Determinism and Uncertainty:..........................................
How is it possible to have a universe in which things are uncertain and still have things be exactly determined? I personally do
not understand how such a universe can be possible. Imagine waking up one morning and pouring your self a bowl of cereal.
Now imagine that you go to eat what you have poured and find that it is no longer there, but in another place. Is this possible,
can something like this actually happen? Well the answer is that this sort of thing happens everyday in the world of nuclear
physics, and why should this phenomenon be restricted to this lower limit of observation. Surely what affects atoms and
particles should affect things larger, bearing in mind that they are made out of those fundamental units. So why shouldnt your
bowl of cereal disappear? Well in my opinion it shouldnt. And to complicate things some level of determinism can be
involved in this issue.
The Heisenberg indeterminacy principle, or more commonly the uncertainty principle, is a principle developed by a man
named Werner Heisenberg. His principle states that the more someone knows about the position, of say an electron, the less
you will know about its position. This happens to be a law of nature that no one can escape. The principle also works in
reverse, for example you could say the more you a know an electrons momentum the less you will know its position.
Knowing this why should this principle only affect fundamental particles and not larger matter. Personally I believe this
principle affects all matter, to back this notion up I would like to use a thought experiment (before we go any further I would
like to make it known that what I talk about represents my views on the issue of uncertainty). First, imagine the human body
being made up of molecules, which in turn are made up of enzymes, which are made up of protein. And if you were to
continue to break these down to atoms you would see that the atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Which
of course are made of quarks and whatever other fundamental particles may exist at this point. But the point of this long list of
splitting is to take into account the before mentioned Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
At this level of an atom is where the uncertainty principle is at work, at its greatest. The uncertainty principle does not play
much of a roll in the world of the "large". You do not see things popping up all over the place in your own back yard, do you?
This is because these affects are only observable at the small scale of fundamental particles. So for those who are somewhat
familiar with this concept now know why Relativity only works in the world of the "large".
Now, when applying the uncertainty principle to an understanding of determinism, in a physics sense, you find that nothing
can be determined because of this principle. Any theory of everything that incorporates quantum theory has associated with it
the uncertainty principle. Supposedly, the only way to have things exactly determined in a physics sense is to have a theory
that explains every aspect of the universe and to be able to solve these equations that are associated with the theory, so as to
know what it is to happen. All it would take is the measuring of every aspect of a particle to an exact degree. This is
necessary so that one knows how and where it will travel and what collisions will be produced in its travel. From this one
could easily determine all the motions of atoms in a human body and see what will occur according to the calculations.
Sounds simple enough? The problem, other than that of being able to solve all of the equations, arises from taking into
consideration quantum physics. According to this theory there is a possibility of deviation in the calculated movements of the
particles. If you remember correctly if you know one thing about a particle like position then you dont know its position. I
believe that all these uncertainties add up in such a way as to make the equations necessary in determining these complex
systems impossible. Even if the equations could be solved there would be too much uncertainty involved, so that knowing the
exact answer would be left to the probability of a certain action occurring. There would be too many possibilities worth
worrying about. The only true way for determinism to work is to have a universe free of intelligent life. This is because without
intelligent life, no observations of the universe can be made. To understand these ideas you must grasp in some way the
affects Humanity has on the Universe.
It can be said that the universe is as it is because it was as it was. Or rather the reason it exists is because humans are here to
observe it. What I mean is does anything actually exist if human beings are not available to observe it? Whether it is through
sight or any other of our senses, the universe exists because we are here for it to exist. The question I ask myself is: do I want
reality to be based on such unstable terms? I personally have come to a fairly unsure conclusion that the presence of humans
in the physical universe is what brings about chaos and uncertainties. For example, if it were not for humans would a concept
such as the uncertainty principle exist? Would some laws of the universe cease to apply because of our nonexistence?
