Brownian thought space

Cognitive science, mostly, but more a sometimes structured random walk about things.

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Location: Rochester, United States

Chronically curious モ..

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why a watched pot never boils

Simple answer: phase transitions are relatively rapid.
Let the time when you set the pot/kettle on the fire to be t_0.
Let the time when the contents are at a rolling boil be t_b.
Imagine you're watching TV, and going to the kitchen every once in a while to watch if the contents are actually boiling...
The essence of the observation is that, given the rapidness of a phase transition, in this case between the non-boiling and the boiling phases, the most likely observation is either one or the other, as shown in this mockchart: only in the pink-magenta region will you actually see the transition from one state to the next.
So, in all the 'n' trips where t_n is less than the lower bound of the pink-magenta region, the pot won't be boiling. And if you miss the narrow transition window, then on the (n+1)th trip, where t_(n+1) is beyond the pink-magenta region, you'll see the water boiling. And conclude, "a watched pot never boils."
That or the Quantum Zeno effect...

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice article as for me. It would be great to read something more about that matter. The only thing I would like to see here is some pictures of some gadgets.
Nickolas Flouee
Cell phone jammer

February 19, 2010 1:57 PM  

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