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...


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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