The Order in K-OS and Who’s Dog Is It?

Did you know that Einstein is also known to have contributed significantly to statistical physics? In 1905, he proposed an explanation for the phenomenon called Brownian motion – named after the botanist Robert Brown who first described the process. Essentially, particles suspended in a fluid (liquid or gas) exhibit a random motion (path) resulting from their collision with the quick atoms or molecules in the gas or liquid. This is the K-OS or more appropriately “chaos” of the process. Have a listen to The Dog Is Mine from K-OS to get you ready for some Einstein talk.

The problem with understanding Brownian motion is that the molecules are too light to move the floating particle and molecular collisions occur way more frequently than the observed jiggles.

Einstein’s genius was to realize that though collisions occur frequently, they are so light there is no visible effect but… occasionally, by pure luck, a bunch of hits from one particular direction leads to a noticeable jiggle. Cool. So when he studied this phenomena he found that despite the chaos there was a predictable relationship between the molecules (speed, size, and number) and the frequency and magnitude of jiggling. This is the order of the process. Maybe not like in the Godzilla – Nature Has An Order movie, but more in the the arrangement of things in relation to each other according to a particular pattern type order.

What is the take home message? That much of the order we perceive in the world around us is dependent on an invisible underlying disorder. Words of caution: though random variation can lead to orderly patterns, these patterns are not always meaningful. (See previous posts: Rebel Without a Cause and What Does the Fox Say for some hints on how not to be fooled) 

So what is the link between Einstein and The Dog is Mine K-OS song? The dog named Einstein from the Back to the Future movie, of course!

See you in the blogosphere,

Pascal Tyrrell