Scientific Understanding of Consciousness
Consciousness as an Emergent Property of Thalamocortical Activity

Physical and Biological Principles


Laws of Thermodynamics

The laws of thermodynamics were firmly established both experimentally and theoretically in the 19th century.

1st law of thermodynamics

Conservation of energy.  Energy can be neither created nor destroyed.

2nd Law of thermodynamics

All physical systems tend to establish an equilibrium in energy levels, a status said to be maximum entropy.

Hot coffee cools to ambient temperature, never the reverse. Rocks roll downhill, never uphill

Energy for biological systems is derives from sunlight processed by plants to produce carbohydrates and oxygen, which are then consumed by animals for their metabolism.


Biology -- Information and Energy

All of biology can be viewed in terms of information and energy.

Information is encapsulated in cells and creatures.

Cells and deteriorate according to the second law of thermodynamics.

Information in DNA is passed along to successive generations in newly-constructed cells and creatures.

Evolutionary processes chain to pass along came about to pass along information to successful creatures in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics.

Energy Processes

Hydrocarbon + O2    energy + CO2 + H2O

ATP Is the Energy Currency of Cells


ATP Is Produced by Oxidative Phosphorylation


Enzymes Permit Chemical Processes to Occur at Low Temperature

ATP + enzymes    biological functionality + CO2 + H2O

Water — a Basis of Life

Water is a universal solvent.

Water is at a low state of chemical energy — a product of combustion.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe — a product of the Big Bang.

Water is very common in this all system.  Water formed in the early solar system at the distance of the giant planets from the sun.

Earth is the “water planet.”

How did are yet its water?  In the early solar system a comment may have crashed into the earth.  Comment formed along with water in the outer solar system then came in and crashed into the earth as earth was forming.


Four Kinds of Molecules

· DNA — information storage and messages

· Protein — structure are and enzymes

· Lipids — via lipid membrane of cells.  Isolate inside from outside.  Self-organize.