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Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - April 24, 2020
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What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
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Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
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Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
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How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
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It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
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Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
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What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
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The Nature of Time
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Robert Wilson: on 5/14/20 at 9:27am UTC, wrote I would say there is no meaning to dividing and contrasting the concepts of...

Pavel Poluian: on 5/14/20 at 7:49am UTC, wrote Dear Professor Robert A. Wilson! Thank you for your interesting essay. We...

Branko Zivlak: on 5/2/20 at 22:05pm UTC, wrote Dear Robert Wilson Sorry for the late answer. This is due to changes...

Sue Lingo: on 4/16/20 at 4:30am UTC, wrote Hi Robert... Excellent essay... a 10 score by me. I readily admit to a...

Israel Perez: on 4/10/20 at 3:32am UTC, wrote Dear Robert Wilson Just to let you know that I just read your essay which...

Robert Wilson: on 4/9/20 at 6:31am UTC, wrote I did not intend to imply that "spacetime" is separate from "matter". The...

Dizhechko Semyonovich: on 4/8/20 at 18:22pm UTC, wrote Dear ROBERT ARNOTT WILSON, I thank you for your interest in my essay....

Branko Zivlak: on 4/6/20 at 6:30am UTC, wrote Dear Robert, The improved Koide formula is in the Table at the end of my...


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FQXi FORUM
September 22, 2020

CATEGORY: Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest (2019-2020) [back]
TOPIC: Unpredictable unpredictables by Robert Wilson [refresh]
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Author Robert Wilson wrote on Mar. 30, 2020 @ 15:14 GMT
Essay Abstract

Predictability or otherwise of an event is a property not so much of the event, as of the theory that is used for prediction. Unpredictable events can be considered to be `predictable unpredictables' if there is a theory that predicts the probabilities of their occurrence. Everything else is an unpredictable unpredictable, and these are the most challenging for physics. Guided by an analogy with undecidability in mathematical theories, I consider what kind of physical theory might be required in order to predict those fundamental parameters that in current theories are unpredictable unpredictables.

Author Bio

Emeritus Professor of Pure Mathematics at Queen Mary University of London, specialising in group theory. Previously at the University of Birmingham, and at the University of Cambridge, where I did my PhD. Since 2010, I have worked on trying to understand and if possible improve the group theory that is used in fundamental physics.

Download Essay PDF File

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H.H.J. Luediger wrote on Mar. 30, 2020 @ 20:28 GMT
Robert,

" If something exists in the universe, it is, ipso facto, consistent." Correct, but...

Now, every thing or body (not object) in the universe has size, shape, color, brightness as well as distance and attitude relative to me. I guess you agree that none of these properties can be reduced to any other or an abstract 'third'. Further, all those bodies have mass, el. and therm. conductivity, several moments of inertia, some degree of roughness and kind of morphology, etc. pp. These properties are irreducible too. And yet (or as I think: therefore!) every body in the universe is consistent (discernible). Last, also the human senses are organized in an irreducible way; there is nothing in seeing that is in hearing, smelling or feeling.

That is, the world, as we perceive it, is discernible because it is categorically structured, i.e. is an orthogonal system and consistent (better: non-contradictory) for exactly this reason. So, I wonder what you'd say to my provocative thesis that physics either passes (back) under the yoke of orthogonal human knowledge (anti-reductionism) or is condemmed to remain irrelevant academic amusement foerever.

Heinz

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Author Robert Wilson replied on Mar. 30, 2020 @ 21:27 GMT
Heinz,

Thank you for your comments. I read your essay, which contains much of interest. As a mathematician, however, I find these philosophical questions difficult to think about, and I seek refuge in mathematics. My view is that the problems of (for example) interpretation of quantum mechanics are not really philosophical problems, as they are often presented, but mathematical problems. There are some subtle errors in the mathematics, which I think should be corrected. But because they are subtle, it is hard to convince physicists that they are important. When these mathematical errors lead to palpable nonsense such as many-worlds or multiverses, however, I think the time has come to pay a bit more attention to mathematical rigour. But I do agree with you that reductionism has gone too far, and we need to take more account of the fact that no object of any kind exists in isolation: we live in the universe, not outside it.

Robert.

