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Tuesday, 24 July 2012 14:50 Written by Tom Phillips

Einstein and Mallarmé Throw Dice

Art has long been happily married to uncertainty. Science, however, has only recently (and somewhat reluctantly) become its suitor. It is now almost a hundred years since Einstein said that 'God does not throw dice' (der Alte nicht würfelt were his actual words). I suspect that what he meant was that wherever randomness and indeterminacy seem to crop up we have merely failed as yet to find the certainties that must lurk beneath the aleatoric disguise.

Mallarmé's formula, in his famous poem of 1897 Un Coup de Dés, is a more subtle evocation of what I think of as Quantum Poetics. By somehow squaring the dice throw ad infinitum (Un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hazard) he returns to a neat zero.

Translating Mallarmé's opening statement 'A throw of dice will never do away with chance' I made a rearrangement of its words paraphrase Einstein; 'Away with chance. A throw of dice will never do'. Thus in essence (and within a square) they disagree to agree, leaving the equation in a state of suspended resolution.

Einstein and Mallarme Throw Dice

Einstein & Mallarmé Throw Dice, watercolour, h25.5cm x w25.5cm, 2012

The tweet that advertised this blog entry sums it up:-

When Mallarmé meets Einstein dice are rolled
and physics learns what poetry foretold.

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