Whence predictability?
© 1 Feb 2012 Luther Tychonievich
Licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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With surprising reliability…


The observant among my readers noticed that I did not post anything to this blog yesterday. This was caused by my attempts to create a presentable post failing. I’ve mentioned such failures before, but this one caused me to ponder in a different fashion.

Isn’t it odd how many things work most of the time? Or, if you find predictability natural, isn’t it odd how many things fail so frequently? Why should it be that an hour suffices to write almost any post in this blog? Why can I never predict how long a new algorithm will take to develop, some coming in hours and others in years? Why is the world as regular and unpredictable as it is?

This thought process begs one much larger for me. Why does there always seem to be some static structure near or just below the surface of our experiences? Why can random events so often be characterized by a single static distribution function—so often, in fact, that we call the study of randomness “‍statistics‍”? Why are the fundamental constants constant? Why do the laws of physics not appear to change? From whence this all-pervasive predictability?

I don’t suppose that the reliability with which I can write blog posts is properly comparable to the invariance of the Coulomb force, but but the one causes me to reflect on the other. What if one out of every eighty electrons failed to attract protons just as one out of every eighty posts for this blog fails to develop?

I have no idea why the universe is predictable. I don’t even know what it would mean if it weren’t. There is something entertaining in entertaining such border-line thoughts.

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