April 01, 2011

Rueful emoticon goes here

This past weekend Talk of the multiverse by Brian Greene on C-SPAN [rebroadcast tomorrow, April 2, 8a.m. PDT] lit on the notion of a great set of universes expressing all possible paths of physical progress emanating from whatever beginning we may choose to assign. Each outcome has a range of possibilities (built on the existential premise that something will eventually happen) and each probability, in a suitably ergodic setting, is eventually expressed, each leading off into its own range of possible universes in turn. Probablities collapse around some value in the event, and off each universe goes from there on its own peculiar way.

Something will eventually happen is the existential premise of baseball, too.*

So, for example, Edgar Renteria's home run in the deciding game of the 2010 World Series had a probability of occuring before the fact, along with the more or less knowable likelihood of each and every other possible outcome of his at-bat as well. In the event, in our universe, he hit a home run, I'm pleased to note, and in that moment of decoherence denied every other universe where some other probable outcome obtains, where Renteria is not even a baseball player, or hits into a double play instead. All possible alternate iterations of universes are counter to our fact, since he did hit that thing, we know for sure, a home run once improbable improbable no more, forever, for us.

Our universe is the universe in which redoubtable Renteria did so stroke that decisive shot. All those other universes are all well and good in theory, but in practice, in the universe we've got, that homer is the done deal, I'll have you know. Such knowledge emerges from the well-recorded resolution of a set of probabilities into that singularity of a stroke put on the ball by Renteria. We must believe that anything probable may well occur in the future. It is the nature of probabilities to probably happen at their naturally given rate, and we can know that any of them might naturally occur, without being able to do more than believe in the likeliest outcome with any certainty at all. Nevertheless we can rightfully put aside impertinent universes that do not carry us along with Renteria's known home run to our present state.

*The highlight of Opening Day for the Giants was the play of Brandon Belt in his first game in the majors, who played a highly credible first base and went 1 for 3 with a base on balls at the plate, battling Dodgers closer Broxton through an eight-pitch at-bat that ended the unfortunate game with a liner to third.

[In many universes it is said catcher Posey does not make the rookie mistake of trying to force a play with bases loaded and two outs. He's got Tim Lincecum out there on the mound in all pertinent universes up til then. Insert for crying out loud here. All he needs to do is corral the ball and get it back out to his pitcher. A flub on Posey's part, pure and simple, leading us to the present sad state of our known universe…]

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