The future: certainty of uncertainty

Que sera sera
What will be, will be
We do not see the future
Que sera sera

So sang Doris day in 1956, expressing the almost universal opinion of mankind that it is impossible to know the future. Even if it’s not the General opinion, people on the basis of universal human experience, I believe that we don’t know the future. That is, we do not know it directly, as we know the constituent parts of the past and present. We see something happening in the present, we remember something from the past, but we do not see and do not remember the future.

However, impressions can be deceiving, and memory is unreliable. And direct knowledge of this kind is not something definite and immutable. In addition, there is indirect knowledge of the future, which is as definite, as something we learn through direct perception or memories. I am sure that I know that tomorrow the sun will rise. I know that if with the power to throw a rock through my kitchen window, it will crash. On the other hand, last year on Christmas eve I didn’t know that in my home town of York at Christmas will be a heavy downpour, and the second day of Christmas, he is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world due to flooding.

In the ancient world and, I think, in our childhood events such as flooding in York cause us confidence that we can’t know the future. Future stuff I know, but not all. I’m sure there will be some events, which I have no idea. In the past, such events could be imputed to the inscrutable will of the gods. York flooded because the rain God was in a bad mood or wanted to play with us. In my insurance policy such catastrophes are called “force majeure”. When we feel that to predict the winner of the election is impossible, we say that “results are known only to God”.

Aristotle formulated a clear future of the language of logic. In Athens, where he lived, the invasion from the sea at that time was always a possibility. His argument, he expressed the following sentence: “Tomorrow will be a sea battle”. One of the classic laws of logic is “the law of the excluded middle,” according to which any statement is either true or false. Two judgments, one of which formulates the denial of the other, cannot both be false. That is true, or the judgment itself, or its negation. But Aristotle stated that the statements “tomorrow will be a sea battle” and “tomorrow there will be sea battles” are not completely true, because both possibilities lead to fatalism. For example, if the first statement is true, then to prevent a naval battle, no one can and no. Therefore, these statements belong to the third logical categories, and are neither true nor false. In our time, this conclusion is reflected in the multi-valued logic.

But some statements in the future tense really seem true. I gave the example, “tomorrow the sun will rise” and when I cast a stone, “this window is broken”. Let’s look at it more closely. In fact, none of these statements about the future is not a true 100%. Tomorrow the sun may not rise, if any galactic star trawler will arrive today in our solar system, grab our light and will fly away at the speed of light. When I throw a stone at the window, my eldest brother, as a responsible member of the family and a great goalie can pass. He will see me throw the stone and catch it to save the window.

We didn’t know that tomorrow morning the sun came up as usual; I didn’t know that my stupid prank fail. But such ignorance is not a specific consequence of the fact that we are talking about the future. If the program has protection from cosmic bodies Spaceguard was a wider area of responsibility, we would know about the approaching star trawler, and accordingly, we know that the sun we see in recent times. I know where my brother is, I would anticipate that he rushed to rescue a window. In both cases, ignorance of the future is reduced to the ignorance of the present.

The success of modern science gave rise to the idea that the following is always true: ignorance of the future is always possible to associate with the ignorance of something from the present. An increasing number of phenomena subject to the laws of physics; similarly, an increasing number of events can be explained by previous events, which became their cause. In this regard, a belief that if enough know about this, you can with great certainty predict any event in the future. The most famous manifestation of such confidence was the statement of the French mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace in 1814:

We should consider the present state of the Universe as a consequence of its previous state and as the cause of the next. Um, who would be known for any given moment all the forces animating nature, and relative position of all of its components if in addition it were vast enough to submit these data to analysis, would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the Universe along with the movements of the smallest atoms: there is nothing left that would be for him unreliable, and the future, like the past, would appear before his eyes.

This idea was expressed even Isaac Newton, who in 1687 had a dream:

Sorry we can not display the other natural phenomena from the principles of mechanics by the same reasoning, for many reasons, I am inclined to suspect that they may all depend upon certain forces which, for reasons hitherto unknown, they either attract each other, forming regular shapes, or are repelled and recede from each other.

From this point of view, everything consists of particles of very small size, and their behavior is due to the action of forces that cause these particles to move in accordance with the equations of motion of Newton. The future movement of particles is completely predetermined, if their position and velocity at one time or another known. This is the theory of determinism. Therefore, if we cannot know the future, only for the reason that we do not know enough about the present.