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David Brown wrote on Mar. 30, 2020 @ 21:58 GMT
"General relativity has been very well tested on a Solar System scale ..." Have physicists overestimated the accuracy of predictions made by general relativity theory and, also, Newton's law of gravity? According to Newton and Einstein, dark-matter-compensation-constant = 0. However, I have suggested the hypothesis that string theory with the finite nature hypothesis implies dark-matter-compensation-constant = (3.9±.5) * 10^–5. Why have gravitational metrologists been unable to improve the accuracy with which Newtons big G is know?

"Invited Review Article: Measurements of the Newtonian constant of gravitation, G" by C. Rothleitner & S. Schlamminger, Review of Scientific Instruments, volume 88, issue 11, 2017

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Author Robert Wilson replied on Mar. 30, 2020 @ 22:32 GMT
Thank you for your comments. I was careful to say that GR has been tested on a Solar System scale. Although I do not mention this in my essay, I do agree with you that on larger scales GR is not necessarily the only game in town. I find the MOND paradigm very persuasive, and if I were trying to build a quantum theory of gravity, I would not consider the theory to be satisfactory if it did not agree substantially with the empirical laws of MOND. The other important clues I think are provided by the flyby anomaly, which indicates that gravitational forces between extended bodies (as opposed to point masses) depend on rotation, and possibly the Pioneer anomaly, although that may have been explained in other ways. It is certainly possible that these effects combine to create unrecognised systematic errors in experiments that attempt to measure Newton's gravitational constant to greater accuracy. I cannot comment on anything that string theory might or might not say.

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basudeba mishra wrote on Mar. 31, 2020 @ 01:44 GMT
Dear Sir,

Congratulations for such a brilliant essay, which be more remembered for the food for thought it presents than its actual content. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

A prediction is a statement about the future based upon past experience and knowledge derived from such experience. Hence something is predictable, if 1) we have similar experience in the past and 2) there are no...

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Author Robert Wilson replied on Mar. 31, 2020 @ 06:52 GMT
Many thanks for your very interesting comments. From reading your essay I understand that we differ somewhat in our interpretation of undecidability in mathematics, and perhaps even in our understanding of what is or is not mathematics. But I think we can leave this on one side, and concentrate on what is useful for physics. I was particularly interested in your statement that measurements of G are correlated with the length of the day - do you have a reference for this? I was certainly aware that measurements of G are mutually inconsistent, and that no-one knows why. But I was not aware of such a correlation. It may indeed be possible to derive this correlation as a meta-prediction based on the ideas in my essay, though I have not thought seriously about this yet.

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Branko L Zivlak wrote on Mar. 31, 2020 @ 13:01 GMT
Dear Robert,

In order for a formula to be just a coincidence, it is necessary to agree with Codata values in all significant digits. It is not case in all of your formulas. Then the next step is to show the predictive value of the formula, if any. You being a mathematician it is easy to understand mathematical tool of your colleague's (Hugh Matlock) with which he show the predictive value of a formulas. You can check out Hugh Matlock's comments on my FQX-i 2013contest article,

https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1847 .

If you like, I can send you a formula that shows the exact relationship between n, p and e. It was obtained by the same approach as the last five formulas at the end of my essay. Since you are a mathematician, I think you shall be better than others to understand the role logorithm and exponent in these formulas.

Your formula e + μ + τ + 3p = 5n correctly predicts that the relation of three leptons must contain proton too, which is a disadvantage of the well-known Koide formula. You can also see the Improved Koide formula at the end of my essay.

And my recommendation: Forget the Big Bang, stick with the greats of science, Newton, Bošković, Maxwell, Planck, partly Einstein. Also follow mathematics, especially the part we call "discovered mathematics". Then a consistent consistent theory of everything is hidden in their works.

Regards Branko

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Author Robert Wilson replied on Mar. 31, 2020 @ 17:14 GMT
Dear Branko,

I thank you for your comments. You refer to the Koide formula, which is extraordinarily accurate, and yet not generally accepted as having relevance to physics. Indeed, it differs from experiment by about .01%. This is an extraordinarily small amount, and yet not quite small enough to convince physicists in general that this formula is meaningful. I have been thinking about this, on and off, for five years, and I do not claim to have solved the problem yet. You can read more about my take on these issues on my blog at robwilson1.wordpress.com if you are interested.

