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Do you believe in free will? Are people able to decide their own destinies, whether it’s on what continent they’ll live, who or if they’ll marry, or just where they’ll get lunch today? Or are we just the unwitting pawns of some greater cosmic mechanism at work, ticking away the seconds and steering everyone and everything toward an inevitable, predetermined fate?
Philosophical debates aside, MIT researchers are actually looking to move past this age-old argument in their experiments once and for all, using some of the most distant and brilliant objects in the Universe.
Rather than ponder the ancient musings of Plato and Aristotle, researchers at MIT were trying to determine how to get past a more recent conundrum in physics: Bell’s Theorem. Proposed by Irish physicist John Bell in 1964, the principle attempts to come to terms with the behavior of “entangled” quantum particles separated by great distances but somehow affected simultaneously and instantaneously by the measurement of one or the other — previously referred to by Einstein as “spooky action at a distance.”
Philosopher Julian Baggini fears that, as we learn more and more about the universe, scientists are becoming increasingly determined to stamp their mark on other disciplines. Here, he challenges theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss over 'mission creep' among his peers
By using the light from objects that came into existence just shortly after the Big Bang to calibrate their detectors, the team hopes to remove any possibility of entanglement… and determine what’s really in charge of the Universe.
“I think it’s fair to say this is the final frontier, logically speaking, that stands between this enormously impressive accumulated experimental evidence and the interpretation of that evidence saying the world is governed by quantum mechanics,”
reply to post by NullVoid
I think this may open up a whole bunch of wide ranging questions. I think Alternative/parallel Universes and the like would be on the table.
An analogy is with someone who watches a movie for the second time, who knows what will happen next, while for the first time watcher the next move is unknown.
Go into the Heisenberg picture. Start integrating equations of motion for a coupled system. Where's the randomness? Tell me what moment the axiomatic randomness comes in and what the physics of that is.
John Bell discussed superdeterminism in a BBC interview:
There is a way to escape the inference of superluminal speeds and spooky action at a distance. But it involves absolute determinism in the universe, the complete absence of free will. Suppose the world is super-deterministic, with not just inanimate nature running on behind-the-scenes clockwork, but with our behavior, including our belief that we are free to choose to do one experiment rather than another, absolutely predetermined, including the "decision" by the experimenter to carry out one set of measurements rather than another, the difficulty disappears. There is no need for a faster than light signal to tell particle A what measurement has been carried out on particle B, because the universe, including particle A, already "knows" what that measurement, and its outcome, will be.
Superdeterminism has also been criticized because of perceived implications regarding the validity of science itself. For example, Anton Zeilinger has commented:
We always implicitly assume the freedom of the experimentalist... This fundamental assumption is essential to doing science. If this were not true, then, I suggest, it would make no sense at all to ask nature questions in an experiment, since then nature could determine what our questions are, and that could guide our questions such that we arrive at a false picture of nature.
One of my favorite ATS avatars says the following (paraphrased from memory) I was hoping this member would stop by.
Free will, or fate? No difference. I am here, whether by choice or pre determination doesn't matter.