Science: Philosophy:


Elements of Scientific Consciousness


by Tetsuo Kaneko


Matsudo-shi, Japan


A reality that the brain can understand for an object is not the same as the object.  However, the reality should be precisely qualitatively similar to the object in order to understand it suitably.  Hence, the brain should always demand to reconsider how a reality carried by a specific object can be understood.  For instance, we can question how a reality carried by either a cloud floating in the sky or a nebula generated by an astronomical phenomenon can be understood. Images caught for certain objects by eyes do not allow the brain to understand the whole complete realities of the objects.  If a cloud is magnified with a telescope, we can understand the contour of the cloud precisely.  The boundary between the cloud and the sky appears because of the phenomenon of scattering of light, which is made to occur by a lot of small grains of ice distributed in the cloud.  This fact makes the boundary become vague if we continue to magnify the cloud.  Then, we must give up an effort to understand the reality of the cloud on the basis of the precise contour of the cloud.  This means that another reality of the cloud must be understood.  A reality of an object that is understood via awareness cultivated by daily experiences has a feature similar to one that the reality symbolized by the contour of the cloud has.


Picture Album: The Helix Nebula: a Gaseous Envelope Expelled By a Dying Star

Image 25 of 1209


The Helix, located 690 light-years away, is one of the closest planetary nebulae to the Earth. The gaseous envelope ejected by a collapsing star consists of two gaseous disks nearly perpendicular to each other.  The inner disk was formed about 6,600 years ago; the outer ring, about 12,000 years ago. Space-based X-ray observations provide evidence for the existence of a companion star to the collapsing star. The Helix's complex structure may be caused by the fact that the star reaching the final stage had a companion star.  Namely, one disk may be perpendicular to the collapsing star's spin axis, while the other may lie in the orbital plane of the two stars.

Credit: NASA, ESA, C.R. O'Dell (Vanderbilt University), M. Meixner and P. McCullough (STScI).


Fortunately, complex structures of circuits formed in the brain by nerve cells linked via axonal branches can be characteristically developed by electrical impulses generated by activities of the brain to suitably understand a reality for an object with contributions of the fact that connections or disconnections between nerve cells and axon terminals are partially fluctuating and with helps of new links that are formed between nerve cells for axonal growth caused by nerve growth factor.  This is guaranteed efforts of pioneers and also our efforts.  Hence, it is significant to at least repeat to pose a question arising as to what is a suitable reality that we must understand for an object.  An interest on replying to the question encourages precise quantitative method for observing the object to be devised.  Efforts to reply to the question help us to develop the understanding for a reality carried by the object. 


However, results coming from observations do not simply give us a way for interpreting them.  The brain must be become free from at least consciousness generated from awareness cultivated by daily experiences while trying to find out the way.  Consciousness generated from a current awareness cultivated in the brain can sometimes encourage the brain to deny a reality different from an image that the awareness allows the brain to form.   


Consciousness supported by awareness cultivated via the eyes located on the surface of the Earth can always dominate activities of the brain, and the consciousness can easily make us fall into a situation where the consciousness prevents us from understanding that a reality of the Earth is a planet.  Inevitably, consciousness supported by awareness cultivated by experiences makes us fall into either a situation where the consciousness prevents us from finding a suitable reality that should be carried by an object or a situation where the consciousness persuades the reality to be characterized as only a partial image found in a particular condition. 


The consciousness should be caused by specific structures of circuits formed by linked nerve cells that are organized by depending on experiences, and the rate at which a conflict between the consciousness and activities of the brain for seeking a suitable reality is generated cannot be neglected.  If the brain encounters the conflict, then the consciousness prevents an image created in the brain from freely approaching the reality.  Besides, the brain cannot easily realize things located outside the territory of the consciousness, and no matter how significant a thing that is revealed by precise measurements or experiments is, the brain cannot always easily realize the meaning of the things because of the consciousness.  However, the brain can go beyond such difficulty either while being helped by the fact that connections or disconnections between nerve cells and axon terminals are partially fluctuating or while being helped by new links that are formed between nerve cells for axonal growth caused by nerve growth factor.  This must have helped the creativity of pioneers for inventing specific ways of going beyond the difficulty. 


