Thursday, September 21, 2006

Words and Quanta

Well, this is like coming into a room in my house I had forgotten I had. I have taken blog holidays before, but in the past I have been itching to get back and write. This time, however, has been different. I have had no inclination to return whatsoever. And I'm still not sure I am very enthusastic, even now. It feels a bit like being a kid forced to visit relatives on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

I have been on Holiday to Devon and I have been very busy with Solihull Presby Church. The details I will not bore you with. However, the church is coming to its first anniversary on October 1st. (If you want to come and thank God with us, then come! - Cranmore Infant School, Northland Road, B90 4SA, 10:30 am, picnic lunch afterwards). We have some committed people and have just opened up a membership roll. Having said that, it still feels fragile which always reminds us look to Christ to build his church in Solihull.

Reading? Yes, still doing that. I was reading the introduction to Wallace's Greek Grammar this morning. He makes the point that individual words do not carry basic units of meaning. Rather the meaning is governed by the context, both literary and historical. This thought brought to mind the concept of the semantic range of a word (i.e. the range of possible meanings a word could have) and then, strangely, quantum mechanics and Schroedinger's Cat.

Some of you will know about Schroedinger's cat - poor thing. The point of the thought experiment was to show the paradox that quantum mechanics throws up, that one does not know the state of a system until it is measured. The very act of measuring causes the (possibly infinite) range of possible virtual states to collapse into one actual measured state.

The reason I thought about this was that there was an analogy with words. Words have a semantic range (a wavefunction defining possibilities) and context. Putting a word into a context has the effect of collapsing the semantic range into particular meaning. Context 'measures' a word.

Well, I thought it was a neat idea.

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