Luck and Quantum Mechanics

“Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I have been thinking recently about how lucky I have been in my life. Then on a whim (and for something to write about here) I looked at the Wikipedia entry on the word and searched for some quotes about it. According to the Wikipedia article there is “prescriptive luck” which is good/bad stuff imposed on people and caused by outside entities such as spirits, gods, numerology, superstitious ritual, celestial mechanics or other inhuman influences and including things such as the Grace-of or Wrath-of-God for dyed-in-the-wool Christians. Then there is what they call “descriptive luck”, which is really just that – a casual description after-the-fact of something that was unexpected or improbable.

Although I often “…thank the gods, or whoever else is out there” for my good luck, I really don’t mean it very seriously. I find it too depressing to think of myself as nothing but a puppet-on-a-string dancing to an unheard tune being played by an external force, even if you want to call it “God”. This is anathema to the concept of Free-Will. I could be wrong about this, of course – but I sincerely hope not.

On the other hand, as I was perusing quotations about luck I noticed that there are many of them that deny the concept of “luck” altogether. According to these people there is simply no such thing. All success and anything good in life is due to nothing but personal diligence and hard-work. To me, this attitude seems arrogant and full of hubris. These people seem to be claiming that there is nothing at all of any value or significance beyond themselves.

I think of luck as being somewhere in-between these more common positions. To me luck is not the willful effect of an outside entity, nor can it simply be something that is exclusively my own doing. To me luck has much more to do with quantum mechanics. It seems to me that “Luck” will ultimately turn out to be a case of all of us being real-life Schrodinger’s Cats. We exist in a Quantum Entanglement with an incalculably immense universe and at any moment any number of good-things or bad-things could happen; and perhaps they all really  do happen simultaneously. What we end up perceiving as our reality and “Luck” is the result of the observations, perspectives, personal will and otherwise “looking in the box” of Schrodinger’s experiment. Luck is the practical manifestation of real-world Chaos Theory. Hard work (usually) produces good results in our lives, but that deterministic relationship does not make the final outcome predictable and – to put it prosaically – Shit Happens. There is a reason for it all, but we can’t necessarily understand or see that reason clearly all the time because it is all so unimaginably complex.

In any event, my Quantum Entanglements have always been quite favorable (and the gods have smiled and Jesus has blessed) and my cat is purring and quite content in his little box – thank you for asking – and I need no more than this.