Yr. blogger waxes lyrical on quantum decoherence

You know, there’s something thoroughly appealing about the (slightly mad) reverse anthropic interpretation of this whole LHC failure shebang — the notion that many-worlds is true — that there’s some strong metaphysical sense in which alternate possibilities are real such that we can find ourselves in a world in which the LHC hasn’t slaughtered us, no matter how low-probability the various non-slaughter interventions are, simply in virtue of that being a world in which it is possible to find ourselves.* Because it suggests the possibility of the reality of other worlds — of worlds matching our ambitions in ways other than the merely existent. Perhaps there is some world out there in which I am rich, am famous, am handsome, am influential. (Suck it, Leibniz.) And perhaps the sense of “I” invoked in the last sentence is sufficiently robust in a world of quantum decoherence that it permits of an identification with the more conventional sense as used by those who take a less high-handed and domineering approach to their status as competent users of the English language than I (oh there’s that I again, that manyhued rainbow of meaning), aspirational, moral (a license to stagnate?). So keep failing under bizarre circumstances, Large Hadron Collider. With each failure, you bestow on me a little bit more of a sense of modal fulfillment.

* Although I fear that I think this is actually a bad interpretation of the whole LHC thing, because in things that complex, no matter how low-probability the individual failure events are, the probability of having at least one of those events is very high. Put differently, the probability of nothing going wrong in the LHC is the product of all of the probabilities of each individual thing going right, and that veers toward very small numbers very quickly even if each individual probability is quite high.


3 Responses to “Yr. blogger waxes lyrical on quantum decoherence”

  1. Daniel S. Goldberg Says:

    I nominate “Suck it, Leibniz” for Banner Placement.

  2. Paul Gowder Says:

    I’m tempted. Very, very tempted.

  3. Constant Says:

    On the other hand if we’re too insistent in trying to get the LHC to work, the sufficiently improbable surviving world might get “mangled” a la Robin Hanson, leaving us thoroughly gone.

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