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Prof. Ravi Gomatam

Adjunct Professor, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India
Director, Institute of Semantic Information Sciences & Technology, Berkeley and Mumbai
Director, Bhaktivedanta Institute, Berkeley and Mumbai

 

Biography

Brief Career Sketch

In the early 70s, after obtaining his master’s degree in electronics engineering, Gomatam worked for a few years with Air India in Mumbai, on software development projects, including online crew scheduling. He then went to the USA, where he worked for a number of Fortune-500 companies including General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Burroughs and IBM as a freelance software specialist in the areas of operating system design, data communications and very-large database design. He ran his own computing consultancy company in these areas.

In the mid-80s, he turned to fundamental scientific research, first completing a Ph.D. in the foundations of quantum mechanics. Since then he has remained in academics doing full-time research and graduate level teaching.

In 1990, Dr. Gomatam conceived and conducted in San Francisco, the ‘First International Conference on the Study of Consciousness within Science’. Presenters at the conference included two Nobel Laureates (John Eccles and George Wald) as well as twelve other distinguished researchers in the field (including Henry Stapp, John Searle, E.C.G. Sudarshan, Karl H. Pribram, Herbert Frohlich).

As a logical follow-up to the conference, Dr. Gomatam conceived, designed, and launched the world’s first M.S. (M.Phil, since 2015) and Ph.D. program in Consciousness Studies in 1997, in collaboration with Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), in Mumbai. Consciousness Studies is today a recognized inter-disciplinary field in mainstream science and is a topic in journals such as Science and Nature. It involves physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, psychology and philosophy. In fifteen short years, graduates from his program have gone to some of the world’s top universities (Harvard, Leeds, Utrecht, etc.) for higher studies, teaching, and research.

Although similar to the inter-disciplinary programs in Cognitive Sciences offered throughout the world, Consciousness studies as conceived at the Bhaktivedanta Institute is fundamentally different. Unlike cognitive sciences, which study the nature of human experience based on the current knowledge of matter in science, consciousness studies as conceived by Dr. Gomatam moves to reconceive the nature of matter within science, based on the nature of human experience. Being a study of matter, and not consciousness per se, Consciousness Studies as conceived at the Bhaktivedanta Institute is part of science and engineering.

This matter-driven study of human experience is inspired by the most important facet of Dr. Gomatam’s work, namely developing ‘macroscopic quantum mechanics’ (MQM). In MQM, he is introducing a new conception of matter called ‘Objective Semantic Information’ (OSI). It is conceived as a new state of matter represented by the quantum mechanical wave function Ψ when it is used to directly describe the objects of the macroscopic phenomenal world. To motivate this kind of thinking within physics, Dr. Gomatam has had to develop many new ideas within philosophy of physics first – such as ‘Relational Properties’ (in-between primary and secondary properties), as well his own version of scientific realism (Tandem Realism).

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His peer-reviewed publications are taking hold within mainstream academics. For example, in the spring of 2010, one of his papers was part of the curriculum for a course in quantum mechanics at Brown University, USA, an ivy-league university.  On his idea of OSI as more fundamental than energy, the following are a couple of scholarly citations:

“We agree with Gomatam (1999) who argues for a revision of our notion of macroscopic objects in accord with quantum non-separability. Indeed, the key to progress may lie in a willingness to abandon stalwart concepts of dynamism such as energy, momentum, force.”

(Stuckey M.W. (2000) Uniform Spaces in the Pregeometric Modeling of Quantum Non-Separability; A NATO-funded paper. arXiv: gr-qc/0003104v2)

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Regarding his notion of ‘Relational Properties’ as a new range of physical properties corresponding to quantum mechanical observables, and as “in-between” primary and secondary properties, the following can be cited.

“I was very interested in the talk by Dr. Ravi Gomatam . . . because he showed, by some nice arguments, that the proper way to think of quantum mechanics is in terms of relationships . . . . This is a new way of thinking.  It may be that this is how we should be doing science”.

(Brian Josephson, Nobel Laureate; Plenary talk at the "Quantum Approaches to Consciousness” Conference, Arizona, USA; August 1999)

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For more scholarly appreciations, see the Appreciations tab.

