Burns is a physicist with interests in the following subjects:
parapsychology and the relationship of psi phenomena to presently
known physical laws; consciousness and free will and their
relationship to presently known physical laws; thermodynamics and
the nature of entropy. A more detailed description of her interests
in consciousness and psi is given below.
She has reviewed psi phenomena with respect to their relationship to
presently known physical laws and has shown that a radical extension
of these laws would have to be made to explain these phenomena
(1993a, 2003). She has also reviewed models that propose the
existence of free will, viewed as a physical effect produced by
non-physical means, and has shown that in all the models which
propose it, a radical extension would have to be made to presently
known physical laws to account for its action (1999).
She has proposed a model by which mental action (free will and PK)
can be produced by the ordering of quantum fluctuations. (The
extension to physical laws would be, in this model, the possibility
of ordering the usually random quantum fluctuations.) The root mean
square effect of quantum fluctuations on the momentum of a molecule
is very small over a mean free path. However, this effect is
greatly magnified when molecules interact at the end of a mean free
path. With regard to free will, she has shown that through this
effect the direction of travel of a water molecule in the
intercellular medium in the brain can be changed to any desired
direction in one mean free path. There is sufficient energy in
about 400 ordered molecules at thermal velocity to break chemical
bonds and open an ion gate in a sodium channel. More than one ion
gate must be opened to produce an action potential, and several
action potentials might be needed to initiate a physical action.
(Presumably the brain produces programs for the action, and only the
action potentials to initiate the programs are necessary to carry it
out.) She estimates that about 4,000 molecules must be ordered to
initiate a physical action, not very many (2002a, 2006).
With respect to psychokinesis (PK) she has shown that 10,000 ordered
molecules would be sufficient to produce a detectible response in a
small (area of 10 mm2), sensitive microphone. This
number is somewhat higher than the number of ordered molecules
needed to initiate a free will action, but not greatly so.
Therefore, it can be expected that some good psi producers would be
able to produce such an effect, and this prediction can be used for
an experimental test of the PK part of her model (2002a, 2006).
She has also shown that previous experimental results in the PK
deviation of a tumbling cube can be accounted for by the impact of
2x105 ordered molecules on the cube at the beginning of
its trajectory (2002b, 2002c).
(2007), Vacuum radiation, entropy, and molecular chaos, Foundations
of Physics, 37, 1727-1737.
(2006), The arrow of time and the action of the mind at the
molecular level, in D.P. Sheehan (ed.), Frontiers of Time:
Retrocausation – Experiment and Theory (Melville, NY: AIP
Conference Proceedings), pp. 75-88.
(2005), Detection of staring – psi or statistical artifact?
Journal of Consciousness Studies, 12(6), 71-75.
(2003), Co-Editor (with J. Alcock and A. Freeman), Psi Wars
(Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic).
(2003), What is beyond the edge of the known world? in J. Alcock,
J.E. Burns, and A. Freeman (eds.), Psi Wars (Exeter, UK:
Imprint Academic), pp. 7-28. Reprinted (2008), in R.M. Schoch and
L. Yonavjak (eds.), The Parapsychology Revolution (New York:
(2002a), Quantum fluctuations and the action of the mind, Noetic
Journal, 3(4), 312-317. http://www.mindspring.com/~l.o.v.e.r/Burns-01.pdf
(2002b), The tumbling cube and the action of the mind, Noetic
Journal, 3(4), 318-329. http://www.mindspring.com/~l.o.v.e.r/Burns-02.pdf
(2002c), The effect of ordered air molecules on a tumbling cube,
Noetic Journal, 3(4), 330-339. http://www.mindspring.com/~l.o.v.e.r/Burns-03.pdf
(2002d), Vacuum radiation, entropy and the arrow of time, in R.L.
Amoroso, G. Hunter, M. Kafatos, and J.-P. Vigier (eds.),
Gravitation and Cosmology (London: Kluwer Academic), pp.
(1999), Volition and physical laws, Journal of Consciousness
Studies, 6(10), 27-47.
(1998), Entropy and vacuum radiation, Foundations of Physics,
(1996), The possibility of empirical test of hypotheses about
consciousness, in S.R. Hameroff, A.W. Kaszniak, and A.C. Scott
(eds.), Toward a Science of Consciousness (Cambridge, MA:
MIT Press), pp. 739-742.
(1994), Spaciousness: The common ground between science and
spirituality, in R.‑I. Heinze (ed.), Proceedings of the Eleventh
International Conference on the Study of Shamanism and Alternative
Modes of Healing (Berkeley, CA: Ruth‑Inge Heinze), pp. 5‑12.
(1993a), Current hypotheses about the nature of the mind-brain
relationship and their relationship to findings in parapsychology,
in K.R. Rao (ed.), Cultivating Consciousness (New York:
Praeger), pp. 139‑148.
(1993b), Time, consciousness, and psi, in B. Kane, J. Millay and D.
Brown (eds.), Silver Threads: 25 Years of Parapsychology Research
(New York: Praeger), pp. 124‑136.
(1993c), The predictive possibilities of a card code, in R.‑I.
Heinze (ed.), Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference
on the Study of Shamanism and Alternative Modes of Healing
(Berkeley, CA: Ruth‑Inge Heinze), pp. 59‑66.
(1991a), Does consciousness perform a function independently of the
brain? Frontier Perspectives 2(1), 19‑34 (Philadelphia, PA:
Center for Frontier Sciences, Temple University).
(1991b), Contemporary models of consciousness: Part II, Journal
of Mind and Behavior, 12, 407‑420.
(1990), Contemporary models of consciousness: Part I, Journal of
Mind and Behavior, 11, 153‑172.
(1986), Consciousness and psi, Psi Research, 5,
PROFESSIONAL WORK IN CONSCIOUSNESS
1994 to present, Associate Editor, Journal of Consciousness
Studies, United Kingdom
Ph.D. (Physics), 1970, University of Hawaii, Honolulu
B.A. (Physics), University of California, Berkeley