wed 26 dec 2012 20:43:39 witte de withstraat
wfc3 told me about uncertainty
this afternoon on break i was watching one of feynman's 1964 lectures in which he uses a blackboard to explain the dual nature of particles, and the uncertainty principle. i remembered when my brother bill first explained heisenberg to me, in the early or mid 1970s. i don't remember the occasion, like how did we get on to that subject. i do remember being pretty dubious about the whole nondeterminism thing. i must have screwed up my face in consternation.
but now every time i hear a bit more about the dual nature (corpuscular / wave) of light, the parallel to human behavior gets stronger in my mind. to me it really seems like 'society's' action is probabilistic, that society doesn't actually 'do' anything — whereas individual people (the particles) have volition. and you can't use the physics of one nature to predict the other. it all seems very like how humanity works.
i guess the reason why the science and art in my childhood seems special to me, is because i did not come from an academic family. come to think of it, bill was the only one of us four kids to even go get a bachelor's degree in anything. i think mum may have ultimately got some kind of associate degree late in life, by night courses or something (or i could be dreaming that). but when she was younger and i was growing up, mum told me a lot of basic science that she must have picked up just by being curious. this has led me to regard academia, per se, as a nice-to-have, but not indispensible.
i wonder how i might have turned out if i had had the money to matriculate at emerson college. to have become more academic. i never felt i had the innate skills to be a smarty, which may partly be because of how discouraged we were in early life by the teachers who hated us in the arlington district, but is also partly because of my slow mind. when i look around, though, i see plenty of people with academic degrees who are actually not very bright at all. so maybe i could have been a scholar of some kind. but then what would happen? maybe i'd have ended up a bitter old teacher of wish-i-coulda. instead, i became someone who tried to do some things, and accomplished not much.
but one thing is for sure, i don't feel that my enlightenment has been compromised by the lack of formal education. i am curious, so i'm always learning stuff.