Brian Josephson

In 1962, when he was just 22, Brian Josephson discovered the quantum property now known as the Josephson effect. After he won a Nobel prize in 1973, Josephson, already a tenured professor at the University of Cambridge, renounced conventional physics and dedicated himself to the study of psychic and mystical phenomena.

Josephson had no regrets about having abandoned conventional physics. “I consider what I’m doing now to be more important.” He believed that meditation could help scientists enhance their abilities and insights. Ordinary consciousness, he explains, is “egoic.” The ego “dominates everything” and one is no longer open to the influences and intuitions available to a “pre-egoic” child. Through meditation one can achieve a “trans-egoic” stage, in which “you gain the benefits of the processes that you were influenced by before the ego became dominant, while retaining some of the organizing ability of the ego.”

Winning the Nobel prize gave him the confidence to discuss publicly his interests in the paranormal and to scold the scientific community for its skepticism. He insisted that the data supporting telekinesis and extra-sensory perception are “fairly convincingly.” Quantum mechanics could help to account for ESP, he said, but only if it is overhauled. The current theory “doesn’t allow the language of process or intention and so on. So I think we’re going to have to extend quantum theory so we take that into account as well.”

Meditation had also given Josephson deep insights into music. He came to believe that music stems, to some extent, not from superficial cultural influences but from timeless, universal “structures” of the mind. By studying the human response to music, Josephson suggested, scientists could probe these structures. “So my intuition is that may have great significance for our understanding of mind,” he said.

Related Pages:
Butterfly Effect
What is Reality?

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