Do Subatomic Particles Have Free Will?

02008-08-16 | Philosophy | 1 comment

Science News / Do Subatomic Particles Have Free Will?
If the atoms never swerve so as to originate some new movement that will snap the bonds of fate, the everlasting sequence of cause and effect what is the source of the free will possessed by living things throughout the earth?
–Titus Lucretius Carus, Roman philosopher and poet, 99-55 BC.

Human free will might seem like the squishiest of philosophical subjects, way beyond the realm of mathematical demonstration. But two highly regarded Princeton mathematicians, John Conway and Simon Kochen, claim to have proven that if humans have even the tiniest amount of free will, then atoms themselves must also behave unpredictably.

The finding won’t give many physicists a moment’s worry, because traditional interpretations of quantum mechanics embrace unpredictability already. The best anyone can hope to do, quantum theory says, is predict the probability that a particle will behave in a certain way.
(Via Slashdot)

1 Comment

  1. steve1

    Readers of this article need to be very careful with the way in which they interpret the words “Free Will” in the context of this area of study. One cannot take it to mean the same thing that it means in common vernacular.

    It’s a shame that this subtlety wasn’t explained in the article.
    For those that have a physics/math background here is the paper itself:

    Where such nomenclature is actually discussed.


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