The ways must be astonishing for everyone.  Moreover, their efforts to have invented the ways can continue to stimulate us to activate the brain.  Hence, the brain can enhance confidence for inventing a way of resolving a modern difficulty or avoiding a future difficulty in order to allow us to continue enjoying our civilization. 


An attempt to continue enjoying the civilization requires us to be careful on the basis of at least awareness of the relationship between our consciousness and things that have been already known as scientific knowledge.  The expectation that happiness depends on technology and economy both persuades us to analyze the relationship.  Despite this, we have noticed that approaching a suitable reality of the relationship is not easy unless our brain is free from a limited perception exaggerating a specific interpretation dependent on daily experiences.     


A limited perception exaggerating a specific interpretation resulting from daily experiences prevents both quantum phenomena such as the process of an emitting laser beam and relativistic phenomena such as the dependence of time on gravitation from being interpreted with suitable realities.  Such a limited perception can persuade the existence of atoms strongly to be denied as exemplified by the fact that it was major for scientists to deny their existence except a small number of scientists including Boltzmann, in the earliest period of 20th century.  Despite this, recognizing the existence of atoms aids in material designs or molecular designs related to specific materials such as high-temperature superconductors, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), carbon nanotubes (CNTs), engineered nuclease CRISPR-Cas9, edited genome, artificially synthesized DNA etc., and it supports us in enjoying the current civilization.  Moreover, the awareness of the fact that the existence of atoms is a reality helps to explain even the function of nerve cells in the brain, for instance, the mechanism for propagating electrical impulses along an axon and the functions of neurotransmitters for propagating electrical impulses beyond synaptic cleft at an axon terminal.     


Nerve cells and our body are ordinary matter, which consists of atoms.  In the Universe, ordinary matter is symbolized by the stars constituting the galaxies.  The ordinary matter coexists in the Universe with dark matter and dark energy.  A precise reality of the Universe is revealed by the most accurate measurements obtained from ESA’s Planck space telescope.  This means that the Universe being 13.82 billion years old currently contains 4.9% ordinary matter, 26.8% dark matter and 68.3% dark energy.  Moreover, the observations of supernovae have revealed that the Universe is expanding while the expansion rate is increased because of the dark energy.   


Making the expansion of the Universe proceed backwards in time allows the earliest Universe to have been filled homogeneously and isotropically with energy according to speculation.  Because of the energy, the earliest Universe after the Big Bang was filled with photons, quarks, leptons, antiquarks, and antileptons although the quarks and the leptons exceeded the antiquarks and the antileptons only in a very small trace.


Between about 10−6 seconds and 1 second after the Big Bang, the small excess of quarks over antiquarks allowed the Universe to vary to a state in which it was filled with photons, leptons, antileptons and hadrons corresponding to protons and neutrons that were generated from the combination between quarks.


Between about 1 and 10 seconds after the Big Bang, the small excess of leptons over antileptons allowed the Universe to vary to a state in which it was filled with photons, protons, neutrons and electrons.


Between about 10 and 1000 seconds after the Big Bang, the temperature being about a billion kelvin allowed the combination between a neutron and a proton to form deuterium.  Moreover, chain-reactions involving deuterium resulted in the formation of helium nuclei.  As a result, the Universe was allowed to vary to a state in which it was filled with photons, protons, electrons, helium nuclei, deuterium nuclei, and traces of nuclei of a few elements.


About 379,000 years after the Big Bang, the electrons and the nuclei combined with each other, and as the result, atoms were formed.  This allowed the Universe to vary to a state in which it was filled with photons, hydrogen, helium, deuterium, traces of a few elements.  Then, the ratio of hydrogen to helium was 3:1 as mass ratio.


