Aktuelles Physik-Kolloquium:

04. May. 2017, 16:00 Uhr, Gebäude NW1, Raum H3

Making sense of understanding: On the sensory systems underlying balanced, realitiy-based abstract thinking

Prof. Victor Smetacek, (Professor emeritus) AWI Bremerhaven

The talk is an exploration of the biological mechanisms that give rise to the mental abilities enabling humans to apply logical, balanced thought processes to construct the abstract models of reality on which science is based. Which sensory systems provide the data from the real world needed for coherent processing into abstract models by the brain? The ancient, still prevalent concept of five sense organs ignores two of our most vital ones: the vestibular organs (inner ears) that sense balance and movement and proprioception or body awareness (of which touch is a superficial part). They are united by the gravitational field in which they function. I argue that it is the interaction between these two highly evolved sense organs in bipedal humans that, together with the eyes, provide the neural templates for abstract, quantitative thinking. The gravitational hypothesis I am proposing has immense implications for understanding human evolution and functioning; it also explains why quantum mechanics can not make sense to us. Further, I postulate that the core function of sleep is calibration of these paired sense organs with each other: sleep is calibration mode of the body, in contrast to the operation mode of consciousness. The concept of calibration to correct for sensory drift is ignored by biologists; I am curious to know what physicists think about this disregard.