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Can Panpsychism Become an Observational Science?

Gregory L. Matloff


In 2011, I was invited to participate in a symposium at the London headquarters of the British Interplanetary Society. The subject of the symposium was the contributions of philosopher/science-fiction-author Olaf Stapledon. Instead of concentrating on the many technological projections in Stapledon’s masterwork Star Maker, I elected to investigate whether there is any evidence to support his core metaphysics—that the universe is in some sense conscious and that a portion of stellar motion is volitional (as an alternative to Dark Matter). Stars do not possess neurons or tubules, but the spectral signatures of cooler stars such as the Sun reveal the presence of simple molecules. A universal proto-consciousness field congruent with vacuum fluctuations could interact with molecular matter via the contribution of the Casimir Effect to molecular bonds. Surprisingly, there is observational evidence that cooler stars move somewhat faster around the galactic center than their hotter sisters. This velocity difference, called Parenago’s Discontinuity, occurs in the stellar temperature distribution where molecular spectral lines become apparent. Data from Allen’s Astrophysical Quantities and the European Hipparcos space observatory reveal that Parenago’s Discontinuity is found in main sequence stars as far as ~260 light years from the Sun and in giant stars at distances greater than 1,000 light years. As discussed in the paper, local explanations for Parenago’s Discontinuity seem inadequate. Gaia, a successor to Hipparcos, is currently on station observing positions and motions of ~1 billion stars in our galaxy. If the Discontinuity is a galaxy-wide phenomenon, the volitional star hypothesis will be advanced. One way that a minded star could alter its galactic trajectory is by the emission of a uni-directional jet. Such jets have been observed in young stars. Future work will hopefully show how uni-directional jets correlate with star temperature and distance from the galactic center. It is therefore not impossible that panpsychism can emerge from philosophy to become a subdivision of observational astrophysics.

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ISSN: 2153-8212