I agree with you that a prediction must agree with CODATA in (almost) all significant digits. I do not agree with you that the same applies to meta-predictions. Nevertheless, at least seven of my meta-predictions do in fact agree with CODATA in all significant digits.

And the Big Bang? I can take it or leave it. The way I look at the universe, I find it hard to understand why anyone finds it necessary to assume there was a Big Bang. I don't say it didn't happen, I just say, why does anyone think it did? What does it actually explain that cannot be explained in other ways?

Robert.

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Author Robert Wilson replied on Apr. 1, 2020 @ 19:40 GMT
I didn't reply to your comments about predictive value of formulae. Given that my equations are meta-predictions rather than predictions, I do not claim great predictive power for them. But the equation $e + mu+tau+3p=5n$ does predict two or three more significant figures of the tau mass, and the equation involving the Higgs mass predicts one more significant figure of that. Several other equations have some limited predictive power also.

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Branko L Zivlak replied on Apr. 1, 2020 @ 21:22 GMT
Dear Robert,

Thanks for your reply. This is what I like about Big bang:

“What does it actually explain that can't be explained in other ways?”

I answer: Nothing.

The Koide formula is incorrect and lacks a proton. I suggested the correct one: Improved Koide formula.

I've been to your blog, I don't know anything about group theory. I read a couple of articles.

Regards Branko

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Marts Liena wrote on Apr. 1, 2020 @ 10:22 GMT
I liked your essay because i twas easy to read and it through up some challenges.

Your section on Hidden Relations brought to mind the book Bible Code by Michael Drosnin. This book has been thoroughly debunked by mathematicians.

I am sure that the relations between fundamental particles can be unlocked by better reductionism than we are currently presented with by the Standard Model.

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Author Robert Wilson replied on Apr. 1, 2020 @ 10:48 GMT
Thank you for your comments. I do not consider that there is any similarity between my section on "Hidden relations" and the book "The Bible Code". I am a mathematician and I understand the mathematical arguments that are used to debunk "The Bible Code". I consider that these arguments do not say anything very useful about my equations. Of course, anyone is welcome to apply these arguments themselves, and see what conclusions they come to.

I disagree with you that "better reductionism" will help us to understand mass. The mass of a proton is something fixed and very precisely known, while the masses of the constituents of a proton are at best very vague, and at worst undefined. More reductionism is precisely the opposite of what is required.

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Author Robert Wilson replied on Apr. 2, 2020 @ 06:19 GMT
Maybe I should add something about where the eight "hidden relations" came from. They are not just random equations, but are justified extensively (if heuristically) in terms of group representation theory, in two preprints that are posted on the website of the Isaac Newton Institute, Cambridge: http://www.newton.ac.uk/files/preprints/ni19011.pdf and http://www.newton.ac.uk/files/preprints/ni19013.pdf

Notice for example the parallel between the 3 generations of electron in e+mu+tau+3p=5n and the three generations of down quark in d+s+b+3pi=5n, which also throws up a parallel between the proton and the pions. The first equation has 12 fundamental particles on the left, and 15 on the right, so needs three neutrinos to balance the spins. The second equation has only 9 on the left, and needs 3 photons to balance the spins. All the equations taken together suggest that the muon and the tau particle, as well as the three heavy quarks, may be better treated as composite particles rather than fundamental, while on the other hand the proton and the pions might be better treated as fundamental. Just a thought.

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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on Apr. 2, 2020 @ 16:02 GMT
Dear Robert,

I especially liked these deep ontological conclusions:

"The values, then, can only be explained by one supreme act of randomness at the origin of the universe in the Big Bang. Is this really an adequate physical explanation, or is it just a fairy story?"

"Predicting the unpredictable requires thinking the unthinkable. Restricting ourselves to thinkable unthinkables has not worked. To make progress, we may have to think unthinkable unthinkables. This is not a safe option. Thinking unthinkable unthinkables can lead to a complete paradigm shift. If we are not prepared for a paradigm shift, then we should not go down this road. "

"But if we want to go beyond the standard model, we must be prepared to think unthinkable unthinkables."

"Einstein’s hopes of a rigorous consistent theory of all of physics have not been realised. But G¨odel’s theorems do not prove that such a theory is impossible."