For two centuries it seemed that the Newton’s dream comes true. The material world is more and more fell under the influence of physics, because matter was analyzed at the level of molecules and atoms, and its chemical, biological, geological and astronomical properties described by Newtonian terminology. Particles of matter, referred to by Newton, had to replace the electromagnetic fields, in order to show a complete picture of what the world is. But the fundamental idea that all of them obey the laws of determinism, remained. The vagaries of nature, such as storms and floods that previously seemed unpredictable whim of gods became possible to predict. But if some phenomena like earthquakes still cannot be predicted, we can state with confidence that thanks to the emergence of new knowledge in the future such predictions will be possible.

This scientific program has been so successful that we have forgotten about the existence of other views about the future. A physicist at the University of Washington mark Alford (Mark G Alford) writes about this:

In ordinary life and in science before the advent of quantum mechanics it was assumed that any uncertainty that we face … is the result of ignorance.

We completely forgot about that uncertain world was inhabited by the human race long before the 17th century, and the dream of Newton we perceive as the natural perspective on waking reality.

Well, it was a beautiful dream. But everything turned out differently. In the early 20th century, Ernest Rutherford, by studying just an open phenomenon of radioactivity, I realized that it shows a random event occuring on a fundamental level of matter in the atom and in the nucleus. But this does not mean that the dreams of Newton should be discarded. – This is not the lowest level of matter, but a complex object consisting of protons and neutrons. If we knew exactly how to settle and move these particles, we could predict when there will be radioactive decay of the nucleus. However, other, more strange discoveries of the time led to a radical departure from Newtonian physics, represented by quantum mechanics. They confirmed the view that phenomena on the smallest scale truly random, and what exactly to know the future is impossible.

Those discoveries, which had to oppose the new physics of the 1920-ies, was twofold. On the one hand, the explanation of the distribution of wavelengths in the radiation emitted by the hot matter that gave Max Planck, and the explanation of the photoelectric effect by albert Einstein pointed to the fact that energy comes in discrete form varies continuously, as it should be according to the rules of Newtonian mechanics and the electromagnetic theory of James Maxwell. On the other hand, the experiments of George Paget Thomson, Clinton Davisson and Lester Germer on electrons showed that electrons sometimes behave as waves, while earlier it was firmly established that this particles.

These puzzling facts have been systematic, coherent and unified mathematical explanation in the theory of quantum mechanics which arose on the basis of the work of theorists after 1926. Quantum theory itself is so mysterious that it is unclear whether to call her “explanation” of those puzzling facts that it klassificeret. But its most important feature, which seems irrefutable, is that when on the basis of this theory makes predictions about the physical effects, they give no exact numbers, but the percentage of probability.

While it is not recognized by all. Some people believe that the composition of matter there are more subtle details that, if we find that once again allow us to accurately predict its behavior in the future. From the point of view of logic it is of course possible, but this theory sure found such aspects, which most physicists think that this was extremely unlikely.

The format of the quantum theory is very different from previous physical theories such as Newtonian mechanics and electromagnetism. These theories are mathematical descriptions of the state of the world or some part of it. They have equations of motion that through these mathematical descriptions tell us, in what will become after a certain period of time. Quantum mechanics also works with a mathematical object that describes the state of the world. It is called the state vector (although this is not a vector in three dimensions as speed), and it is often denoted by the Greek letter Ψ or some other similar character.

But it is a mathematical description of a different kind, different from descriptions in mechanics and electromagnetism. In each of these theories uses a set of numbers that measure physical properties such as the speed of the selected particles or the electric field at a given point of space. On the other hand, a quantum state vector is a more tricky thing, and its relation to physical quantities is indirect. From the state vector we can obtain the values of physical quantities, but not all: we can choose which values you want to know, but to select them all is completely impossible.

Moreover, when we decide which values you want to know the state vector does not give us a specific answer, but will only give a percentage likelihood of possible different answers. This quantum mechanics is different from determinism. It’s quite strange, but in their attitude to changes in quantum mechanics similar to the old deterministic theory. It also has the equation of motion, Schrodinger equation that will tell us how through this time will be the vector state of the world. But since from this vector we can obtain only a percentage of probability, he shows that we will see after this time.

In General, the state vector is a strange and obscure thing, and it is unclear how he describes the physical objects of the real world. But some of the descriptions match the descriptions that we can understand (if not to look at them too closely). For example, among the vectors of the state of the cat is one that describes the setting and is quite the purring of a cat. And there’s another one describing a dead cat, poisoned devilish device invented by physicist Erwin schrödinger.

But there are other vectors for the condition, derived mathematically by combining the above two vectors. Such combined state vector can be composed of parts, describes a live cat, and parts, describing him dead. This is not two cats: the meaning of the story of schrödinger is that the same cat as described would be both dead and alive. And we can’t understand how such States can describe something that occurs in the real world. Physicists of different generations ask: how can we believe this theory, if you never saw the living-dead cats?

