Posted: Jun 08, 2012 1:35 am
by Durro
backmarker wrote:Thanks for the welcome, Durro. I'm impressed with the engagement on this board--on most internet forums you can hear the crickets chirping in the welcome section.

Durro wrote:•there's no such thing as literal randomness, e.g. effects with no cause
I can think of a few - the generation of virtual particles, the decay of radioactive isotopes and quite possibly, the spontaneous energy release which led to the creation of the universe as we know it.

Can you elaborate on this? I'd enjoy further discussion, but I think reason depends on cause-and-effect, so if that's not granted, I'm blown right out of the water :(. In fact, I don't think cause-and-effect is unprovable, because wouldn't the proof rely on cause-and-effect?

A useful overview of Virtual Particles can be found at

Essentially, matter comes into and out of existence randomly for very short periods of time without any cause. The presence of these particles can be observed by the effects they have on the space around them. It's Lawrence Krausse's hypothesis that in the infinite nothingness of the pre-big bang universe, the appearance and disappearance of matter was a regular thing, but it took a temporary imbalance in the state of matter to cause the Big Bang, an event that as Douglas Adams put it is simply one of those things that happens from time to time. The sheer enormity of the potential energy contained within an infinite amount of nothingness led to the enormous universe we now see around us. Or something like that...

A useful overview of radioactive decay can be found at

The decay of radioactive isotopes is broadly predictable at a large scale (i.e when measuring the half life of a large sample) but the individual decay of a single atom is a random event caused most likely by a quantum fluctuation. We cannot predict when a single atom will decay. If you took an atom of substance X that had a half life of say 10 years, there's a 50% chance that it will decay within 10 years, but it could decay in 1 second from now or in 100 years from now. We can't predict when it will happen as it's a randomly generated event.


There's a number of highly educated and/or professional scientists who are members of this forum who could explain these concepts better than I (and correct whatever mistakes I probably made). Perhaps if you start a thread or join an existing thread on a related topic, they would be able to more properly elaborate on the issues.