700 million years after the Big Bang, the first stars were formed, according to ESA Planck Project.  Carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, phosphorus, and so on can be formed along with activities of stars.  On 17 August 2017, gravitational wave signal (GW170817) was observed by the LIGO and Virgo detectors, and the signal was emitted from a process in which two neutron stars located at 130 million light years distant were merging together.  Such an event involves r-process nucleosynthesis occurring via highly-unstable neutron-rich nuclei.  Hence, the event allows huge amounts of gold, silver, platinum, etc. to be released into space.  Thus, we can readily realize the origins of atoms today 13.82 billion years after the Big Bang.  Only about one hundred years ago, the reality of atoms was made to remain hypothetical by the majority of scientists.  This fact encourages us to be aware of the relationship between consciousness and understanding of a suitable reality.         


In a material system where microscopic objects symbolized as atoms remain dense at a temperature beyond the critical temperature, variations in the temperature enable characteristics of the system to vary continuously.  However, if the temperature becomes lower than the critical temperature, the material system undergoes a transition from a phase into another phase.  The transition occurs discontinuously without passing intermediate phases.  If a gas made cool below the critical temperature is made dense exceeding the critical density, the gas can transform into liquid discontinuously without passing intermediate states.  Although this phenomenon is very usual and may not stimulate curiosity, natural disasters occurring discontinuously beyond our consciousness stimulate our brain.  The condition that many factors can cooperate allows such phenomena to occur discontinuously.  This is similar to even a specific event that sometimes happens as a financial crisis.  A material system consists of many microscopic objects.  Naturally, the condition that interactions between objects in the system can cooperate can be generated depending on the temperature, the density, etc.  Then, the occurrence of a discontinuous phenomenon as mentioned above is allowed.  


The substance existing in the largest amount in the Universe is hydrogen, which is the principal constituent of the Sun.  In the core of the Sun, hydrogen participates in nuclear fusion reactions, which generate the thermal energy and synthesize helium.  Helium is the substance existing in the second largest amount in the Universe and is most strongly prevented from liquefying for the weakest inter-atomic force. 


Liquefied helium has unusual features that are not found from the other liquids and its features were located outside the territory of the consciousness.  One of the features is symbolized by an anomalous phenomenon revealing that a boiling phenomenon of liquefied helium stops at the moment when temperature that is gradually falling reaches 2.17K. In 1908, Kamerlingh Onnes confirmed the phenomenon after liquefying.  Moreover, there is a detected anomaly of thermodynamic behavior of liquid helium, which even the consciousness of Onnes made his brain reject.  He ignored the anomalous behavior of the heat capacity of liquid helium near 2.17K as errors in measurements.  


Onnes’ success in liquefying helium was enabled by the critical temperature of helium predicted by himself through the use of the equation of van der Waals.  Van der Waars assumed that the gas state is the situation where each molecule being a particle formed by binding atoms to each other moves with a high speed toward a direction being different from others, and he succeeded in establishing the equation.   For each gas being dense at a low temperature, the equation can describe the relation between the volume and the pressure, and it allows us to predict the critical temperature for each gas. 


The fact that all the substances in the gas states can be transformed into the liquid states should be linked with the fact that microscopic structures causing the behavior of the substances are similar.  This is a reasonable interpretation that enables us to simplify a way to understand phase transitions and a way to explain the properties of the substances.  Such an interpretation depending on similarity must hold a generality.  Simplifying ideas or explanations about their properties on the basis of similarity found from perception allowed by microscopic structures has helped our imagination to be developed easily. 


The interpretation showing that each substance is an ensemble of atoms helps the equation of van der Waars to function, all the chemical reactions to be explained, and even various phenomena in the neuron network system to be analyzed.  The interpretation allows thermal behaviors of substances to be understood and it allows the meanings of entropy to be deeply and essentially understood.  Moreover, it helps all the thermal phenomena in the Universe to be analyzed.  Although we cannot directly sense the reality of atoms located outside consciousness supported by awareness cultivated by daily experiences, we can confirm effectiveness carried by the interpretation.  In addition, an increase in entropy depending on the activities of Homo Sapiens is a factor about which we should be careful as an indicator for knowing whether or not Homo Sapiens have the will to continue to thrive in their civilization.  


