RE: Quantum immortality

From: Higgo James <>
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 09:23:03 -0000

Hi, Max -

I agree this is a flaw - did your note cross with my mail asking about
Alzheimer's? But I think there muse be a solution if only we understood the
concept of consciousness.

On another note, Vic Stenger sent me this mail, which I disagree with, but
can you point to the flaw?

I think the problem is that you are treating macroscopic, many body systems
if they are pure quantum states. This is often done in discussions of
Schroedinger's cat, but was not meant to be taken that literally by
Schroedinger. The quantum entanglement problem is still there, and
Schroedinger was right in pointing it out, but it applies to coherent
quantum states rather than most macroscopic systems which are incoherent
mixtures. This is the problem with all the quantum consciousness business
too, since the brain is a very hot, incoherent, "macroscopic" system even at
the level of neurons and synapses. (See my discussion in The Unconscious
Quantum). So, maybe you can make one of your atoms immortal, but not likely
the whole assemblage.

Incidentally, I know your correspondent Rainer Plaga very well, so please
pass on my comments to him, with my regards.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Max Tegmark []
> Sent: 28 November 1998 18:20
> To:;
> Subject: Quantum immortality
> Hi guys,
> Here's a brief comment on the issue of
> whether the MWI implies subjective immortality.
> This has bothered me for a long time, and a number of people have
> emailed me about it after the Guardian and New Scientist articles came
> out.
> I agree that if the argument were flawless, I should
> expect to be the oldest guy on the planet,
> severely discrediting the Everett hypothesis.
> However, I think there's a flaw.
> After all, dying isn't a binary thing where you're either dead or
> alive - rather, there's a whole continuum of states of progressively
> decreasing self-awareness. What makes the quantum suicide work is
> that you force an abrupt transition.
> I suspect that when I get old, my brain cells will gradually give out
> (indeed, that's already started happening...)
> so that I keep feeling self-aware, but less and less so, the final
> "death" being quite anti-climactic, sort of like when
> an amoeba croaks. Do you buy this?
> By the way, since Jacques asked, I unfortunately haven't been able to
> devote much time to "everything" issues recently - it's
> largely been absorbed by my day job, astrophysics. One day I hope to
> sit down and read all the interesting postings to this great list!
> For the next few months, however, I'll remain a very erratic
> poster/correspondent at best.
> ;-)
> /////
> ( O O )
> | " |
> |------.oooO---------Oooo.------|
> | Max Tegmark |
> | Institute for Advanced Study |
> | Princeton, NJ 08540 |
> | |
> |_______________________________|
> | | Oooo.
> .oooO ( )
> ( ) ) /
> \ ( (_/
> \_)
Received on Mon Nov 30 1998 - 01:28:00 PST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:06 PST