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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 7, 2008 10:09:39 AM PST
From my review of Greene's book. I'm hoping someone will come along and tie cause-and-effect together with the probability of quantum mechanics for me, in a way that I can finally get.

God doesn't play dice with the universe. I can't help but agree with Einstein, that there's some important stuff we don't yet know. Well, every physicist would agree with that, but I mean in regard to quantum mechanics. The idea of chance and probability. So, there goes cause and effect. This electron is here, and not there, FOR NO REASON AT ALL. For some reason (well, again, for NO reason) it's more likely to be here instead of there. That electron is an independent agent. It doesn't move of it's own volition because, as far as we now know, it doesn't have any volition. It's not there because of some other force, so far as we now know, because that wouldn't be about probability. I have to think there are other forces at play that effect that electron. The idea that all the fundamental particles and forces in the universe are beyond cause and effect - I can't wrap my head around that.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2008 2:04:32 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 16, 2008 2:09:50 PM PDT
Boyan Syarov says:
You must detach yourself, or your opinion rather, from what appears to be true in the universe. This is the big flaw of Einstein. You could not grasp the workings of the interiors of the atom by intuitive thinking alone. And I have to disagree with bringing the word "God" into the discussion - not your fault of course - but Einstein's.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2008 5:13:46 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 15, 2008 5:03:09 AM PDT
Bret says:
It's true that when Einstein said, "God doesn't play dice with the universe," he meant that he didn't believe in quantum mechanics, which included the "uncertainty principle." But Einstein has been proven wrong on this. Every experimental prediction based on quantum theory has been shown to be true, and no scientist today shares Einstein's view. "Cause and effect" is a concept that works in our macroscopic world, but that simply doesn't apply in the subatomic world in the same way (although you can still cause change on a subatomic level as scientists do all the time when they smash particles together.)

Also, this isn't the first time a characteristic of reality has seemed counter-intuitive. If you think about it, Einstein's own discovery of the constancy of the speed of light is just as weird. Regardless how fast you're moving next to a passing beam of light (even if you're moving at 99% the speed of light), you're measurement of its speed relative to you (meaning how fast it's moving past you) will always be the speed of light, and identical to a measurement of the same beam of light taken by someone standing still. It seems impossible, but it's true. The laws that govern how the universe works are not the laws we are familiar with in our daily lives. As you read more books on the subject, the concepts will make more sense.

As for the post from Boyan, who doesn't think Einstein should have used the word, "God," I don't think Boyan really understands that Einstein wasn't really talking about God. In fact, Einstein didn't even believe in God. He once said that if there truly was a God who rewards and punishes, he didn't want to meet him.

Posted on May 29, 2009 1:05:36 AM PDT
P. Lau says:
There is cause and effect. And God does not play dice. Or even if he did, you can be sure it is very much loaded.

For instance, just look at an ant colony. When you pick and observe one worker ant, you can never really determine what it will be doing at any given moment. What it will do next is random. However, when you take into consideration all the ants in the colony, the individual randomness in the aggregate does produce a working colony. The ants exhibit randomness but in the context of a predetermined function. This is how things work in nature, and just not in the subatomic level.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 22, 2009 2:20:56 PM PDT
Einstein was using "God" as a shorthand for "What we don't know about the Universe", not as a literal creator being. I believe that Einstein was not particularly religious, and was also a man of his time, when declaring oneself a non-believer was not good for one's career.

Posted on Jul 15, 2010 7:39:06 AM PDT
Ray says:
Ants don't violate Bell's inequality.

Seeing as quantum objects do, you're basically left with three choices:
1)abandon determinism (Copenhagen interpretation)
2)abandon a unique classical history (Many Worlds Interpretation)
3)abandon Lorentz invariance (Bohm interpretation)

I personally vote for 2, since the other two options seem ad hoc: (1) includes the poorly defined concept of quantum measurement and (3) includes an undetectable preferred reference frame. They all make pretty much the same predictions with respect to experiments you can actually do, though, so it's really a matter of personal taste.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2010 7:59:45 AM PDT
El Zorro says:
I think the problem is that you rely too heavily on a particle model rather than using a wave model. The reason an electron is more likely to be here than there is because that is what the wave function constrains the electron to do.

Posted on Apr 22, 2011 2:22:57 AM PDT
Bob Flisser says:
Wow -- old discussion, but maybe I can help to clarify. What Einstein meant about dice was that he was uncomfortable with the way that quantum mechanics relied on probability. But after back-and-forth sparring with Niels Bohr, Einstein finally accepted the probabilistic nature, and became one of the major contributors to quantum mechanical theory. Crow isn't so bad; it kind of tastes like chicken.

As for an electron being "here and not there", that is something -- because of quantum mechanics -- that we don't know. Because of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, we can't know exactly where an electron is. We can only predict where it might be. So electrons are generally best described by wave functions.
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Participants:  8
Total posts:  8
Initial post:  Feb 7, 2008
Latest post:  Apr 22, 2011

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