Monday, September 29, 2008

Bayes, Moravec and the LHC: Quantum Suicide, Subjective Probability and Conspiracies

The recent transformer trouble at the LHC has got many commenters to remember the somewhat playful scenario in Hans Moravec's Mind Children (1988): a new accelerator is about to be tested when it suffers a fault (a capacitor blows, say). After fixing it, another fault (a power outage) stops the testing. Then a third fault, completely independent of the others. Every time it is about to turn on something happens that prevents it from being used. Eventually some scientists realize that sufficiently high energy collisions would produce a vacuum collapse, destroying the universe. Hence the only observable outcome of the experiment occurs when the accelerator fails, all other branches in the many-worlds universe are now empty.

(Via Sentient Developments.)

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