The Music of Chance

How random is this? I’m sitting in an empty classroom at Princeton, a few feet away from Roger Nelson, the founder and director of the Global Consciousness Project. The setting seems plucked right out of A Beautiful Mind, with a thin band of blackboard framing the room, broken by windows overlooking an immaculate campus. There are chalkboard leavings from the previous occupants: elaborate differential equations from a math class, Arabic conjugations from some linguists. And in the nearby engineering quad sits a server, quietly humming away, polling dozens of computer randomizers around the world for Nelson’s grand experiment. Based on that data, he’s written several carefully worded scientific papers that claim that human ...

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