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Math Trek

Do subatomic particles have free will?

If we have free will, so do subatomic particles, mathematicians claim to prove.

By
5:54pm, August 15, 2008

“If the atoms never swerve so as to originate some new movement that will snap the bonds of fate, the everlasting sequence of cause and effect—what is the source of the free will possessed by living things throughout the earth?”—Titus Lucretius Carus, Roman philosopher and poet, 99–55 BC.

Human free will might seem like the squishiest of philosophical subjects, way beyond the realm of mathematical demonstration. But two highly regarded Princeton mathematicians, John Conway and Simon Kochen, claim to have proven that if humans have even the tiniest amount of free will, then atoms themselves must also behave unpredictably.

The finding won’t give many physicists a moment’s worry, because traditional interpretations of quantum mechanics embrace unpredictability already. The best

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