The perfection of randomness


Often people think that the best and most accurate things are made on highly precise machines that have movements that are the same time after time.  Normally this would be true except for one of the human races more amazing inventions, the concave mirror or lens found in telescopes.  The best and most accurate of these was always hand ground and for a machine to do as well, a lot of thought has to go into the process.

Why?  It sounds counter intuitive to say that a handmade lens could be better than a machine made one when it has to be so very accurate.  Down to a few atoms on some lenses.  The one thing that humans have in spade over a finely tuned machine; randomness and inaccuracies.

On the show Big, Bigger, Biggest they looked at the small innovations that allowed humans to move from Isaac Newton’s first mirror telescope made of everyday odd and ends to a massive binocular telescope that will see even future and with more accuracy than any earth based telescope. The astrophysicist stated that the best lens were made by hand because any error made in one cycle will be cleaned up by the next cycle as the pressure, the angle will be different.  A machine with even a slight error will just cut a grove into the mirrors polished surface, but a human hand will change position, shape, pressure constantly thus a grove can never form.

It is human randomness, the tiny imperfections  that make us and anything we make unique.  A machine has to be modified in complicated ways to just to match this ability.  I particularly like that it is this randomness that allows us to see clearer and better than anything on this planet has before.  I like to think that it is our randomness that allows up to see even beyond what our mirrors can tell us, to make sense of the perfect randomness of our universe.

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