Existential Physics: We All Waved

2 min readAug 10, 2022


In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, 2019

Physics makes a big deal about wave-particle duality. But the same thing is true of water, and your life.

About ten years ago, the Transit authority in Boston released an anonymous set of rider data. Some analysis found that from even as little as two weeks’ of information, they could predict a rider’s location above 90% accuracy.

How can that be possible? Well, if you’re at the same location on two consecutive Monday mornings, chances are good that you’ll be there on the other Mondays too. Some people don’t work office hours — say, bartenders and nurses — but they have their own cycles. Individually, they seem unpredictable, but in huge quantities, patterns emerge.

The artist Ray Collins takes amazing pictures of ocean waves. Zoom in close on any part of the wave, you’ll see it’s never smooth, but made up of smaller wave patterns, droplets… particles. The camera only records particles. Videos are made up of moving pictures. But still, we know it’s a wave. We recognize the pattern.

In huge quantities, patterns emerge.

A bus rolls by, you see a face staring out the window that doesn’t see you. Sometimes they’re on a once in a lifetime voyage, but usually they’re on their Thursday commute.

We talk about waves individually, but there’s no wave that comes from nowhere. The most rogue wave coming out of calm seas depends on the action of other particles.

We talk about lives individually, but there’s no life that comes from nowhere. We’re all waves, being directed by other particles.

I wish I knew everyone’s nickname

All their slang and all their sayings

Every way to show affection

How to dress to fit the occasion

And I wish we all waved

All waved

I wish we all

I wish we all

I wish we all





Lifelong musician, quarter century programmer, recent writer. Punk Buddhism, Bike Party Party, Practice Uncertainty