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Dendritic Quantum Mechanics

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Event Series Event Series: Multiple Universes

October 3, 2021 @ 6:00 pm 8:00 pm CEST

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Dendritic Quantum Mechanics

with Paul Tappenden

Sunday October 3, 2021
9:00 PDT | 12:00 EDT | 17:00 BST  |  18:00 CEST

2-hour session

If you are unable to attend the live session, the recording will be available.

The advent of quantum mechanics in the 1920s brought with it the idea that fundamental physical processes may be stochastic which is to say random but constrained by probabilistic law. Rather than the future being determined in advance, as envisaged by Newtonian mechanics, one actual future is stochastically selected from a range of alternativepossibilities. A way to restore determinism to physics is to replace the idea of a stochastic process with that of a dendritic process where all (possible) outcomes actually occur, each in a different (branch) of a burgeoning quantum multiverse. The idea has been much discussed but remains very controversial. Paul explains some of the conceptual difficulties involved and how the idea may be linked to a non-standard materialist conception of the mind-body relation.

If you are constantly ‘splitting’ into every future previously thought merely possible, in what sense is it you who lives through those futures? An analysis of trans-temporal identity is required. How can the concept of probability apply to multiple coexistent futures rather than the selection of a single actual future from a range of alternative possiblities? A thought experiment involving hypothetical parallel universes helps. If ‘splitting’ is intelligible, what would the implications be for our choices in life if it came to be generally accepted by physicists and philosophers of physics?

To see the Full Multiple Universes Program

Paul Tappenden’s first degree was in philosophy and psychology but he has long taken an interest in physics and was particularly fascinated by the philosophical problems associated with quantum mechanics. His PhD from King’s College, London, was an attempt to relate an important current debate in philosophy of mind with ideas in the so-called Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics. Since then he has taught philosophy of science to physics students in Grenoble, France, and has pursued the ideas in his doctorate in a series of papers, the most recent being in the journal Synthese, 2019.


October 3, 2021
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm CEST