In 2018, a book entitled The Quantum Hermetica was published documenting astonishing yet distinct parallels between modern physics and an ancient Egyptian occult science known as Hermeticism. It may be difficult to imagine how these two topics are even related to each other much less closely parallel each other yet the book lays out the case that the latter can be derived from the former. One is our most fundamental science and the other incorporates such subjects as well, magic. Yet The Quantum Hermetica sources all of its research with hard up to date science. So how can this be?
The seeming conflict between the two arises from our twin assumptions that science operates in a naïve realist and materialist paradigm and that esotericism or occultism is just fuzzy mysticism. If science operates in a materialistic framework then of course it is incompatible with the paranormal phenomenon. However, does science require a materialistic framework? The answer to this is what The Quantum Hermetica delves into in its tackling of the first principle of Hermeticism, The Principle of Mentalism. Before continuing however here is the link to The Quantum Hermetica on Amazon for those interested:
One of Hermeticism’s most foundational principles is that of mentalism, which states that “All is Mind, the Universe is mental.” Naively one might think that science needs materialism, and that it studies a material and physical existence and so this would seem to conflict with that. However, this is not the picture modern physics has been painting in the last decade. In 2007, Anton Zeilinger, the physicist who first realized quantum teleportation, falsified realism in quantum mechanics by tests of Leggett’s inequality. Rather than being “woo,” this was published in Nature1, one of the most prestigious scientific journals around. In the subsequent decade, numerous additional experiments were done proving this again2 and again3 in various ways. The science is settled, matter does not exist beyond your perceptions, as you might think it does.
If this is not astonishing enough, what the fields of quantum gravity and digital physics are saying is even more profound. According to quantum gravity, physical spacetime is an illusion and does not fundamentally exist4. What we call physical spacetime however it turns out emerges from a deeper spaceless layer of reality5.
If this is beginning to sound like the world of The Matrix there may be a reason for that. Modern physics is known for being weird in a counterintuitive Alice in Wonderland sort of way. However, as it turns out, there is a clear pattern to that weirdness. Computer scientist Brian Whitworth noted that the peculiarities seen in modern physics just so happen to have numerous uncanny parallels to the information processing effects seen in virtual realities6. To illustrate, here is a shortlist of some of these parallels listed in The Quantum Hermetica7:
1. A Maximum Speed Limit: Any virtual reality will have a maximum speed determined by the processing rate of the computer generating it in any reference frame. Our world has exactly such a speed limit in special relativity with regards to the speed of light.
2. Processing Rates Slowed By Higher Loads: When a virtual reality has to process more information, time will appear to slow down within the game. This has an exact parallel to time slowing down in the vicinity of large masses in general relativity given the equivalence between mass and energy, and that energy can be measured in terms of information content. The objection may be raised that this would slow down the entire virtual reality at once rather than just an area. However, this is explained by the fact that information processing in our world is distributed evenly across space in the wave-function.
3. A Beginning: Every computer game has a start-up point prior to which it was not being simulated. Such an event demonstrates that this virtual reality is not fundamental but derivative from another more fundamental reality. A fundamental reality would not possess such an event. However, our universe did have just such an event at the Big Bang.
4. Objects Render Upon Observation: In video games objects that are not on screen do not exist. Rather they are stored in the hard drive as data until they are rendered to the player on the screen. Likewise, in quantum theory objects do not exist before they are observed or measured.
5. Tunneling Behavior: Due to load processing limitations two objects in the same location can not always be simulated simultaneously. Thus sometimes objects will appear to pass through barriers while the barrier is not being simulated. This is commonly seen in modern video games, and is an inherent feature of them being based on information processing. This phenomenon also shows up in the form of quantum tunneling in our world.
6. Non-Locality: Objects can affect each other instantly in a video game despite being separated by
vast distances due to being correlated by the same underlying program simulating the vast underlying
distance in the first place. The parallel to quantum entanglement is obvious here and has been discussed before.
A video overviewing some of Whitworth’s many parallels between virtual realities and modern physics effects.
