the Universe: good potential but easily distracted

my life as a Feynman diagram: my critical path is the sum of all possibilitiesIf the Universe were at School, zir report card would say: "...shows potential but is frequently vague and easily distracted."

And if the Universe's parents were to discuss that report card, one parent would say to the other: "Frequently vague? More like eternally vague, and always distracted!"



Vagueness is at the very heart of the Universe, as highlighted for example by the Uncertainty Principle, which applies to so-called "paired parameters" such as position and momentum.

In the quantum world, if you determine exactly how fast something is moving, then you cannot determine exactly where it is.* And if you determine exactly where it is, then you can't determine exactly how fast it's moving.*

These limitations don't arise because of inadequacies in measuring equipment or measuring techniques. Uncertainty is a fundamental, in-built aspect of Reality.

Time/energy is another pair of parameters subject to the Uncertainty Principle. To explain how that works is beyond the scope of this post.

But let's leave the quantum world and take a look at how the Uncertainty Principle could be applied "in real life", firstly re time/energy, as follows:
  • The more time you waste, the less energetic you are.

  • The more energetic you are, the less time you waste.

  • The less energy you have, the more time it takes you to do stuff.

Secondly, re position/momentum:
  • The less you know about who you are, the more you know about what you're doing.


  • The more you know about what you're doing, the less you know about who you are.

  • The more you know about where you’re going, the less you know about where you are.
Can you think of any others?

* Incorrect, grossly misleading and drastically over-simplified. Doesn't reflect the fact that momentum = mass times velocity.

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mgeorge said...

"What is clear and simple is not necessarily well defined or provable. Though you may be willing to bet against yet another claim of perpetual motion or cold fusion, you cannot al-ways disprove it rigorously. We scientists have considerable faith in weather predictions, lit-tle faith in predicting peaks and dips of the stock market and no faith in astrology. We can explain why, but without being able to prove it. Energy is perhaps the most useful, clear and common concept in all of science. Yet, it has no rigorous definition; the best we have is "that quantity which is conserved." Common sense and intuition have their place in scientific re-search. Familiarity with failed attempts to solve a problem may turn out to be detrimental." - Prof. Haim Harari, edge.org, 2008

mgeorge said...

"We are not sure the Earth is going to keep heating up if we do not do anything. Similarly, we are unsure of the details of the current theory of evolution, and whether modern medicine is always a better strategy than traditional ones. From this lack of certainty, jumping to the conviction that we need not care about global heating, that evolution is not going on, or that traditional medicine must be more effective is silly. Yet, a lack of certainty is perceived as a sign of weakness." - Carlo Rovelli, edge.org, 2011

Antares said...

Ha ha ha. Hee hee hee. Ho ho ho!

masterymistery said...

Antares, at this point in the proceedings it's entirely appropriate if not mandatory to conclude with "ho ho ho". Cheers, MM.

masterymistery said...

mgeorge, great quotes, thank you. They add a lot of value to the post. Probably ought to be included in the post, but that's a task for the future. Cheers, MM.

Martin Olson said...

This is great!

masterymistery said...

Thanks Martin. It ended up being a tad more technical than I'd intended, but I guess "technical" has a right to exist too! Cheers, MM.

cheesemeister (too lazy to log in) said...

Good potential but easily distracted. I used to think I was stupid, but I've come to believe that I'm just easily distracted. I also have many thoughts going on all at once. My brain is a universe. A chaotic, bipolar universe.
This is probably why my blog gets a fair number of hits (considering that I don't allow bots to spider it) but nobody ever comments. I'm scary in my strangeness and they fear to speak to me lest I cast a spell on them or eat them or such in my Goddesslike way.
(only kidding about the Goddess stuff.)
I'm very tired. I really should try to sleep and not compose sentences which likely make no sense.

masterymistery said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
masterymistery said...

Hi cheesemeister. Sorry for delay responding to your comment. I think you're only half-kidding about the Goddess stuff. And now let me contradict you again, re your statement: "I'm scary in my strangeness and they fear to speak to me lest I cast a spell on them or eat them or such in my Goddesslike way." The contradiction is to point out that your sentences make perfect sense: I'm tempted to "borrow" the one in quotes above, and use it as my profile message! It's wonderful --- makes sense on several levles.Cheeers, MM

Antares said...

Thoroughly delighted by cheesemeister's comment! Very jolly, all of it :-)

masterymistery said...

Hi Antares, yes I loved what Cheesemeister said, especially the "scary in my strangeness" part! Thanks for stopping by, Cheers, MM

cheesemeister (still too lazy to log in) said...

Aw, thank you! You all flatter me!