Friday, September 24, 2010

Google Maps at the Quantum Level

The Case of the Missing Sunrise and The Phantom Town
This week the American media has been full of the story of the missing Florida town, Sunrise. For at least a month this summer Sunrise simply disappeared from the map. At least, it disappeared from Google Maps.

One moment the town was there for all the world to see and the next moment it had disappeared. Sunrise no longer appeared on Google Maps.


Now the American media have been having a lot of fun with this mapping error, just as the BBC have been having fun with the issue of the phantom town of Argleton appearing on Google Maps in the UK.

Lots of explanations have been put forward for these mistakes, from simple administrative errors to sneaky copyright traps. However no-one seems to have made the logical conclusion of looking at both of these cases together.



For me the clue to these errors is in the name 'Sunrise'. Sunrise, as you are aware, is essential the light of the sun becoming visible in the morning. At the quantum level of reality light photons behave with indeterminacy. Therefore we are unable to predict the final location of any single light photon.

So clearly due to quantum mechanics the town of Sunrise will sometimes appear on Google Maps in Florida and at other times it will appear in the UK, as the town of Argleton.

Quantum Indeterminacy in Street View

Other evidence of how Google Maps behaves at the quantum level can be seen in Street View. In Montréal Google has caught two successive images of the same truck delivering cola to a store. In one image the truck clearly appears as belonging to Pepsi Cola.


However if you progress along the street in Street View for one frame the same truck suddenly appears to belong to Coca Cola.


Clearly evidence once again that Google Maps behaves with indeterminacy at the quantum level.

I must point out however that physics has never been my strong point and I could well be wrong in my calculations.

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