Are Stars Conscious?
The only thing we can be absolutely sure of is our own consciousness. But what is consciousness? Is it a property that is unique to humans or do we share it with other life forms? Or is the philosophical doctrine of panpsychism correct--are stars and the entire Universe conscious in some sense? Early chapters in this book examine the prehistory, mythology, and history of this topic. Arguments are presented from the viewpoints of shamans, philosophers, poets, quantum physicists, and novelists. A simple "toy" model of panpsychism is then presented, in which a universal field of proto-consciousness interacts with molecular bonds via the vacuum fluctuation pressure of the Casimir effect. It is shown how this model is in congruence with an anomaly in stellar motions called "Parenago's discontinuity." Cool, redder, less massive stars such as the Sun apparently circle the center of the galaxy faster than their hotter, bluer, more massive sisters. This discontinuity occurs at the point in the stellar distribution where molecules begin to appear in stellar spectra. Observations of main sequence stars out to about 260 light years and giant stars out to >1000 light years using the ESA Hipparcos space observatory support the reality and nonlocality of Parenago's discontinuity. Local, more conventional explanations for this phenomena are not supported by observations of other galaxies and spiral arms of the Milky Way. If position and kinematics data for about 1 billion stars currently being obtained by the new ESA Gaia space observatory demonstrate that Parenago's discontinuity is a galaxy-wide phenomenon, the hypothesis that anomalistic star motion is due to stellar volition, as described by philosopher/author Olaf Stapledon in his classic novel Star Maker, will be strengthened, as previously discussed by the author in the peer-reviewed journal JBIS. Other observational support for panpsychism is considered as are future observational data that could support or falsify the hypothesis. It is not impossible that panpsychism is emerging from the realm of philosophy as a new subdivision of observational astronomy. Ramifications of this are that simple models of universal proto-consciousness may be subject to inductive tests using current and future space observatories.
A special feature of this book is the chapter frontispiece art. Artist C Bangs has created digital collages combining photographs as well as public access astronomical and ecological images. Her efforts are directed at demonstrating the connection of terrestrial life to the Cosmos and the transcendental nature of a proto-consciousness field that pervades the Universe and interacts with all molecular matter. Her work is presented in the developing spirit of scientist-artist collaborations.
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About the Author
Greg Matloff is a leading expert in possibilities for interstellar propulsion, especially near-Sun solar sail trajectories that might ultimately enable interstellar travel. He is also a professor with the Physics Department of New York City College of Technology, CUNY, a consultant with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, a Hayden Associate of the American Museum of Natural History, and a Member of the International Academy of Astronautics. He co-authored with Les Johnson of NASA and C Bangs Paradise Regained (2009), Living Off the Land in Space (2007), and has authored Deep-Space Probes (Edition 1: 2000 and Edition 2: 2005). As well as authoring More Telescope Power (2002), Telescope Power (1993), The Urban Astronomer (1991), he co-authored with Eugene Mallove The Starflight Handbook (1989). His papers on interstellar travel, the search for extraterrestrial artifacts, and methods of protecting Earth from asteroid impacts have been published in Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Acta Astronautica, Spaceflight, Space Technology, Journal of Astronautical Sciences, and Mercury. His popular articles have appeared in many publications, including Analog and IEEE Spectrum. In 1998, he won a $5000 prize in the international essay contest on ETI sponsored by the National Institute for Discovery Science. He served on a November 2007 panel organized by Seed magazine to brief Congressional staff on the possibilities of a sustainable, meaningful space program.
Greg Matloff is a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society, has chaired many technical sessions, and is listed in numerous volumes of Who's Who. In 2008 he was honored as Scholar on Campus at New York City College of Technology. His most recent book, co-authored with Italian researcher Giovanni Vulpetti and Les Johnson, is Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel, Springer (2008, 2015). In addition to his interstellar travel research, he has contributed to SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), modeling studies of human effects on Earth's atmosphere, interplanetary exploration concept analysis, alternative energy, in-space navigation, and the search for extrasolar planets. His website is www.gregmatloff.com
C Bangs' art investigates frontier science combined with symbolist figuration from an ecological feminist point of view. Her work is included in public and private collections as well as in books and journals. Public collections include the Library of Congress, NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center, British Interplanetary Society, New York City College of Technology, Pratt Institute, Cornell University, and Pace University. The "I Am the Cosmos" exhibition at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton included her work, Raw Materials from Space and the Orbital Steam Locomotive. Her art has been included in eight books, two peer-reviewed journal articles, several magazine articles, and art catalogs. Merging art and science, she worked for three summers as a NASA Faculty Fellow; under a NASA grant she investigated holographic interstellar probe message plaques. Her recent book collaboration with Greg Matloff, Biosphere Extension: Solar System Resources for the Earth was recently collected by the Brooklyn Museum for their artist book collection. Harvesting Space for a Greener Earth published by Springer came out at the end of April 2014. She is represented at the New York City Gallery CENTRAL BOOKING Art Space.
Since 1995 she has included quantum equations and diagrams by quantum consciousness physicist Evan Harris Walker in her paintings, after making his acquaintance in 1991. They exchanged ideas on the reality or nonreality of space-time and on his innovative theories concerning the relationship between quantum mechanics and consciousness that lasted until his death in 2006. These equations function as design elements and refer to the interconnectivity of everything and the relationship of time to space. Her website is www.cbangs.com