What would you do if you were immortal?
Source: Interesting Engineering
According to one theory in quantum mechanics, you are immortal.
One interpretation of a theory called quantum suicide ironically leads down a train of thought that makes your immortality completely absolute.
Now, we’re going to be discussing quantum mechanics here, so try to keep your eyes from glazing over and stay with me, because at the end of this, you’re going to be immortal.
The theory of quantum suicide
Theorized and published by Hans Moravec in 1987 and Bruno Marchal in 1988, the quantum suicide thought experiment proposes the same setup as the famous Schrodinger’s Cat experiment with one minor change – that you are the observer as well as the test subject inside the box.
Stepping back a little, and stay with me here, the Schrodinger’s Cat experiment places a theoretical cat in a box. As we observe the box with a cat inside, the state of the cat is both alive and dead due to the readily accepted view of quantum mechanics. The theoretical cat’s life is tied to a quantum event that may or may not occur, so until we open the box, the cat exists in a state of being alive and dead, called superposition.
In the quantum suicide experiment, as you sit awaiting possible death inside the box being both the observer and test subject, your odds of survival are 50% per the probability of a given quantum event occurring per run of each experiment. The experiment repeats onward to infinity. The theory of quantum suicide essentially suggests that by the second attempt, you would be decisively dead.
But let’s focus on the other interpretation of the quantum thought experiment that gives you immortality – because that’s much more fun.
Interpreting the thought experiment
First, we have to assume that there are infinite worlds. Stay with me here again, this is actually a common belief in quantum mechanics. It essentially states that every possible world and every possible past and future has and will exist on a quantum level. Under this theory, there could be an identical version of you reading this article exactly where you are, with the only difference being that they’re eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Trippy.
So, un-mush your mind for a second and let’s keep digging down this quantum rabbit hole… Like I said, you’ll be immortal at the end of this.
If we re-run the quantum suicide experiment assuming that the many-worlds theory is true, then in every test instance, in one or more worlds, our consciousness survives, no matter what. Since you – being the observer and the test subject – are in a state of superposition, you must live by a matter of quantum necessity, otherwise, you fall out of superposition which is a contradiction to the original experiment.
So, no matter the number of iterations of the experiment, it is physically necessary that you survive, suggesting that you have quantum immortality.
What does this mean?
But what does this actually mean? Could you go run off a bridge and survive? Sure, if there are actually infinite worlds and you follow the strict parameters of the quantum suicide experiment. But let’s see what this really means.
Max Tegmark, a famous cosmologist made the most famous response to this immortality thought experiment. He acknowledged that if the logical parameters of the experiment follow correctly, then everyone should be immortal. However, the flaw, he believed, was that death is rarely a binary event.
In the experiment, each test is a binary event, either you live or die. Tegmark suggests that dying is more of a progressive process, which relies on the results of previous events. When this is the case, the theory of quantum immortality breaks down.
So, if there are in fact endless worlds and you place yourself in a quantum box being both an observer of quantum experiments and a test subject of them, then you will live forever. That, is how you become truly immortal.
If you could, would you hop in the quantum box and live forever?
Source: Interesting Engineering