Constraints are Freedom: Both are the Reason You Exist.

J. Macodiseas
9 min readMay 21, 2022

When everything is possible, nothing useful can happen. That includes your life choices.

Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash

Paradoxically, it is limits and constraints that make anything at all possible. Starting from the quantum soup, it takes three or four levels of constraints of for matter to become organized enough for life to become possible. Any kind of learning is mainly learning constraints. It takes constraints for any type of society, company or group to function. Finally, it takes constraints for you to live a productive life, but for a slightly different reason.

Let’s start at the very beginning. Literally.

If you believe in the Big Bang, you know that in the beginning, the universe was “a point of infinite density”. A point of infinite density has infinite energy, but is also infinitely boring: for anything interesting, including life, to happen, there has to be a gradient — a difference in something between point A and point B, to enable a flow of that something (be it energy, fields, concentration of stuff, …)— which then can, under the right conditions, perform useful work. When point A is point B, no gradients can exist. All the infinite energy amounts to nothing. If particles or fields actually existed inside this “singularity”, they would be “everywhere at once” — the ultimate in infinite possibilities — but at the same time, they would have zero degrees of freedom — there would be no values that describe any useful properties of the particle. Something had do happen for anything to happen. Space had to start existing for point A and point B to actually become distinct points at all.

A few moments later the universe was, essentially, a uniform soup. Every particle had a location — a new constraint, it couldn’t be everywhere at once — but also, a degree of freedom, it could now move between locations. Except it couldn’t, because it was gravitating to every other particle in the universe at once. There was still no gradient between point A and point B, because they were filled with the same amount of energy. They were different, yet still the same.

Without quantum fluctuations, nothing interesting would ever have happened. The universe would have kept expanding as a uniform blob, or collapsed into a black hole — all the particles gravitating…

J. Macodiseas

Science Fiction, Tech, and philosophical ramblings about the Universe, with an occasional, increasingly rare bit of sarcasm.