A Scientific Evaluation of a Confusing Conundrum
The question was raised: "If a man alone in the woods speaks, and his
wife cannot hear him, is he still wrong?"
I have considered this question in light of the principles of Modern
Physics and offer my thesis, dedicated to my wife, who anchors me in
In the year 1900 Max Planck discovered that the energy of light is
quantified. In 1905 Albert Einstein used Planck's Constant to write the
theory of the Photoelectric Effect, that light behaves as a particle
when it comes to energy transfer. Louis de Broglie proposed that
particles can have a wave nature and this fact was later verified.
These discoveries led Neils Bohr to propose a radical theory of the
atom, which was partially successful in explaining the emission spectra
of the hydrogen atom. Neils Bohr was compelled to introduce the
Principle of "Complementarity," that light is both a particle and a
The modern theories were extended when Max Born showed that the
distribution of energy was a function of probability. Further, Warner
Heisenberg wrote the Principle of Uncertainty, which says that it is
impossible to determine the exact location of an electron and the vector
direction of its momentum at the same time.
This was followed with the master stroke penned by Erwin Schrodinger.
Using the "Psi function" of Quantum Mechanics, Schrodinger could map the
"wave field" of any particle, thus giving us a theoretical explanation
for the structure of an atom and the entire periodic table of the
The Quantum mechanics predicts that a wave of a single frequency would
stretch out to infinite proportions, the superposition of a narrow range
of frequencies produces a standing wave function which can be localized
to a much more precise location. Thus the electron and its position
within an atom becomes a cloud of probability.
From this I infer that there are such states as being right and being
wrong, within certain parameters of uncertainty. Applying the Psi
function, the more vague the statement of the man the greater the
probability of him being correct. The narrower and more specific his
utterance the greater the likelihood of his being wrong.
Also, the Principle of Complementarity assures us that if a man alone in
the woods speaks, and his wife can not hear him, he is BOTH right and
wrong until he comes out of the woods.
In the analogy of Schrodinger's Cat, the cat in the box is both dead and
alive until someone opens the lid. The act of observing the phenomenon
determines the outcome.
Thus, the inevitable conclusion is that it doesn't matter what the man
says only his wife can determine whether or not he is correct.