Monday, October 28, 2013

Not that Heisenberg...

Although it's half-life will doubtless be shorter than that of Werner Heisenberg's fame, today, a few weeks after the conclusion of the terribly popular broadcast melodrama called Breaking Bad, its  flame burns brighter for sure. Hence the need to specify.

I had an idea on waking this morning that made me downright happy. Buzzword-compliant, informative, and entertaining web portal idea that would, along the way, make the world a better place, if only a little at a time. An hour after I got up and started perambulating, I felt it necessary to write it down, but, literally, as I opened a notepad to write it down, it faded to white. I am sure if I rifle through my mental trash, I'll recover it, and now I'm thinking it must be good if it is so resistant to captivity.

I don't think I'm the only one, and this is not the first time this has happened. I think it's part of the creative process. Corralling an idea without breaking it is no simple task. Ideas are born of other ideas shamelessly cavorting together, and the change in mindset that happens when instead of letting them cavort you ask them to come inside, wash their hands, and do their homework, changes their state completely. This is not a bad thing, but it does make the things elusive to capture.

Werner Heisenberg is no less than the creator of the matrix, the father of quantum physics. His uncertainty principle, though, is what really has made him a household name. Everything that is a good formal mathematical model expressed in lay terms is a misrepresentation, because the very richness of language works directly against logical rigor. Nevertheless, the basic idea of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is that the more you try to pinpoint where something is, the less certain you can be about where it is going. Heisenberg only articulated the heuristic principle, and the resulting inequalities are often confused with the observer effect, which states that 'watching' a phenomenon may actually alter the outcome of an event. The literary symbolism of that observation is fairly irresistible, and Heisenberg is a pretty cool name, so there you have it - a short history of everything that is not topical about Heisenberg in popular culture.