All posts by Mark Rushing

Time, Occurances and Probabilities

No Time!I’ve been spending a little time imagining events, when they happen, and their relation to time. It seems to occupy me when I play solitaire on my cell phone whilst sitting on the toilet.

I deal the cards. In doing so, the event of the card distributions occurs. Barring a few choices I then have on moving the cards around – the outcome of the game is determined at the initial card distribution.

I finish my game, and I’ve either won or lost.

Now, I decide to begin a new game, and I am readying to hit the Deal Cards button. My question is, were I to wait to hit the button until after I’ve wiped my ass, would the distribution of cards be the same as if I were to hit the Deal Cards button before doing so? (assuming truly “random” programmatics built into the mechanical game)

I thought the answer might be a simple one, relying on mere esoteric equations in probability mathematics. But on my cursory examination of such things, it is not so apparent. In fact, it led me back to philosophy, and the arcane notions of destiny and pre-determination – or chaos. And if mathematics were to meet the physics of practical observation, does my role of choosing or not choosing to hit the button at any given time even effect an outcome?

If not, there seems to be a bit of hopelessness. If so, then what forces influence such tides?

Mathematics alone does not seem sufficient. It can just reveal the liklihood of a particular event occuring, and can even go so far as to determine the liklihood distributed over time. But it doesn’t much deal with the actuality of the event occuring.

To resolve this with physics would require observing not only an event in the future (or the past, from which no information has been transmitted), but also would require observing two or more events simultaneously – i.e., you would have to know the state of the cards both now and the state of the cards in the future – and know them both simultaneously in order to make the determination.

I know that lots of physicists don’t like this sort of thing, and one good explanation they have is to say that the “wave” representing how the cards exist (in a compound sense, which is even murkier), exists throughout all space-time, and will collapse into a specific state when an interaction occurs. That our notion of past and future and now just don’t really exist.

But then, is it all predetermined – our consciousness moving along it’s tiny and pinpoint little “peephole” along the compound waves comprised of particle waves, like a rollercoaster locked tightly to rigid tracks of a multitude of causalities that exist, statically, throughout all space-time, and rooted to the Big Bang?

Or is it perhaps our little negentropic selves, realizing more and more the growing entropy, who need so desperately to encase ourselves in a safe, hardened and immutable shelter?

I’ll have to consider it some more, and hope that my leg doesn’t fall asleep while doing so.

But, given the choice… between superluminal communication and eternally static waves, I think I would choose superluminal communication. That might explain a good many of my problems, actually.

Superluminal Communication


Well, we’ve gone and done it. The private sector is beginning to move into space at last. Yesterday’s successful flight of SpaceShipOne up to around 62 miles above the Earth, and into weightless conditions, marks the turning point for many things for us all.

The wild pioneer who piloted the vessel during this first is Michael Melvill, who may certainly earn himself a place in history as the first man not associated with a government agency to leave the planet (as far as we know, I suppose).

However, the journey is certainly not yet for us all, having been backed financially mostly by Paul Allen, the local Seattle Microsoft-made billionaire, whose interest in the fun, and oftentimes stranger aspects of life have both benefited and frustrated many of us.

Paul brought us The Experience Music Project – a museum of rock music paraphenalia – and the strangest looking building I have ever seen. It has no form, really – the shape being chaotic, both in geometry and color. Now he’s built the world’s first Science Fiction Museum. He also turned the completely wild and insane, but deeply loved, or deeply hated, listener-supported and listener-driven Seattle radio station, KCMU, run by the students of the University of Washington, into KEXP – a well-funded, massively upgraded, yet still listener-funded (who knows why?) station playing music from now designated playlists, but still very alternative (by comparison to utterly corporate backed sound), by DJ’s that seem to stay around forever and never push the envelopes. No longer volunteers. KEXP(experience) is still owned by the University of Washington, but no students have much involvement. Mostly, it’s world-renowned for its internet-based multimedia delivery and archival capabilities now.

Oh yeah – he also purchased the Seattle Seahawks so they would not be taken away down to Los Angeles, and they now have a big nice new stadium Seahawks Stadium – or rather, just recently, Qwest Stadium, right next to Safeco Field, which, if I’m remembering right, the voters voted down twice.

Paul actually does do quite a lot of nice things, and I truly believe his heart is in the right place – it’s just that other people get involved who really want money and things to make them feel good about themselves. And the man contributed a huge amount to the SETI project – where I’ve just contributed CPU cycles. Then again, there’s the Allen Telescope Array…

So yes, the common man has made it into space! But he’s still getting there with a little help from some pretty uncommon people. But no, indeed, it is not the government.

It’s interesting to see Bush’s desire to force NASA into delegating off all of its stuff to private sector industry – coincidentally today, a presidental panel reached the conclusion that NASA should look to private industry “to assume the primary role of providing services to NASA.”

So yes, the common man. Making it into space. The Everyman rising up, in the great whir of our machinary.

Mike Melvill and SpaceShipOne Seahawk Stadium Experience Music Project KEXP Radio Allen Telescope Array at SETI