Friday, April 17, 2009

Quantum Mechanics and Free Will

A common postulate of quantum mechanics is that by confining a particle its energy is quantized. It is the confining of waves to a space that allows resonances to set up and standing waves to form. We see this with stings of fixed lengths. One may vibrate with a single node, or a node and an anti-node, or it may vibrate with integers of n multiples of nodes and anti-nodes. In 1924 Louis De Broglie proposed matter behaves in an analogous fashion. This astounding proposition has been since been experimentally verified by blasting crystals with electrons and a wave pattern results. The point of all of this is the assertion that objects when contained can exist in only a finite number of states and for a given ammount of energy there are only a few possibilities. When there are only a few possibilities a prediction can be made. If I flip a coin I know it must land on either heads or tails, it cannot come up apples, or aliens but only heads or tails can be the result. Consider this, we are born. We also die. Thus in at least a mortal sense we have a begining and an end. Thus we too must also be quantized, there is only a finite number of things we can do. Therefore our actions have at least some degree of predictability. We may be able to choose our energy state, but there is only a finite number of states we can exist in. If our actions are predictable then there is a devine will, but because we get to choose we also have free will, but the amazing corrallary of this entire train of logic is that if as many religions believe there is no begining and no end, or if we allow the supposition that we do exist after we die and before we are born (pre-mortal and post mortal lives) then we are no longer a confined particle ergo our energy states are no longer confined and we are allowed to do ANYTHING! I'll leave it to you to fill in the further implications of these assertions.

For Quantum References see Taylor, Zafiratos and Dubson. Modern Physics for Scientists and Engineers 2004


Jarrett said...

Well, we are both mortal (our physical, mortal body) and immortal (the spirit, and the immortal body post-ressurection). So there are certain aspects of our lives which have that more curtailed range of agency ("which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?") But I completely agree that much of our lives (especially in the post-mortal realm) are more... quantum.

ma~ said...

As it happens your logic about the confinement of a particle being temporal is spurious. Confinement in space causes energy quantization but confinement in time does not. Strictly speaking there is no mechanism for confinement in time in quantum mechanics. Because of the law of conservation of probability the "energy" of all the wave functions must be constant in time so although you can cause transitions to different waveforms that doesn't qualify as a barrier. So to put it philosophically quantum mechanics doesn't allow particles or waveforms to "end" only to transform. It is spatial potential barriers which force quantization. You can still make the same argument that a human particle would not have quantized energy states since we exist in a potential free space. Actually if you want to get all fancy about it we don't live in a potential free space but since the potential fields are of finite energy and of finite extent there is still no energy quantization. However spatial poetential barriers (such as the earths gravitational field for instance) will cause quantization dependent scattering effects.