Interdependence in our universe and gaming winning field goals.

I have a superstition that falls along the lines of, if I don’t watch my favorite football team play, they will lose. Last years AFC divisional playoff game, I quit watching during halftime because it was looking grim for my beloved Indianapolis Colts. As we all know, they ending up scoring 15 points in the 4th quarter and losing the game on a missed field goal by one of statically best kickers in NFL history.

Depending on whether or not I sat down on my couch and watch the rest of that football game, could my actions possibly have changed to outcome of that game?

Sir Issac Newton reasoned that all objects or things have mass, and all masses have gravitational fields that function as invisible attracting forces that extend out into space, in all directions, connecting everything that exists with everything else, to various degrees. Furthermore, he believed that these attracting forces are completely replicable and that they are always present.

So with that said I’ll return to my original question. If I decided to cut my grass instead of sit on my couch and watch the end of a close football game, could my action potentially change the outcome of the game?



The force of your gravitational pull acting on the ball is tiny compared to the other forces acting on it. The net force acting on the ball is the vector sum of all the component forces acting on it. The forces of the kicker, the earth’s gravity, and the air currents in the stadium (in that order) are so great compared to any other forces, that even if everybody on the planet stood in a cluster directly perpendicular to the path of the ball, their gravitational pull wouldn’t make a noticeable difference. (Their breathing and movement, might, however.)

Even if you were wearing a neutronium suit, how much difference would you make by moving from the couch to the yard? The ball (and everything else) would be pulled towards you (killing you instantly), but unless you live in the stadium parking lot, the ball’s course isn’t going to change much just because you moved 30 or 40 feet in one direction.

In real life, the effect of your gravitational pull is so small, it would probably be cancelled out by quantum fluctuations. It would certainly be less than the effect of air currents you create. (Not that those matter either.)

If none of this convinces you, try this: blow on your arm. You can clearly feel a pressure on your skin much smaller than it would take to visibly move a football, right? Ok, I just walked from my den, out into the street. Could you feel it? No? Then neither could the ball.

It was clearly your fault. How can you live with that guilt. You have to make amends.

And you can start by sending me the $100 I lost on that game.

The Butterfly Effect

While the odds are minisculy small, requiring countless other conditions to be perfect, there is a chance that what you do could effect the outcome of the game. In a Chaos System, though, there is no difference in terms of probability of effecting a change between you sitting absolutely still doing nothing, and jumping up and down waving your arms. Either one could be that needed variable at any given moment to effect a change.

and so writing, switches to iTunes and to put on Otis Redding’s A Change is Gonna Come

Your general idea is good but I doubt it made a difference in this case and it certainly doesn’t have much to do with gravitational pull. Chaos theory tells us that not only can very small events have lots of system altering effects down the line, those effects tend to get magnified through the system over time. It makes pretty good sense intuitively at least to me.

Leaving work 10 seconds late can affect the future of humanity. The time you actually leave will affect traffic flow in some small or maybe large way. You will likely cause some cars to get stuck at a red light at a different time than they would have if you weren’t there. This can echo throughout the entire traffic system until a new set of people get into accidents that day than they would otherwise. Perhaps someone gets killed or maybe someone is spared because of it. Either way, you altered that person’s outcome for good. You might alter the number of children that person would have had and that is certain to echo all throughout humanity as we move through generations and the entire human gene pool is altered by adding or taking away one person a long time before.

That is just one example but the possibilities are virtually limitless and certain to occur based on every single individuals actions feeding into this chaotic system all the time.

The problem with your specific question is that you seemed to isolate yourself from the event in all ways. That doesn’t make it impossible but very small effects would tend to need time to filter through time and space in an appreciable way. If you were actually at the game, influencing the outcome could be believable if one of your actions led to something that distracted a single player or a coach for even a split second. Sure it could happen but there isn’t anyway to know for sure because the inputs and outputs in the system are virtually infinite.