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Nick Herbert

that when I die, probably most of my consciousness dies with me, because it’s an interaction between the big mind, the big possibilities, and the small range of possibilities allotted to human bodies. But I may change my mind. I’ve been reading Ian Stevenson’s book Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, where little kids, when they begin to talk, say, “You’re not my mother and dad. My parents live in this other town about four miles away.” Then they begin giving details about who their brothers and sisters are. It’s very spooky stuff.

DJB: But there are other explanations besides reincarnation. They could be tapping into some kind of field or genetic memory, for example.

NICK: Oh, yes, definitely. But it certainly stretches your idea of what the mind is capable of, no matter what explanation you have. So I may have to revise my ideas. I would not believe in that ordinarily. I was perfectly willing to say that my individuality dies with my body. There might be a large mind that goes on, but this small mind probably dies with the body–the memories and that sort of thing. That’s what I would have said before reading this book. I had always dismissed reincarnation as wrong. But Stevenson’s book is very persuasive. He describes just twenty cases, but he has six hundred cases of more or less validity. And, of course, if any one of those cases is true, it would invalidate the notion that consciousness dies with the body.

RMN: You have described quantum theory as a theory of possibilities, and have emphasized that it constrains not just Appearances, but Reality itself. With this in mind, in which ways do you feel that the understanding of the quantum world can affect the barriers and structures in human experience, which act to limit the enjoyment of these possibilities?

NICK: Oh! The Pleasure Dome Project. Yeah, I would sum up my feelings in that area this way. It’s to take the metaphor of inner space seriously–that there is an Inner space, and that for some reason, some accident of biology and evolution, each of us is restricted to this tiny little cave in inner space. But there’s this vast area that we could explore, including telepathic union with other caves, and even going into other non-human areas of mind. To me, quantum physics suggests this–that there is this potentia out there which we could basically surf. We do play with a little bit of it each day, but we could probably expand the area of possibility further. It’s like we’re living in a little tiny bay, and we could go out into the ocean. That’s the possibility, I think, that quantum physics suggests to me. That someday we’ll be able to go outside our own little bays, and go out into the great ocean of mind.

RMN: And voyage the quantum uncertainty, that sounds nice.

NICK: Yes, surfing in the quantum sea. There is something in quantum theory called the Fermi sea, which is the area of possibilities for electrons, all the possible spaces, the momentum and position spaces, that electrons can occupy. A metal’s Fermi sea has a free surface. But an insulator has a lid on its surface so its Fermi sea of possibilities is completely full–all the way to the top. Since all possibilities are spoken for, the insulator has no new options. It just sits there, inert, and does not conduct electricity. But metals have lots of live possibilities open to them–all sorts of wave motion can occur on the surface of a metal’s Fermi sea. So the reason that copper conducts electricity and polyethylene does not is related to this quantum picture of matter being made up of vibratory possibilities.

Metals conduct because their electrons possess lots of open possibilities. Insulators can be made to conduct by “doping” them–Yes that’s what it’s called–introducing certain impurities into the insulator which widen the realm of electron possibility. Now, if consciousness is somehow also a consequence of quantum possibility then that’s one way I see of going–the literal expansion of consciousness, of getting out of our little caves. And somehow I think that quantum physics ought to help us do that. If we really did find a connection between mind and matter, and this was a quantum connection, then we’d find some way to get out of our caves, and hop into the ocean.

DJB: Nick, you do a column for Mondo 2000 on “Fringe Science.” Can you explain why you think this subject is important.

NICK: I worked awhile in Silicon Valley doing research, and we had a lot of talks there about what real research was. How could we build an environment that would encourage research? What they really wanted there was an environment that would encourage short-term, profit-making research. They didn’t want a real environment for research. What I think a research environment should do is protect people for a while from practical life, from the day-to-day worries of making a living. It should also allow people to be wrong, so, you see, you’re protected from the consequences of

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