Sub-atomic chaos and Free Will - random thoughts

On the wikipedia entry for Schrödinger's book "What is Life?", there is mention of inherently chaotic state that exist on a small (sub-atomic) scale:

In chapter I Schrödinger explains that most physical laws on a large scale are due to chaos on a small scale. He calls this principle "order-from-disorder." As an example he mentions diffusion, which can be modeled as a highly ordered process, but which is caused by random movement of atoms or molecules. If the number of atoms is reduced, the behaviour of a system becomes more and more random. He states that life greatly depends on order and that a naive physicist may assume that the master code of a living organism has to consist of a large number of atoms.

I don't understand the concept very much. I am trying to warp my mind around it. Something is tickling me, but I still don't understand what.

I wonder if we can relate this to non-physical, highly advanced beings. They don't have a dense-physical form and have much more Free Will than we have. They are like sub-atomic particles who behave chaotically, or exist as a potential, and they have the complete freedom to coalesce (collapse) into whatever they wish, unlike us who are subjected to much denser physical laws..

What I write may not make any sense. I am trying to put two widely different concepts together (sub-atomic chaos and mysticism) and see what comes out of it: presently only questions and a few random thoughts. I put them here, and I'll see if in time anything meaningful grows out of it.

Basically, in the quote above, I am associating randomness with free will.

Of interest about the author are the two following quotes from wikipedia:

Schrödinger concludes this chapter and the book with philosphical speculations on determinism, free will, and the mystery of human consciousness. He is sympathetic to the view, common in Indian mysticism, that each individual's consciousness is only a manifestation of a unitary consciousness pervading the universe. In the final paragraph, though, he appears to contradict this opinion somewhat by emphasizing the uniqueness of each human being's store of memories, thoughts and perceptions.

and from his biography page:

He had a life-long interest in the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism, which influenced his speculations at the close of What is Life? about the possibility that individual consciousness is only a manifestation of a unitary consciousness pervading the universe.

OMG! Having just posted my thoughts above about chaos = free will, I come up with a page with the question: Soul driving will function = soul disturbs the mechanistic brain? (Part of the Shalizi versus Abbott debate on the mind-body problem).
(It is a dialogue between CS, Cosma Rohilla Shalizi, and DA, Dr Derek Abbott):

DA1: So the only other solution is a religious one: to say that free will really comes from something beyond your mechanistic brain that isn't scientifically testable. It is this "soul" or "spirit" that drives the "will" function of your brain.

CS1: Query: Can this "will function" (and I'll get to that shortly) meaningfully effect the mechanistic brain? E.g., enough to change motor behavior between pulling and not pulling the trigger of a gun? If not, then free will is ethically useless, unless your ethics only value intentions - though in this case it would probably not be strong enough to even change intentions. If yes, then, at least in principle, it should be detectable - one simply calculates what the purely mechanistic brain would do, and observe that it does not, in fact, do this. (Half a :))

DA2: In principle, yes. Maybe when our technology improves we will be able to do this experiment one day.


CS1: Soul driving will function = soul disturbs the mechanistic brain?

DA2: Yes.

CS1: How is this done?

DA2: It pushes and pops a few atoms here & there. Maybe the the soul utilises chaos, so only makes small changes in the brain that get amplified. I believe there has been some work done that has established that there are chaotic processes in the brain. Anyone know a reference?

CS2: How does the soul know which atoms to push to do what? How does it know what is happening?

DA3: How does gravity work? I don't know. I can only measure its effect. In the same way, my hypothesis is only talking about the possibility of measuring spirit energy -- not explaining how it works.

CS2: As I pointed out in my original post, there are lots of atoms involved at every stage of neural processes. If, at the synapse or somewhere else in the neuron, you do have a situation so sensitive that changing a few atoms tips the balance, it becomes extremely hard for the soul to know which to push, because it will have to keep track of all the other atoms involved, and keep them from destroying its delicate arrangement. Also, if the soul has the massive computational power needed to forecast the future behavior of such chaotic systems, why is it only used to know which atoms to jiggle?

DA3: As soul pervades your whole body, it has the potential to communicate with and monitor every atom. In other words it is a parallel processor. Because of this massive parallelism, it's all quite simple really :-)

CS2: (See below on the soul & intelligence.) There has been some work done on chaos in the brain - my calculus textbook had a nice picture of the strange attractor of the EEG reading of a person counting backwards by sevens - but not at the level you need, Derek, which is the individual neuron or below. {Note to actual neuro/brain/cognitive types: Feel free to flame me for errors. This is, again, NOT my field.}

DA3: The chaos idea was just a suggestion that may or may not be wrong. I used it to illustrate that the spirit/brain idea is not totally inconceivable.

CS1: Do we toss momentum or energy conservation?

DA2: No.

CS1: If not, why not?

DA2: If atoms are mysteriously moved by "soul", then to conserve energy & momentum we just have to invent a new energy term called "spirit energy." Which in principle is scientifically testable, once our measuring instruments technology gets advanced enough. One day we might be able to measure this "spirit energy" (if my hypothesis is true).

Dr Derek Abbott is preparing a book on the Quantum Aspects of Life which looks very promissing.