The answer to this riddle is. If I open the box in which Schrodinger had to dissect the poor cat, then the usual laws of everyday physics will do next. If the cat is alive, the image of a live cat will remain on my retina and the visual area of the cerebral cortex, and the system consisting of me and the cat, in the end will be in a quite clear condition in which the cat is alive, and I see a live cat. If the cat is dead, I will have the image of a dead cat, and the system consisting of me and the cat, in the end will be in a state in which the cat is dead, and I will see the dead cat.

In accordance with the laws of quantum mechanics it follows that if the cat is in a superposition of alive and dead, then consisting of me and the cat system will be in a superposition of two above-described end States. In such a superposition is no state of the brain, seeing the unusual state of the dead-alive cat. The usual state of my brain — friends, I see a live cat, and see the dead cat. This is the answer to the question from the previous paragraph; from quantum mechanics it follows that if there are cats and States that they seem and living, and the dead, we will never see a cat in this condition.

But a combined system consisting of me and the cat is one of the strangest States of superposition in quantum mechanics. Mathematically it is represented by the sign “+”, and it is called the state of confusion me and the cat. How to understand this? Maybe the mathematical sign “+” means “or”? It makes sense. But unfortunately, if we apply this value to the States of the electron, it is not comparable with the facts of interference observed in experiments showing wave behavior of the electron. Some people believe that this “+” should be understood as “and”. When cat and I are in a state of superposition, there is a world where the cat died, and I see a dead cat. And there is another world in which the cat is alive, and I see a live cat. Others do not find this picture useful. Maybe we should just accept it (in some sense) as a true description of the cat and me, the value of which is beyond our understanding.

Now let’s expand our horizons and consider the whole universe, which contains each of us, considered as a creature observing a physical system. According to quantum mechanics, there is a description of the state vector, in which the system being entangled with the rest of the universe, and in this process, the entanglement involved several different feelings of the system being. The same General state vector of the whole universe can be considered as a complicated condition for every system of beings within the universe; it’s just a different perspective on the same universal truth.

But the statement that it is the truth about the universe, as if contrary to my knowledge of what I see. To illustrate this, let us again consider a small universe consisting of only me and the cat. Suppose that when I conducted an experiment Schrodinger’s cat survived. In this case, I know what is my condition: I see a live cat. I know what the condition of the cat: he’s alive. Tangled as my little universe, resulting from my experiment, also contains a part with a dead cat and my brain, which is full of remorse.

But seeing a live cat, as I do, I believe that other picture is not a part of the truth. It describes something that could happen but did not happen. In General, considering the entire universe, I know that I have only one a certain feeling. But this contradicts what was said in the previous paragraph. What, then, of this truth?

This contradiction is of the same type that many of the familiar contradictions between objective and subjective statements. In the book “the View from nowhere” (The View from Nowhere) Thomas Nagel shows how it is possible to resolve some of these contradictions. We must recognize that there are two positions from which we can state facts or values, and that the statements made in these two contexts are not comparable. This applies to the mystery presented by quantum mechanics, as follows. In the external context (the point of view of God, or “the view from nowhere”), we are moving beyond our specific situation and are talking about the universe. In the domestic context (here and now) we make summative statements as physical objects within the universe.

Thus, from the external point of view, confusing the universal state vector is all the truths about the universe. Components describing my different possible sensations and the corresponding States of the rest of the universe, this (unequal) part of the truth. But from an internal point of view, from the perspective of the particular sensation which, as far as I know, I experience this feeling together with the corresponding condition of the rest of the universe is the real truth. Can I know what are the other components, so how can I calculate the universal state vector, using the equations of quantum mechanics; but for me, these other components are things that could have happened but did not happen.

Since I can’t see the future, I am not able to isolate any one of the worlds a future.

We can now see that quantum mechanics tells us about the future. As far as we can now expect, there are two answers, one for each of the two points of view. From an external point of view, the universe at any given moment is characterized as the universal state vector, and state vectors at different points of time relate to each other in accordance with the Schrodinger equation. Given the state vector at the present time, the Schrodinger equation gives a unique state vector for any point in the future. This deterministic theory that fully corresponds to the world view of Laplace (in the quantum version).

But from an internal point of view, everything looks different. We now have to specify a particular observer (in the above discussion, it was me, but it could also be you or anyone, or even all of humanity together), in respect of which we can divide the universal state vector, as described above. We also need to specify a particular state of the feelings of this observer. From this point of view, by definition it is true that the observer has certain feelings, and that the rest of the universe is in a corresponding particular state.

