Friedrich Hans Beck (16 February 1927 – 20 December 2008) was a German physicist. His research interests were focused on superconductivity, nuclear and elementary particle physics, relativistic quantum field theory, and late in his life, biophysics and theory of consciousness. In 1991 Friedrich Beck met sir John Carew Eccles, a 1963 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, during a summer school in Northern Italy organized by a German foundation for the promotion of outstanding students. In collaboration they developed a quantum mechanical model of exocytosis and neurotransmitter release at synapses in the human cerebral cortex. The model endorses interactionist dualism and postulates that human consciousness could affect the functioning of synapses in the brain through quantum tunneling of electrons between the lipid bilayers of the synaptic vesicle and the presynaptic membrane. The tunneling of electrons triggers the process of exocytosis and thus initiates the transmission of information from the presynaptic neuron towards the postsynaptic neuron.
It all started with a summer school in the beautiful alpine mountain area of Northern Italy, organized by a German foundation for the promotion of outstanding students. For the 1991 campaign Sir John Eccles was invited to lecture on brain physiology while in my group we discussed new developments in theoretical nuclear physics. It was the first time I have met Sir John. At this time he was already in his 89th year, but still walked with his wife Helena through the Tyrolean dolomites.
quantum tunnelling, history, John Eccles, Friedrich Beck