It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


Quantum Randomness... WHERE?

page: 1

log in


posted on Jul, 29 2011 @ 02:46 PM
Something I did a while ago for a Stats project... but I'm interested to explore other peoples' thoughts on this interesting topic: Quantum Randomness.

A common topic within the mathematic community is randomness. Perhaps the most associated tool used to show randomness is the die. The common die consists of six planes, each with its own numerical depiction (1-6), and is supposedly weighted so that each side is not likely to come up in a roll more than another. This may look relatively true on paper, yet is it truly randomness that dictates the outcome of a role? The likely determination of a role seems based on the ulterior logistics: physics. Within physics, nearly every action and outcome of an action can be calculated. This being said, things such as aerodynamics, torque, velocity, air friction, spin, height dropped, etc. appear to be the true reasons why a die will land the way it does. Yes, these variables will change each time a die is rolled, and exact conditions are next to impossible to repeat, but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be attempted. So naturally, I did an experiment. I tried to eliminate variables from the physics equation that calculates what face a die is shown when it is rolled. My hypothesis: if height, drop angle, which plane on the die is facing up, and roll is controlled during the process of rolling a die, then the outcome should be able to be accurately predicted. This would simply mean that rolling a die is no where close to being of "quantum randomness".

Quantum randomness- When it is impossible to calculate an outcome based on the given probabilities.

What qualifies as quantum randomness?
Schrödinger's Cat is a good example, and I'm sure most people know of it but here's a link if you don't.

So, here's the experiment:


1. Gather materials (*see equipment list)
2. Set up release mechanism, with set die placement location labeled.
3. Set die in a preset position, with the (one) dot facing upwards and (four) dot facing experimenter, at a fixed height (0.673101 m)
4. Drop the die and carefully note which number is facing up.
5. Repeat the process (steps 3 and 4) 47 other times, always making note of which side is facing up.
6. Repeat the process (steps 3, 4, and 5) for each type of die.

Dice (All are 6-sided)

05.291g square die "d1"
05.711g rounded die "d2"
04.480g square die "d3"
04.009g square die "d4"
18.514g square die "d5"
02.039g square die "d6"

Dropping Mechanism: (I wish I had a picture, but basically I put two tray tables together with a small gap in between them. Then on top I had a metal weight centered on it with its hole taped up to fit the exact dimensions of the die I was testing. Then I would simply drop the die from the same position each time, drop it into a controlled environment and recorded the data)

2 tray tables
one metal weight
(0.381001m x 0.304801m) cardboard box container

With almost all tests that try to show randomness, it is hard to say that my results are completely conclusive. From the data that I have gathered, it seems plausible that perhaps a six will show up most likely when you roll a die with one facing up, and rolling a one will be least likely. The data isn’t “statistically” significant, but if rolling a die always incurs quantum randomness, then all tests should yield 16.67%, which didn’t always happenIt is nearly impossible to completely eliminate the human factor when conducting an experiment. Though the set-up of the experiment narrowed the variability, it was impossible for me to keep the die within 0.0001 cm of the previous spot each time, while maintaining zero spin or a perfect parallel drop angle to the corresponding horizontal plane below. I did my best, but the only real way to improve the results and thoroughly prove/disprove my hypothesis would require technology and resources beyond my personal capabilities. Almost 22% for rolling a six and just under 12% for rolling a one does show that there is validity to my experiment, and that there is, at least some, truth to my hypothesis.

This being said... What can qualify as actual quantum indeterminacy/randomness? I understand that nuclear radiation and half life decay holds true to quantum randomness in an extent, but what IN NATURE can qualify as such? I believe that even within decay there must be some physics that calculates what happens.

What about in the real world? A die might get close to being random but what is out there that is not subatomic that is truly random?

Related Topics:

Quantum Indeterminacy
Random Thoughts on Quantum Randomness, Consciousness and the Mind/Body Problem
edit on 29-7-2011 by PhysicsAdept because: Picture

posted on Jul, 29 2011 @ 02:48 PM
reply to post by PhysicsAdept

Hmmm uh my pictures didn't come out right even though they are right in my picture album. Can someone tell me how to fix it??

I'm guessing I need to resize.... what is the ideal size?
edit on 29-7-2011 by PhysicsAdept because: (no reason given)

Ok I took out the pictures that maybe weren't even necessary, but showing more individual charts for each die. If anyone feels they are still necessary then perhaps I will post them later.
edit on 29-7-2011 by PhysicsAdept because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 29 2011 @ 02:56 PM
reply to post by PhysicsAdept

very interesting theory - wish i could add to it but... all I can say is
600px width is optimum size so its not cut off ♥
S&F for the research though - I would like to see someone with better/more available resources recreate it

posted on Jul, 29 2011 @ 03:03 PM
reply to post by Forevever

Ah yes, with machinery haha. I agree. It would be awesome, yet also I guess proof that it counts as being random for humans when humans are using it. Logically, when will a machine need to roll a die?

Thanks btw for the picture size, I will fix that now.

posted on Jul, 29 2011 @ 09:51 PM
reply to post by PhysicsAdept

I salute you for actually trying the experiment. It should certainly be possible to get predictable results from a throw of dice if all the immediate physical variables that may affect the result are eliminated. The problem is identifying all those variables and keeping them steady. Did you, for example, control for temperature? Depending on what the dice were made of, changes in temperature could affect their coefficient of restitution (their ‘bounciness’, so to speak).

The larger issue is that the throw of dice tells us nothing about quantum randomness. A die is far too large an object to exhibit quantum uncertainty (which is truly random) in respect of its movements. Decoherence, or whatever you want to call it, ensures that all events in the macroscopic world have predictable outcomes which depend on the initial conditions of the observed system and the magnitude and direction of forces acting on it. Simple Newtonian mechanics, in other words. The experiment you have performed is Newtonian, and tells us, I’m sorry to say, nothing about the quantum world.

One process we know to be truly random is radioactive decay. If you have a lump of radium-226, you can predict for certain that half of it will be gone in 1,601 years; but you can never predict when a particular atom of the stuff will turn itself into radon. You can identify and control all the variables you like; it makes no difference. Each atom decays in its own sweet time.

Kudos, once again, for actually trying to adopt a scientific, experimental approach to the question. Despite the conceptual and technical flaws in your experiment, you’re definitely doing things right.

edit on 29/7/11 by Astyanax because: of an O.

posted on Jul, 30 2011 @ 12:20 AM
reply to post by Astyanax

Temperature? No... however, I did test it in the same spot of the same part of the room, all tests within hours of each other. Also, any temperature change due to equilibrium of temperature between my hand and the die should have been similar to each case (except of course of the variation between specific heats in each of the materials I suppose). I did my best (I think) with the materials I was presented with, and tried to control the factors as best as I could... but it is so difficult! I think what I ended up concluding almost differed from my original hypothesis. I guess I wanted to prove that rolling a die wasn't random, and what I conclude is that it is so close to being random (because the factors that control a die being rolled vary so significantly within each specific circumstance), that with humans, it can be considered random.

As for the quantum part... I actually do feel almost idiotic for that... I fully realize now that one of the foundation thoughts behind quantum mechanics is that the quantum world is significantly different from the world we view today with non-atomic physics.

Thank you so very much for responding to an... under-par scientific "examination". I am relieved to know that there are people willing to help me in my development in the physical sciences.

top topics

log in