Origin of Probabilities

This pioneering work ties the origin of probabilities we use (both in scientific analysis and everyday life) to quantum fluctuations. One important conclusion is that in many cases people have been using probabilities incorrectly when applied to multiverse theories.

Note added Jan 2022: While researching background for this paper I've come to understand interesting parallels between our probabilties work and the long history of exploring the quantum origin of probabilities in statistical mechanics (reviewed very nicely by Seth Lloyd here: Excuse our ignorance | Nature Physics).  The statements made in Section III of arXiv:1212.0953 about the origins of the Boltzmann distribution are in fact a reiteration of the points reviewed by Lloyd (which have a history in the literature going back to 1959: Phys. Rev. 114, 948 (1959)).  Our origin of probabilties work can be seen as an extension of these ideas to cases where probabilities are used outside of the realm of statistical mechanics (such as the coin flip we discuss at length). 

Technical work

  • A. Albrecht and D. Phillips Origin of probabilities and their application to the multiverse. arXiv:1212.0953 (here is the PRD link)
  • Slides from a 2019 talk at the Niels Bohr Institute 
  • Video of a short talk at the Jan 2014 FQXi conference focusing on implications for cosmology
  • ICTP Colloquium (June 2013): Video (This talk contains the substance of our ideas about probabilties, but to understand our current views on the implications for multiverse theories, please look to any of the above materials.)

Accessible material in the media


  • New Scientist Article (From issue 2898 of New Scientist magazine, page 8-9)
  • Is Luck Real? Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman (Season 5, Episode 2, first aired March 2014)
  • Rules for computing classical probabilities might depend on quantum randomness Science News Jan 23, 2013
  • Quantum Ignorance (UNconstant Blog 1/15/2013)
  • Why Every Coin Flip May Be a Schrödinger’s Cat Facts so Romantic on Matter (June 12, 2013)