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