Futurology/Methods

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Uncertainty Principle[edit]

At the smallest levels of our universe there is chaos. Because of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle we can only describe "truth" to within a certain tolerance. This doesn't mean that we can't call anything "truth," it just means that "truth" is the same as "something likely to be true" except with a smaller standard deviation.

As quantum mechanics grew in popularity over the twentieth century, a new type of mathematics developed to describe our world in terms of probability instead of absolutes. One of the most basic ingredients of this new mathematical structure is that of time evolution. Given the state and the properties of a system, time evolution quantifies how the system will change over time. In other words, it predicts the future.

By using the mathematical structure of quantum mechanics, futurologists objectify the probabilities of the future using the quantum tools that were originally established for objectifying the probabilities of the present.

Schrödinger's Cat[edit]

Schrödinger's cat is a seemingly paradoxical thought experiment devised by Erwin Schrödinger that attempts to illustrate the incompleteness of an early interpretation of quantum mechanics when going from subatomic to macroscopic systems. The experiment proposes:

A cat is placed in a sealed box. Attached to the box is an apparatus containing a radioactive nucleus and a canister of poison gas. This apparatus is separated from the cat in such a way that the cat can in no way interfere with it. The experiment is set up so that there is exactly a 50% chance of the nucleus decaying in one hour. If the nucleus decays, it will emit a particle that triggers the apparatus, which opens the canister and kills the cat. If the nucleus does not decay, then the cat remains alive. According to quantum mechanics, the unobserved nucleus is described as a superposition (meaning it exists partly as each simultaneously) of "decayed nucleus" and "undecayed nucleus". However, when the box is opened the experimenter sees only a "decayed nucleus/dead cat" or an "undecayed nucleus/living cat."