Quantum Silliness

In which The Author becomes a co-author

Long, long ago, on a website far, far away, Vicki F. and I published a spoof scientific paper on the phenomenon of Quantum Silliness. It owed much to the work of the late Robert Anton Wilson, as well as taking inspiration from TV and our own drunken late-night conversations. This is what we came up with:

DOES QUANTUM SILLINESS EXIST?

AN ATTEMPT AT A DEFINITION OF THE ‘HIDDEN VARIABLE’ IN PHYSICS

by Stephen O’Gorman & Victoria Fox

Research Assistants,
Committee for Surrealistic Investigation into Claims of the Normal

(Rhydwen Williams Branch)

For the purposes of this paper, we shall define Quantum Silliness as an immeasurably small degree of irrationality, not necessarily lasting a finite amount of elapsed time, or occupying a finite volume of space. (Please note that this is not to be confused with UNCERTAINTY. Uncertainty can be predicted [to a statistical degree of accuracy] by the application of advanced mathematics – e.g. the Planck and Schrödinger equations, which collapse upon measurement to give two or more mutually contradictory solutions.)
Quantum Silliness, which is abstract in nature and bears little resemblance to the physical reality of the universe around us, cannot easily be reduced to a simple mathematical expression. Later we attempt an approximation to the Silliness content of a given set of coordinates in space-time – however, this is no way enables us to predict the behaviour of an inherently Silly system over time. The long-term behaviour of such a system cannot be predicted by any known means.
We suggest that the phenomenon is entirely dependent upon the interaction of Quantum Silliness ‘waves’ with two non-physical factors. These are Information and Consciousness, each previously thought by Everett, Graham & Wheeler, and Bell, respectively, to be the ‘hidden variable’ upon which modern quantum physics depends.
Where a large number of Quantum Silliness interactions occur over a narrow range of Spacetime, the seeds are sown for a Silly event to take place. Of course, the physical interpretation of such events by the observer depends upon the quantity of Consciousness and Information present within the system at the time of the event. It follows, therefore, that a Silly event occurring where the quantity of either Information or Consciousness is low will go unnoticed by the majority of observers. As the levels of one or both of these factors increases, more observers will become aware of the Silly event in progress.
The classical experiment which first hinted at the existence of Quantum Silliness, and that it could be propagated over Spacetime, was documented in Monty Python’s Flying Circus, disguised as a sketch telling the history of The World’s Funniest Joke. (Those of you who are not familiar with the classical demonstration are advised to refer to it before proceeding further.)
This clearly demonstrates that each individual component of the World’s Funniest Joke was completely innocuous. However, the interaction of the Quantum Silliness waves in each component produced a synergy far in excess of that which we would expect in a normal situation. Clearly, the Joke reached critical mass upon completion, and the resulting explosion of Silliness produced was, in fact a lethal dose – the so-called Killing Joke.
We observe that Silliness first reached measurable levels in the early years of the twentieth century, at the time when research into atomic physics first began in earnest. It is even possible that the earliest peaks were produced as a result of the early experimenters’ carelessness, releasing large outbreaks of Quantum Silliness into the environment. It is interesting to note that the centres of Dadaism, Surrealism, Modernism, Vorticism, and other movements in the arts which, to the outside observer, appeared to be completely Silly, are geographically close to the places where the early experiments into atomic physics were carried out.
One has only to read James Joyce’s masterpiece Finnegans Wake to ponder at the occurrence of the words ‘Nageysokey’ and ‘hooraynium’ – in a book published in 1939, and thought by most people at the time to be Silly in the extreme. Clearly, Joyce’s experience of Quantum Silliness had a deeper impact than anyone realised at the time.
If one would seek further evidence of the close relationship between particle physics and Silliness, we would refer the reader to Richard P. Feynman’s collection of autobiographical anecdotes entitled Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman! – a veritable treasure trove of Silliness in the world of high-energy physics.
Readers of the Fortean Times will be familiar with the ever-increasing frequency of Silly events, and some researchers believe that this may indicate a transitional phase to a world of complete and utter Silliness. More recently, isolated outbreaks have been reported in the mainstream press. In particular, several political figures and business leaders have been attacked by people wielding custard pies, suggesting that Quantum Silliness waves are able to spontaneously peak at certain points in space-time.
We would remind you of the CSICON Challenge, whereby the sum of £23 17s 5d was deposited in a bank account in Dublin on June 16, 1904, open to anyone who claimed to have witnessed a normal event, met an normal person, or experienced a normal day. The prize money remains unclaimed to this day, suggesting that even small-scale Silliness is far more commonplace than most people would suggest.
Please note: We refer to Quantum Silliness ‘waves’ for convenience and modelling purposes only. There is as yet no evidence to suggest that Quantum Silliness propagates by means of waves. (Or particles, for that matter.) It definitely propagates, but the mechanism is presently unknown, and much more research into the field is needed. Unlike subatomic particle research, which costs trillions of dollars and demands the building of equipment beyond the imagination of the ordinary man, Quantum Silliness research requires nothing more than a pair of eyes, at least one ear, and a functioning brain. It therefore falls within the province of most people. If you can’t detect Quantum Silliness in the everyday world, you aren’t looking hard enough.
Our first attempt at a mathematical expression for total Quantum Silliness in an n-dimensional system appears to be of the form:
where Qx = Quantum Silliness Index along the xth dimension, Cx = the corresponding Consciousness level, and Ix = the corresponding Information level.
From this it can be seen that the totality of Quantum Silliness in an event depends entirely on the quantity of Information and Consciousness present during the interaction. As either measurement varies, the results may be experienced as ABSURDITY, NONSENSE, SURREALISM, or BOLLOCKS. Note that as either C or I approaches 0, the Quantum Silliness content approaches ∞ – a theoretical condition known as ABSOLUTE BOLLOCKS.
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