Publications

Selected Research Publications

  • Gomatam, R. (forthcoming), Toward Relational Reality--From Einstein and Tagore to Gaudiya Vaishnava Vedanta, in Partha Ghose (editor), “Einstein, Tagore and the Nature of Reality”, Pickering and Chatto Publishers (a division of Taylor and Francis/Routledge).
  • Gomatam, R. (2015), Objective Semantic Information and Quantum Local Causality, Presented at the conference, “Causality in a Quantum World”, August 16-21. This conference was part of a project at the University of Queensland entitled, “Causal Power of Information in a Quantum World”.
  • Gomatam, R. (2015), A New Ontological Argument for the existence of God that Relates to Quantum Mechanics, Proceedings of the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Vol 34 (1), June 14-17, 2015, p. 137.
  • Gomatam, R. (2015), Toward Avoiding Nonlocality (and Locality) in Quantum Physics, Proceedings of the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Vol 34 (1), June 14-17, 2015, p. 145.
  • Gomatam, R. (2014), Toward Placing the Concept of ‘Chemical Element on a New Quantum Footing, Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Philosophy of Chemistry, July 7-9, 2014, London
  • Gomatam, R. (2014), Tandem Realism--Physics and Commonsense, Submitted for presentation at The International Conference for Integrated History and Philosophy of Science (&HPS5), June 26-29, 2014, Institute Vienna Circle and Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna
  • Anderson, G., Gomatam, R., Behera, L. (2014), Contradictions in the Quantum Mechanical Explanation of the Periodic Table, Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 490, p. 012197ff, doi:10.1088/1742-6596/490/1/011001; Presented at International Conference on Mathematical Modeling in Physical Sciences, IC-MSQUARE, September 1-5, 2013, Prague
  • Gomatam, R. (2013), Gomatam's Critique of the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology, Chapter 9, Biology and Information, Kanwaljeet Kaur, M.S. Dissertation, Bhaktivedanta Institute
  • Gomatam, R. (2012), A Quantum Model of Human Perception, International Conference on Biologically Inspired System Science, March 1-3, IIT, Jodhpur, India
  • Gomatam, R. (2012), How Do Classical and Quantum Probabilities Differ? in Khrennikov, A. (Ed.), Foundations of Probability and Physics-6, Conference Proceedings Series, American Institute of Physics, pp. 105-110
  • Gomatam, R. (2010), Macroscopic Quantum Mechanics and System of Systems Design Approach, Indo-US Workshop on Systems Engineering, Oct. 26-28, IIT, Kanpur 
  • Gomatam, R. (2009), Quantum Theory, the Chinese Room Argument and the Symbol Grounding Problem, in Bruza, P. et al. (Eds.), Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Volume 5494, pp. 174-183, Springer
  • Gomatam, R. (2008), Quantum Realism and Haecceity, in, Ghose, P. (Ed.), Materialism & Immaterialism in India & the West: Varying Vistas, Munshiram Manoharlal Pub Pvt Ltd, 2010, ISBN 978-81-87586-42-5, pp. 853-872
  • Gomatam, R. (2007), Niels Bohr’s Interpretation and the Copenhagen Interpretation-- Are the two incompatible? Philosophy of Science, December, 74(5), pp. 736-748
  • Gomatam, R. (2005), Popper’s Propensity Interpretation and Heisenberg’s Potentia Interpretation — A Comparative Assessment, in Chattopadhyaya, D. P. and Sengupta, P. (Eds.), HSPCIC: A Historical Perspective Of The Evolution Of Ideas In Science, Vol. XIII, Part 6 , Probabilities, Propensity and Corroboration, CSC: New Delhi, pp. 301-312
  • Gomatam, R. (2005), Do Hodgson's propositions uniquely characterize free will? Invited commentary on a target paper, "A Plain Person's View of Free Will" by David Hodgson, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 12(1), pp. 32-40, Imprint Academic: UK
  • Gomatam, R. (2004), Physics and Common Sense--Relearning the Connections in the Light of Quantum Theory, in Chattopadhyaya, D.P. & Sen Gupta, A.K. (Eds.), HSPCIC, Vol. XI, Part I: Philosophical Consciousness and Scientific Knowledge, CSC: New Delhi, pp. 179-207
  • Gomatam, R. (2004), Quantum Theory and Experimental Praxis — Shall the twain ever meet? Paper read at the annual meeting of Canadian Society for the History of Philosophy of Science (CSHPS), Winnipeg, Canada, May 30- June 1
  • Gomatam, R. (2004), Complementarity - Did Bohr miss the boat?, paper read at 5th International History of Philosophy of Science Conference (HOPOS), June 24-27, San Francisco
  • Gomatam, R. (2003), On Going past the Statistical Interpretation, paper submitted to the international conference on “Quantum Theory: Reconsiderations of Foundations-2”, June, Vaxjo University, Sweden
  • Gomatam, R. (2003), Against ‘Position', paper read at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the History of Philosophy of Science (CSHPS), May, Halifax, Canada
  • Gomatam, R. (2002), What is Niels Bohr's Interpretation? paper read at annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science (CSHPS), Toronto, May 26-27
  • Gomatam, R. (2002), Einstein's Critique of Quantum Theory - A Reassessment, paper read at Fourth Biennial Congress of History of Philosophy of Science (HOPOS), July 23-25, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
  • Gomatam, R. (1999), Quantum Theory and Observation Problem, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6(11-12), 1999, pp. 173-190
  • Gomatam, R. (1999), Quantum Information, paper presented at the conference on Quantum Approaches to Consciousness, July 28-August 1, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
  • Gomatam, R. (1998), Toward a Consciousness-Based, Realist Interpretation of Quantum Theory--Integrating Bohr and Einstein, Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Philosophy, Bombay University, India
  • Gomatam, R. (1992), Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness: Toward a Dual-Observer Theory of Measurement, paper presented at the conference of American Philosophical Association (APA), Louisville, Kentucky, USA
  • Gomatam, R. (1992), Local Realism or Object Realism, poster presentation, Waves and Particles in Light and Matter: Workshop on the Occasion of Louis de Broglie's 100th Anniversary, September 24-30, Trani, Italy
  • Gomatam, R. (1991), Quantum Mechanics and Reality, paper presented at the conference of American Philosophical Association (APA), Central Division; Group session: Knowledge and Reality
  • Gomatam, R.(1990), Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness, paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Philosophical Association – Western Division, Louisville, KY; Group session on Indian Philosophy
  • Gomatam, R. (1987), Real and Artificial Intelligence: Toward a hierarchical model of consciousness, intelligence, mind and body, Bhaktivedanta Institute