Certainly, the interpretation, which came from early Indian and Greek philosophers and is described via the term átomos coined by Democritus, enables us to explain various characteristics of substances depending on the kinds of atoms. Then, the reality of each atom corresponds to a very fine particle of microscopic size and not visible to the unaided human eye.  However, the experiment done by Geiger and Marsden on the basis of the intention of Rutherford demonstrated the fact that the reality of an atom cannot be simply understood as a fine particle.  Magnifying an atom and approaching it makes the atom lose the reality understood as a simple particle.  Then, we are made to notice the atom characterized by a new and precise reality consisting of a heavy nucleus and light electrons moving around the nucleus.  


In the beginning of 20th century, consciousness generated by depending on the sensory abilities could, however, still not allow the brains of the principal people to completely deny that atoms are hypothetical existents.  For overcoming the consciousness, evidence for denying that atoms are hypothetical existents was necessary.  The necessity of understanding the reality of a substance as an ensemble of a large number of atoms must have been confirmed through the sensory abilities.


Ultimately, we are made to notice several pioneers’ will to make efforts to go beyond the limitation resulting from no possibility of sensing atoms directly.  Their will allowed the pioneers to acquire the intelligent ability for overcoming the limitation.  Although the use of a scanning probe microscope allows the real image of an atom to be observed, the use of an optical microscope does not enable its real image to be observed.  Despite this fact, the pioneers’ intelligent ability enables the difficulty caused by no possibility of sensing atoms to be overcome even with the use of an optical microscope magnifying 100 times.  Then, their intelligent ability is linked with making efforts to understand effects dependent on motions of atoms and efforts to detect the effects.  Specifically, the intelligent ability allows thermal behaviors of a substance to actively be linked with motions of atoms, and give us the ability to confirm the existence of atoms.  Intelligent ability allows the brain to become free from the consciousness making the brain desire to consider that the reality of atom is a hypothetical particle.  The existence of atoms is understood as the reality for consistently and firmly explaining various phenomena. 


Besides, we are made to notice several pioneers’ will to make efforts to go consistently beyond the consciousness that cannot become free from a reality of light understood from awareness cultivated by known knowledge.  Observations of light emitted from a heated substance do not simply allow the brain to notice the necessity of understanding a reality of light as an ensemble of photons being basic units of light.  Only efforts to answer a question arising as to how a reality of light emitted from the heated substance exemplified by a heated filament in a light bulb and the heated body of the Sun should be understood on the basis of the consequences of the observations allow consciousness causing a consistent understanding to be developed with overcoming any difficulties caused by the consciousness limited by the accumulated awareness.  The consciousness developed by the efforts to reply the question enables the brain to be aware of the existence of photons being basic units of light, which behaves like particles.  However, a reality of light allowing particle-like behavior does not simply correspond to a thing that can be readily noticed from daily experiences, since a photon can behave as a wave. 


A reality of each particle found through daily experiences is characterized by a tiny size.  This does not involve any conflict between the understanding for such a particle and awareness cultivated by daily experiences.  However, a photon does not have the reality depending on a size.  Similarly, an electron behaves as a particle like a point without the reality depending on a size.  A photon carrying energy more than 1.02MeV (about 200000 times energy of each photon forming UV radiation) can transform a vacuum into an electron and a positron being an electron like particle with a positive charge.  The positron behaves as a particle like a point without the reality depending on a size.  Even quarks behave as a particle like a point.  An atom can have a reality depending on a size around 0.0000001 millimeters (0.1nanometers).  A helium atom consists of two electrons and a nucleus formed by six d-quarks and six u-quarks, which do not have a reality depending on a size.  This fact means that a reality depending on a size should be given to a helium atom by a specific mechanism. Then, an important factor participating in the mechanism is the Pauli exclusion principle. Without such a mechanism, each fine particle of wheat flour could not maintain a size. Without such a mechanism, even the Earth could not maintain a size and would become a black hole. This makes the brain conclude that a reality depending on the understanding permitted by awareness due to strong influences from sense organs usually corresponds to a primitive reality of an object. Hence, a reality of microscopic objects such as atoms, electrons, quarks, etc. is one example that makes our brain become aware of the fact that consciousness depending on daily experiences is primitive.


