Friday, June 27, 2008

Future Shock - III

The argument practically extends itself - What's keeping us from reading the future then? If what will happen is essentially a measurable function, then given our current state of computing prowess, there must be some events (small ones, like coin flips) that we should be able to predict.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Determinism is closely coupled with all things Newtonian, where matter, position and energy (force, pressure) are distinct ideas. F=m x a, v = u + at, etc.

Laplace's Demon:
Pierre-Simon Laplace went so far as to construct a demon, a hypothetical creature possessing an intellect that knew at any point in time about all forces that exist in nature, and the positions of all of those items that make up this nature. The demon, if it could compute this data, would then have a way to predict every movement of every body in the universe. To this demon, the future would be reduced to a simple continuum of the past and present.

The second law of thermodynamics:
The entropy of a system will increase over time to bring the system to equilibrium. This can be understood as all systems trying to become homogeneous over time.

This law definitely helped the 'demon' construct along, as a means of understanding how systems change with time.

*Note that James Clerk Maxwell showed that this law did not in fact apply across the board. Kick in the groin for L's demon. Maxwell did this by going back to the premise of Brownian motion, a basic model of how particles suspended in a liquid move randomly. It was already established that if this liquid was heated, the particles would move about faster, but still in a random manner.

In such a situation it was conceivable that the hotter particles at any one point in time could accumulate in one section of the liquid container (since the motion of these particles is random, this is a possibility). In that case, there would be a kink in the time-dispersal entropy-increasing graph of the system.

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