Other Presentations

  • Gomatam, R. (2011), Objective Semantic Information – a New Framework for Understanding Quantum Reality, talk at seminar Quantum Reality – New Perspectives, March 26, organized by Institute of Semantic Information Sciences & Technology (InSIST), Nehru Science Center, Mumbai, India
  • Gomatam, R. (2009), MQM and “System of Systems” Design Approach,- invited talk, given at the joint Indo-US Workshop on System of Systems Engineering, October 26-28, IIT-Kanpur, India
  • Gomatam, R. (2002), What is Niels Bohr’s Interpretation, Talk given at Colloquium on “Consciousness & Science”, held at the University of San Francisco, organized by Bhaktivedanta Institute, May 10
  • Gomatam, R. (1999), Quantum Theory and Human Knowledge, invited talk delivered at the symposium "From Technology to the Attainment of Wisdom" organized on the occasion of the 5th International Conference on Cognitive Systems, New Delhi, December 15
  • Gomatam R. (1992), Role of Consciousness in Quantum Mechanics, Talk given at Colloquium on “Consciousness & Science” (1990-2003), held at the University of San Francisco, organized by Bhaktivedanta Institute, November 13
  • Gomatam R. (1991), Time in Eastern Metaphysics, Talk given at Colloquium on “Consciousness & Science” (1990-2003), held at the University of San Francisco, organized by Bhaktivedanta Institute, August 9
  • Gomatam, R. (1990), Mind and Symbol Generation, talk given at the First International Conference for the Study of Consciousness within Science, San Francisco, February 17-18
  • Gomatam R. (1990), Foundational Issues in Artificial Intelligence, Talk given at Colloquium on “Consciousness & Science” (1990-2003), held at the University of San Francisco, organized by Bhaktivedanta Institute, November 9

Other Publications

Gomatam, R., Guest editor of the December 2005 issue of the monthly magazine of the Computer Science of India on the Theme “Physics, Philosophy and Information Technology”. The thematic issue commemorates the centenary of Einstein’s annus mirablis (1905).

  • Guest Editorial Physics, Philosophy and IT
  • Special article Quantum Physics and Philosophy 

Letters

  • Gomatam R. (2006), Letter to the Editor, Physics Today, April 2006, 59(4), pp.10-12; A response to Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg’s article ‘Einstein’s Mistakes’ (Physics Today, October, 2005) OR Full Letter
  • Weinberg’s response on Gomatam R., (2006) Physics Today, April 2006, 59(4), p. 15 (link to all the letters to the editor and Weinberg's full reply)

Book Review

  • Review of Book titled, Quantum Dialogue: The Making of a Revolution (Science and Its Conceptual Foundations series), by Mara Beller, published by University of Chicago Press 1999. Gomatam’s review appeared in Philosophy in Review, 20 (6), December 2000, pp. 390-2

Citations

Scientific Citations

Prof. Gomatam’s work has been cited by scholars from a wide spectrum of fields such as neurosciences, artificial intelligence, control systems engineering, quantum chemistry, mathematics, computer science and marketing theory.

