My co-author and I are working on a science fiction novel and yesterday I was pondering the so-called “observer effect” in quantum physics. Puzzling stuff, but then the birds outside my window gave me a lesson.

Dozens of birds come to bathe and drink out of our waterfall every day. They usually come in groups of the same type. I really enjoy watching their antics. Yesterday, when the pools were filled with at least a dozen birds, I decided to try to photograph them for today’s blog post, grabbed my camera and stepped out my office door.

Bye bye birds. I stood still, holding my camera ready, for a long time. But they all had fled to the power lines and trees. The sounds of so many birds in the neighborhood was amazing. It sounded like an aviary out there.

But the birds didn’t come back. Then I moved and one of the little chirps turned to a cry of alarm. Many of the birds took off, not even daring to hang around in the trees. All I could do was capture them sitting far away.


I brutalized the following photo, but I wanted to show you the activity.


To reduce the observer effect, I think I need to go to the next level and get a tripod with a remote shutter cord and put that outside my door. Then I can sit and write all day and take photos of the little creatures for you!

But for now, I am going to try to get my head around another dimension of the observer effect posed by my co-author, who never ceases to surprise and challenge me.

Happy Thursday to my local friends and happy Friday to my Australian friends, including my co-author!

6 thoughts on “The observer effect

  1. Quantum physics is some of the most fascinating stuff! I used to study theoretical physics and quantum physics for fun. And I never even took a physics class in high school or college.


    1. Hi David, That is great. I found some super explanations in a recent article about Hugh Everett and in Scientific American. Some of the explanations for quantum physics are over this humble writer’s head. But they are getting better at explaining it to lay people like me.


  2. Hahaha! Good literary style, love it! But that is not an example of the observer effect, just an example of Murphy’s Law and the illusion of control! (I don’t want to heavy-handedly overstate this as I did not take you seriously but think your intention is cute and humorous.)


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