February 5, 2013

Does probability come from quantum physics?

Ever since Austrian scientist Erwin Schrodinger put his unfortunate cat in a box, his fellow physicists have been using something called quantum theory to explain and understand the nature of waves and particles.

But a new paper by physics professor Andreas Albrecht and graduate student Dan Phillips at the University of California, Davis, makes the case that these quantum fluctuations actually are responsible for the probability of all actions, with far-reaching implications for theories of the universe.

Quantum theory is a branch of theoretical physics that strives to understand and predict the properties and behavior of atoms and particles. Without it, we would not be able to build transistors and computers, for example. One aspect of the theory is that the precise properties of a particle are not determined until you observe them and "collapse the wave function" in physics parlance.