“Uncertainty about Christie (and whether or not he'd run for president) has reached the theoretical quantum state first postulated by Heisenberg in 1927. Chris Christie has become Schrödinger's candidate, like the theoretical cat in a box that is simultaneously alive and dead until the box is opened! As long as we don't know whether or not he's running, Christie is a lock to win the Republican nomination! I just hope, I just pray this afternoon, he did not open that box! (Rolls tape of Christie definitively saying he's not running.) So we got a dead cat.”—STEPHEN COLBERT, being brilliant, on The Colbert Report
(so this is how it is)
emotions are electrons,
electrons are criminals dashing away
from their cell — trying to make their bid for freedom.
are you trying to be free of me?
i’ve certainly tried to be.
your emotions are flying at
velocities that i could never discern,
could never imagine because
mine are running the opposite way.
i’m scared of what i could find.
i’m trying to figure out,
if not how fast you’re running,
then where you’re running from,
where you’re running to.
this whole amalgamation of
what you’re thinking and who you are
and what you think of me and who you think i am
and if you look at science,
you can see my search is futile
because i can never know at the same time
where you’re coming from, and how fast you’re going.
(i don’t think i should really care,
as long as you’re running to me.)
Dark Energy and Quantum Mechanics
Quantum field theory predicts that each point in space has a vacuum energy, or a small amount of energy intrinsic to empty space, associated with it. We sometimes think of this as energy allowed by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle—if we know a point’s position in time well enough, we can’t know its energy. Originally, scientists hoped that the vacuum energy could explain the cosmological constant.
The vacuum energy of quantum field theory does indeed predict a “dark energy.” Unfortunately, it’s
times more energy than we actually observe. Some people have called this “the worst theoretical prediction in the history of physics.” The current hope is that a fully developed theory of quantum gravity will resolve this discrepancy. The dark-energy problem is currently one of the biggest problems facing theoretical physics. If you can explain it, you’ll win a Nobel Prize.
The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and its Relation to Determinism
The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that one cannot simultaneously know the exact position and momentum of a particle. It serves to confirm that occurrences can take on a range of outcomes, and thus, the future is probabilistic. This principle has implications in the realm of philosophy as well as the world of physics; it reveals that observations are not entirely independent of the observer, as the act of observing and obtaining information can affect physical phenomena, and that traditional determinism is not fully valid.
The downfall of LePlace’s form of determinism— that is, all events are predetermined, fully predictable, and fully dependent on preceding events— was disproven by the introduction of probability into the laws of causality. In accordance with the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, an event may have multiple outcomes. The probability of these outcomes can be mathematically determined, but the outcome of each event cannot be known beforehand, and likewise, occurrences are not completely predictable. This randomness is particularly prevalent within the scope of quantum mechanics, as the probability of varying events occurring on the quantum level is much greater than the probability of unexpected events occurring in the motions governed by classical Newtonian mechanics, which generally have only one highly probable outcome.
From this aspect of chance arises a new breed of determinism: scientific determinism. This theory posits that all events are bound by causal laws and the laws of science— that is, all events are determined by the events that precede them, but future events cannot necessarily be determined by examining past events. However this element of randomness also gives rise to an opportunity to discard the theory of determinism entirely, and leaves space for human free will.