolation when interconnections are broken leading to a loss of complexity of living systems, humans and other, within and between organisms, devitalizes the physical nature of life. In these cases, the life force succumbs to the physical inevitability of the second law of thermodynamics. Invoking this perspective is critical to achieving and prolonging the fulfilling nature of the human living experience. It is proposed that the brain evolved for the purpose of the acquisition of food. Teleologically speaking, at the dawn of time we humans were awakened by a negative energy balance, hungry and foraging for food. However, we were not the largest or the fastest animal in the jungle, nor the only ones foraging for food. To avoid being prey and become a next meal for a predator, the stress response must have evolved in a manner, which is closely linked to the neuronal and neuroendocrine system responsible for energy balance, satiety and hunger systems in the brain. Indeed, that is exactly how the hypothalamus is hardwired into the stress and appetite regulatory centers of the brain. Dealing with stress due to life threatening danger lurking around the corner on a daily basis may have also stimulated formation of social groups that provided protection and shared life-sustaining resources. The importance of human interactions and inter-connectedness is an important aspect of human health. We are social creatures and the state of our health strongly depends on how closely related we are to our fellow human beings. Moreover, it is not necessary to be either hugely popular and have hundreds of real or “Facebook” friends.
Sometimes a single individual can have an enormously positive influence on our lives as is briefly illustrated in the following anecdote. This story can also be seen as relating to the role of another modern physics effect, namely quantum entanglement that was mentioned earlier in this chapter in a different context. In this case it is the emotional entanglement in people’s lives that makes a true difference to our well-being.
Moral 3: Mind Can Win Over Matter and Hence Humans are Not Bioreactors
Anecdote 4: Human Interconnectedness
The first story I would like to share involves an unexpected encounter with Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band, of whom I am a huge fan. I noticed him on a flight I was on from Baton Rouge to Newark. He was seated in the first-class cabin, while I was back in economy. Nevertheless, I decided to walk up to him from the back of the plane to introduce myself as a big fan. The seat next to him was empty and he told me to sit down. He was drinking shots of Seagram’s Seven, which he offered me, although I unfortunately felt awkward and declined. We were talking about the classic song “Whipping Post”, and a song from a new album at the time which he liked, “Queen of Hearts”. It was an incredibly fun and unexpected experience! Before I left the seat, he pulled out a promotional picture of himself and signed it “To Brian…. And to the Good Times!” (Figure 6.8). My impression of him was that he is one of the nicest, kindest men you could ever meet.
When I met Gregg Allman, it was at the end of another long day and week, in addition to the grind of traveling. I was tired and in an unexcited mood during my final year in fellowship training at Tulane University. I was 34 years old, still with plenty on my shoulders before I could “start my life”. Both the Internal Medicine and Endocrinology Boards laid ahead as well as starting a practice, which I had no experience doing. Gregg Allman was the front man of the Allman Brothers, who were a major part of the musical influence that began in the 1960’s. In a strong sense, this band was part of the pantheon in the culture of the arguably most expressive generation in human history. This was the baby boomer generation, the most defined and revolutionary generation of any before and any since. I was in grade school when I began hearing the Allman Brothers influenced by my brother, who is 5 years older than I am. By the time I was in high school, I was enthralled by their music. Gregg Allman was close to the beginning of this generation, and I was near the end of it. Gregg was larger than life. His voice and his band’s music elevated people’s mood all over the world and for many years. It was a phenomenon. An invitation by him to sit and join in personal conversation transformed my state of mind. Instantly, I went from feeling dull and apathetic to having great excitement that lasted the entire day. A grinding trip had become electrifying and fun. Where did that burst of energy come from? It came from a powerful and real connection with another person who happened to be one of my favorite musicians of all time.
Moreover, the above story speaks to something that may seem indirect, but that is foundational to the nature of the stress response, and even essential to achieve the joys and successes out of life. The stress response across many perspectives and all scales of human biology is a major theme of both volumes of this book, with deep implications to the future of Medicine. The experiences that build resilience and evolve personal skill sets, coupled to the heterogeneity of genetic talents give each of us value, to ourselves and for others. This notion underscores an often-unconscious drive to better us; not only does it lift our potential and feeling of accomplishment, but nothing ennobles our own psyche more than elevating the opportunities or mood of others. This in my opinion puts a finger on the pulse of a reciprocally positive vitalizing experience of human connection. The feeling of awe meeting Gregg Allman represents perhaps a microcosm of what we all strive to do for others, albeit we all do it in our uniquely different contexts.
Figure 6.8: Signed photograph by Gregg Allman. The joys and successes in life that we all experience in our unique ways are part of an interwoven fabric of humanity. A central aspect of this social entanglement is not only to reach one’s own maximum potential of achievement but to connect it to the enrichment or betterment of the lives of others. This results in an intrinsic sense of awe that a lone quest for stardom cannot give.
