A clockwork universe
Every marksman knows that if a bullet misses its target, the gun was not aimed correctly. The statement seems trite, yet it conceals a deep truth. The fact that a bullet will follow a definite path in space from gun to target, and that this path is completely determined by the magnitude and direction of the muzzle velocity, is a clear example of what we might call the dependability of nature. The marksman, confident in the unfailing relationship between cause and effect, can estimate in advance the trajectory of the bullet. He will know that if the gun is accurately aligned the bullet will hit the target. The marksman’s confidence rests on that huge body of knowledge known as classical mechanics. Its origins stretch back into antiquity; every primitive hunter must have recognized that the flight of a stone from a sling or an arrow from a bow was not a haphazard affair, the main uncertainty being the act of projection itself. However, it was not until the seventeenth century, with the work of Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton, that the laws of motion were properly formulated. In his monumental work Principia, published in 1687, Newton expounded his three famous laws
that govern the motion of material bodies.
Cast in the form of mathematical equations, Newton’s three laws imply that the motion of a body through space is determined entirely by the
forces that act on the body, once its initial position and velocity are fixed. In the case of the bullet, the only significant force is the pull of gravity,which causes the path of the bullet to arch slightly into a parabolic curve. Newton recognized that gravity also curves the paths of the planets around the Sun, in this case into ellipses. It was a great triumph that his laws of motion correctly described not only the shapes but also the periods of the planetary orbits. Thus was it demonstrated that even the heavenly bodies comply with universal laws of motion. Newton and his contemporaries were able to give an ever more accurate and detailed account of the workings of the solar system. The astronomer Halley, for example, computed the orbit of his famous comet, and was thereby able to give the date of its reappearance. As the calculations became progressively more refined (and complicated)so the positions of planets, comets and asteroids could be predicted with growing precision. If a discrepancy appeared, then it could be traced to the effect of some contributing force that had been overlooked. The planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were discovered because their gravitational fields produced otherwise unaccountable perturbations in the orbits of the planets. In spite of the fact that any given calculation could obviously be carried
out to a finite accuracy only, there was a general assumption that the motion of every fragment of matter in the universe could in principle be
computed to arbitrary precision if all the contributory forces were known. This assumption seemed to be spectacularly validated in astronomy, where gravity is the dominant force. It was much harder, however, to test in the case of smaller bodies subject to a wide range of poorly understood forces.
Nevertheless Newton’s laws were supposed to apply to all particles of matter, including individual atoms.
It came to be realized that a startling conclusion must follow. If every particle of matter is subject to Newton’s laws, so that its motion is entirely determined by the initial conditions and the pattern of forces arising from all the other particles, then everything that happens in the universe, right down to the smallest movement of an atom, must be fixed in complete detail. This arresting inference was made explicit in a famous statement by the French physicist Pierre Laplace:
Consider an intelligence which, at any instant, could have a knowledge of all forces controlling nature together with the momentary conditions of all the entities of which nature consists. If this intelligence were powerful enough to submit all this data to analysis it would be able to embrace in a single formula the movements of the largest bodies in the universe and those of the lightest atoms; for it nothing would be uncertain; the future and the past would be equally present to its eyes.
Laplace’s claim implies that everything that has ever happened in the universe, everything that is happening now, and everything that ever will
happen, has been unalterably determined from the first instant of time. The future may be uncertain to our eyes, but it is already fixed in every
minute detail. No human decisions or actions can change the fate of a single atom, for we too are part of the physical universe. However much we may feel free, everything that we do is, according to Laplace, completely determined. Indeed the entire cosmos is reduced to a gigantic clockwork mechanism,with each component slavishly and unfailingly executing its preprogrammed instructions to mathematical precision.
Such is the sweeping implication of Newtonian mechanics.
Archive for June 2008
A clockwork universe
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Categories: bullet, clockwork, equation, future, Galileo, hindu, hinduism, Isaac, karma, Laplace, mechanics, multiverse, nature, Newton, Science, Sun, uncertain, uncertaintly, universe | Leave a comment
WHY INDIA NEEDS ICL
Well, I’ve been just one month into this IPL extravaganza, and I am already beginning to like BCCI and its policies. When the ICL began to expand, beginning to take foreign players under its wings, it was Mr. Sharad Pawar who had said that the exercise was futile and according to him people would not want to watch old players battling on a cricket field and would rather prefer watching some fresh blood doing the job.
Well some fresh blood are doing ‘the job’ on the field no doubt, but why recruit the same old players into IPL, when you do not want to see them battling on the field ? Perfect examples : Warne and McGrath, rumored to be into the ICL, and then overnight things take a turn and presto ! Warne is the coach cum captain of the Rajasthan Royals team ! Wow, that was quite remarkable BCCI.
While the BCCI has already served a ban on any cricketer, Ranji or International,who team up with ICL, It hardly comes as surprise to note that most of the players who first teamed up with ICL were Ranji cricketers. The reason ? Three fold. The lure of twenty twenty cricket with all its frills, the thrill of being in something which is so creative and different, and the most important factor, most of the players who have signed up for the ICL, have been Ranji players who have literally been ignored, or their cricketing skills rotting, due to the devouring greed of the BCCI. So what is wrong in ICL ?
Ok, so what if there is a life time ban ? Am sure that is not going to desist anybody from playing to their maximum potential. And a ban is not going to do any good for the BCCI, rather it is going to come right back to it as a resounding slap on its face. Take the case of a player like Ambati Rayudu, who played brilliantly. Now he has talent. But will he be ignored by selectors ? Reason being because he played in a rebel league ? Is this the answer BCCI going to give ? I am impressed.
The BCCI also took decisions like stopping pension to former players who align with the ICL. What Kapil had to say for this was --- "I did not go to them asking for pension and if they want to stop it, what can I do? Let them stop it,"
Like Us …. Kapil is clueless as to what made BCCI see a potential rival in the ICL and target those associated with the league.
"Why do they see ICL as a parallel or rebel body? The BCCI is trying to promote the game in India and if somebody else is pumping in more money why is it a problem with them? This league can help the BCCI only. This can help Indian cricket and shape so many careers. What is BCCI's problem?" is Kapil’s Question.
I think I might have an answer to it. Money Money and Money. Perhaps the World’s richest cricketing body, not satisfied with its coffers full is now intent on making more money, and it wants to make it without competition.
ICL if endorsed, would take up or rather ‘eat-away’ more than half of the revenue derived from the game, thus leaving the poor and gullible BCCI to somehow manage with the money left behind.
With bollywood celebrities thrown in, cheerleaders from America, Industrialists owning teams, IPL is all set to sell cricket to a cricket crazy nation. All this is fine, but where are the players. No doubt there will be young blood in this money crazy format, but what happens to those less unfortunate counterparts of these young lads,who were once promised a place in the national team and then forgotten.
The 'rebel' League was played with great sportsmanship. There was no greed. The entertainment was the cricket—not film stars. There were cheerleaders too. There was festivity in the air too, then why does the media talk as if the IPL' is a trendsetter?
Ok so what happens after the IPL. Unlike the ICL, IPL has no plans of launching into the 50-50 format. It finds the 20-20 more lucrative. But ICL has already made plans and is now going to launch a 50-50 ODI tournament followed by a test one too. There is plenty of room in ICL.
I can see that there is plenty of money in the ICL.There were many match winning performances from faces that were unknown even to their own states. And if you were to ask me what IPL is to Indian Cricket… A big (expensive) joke !