Naturally, our brains have the ability to go beyond such consciousness.  In fact, the ability makes us aware of a reality of light as an ensemble of a large number of photons.  This reality enables devices for emitting laser beams to be designed.  Our brains can overcome the difficulty caused by the consciousness through efforts to find an interpretation that allows various phenomena to be explained consistently, simply, and quantitatively.  We cannot count how many unknown things of which we are not aware now exist although we can count how many things of which we have been aware exist.  Hence, it is meaningful to find an interpretation, which enables our brains to quantitatively predict something that is unknown but exists.  This is confirmed by achievements reached by pioneers.  Moreover, consciousness cultivated by a way to quantitatively analyze something unknown should help to avoid problems that result from an interpretation depending on daily experiences.



Picture Album: Spiral Galaxy in the Coma Cluster, Part of a Larger Hubble Image   Image 938 of 1209

The Coma Cluster of galaxies is one of the densest known galaxy collections in the Universe. The Coma Cluster is over 300 million light-years away.  The entire cluster contains thousands of galaxies in a spherical shape more than 20 million light-years in diameter.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)


Existents that can never be sensed through sense organs are located outside the territory of consciousness supported by awareness cultivated by daily experiences, and the existents are equivalent to nothing even if the existents are either 200,000,000,000 galaxies existing in the observable Universe or a large number of atoms constituting a substance.  Inevitably, each object that does not stimulate any systems of nerve cells linked with each other is located outside the territory of consciousness, and a reality of such an object cannot exist owing to the consciousness.  Hence, trying to acquire consciousness for being aware of such a reality is meaningful for enhancing the potential for being aware of something unknown including unknown risks.  Fortunately, the efforts of pioneers can stimulate our brain to expand the territory of consciousness.


The activity having enabled us to become aware of the existence of 200 billion galaxies depends on observations allowed by the use of Hubble space telescope.  The observations make us aware of the existence of many galaxies located extremely far from our galaxy, namely the Milky Way.  Moreover, efforts to continue to observe the luminosity of each supernova which is categorized as type Ia and which belongs to each galaxy distributed from a position located near our galaxy to a position located at a distance of 8 billion light years enable us to become aware of the fact that galaxies go far from each other while increasing their speeds.  This phenomenon suggests that a property of space is something that can play a role for expanding the distance between galaxies.  It is called dark energy, and it stimulates the brain to answer what it is.  Ultimately, this property of space makes us try to develop understanding for a reality related to the space between galaxies. 

Picture Album: Jupiter and Io       Image 242 of 1207

Io is the volcanic moon rounding Jupiter in 1.8 days, and is roughly the size of Earth's moon. In two of the images, Io appears passing at a height of 500,000 kilometers above the cloud tops of Jupiter.  The black spot on Jupiter is Io's shadow, which sails across the face of Jupiter at 17 kilometers per second. Credit: J. Spencer (Lowell Observatory) and NASA/ESA


The activity that made Galileo Galilei aware of the limit carried by the certainty of awareness cultivated by images coming from only the functions of sense organs was to focus a telescope on planets and their satellites.  Observations allowed Galileo to see the motions of four satellites of Jupiter and allowed him to predict the real motions of planets.  We cannot easily realize the situation where the understanding allowed by consciousness dependent on awareness cultivated through cooperation between the functions of sense organs and the functions of the brain has reached the limit.  We can find Galileo’s mind that is represented in a book entitled Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger) and published in March 1610.  His mind tries still to make us aware of the fact that the understanding allowed by the consciousness can reach the limit.  


