Nebulous

Vox Hunt: All By MyselfSchrödinger’s Cat is one of my favorite thought experiments. I tend not to think of things and black-and-white or not even in shades of gray but as simultaneously both. Well, I used to call things as having shades of gray until I realized that was wrong. I sometimes still make that error. The better I understand quantum mechanics, the more I feel that it explains everything. Order and chaos are twin underpinnings of reality.

Am I black or white? Really, I am simultaneously both. Maybe struggling with identity plays a role in enjoying the cognitive dissonance of the world around me. People want me to choose when that is a false dichotomy.

Kind of like what makes particle versus wave experiments so cool is how small tweaks change the results. Pretty much all of existence operates this way. The right small tweaks can have giant changes in behavior that are amazing to watch. This is what makes science so much fun. Carefully control your inputs and watch the outputs come out of left field.

How we look at something is often the most important factor in observing the universe around us.

Algorithmic Random

Mac Keyboard
Mac Keyboard

If you are out on the Internet or around academics long enough, then you will run across the rant about random designed by humans not being really random. It might be the iTunes shuffle. It might be random sampling of an experiment. It might be a complaint of you using the word for how you spend your time online.

OK. I took that last one a bit too personal.

If a human is performing the random, then there probably is a pattern. But then in nature, things we call random typically have a pattern too. DNA mutations involve changed molecules at a position and chance that it has no bearing, disables the bearer, or gives the bearer an advantage. The lack of true randomness is a sign of intelligent design to some. And a sign that it is natural to others. Quantum mechanics. Encryption. Stock trading. Prediction. Truly random is unnatural. Well… It just means we have not yet figured out the pattern. Give us time.

Since random is the wrong word, how about algorithmic random or a-random for short. It just means a pattern-based approximation of random that is good enough for the purpose of acting random.