In the history of science, Laplace's demon was the first published explanation of causality or scientific (Laplacian) determinism. The modern history of the scientific picture of the world began with him. This concept was introduced by Pierre-Simon de Laplace in 1814. Since then, it has remained virtually unchanged. According to the concept of Laplacian determinism, if someone (a demon) knows the exact location and momentum of every atom in the universe, its past and future actions can be calculated according to the laws of classical mechanics.
Role in the development of science
The desire of many scientists to confirm or disprove this theory played a vital motivating role in the subsequent development of statistical thermodynamics, the first of several refutations developed by subsequent generations of physicists under the assumption of causal certainty upon which Laplace's demon was erected.
This abstract intelligence is often called Laplace's demon (and sometimes Laplace's Superman, after Hans Reichenbach). Laplace himself did not use the word "demon". Apparently he was not the firstscientists who developed, in fact, the idea of Laplacian determinism. Strikingly similar passages can be found in the writings of scholars such as Nicholas de Condorcet and Baron D'Holbach. However, it seems that Roger Joseph Boskovich was the first person to offer the image of super-powerful intelligence to prove strict determinism. His formulation of almost Laplacian hard determinism in Theoria Philophiae Naturalis of 1758 was a revelation.
According to chemical engineer Robert Ulanovich, Laplace's demon met its end in the early 19th century with the discovery of the concepts of irreversibility, entropy, and the second law of thermodynamics. In other words, the principle of Laplacian determinism was based on the premise of reversibility and classical mechanics. However, Ulanovich notes that many thermodynamic processes are irreversible, so if thermodynamic quantities are considered purely physical, then such determinism is impossible, since it is impossible to restore the previous positions and impulses from the current state.
Maximum entropy thermodynamics takes a completely different view, considering thermodynamic variables to have a statistical basis that can be separated from microscopic physics. However, this theory has met with criticism regarding its ability to make predictions about physics. A number of physicists and mathematicians, including Ivan Velenik from the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Geneva, have pointed out thatmaximum entropy thermodynamics, in fact, describes our knowledge about the system, and not about the system itself. Therefore, Laplacian determinism is secondary.
Because of its canonical assumption of determinism, Laplace's demon is incompatible with the Copenhagen interpretation, which causes uncertainty. The interpretation of quantum mechanics is still very open to debate, with many scientists in the field holding opposing views (such as the many-worlds interpretation and the de Broglie-Bohm interpretation).
Chaos theory is sometimes cited as a contradiction to Laplace's demon and therefore to the principle of Laplace's determinism: it describes how a deterministic system is capable of exhibiting behavior that cannot be predicted. Like the butterfly effect, small changes between the initial conditions of two systems can lead to large differences in the results.
Pop culture references
In the anime series Rampo Kitan: Laplace's Game, Laplace's Demon is the basis of a computer program called "Dark Star". It allows the disguised hero of the Twenty Faces to cause the death of people who have escaped justice in one way or another. Thus, the Laplacian determinism in the anime was translated into an ethical and metaphysical channel.
In the Blast of Tempest anime, chaos theory and the butterfly effect, as well as a journey intotime and escape from parallel universes are the main themes.
The Waking Life movie discusses Laplace's demon as well as retorting from quantum mechanics.
In Dresden Codak's webcomic, this concept is explained on a page that combines philosophical and scientific concepts with D&D game rules. This page (chapter) is called Advanced Dungeons and Discourse. On it, Kimiko Ross must burn the second law of thermodynamics in order to summon a demon.
The British sitcom Spaced aired an episode called "Chaos" in which the artist Brian indirectly refers to Laplace's demon and Laplace's determinism in a conversation about chaos theory. He states that reality is a mathematically predictable predetermined system.
Rapurasu no Majo (Laplace's Witch), a 2015 novel by Japanese author Keigo Higashino, was filmed in 2018. Laplace's ideas are regularly mentioned in it and indirectly correlated with the plot.