Energetic currents swirl in a flurry around the nape of your neck. Dappled light of sun shines through vortexes of sloping leafy edges as your eyes fixate on the cool droplet’s penumbra at the apex of your finger. A coma patient lies still on a table.
What if I told you that the term “brain dead” was a misnomer, and that even the deepest of comatose patients show cortical activity?
Where, then, does consciousness lie?
First, it is expounded that this is not another pretentious fluff series about consciousness. It may be pretentious, but is grounded in fact and is assuredly not bungle. Read it to its neurobiological culmination and you may perhaps be shocked by what is known about consciousness. I certainly was.
Our first clues lie not in biology, but physics.
Sensation communicates one powerful truth about our reality. We have no control over these seasons. No control over time’s toll on our lives destined toward a very real and imminent date with death. We are subject to the laws set in place and the very certain and constant death that awaits us all.
These physical laws have been articulated by words, thoughts and numbers. Despite the variegated plethora of adjectives, nouns, adverbs, and prepositions that manifest their wordy meanings into worldly truths; there exist two overarching categories for all things: things constant and things variable.
Alas, we are stuck in a land of variables. Nothing imminently material is truly constant. Only perceived so. All fades into death, dust and ash with the passing of time; yet if outside the scope of our lifetime we label the factor “constant”. This is the basis for all mathematics and the statistical language of research.
Time is measured by rhythmic constancy. Let’s have the following thought experiment: The sun never sets. It would be difficult, then, to determine the time of day without a modern appliance telling us so. However, make the sun rise and set without fail and we become habituated to its constancy.
This is rhythm. In mathematics, it can be identified by nearly anything with the functions “sine” or “cosine”, including the electromagnetic waves beaming into your eyes at this very moment. In fact, the many early clocks were based on observing the swing of a pendulum.
Join us next time for what this means for biology…