Do Elementary Particles Have Free Will?

Princeton mathematicians John Conway and Simon Kochen are giving a series of lectures explaining their "Free Will Theorem" to academics, as well as the general public. If you're in the area, you might want to attend.

Their basic assertion is that if human beings have free will, then elementary particles, like atoms and electrons, possess free will also.

The world [the Free Will Theorem] presents us with is a fascinating one, in which fundamental particles are continually making their own decisions. No theory can predict exactly what these particles will do in the future for the very good reason that they may not yet have decided what this will be! Most of their decisions, of course, will not greatly affect things we can describe them as mere ineffectual flutterings, which on a large scale almost cancel each other out, and so can be ignored. The authors strongly believe, however, that there is a way our brains prevent some of this cancellation, so allowing us to integrate what remains and producing our own free will.

Science fiction fans well-versed in the works of A.E. van Vogt may recall that in his book Far Centaurus, savants study adeldicnandar - also called electron psychology:

Renfrew roused himself, grimaced. "He's been trying to tell me that electrons think; and I won't swallow it."

Cassellahat shook his head. "Not think; they don't think. But they do have a psychology."

"Electronic psychology!" I said.

"Simply adeledicnander," Cassellahat replied...

Conway and Kochen are convinced that their work on the Free Will Theorem can be made accessible to the general public:

"It's not about theories anymore -- it's about what the universe does," said Kochen, a professor of mathematics and the associate chair of the Department of Mathematics. "And we've found that, from moment to moment, nature doesn't know what it's going to do. A particle has a choice."

From The Free Will Theorem (pdf) and High-powered mathematicians take on free will. Thanks to Winchell Chung for the tip and the reference for this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/23/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Misc ")

Is There A Subterranean Ocean?
'A vast, limitless expanse of water, the end of a lake if not of an ocean, spread before us, until it was lost in the distance.'- Jules Verne, 1864.

The Robotic Shopping Cart Of The Future
'...the machine would carry his bag in its soft plastic jaws and follow him as faithfully as a well-trained hound.'- John Brunner, 1975.

Arctic Resource Jackpot An Old Wish
By inducing climate change, new resources are revealed.

Marie Curie's Papers Still Radioactive
And the half-life of radium's most common isotope is 1,601 years.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Purdue Pharma Ready To Profit From OxyContin Use Or Addiction Recovery
'It may be organic damage. It may be permanent. Time'll tell, and only after you are off Substance D for a long while.'

BloxVox Mutes Cellphone Convos
It's the polite thing to do, and has been the polite thing to do for about four generations.

Superfast Replicator: Volumetric Additive Manufacturing
I can't wait. Bring it on.

DNA May Contain Malware
'You were told to embed the logical pathogen.'

I Can't Resist Worm Robots
'Seen close it was not completely flexible...'

Rplate Digital License Plates Now Legal In Michigan
'Gragg's digital ink license plates ...'

Can Musk Starship Astronauts Use Magnetic Boots?
'Walking awkwardly in the magnetic boots that held him to the black mass of meteoric iron...'

Giant Dolphin Spotted On Jupiter!
'Now at last he could appreciate its real size and complexity...'

Musk's Starship An SF Fan's Dream Come True
Perfect for testing, perfect for fans!

TinyMobileRobots Are Sewer Sentinels
Every movie monster gets its start someplace.

Fishy Facial Recognition Now Possible
'Palenkis can identify random line patterns better than any other species in the universe.'

Spicy Tomatoes Created With Genetic Engineering
How about mashed potatoes and brown gravy?

Driverless Hotel Rooms Predicted In 1828
'Did you never see a moving house before?'

Yandex Self-Driving Taxi Is Very Smooth
'The big car was slowing down, its computer brain sensing an exit ahead.'

Shrimp Actually Made Of Algae Is A New Wave Food
Bring in that crop algae.

Cosplay Style Wings Could Work On Moon
'They're lovely! - titanalloy struts as light and strong as bird-bones...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.