July 28, 2007
As a kid I remember driving down the street when I saw a dog randomly jump out of its window. It bounced and rolled to a stop, probably injured but obviously not dead.
It bothered me enough that I sat down somewhere and decided not to get up until I’d figured it out. Eventually, right before dinner, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t random. The driver shouldn’t have had his window down because dogs don’t understand the dangers of driving.
If you throw a set of dice do they land randomly? …Doesn’t your hand’s position, sweat, force, twist, etc. really determine what happens? I think so. But that doesn’t prove randomness is a physical impossibility, it simply proves throwing dice isn’t random. …Or isn’t it? Suppose the person throwing the dice doesn’t know the shape of the surface they’re throwing a dice on? From the throwers perspective it would defiantly be random, but I don’t think their perspective changes the cause of the effect. So this is still defiantly not truly random in my book.
Look at the picture of computer generated “random” numbers below. Squint your eyes and you’ll see a pattern formed by the shapes of each letter and their spacing.
This might seem like a random pattern, it certainly doesn’t resemble any common objects. But this pattern isn’t. It’s the effect caused by aligning these particular numbers by their decimal point, sorting them from smallest to largest and spacing them evenly apart. Each of those factors may have been determined by different people, or other computer systems, but ultimately we know the pattern is the effect caused by these factors.
Towards my point, the computer generated “random” numbers aren’t random either. They are usually based on the number of nanoseconds since 1980, than multiplied by many math formulas. Surprised?
Did you know computers can’t even divide properly? It’s true. Actually division brings up an interesting sub-topic: Did you know the idea of having two equal halves of anything is a physical impossibility? Two values can always be measured more accurately and divided more evenly, and no two things (of any kind) are exactly alike. Upon close inspection everything is unique.
People have been fascinated by the idea of randomness throughout history. In ancient times they cast lots to both gamble and tell the future. Today we do the same thing. On the one hand our sciences all acknowledge that nothing is random. On the other hand we use “randomness” as the basis many seemingly rational things.
It seems that there are two small decided groups, those who believe nothing is random and those who believe everything is, while the majority of people tend to think it depends on the subject. …Which makes no sense to me …But then again, who am I? Just some random guy. 😉
So, what exactly does the word Randomness mean?
Princeton defines Randomness as…
Lacking any definite plan or order or purpose; governed by or depending on chance; “a random choice”; “bombs fell at random”; “random movements”. taken haphazardly; “a random choice”
Click here for my source
Wikipedia defines Randomness this way…
In ordinary language, the word random is used to express apparent lack of purpose or cause. This suggests that no matter what the cause of something, its nature is not only unknown but the consequences of its operation are also unknown.
Click here for my source
Why is there such a critical discrepancy between Princeton and Wikipedia? I think there are two reasons; 1) Wikipedia has a big culture with many perspectives. Mathematicians, etc. wouldn’t allow the article to misinform. Mathematicians know randomness hasn’t been quantified. That’s where the theory of probability actually came from. …And yeah, they never figured it out.
I prefer Wikipedia’s definition. Everything seems to serve a purpose. In fact, I can’t find a single thing that doesn’t. Maybe you’ve had better luck?