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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Noodling Probability

I've been noodling over an article I read in Friday's NY Times entitled "One Hundred Years of Uncertainty." It's by Brian Greene who has written about SuperString Theory in "The Elegant Universe." Greene writes about Albert Einstein, and the series of papers he wrote in 1905. Out of one of the papers was spawned Quantum Mechanics which describes a kind of 'spooky' universe, where there is no certainty, only probabilities. What we call 'reality' is just a bunch of jostling possibilities, that we 'force' (by observing the observed) into an outcome. So we live in a cosmos whose internal workings are highly uncertain. Our common perception is merely a definitive-looking veneer.

OK sounds kind of kooky, but Quantum Mechanic's mathematics has "helped to make some of the most precise predictions in the history of science." One the one hand, this is all kind of disturbing, our perceptions are proven (again) to be illusory, but the universe is alive with probabilities and possibilities beyond our imaginings. Isn't that a more hopeful, exciting and mysterious universe to live in? It may be reassuring to live in a world of certainties, but this appears to be illusion; if we live in a world of probabilities, lets make our best guesses, lay down our bets, and see what happens!

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