Brian Cox explained on TV the other evening that chaotic systems are unpredictable, because minor occurances can get amplified in complex structures. While he was giving a lecture on an asteroid’s trajecory and it’s likelihood of hitting Earth, to me he could have been talking about road traffic in general and myself trying to take a bus in particular all the same.
Waiting for a bus that is very late, or does not show up at all is annoying enough on it’s own accord, if it means I’m late for something, it can drive me bonkers. To the point where I’m certain that I must buy a car. But then, just listening to the hourly traffic-updates on the radio, which are per definition about such things as huge delays, broken down vehicles, diversion routes and the advice to “allow extra time for the journey” puts me off that idea again quickly. That and the reminiscence of road rage when encountering drivers who behave differntly to my expectations, a frequent phenomena.
In the programme, Cox was praising Isaac Newton, saying that thanks to his findings we can actually predict the future: We know the clockwork of planets, we know that galaxies will collide, creating an incredible spectacle in the night sky and we know that the sun will eventually blow up. And we know when all this will happen (plus minus a few million years, which in space terms is nothing).
I would appreciate it if bus timetables could do the same. When rural transport does not work as announced you feel pretty let down. It’s one of those first world problems, shaped by a culture of certain expectations, customs and obligations. And it open’s windows of opportunity for Sod’s law to collide with my stubbornness.
The other day I was shopping at the retail park, the baby sat in a pushchair, the groceries were stored away in my backpack and we waited for the bus home. The digital board said it was due in 2mins, when no bus showed up after 10mins it just disappeared from the board. Another 20mins on there was a bus, but there were 2 pushchairs on already, so we could not take it. 15mins later an empty bus arrived, one of the rare doubledeckers on that route, which of course can’t be entered with a pram. This was enough, after an hour of waiting I was so annoyed by the fact that I could have walked home by now, that I started walking. And neither was I surprised nor upset by the fact that the very minute we had left the busstop, we were overtaken by an empty bus going our way.