Therefore, quantum mechanics tells us that at the moment there are several different worlds. But I know that one of them stands out as the world I know, and whose more subtle parts I discover in the course of the experiment. But when we turn to the future, the situation is different. Since I can’t see the future, I can’t tell exactly none of the future worlds. Even if there is only one world, and what seems to me consistent with the universal state vector of quantum mechanics, it may happen that the laws of quantum mechanics will give us the imposition of the worlds in the future. For example, if I start with a feeling of preparation of the experiment, Schrodinger’s cat, at the end of the experiment the universal state vector is the superposition of what we have already faced, and one containing I part will be to see a live cat, another contains the me part will be to see the dead cat. And then what I can say about what I see in the future?

When I first came across this, I’m very puzzled. I used to think that in the future I waiting for something, even if I can’t know what it is, and even if there is no law of nature that defines what it is. Truly, what will be, will be. But Aristotle already knew that it was wrong. Approval time in the future do not obey the same logic as statements in the present tense. They don’t have to be either true or false. Logic after Aristotle admits the possibility of a third the real value, in addition to “true” and “false”, calling it “uncertain” or “unresolved”.

However, Aristotle also noted that although no assertion about the future is not really true, some of them most likely. Similarly, the universal state vector at a future time, for me, contains more information than just the feelings that can be with me at this time. These feelings that appear as part of the universal state vector, contribute to it to varying degrees, and are measured by the coefficients that are commonly used in quantum mechanics to calculate probabilities. So we can imagine the future universal condition as giving information not only about what feelings may be in my future this time, but how likely each is feeling.

Further, truth and falsity can be expressed in numerical form. True statements have the truth value 1 and false 0. If a future event X is very likely and therefore the probability of X close to 1, then the statement “X will happen” is very close to the truth. If the event X is unlikely, and the probability is close to 0, then the statement “X will happen” is almost false. This suggests that the value of the truth of the assertion in the future tense must be between 0 and 1. True statement has a truth value of 1; a false statement has truth value 0, and if the assertion in the future tense “X will happen” has a truth value between 0 and 1, this number is an indicator of the probability of an event X.

The nature of probability is the long-standing philosophical problem that scientists also need to find the answer. Many researchers are of the opinion that the probability of an event makes sense only when the circumstances in which it may occur an event repeated many times, and we develop a proportion of time saying it will happen. But this just seems to calculate a single event in time, which will come only once. In everyday life we often talk about the probability that something will happen only once: it will rain tomorrow, that tomorrow in the race will win a particular horse, or that will be a naval battle. The standard view on the likelihood of such an event lies in the fact that it refers to the strength of conviction of the person claiming the benefit of this probability and can be measured rates, which offer people that put on this event.

But the above probability is an objective fact about the universe. It has nothing to do with the faith and beliefs of the person, and even such a person, the feelings referred to. This man misleading fact about his future feelings and experience, believe it or not. Logical theory gives an objective sense of probability of individual events: the probability of future events is the true value assumptions at a future time that such an event will happen. I analyze this view of probability, quantum mechanics confirms the associated multivalued logic temporal assumptions in his work “Logic of the future in quantum theory” (The Logic of the Future in Quantum Theory).

It has now become clear that the description of the physical world in quantum mechanics, namely, the universal state vector, plays a very different role in the internal and external context. From an external point of view is the complete description of reality; it is to explain what constitutes the universe at a given time. This reality can be analyzed in respect of any given sentient beings, giving a number of components attached to the different sensations chosen sentient system and are part of a universal reality.

However, from an internal point of view on the reality system consists of only one of the two sensations; the component attached to this feeling is the absolute truth about the universe for sentient system. All other nonzero components is what could have happened but did not happen. In this perspective, the role of the universal state vector at a later time is not the description of what the universe is and indication of how the current state of the universe can change between now and the future. It gives a list of possibilities for the future with the likelihood that each of them will become the truth.

It may seem that we at least know those probabilities of the future, as you can calculate them based on the certain knowledge of our current sensations using the Schrodinger equation. But even that is uncertain. Our current feeling may be only part of the universal condition, and in the calculation of future probabilities have to enter the entire vector of a universal state as a whole. That could happen, but it did not happen (we even might not know), it is still able to influence the future. However, if these things are quite different from our real feelings at the macroscopic level, in this case quantum theory assures us that the impact they can have on the future, is so small that it can be neglected. A consequence of this theory is known as decoherence.

Hence, knowledge of the future is fundamentally limited. It is not that there are genuine facts about the future, but knowledge about them is available to us. There are no facts, and certain knowledge that must be missing. However, there are facts about the future with a partial degree of truth. We can obtain knowledge about the future, but this knowledge will always be uncertain.