The next story is about the important positive influence a Physical Education aide had on my son, who has cerebral palsy. This person who could at first glance be viewed as only peripherally relevant from the perspective of my son, Matthew, played a major role in his sense of happiness and belonging at his school. This kind and unassuming gentleman unexpectedly died recently after he had just turned 54. My son had a great affection for him and vice versa. He helped Matthew from the age of 5 through 8th grade. He worked hard with my son to have him walk up part of the distance to receive his diploma in 8th grade. He set up props to lean on and worked on and practiced for months. This culminated with a tear jerking 5 minute standing ovation at the time Matthew received his diploma. They kept in touch over the years and recently Matthew told him he was graduating Raritan Valley Community College this year. The gentleman replied how proud he was of Matthew’s accomplishments. The gentleman’s wife and daughter texted my son that he always had a big smile on his face whenever he spoke of him, that he was so inspired by Matthew. At the gentleman’s wake, there were thousands of people showing their respects. This shows how small acts of kindness can build up and result in a powerful legacy affecting individuals and groups alike. When people in this world interact in a
positive and encouraging way with others, their impact can be very profound and long-lasting. We become entangled with people by simple acts of kindness that we may underestimate at the time but those affected may keep warm memories for the rest of their lives and in turn affect others in a positive way. This is particularly true from the perspective of people like my son who love other people and only see the good in others in spite of or perhaps even because of having disadvantages in life. It is people like this gentleman who bring true happiness to strangers in mysterious ways.
The above story is also linked with the next short anecdote as it involves my son Matthew who is pictured below on his walker when he was still in middle school. In this picture we see him meeting a pitcher for the New York Mets, Al Leiter (Figure 10.9). Al was a starting pitcher in the Major Leagues for over 19 seasons, which included playing for the Yankees, Blue Jays and the Mets. This heart-warming photo is another example of an important connection between two strangers that vitalizes that human psyche, not just for the child, in this case but also for the adult. Not surprisingly, Al Leiter, a true gentleman and a class-act on the pitch and off the pitch, has won nearly every philanthropic award the MLB has to offer. There is something fundamentally human and indubitably superlative and self-elevating yourself by helping others. Not only does one strengthen the person on the receiving end of help and encouragement but this is returned in many mysterious ways. These imponderable explanations for the colossal subconscious reward and motivations for acts of human kindness hints to an underlying biophysical quantum nature to this realm of connectedness.
Figure 6.9: Matthew meeting Al Leiter and his wife. The power of connection is rooted in biophysical phenomena that range in scale from smaller than a human cell to beyond the boundaries of a single person. Few things ennoble the psyche more than lifting another person’s mood. This picture speaks the proverbial million words about bringing joy to another person and expecting nothing in return but getting back the greatest gift of all: making another human happy. Who in this picture gives and who receives joy? Author-supplied photo.
In school, we are exposed to learning not just in the classroom, but outside of it as well. Character is learned behavior through instruction, experience and examples of role models, but it depends on the willingness to learn. Learning in the classroom is easier when there is a strong connection between the student and the teacher. This, like all forms of human connection, is bidirectionally motivated. Several years ago, my wife and I went to an especially memorable parent-teacher meeting at our son’s school. We introduced ourselves to one of the teachers, and when we told her that Matthew was our son, she literally lit up! She recounted a story when she was having a particularly bad day with her students who were looking disinterested, nodding off or even sleeping in class. When she looked at Matthew, she explained how he had a beaming smile and gave her a thumbs-up gesture. It instantly changed her mood, and a healthy and lasting “team” spirit, which was spontaneously formed at that moment. This is no more than metaphorical to what is seen at all hierarchical scales of interactions and signaling that underpins healthy human physiology. Moreover, it represents a deeply interwoven parameter of human health which synchronizes all organs and tissues of a living system.
On the field, the power of team sports, whether you are a player, a coach, staff member or indeed just a fan, bonds are innately and subconsciously formed that sometimes last a lifetime. These attachments are predicated on sacrifice, common purpose, solidarity and mutual respect. Moreover, sacrificial behaviors are typically instinctive and subliminal, impelled by personal traits, the joy of it, and the desire to be part of a “team”.
Matthew’s physical disability has never compromised his passion for sports. He had competed every year from the age of 7 to 22 at the state and national level for the Paralympic Sports Club, Children’s Lightning Wheels, sponsored by Children’s Specialized Hospital. He always routes, loudly cheers for and cares mightily for his teammates. Many of these kids were less fortunate, with greater physical disabilities than his. Matthew’s acute awareness of performing at a personal best level has been more important than winning. Reaching his maximum potential was the paramount motivation to lifting his spirits and the spirits of his teammates, family and friends.
When not competing himself, he lives vicariously through those who are. In high school one of his greatest joys was being part of the football roster as the team’s statistician. He shared awesome pleasure when the team won but felt a deep pain that would cause him to cry when they lost. His distress in fact encouraged him during sophomore year to ask the coach if it would be allowed for him to give the players a half-time speech. The coach supported his request and later praised Matthew for his “rousing pep rallies”. At the football awards dinner at the end of the season that year, all graduating seniors were asked who in their lives inspired them the most; two of them stated Matthew Fertig. The following year, he was awarded the “12th man award”, the most inspiring person on the roster. This award was newly conceived with the idea that it sets a precedent for other deserving students to be honored this way in future years.
