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The Randomness and (relative) Certainty of 2015

Glancing back at what the year 2014 brought us, it’s easy to think of some of the things that, for better or worse, affected us, or at the very least left a dent in the collective memory, that as a somewhat globalized society we claim to have.

We had Ebola, Ucraine, Ellen’s DeGeneres selfie at the Oscars, the death of Simón Diaz, Cerati, Robin Williams, Monica Spear, Jacinto Convit, Gabo and plenty of others. Malaysia Airlines, our very own riots in Venezuela, the disappearance of the students in Mexico, the World Cup, The imprisonment of Leopoldo Lopez, the Ferguson riots, the ice bucket challenge, the successful landing of Philae on a comet, Pharrel’s “Happy”, and the apparent reestablishment of relations between USA and Cuba.

All of the above, despite the geographical distance and considerably steep different levels of importance, have two things in common. Firstly, and obviously, their moment in time (2014). And secondly, and maybe more importantly, their randomness. Which is to say, our ignorance.

A few years back, If someone were to ask me who was the least likely individual, to ever use physics, in order to explain and make sense of something in life, I, and I’m sure my high school physics teacher would strongly agree, would have answered, faster than a heartbeat, that it was me.

And yet, here I am, writing about the fact that the outcome of a coin toss, when in possession of enough knowledge, and after the proper calculations, is not random at all. But a year is not a coin toss, and our scientist won’t be gathering and calculating the outcome of every step, kiss, punch, signature, tear, or sneeze anytime soon; much less gain access to the chemical interactions of the brain of every man, woman and child on Earth (It’s hard enough to guess what my girlfriend wants for dinner) together with all the natural phenomena both in, and outside our planet that affect us (Ironically, we seem to predict far more accurately what will happen in space, that within our own atmosphere).

And so, it is safe to say, that a year without randomness is nowhere near the horizon (and all for the better, since it sounds rather boring). All that said, randomness could be in decline, and may vary well someday vanish.

We do have machines (at least in the making) that can predict heart attacks hours in advance. The amount of data we are able to store and process is exponentially growing, and the machines that gather biological data from the human brain continue to improve. We are far, but we are moving forward and gaining speed. Frankly, all this conjectures, although interesting, make little difference in the way me may approach the ongoing (and still unpredictable) year. So, what can we do? Do we float and let the tides of randomness take us where they shall, and accept it stoically, embracing the sharp rocks as well as the sandy beaches? Or do we make an effort and try to swim towards the shore that we want to see? And does it make a difference?

Well, in the already going 2015, and despite the general randomness that will still surely govern it, we may still find room for a small degree of relative certainty. The certainty that each of us can provide through our actions. And while most of their outcomes are still incalculable, we do know a few that affect the balance of what makes a year either positive or negative. We know that feeding the poor is better than stealing; we know that healing is better than hurting, we know that forgiveness is better than revenge, we know that chocolate is better than bullets, and that love is better than hate. And so, in this moment in history, we are still the most effective tools, that can make (free of equations, mind you), a more positively less random 2015.

But everything other than that is mostly uncertain. And that’s what makes it exciting. Because just like in Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle (My physics teacher would be proud), the only way to know for sure whether a year would be negative or positive, is to go a right ahead and experience it, to go right ahead and do. Because if we don’t, If we fail to measure, If we fail to act, we just won’t know. At least, not just yet.

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