In textbooks, PhD theses and published papers

Citations on websites

Review of Prof. Gomatam’s papers

  • B.V. Sreekantan [Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bangalore], review of Gomatam’s paper “Popper’s Propensity Interpretation and Heisenberg’s Potential Interpretation — A comparative assessment”. Review published in journal “Current Science,” 99(9), November, 2010, p.1268.

Cited at Online Libraries

Talks

Recent Popular Lectures

  • University of California, Berkeley. 16 November, 2011; ‘Quantum Reality – Why Physicists do not understand it yet?
  • Tulane University, Lousiana. 27 September, 2011 (2000); ‘Matter & Consciousness – How are the two related?
  • IIT-Kanpur, India; Techkriti. 29 January, 2012 ‘How not to connect Religion with Science
  • IIT-Chennai, India; REFLECTIONS Student Club. 06 March, 2012. ‘Quantum Reality

Appreciations

Some Scholarly Appreciations

Some Scholarly Appreciations of the new research ideas of Prof. Gomatam at the foundations of Quantum Mechanics:


"I was very interested in the talk by Dr. Ravi Gomatam . . . because he showed, by some nice arguments, that the proper way to think of quantum mechanics is in terms of relationships . . . . This is a new way of thinking.  It may be that this is how we should be doing science".


(Brian Josephson, Nobel Laureate; Plenary talk, "Quantum Approaches to Consciousness" Conference; Organized by the University of Arizona at Flagstaff; August 1999)


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"Your paper* contains the germ of an important idea, namely that the ontology underlying the science needs or exploit quantum mechanics in a way that allows basic entities to be signs/symbols that are representations of meanings to be manipulated in the way that certain shapes are thought to be manipulated in the classical physics conception of reality."


(Prof. Henry Stapp, PhD, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, USA)
*R. Gomatam (2009) "Quantum Theory, the Chinese Room Argument and the Symbol Grounding Problem"


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"Gomatam has proposed a new approach† according to which quantum theory ought to use the terms 'statistics' or 'probability' to refer only to the occurrence of observable events and altogether renounce the notion of probabilities when talking about quantum ontological states. "


(Prof. B.V. Sreekantan, "Current Science" (2010), Journal of Indian Academy of Sciences)
† R. Gomatam (2010) Popper's Propensity Interpretation and Heisenberg's Potentia Interpretation—A comparative assessment


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"We agree with Gomatam (1999)‡ who argues for a revision of our notion of macroscopic objects... Indeed, the key to progress ... may lie in a willingness to abandon stalwart concepts of dynamism such as energy, momentum, force, and even causation at the fundamental level of modeling."


(M.W. Stuckey (2000) Uniform Spaces in the Pregeometric Modeling of Quantum Non-Separability; arXiv:gr-qc/0003104v2; submitted to the International J. Theoretical Physics, A NATO funded paper)
‡R. Gomatam (1999) Quantum Theory and the Observation Problem


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"However, many applied optimization problems have not been considered yet. It is necessary to use optimization methods of quantum and bio-molecular systems, because of the practical importance of the implementation of physical processes satisfying the required quality criteria. Most of the attention is focused on the following problems: ... 2. Mathematical modeling of controlled physical and chemical processes in the brain; [to] consider the brain as a quantum macroscopic object (Gomatam, 1999)."


Panos M. Pardalos and Vitaliy A. Yatsekno (Eds.) Optimization and Control of Bilinear Systems: Theory, Algorithms, and Applications, p. 208, Springer, New York (2008)


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“The implication of feature (a) should not go unnoticed: an affordance of a surface layout exists whether or not the other object in the relation exists, meaning that an affordance of a surface layout had about-ness or intentionality in Brentano’s classical sense (Gomatam, 1999). On this recognition, one might say that intentionality is the mark of the relational.” “The stone's color is actualized in the stone's relation to a perceiver. Importantly, a stone enters into other relations, not involving perceivers, in which a property of the stone, one might argue, is both expressed and actualized (Gomatam, 1999).”


(Wolfgang Prinz, Action Science: Foundations of an Emerging Discipline, MIT Press 2013)


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A theory of perception for all organisms encounters two quantum- like issues. […] Issue 2 is the observation problem so labeled by Gomatam and implicit in deliberations of Bohr, Einstein, Bell and others: to identify a quantum-compatible nonclassical conception of everyday objects, one consonant with the principle of superposition. The ecological notion of affordance is an organism-relative perspective on macroscopic objects.


(Michael Turvey, Quantum-Like Issues at Nature's Ecological Scale, Society for Mind-Matter Research, Vol 13, Issue 1, 2015)


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