Renowned physicist Edward Witten recently suggested that consciousness might forever remain a mystery. But his words haven’t discouraged other physicists from trying to unravel it.
In the past, consciousness was almost entirely relegated to the musings of philosophers; it was too ethereal to be studied materially. But as science advanced, so too did our ability to examine the wispy intricacies of the waking mind. Biologists joined the pursuit, followed by neuroscientists with brain scanners in tow. It was only recently that select physicists shifted their attentions from concepts like the Big Bang, quantum information, and electrodynamics and instead began tendering their two cents on consciousness.
Sir Roger Penrose, a mathematical physicist at Oxford University, has openly wondered if the minute interactions taking place within the subatomic world of quantum mechanics might give rise to consciousness.
UC-Santa Barbara theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate David Gross has offered other ideas.