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Thursday, September 23rd, 2004

Time Event
9:32p
It just goes on and on my friend

I have a perfectly moral and decent reason for showering with my trackball: the trackball runs a lot better, with finer control and less slipping, when I've washed it in warm soapy water, and the shower is the only warm water in my apartment. But it slipped; I dropped it, and it bounced away.

My bathrooms have shower stalls, with four-inch-high barriers, and then the main bathroom tile. The ball bounced over the shower barrier, off the wall, bounced to the far corner, banked, bounced past the toilet, hit the wall near the barrier, bounced over the barrier, and banked in the shower to my foot, right under where I dropped it. Thus I prove my bathroom ergodic!

Ergodicity says in a system with particles that only collide elasticity, from any starting point, the system is periodic, or else returns arbitrarily closely to the start. Imagine a pool table with no friction, no pockets, and only a cue ball; however you hit it, if you wait, the ball returns the same spot with the same speed you hit it with.

This contributed to at least one suicide: Ludwig Boltzmann wore himself out arguing his definition of temperature as average kinetic energy of particles was consistent with this. Ergodicity says if you open a tube of gas inside a vacuum chamber, and wait long enough, eventually the gas will rush back into the tube and leave the room a vacuum again. And, it will, but it takes several whomptillion times the lifetime of the universe to happen, which is why Boltzmann was right and his critics were wrong. He's now renowned as the father of statistical mechanics.

Trivia: The 1919 Stanley Cup series was never completed. Source: New York Public Library Desk Reference, Paul Fargis, Sharee Bykofsky.

Currently Reading: Polywater, Felix Franks.

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