Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why Did I Choose the Red Shirt?

Yesterday a YouTube user named Jimmy asked me this thought-provoking question: "If the fifth dimension includes a version of the universe where I could have worn a blue shirt or a red shirt today, did the events that led to today make it inevitable that I would choose the red shirt? Did the fifth dimension choose this outcome for me?"

This is a good question because it gets to the root of whether free will is an illusion, and why people who don't believe we exist in the fifth dimension can be more likely to conclude, as Stephen Hawking has, that our free will is nothing more than a convenient fiction to acknowledge the complex and interlocking pattern of outcomes that led to our currently observed universe. My response:

Here's how I think about it. Einstein and Kaluza agreed that our reality is defined at the fifth dimension. So although we think we're in 4D spacetime, I would insist that our "now" is really a constantly evolving point in the fifth dimension.

Using your example, yesterday your  5D "point" had many possible 5D paths leading both to it and from it. One set of paths forward involved you selecting a blue shirt today, another involved you selecting a red shirt. Today, your 5D position includes only the paths where you're wearing a red shirt, so even though the path of you choosing a blue shirt this morning was an available path yesterday, that path is no longer accessible today - unless you were now able to leap over to that path using the sixth dimension.

What makes the choice? This is where quantum physicists can get uncomfortable, because it has been experimentally proven time and time again that the wavefunction of all possible states for the universe exists in superposition until an observation is made. That includes the red shirt today and blue shirt today universe for you. Schrodinger made up his story about his cat experiment to try to show people how ridiculous it would be if what happens at the quantum level were also happening here at the macro level, but nowadays experimental evidence is making it increasingly difficult to say where the dividing line between the quantum world and our classical world resides - and I remain firmly convinced that there is no dividing line. Which means that you, your consciousness, your free will, chose to observe the "red shirt today" universe from your current 5D vantage point, but the "blue shirt today" universe was and continues to be just as real, but is no longer accessible from your current position within the observed quantum wavefunction.

Yes, that current point might be more likely based upon what has come before, but your decision this morning to choose a red shirt was not forced upon you by some inevitable quantum process. "But what about Schrodinger's imaginary cat?", you might say. "The cat didn't choose to have the radioactive particle decay or not, didn't choose to have the vial of poison smashed or not, didn't choose whether to live or die while trapped in Schrodinger's imaginary box." This is very true. And likewise, in our own day-to-day existence there are random events, random selections and choices happening at the quantum level and at the macro level which can occasionally make one path or another selectable while eliminating others.

If somebody had killed you yesterday, you would not be here to select a red shirt or blue shirt today. But since you're here, you have a consciousness which can be aware of the paths forward, and within the bounds of causality and probability select the red shirt path or the blue shirt path, but not the path where you jump to the moon. And to use that famous cat example, there was still the path where the cat could have chosen to jump out of the box before they closed the lid!

Thanks for writing,


My 2008 blog entry The Fifth Dimension Isn't Magic goes into more detail about this idea. And next time we'll be looking at a new video blog which also relates to this discussion - The Quantum Observer.

Enjoy the journey!



sewa mobil said...

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Atomic said...

"If somebody had killed you yesterday, you would not be here to select a red shirt or blue shirt today. But since you're here, you have a consciousness which can be aware of the paths forward,"

I tend to think that if somebody killed me yesterday, that path has ceased to be viable, to me, and as such, my consciousness (or whatever) has 'jumped track' to a more viable path. Along one path, I am dead. Along the path my consciousness now resides on, I am alive and the outcome of yesterday (to my perception) went differently. Eventually, I will run out of viable paths to jump to when someone kills me or I end up in a fatal accident; and at that point I will cease to be.

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