The Snape effect and the Improbability Drive.

So the thing is –I am an atheist. I am a scientist and a doctor. I also like to imagine that I can comprehend some of the basic concepts of philosophy and ethics and of course of evolution.

In my childhood I was highly influenced by Isaac Asimov and Eric von Daniken.While neither of their stories expressed the absence of a god, the stories of robots and consciousness, space travel and the alien theories of origin on earth resonated so much more with what I could logically accept.


What is the potential future trajectory of an invisible Being that created us like we were part of a giant set of Lego or Playdoh? Invisible force is understandable but an invisible being who made us in His or Her image. Hmmm. Nope sorry.

What about the origin of most modern religions? In which I won’t count animism and Hinduism since they are not organized like the Abrahamic ones and neither are they proscriptive like Jainism, even Buddhism and Sikhism.

Most of these religions emerged more or less around the same time approximately 2000 years ago.

So was ‘God’ waiting and watching till we evolved enough to have complex languages and writing skills before she said ‘Boo’ from behind the curtain ? These are the rules in the nursery, she then said. No shouting, no fighting and definitely no sexting. Call them the commandments or the hadith or anything else.

Honestly it all seems so pointless. If anything then that would make me convinced that God is some kind of an alpha male. I mean women don’t have time for this kind of tomfoolery. If she had created the world, we would have had rainbows every day and no one would ever go hungry.

Women don’t succeed as much at a game of scrabble competition not because they are not as good as men but because they simply couldn’t be bothered and they play it for fun!

What does all this have to do with the title? I am getting there.

Kind of ….taking the slow scenic coastal route 🙂 You know what they say about there being no path to happiness…happiness is the path etc.

In the Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, there is a scene from a quidditch match where it seems as though Snape is trying to put a curse on Harry to make him fall from his broomstick. Hermione spots this and being the smartest witch of her generation, puts a counter spell to break it, thus saving the day.

Or so we think.

Well, many books later, ( spoiler alert!) we realize , in the most awesome character development track ( matched recently by Steve in Secret Things!) , that Snape has not been what he appeared to be — just misunderstood and quite the tortured soul.

What he has been doing that day at the match is in fact protecting Harry from an even bigger curse.

The day I realised that, I suddenly saw that a lot of things seemed to fall in that pattern. The minor accident before a long road trip which then turns out to be the best ever, the hotel pickup mix-up resulting in an enormous delay to reach the airport followed by an upgrade to the first class, the sabotage which prevents you from getting the job followed by the life changing offer to work abroad, the hostile boss who almost forces your resignation followed by the best job offer ever…. You get the drift.

This is what I like to call the ‘Snape Effect’! You curse what is going wrong but in retrospect it seems to have been the best thing ever. ( Yes, yes, I know we have always had this as ‘jo hoga accha hoga’ and ‘whatever happens is for the best’ but this is my epiphany ok ?!)

Now, does that make me a believer of fate and destiny (or as my autocorrect is offering a belieber of fat and density)?

Do we see patterns that we want because that is who we are as humans? We see gods in stones and good luck in a four leaf clover. Do we matter to anyone other than ourselves and a handful of other people?

In the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams described the improbability drive.


For those with a sci or sci-fi bent of mind, and excited about the madness of Elon Musk trying to put a Tesla car into orbit around Mars—here is the theory behind the Improbability Drive.

According to the books, the drive was inspired by the fact that although particles are supposed to appear near the nucleus of an atom, there’s an infinitesimally small chance that these particles will sometimes be found far away from their point of origin. The scientists who built the Heart of Gold then theorized that the same concept could be applied to space travel, allowing a body to travel between locations without passing through the intervening space. Thus the improbability drive was born.

I can’t resist sharing this fabulous, gorgeous Quantum Physics joke here 🙂

Heisenberg, Schroedinger, and Ohm are driving in a car.They get pulled over.

Heisenberg is driving and the cop asks him “Do you know how fast you were going?”

“No, but I know exactly where I am” Heisenberg replies.

The cop says “You were doing 55 in a 35.”

Heisenberg throws up his hands and shouts “Great! Now I’m lost!”

The cop thinks this is suspicious and orders him to pop open the trunk.

He checks it out and says “Do you know you have a dead cat back here?”

“We do now, asshole!” shouts Schrodinger.

laughing with tears

Anyway, back to the science:

Quantum physics actually shows that a particle might not be exactly where [one] would expect it to be. On the tiny scales that quantum physics describes, there’s something called the ‘probability distribution function’ for a particle’s location. It shows where the particle is most likely to be [but] that region extends out to farther distances, albeit with diminishing probability,” explained Millis.

Maybe that is really what we should consider worshipping since it is as likely to grant our often crazy and desperate prayers as the belief that there is someone/ something out there that made us and actually cares to listen when we ask for help.

Or maybe there really is some force out there that is providing the Snape effect. Maybe without that things actually would probably be much worse….

Who knows? As my sister has been asking—will this all make sense in the end?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Maybe the mistake we make in asking that question is the assumption that when we end is the end.


The story will go on even after us and beyond us and somewhere at the end of all that……..then maybe it will all make sense……..

Maybe not…….




5 thoughts on “The Snape effect and the Improbability Drive.

  1. Q: Why was Heisenberg’s wife dissatisfied with his bedroom performance?

    A: Because when he found the correct position, he didn’t have the momentum, and when he finally found the time, he didn’t have the energy. On top of everything, the climax was only certain in the presence of an observer.

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