Matthew’s connection to his teachers and Lightning Wheels teammates, which was strikingly similar to that with his high school football team companions, followed the same pattern as at the highest level of team sports. An example that springs to mind is that of the players of the New York Giants football team. The magic of the connection in each case manifests its reciprocal and feed-forward self-amplifying nature. In the case of Matthew’s friendly encounter with the NY Giants, his attraction was potentiated to some extent, but not entirely, by a celebrity presence. More significant for him has always been an innate desire to translate experiences in life to forming new “teams” wherever and whenever possible.
Sports provides both literal and metaphorical endogenous shots of adrenaline at many levels of connectedness, from the engagement as a competing athlete in the sport itself, to being a team member, to the fellowship and camaraderie amongst fans, and also to the less common but even more heart-warming examples of friendly, elegant and respectful behavior involving fans of opposing teams. Having a personal rapport with players on a professional sport’s team is another “team” in and of itself that gives a sense of “skin in the game” and higher pulses of both adrenaline (excitement) and dopamine (reward). The biggest reward is when the endogenous changes in physiology are bidirectionally amplifying, as can be sensed and appreciated from some of the pictures below.
Finally, it should be underscored that the human connectedness that occurs between someone like Matthew and any professional athlete, like Shaun O’Hara and Tiki Barber pictured below, speaks volumes about the athlete’s class and character (Figure 6.10). Their kindness is motivated by the intrinsic pleasure of lifting the soul of others. It is also worth saying that Matthew lived the first 3 months of his life, fighting for his life on a mechanical ventilator. The upregulated autonomic and hormonal branches of his stress response during this early critical period created a lifelong ‘hair trigger alert’ and reduced tolerance to stress. It has long been my opinion that Matthew’s visceral sensitivities of others and his affinity for bonding with others is inherently biological. Social connectedness is interwoven into the physiological cloth that protects the stress response. The NY Giants went on to win two amazing Super Bowls in 2007 and 2011 when Matthew was 10 and 14 years old, respectively, but his connection to the team will last his lifetime. It is appropriate to quote in this connection the words of Sir Isaac Newton: “if I can see far, it’s because I’m standing on the shoulders of Giants.” While Newton was referring to different “Giants”, the situation he described in this quote parallels the ones related above.
Moral 4: Nobody is an Island; Social Networks Can Make Us Much Stronger
Figure 6.10. Matthew competing in Lightning Wheels, meeting members of the New York Giants Tiki Barber behind the scenes as well as Shaun O’Hara and Amani Toomer on the field, graduating from high school, and wearing Shaun O’Hara’s Super Bowl ring. These moments throughout Matthew’s life illustrate the importance of human connectedness and its powerful impact on mental and physiological health. Author-supplied photos.
A team comes in many forms. There is an implicit beauty in the reciprocal sharing of organic self-amplifying circles of joy, sometimes sadness but always meaning and purpose. The hallmark of a team is the greater strength and resilience of the collective than the sum of its parts. Success takes many directions.
Anecdote 5: A 40-year-old Professional Athlete
How can a 40-year-old professional athlete compete with 20 to 30-year-olds at their peak physical and mental development? As argued in this book, special relativity when applied to biology indicates a gradual slowing down of bio-energetic metabolism that underpins an acceleration of the androgynous aging process beyond age 25. This implies a marked difference in physiological performance strongly favoring the younger athletes. Furthermore, there may be psychological disadvantages in the older athletes due the awareness on their part of the physiological deterioration. The more rapidly aging individual will be more acutely aware of the process than an individual whose experience is that of a still improving athlete. This invokes Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity, which argues that time does not exist as an absolute quantity, and when the rate of passage of time is greater than that experienced by those around you, it feels that the opposite is true. Time and thus aging are captured in metabolic rate and hence the faster that rate, the slower the aging. The 40-year-old professional athlete who has not lost a step has an optimal stress response with the interwoven entire gestalt of extrinsic and intrinsic parameters of human health. These parameters include stress resilience from psychogenic to molecular levels of redox, microbiota composition and diversity, goal-oriented behaviors including diet and synchronized circadian endogenous oscillating clocks that together underpin a metabolism that is the quantum manifestation of energy production. This 40-year-old athlete is entering his 8th Super Bowl appearance at the time of the writing of this epilogue. This is not even closely approximated by any other athlete in any type of sport in American history, surpassing such greats as Michael Jordan in basketball, Wayne Gretzky in hockey, and Babe Ruth in baseball. Tom Brady has already won 5 of the 7 Super Bowls he played in, with the only losses, both of them, coming against Eli Manning and the NY Giants who were overwhelming underdogs each time. This almost superhuman performance of these great athletes exemplifies the quantum regime of metabolism that corresponds to an aging process that has not lost its internal synchronization of clocks within clocks but equally importantly is still firmly in step with the natural circadian rhythm of the Earth cycling around its own axis.
*This book was written over the course of 10 years, with this passage being written 3 years ago. Tom Brady is now 43 years old.
Moral 5: Mind Can Win Over Matter and Information is in a Constant Struggle with Entropy