"Is the cosmos Random" in Scientific American of September 2015 page 78

This document contains comments about the article "Is the cosmos Random" by George Musser In Scientific American of September 2015.
Einstein's assertion that God does not play dice with the universe has been misinterpreted.


Few of Albert Einstein's sayings have been as widely quoted as his remark that God does not play dice with the Universe.
To make any reference with God in science ofcourse is unlucky. It is already unlucky if you mention any human involvement.
People have naturally taken his quip as proof that he was dogmatically opposed to quantum mechanics,
IMO the biggest problem is what does he meant with this. What is the relation between God, dice and the Universe.
Immediate followed with:
which views randomness as a built-in feature of the physical world,
In stead of "physical world" they should write: as a built-in quality of all physical processes.
When a radioactive nucleus decays, it does so spontaneously: no rule will tell you when or why.
For all chemical processes at particle level there are no detailed descriptions, only which chemical elements are involved. That does not mean that they happen completely spontaneous. By changing external paramaters the reaction rates can be influenced.
When a particle of light strikes a half-silvered mirror, it either reflects off it or passes through; the outcome is open until the moment it occurs.
Such a process (like all processes) should be performed 1000 times to collect statistical data (under different conditions). If the outcome is exactly 500 left and 500 right you can call the process random. (At least in principle. May be more test are required)
See 4 questions related to random number generator: Random Numbers and Random Number Generators
Einstein, refused to accept that some things are indeterministic (random) - they just happen and there is not a darned thing anyone can do to figure out why.
That is true, but this is not the total picture.
Almost alone among his peers, he clung to the clockwork universe of classical physics, ticking mechanistically, each moment dictating the next.
That is also true for stable processes.
Einstein accepted that quantum mechanics was indeterministic - as well he might, because he was the one who had discovered its indeterminism.
The question is if quantum theory is indeterministic. I doubt that. Only processes can be called random.
What he did not accept was that this indeterminism was fundamental to nature.
The problem is that we humans can only understand physical processes at a certain level of detail or accuracy. Below that level speculation increases, but that does not mean by using more accurate techniques that more detail can be unraveled.
It gave every indication of arising from a deeper level of reality that the theory was failing to capture. His critique was not mystical but focused on specific scientific problems that remain unsolved to this day.
As such it is very unlucky to proclaim: "That God does not play dice", because literally that sentence is wrong.

What Einstein objected to

Einstein came up with most of what physicist now recognize as the essential feature of quantum phisics, such as light's peculiar ability to act both particle and wave and it was his thinking about wave physics that Erwin Schrödinger built on to develop the most widely used formulation of quantum theory in 1920's
One important parameter of light is its frequency.
But Einstein and his contemporaries faced a seriuos problem: Quantum phenomena are random but quantum theory is not.
A theory is in many cases a simplification of the reality or the processes they describe. The measurement process itself can introduces random effects.
The Schrödinger equation is 100% deterministic. The equation predicts what happens to the wave function at every moment with complete certainty.
The wave function is a mathematical description of the physical reality. This description is only an approximation. The predictions are also approximations.
In many ways, the equation is more deterministic than Newton's Laws of motion:
The accuracy of Newton's Law is very much based on the level of accuracy and the time frame of the positions of the objects studied. How longer how more how better.
My quess is that the accuracy quantum mechanics is much less over the same time frame.
it does not lead to muddles such as singularities (where quantities become infinite and thus indescribable) or chaos (where motion becomes unpredictable).
Singularities are a typical case in a simulation using Newton's Law where tests that the distance between between objects have a minimum value are missing.
Chaos is a typical case that the (integration) time step size should be decreased. It is also related to the accuracy of the computer used.

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Created: 5 September 2015

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