Thought — 1 Min Read


by Case Greenfield, December 21st, 2022

Thought — 1 Min Read


by Case Greenfield

December 21st, 2022

Made me wonder …

Some things I just would want to understand, but probably won’t. Among these are:

From uncertainty to predictability

We tend to see predictable patterns in our daily life. Eg. the sun rises and sets every day at a totally predictable time of the day, depending of the season. But the sun and our planet Earth are built up of atomic and subatomic particles, which follow the laws of quantum physics. Now, quantum physics is fundamentally built upon probability.

A fundamental feature of the [quantum] theory is that it usually cannot predict with certainty what will happen, but only give probabilities. Mathematically, a probability is found by taking the square of the absolute value of a complex number, known as a probability amplitude. This is known as the Born rule, named after physicist Max Born. For example, a quantum particle like an electron can be described by a wave function, which associates to each point in space a probability amplitude. Applying the Born rule to these amplitudes gives a probability density function for the position that the electron will be found to have when an experiment is performed to measure it. This is the best the theory can do; it cannot say for certain where the electron will be found. The Schrödinger equation relates the collection of probability amplitudes that pertain to one moment of time to the collection of probability amplitudes that pertain to another.(Source: Wikipedia)

So, how can it be that if you put lots of particles together, their fundamentally probabilistic individual behavior turns into collective predictable behavior? It is a bit the same as that you cannot predict the behavior of one person, but you can predict the behavior of a large group of people. The mysteries of statistics. Apparently, there is some kind of pattern in the random behavior of particles … and human beings.

From dead to alive

Another mystery, that I and many other people are puzzling over is the following. An atom is dead. A molecule is dead. A virus is alive. A cell is alive. A virus and a cell are built up of atoms and molecules. So, how can dead molecules form a living cell?

In biology, abiogenesis (from a- ‘not’ + Greek bios ‘life’ + genesis ‘origin’) or the origin of life is the natural process by which life has arisen from non-living matter, such as simple organic compounds. The prevailing scientific hypothesis is that the transition from non-living to living entities on Earth was not a single event, but an evolutionary process of increasing complexity that involved the formation of a habitable planet, the prebiotic synthesis of organic molecules, molecular self-replication, self-assembly, autocatalysis, and the emergence of cell membranes. Many proposals have been made for different stages of the process. (Source: Wikipedia)

And how can living bodies generate intelligence and consciousness? And how do intelligence and  consciousness generate mind models? I guess, it all has to do with increasing complexity.

Complexity in art

So … how does this work in art?

Is there predictability and liveliness in complex artworks, that are made up of unpredictable and dead parts and simple constituents? I guess so! Take any painting. Mona Lisa, for instance. The paint and canvas are just dead pieces of material. But her intriguing, mysterious smile has touched millions. There is meaning in complexity.

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