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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

May 13, 2005

They do it wrong, being so majestic

One of the nice things about this blog is that you never quite know what will come up on it. I was just thinking about Rob's post on weather forecasting. I know from previous conversations that he knows a fair old bit about chaos (the technical use of the word). And weather is mathematically chaotic. Or, possibly, just very complex.

For the last couple of hundred years we've come to assume that science could one day describe everything, and thus predict everything, if only we had enough initial data to feed into the appropriate equations.

And then along came the uncertainty principle in particle physics that suggested that in certain circumstances on very small scales, the idea that we can holistically describe everything, is mistaken.

Gratuitous and mildly funny related link.

But what if you feed "uncertain" data into a "chaotic" equation? So it all scaled up to human size. Could it be that some things are simply unpredictable, even if you have God's raid-array to hand, stacked with all the data that there possibly is, ready to feed into the equations?

I kind of like that thought. And now tomorrow's weather.... "well, actually we don't know what it's going to do because it is technically unknowable." Like there's no point in even trying. Which there probably isn't.

It puts things into perspective. We think we know most everything, but actually we're pretty rubbish at it.

And thinking about it, it would seem to imply that fatalism is wrong: that things can be different. Because if space and time are played out according to fixed rules, that doesn't leave much room for us to interfere with things does it?

So, maybe useless weather forecasts are the price we pay for having a free will.

It goes back to that thing Rob was saying again, about us having the minds of people living in the middle ages, underneath a thin veneer of modern scepticism. I quite like that. Apart from David Blaine majick.




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