Illustration (Image credit: Wix)
Europe is sweltering under intense heat. It must certainly be a manifestation of global warming run amok — right? After all, where could such hot temperatures come from?
It turns out that while Europe is sweltering other places are not — and are actually unusually cool for summertime temperatures. For instance, countries in the eastern Mediterranean — on the eastern side of the ridge located along the western spine of Europe — are benefiting from winds blowing from a cooler, more northerly direction.
Moreover, it doesn't look next week's warmth will last more than a couple of days before temperatures cool back down both in coastal areas and the Jerusalem mountains. I just came back from Atlanta, Georgia which was so cool we almost needed to put on a light coat as evening set in. Unheard of in July!
So, is it because of global warming? The very strong and northward penetrating ridge of hot air over Europe is actually adjacent to an unusually deep and cold low pressure system west of England — but no one but jumping fishes live over the ocean. The world has warmed since the 1970s (when it was unusually chilly) and the added energy could be amplifying the waviness of the circulation patterns. Yet, the warmth is nowhere near what was predicted by the climate change models, which also have failed to predict the "ups and downs" of the temperature changes over the last 20 or so years.
So, what is the reality of a situation? What is our own reality except that which we personally experience?
One of the laws of kashrut is that bugs are not kosher and should not be eaten. This morning I picked some wild raspberries, gave them a quick glance, and then ate them in one lump. I told myself that they tasted really good but wondered how I could possibly tell if I had eaten a bug.
I found out shortly thereafter when a very large bug flew into my mouth; a person has to breathe while running. I managed to eventually cough the bug out — or perhaps the bug flew out on its own — but not before the bug-bee stung the inside of my mouth. It was one angry bee and my mouth was perhaps too big.
Some years ago, Russell Baker wondered where all the lost socks went, and so have others. Surely, they haven't just disappeared! Or, had they? Perhaps there is a whole slew of unmatched socks in someone else's reality.
A colleague of mine lost his keys only to find them the next day in a pocket of his bag he had already checked a dozen times. My missing coat eventually "showed-up," and so have other things that had no right being found in the place where they were supposedly lost.
A good number of folks read books and a good number go to the movies. Did you ever try to change the ending of a book or movie after you've read it or watched it but didn't like the ending? You can't do it. Yet we all know that fictional books and movies are not real because the characters never go to the bathroom.
Are dreams real? They certainly seem so. Yet, most of us usually wake up from them to ‘reality’.
I and many others suppose that things that are real are things that we observe. But is this even true? For instance, when very small particles are shot one at a time at two small slits, they will produce a wave-like pattern on a detector. However, when scientists try to observe which slit the particle went through, the wave-like pattern disappears (called "wave function collapse"). This happens even if the second slit is opened after the particle should have passed through the first slit!
The end result is that one needs to accept "backwards causation" or (perhaps) the idea of Hugh Everett that the wave-function doesn't collapse when an observation is made but that instead multiple universes split into different realities, i.e., I would be writing from one of them but you might be reading this from another. If you wonder where could all of these universes be, just remember that "our" universe is supposedly expanding; but into what?
One idea in Jewish thought is that people are rewarded or punished for their behavior — and if not in this world then in the world that exists after death. Yet, there is also an idea that people do not really have free choice, which would ironically be consistent with the idea that we are just part of a probability continuum describing some deeper reality as described in Everett's many-worlds hypothesis. I don't know which idea of reality is correct, but I do know that we have a number of unmatched socks and that the bee stung me — and that it hurt!
Dr. Lynn is a lecturer at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Earth Sciences Department. He is also CEO of Weather It Is, LTD, a company that specializes in reducing weather risk. Click here to read more of this writer’s work in The Jerusalem Herald.