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Category: Werner Heisenberg

“The discovery that individual events are irreducibly random is probably one of the most significant findings of the twentieth century. Before this, one could find comfort in the assumption that random events only seem random because of our ignorance. For example, although the brownian motion of a particle appears random, it can still be causally described if we know enough about the motions of the particles surrounding it. Thus, as Werner Heisenberg put it, this kind of randomness, of a classical event, is subjective. But for the individual event in quantum physics, not only do we not know the cause, there is no cause. The instant when a radioactive atom decays, or the path taken by a photon behind a half-silvered beam-splitter are objectively random. There is nothing in the Universe that determines the way an individual event will happen. Since individual events may very well have macroscopic consequences, including a specific mutation in our genetic code, the Universe is fundamentally unpredictable and open, not causally closed.” – Anton Zeilinger, “The message of the quantum”

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“Scientists now work as stonemasons did once on cathedrals. They put the stones next to one another with great attention to detail and the work of the fellow next to them, but they have no sense of the architectonics of the whole. And sometimes they do not even have a sense of the purpose of a cathedral.” – Werner Heisenberg (interviewed by William Irwin Thompson in Passages About Earth)

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