Can people actually predict the future?

Can we predict the future?

Position and speed are crucial

The mere fact that we do not yet have a powerful computer that knows and can calculate all particle positions prevents the future from being calculated precisely. In science this view is called determinism. That sounds fascinating at first, if it weren't for the development of physics over the past 70 years. When the Munich high school graduate Max Planck wanted to study physics in 1874, he was advised against. Almost everything has been researched. With Planck came the quantum theory, and everything has become a bit more questionable and open again. Max Planck's colleague, the physicist Werner Heisenberg, came up with the theory that the exact knowledge of the position and speed of the individual particles cannot be determined at all. The more precisely the position is to be determined, the less one knows about the speed and vice versa. Just a certain combination of position and speed would be exactly calculable. That was a blow to Laplace. That would mean that only half of what Laplace assumed would be calculable. Even Albert Einstein, who was known for his creative hypotheses, was clearly uncomfortable with this theory. It would be as if, in a world ruled by law, God was constantly throwing the dice in heaven to determine what should happen on earth. Einstein said: "God does not roll the dice."

In addition, what happens in black holes is barely observable because they swallow up all the light and leave us completely in the dark. The predictability of the future is becoming increasingly questionable.

What does the future hold? We're stuck in laws

The physicist Stephen Hawking claims in his book "Short Answers to Big Questions" that the predictability of the future will probably be limited to the combination of the speed and position of particles. We are still working on the level of physical laws.

There is still no talk of human behavior, chance or the time when the next DB train will arrive: #DBakel.


Short and sweet

• Before the emergence of natural philosophy, people wanted to rule the future with the help of gods.

• The French astronomer Pierre Laplace believed that the future was invariably predictable, provided that the position and speed of every particle in the universe were known.

• In quantum mechanics it became clear that exact knowledge of speed and position at the same time is not possible, only a combination of both quantities.

• The future continues to offer a space to hope and shape.


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