Quantum Alarm Clock
Back in that heady time I used to get up at 6.30am, tap away at the keyboard and then hit PUBLISH POST without a second thought. Given that I'd so recently dragged myself up out of sleep it isn't at all surprising that I'd end up writing about alarm clocks. Nowadays I plan things more and write a blog entry over a couple of days so alarm clocks aren't so fresh in my mind.
It's odd when it happens though, this preemptive waking. Depending upon how deeply you've been asleep you snap or drift into wakefulness and wonder what it is that has roused you. Sometimes it almost seems as if you heard an alarm clock going off in the next room or at least dreamed that you heard one.
And then it actually goes off. There is an impression that what shook you into wakefulness was an echo of the alarm itself, a resonance of the shock you now feel as it goes off. But that would be ridiculous. Things don't resonate or echo backwards in time.
However, it starts to feel less ridiculous if we think of your mind (your consciousness, the thing that has been woken by the alarm) less as being a single point in space-time and more as being a wave of probability smeared across quantum reality.
This isn't unreasonable. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the sense of smell has been proven to work using quantum tunnelling, so it's not beyond the bounds of possibility to surmise that the whole of the brain works in this way. Perhaps that's just how nerves work? And if this is how brains work then consciousness - as a side effect of a complex working brain - is undoubtedly quantum-based. If quantum theory has taught us one thing it's that nothing is clear and defined, hence the whole Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Everything exists as a probability.
One interpretation of this quantum reality of probabilities is that on a microscopic level what we're actually seeing is the effect of many worlds interfering with each other, the parallel universes so beloved of Science Fiction authors.
However I think the whole idea of parallel worlds being "parallel" is flawed. The model of a series of parallel universes lying neatly on top of each other like a ream of paper in a laser printer's feed tray might be an attractive one but I think it's far from the truth.
If anything this universe and its adjacent ones are merely ways of looking at an continuum of probability, a sea of might-be. Whilst you could indeed define a parallel universe as being 1mm away from this one along the probability axis, that doesn't mean it's next door. What about the level of probability 0.5mm away? Or 0.25 mm away? Or...
I think you get the point. And in this sheet of probability there's no reason why other universes need necessarily be parallel, either. You can slice it any way you like. This means that our consciousness extends sideways in time and that what we might think of as our self is merely a section of a spectrum of us-ness smeared across the nearest Many Worlds, a wave of probability sideways in time falling away the further we get from World Zero.
So our consciousness, our self, is not a point. It's a wave. The highest point, the probability factor of 1:1, is what we might think of as ourselves, but it's just the tip of the iceberg.
Yes, very salutary, but what about alarm clocks and precognition and things?
Allow me to introduce you to the Z-axis. Let the Z-axis equal time.
We can now imagine our hill of self sliding ever onwards along the Z-axis like a painting being carried the wrong way by two rather inept delivery men, as if the graph above started sliding towards you out of the screen. However, this analogy doesn't really satisfy. If the frame of the graph has become three dimensional, then the curve of our consciousness should too and the most obvious shape to imagine this being is a complete three dimensional hill. A steep hill extending not only sideways into probability but also a little way forwards and backwards in time.
Just as we share some of our consciousness with our twins off sideways in the Worlds of If, then we also share some of it with our selves in the immediate future and the immediate past. Our conscious self (whilst centered on the here and now) extends not only sideways but also forwards and backwards in time. This means that we can be aware of things happening in the immediate future (below the curve) just before they happen. Especially shocking ones. Like alarm clocks.
Have a care though, because common sense also says that the world is flat.
This seems like a lot of trouble to go to to explain how the alarm clock wakes you up before it goes off, but I can see how it might have other applications. It could be very advantageous to be able to predict the immediate future like this.
To a prehistoric mammal living on the edge such defocussed temporal perception could mean the difference between life and death: I might be about to get squashed by a dinosaur; better get out of the way then. And of course those mammals who are slightly better at it will survive to breed, meaning that eventually the whole population consists of such amateur clairvoyants. Of course it's not "real" clairvoyance with all the baggage of pseudoscience and technocratic heresy this would imply. All it means is that you can dimly see into your own immediate future. Useful though.
And strange as it may seem some experiments have already been performed and published that suggest that consciousness is not shackled as closely to the present as we might think.