“Through the Wormhole”, hosted by Morgan Freeman, on the Discovery Science Channel, has covered a lot cosmological topics in a manner similar to PBS Digital Studios.
The series started in 2010, and I’ll talk about Season 2, Episode 1 on June 8, 2011, “Is There Life After Death?” directed by Kurt Sayenga.
The episode gets a kudo in the Hufflington Post by Janabi Barooah, “Scientist shows what happens to ‘soul’ after death” (related video short). The scientist is Stuart Hamerhoff at the University of Arizona.
Let’s backtrack. Freeman introduces Eben Alexander, a physician who went through a near-death experience from unusually aggressive meningitis and whose book “Proof of Heaven” (Book review March 30, 2013) had described sitting in a dark empty “core” for a long time first. But in this film, Alexander describes flying through a verdant valley with butterflies (“OGAB”) before settling into the Core, which he describes as becoming differentiated into color spaces after time, and apparently connected to other areas of the Universe.
A free essay on Elsevier (oddly caught up now in the “open access” legal controversy) describes the work of Penrose and Hamerhoff. The brain, at the deepest cellular level, comprises microtubules which grant access to “quantum consciousness” which can connect information at different points in space-time (although it cannot violate “causality”). When someone passes away, his or her self-awareness may be distributed at various nodes around the universe. What no one has a handle on is whether all 100+ billion people who have lived can be individually parsed after death (let alone all other sentient animals on Earth and on all other inhabited planets in the Universe or Multiverse). Or are all the individual egos connected by “quantum entanglement”. There is plenty of precedence for distributed consciousness on Earth, which the orca (killer whale) may show. The concept of entanglement could explain why sometimes people fight to keep their separateness when they get unwelcome attention from others.
As for self-awareness after death, I'm pretty convinced it never goes away. If you did something evil, like fly a plane into a skyscraper, you know you did wrong.
The output of artists, especially music, is thought to provide a form of permanent collective consciousness. Beethoven is still aware of himself through the music he wrote (especially after going deaf), which is shared with other "souls".
Tanya Lewis, writing for Live Science, questions the ideas, saying “The brain is not a quantum computer” .
The description of “microtubules” comports with another idea, using nanoparticles for monitoring health and delivering medicine.
But an article by Tom Siegried in 2012 in “Brain Molecular Marketing” talks about the ideas of Douglas Hofstadter (“I Am a Strange Loop”, book review June 1, 2013), that self-awareness comes from mathematical systems that perform self-reference, and create symbols as pivot points for themselves. I can recall discussions back in the Army (at Fort Eustis) with other soldiers in how I tended to see people (then, other soldiers) in “symbols”.
Morgan Freeman has been trying to produce a film of Arthur C. Clarke’s “Rendezvous with Rama” for over a decade.