Free Will and Quantum Physics – Quantum Mindcast Episode 3

Free will is not an illusion; why the laws of quantum mechanics show us that our sensation of "free will" cannot be proved to be any kind of illusion. In this episode we'll look at what quantum mechanics is and roughly how it works; we'll talk about the relevance of quantum mechanics to consciousness, and we'll look at the strange scientific mystery of Schrödinger's Cat.

Quantum Mindcast

In this episode:

Why people assert that free will is an illusion - the brain as a mechanism - Laplace's demon - the brain depends upon quantum mechanical laws - an analogy for how quantum mechanics works - the problem of measurement - Copenhagen interpretation - Many Worlds theory - the Paradox of Schrödinger's Cat

Sam Harris - The Delusion of Free Will

Featured music: Ludwig van Beethoven - Piano Concerto No. 4

3 thoughts on “Free Will and Quantum Physics – Quantum Mindcast Episode 3

  1. Joe

    Hi John, loving the podcasts – you describe these ideas in a way that simple folk like myself can understand. However I STILL can’t get my head around schrodinger’s bloody cat. To me it seems obvious; is the cat not conscious? Surely the cat is observing the particle, or is conscious observation reserved only for humans? Which demonstrates I’m obviously not cut out for thinking about this stuff lol.
    Keep up the great work.

    1. John Post author

      Cheers Joe. It means a lot to get comments for this fledgling project of mine … I mean to make another podcast soon. The thing with Schrodinger’s Cat is just that the mathematical rules of QM seem to say that small particles are in a mixture of states until they are observed (and no-one is currently able to define what “observed” means). So if the life or death of a cat depends on the behaviour of a small particle, it seems like the cat should be in a state that’s a mixture of alive and dead. This all comes purely out of the mathematics of QM. But then it makes no sense to have a living creature, capable itself of making observations on itself and its surroundings, in a state of both alive and dead.

      The mystery here only comes out of the fact that the maths predicts that things can be in these mixed states (alive/dead, here/there, etc). So it seems like somehow the mathematics must break down when applied to normal-scale objects. If it wasn’t for the mathematics involved, there wouldn’t really be any paradox here at all — the cat would just be dead or alive and the bomb would either have gone off or not gone off.

  2. Joe

    Many Thanks John. it seems that much of QM, as you say, is based on mathematics (and statistics) that are beyond the grasp of the average lay-person. I must admit to getting carried away with notions of holographic universes etc since I started researching the subject recently. Perhaps I should keep my feet in reality :)
    But anyway it would be great to hear more; podcasts keep my brain alive while I carry out my often laborious trade day to day. I’ve blitzed iTunes for shows about deeper scientific topics and I found your presentation very approachable for someone who is really just starting to dabble.


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