- Mar 1, 2003Steven D'Aprano wrote:
> Quantum phenomena are said to be random, but there is no"almost certainly": you are wrong. The randomness of radioactive
> justification for assuming that they are non-determinant.
> Tossing a coin is random, but deterministic, and we have no
> way of telling whether quantum randomness is like coin-tossing.
> For instance, the randomness of radioactive decay is almost
> certainly due to the perfectly deterministic behaviour of the
> nucleus, and even the decay of isolated baryons like the neutron
> is probably determined by its quarks. On the other hand, the
> decay of an excited atom into a lower energy state appears to be
> non-deterministic, but that shouldn't be considered proven by any
decay is exactly the same as the randomness of atomic decay. Both
are instances of a transition from a higher energy state into a
lower energy state, mediated by thermal interaction with an external
If you'd like to see the math, I found a nice description on
the web at
--- if this doesn't suit you, just do a web search for "Fermi's
I can't wait to hear your explanation of why you felt comfortable
labelling as "almost certain" something which anyone who knows the
subject would reject as trivially false.
"shouldn't be considered proven": and what would constitute a
I can't see how, in principle, one could ever conclusively "prove"
that some phenomenon was truly random. What one can do is show
that if quantum mechanics is valid then any deterministic
substructure must have undesirable features such as non-locality.
(This is what Bell's theorem shows.) One can also give physicists
a century to try to find a plausible underlying deterministic
mechanism and see if anyone comes up with one --- that experiment
has also failed.
I sympathize with your desire to preserve determinacy, but barring
a massive change in our understanding of modern physics, this is
just wishful thinking.
St. Louis, MO 63130 USA
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