Archive for the ‘Uncertainty & Probability’ Category

255 – As Everything in Nature, We are Pure Potential amid Uncertainty and Probability …

Sunday, November 1st, 2020

There is nothing that empirically proves how profoundly interconnected we are with everything in Nature than verified scientific theories, and the Uncertainty Principle and Probability Theory do that for me.

Uncertainty and probability are powerful and inescapable elements of existence. The concepts were introduced in mathematical form to the scientific world as the Uncertainty Principle by the German physicist Werner Heisenberg, and Probability Theory by Gerolamo Cardano, Pierre de Fermat and, Blaise Pascal in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The uncertainty principle asserts a fundamental limit to the precision with which the values for certain physical quantities of a particle, such as position and momentum, can be predicted even if all initial conditions are specified. The probability theory establishes the odds of how likely an event is to occur. [1] Or in more familiar words, the theories assert the fundamental limit in Nature that it is possible to predict an event’s probable occurrence, but it is not possible to predict its outcome with precision. This applies to everything in our Universe. For example, the Andromeda and the Milky Way galaxies are estimated to collide in about four and a half billion years, but although the probability of the event can be made with scientific knowledge, its precise outcome is uncertain. Or we can plan to leave the house for work/school at a specific time, but although based on experience we can predict the arrival time at our destination, we can never be certain.

Existence is a result of the tendency of Evolution to unfold into complexity amid the uncertainty of an infinite set of probabilities. Existence is but a potentiality, an uncertain probability manifesting into one out of myriad probable configurations. Which one of those configurations becomes a reality can never be predicted with absolute certainty, only the likelihood of its occurrence. We are pure potential amid the uncertainty of an infinite set of probabilities.

A combination of 1 – the progressive movement of Evolution, 2 – the uncertainty and probability of chance events, and 3 – the role of the individual as a seminal force, is what ultimately determines which potentiality is manifested. Its unfolding in the dimensions of time and space is completely uncertain yet relatively predictable.

Probability establishes the odds for the occurrence, or not, of a future event, “crunching data from the past and using it as a torch to peer into the future … Pascal’s Probability theory gave us the possibility of seeing the world in terms of the rich range of consequences.” [2]

Whether it is an atom, or a cell, or a human being, or a galaxy, one of the certainties of existence is the total uncertainty of what is going to happen next. We may make an estimated guess at what may probably happen, but it may turn out to be wrong, or right, or somewhere in between. An event can never be predicted with certainty, only the probability of its occurrence.

The Uncertainty Principle and the Probability Theory prove how interconnected we are with everything in Nature. Once we accept this truth about ourselves, we will be more rational and understanding in our relationship with the world that gives us the right to exist.

[1] Concepts of the Theories were taken from Wikipedia

[2] Excerpts from Discovering the Odds by John F. Ross, Smithsonian

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28 – On Uncertainty and Probability

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Uncertainty and probability are powerful and inescapable elements of Existence. They were both introduced in mathematical theories to the scientific world as the Uncertainty Principle in the early part of the 19th Century by the German physicist Werner Heisenberg, and the Probability Theory in the 17th Century by the French mathematician Blaise Pascal.

According to the Uncertainty Principle, and due to the inherent rapid and constant change of atomic systems, we cannot measure accurately both, the position and the momentum of an atomic particle at the same time. To get an approximate measurement we go to Probability Theory.

Using Probability Theory, we can estimate the occurrence of an event (when, where, how). For instance, we can estimate the death of a star within an approximate number of billions of years, or the number of human beings on earth in five or fifty years from now, or the natural death of a human being at so many years of age, or the breakdown of the human mind after certain amount of duress. Probability Theory gives us the alternative of seeing the world in terms of a rich range of consequences and probabilities, not with total certainty, but with an estimated guess of their probable outcome, which in turn might be right or wrong, or somewhere in between.

The philosophical aspect of these theories can be summed up as: Existence is a temporary tendency to unfold amidst the uncertainty of an infinite set of probabilities. We can never predict an event with total certainty, only the likelihood of its occurrence.

Existence in our Universe is but the potentiality of a combination of energy and mass contents bonding together into a particular system out of myriad probabilities. The uncertainty inherent in the movement of Evolution, chance events, the role of the individual, the survival instinct, the urge to bond, or a combination of all, is what ultimately determines which potentiality is actually manifested.

Isn’t it incredible that we can exist at all in a constantly changing environment where we are completely uncertain of what is going to happen next, except for the certainty of our own disintegration some unknown time in the future? Isn’t it amazing that with that knowledge we continue to make plans for the future counting solely on a set of probabilities that may or may not be realized?

In the midst of uncertainty and myriad probabilities, the human being exists with the expectation of becoming the catalyst of events that may reach beyond our temporal existence. The yearning to leave a mark on the world is inherent, and oftentimes formidable, in all of us. But Existence is extremely vulnerable and, especially in its early stages, easily influenced.

Instead of the promise of a future full of probabilities, we are giving our Young a world where the uncertainty of existence is used as a controlling menace; where the freedom of the human mind to inquire and be different is castigated instead of promoted; where most organized religions instigate conflict and divisiveness, where education is geared to perpetuate a destructive economic system, where the value of human life is measured by the accumulation of material possessions, where the crimes of an elite are protected by the ‘law’, where acquiring material wealth is more important than acquiring Knowledge, where the abject poverty of millions is ignored over the greed of a few, where there is no vision for Humankind except for Consumerism and War and Division, where the probabilities for a more rational and peaceful future are drowned in hopelessness. No wonder why so many of our young are willing to commit suicide.

The uncertainty of a future paired with hopelessness, and the probability of a life mired in violence and bleakness, are often unbearable on the young human mind.

One of the leading causes of death amongst teenagers is suicide. The Centers for Disease Control report that it is the third leading cause of death, behind accidents and homicide, of people aged 15 to 24. Even more disturbing is the fact that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 and 14. It is important to recognize the fact that the suicide rate amongst teenagers is on the rise. In order to prevent teen suicide, it is vital to recognize what leads to it. (teensuicidestatistics.com)

Why is it that the powerful and the rich, the men and the women making the decisions for Humankind, cannot define a vision for tomorrow where Uncertainty is Adventure and Probability is Hope?

How different the promise of the future would be!!!

Revised February 2018

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