Elementary particle interactionsUncertainty is built into the very fabric of life, as demonstrated by quantum mechanics and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Schrodinger’s cat could be dead or alive, we just don’t know until the moment we open the box and have a peek.

But when we add up all those little pieces of uncertainty inside those atoms, the sum of those parts do seem to lead to some certainties. For example, the law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system is conserved over time.
Entropy is another law of physics which ensures that everything in the universe eventually moves from order to disorder. We age because of this. Living things die and decay because of this. According to Einstein everything is relative. Without time how could there be any life or death?  To tell you the truth, I’m not certain.

Insurance companies rely on our uncertainty of what may happen in the future to make their profits. If we all already knew that our house was not going to burn down ever, none of us would need insurance.

If things were certain, I would have no fun at all writing about change and how our lives might look in the future.

I think.

light-at-end-of-thetunnelBut then it occurred to me that if everything was certain, I could buy a particular share tomorrow and know that I would make a profit by next year. But if next year’s price on a given date was certain, everybody would buy the shares and that would change the price, so we are back to uncertainty again.

Well I’m no Einstein.

If we have to live with uncertainty, and it seems we do, we can learn from the Insurance companies. Based on experience we can estimate outcomes based on probabilities. We can look at the experience of others, but most people learn better from their own life experiences.

If I spend all my money on frivolities, it is probable that I won’t be able to pay my bills. It’s unlikely that it will suddenly start raining dollar notes to get me out of this fix.

Similarly the probability of any individual winning the lottery is slim. But one thing is certain. You have to be in it to win it.

Photo Attributions.

Cat in Box

By Calicocindy at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Light at the end of the tunnel

By en:User:TriTertButoxy, User:Stannered (en:Image:Interactions.png) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

3 thoughts on “Uncertainty

  1. I am always intrigued by Schrodinger’s cat. It makes me think whether or not one should open the box to find out. What is better? To know or not to know. I enjoyed your post, because it took me back to the questions that I often ask. At different junctures in life, I took decisions. How different life would have been had I chosen differently – and yet, if I had, I’d still be asking the same question. Won’t I?


  2. Exactly! And does order always descend into chaos? Civilizations have died before and probably will again. In the big scheme of things, we don’t matter do we? It’s only the sum of all our actions that actually make a difference. And things are probably just how they are meant to be so I don’t worry too much about uncertainty any more.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sometimes you do worry about the uncertainties that you can’t do much about anyway – because you are human, and because you are afraid that you may lose someone or something…


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