The Rules

9 August 2014

A game of chess. Brian Koberlein
A game of chess.

I’ve been on the road the past two days, hence the lack of a morning post. But as I was driving for countless hours I noticed lots of signs detailing the Law. Don’t drive drowsy; Wear your seatbelt; Don’t text while driving; Speed limits, etc. I also noticed that pretty much all of these laws being violated by drivers along the way. Apparently laws are really more like guidelines, at least until you get caught. It’s interesting, then, that we describe the behavior of the universe in terms of laws. Law of gravity, law of relativity, etc. Unlike traffic laws they aren’t violated, at least as far as we know.

In reality, we should probably think of the universe in terms of rules, not laws. The game of chess, for example, about how pieces move, how they capture other pieces, and how the came is won and lost. We can imagine a game where these rules are broken, or where there are different rules, but then it wouldn’t be a game of chess. In the same way, we presume our universe has a particular set of rules, and our laws and theories provide a description of those rules. We can imagine a universe with a different set of rules, but then it wouldn’t be our universe.

Them’s the rules.