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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
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.
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.
Ontario Starts Guaranteed Minimum Income
'Earned by just being born.'
Is There Life In Outer Space? Will We Recognize It?
'The antennae of the Life Detector atop the OP swept back and forth...'
Space Traumapod For Surgery In Spacecraft
' It was a ... coffin, form-fitted to Nessus himself...'
Tesla Augmented Reality Hypercard
'The hypercard is an avatar of sorts.'
A Space Ship On My Back
''Darn clever, these suits,' he murmured.'
Biomind AI Doctor Mops Floor With Human Doctors
'My aim was just not to lose by too much.' - Human Physician participant.
Fuli Bad Dog Robot Is 'Auspicious Raccoon Dog' Bot
Bad dog, Fuli. Bad dog.
Las Vegas Humans Ready To Strike Over Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot... had to be compensated.'
You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.'
Elon Musk Seeks To Create 1941 Heinlein Speedster
'The car surged and lifted, clearing its top by a negligible margin.'
Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
Science fiction authors are serious about sleep, too.
Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Art imitates life imitates art.
Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.'
First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.
VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House
'Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? - any work a human being does around a house.'
Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories