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Quantum Suicide Theory = Everyone Dies Of Old Age?

  1. Apr 21, 2010 #1

    I am curious about the quantum suicide theory and what it may mean for the individual in his/her own time branches.

    The quantum suicide theory states that there is a gun powered by some sort of quantum particle generator that is programed to fire when the particle is there and not fire when it isn't. Since quantum particles in their existence are true and false at the same time this means that it creates 2 time branches: one where you are dead because you were shot and one where the gun did not go off. The individual would experience the gun never going off whereas the bystanders would see him get shot. This is because it is impossible to live in a time branch where you are killed thus, you continue existence in the time branch where your mindfulness is present. So this brings up a question.

    Does everyone in his/her own set of time branches die of old age? Since it is not possible for the individual to live in a time branch where he/she doesn't exist is this possible? Also, if it is why is it possible since you will be dying of old age at the end?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 21, 2010 #2
    This could not play though as far as you are taking it. There would need to be a detector to trigger the gun, when a particle is detected it will have a definite position.

    The explanation on Wikipedia talks about contradictions between the copenhagen and many worlds interpretation of QM.
  4. Apr 21, 2010 #3


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    If you assume the MWI of QM is true, AND you assume that "your consciousness" only transfers to the universe where you are alive, then this quantum suicide experiment would suggest that all conscious beings are quantum mechanically immortal in the sense that whenever there is a probability for you to die, you always move to the universe in which you live. In this way, you wouldn't even die of old age...but probably just get infinitely more decrepit lol.

    As far as I know, this quantum immortality is consistent with current physical laws assuming the MWI is true. However, I don't think most physicists either take this quite seriously, or really even bother working with it since this theory has more to do with the metaphysics of consciousness than real observable physics.
  5. Apr 22, 2010 #4
    If physics really has something to do with conciousness, scientists will have to live with it. Probably wavefunction collapse is a mere illusion caused by conciousness.
  6. Apr 22, 2010 #5
    The theory essentially states that people don't literally 'feel' their death b/c they are just reborn basically? is that correct? and while third parties do witness the 'death' the actual person that gets shot, does not, and they are instantly reborn in order to "continue existence in the time branch where your mindfulness is present."

    In that case how would the population of the earth change so dramatically in the last 100 years? If I have not mistaken the world population doubled in the last 50 years or so. So my question is, if you believe in this theory, how would you explain the dramatical increase in the word population? b/c it seams that if there theory was true then there would be 1 soul only for every individual but life kind of disproves that...
  7. Apr 22, 2010 #6
    human bodies are large. quantum mechanics is for small particles.
  8. Apr 22, 2010 #7
    An interesting note on that point. There is a state vector that is a summation of all the quantum states that make up any one person. A computer may be able to compute it one day. One function with a fourier transform that describes you. The contemporary fingerprint.
  9. Apr 22, 2010 #8
    That's amazing but somehow not surprising to me. It makes sense! When you view the human body under a powerful microscope each component is eventually going to come down to vectors and the sum of all the vectors result in a human. That blows my mind lol.
  10. Apr 22, 2010 #9


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    Not that you are "reborn", just that as long as there are some possible future histories ('possible' in the sense that they are 'worlds' in the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics) where you continue to exist from now until some arbitrary old age, no matter how improbable--say, a future where they discover a way to halt aging so you can live indefinitely barring accidents--then the theory says that you're guaranteed to experience one of those histories, rather than one of the possible future histories where you die.
  11. Apr 22, 2010 #10
    So, essentially the theory is saying that 'something' is definitely going to happen after you day as opposed to absolutely nothing?

    In other words, some transformation of our being into another state of living is guaranteed?
  12. Apr 22, 2010 #11
    This supposes that after you die, your consciousness "jumps" to another "world".
    That is a very strange assumption to be making.

    Physicists are still debating whether or not Quantum Physics says that other "worlds" even exist or if they are just mathematical artifacts.
  13. Apr 23, 2010 #12


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    Not quite. The theory says your consciousness would split off into 2 universes. For example, if you just flipped a coin (or a QM version of a coin flip), MWI says that you go into 2 universes one in which the coin landed heads and one in which the coin landed tails. You exist simultaneously in both (and after a while, in billions upon billions of probable universes). However, since your consciousness died in one of the 2 universes this experiment was made in, you don't exist in that universe. In that universe, everyone thinks you're dead. You only exist in the universe in which you are alive...so that is the only universe your consciousness could have manifested in.

    This theory sounds an awful lot like Solipsism to me... I certainly can't conceive of a way in which to test it or falsify it...
  14. Apr 23, 2010 #13
    So, we are left with somewhat of a conundrum.

    The "quantum suicide" theory or "Schrödingers cat" are inherently untestable with respect to validation.
  15. Apr 24, 2010 #14
    Isn't it safe to say that our existence as whole is untestable with respect to validation?

    What you and I perceive on a daily basis as 'real' is untestable with respect to validation...
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