Albert Einstein, the genius par excellence, said many remarkable things throughout his busy life. But one of his best-known and most misunderstood quotes is the following one, which he left written in a letter to his colleague the mathematician Max Born:
“Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the ‘Old One’. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice”.
What did he really mean?
The time he lived was the most fruitful for physics so far. Einstein invested innumerable efforts to explain the nature of the macrocosm and so did other scientists to understand the essence of the microcosm, of the infinitely small, of the quantum. Very strange concepts began to appear, such as the quantum tunnelling, quantum entanglement, the uncertainty principle, all of them very transgressive, to the point that they did not match the laws of classical physics, not even the Theory of Relativity.
Among other things, all this new knowledge was showing us how complicated matter is. In fact, physicists estimate that it would be impossible to know with infinite and absolute precision the properties of matter, what makes it as it is, and that we could only approach it from probability and statistics, which is what governs the microcosm. In other words, the elementary particles that make up reality are governed by randomness.
The German physicist disagreed with the idea that we could not arrive at an absolute knowledge of things and that everything was governed by probability. He stated that through some natural law it would be possible to concretize the behavior of the elementary particles. He expressed his criticism of indeterministic quantum physics in his famous phrase, implying that it is possible to get to know the basis of the universe, of “God“, beyond chance. However, everything we know so far suggests that “God” does like to play games of chance