Observing the Earth from the Cassini spacecraft having moved in an orbit around the planet Saturn makes us notice a point like existent in the space as a reality of the Earth.  Observing the Earth from a spacecraft moving in orbit around the Moon allows us to understand the reality of the Earth as a sphere planet in the space.  Understanding the Earth as a planet in space is not easy without pictures coming from the observations because of influences dependent on awareness cultivated by cooperation between the functions of sense organs and the brain.  In order to understand the reality of the Earth without the pictures, observations for detecting relative motions between stars -- with the same precision as those done by Tycho Brahe in an epoch before the invention of telescopes -- must be carried out.  Moreover, mathematical treatments for analyzing data obtained from the observations with the same accuracy as those done by Johannes Kepler must be carried out.  Inevitably, understanding the attractive force acting between the Sun and a planet, which moves in an elliptical orbit, is difficult for Isaac Newton and us both without the data coming from precise observations and without an accurate mathematical analysis of the data. 


Scientific activities exemplified by such observations and such mathematical analysis makes us aware of a role of science.  The scientific activities should enable us to overcome any difficulties resulting from consciousness coming from awareness cultivated by daily experiences and to find a way for going toward awareness of a reality of an object.  We can enjoy fantastic magic shows through awareness cultivated by the functions of sense organs.  Thus, our brain cannot avoid being simply tempted by consciousness coming from such awareness.  If the brain acquires an additional consciousness depending on awareness cultivated on the basis of data coming from precise observations, activities of the brain can allow us to go beyond the limit that the certainty of a way of understanding reaches. 


Efforts to consistently realize existents located outside the limit of recognition allowed by cooperation between the functions of sense organs and the functions of the brain correspond to efforts to find an interpretation for linking precisely observed data with a suitable knowledge consistently on the basis of activities of the brain that is free from consciousness coming from awareness cultivated by daily experiences.  These efforts should help to develop an effective wisdom for making an unknown future become consistently concrete. These efforts themselves develop the ability to notice many unknown existents located outside the limit of recognition allowed by cooperation between the functions of sense organs and the functions of the brain. These efforts enable us to understand microscopic realities and cosmic realities that are both located outside the limits of recognition.  Moreover, these efforts encourage us to go consistently beyond a current awareness, and images of galaxies and nebulae coming from cosmic observations encourage us to be aware of realities located outside the limit of the recognition supported by a current awareness.  Realizing the limit of the recognition supported by a current awareness and the limit of the current awareness can encourage us to continue to improve our current awareness and to continue to develop it to continue to enjoy our civilization.  The will to maintain civilization remain allows philosophy, arts, science, and so on to preserve their value.  An interest in understanding macroscopic phenomena as the behavior of a large number of microscopic entities and an interest in understanding properties of substances and the behavior of the Universe are a portion of our cultures that should be shared by everyone.



1) I.B.Levitan and L.K.Kaczmarek, The NeuronCell and Molecular Biology – Third Edition (Oxford University Press, 2002).


2) D. Lindley, Boltzmanns Atom: The Great Debate That Launched A Revolution In Physics (Free Press, 2001).


3) Planck reveals an almost perfect universe (68.3% dark energy, 26.8% dark matter and 4.9% normal matter), Retrieved 2013-03-21.


4) Timeliness of the 2011 Physics Nobel Prize, “The discovery of the accelerated expansion of our universe”


5) J.Allday, Quarks, Leptons and the Big Bang (Taylar and Francis, 2002).


6) S.Weinberg, The First Three Minutes (Basic Books, 1993).


7) Neutron star merger detected on 17 August 2017 and called GW170817


8) K.Mendelssohn, The Quest for Absolute Zero (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1966) Section 4 (Efforts to liquefy helium).


9) S.Weinberg, The Discovery of Subatomic Particles (Cambridge University Press, 2003) Section 4 (Efforts of Rutherford).


10) J.Perrin, Brownian Movement and Molecular Reality, Translated by F.Soddy (Dover, 2005).


11) R.Loudon, The Quantum Theory of Light (Oxford University Press, 1991).


12) About 200 billion galaxies contained in the observable universe,

Deep field,


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