July 1, 2013

Time flies

And just like that, I’m in the last month of my teenage life.

It’s been almost two years since I started this blog and I can feel myself slowing down and becoming kind of constant. No more do my interests change at the slightest nudge or my hobbies disappear at the slightest inconvenience. I believe that as children, we are a mixture of several personalities, each of which are released according to a particular mood or situation. But as we grow up, we make a choice and become one, unique person. It is a good thing.

Currently, I’m spending three months of summer (or rather, monsoon) at our new home at Navi Mumbai. It rains all day, every day. Basically, I’m holed up at home most of the time, getting sick of boredom. I had lots of expectations from these holidays, but it turned out to be rather disappointing.

When I’m bored for days at a stretch, I get a twisted sense of time. As if the past was never there and the future will never come. It’s like the present has been magnified way out of proportion, and I’m stuck in it, going round and round, falling into a routine and getting dizzy.

The picture isn’t all that black though. I finally experienced a lucid dream! Since I had time on my hands, I had decided to follow some of the exercises from this site. Yesterday, I suddenly found myself in my hostel room and thought “This can’t be right, I’m supposed to be at home”. I decided to perform a reality check by turning off light switches (something I learnt from the movie Waking Life), and the lights didn’t go out! So there I was, fully aware that I was dreaming and fully in control.

It felt completely real, except the memories of it aren’t as clear as real memories. I knew that in lucid dreams you could do almost anything. Fly, for example. But I wasn’t sure how to go about trying it, so I decided to do something normal.

Time doesn’t mean anything in the dream. Somehow I was fully aware of this and I could do something like, for the lack of a better word, fast-forward. I decided to use that to my advantage.

Allow me to deviate for a bit in order to explain what I was trying to do. There is a theory called The Random Walk, which I learnt in context of finding the error in the probabilities of heads/tails during repeated coin-tosses. We consider a person who tosses a coin repeatedly and follows the instructions:

1. Go one step forward if heads
2. Go one step backward if tails

Where will he ideally end up after N tosses? Our intuition says that he will most probably end up where he started, but simple math tells us that he is more likely to end up √N steps from the starting point. It’s easy to think “but this √N can be in either direction, so the average is still zero”, but I think what it means is that the probabilities peak at the √N’s, and hence averaging might not get us anywhere. My understanding of this problem isn’t complete. I always find myself in such a situation when the math doesn’t agree with my intuition, and satisfying the intuition becomes the first priority, since the math is mostly right.

I keep thinking that the entire concept of finding the error in probability is baloney. We always consider the highest possible error in science. There is always a minuscule chance that I’ll get 1000 heads (or 1000 tails) back-to-back in 1000 tosses. So the probability of a head should be 0.5 ± 0.5, which can mean any value between 0 and 1 and simply tells us that we can’t be sure of anything.

Yet, people have somehow managed to get a ‘reasonable’ error in the probability value for coin tosses, which is the inverse of twice the square root of the number of experiments. My logic tells me that it could have been possible only through an approximation at some point, but the derivation hides all traces of any such thing. Or maybe I’m just too dumb to be able to see it. If there’s an approximation involved in finding errors, then there is an error in the error calculation too, and another error in that, and so on. Ultimately the range of the probability±error should span all values between 0 and 1.

I’m sure I’ll find the explanation somewhere, but I want to work this out myself.

Anyway, the theory predicts that if we perform 900 tosses, we’ll most probably get 450 ± 15 heads.

I performed 900 tosses in the dream… several times. It sounds crazy, and I can’t really explain it. 900 tosses were same as pressing a switch, it required the same effort and results came out ready-made. Somehow I always ended up getting 500 heads – 400 tails, or 400 heads – 500 tails. Unfortunately, this didn’t satisfy anything, but it did tell me that lucid dreams are subject to our subconscious feelings and desires. I wanted this theory proven wrong, so the dream did it for me. Probably it made the lights stay on too, because I wanted to believe in Waking Life. In that respect, it’s just a dream. But it sure is immensely more exciting than an ordinary dream. I’ve decided that next time I’ll try to do something supernatural (walk through walls maybe?). The only thing I have to do is want it properly.

Coming back to reality, it does feel sad to bid adieu to the teenage years. They certainly have been fun and I might miss them. But I do want this boring month to pass. And I shall return to my normal life as an adult.

On that note, I’m getting old. Damn.


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About Debapriyo

A random person with few hobbies here and there.

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