To tackle the first of these two questions, I believe the only reason the uncertainty principle exists is because we exist. As
previously stated the general idea behind the uncertainty principle is that if we observe either the momentum or position of a
particle, the other term is uncertain. The basis behind this conclusion is the idea that we can not observe both the position of
an object and its momentum simultaneously. This results in us only being able (in a general sense) to know things to a fifty-
percent probability. Where does the other fifty percent go and what will it result in? If one is a physicist, one might be able to
trick themselves into believing the dynamics of the uncertainty principle. For example, studying up on the infamous double slit
experiments, which involve sending a photon of light energy toward something that has two slits in it. The idea behind this
experiment is that if reality were to hold up, the quanta (light is general assumed to consist of packets of energy called quanta)
of energy should travel through only one slit. According to the laws of physics, light radiation comes in discrete packets of
energy called quanta. One can not split up any of these packets because it is impossible. This is why the photon should travel
through only one of the slits. However, the photon seemingly travels through both slits. The conclusions that may be derived
from these situations are as follows. The particles wave-particle duality caused some wave interference allowing the particle
to seemingly travel through both slits. Or due to the fact that we knew the photons velocity we did not know its position thus
the photon was in a state of quantum foam allowing it to hold many positions in space.
One might think that in order to come up with the correct answer to this paradox as to which slit the photon travels through
we must not be present. So the laws of physics hold true without the presence of human beings or other creatures to make
observations. The uncertainty principle is a result of our observations; without observation everything is in a state of wave
function. This would be a fair enough conclusion. No one else has a much better idea as to why uncertainty exists. Physicists
have always thought that the universe was simple, elegant, and followed certain rules that must be obeyed. God could have
set these conditions or maybe these conditions had already existed. But what is obvious is that everything would be
determined if we didn't exist. Without the effects of observation there is no uncertainty principle. Thus everything can be
deduced to an exact degree.
The conclusion that must be drawn is that everything is determined in a universe lacking intelligence. However, once
intelligence and observations are added to such a universe, uncertainty erupts all over the place. Thus the consistency of a
simple elegant universe is destroyed. Therefore the reality is obviously that we exist and that uncertainty is a necessary part of
the universe that makes the possibility for everything to be determined impossible. Perhaps there is another universe in which
we do not exist and in which Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is nonexistent. This would be a universe that physicists would
love. Unfortunately we can only wonder what such a universe would be like because any observation we would make about
such a universe would cause that universe to evaporate into an element of uncertainty. Our understanding of the exact nature
of the universe is doomed because of our existence.
Could the beginning of the universe have been Heisenberg free? Did quantum mechanics in fact exist in the early universe?
My answer to this question is that the possible observations we make now affect the past. The universe being in a state of
quantum foam may only exist because we observe it to exist. Without us looking into the past, it is quite possible that the
uncertainty principle would not have existed. So, I am saying that observations of the past effect that past, which would
undoubtfully effect the future. The odd thing about this is that these observations of the past are occurring in the present. Thus
the present effects the past, which in turn affects the future. This means that we are affecting the future by looking into the
universes past, (our present) and the universe's future. We in fact effect the past, the present, and the future by our mere
presence in the universe. Confusing, is it not (I must say that this is a little stretch of physics and my imagination)?
One more question to think about: can we choose not to be observers in the universe and thus keep things simple? I believe
not, for such a thing to be possible we must not exist. Okay, now back to the point I was trying to make. Being that if we
were not present in the universe, sum over histories (refer to a man named Stephen Hawking for this one) and parallel
(multiple) universes would not exist; neither would quantum physics. This would all come about because we would not be
present to make the observations necessary to turn this, so called, quantum foam into a precise history with a location. The
multiple universes would thus not exist and sum over histories would fall victim as well. So at what point did the universe
become what it is now? Obviously it became this way because humans came along. For if we did not exist the entire history
of the universe would have been altered, or rather there wouldnt be a universe because there would only be a wave function
that would describe it. So, our existence in the universe is fairly vital. Obviously it makes things as they are; at least our
observations make things as they are.
Is it observations that affect the universe or is it human beings themselves? Of course it is both, because observations can not
be made without someone to make those observations. The thought makes you wish there were higher powers present, does
it not? Maybe this higher power exists and maybe it does not. The key is to be content with the way things are. If believing in
a higher power makes you happy, that is fine. Everyone has his or her own beliefs. However, this will not change the
outcome of the universe. I personally have come to a moderate conclusion as to why we have such an influence over the
universe. I am relatively sure it is because of our observations and the uncertainty that results. Of course there is always the
possibility that the universe is what affects us but this theory would not account for why our observations seem to effect the
universe. Damn us for making the universe so complicated, uncertain, and making determinism impossible. Well, if everything
were determined, we would live very boring lives. Remember, humans are not so insignificant because without us to make
things uncertain by our observations, the universe would not exist as it does.
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