If this looks uncannily similar to simulation, that is because in a not unliteral sense it is. According to physicists, the stuff spacetime emerges from in that deeper spaceless reality is information, specifically entangled quantum information. This was first discovered in 2013 with the realization of the ER = EPR correspondence8 which linked quantum entanglement, the spooky action at a distance instantaneously linking distant particles with wormholes. Wormholes are of course shortcuts linking two locations together, and if space is defined by such locations, and such locations emerge from entanglement, then space itself emerges from quantum entanglement.
At this point, the picture the physics gives us is quite interesting. Essentially the universe is a giant quantum computer simulation. This certainly directly contradicts the normal materialistic framework we naively assume goes along with science. However, does it give us the mental universe in Hermeticism’s first principle?
Well, it just so happens that entanglement is equated with consciousness in several modern theories of mind. In today’s most prominent theory of mind, Integrated Information Theory, entangled information is identified as integrated information9, and therefore as consciousness, as information in entanglement behaves as a single state. Likewise, in Conscious Realism, the theory of UIC professor Donald Hoffman, the equation derived for consciousness is actually identical to that of quantum entanglement10.
Lastly, the experimental field of quantum cognition demonstrates that our decision-making processes are governed by the Schrodinger equation, the same equation that describes the wavefunction behind quantum entanglement11. Of late there has even been some experimental support for this in the form of rat's maternal cognitive behaviors being affected by the quantum properties of lithium atoms12.
If spacetime emerges from entangled information and entangled information is consciousness, then what happens when these two are put together? Spacetime emerges from consciousness, voila! All is mind, the universe is indeed quite literally a mental construct. So literal in fact that you can even put equations to it. But wait, that is the same as the first principle of Hermeticism. So, we now have a principle from what has traditionally been an occult science being translated into hard physics!
A YouTube documentary, The Mental Universe, showing how spacetime emerges from entangled integrated information, aka consciousness.
In addition to that, this transforms the entire framework in which science is conducted. If we are to assume that the basis of reality is chunks of dead matter floating in empty space, then of course paranormal or occult phenomena are precluded from the start. However, if the basis of reality is ultimately a mental simulation emerging from underlying entangled quantum information, then such things become quite possible.
Of course, while the universe being a mental construct makes such things as paranormal phenomenon possible, it is not the same thing as explaining them. For that we need to go into the realm outside of the construction we call physical spacetime to delve into the mechanics of how it is constructed and how that construction can be manipulated.
The nature of the world behind the construct we call physical reality involves the second of Hermeticism’s principles, the Principle of Correspondence. However, this will be the subject of the next blog in this series. Stay tuned, and happy reading!
Written by Mark Pattini
1.) Anton Zeilinger et al, An experimental test of non-local realism, Nature, volume 446, pages 871–875 (April 19, 2007)
2.) Anton Zeilinger et al, Quantum erasure with causally disconnected choice, PNAS 110(4): 1221–1226, (January 22, 2013)
3.) Anton Zeilinger et al, Experimental non-classicality of an indivisible quantum system, Nature volume 474, pages 490–493 (June 23, 2011)
4.) Fotini Markopoulou, Space does not exist, so time can, arXiv:0909.1861 (September 10, 2009)
5.) Sean M. Carroll et al, Space from Hilbert Space: Recovering Geometry from Bulk Entanglement, arXiv:1606.08444 (June 27, 2016)
6.) Brian Whitworth, Physical World as a Virtual Reality, arXiv:0801.0337 (January 5, 2008)
7.) Palmer & Palmer, The Quantum Hermetica, Ch II, p.17 (April 4, 2018)
8.) Juan Maldacena & Leonard Susskind, Cool horizons for entangled black holes, arXiv:1306.0533 (July 11, 2013)
9. Giulio Tononi, Consciousness as Integrated Information: A Provisional Manifesto, Footnote 14 (2008)
10.) Donald D. Hoffman & Chetan Prakash, Objects of Consciousness, Frontiers in Psychology, Volume 6, Article 557 p. 13 (June 17, 2014)
11.) F. Beck and J. C. Eccles, Quantum aspects of brain activity and the role of consciousness, PNAS 89 (23) 11357-11361; (December 1, 1992)
12.) Matthew P. A. Fisher, Quantum Cognition: The possibility of processing with nuclear spins in the brain, arXiv:1508.05929 (August 29, 2015)
Read Next Article: The Quantum Hermetica Part 2: The Principle of Correspondence
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