Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Suicide: The Quantum Road to Wealth and Happiness

If the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is correct, there should always be some universe in which a version of you survives. As you age, the odds of your death increase yearly, monthly, daily, but even when you reach one thousand years there will be an infinitesimal chance of surviving one more day, and thus there will exist a universe in which you will continue existing.

Still more interesting: what path does your consciousness follow? If the universe “splits” in two, one carrying your corpse, the other leaving you breathing, then it would seem your consciousness would have to proceed along the path in which you live. Since there will always be a universe in which you live, and your consciousness will always proceed to such a universe, your consciousness is essentially indestructible: you are quant-immortal.

How likely is the many worlds theory? More than you may think. Feynmann considered it the most likely model, as do many other physicists. So, let’s assume that there’s a five percent chance you’re quant-immortal. This gives you a five percent chance of becoming a millionaire.

Here’s how: rig up an error-proof device that fires a shotgun upon receiving lottery numbers not matching a given ticket. “Error-proof” is of course impossible – the machine must simply be an order of magnitude less likely to fail than for the numbers to miss.

Chain yourself up, forehead before the shotgun. If you are quant-immortal, and the device nearly error-proof, you will likely find your consciousness arriving in one of those happy universes in which the numbers happened to hit: you’ll have won the lottery. In various other universes your brains lie on the floor, but in various other universes you’re the King of Luxembourg. The other universes are irrelevant; the knowledge is the thing. With this knowledge in hand, you could use such a device, with sufficient creativity, to send your consciousness into whichever desired reality imagined – you would have hacked the universe.

Of course, a 95% or greater chance of death will likely dissuade you from our experiment, but the next time you’re standing on a ledge on a lonely night, come on down and set up a lottery-shotgun-rig. Your surrender may just be the first step towards godhood … or a most puzzling suicide-note.


  1. Lotteries or money may not have any meaning in your another universe. These are symbols of empowerment - so go for the power rather than the symbol which may mean that you have to succeed in all universes, which may inturn mean you can't kill yourself as this is not a powerful act - so just be content with dividing by zero.

  2. You put alot of thought into this one! Interesting Thought Expermement!