"So maybe, just maybe, if we can upgrade the theory from inconsistent inconsistency to consistent inconsistency, then the universe can do the rest, and give us a consistent consistent theory of everything."

My highest point and hope that to overcome the crisis of understanding, the crisis of interpretation and representation in the philosophical basis of fundamental science, physicists will call upon the paradigm of the whole to help. And the dialectic of “coincidence of opposites”... “Philosophy is too important to be left to the philosophers” (J. Wheeler)

With kind regards, Vladimir

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Author Robert Wilson wrote on Apr. 2, 2020 @ 19:09 GMT
Dear Vladimir,

I thank you for your positive comments. I appreciate the deep ontological arguments about the foundations of quantum mechanics, and the crises of interpretation that arise from them, but the more I think about them, the more I feel that the problem is not so much philosophical as mathematical. There are problems with the mathematics that are not generally appreciated, and to my mind the philosophical problems arise largely because of errors in the mathematics, that lead to mathematical concepts that are difficult to relate to physical reality, for the simple reason that they are mathematically inconsistent. It is hard to discuss these issues seriously, because most people (including me, no doubt) understand at most one of the three subjects of mathematics, physics and philosophy.

Robert.

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Vladimir Rogozhin replied on Apr. 3, 2020 @ 12:36 GMT
Dear Robert,

You are absolutely right. The problem of justification of mathematics, which is more than a hundred years old, is problem No. 1 for cognition as a whole, especially physics. Some philosophers consider it to be an “eternal problem”. I strongly disagree with this. Clearly represented the situation with the foundations of mathematics and logic M. Kline in “Mathematics: Loss...

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Author Robert Wilson replied on Apr. 3, 2020 @ 15:52 GMT
Dear Vladimir,

I confess that I do not understand the problems you are referring to. The "problem of justification of mathematics" is not a problem that I recognise, as a mathematician. Mathematics does not seek justification, and develops independently of such "justification". Mathematics, like physics, and other fields of human endeavour, develops because it appears to be "useful" - whatever that means. Platonist ontology of mathematics is far removed from any concerns of any mathematicians whom I have worked with over 40 years. Or am I misunderstanding the meaning you give to the word "justification"?

Robert.

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Vladimir Rogozhin replied on Apr. 3, 2020 @ 18:18 GMT
Dear Robert,

Unfortunately, I did not study English and rely on the translation of the Google translator. In Russian, “justification” sounds more accurately “обоснование”, i.e. search for reliable "foundation". And what foundation can be the strongest and most reliable7 This is an ontological basis.

The problem of justification (substantiation) of mathematics is...

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Wilhelmus de Wilde de Wilde wrote on Apr. 3, 2020 @ 09:29 GMT
Dear Robert,

It was a real pleasure to read your clear contribution.

I understand that you are mostly mathematician and no philosopher, but really you touched very philosophical issues.

The whole time I was reading your essay I thought"Robert is looking for the reference of reference" a subject that I also give attention and try to reason in my interpretation.

As a mathematician, you will have some problems with my essay and I respect that, but if you are interested you can find it HERE , I should be interested to hear the opinion from another side.

Best regards

Wilhelmus de Wilde

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Author Robert Wilson replied on Apr. 3, 2020 @ 10:41 GMT
Dear Wilhelmus,

Thank you for your kind remarks. I find that philosophy can often be useful as a way of clarifying issues, although I count myself very much an amateur in philosophy. I read your essay, but as you guessed, I found it hard to understand. You treat the problem of consciousness, which I try to avoid, although it plays a prominent role in certain approaches to the interpretation of quantum mechanics. As I mentioned above, I believe that consciousness enters into this debate through a misunderstanding of the underlying mathematics. On the other hand, my approach says absolutely nothing about the problem of consciousness, which remains completely out of my reach, and remains a central philosophical problem.

Robert.

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Wilhelmus de Wilde de Wilde replied on Apr. 3, 2020 @ 13:14 GMT
Thank you for your honest reply Robert.

We respect each other.

Wilhelmus de Wilde

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Author Robert Wilson replied on Apr. 3, 2020 @ 14:57 GMT
I thank you again. Respect is often lacking in these debates, and is much appreciated when it is displayed.

