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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 shouldn’t your

bowl of cereal disappear? Well in my opinion it shouldn’t. 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 it’s 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 it’s 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 don’t 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 particle’s 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

universe’s 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 wouldn’t 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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