Dark Trivia

I’m sitting in the darkness of the junk room, listening to an internet radio station, and pretending I’m a writer. Of course we all know I’m really a software developer that just spent all day running around in circles, re-designing something I won’t be able to tell you about – which beggars why I mentioned it in the first place. I can pretend to be a writer though.

I’m writing these words though, right? That means I’m writing. Ergo, I’m a writer.

Miss 15 sat her first exam today – an English Language exam. Her school takes the English Language exam a year ahead of the Literature exam – reasoning that allowing the students to focus on one thing or the other is more fruitful than learning both at the same time. Apparently the results bear this out.

I don’t really remember my English exam at the end of secondary school. I don’t really remember any of my exams, truth be told. I remember sitting in the school gymnasium and being watched by invigilators for hours on end. Maybe I can remember a mathematics exam, but that’s about it. I got lots of C grades, I seem to remember – then went onto further education, and started to care a bit more. Not enough to go to University though.

People are invariably surprised when they find out I didn’t go to University – I’m not really sure why. I’m not really sure why I didn’t go either – I had the chance. I wonder if I would have turned out any differently had I gone? It’s a “sliding doors” question, isn’t it.

Imagine if you could go back in time and re-visit a scene from your own past. Would you be able to help yourself from somehow influencing unfolding events ? I remember reading a book of short stories called “Golden Apples of the Sun” by Ray Bradbury many years ago – I believe it’s one of the books that gave rise to the “Butterfly Effect”. In one of the short stories a time traveller visits pre-historic times on a tour, and is instructed never to leave the designated path under any circumstances. Of course they do, and accidentally kill a butterfly. When they return to the present, the world is very subtly different.

It’s the whole “Chaos” thing, isn’t it.

I read a book by James Gleick about Chaos Theory years ago. It described the combinatorial explosion that goes on in the world all the time – meaning that even with identical starting conditions (as far as we can tell), the future always remains unknowable. We might have a good idea of how things will unfold, but we can never know exactly – because even inspecting what is going on changes what’s going on – I believe that’s what “Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle” is partly about.

Fun piece of trivia – the writers of Star Trek knew about the ramifications of the uncertainty principle – that it dooms the entire idea of “transporters” to science fiction – so they wrote a device called a “Heisenberg Compensator” into their scripts to deal with it.

How on earth did I get from and English Language exam to Heisenberg Compensators?

Maybe it’s time to go to bed, and to stop thinking so much.

One thought on “Dark Trivia

  1. Well I’ve got a lot of Googling to do now, don’t I? I have no clue what sliding doors, butterfly effect, Chaos Theory, or Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle are about. Does that make me uninformed? Stupid?


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