Respect.

Robert.

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Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Apr. 8, 2020 @ 18:22 GMT
Dear ROBERT ARNOTT WILSON, I thank you for your interest in my essay. Probably, the desire to understand why others think so has pushed you to this, and it is likely that I will give you high marks for this. If you agreed that space is matter, and matter is space that moves, as it is matter, then time here has a separate meaning, which is already contained in the concept of motion. Therefore, I do...

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Author Robert Wilson replied on Apr. 9, 2020 @ 06:31 GMT
I did not intend to imply that "spacetime" is separate from "matter". The two are simply different aspects of the same thing. But I do need spacetime and not just space, because the mathematics that I use does not permit the separation of time from space in general. This separation only arises when we take the point of view of a particular observer, at which point we have a fixed definition of time, and therefore a fixed definition of mass. All the forces that deal with fixed mass (electromagnetism and gravity, and maybe also the strong force, depending on your interpretation) then crystallise out. But the weak force is different, because it does not preserve mass, and therefore does not preserve time. That is the real reason why I need spacetime and not just space - without a unified spacetime, I cannot explain the weak force.

Robert.

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Israel Perez wrote on Apr. 10, 2020 @ 03:32 GMT
Dear Robert Wilson

Just to let you know that I just read your essay which is interesting and valuable. The questions you pose on the mass ratio are important for physics. I guess you are putting forward a possible explanation for the values found. I definitely have no clue why some quantities have the value they have.

I must confess that I had some trouble trying to understand what you mean while you were playing with words (predictable unpredictable, unpredictable unpredictable, etc). I think these options would be understood better if you bring up some examples. For instance, for a predictable unpredictable I was thinking about the weather and so on. Anyway, well written and well thought.

I wish you good luck in the contest.

Best Regards

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Sue Lingo wrote on Apr. 16, 2020 @ 04:30 GMT
Hi Robert...

Excellent essay... a 10 score by me.

I readily admit to a research bias that prohibits perturbative analysis, and thus have not attempted to verify your formulations, but I admire your diplomacy and skill in conveying the degree of dependency the "standard model" has on perturbative analysis.

Innocently questioning fundamental relationships ... i.e. "what could be more fundamental than the mass ratios of electron, proton and neutron?"... will provoke a more in depth analysis of the limits of the "standard model" model, and subsequently, the necessity for a unified field GEOMETRY MODEL

A "non-standard" model that resolves the geometry of a point Source Emission and subsequent Distribution of spatially defined minimum units of Energy (QE), eliminates pertubation... i.e. establishes an unbroken kinematic logic/geometry chain from Energy Quanta Emission/Distribution Source to observation... and the choreographies of those minimum units of Energy (QE), as dictated by the Q-mechanix of that geometry, are fundamental to our observation of electron, proton, neutron, and their respective mass ratios.

Thanks!!!

Sue Lingo

UQS Author/Logician

www.uqsmatrixmechanix.com

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Branko L Zivlak wrote on May. 2, 2020 @ 22:05 GMT
Dear Robert Wilson

Sorry for the late answer. This is due to changes introduced by FQXs regarding emails during the competition.

My answer regarding the Koide formula is in my forum.

In the spirit of my essay, it would be best if dimensionless formulas can be presented. It is just such a Koide formula with its expected result of 2/3. Please send me your results in dimensionless form.

Regards,

Branko

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Pavel Vadimovich Poluian wrote on May. 14, 2020 @ 07:49 GMT
Dear Professor Robert A. Wilson!

Thank you for your interesting essay. We have specific questions. You write: "Something that is predictable in one model can be unpredictable

in another." What, then, is the meaning of dividing and contrasting these concepts? Are you simply stating the existence of UNCERTAINTY?

Pavel Poluian and Dmitry Lichargin,

Siberian Federal University.

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Author Robert Wilson replied on May. 14, 2020 @ 09:27 GMT
I would say there is no meaning to dividing and contrasting the concepts of predictability and unpredictability. In the abstract, such a distinction is meaningless. One has to first specify the context, that is what mathematicians and physicists call a "model". The same is true for uncertainty: uncertainty in quantum mechanics is a completely different thing from uncertainty in ordinary life.

Robert Wilson.

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