by Peter Wone - Wombat & Me Pty Ltd
The other day I went to Waterpark Creek with two very pretty girls and a mate. This was pretty gripping on its own, but on the way back I sat in the back seat with Jenny, watching the world go by. The presence of a sheep on the roadside sparked a train of thought I'm sure you'll find intriguing.
Watching sheep and their erratic attempts to cross a paddock, I was minded of quantum particles in unresolved states. It occurs to me that this may be why sheep are creatures of Very Little Brain1. Were they conscious and acutely aware of the world around them, they would qualify as observers. This would collapse the cloud of unresolved probabilities in which they obviously live, and render them vulnerable to premeditated attack by intelligent, aware creatures like wolves and men.
The attention of a competent observer fixes the locus of a particle's existence to whatever vector it occupies at the moment of observation. Unfortunately for anybody in the midst of a mob of sheep, there is an upper limit to the number of particles one can simultaneously maintain as foci of attention. For a single man this is about five, and for any other predator (other than the specially bred sheepdog2) it is two or three3.
Thus, unless superb discipline is maintained and the attention focussed and maintained by tracking a single sheep, it is impossible to know the location of any of the sheep at any given moment.
Evolution has plainly selected for dumber and dumber sheep in a playoff between a need to distinguish between grass and rocks, and the quantum defence mechanism of the largest possible cloud of ambiguities4.
1 I believe that proper analysis will reveal sheep brains to be composed of dense clouds of massless particles called sub-morons.
2 The sheepdog does not attempt to know the position of any particular sheep. Instead, it deals with a mob as a collective single entity, enabling the dog to resolve and manipulate the net locus of the mob.
3 Wolves employ a simple response to the sheep's evasion - they bring enough observers to resolve all of the sheep - whereas the great cats bring to bear the discipline to track one and only one sheep despite the antics of the rest of the mob.
4 I don't claim to know God's plan for the universe, but evidently it involves very dumb sheep and quite a lot of beetles.