Marks and Remarks
Food for the Mind and Eye

No. 0135, August 13, 2017


  Don't Wait For It

     The Artist and his Masterpiece (reprise)

Copyright 2017 by S.W. Paul Wyszkowski

     Given some fixed amount of time, say a few billion years, give or take, and a fixed amount of space, say a trillion cubic light-years or so, that would cover a lot of stuff happening. Much of it statistically likely, some not so much. And somewhere within a chunk of space-time this big some really weird and highly unlikely stuff is bound to be observed.

     Even so, we can be absolutely sure that not all of the potentially possible events can occur within such a defined region of space-time, no matter how large. Any one possible event, even the most improbable, may (or may not) happen. But the number of all possible events (without going into what constitutes a "possible event" - that's another story) is indefinitely large. To observe them all, we would presumably need more than any given amount of space-time.

     Which, as it happens, we can have, at least theoretically, simply by waiting forever. Yet even given eternity we still cannot be sure that all possible events, however likely or unlikely, say a million monkeys accidentally typing the works of Shakespeare (we assume this is physically possible), will actually happen sooner or later. This is for two reasons: a) we'll never know, we cannot know whether an event that has not yet happened will ever happen, and b) new space-time is being created by events as they happen and we can't predict accurately what may or may not be possible in regions of space-time not yet created. Not just because we don't know enough. There is not enough to know even if we could know it all which we can't. The universe is a work in progress, incomplete, full of uncertainties and secrets, even from itself.

     From this we draw the unsettling conclusion that some potentially possible events may never ever happen. The universe will never be completed. As an optimist, I find this encouraging. Perhaps, instead of waiting for them, we can try to make events happen that might not ever happen otherwise. As Prickles, our resident teleologist and a veritable hedgehog likes to say: "Where there is no end and no way to know there's hope." "And adventure," she adds.


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