Whoa! This is either the luckiest or unluckiest dude ever

March 25, 2009

The BBC News web site had this headline today:

Man survived both atomic bombings

I just can’t decide whether Tsutomu Yamaguchi is incredibly lucky for having survived being in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki on those fateful dates (and still being alive at 93!), or incredibly unlucky just to have been in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki on those fateful dates…  or maybe he’s both the luckiest and unluckiest dude ever.

And speaking of luck, which I suppose is in some way a form of probability, the BBC News web site also had an article under their Magazine rubric today titled:

What do you get if you divide science by God?

The article starts by mentioning a French physicist, Bernard d’Espagnat, has been awarded the Templeton Prize for contributions to “affirming life’s spiritual dimension”.  He has worked on quantum physics, which is a field dependent on probability (which is how I segued into this from the piece on Mr. Yamaguchi).

The author then goes on to interview 5 notable physicists on “the meaning of physics”, and assigning each a spiritual category corresponding to their view on the overlap between science and spirituality, ranging from the “Atheist” to a new-agey “Pantheist” at either end of the spectrum with various flavours in between: “Sceptic”, “Platonist” and “Believer” (the latter being a quantum physicist turned Anglican priest).

As for me, if I were a betting man (hmm, there’s that probability thing again…) I don’t think I’d bet against there being some kind of “meaning” to Life, The Universe And Everything – after all, if there isn’t then there’s nothing much to lose in betting for it being there, but on the other hand I’d feel a right prat coming face to face with, well, whatever it was I’d bet against.

Of course, YMMV.


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