Welcome! You may find that the most interesting posts were posted first, that is, at the bottom of the page, starting in June 2014.

June 28, 2014

Heat as Sound, Neural Impulses as Sound

Another bit from November 2013:

Bill Beatty wrote a thought-provoking essay showing the unity of sound, heat, and electromagnetic radiation. Heat is a form of sound, of very high frequency and wide bandwidth. This is acknowledged in the theory explaining superconductivity, which treats heat and sound as being composed of quantum pseudo-particles called phonons. Heimburg et. al. showed that neural impulses are primarily sound-like, accounting for their low speed and because of their solitonic form their lack of energy dissipation. The electrical effects associated with the impulses are due to the thickening of the neural membrane during the pulse increasing the separation between the charges on the inside and outside of the membrane, resulting in a transient decrease in capacitance which increases the voltage across the membrane. Tree-like structures such as neurons have a rich spectrum of mechanical resonances, largely due indirectly to the form of the cytoskeleton, which determines the form and stiffness of the neuron. Neural pulses also resonate with parts of the cytoskeleton and may change its form, as the microtubules together with the layers of ordered water surrounding them have non-linear ferroelectric and topological quantum properties which are linked to discrete shape changes of the microtubules which in turn affect the shape of axons, dendrites and thus the neurons' mechanical resonances.


  1. You may appreciate this: http://opentheory.net/2009/11/toward-a-new-ontology-of-brain-dynamics-neural-resonance-neuroacoustics/

    1. Check out; http://cns-alumni.bu.edu/~slehar/

      Steve seems to not only share your neuroacoustical theory, but he has a love of Geometric Algebra, too.

  2. Yeah, thanks for sending me that link. I recognized the slehar name but couldn't quite place it until I searched my history. The links he gives are dead, unfortunately, and his blog posts don't seem related to the acoustic neural theory.

    The theory in the research idea to which slehar was responding seems to focus more on the resonating loops formed by many neurons, which is a higher level than what I was talking about. Really the ideas about resonating loops are pretty orthodox -- Gerald Edeman talked about it, "neurons that fire together wire together" even if the connection is indirect -- it's the the bit characterizing them as a species of sound which is unorthodox.

    The speed of neural impulses is actually even slower than that of sound in air, by a factor of about 4 to 400, and even greater factors compared to sound in fluids. If higher transmission speed were a criterion of fitness, light or electrical or even just ordinary acoustic transmission would have worked much better. So the function of long axons must be to act as delay lines which allow loops in multi-neuron connections to form lower frequency and longer-persisting resonators.

    Then there's encoding in phase relationships among all the different resonators, and there are far more potential resonators than there are neurons (e.g. 4-neuron resonators possible would be something like roughly proportional to the number of ways of choosing any 4 from 25e9 neurons,). Then after all that, there's the physical resonance spectra of each neuron which depend on its membrane and cytoskeleton features, and when driven by signals the resonances can alter the features and thus the resonance spectra. (Clifford spectra - seperable into at least 3 linear, 3 rotational spectra, plus possibly scalar and volume spectra.) And then there's the strong possibility that the cytoskeleton encodes topological qbits.

    So we may have a while before the singularity.